Multinational Corporations, Labour and the National Interest Paper by David Abdulah Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union At the Conference on the Economy - 2008 UWI, St. Augustine
Introductory Remarks • Thank Organisers for invitation • Congratulations for Conference in Tribute to Trevor Farrell • Some Notes on Trevor and the OWTU and the period of engagement with radical movements – ’73 to mid ’80’s (OWTU, ULF – pre and post the split with Panday, CIDWIC, CLS, Grenada and the PRG)
Political Economy • Concern with the state of the nation and of its citizens, particularly the most disadvantaged and poor (c.f. Economics of Discontent) • Issue of “development” – measures of development; assessment of how much we have “developed”; critique of strategy of development (the Lewis model) • Arising out of this – employment and unemplyment
The central significance of work and employment • “Employment for the working population is important not only from the point of view of increasing production. It is also important, perhaps even more important, from the point of view of man’s dignity and because of the fact that in a commodity economy, the standard of living of the worker is dictated by his ability to earn a wage.” Economics of Discontent
The central significance of work and employment • “The proper use of a society’s human resources is of paramount importance. There are two dimensions of this…the provision of steady, productive and remunerative employment… (and)…the fullest possible realization of the skills, creativity and energy resident in each worker” Economics of Discontent
The Philosophical Position Restated • Fierce Critique of those who “have begun raising questions as to whether unemployment is not being overstressed or misrepresented or both” • Reason for critique – “not simply because of its intellectual merits or demerits, but because of it will have profound social and political implication if accepted” – Why is Unemployment a Major Problem.
The Philosophical Position Restated • “Unemployment really means the involuntary lack of productive employment, meaning by productive employment activity which results in socially valued and acceptable output. Productive employment need not involve earning a wage and vice-versa… (eg housewives, people engaged in voluntary work and subsistence producers are all productively employed, producing socially valued and acceptable output but without receiving a wage”
The Philosophical Position Restated • “…rentiers, heirs and heiresses and special works gangs in Trinidad and Jamaica may all be in receipt of an income without geneerating any output” • “…human beings …need to work in the sense of organised, purposeful activity resulting in the production of socially valued and acceptable output” • There are two needs – work and income
The Philosophical Position Restated • “the need for creative, productive work in sufficient amount is …and integral part of our humanity. Man has a need to be creative, to develop and use his productive powers and his skills; to do work in which he can take pride, which he can feel contributes to some grand ans laudable purpose and which will bring him status, prestige and the respect of his fellows”.