Re-Imagining Global Union Representation Under Globalisation: A Case of Seafaring Labour & the Nautilus International Cross-Border Merger

  • Victor Oyaro Gekara RMIT University
  • Iris Acejo Cardiff University
  • Helen Sampson Cardiff University
Keywords: cross-border unions, innovative unions, Nautilus International, path-dependency, union capacity,


This paper reflects on the opportunities and challenges for labour movement revitalisation through cross-border organising. It considers whether, and how, unions may innovate and present a united front, where transnational employers actively seek to divide and fragment labour for cost advantage. The analysis examines the relevance of path-dependency theory to an explanation of some of the observed limitations to innovation and adaptability among unions. In the light of growing debates about union renewal in the context of globalisation, we examine the obstacles to an effective response to global capital by national unions using the illustrative example of Nautilus International (NI). We conclude that cross-border union organising strategies, such as adopted by NI, are essential to sustain effective representation but great challenges, related to path-dependency exist.