TRADE UNION FOREIGN POLICY by Jeffrey Harrod

TRADE UNION FOREIGN POLICY

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A case study of Anglo-American trade union intervention in the Jamaican labor movement, undertaken to investigate foreign relations between ""non-governmental organizations"" and written in daunting thesis form. The most memorable cases of such relations between trade unions have, of course, been U.S.-government-sponsored efforts to build anti-Communist unions in postwar France and Italy and in Guyana; but Harrod passes over these episodes and their CIA leadership as quickly and noncommitally as possible. In approaching Jamaica, he insists that ""culture"" is somehow a decisive factor ""transcending dass and color,"" but the book hardly bears this out. He sketches the emergence of Jamaican unions as the residue of mass ferment in 1919 and 1937-38, tediously surveys the difference between their union machinery and that of British and American labor organizations, and describes Jamaican contacts with U.S. Steelworkers and the British Trades Union Council. In the early '50's a pro-U.S, union, the NWU, emerged in control of the workers in the new U.S.owned bauxite-alumina industry. The Steelworkers' main goal in helping organize the NWU, Harrod concludes, was to ensure a flow of raw rmterials for processing in the U.S., to maintain ""a safe investment climate,"" to pursue Eisenhower's stockpiling policy of strategic minerals, and to implement the Jamaican government's desires for active collaboration with U.S. business and government. On their part the British were concerned with protecting the labor movement from radical leadership and, later, helping out the Americans. The '50's purge of union ""Marxists"" must be seen in this light; as Harrod indicates, the actual target was militancy and Jamaican nationalism. To do justice to this course of events demands an Alec Waugh or an anti-imperialist; but Harrod merely commends the fact that ""the [foreign] unions played an important part in creating a suitable investment climate for corporations and assisted in the orderly transfer of hegemonic power between their respective nation states."" Winnowed from its dissertation-style verbiage, both the material and the conclusions are suggestive.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1972
Publisher: Doubleday