The Establishment of WFTU, a necessity of the new era…
The Founding Conference of the World Federation of Trade Unions was held in Paris on 3 October 1945, following a preparatory meeting in London, three months prior to the official end of World War II. WFTU was considered to be indicative of the new era, which was marked by the defeat of fascism. The workers and the democratic forces all over the world saw in this victory a new future, where imperialism and colonialism would subside. They also saw the single desire and unity of the working class around the world to fight together for a better post-war future. It was not a random fact that in the articles of WFTU approved in 1945, among the primary objectives there was a reference to the “Fight against war and its causes, as well as the continuous struggle for a stable and lasting peace throughout the world”.
The topics of the preparatory meeting were:
- Further strengthening of the war effort alliance ,
- The position of Trade Unions in regards to the matter of future peace ,
- The representation of Trade Unions in the Peace Conference and the preparatory committees and meetings for relief, rehabilitation, and post-war reconstruction,
- The problems of post-war reconstruction of the International Trade Union Movement.
From October 3rd onwards, the meeting turned to be a conference with the participation of 346 representatives from 56 countries, representing some 67,000,000 organized workers. At the WFTU foundation, all the General Confederations which had been established and had been operating in their countries, also took part.
The contribution of the Pancyprian Federation of Labour (PEO) to the International Trade Union Movement…
The trade union movement of PEO has the honor of being among the founding members of the World Federation of Trade Union and plays an important role in the solutions of the problems of the working class on an international level. To this day, it continues playing a leading role, having assumed the responsibility for the European Regional Office of the WFTU as well as through the participation of its trade unions in the international branches.
The active role of PEO in WFTU, since its establishment, is particularly important as it not only promotes its own status, but also that of the entire trade union movement of Cyprus. It an activity that is helpful in the struggles of the working class in Cyprus, in return for solidarity and support to the struggles of working countries, the struggle of other peoples for independence and progress, contributing as it does to the struggles against imperialism circles.
WFTU on the side of the political and social struggles of all peoples for a better tomorrow…
From 1945 until the end of 1980, with over 400 million members across the world, the WFTU had a decisive contribution to highlighting the role of the working class. Also, WFTU’s role in defending national liberation movements and trade unions operating within difficult situations and adverse conditions, has also been extremely important. The international agreements relating to trade unions and democratic freedoms, social security, collective agreements, the struggles of women’s rights, child labour and other workers’ rights, also bear the name of WFTU.
Despite the attacks and the disruptive actions against it during the Cold War, WFTU stood by the fighting people of Palestinian, Cuba, Chile, South Africa and so many other countries which fought for freedom and democracy against imperialism, dictatorships, colonialism and, the apartheid. During all these years WFTU stands by the side of the Cypriot workers, expressing solidarity in their struggle for a solution to the Cyprus problem and the reunification of Cyprus, but also defending left-wing and progressive trade unionists against the attacks they have been subjected to the 1950s. From the beginning, WFTU stood by PEO with visits by experts to Cyprus to implement the Social Insurance system, an issue that has been troubling the labour movement since the 1940s.
WFTU faced with new conditions…
The political changes which took place on the socialist side in the 1990s, brought about rapid changes in the international trade union movement, with the WFTU’s actions taking a serious blow. During that critical time, two approaches were presented in its lines. The first was the approach which believed that the reconstruction of WFTU should be a priority, and the second one, in the name of renewal, which favoured the dissolution of WFTU. PEO was one of the organizations that unwaveringly supported the reconstruction of WFTU and, together with other organizations, opposed those who wanted to end it. Finally, the first line of thought prevailed in the 13th Congress, which is one of the reasons that allowed WFTU not only to exists today, but to keep getting stronger.
Despite the difficulties, WFTU currently has organizations members from 132 countries, representing 105 million workers.
Apart from the General Secretary, the Secretariat and the Presidential Council, it also has 11 TUIs-Trade Union Internationals, 12 Regional Offices and Sub-Regional Offices and 5 Special committees: Working Youth Committee, Working Women Committee, Migrants and Refugees Committee, Committee of Health and Safety and Legal Committee.
An important step in the effort to rebuild WFTU was the 16th World Trade Union Congress, in April 2011 in Athens, organized under the responsibility of PAME. The Congress was attended by 920 delegates from 105 countries. The most important step was the correct, in general, conclusions and opinions about contemporary issues and priorities of the international trade union movement. In October 2016 the 17th Congress it was held in Durban, South Africa. The data for the conference body reflects the results of the organizational strengthening of during the last five years since the previous 16th Congress (2011, Athens). In particular, 1,300 participants participated, up from 860 in 2011, while organizations came from 111 countries (101 in 2011), with 69% of the delegates coming from private sector trade unions and 31% from public sector ones.
Today, living in unprecedented conditions and faced with a pandemic that has created new circumstances, giving the opportunity to the capitalist system to attack workers’ rights again, the responsibility and the duty for the working class around the world, is to be worthy of the glorious history of the 75th years of WFTU.
This is our duty and we must honour this PROUD history with new struggles and visions for a better future for humanity!