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We Don’t Need More Speeches’
Practice Acts of Actual
Solidarity, Kingsley Tells
International Conference


UE Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley

‘We believe that our common interests require a common commitment to struggle. Our vision is that of a militant and aggressive approach to international solidarity, a fighting form of solidarity which puts us into joint action on issues from fundamental labor rights to future employment security. Acting together, fighting together we can challenge corporate power and strengthen the hand of workers everywhere to fight for jobs, peace and justice.’

— UE Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley at the International Symposium on Employment Security and the Role of Trade Unions, Hakone, Japan.

UE’s Kingsley and conferees from India, Australia and Japan

UE’s Kingsley and conferees from India, Australia and Japan celebrate the occasion in local style at the symposium’s opening reception.

Zenroren's Website
Conference Coverage
Brother Kingsley's Remarks

Speeches and resolutions are okay, but what unions around the world need are acts of real solidarity, UE Dir. of Org. Bob Kingsley told a conference in Hakone, Japan. He backed up this appeal by proposing a bold plan of cooperation between UE and Japan’s militant National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren).

Kingsley represented UE at a Zenroren-sponsored conference on employment security and the role of trade unions Oct. 30 to Nov. 1. (As host, Zenroren paid the expenses of this trip.)

The UE officer called for "a fighting form of solidarity to counter the growing global power of our corporate adversaries." UE is interested in working with Zenroren to advance workers’ rights in Japan and the United States within the same multinational corporations, he told the UE NEWS.

UE seeks to work with Zenroren to identify those corporations with operations in both Japan and the U.S. that can be targeted for joint organizing campaigns, Kingsley said.

This approach builds from the existing, mature relationship between Zenroren and UE, the organizing director suggested. UE has been represented at two previous international conferences sponsored by Zenroren; a high-ranking Zenroren delegation attended the 1999 UE Convention.

What’s more, Zenroren successfully put pressure on the Japanese corporation Iris to rehire a worker fired during a UE organizing campaign in Wisconsin. Zenroren demanded that Kobe Steel negotiate with UE members at the then-Kobe-owned Glastics plant in Jefferson, Ohio. "This is the very definition of fighting solidarity," declared Kingsley. Joint organizing would logically be the next stop, Kingsley suggested.

In a separate meeting following the international symposium Kingsley and Zenroren leaders discussed this proposal in greater detail.


The symposium heard considerable discussion on the common experience of deindustrialization. Accompanying the expanded economic boom are continuing threats to employment security. Japanese workers are experiencing the nightmare of plant closings, downsizing and restructuring that UE members have lived through for the past two decades. UE’s Kingsley offered the union’s experience in fighting plant closings to the leaders of other Pacific Rim unions.

Seiji Terama, a Zenroren leader, told the symposium that "the Japanese government is trying to pull out the nation’s economy from the current deep crisis at the cost of the well-being of workers and the population." Zenroren’s answer includes a nationwide, public campaign focusing on a reduction of working hours, creation of jobs, expansion of social insurance, a halt to consumption taxes and redirected budget priorities.

"Massive job losses, deterioration in working conditions, wage cuts and unfair labor practices have been common situations at the workplace in Korea," reported trade union leader Hoon Joong Kang.

Tom Roberts of Australia’s Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union reported on the union’s successful fight for shorter working hours. Vjk Nair of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions spoke of the devastation accompanying an 11 percent increase in unemployment from 1991 to 1998. Rekson Silaban from SBSI in Indonesia said that structural changes in the economy have contributed to 36 million being unemployed and many millions more underemployed out of a workforce of some 120 million.


In his remarks, Kingsley explained how U.S. workers are not reaping the full benefits of their country’s economic boom, and in fact are working longer hours for less. He prescribed union organization, independent political action and international solidarity as the solutions.

Referring to the international phenomenon of downsizing and wage cuts, Kingsley declared, "We in UE are also keenly aware that the United States and U.S.-based multinationals are among the loudest proponents of new world trade and investment schemes which promote this race to the bottom. We recognize the hypocrisy of U.S. trade policies which seek to include workers’ rights provisions in new world trade agreements when the United States itself violates freedom of association standards by failing to protect the rights of workers to organize, bargain and strike."

(Full texts of symposium remarks — in English — can be found on the Zenroren website at:; Brother Kingsley's remarks can be found at:

UE News - 11/00

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