Education for a new International Labour Solidarity: Case Study of the CUSO-OXFAM Labour Project
Hesch, Richard Allan
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The thesis identifies the ways in Which the CUSO-OXFAM Labour Project (COLP) has worked to strengthen international labour solidarity in Saskatchewan. COLP is a development education project mandated to work primarily With the working-class in Saskatchewan. COLP's ideology contrasts with that of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) leadership as manifested in the international labour solidarity movement by developing class-consciousness rather than economism, pluralism, and social democracy. In contrast to existing practice, COLP has taken its internationalist educational programs directly to rank-and-file trade unionists rather than circulating its information amongst the union leadership alone. COLP's curriculum falls within the tradition of progressive labour education programs in the Western English-speaking world and is demarcated from the ideology of standard labour education programs in Canada, the United states, and Great Britain. Standard labour education programs today are characterized by their reproduction of pluralism and economism, and are organized according to an intellectually fragmenting and skills-based curricular ideology. Alternative and progressive labour education programs have enjoyed the support of radical or progressive trade unions, but have been opposed or consciously ignored by dominant labour centrals. COLP shares these characteristics. The Saskatchewan Labour Information Project (SLIP) provided a precedent for class-conscious development education with workers when it was organized in 1976. After SLIP's demise, its ideology was carried into the formation Of COLP in 1980. COLP's steering committee and coordinator work closely together to develop a policy and practice which advances international labour solidarity in Saskatchewan. COLP receives support from unions in the forefront of the class struggle in this province, but is not endorsed by the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour or the CLC. Dependence on state funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) may have limited COLP's ability to articulate an alternative ideology for the international solidarity movement to that of the CLC. COLP aims to educate for a class-conscious international labour solidarity movement in Saskatchewan. To this end, the project's curriculum design is consistent with both radical development education theory and a dialectical materialist theory of education. Curriculum has been implemented in a dialectical fashion as well, although limitations imposed by COLP's trade union context have prevented a fully successful implementation. The ideology transmitted through the project's curriculum content contrasts 'With that of standard labour education programs by promoting class-consciousness in its fullest sense. Tours to Nicaragua organized by COLP have been particularly significant in this regard. The advancement of internationalist class-consciousness in Canadian labour education comes at a time of crisis for the North American labour movement and presents a necessary alternative to the social democratic ideology which dominates Western labour internationalism.