How can we fully understand International framework agreements? Are its European origins a necessary aspect needed to fully understand
the opportunities and challenges they present for global unionism? Do they
contribute to a stronger global interdependence or are Global unions likely to provide the basis for division rather than unity?
It has been said that, ‘In order to create global solidarity, national unions must commit to more supranational unions or organisations, not by replacing them but by complimenting them within a multitiered system of global unionism’ (Boswell, Stevis, Dimitiri,1997) The main form of global governance that comes to everyone’s mind is obviously the UN. Our moral guide in life, our world police officer that ‘eradicates’ the bad things and accounts for everything good in this world right? Well, these opinions may not be shared universally and actually may just be held by certain people (mainly the people at UN and bureaucratic circles). Nonetheless, the world political system is rather complex and it made up of a number of global unions. There are many different global organisations/agreements set up by nations for different reasons (e.g.WTO, IMF, World Bank, WHO,etc.), which are responses to globalisation. ‘Globalisation is uneven, unions are effected differently by globalisation, depending on their sector and the country in which they are situated.’(Müller, Platzer and Rub 2005)
Who decides the winners and losers? Mexican unions were certainly the losers when it came to the American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) debates. As a Northern Union in a labour intensive industry is likely to be more vulnerable to globalisation while a southern union may see it as an opportunity. So which country benefits the most? The general effect of the Mexico–U.S. agricultural agreement is a matter of dispute. Mexico was not able to invest in the infrastructure essential for competition, such as efficient highways and railroads, which resulted in more difficult living conditions for the country’s poor. Mexico’s agricultural exports increased only 9.4 percent annually between 1994 and 2001, while imports increased by only 6.9 percent a year during the same period (Deere). This clearly demonstrates how uneven the benefits are for different nations and highlights the failure of major multilateral negotiations on trade. It has not generated much optimism for less developed countries to be part of global unions as it may create more vulnerability just as it did for Mexico, therefore a clear major issue in the global political economy.(Update on NAFTA today, Mexico still benefiting the least, check point number 3)
Another reason why Global Governance is in need of a reform; It has been argued by Goldin that institutions of global governance e.g. the UN, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank have been increasingly incompetent of handling the instabilities created by global interdependence. The 2008 financial crisis has emphasised the extent of this problem especially taking into consideration about the advances in technology, financial instruments, and banking and how it collided with, outdated regulatory institutions, which brought the world economy to the brink of collapse. Goldin also recognises rather similar, possible threats of systemic failure when it comes to other possible issues for the global political economy as a result globalisation such as cybersecurity, immigration and climate change.
In conclusion, all of these problems require a lot of coalitions of states to obligate to long-term collective, sophisticated action as well as global problem solving therefore, nations need global unions. The imbalance of benefits that some countries such as developing ones experience, needs be addressed because inequality between countries, especially, when it comes to trade agreements is important and an urgent issue. If globalisation is to survive, it will need to be governed responsibly, with the participation and cooperation of the many countries around the world that would benefit from more openness and interdependence.
By Fahima Hamid
Boswell, Terry, and Dimitri Stevis. 1997”Globalisation and international labor organisating”, Work and Occupations 24 (3):288-308
Bronfenbrenner, K. (2007). Global unions. Ithaca [N.Y.]: ILR Press/Cornell University Press.
Muller, Torsten, Hans-Wolfgang Platzer, and Stefan Rub. 2005. “Global Trade Union Responses in Global companies: Global Union Networks, World Works Councils and International Framework agreements—Status Quo and Prospects” Unpublished ms.
Goldin, I. (n.d.). Divided nations. Oxford University Press, USA, 2013 p.200
Greening the Americas, Carolyn L. Deere (editor). MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA