ICF Bangkok

Anyone trying to get hold of LBL staff at the end of November would have had a hard time, with three of us away at the International Campaign Forum in Bangkok, Thailand. Organised by the Clean Clothes Campaign, the Thai Labour Campaign and CEC, India, the forum brought together over a hundred different people representing unions, women’s organisations, campaigners and activists from all over the world for three days of plotting and planning for two major global campaigns due to be launched in 2008.

One is still a secret (but we’ll tell you all about it later in the year – watch this space!), the other, Play Fair 2008, has already launched. To include a mass SMS action, an e-petition and demonstations and events in countries all over the world, this campaign promises to be even bigger and better than the Play Fair campaign for the Athens Olympics. Of course here in the UK all eyes are on London 2012, and we hope enough of you will be involved to convince the London Organising Committee to take responsibility for workers producing goods with their logo. Their actions so far have been less than convincing…

Of course the forum was above all an opportunity for us all to get together and strengthen our bonds, catch up on information from different countries and think about how we can work together to make a real difference for workers in garment supply chains. But while the meetings were pretty intense, there was also lots of fun to be had. TLC, along with Thai transport and public sector unions, organised a solidarity night at an occupied bus station. We had a huge welcome and spent the evening dancing and singing. Each region had to do a song or two, most of us proving that enthusiasm can just about make of for total lack of talent. There was also a trip to check out Tesco’s in Thailand, a visit to the unionised Triumph factory and a trip to the Export Processing Zone. Most people were pretty tired by the last night, but a few were still u for strutting their stuff at the last night party. It appeared that everyone had disappeared by 11pm although, until a number of people were found several hours later drinking whiskey with the waiters in a cupboard…..

The ongoing legal wrangles over the FFI case slightly overshadowed the event, with three of our number awaiting the decision of the India court over whether to issue international arrest warrents. Still the meeting to discuss how we work together was really well attending, despite it taking place after 8 hours of meeting and we know that actions and work is taking place all over the world to defend the CCC and its partners from such attacks.

For me the main thing I’ll take away (apart from lots more work!) is the overwhelming spirit of solidarity in the room, the feeling that all of us were working together for the same cause; despite differences in language, type of organisation, gender and nationallity we all felt an important part of this movement. And that together we can all make a difference.

The next two years promise to be exciting. We hope you can join us…

From the ICF, Bangkok


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