Dorthe Hindborg is a Danish Politician and Trade Union Activist who is involved in a Global Education Partnership.
Taking a Stand for a Better World: An Interview with Dorthe Hindborg
Danish Politician and Trade Unionist Dorthe Hindborg is somebody who is driven to make positive change in the lives of ordinary people. Across the Trade Union Movement, she has built a reputation as a tireless advocate for workers’ rights. This week we were extremely fortunate to conduct an interview with her. Her willingness to give us her valuable time to discuss global education is greatly appreciated by the Bridge 47 Network. Dorthe was interviewed by Wayne Tobin.
Wayne Tobin: How can Trade Union membership help to fight global injustices?
Dorthe Hindborg: It is part of our role in society. For me, it is important that Trade Unions aren’t just a narrow thing and we should have a wider perspective on things. Even though in Denmark the bargains we make are only valid inside Denmark, I think the problems have no boundaries. Things like solidarity and the common things that we often take for granted in the Western Countries are essential. We have a role in fighting these things outside of our own country as well and in our own everyday lives. That’s where I think we should start first of all.
Wayne Tobin: Why do you feel it is important for Trade Unions to engage their staff and members in global education? How is it beneficial?
In terms of why I think it is important for my staff and my members, it is because they are part of our Union and they are part of who we are. Since we are a political organisation, they work with whatever initiatives and priorities which we decide are appropriate. They are like my extension, but the Board’s extension as it is the whole Board who is with this.
I think it is essential to engage our members so we can get out to so many more people. We have members in all areas of society from industrial plants, construction, public offices and also members working with the textile industry which is a huge problem in the world. I think it’s crucial for them in the work they do to “take a stand in what they do” and in that way being able to push buttons in their work life and change things that are within their area. To be able to do that, you need to have an awareness both of the problems and being part of finding solutions.
Wayne Tobin: Do you think that Trade Union membership gives you an edge or helps when you want to look at global issues?
Yes, because I think it is important we deal with this on more levels – on our own personal level and how we lead our lives with our families, but it is imperative we take it to a higher level. In Denmark we have an organisation which consists of many Trade Unions in all different areas, an Umbrella organisation. I pushed them to start dealing with the SDGs because we can play a part in these issues because they are here to stay. They are issues that we must deal with for the rest of our lives.
Wayne Tobin: In your experience, what are the benefits of informal education through Trade Unions and other organisations?
Dorthe Hindborg: Informal education is huge at least in my organisation, as we are one of the medium-sized Trade Unions in Denmark. Because of that, we know each other very well, for example elected Shop Stewards (Union Representatives). All of our Union Representatives are quite close to us and because of that informal education is maybe the best way. Also, because this is a matter of taking a stand, I think informal education, knowledge or awareness is the easiest way to work with this to achieve something. I think if we set up something formal that it could get heavy and that would not be flexible enough.
Wayne Tobin: Do you think that Global Education can help a Trade Union to accomplish its mission/ mandate?
Dorthe Hindborg: I strongly believe so because in Trade Unions while we have our energies working on internal problems, we are all in this together. First World problems are conflicting with the rest of the world’s problems so I think in that we have to take responsibility to achieve our mission on a higher level which is giving the best lives for our members and the communities that we are part of. If I could add, I don’t think we have been aware of this enough in the Trade Unions and I think we could have done a better job.
Wayne Tobin: What advice would you give to CSOs to help them initiate new Global Education partnerships with Trade Unions?
Dorthe Hindborg: First of all, I was asking “can we do this?” and a little apprehensive. My advice would be to just go ahead-you can’t wait for another person to make the path for you – if you don’t try, you don’t succeed, that’s for sure. I think we have an obligation and my advice is to just go ahead. Our partner had not been involved in something like this either so none of us knew how we should do this but the talks we had to start this partnership have been very valuable.
I know other Unions, at least in my area in Denmark, are quite interested. Not everyone joins a Union but I think we can make ourselves more relevant to people who don’t usually look at Unions as having relevance in our lives. It gives us a lane more on the highway: we have more roles to play and therefore more relevance in more peoples’ lives. We also have more relevance for the people who are joining Unions for the more traditional reasons. On that level it makes so much sense.
Wayne Tobin: Your work must be very rewarding as it is directly impacting people. What brough you into this work and how did you become involved?
It started with how I grew up. My family was always very engaged in politics and my family have been Union people for generations. That’s not why I joined at all but that’s what gave me my values.
Why I joined both the Union and my political party as an activist was because I couldn’t not do it. It is what I’m driven by –a feeling of wanting to change things for people and for society. I think our society is very functional in Denmark and our democracy works well. But things can always get better and we have people who have problems who need the community to care for them and we have a responsibility always to make things better. What we give to the next generation should always be better than what we experienced ourselves. That’s what I’m driven by.
Wayne Tobin: I hope you will stay involved in politics and Trade Union Movement. Will you run for Office again?
Dorthe Hindborg: I am running for Parliament next time as well. For me working in the Parliament is a way to do Union work on a wider level. In Denmark we have a saying “It’s not that I chose something away, I chose something more”.