SIGTUR, the Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights, is an alliance and a movement of democratic unions in the Global South (Latin America, Africa, Asia and Australia).
SIGTUR is a space of open debate through its regular Congresses and leaders’ meetings in order to formulate and present a united voice of the working class in the Global South.
SIGTUR is not just a space to share a common southern experience, even though this emerging wider social consciousness is vital to drive the struggle. SIGTUR is a space to develop an alternative vision to that of neo-liberal globalisation.
SIGTUR is the realisation of a dream, a vision, which COSATU leaders had in the late 1980s, when they sensed the advent of the free market ideology spelt disaster for working people across the globe and in the Global South in particular.
The then General Secretary of COSATU, Jay Naidoo, asserted that a south/south internationalism needed to be constructed. Zwelinzima Vavi participated in the early meetings where the structure of SIGTUR was formulated.
COSATU found a willing ally in the Australian trade union movement the ACTU Australian Council of Trade Unions who were themselves concerned about the ‘race to the bottom’ that neo-liberal globalisation represented.
SIGTUR was launched at a meeting of democratic unions from the Global South in May 1991 in Western Australia.This meeting comprised representatives of the Congress of South African Trade Unions COSATU the Australian Council of Trade Unions ACTU the newly formed trade union federation Solidarity in Indonesia; the Kilusang Mayo Uno May the First Movement in the Philippines and a representative from the Malaysian trade unions.
From this small beginning of two labor movements coming together to create something new, the initiative has grown over the past twenty years and now embraces movements in 35 countries and four continents.