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Overview

Trying to build alliances that span the divide between trade unions and NGOs as well as the divide between the North and the South might seem a utopian task. But this is exactly what an imaginative new generation of organisers from the Western hemisphere’s labour movements and NGOs are trying to do. This paper analyses two very different efforts working to bridge this ‘double divide’. The first is a combination of organisations, including unions and NGOs in both North and South, that are focusing on blatant violations of the dignity of workers in apparel export processing zones in the South. This ‘basic rights complex’ has resulted in important victories. A second complex of organisations, also involving unions and NGOs in both North and South, has raised broad macro issues of governance focusing particularly on the anti-democratic character of current proposals for a free trade area of the Americas. Neither of these complexes is without its weaknesses, but each makes it clear that bridging the double divide should be thought of not as a utopian dream but as work in progress.

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10.1080/0961452032000170613

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