Experiments in Cross-Scalar Labour Organizing: Reflections on Trade Union-Building Work in Aceh after the 2004 Tsunami

05 January 2017

As part of the post-tsunami reconstruction effort Aceh, international labour movement organizations “jumped scale” in an attempt to revitalize a moribund local labour movement. This article provides a close analysis of the four internationally sponsored trade union-building projects undertaken as part of that process. This unique intervention sheds light on the crucial role of local context and the extent to which the principles of international solidarity and the pragmatics of trade union diplomacy are mediated through money, institutions, individuals and day-to-day activities. The Aceh case underscores the importance of contingency and the agency of individuals in shaping an international intervention of this kind. In doing so it demonstrates how circuits of labour activism can be affected by constraints and opportunities unrelated to trade union politics or the relations of production.