They have expressed solidarity on behalf of trade unionists throughout the world. Some Global Unions have also facilitated the sending of messages by affiliated unions.
Some Global Unions have also focused on the role of members of their Japanese affiliates in responding to the crisis or bringing relief to its victims. ICEM has recognised courageous members of affiliates who, at great risk to their lives, are doing everything possible to contain nuclear leaks and contamination. ITF is focusing on transport workers who have worked on saving passengers stranded on public transport and on workers engaged in relief operations. And, PSI has highlighted the heroic efforts of members of its affiliates to respond to the health care and other needs of the Japanese people.
Peter Waldorff, General Secretary of PSI (and also Chair of the Council of Global Unions) in his message to their members reflected a common feeling throughout the global trade union movement. He said, “You, as PSI affiliates, have always responded quickly and generously with aid to other PSI members who’ve suffered from natural disasters in the past. Please be assured that we are ready to organise help and assistance from PSI and our affiliates and we will be in contact over the coming days to organise that assistance.” PSI, ITF CEM, IMF and EI have all organised fund raising appeals as a way, even if inadequate to the real needs on the ground, to share in the relief effort.
UNI Global Union held its latest World Congress in Nagasaki in November of 2010. In its message of solidarity, it contrasted the brutality of the devastation with the warm welcome to Japan that delegates received. It was the first time many of them had ever visited Japan and the suffering that they witness on their television screens is against the backdrop of that good and positive Congress experience.
Members of BWIs Japanese affiliates, in particular those in the construction industry, are also participating in relief efforts and will play a vital role in the rebuilding of the country.
The General Secretary of the Building and Woodworkers International and Vice Chair of the Council of Global Unions, Ambet Yuson, at a ceremony in Berlin that included a moment of silence for the victims, stated, "The entire Council of Global Unions shares the agonies and unfolding sufferings of Japan and we will mobilize international solidarity to ensure that the country will rise from these ruins.”
The effects of the earthquake and tsunami will not go away soon. The whole world is watching and concerned. Global Unions, as organised representatives of workers at the global level, are able to transmit solidarity and show in concrete ways that concern. That will continue long after the disaster has left the headlines and the television screens.