The GSSS aim was to inform ICTU members as 2015 saw two major international agreements which has the potential to help and improve the lives of millions of people worldwide. The Summit in New York set 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (see Appendix I) and later in Paris there was the historical Global Agreement on Climate Change 2030 agreed. Both these agreements have Union fingerprints on them and therefore hold huge significance for Unions and their members worldwide. Hence the GSSS which ensures that the information train and resultant actions are sustained.
Among the key issues to feature and be debated in the Letterkenny Summer school this year was responding to climate change, the global refugee crisis and eyewitness accounts in Palestine which is to a certain extent hidden from us. This was my first time to attend the event which was organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU). The event timetable is attached (see Appendix II).
The Overarching theme of the GSSS was Global Challenges and Opportunities – Local and Global Responses.
Brian Campfield, Congress President welcomed the participants to the GSSS – the first in Donegal. He welcomed the attendance of Joe McHugh, Minister for State for International Development, given the theme of the school. He referenced the two international agreements and reiterated that, if fully implemented, could help improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. Globally, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimate we need to create around 40 million jobs per year and to radically improve conditions for some 780 million women and men who are working but not earning enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. The Summer school was told that the “End to Poverty Initiative” outlines how Agenda 2030 puts decent work for all at the heart of the world’s sustainable development road map for the next 15 years and this set the agenda for Anna Biondi, Deputy Director of ACTRAV (Workers Bureau of the ILO) address. The starkness of the statistics from Qatar’s preparations for the World Cup 2022 is that some 7000 workers will die before the world cup is hosted – this equates to each game having cost the lives of 100 workers. Workers in Qatar are effectively owned by their employers, their conditions are appalling but worst of all they cannot leave their jobs even if their lives are at risk.
The decarbonisation agenda of economies was also outlined as central to climate change however, and due to trade union efforts, there is a reference to human rights and the concept of “just transition” now contained in the Paris text. Workers have a right to know what their Governments and employers’ plans are to decarbonise economies and work places and to be equal partners in that process. The film – This changes Everything by Avi Lewis (a trailer can be viewed on the following link) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQhflH4alO0 reimagined the challenges which are vast of climate change and focused on the Canadian Tar Pits and was produced in conjunction with Naomi Klein's bestselling book of the same name. This urgent dispatch on climate change contends that the greatest crisis we have ever faced also offers us the opportunity to address and correct the inhumane systems.
Brian’s final contribution was the refugee crisis and with 80 percent of displaced persons remaining in developing countries, Europe and other G20 nations are scrambling to minimise refugee intake.
The stark testimony of a Syrian refugee’s interview was recounted and articulated the desperate plight of these peoples to the participants.
“I didn’t risk my life – I was already dead”
The UN General Assembly High-Level plenary meeting which takes place in New York on 19th September 2016 was flagged to participants and sets as its focus to address the large movements of refugees and migrants. The continued ongoing violation of human rights and the insidious Sociocide agenda remains central to the work of Global Solidarity – this is particularly evident from the work to date by Eamon McMahon, Trade Union Friends of Palestine (TUFP).
Warnings were also sounded by Brian about the dangers of environmental regulations and poverty reduction measures being sacrificed at the altar of trade deals – such as TTIP – and he reiterated that Congress will continue to resist such deals that threaten workers’ rights.
This Year’s Summer School address was given by Minister for State for International Development, Joe McHugh, TD who outlined how his remit encompasses not just climate change but also responsibility for the Irish Diaspora worldwide and the 7 billion who claim to be Irish and also population displacement. The Minister in delivering the opening address formally welcomed the GSSS to Donegal for what was the very first occasion that it was hosted in the county.
Minister McHugh spoke about the policy commitment to “One World one future”. The unique challenge of Climate change and the major impacts was acknowledged at a community level “thinking globally and acting locally”. He gave recognition to multilateral involvement and how this can achieve results. Those attending were also informed regarding the New Irish Aid programme to be developed by the end of the year and the ongoing work of the Irish Navy the LE James Joyce rescuing some 6500 Syrian Refugees in the Mediterranean.
I have attached Anna Biondi, Deputy Director of ACTRAV (Workers Bureau of the ILO) address. (see Appendix III).
I have also included in this feedback and review article Adrian Kane’s Paper Titled “A Just Transition” (see Appendix IV) which gives an enlightening rationale to the persistent discontent and helplessness experienced by the working class and he posits that this has been brought about by the persistent dismissal of the values, beliefs and myths of the working class – for me this particularly resonated and is the self-same destructive culture that permeates nursing.
That there is a continuation of information sharing with all Unions to their members
Each Union identifies the relevance of the Summer School Agenda to their operationalisation
Practical Steps as to how the Agenda 2030 goals can be achieved
Ongoing on Congress Agenda
Sept 19th Stormont Buildings Protest
Sept 30th & Oct 1st TUFP Conference in Belfast (Unison Offices)
More information and appendices follow this link