Politicians and trade unionists
It has been often stated that the world is nothing but a global village. Following on this, it ought not to come as a surprise that there are commonalities in the many issues that engage the attention of both politicians and trade unionists.
In providing an answer as to why these two groups of practitioners have been identified over all other professionals, the simple answer to this is that both politicians and the trade unionists have a remit to provide service and representation for the people.
It is a fact that trade unionists have a vested interest in the matters of the state. Politicians are entrusted by the people with the responsibility of governance of the state. They are charged to make policy decisions and enact laws.
Trade unionists, as the representatives of workers, are concerned with all aspects of national development. They have a responsibility to help shape policy, and to thereafter play a role in monitoring and policing the management and execution process.
In every political campaign across the globe, it is traditional that the key topics for public debate are social services which include health and education, matters related to the economy, poverty eradication and employment creation.
These are all part of the ongoing agenda of the trade union movement. This is so as trade unions have the awesome responsibility of promoting and protecting the welfare of the people.
The 2016 Presidential Election race in the United States has generated significant interest in more ways than one. What however stands out is the focus placed by politicians on what they consider is apparently best for the people of the United States of America.
Some politicians make it appear that they are the ones who know and understand the issues, are the repository of all knowledge and have the answers to addressing the problems of the state. That in itself can best be described as wishful thinking.
Trade unionists, like politicians, are powerful leaders. Trade unionists often have direct mandates from their constituents, unlike politicians, who act based on what they perceive is best at a given time. Trade unions are more than lobby groups, but are dynamic change agents. The power and influence which they wield is enough to cause politicians to reconsider their plans and actions. As state actors who share a vested interest in the nation’s development and growth, there are good grounds for them to consolidate their relationship.
A review of the hotly debated topics in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, demonstrates the universality of the issues which would also capture the attention of the leadership of trade unions. The raising of the minimum wage, poverty eradication, employment creation, addressing the needs and protection of the most vulnerable workers, and protection of the justice system to preserve civil liberties.
Also, equal rights and justice, universal healthcare/access to primary health care, access to free education for the masses at the university and college level, unity of the nation and preservation of democracy. These are fundamental issues that concern trade unions at the local and regional level, and in developed and first world countries.
Apart from the basic known issues, the list includes some familiar ones such as campaign financing, repair of the criminal justice system, immigration reform, protection of the environment/green economy, climate change, water issues, renewable energy, addressing the high cost of prescription drugs and addressing emerging oligarchies.
There can absolutely be no doubt that the world is a hot bed of problems which can best be tackled through a sense of unity of purpose. There ought to be a clear understanding that no amount of grandstanding by either politicians or trade union leaders will achieve the goal of unifying a nation and that of national development and growth.
(Dennis DePeiza is a trade unionist and labour management consultant.
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