Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/1999/08/11/web_workers_to_get_own/

Web workers to get own trade union

Webmasters of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your HTML

By Tim Richardson

Posted in Business, 11th August 1999 12:05 GMT

Web workers will be asked to unite in solidarity against the repression of the managing classes if a new trade union receives the backing it needs. The brothers and sisters behind W4U -- the World Wide Web Worker's Union -- claim that a global union would be able to negotiate with employers on issues such as wages, overtime and working conditions. Global working practices could be imposed on multinational companies to create a level playing field for Web workers. And if established, W4U would also be able to campaign on behalf of workers in other sectors who may not have the industrial muscle to fight for their own rights. Of course, there would always be the threat of strike action on an unprecedented scale if Web workers' rights were not met. According to W4U: "Web workers are the most powerful workforce in the world today (in bottom-line terms of revenue per employee) and yet are, by and large, exploited. "Although relatively well paid, most Web workers see a hierarchy of management and salespeople above them who reap much larger rewards with much less effort. In particular, Web workers are often asked to work long hours to meet unrealistic deadlines set by over-enthusiastic salespeople." Martin Cosgrave, one of the people behind W4U, told The Register: "At the moment it is an idea, and there are no fixed plans. I think it's a great idea that with some co-ordination could be a positive benefit to the whole planet. "I would expect that the union would affiliate itself with whatever unions were most relevant in individual countries, although I haven't been in touch with the TUC (Trades Union Congress) yet. A spokesman for the Communication Workers Union (CWU) said that he thought there were enough unions in existence to cater for the people who work on the Web and that any new union would only serve to fragment existing co-ordinated approaches. ® See also: Flying pickets turn to Internet to wage war on factory owners