Remember the Dubai Debacle – strategies for building workers power

Publisher’s Note: This is a good explanatory article for people who want to understand the differences between the International Dockworkers Council IDC and the International Transport Workers Federation ITF [Thanks to Bob Cargnegie MUA Qld for this].

Remember the Dubai Debacle of December 3, 1997, where the MUA revealed that non-union labour was being sent to Dubai to train as wharfies.

The International Transport Federation (ITF) threatened to blockade Dubai and the exercise was abandoned…for the time being. On December 14, the union movement claimed a victory after the United Arab Emirates cancelled the working visas of Australian army personnel training in Dubai because The International Transport Worker’ Federation threatened to blockade Dubai.

The second counter punch had been landed, but the dispute had intensified in 1998 when Courigan sacked all the wharfies.

Note: I think this was prior to the formation of the International Dockworkers Council.…/a-case-study-%E2%80%94…/

Ian Curr
Feb 2016


Strategies for Building Worker Power in the 21st Century European Port Industry: A Comparative Study of the International Dockworkers Council and the International Transport Workers Federation by Caitlin Fox-Hodess, University of California, Berkeley.

A large and growing literature in the past two decades has sought to understand the constraints and possibilities of worker organizing in the global neoliberal political economy (Stevis and Boswell 2007; Bronfenbrenner2007; Evans 2010). In Europe, transnational market integration and economic liberalization have presented a unique set of challenges for worker movements.

While labor unions continue to operate in a largely national context, important decisions are often made at the level of the European Union (EU), whether directly through EU policy, or indirectly through the imposition of EU objectives, such as fiscal austerity, on national governments.

One of the most promising strategies for the European labor movement is the coordination of national labor mobilizations and international solidarity through transnational labor federations (Fairbrother and Hammer 2005; Turnbull 2007; Erne 2008; Croucher and Cotton 2009). My study seeks to contribute to the growing literature on the new labor internationalism through a comparative study of two transnational federations of dockworkers’ unions – the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), based in London, and the International Dockworkers Council (IDC), based in Barcelona. Read full report here: Perspectives on Europe


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