Trade Union Education

GLI undertakes research, design and delivery of international courses and meetings for senior workplace reps in specific industrial sectors or corporations. Each is designed to create or strengthen cross-border organisation and solidarity between unions to build collective power in the global workplace, working closely with the appropriate Global Union Federations. We also design, manage and evaluate longer-term international projects to support trade union development and organisation.

GLI offers a wide range of courses and education programmes to the trade union movement, including one-day, weekend, five-day residential courses and work-shops, and summer schools, suitable for trade union professionals and lay activists. These include both GLI Courses and bespoke education programmes commissioned from GLI by unions.

GLI specialises in two areas:

The Politics of the International Trade Union Movement

As we face the ever-increased need to organise and cooperate internationally, we need to develop our understanding of the key challenges facing the international movement. International trade union organisations are changing, and new strategies, structures and policies are needed to build a movement capable of achieving social, environmental and economic justice.

GLI offers bespoke programmes for union representatives to learn about the current debates and issues facing the international movement, including for example:

  • Understanding Globalisation and ‘New’ Capitalism
  • Labour, Climate Change & Energy Policy (in conjunction with GLI New York)
  • The Changing Nature of Work – Fighting Precarious & Informal Employment
  • “Institutional Class Struggle” – the history, politics and functions of the ILO
  • The International Politics of Organising
  • Global Perspectives for Trade Union Renewal
Organising in the Global Workplace

Effective organising demands an understanding of the global operations of employers, the landscape of the international trade union movement, and the practical skills and techniques in cross-border organisation.

A focus on policy debates, strategies and histories of the international movement, guided by research on the political and industrial strategies of international trade unionism, sector and company profiles, and analysis of international trends in support of international collective bargaining, organising and leverage.

GLI offers advanced residential courses for organisers and activists in transnational corporations, or in globally-integrated industries. The design of each course is tailored to meet the specific needs of the target sector, sub-sector or individual company, working closely with the appropriate national officer and senior lay representatives, but is generally built around four key themes:

  • Global Economy – Local Impact Seeing the big picture of global trends and issues that affect the industry, the workplace and workers, such as the ‘financialisation’ of corporations, the growth of precarious labour and global shifts of economic power.
  • Inside the Corporate Mind Understanding corporate strategy, strengths and vulnerabilities. Identifying international leverage for organising campaigns.
  • Learn from our global movement Learning from the experience and organising strategies of workers and unions in other countries working for the same corporation or industrial sector.
  • Build the Links – Create the Networks Working with Global Union Federations. Taking practical steps in building and strengthening international shop steward organisation in the global workplace.



We are committed to a method of trade union education that is participatory and inclusive. We aim to provide an open space for debate and discussion.


Our courses are geared towards the development of concrete and specific plans of action by participants at the completion of the programme. This may include the establishment of permanent links with national or local unions in other countries, practical proposal for international networks of workplace union representatives within companies and sectors, or building working relationships with Global Union Federations.

Prior Research

Each course is carefully prepared with research materials on the companies and sectors involved.

Direct International Engagement

GLI has a large network of contact among national unions globally, international union federations, labour movement NGOs, workers’ education organisations, and specialist academics working within the labour movement. As far as possible, GLI courses always attempt to enable participants to experience direct engagement and discussion with unions in other countries and/or Global Union Federations.

Depending on the needs of the commissioning union, GLI can provide preparatory research, course materials, programme design, speakers and facilitators, delivery and evaluation. All commissioned programmes are available to unions on a negotiated fee basis.

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