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REPORT ON THE WORLD TRADE UNION SITUATION AND WFTU ACTIVITIES SINCE THE 14TH CONGRESS

1 December 2005

INTRODUCTION

This Report covers the first five years of the 21st century – the period between the 14th and 15th Congresses of the WFTU. The Report includes part of WFTU activities which were planned and implemented by the WFTU Secretariat. Supplementary Reports will be submitted by the Regional Offices and TUIs. In all, a lot of work was done by al the structures of the WFTU – the Regional Offices, TUIs and affiliated organisations. The WFTU Secretariat has taken part in various Conferences and meetings of affiliated organisations when the WFTU received invitations.The 14th Congress brought together a representative cross section of the world trade union movement. The Congress met for the first time in the Capital of the Republic of India, New Delhi, as a new century was ushered in. The organisation and financing of the 14th Congress was extremely significant for the mass participation of Indian workers and trade unionists in order to collect funds from all over India to cover the expenses of the Congress. It was also significant that all the national trade union centres and federations, irrespective of international affiliation, actively participated in the Congress. The Policy Documents adopted by the Congress were widely welcomed in all continents and they constitute the Millennium Declaration of the world trade union movement.

Four hundred and twentyone delegates and observers from 74 countries representing a membership of 407 million from throughout the world participated. Messages wishing the success of the Congress were received from the President and Prime Minister of India, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and the President of Syria as well as Mr Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General. The representative of the ILO, P.R. Naidu and a delegate of the World Confederation of Labour (WCL) greeted the Congress.

. There were fraternal delegations from the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity, the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions, the Permanent Congress of Trade Union Unity of Latin America, the General Confederation of Trade Unions of CIS countries and the All China Federation of Trade Unions as well as the International Centre for Trade Union Rights.

The Reports presented at the Congress pointed out the growing unemployment and poverty in the developing countries and growth of unemployment and attack on social security in the developed world. They reported on the impact of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation on various countries and peoples. There were repeated references to the commitments undertaken and programmes of action adopted by the World Summit for Social Development convened by the UN in Copenhagen in 1995 as well as other World Summits convened by the UN in the 1990s. Delegates deplored the fact that the programmes of action; especially the guideline to promote action for a policy of full employment, as well as other agreements at the World Summits have not been seriously followed up and implemented. It was pointed out that the positive proposals of the World Summits have been nullified by the policies imposed by the IMF, World Bank and WTO.

The Congress called for the implementation of the UN Declaration for a New International Economic Order which was adopted by the UN Gerneral Assembly in 1974, upholding international economic cooperation based on equality of rights of all countries, an end to unequal trade and economic exchanges. The WFTU considers that the current drive for neo-liberal globalisation undermines national sovereignty and economic independence of the countries and re-introduces elements of neo-colonialism.

The virtual monopoly control of the information media, particularly the electronic media, is used to transform the emerging information society into a virtual misinformation society, it was underlined.

The policy document adopted by the Congress stated that in the opinion of the trade unions, the persistence and a further increase in mass poverty despite the tremendous development of productive forces which can satisfy all material and other needs of the world population, constitute the greatest violation of human rights as we enter the 21 st century. This was also considered as the greatest threat to the security and stability of nations and peoples at the present time.

The 14th Congress adopted the MILLENNIUM DECLARATION which stated:

We, the 421 participants at the 14th World Trade Union Congress which met in New Delhi, India, from 25 to 28 March 2000, representing 407 million trade unionists from all continents – the first World Congress of trade unions in the new millennium - affirm our faith in unity and united action of trade unions and their international solidarity in the struggle of the working people against all forms of exploitation and oppression, the imperialist policies of blockades and sanctions and for a better life, equity, justice, peace and social progress based on full respect of trade union rights, democratic liberties and all human rights.At the beginning of the new century and millennium, every human being and humankind as a whole, face tremendous challenges. The world is facing an uncertain future. The broad similarity of problems and experiences of participants from all over the world, as reflected in their reports made to the Congress, underline the need for concerted efforts to promote effective international co-ordination of trade union struggles at the national, regional and international level against the anti-labour and anti-social policies of the dominant imperialist groups, transnational big business and big finance, against the worsening global social situation and especially, the growing hunger and malnutrition, unemployment, under-employment and poverty all over the world.Our international movement believes in international economic co-operation based on national sovereignty, economic independence, an end to military occupation and aggression, bombings and missile attacks, and the strict adherence to the UN Charter, upholding true equality of all nations and equal benefits for all trading partners. We support all efforts to build this co-operation in order to accelerate the much-needed social progress, ensuring stable and secure jobs for all, fair wages and working conditions and people’s participation in decision-making concerning national, regional and global development policies.Our common experience in the last decade and earlier is that the on-going neo-liberal globalisation that has been launched by the home States of the Transnational Corporations (TNCs), and pushed through the so-called structural adjustment policies of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and the rulings of the World Trade Organisation are, in the main, directed against the interests of the working people. These external interventions into national economies amount to a gross interference in internal affairs of nation states. The social consequences of these policies include the massive loss of jobs, cut in purchasing power of wages, cutbacks in social assistance, health care and education. It has widened the yawning gap in incomes and living standards as between countries and within countries as well, leading to the supremacy of egoistic interests of some over the interests of others. These policies also undermine economic independence and national sovereignty.Human knowledge and experience have built the network of comprehensive, mutual ties, connecting and binding people and societies to a qualitatively new phenomena which did not exist before.

The neo-liberal policies of liberalisation and privatisation have only benefited global Big Business and Big Finance, by transferring national assets to private capital and the TNCs.

The TNCs have hijacked the fruits of emerging technological achievements – the products of creative labour – and have misused them to maximise profits and obtain global market control. These policies of the TNCs, the participants at the Congress believe, have resulted in mass pauperisation, marginalisation and social exclusion of the vast majority of the people. These policies have led to the destruction of millions of jobs and job opportunities.

The rich have become richer, and the poor, poorer, because of the policies of neo-liberal globalisation at a time when the technological advances, if freed from the profit-motive and used to meet people’s needs, could satisfy the current and future needs of the entire humanity.

The policies of neo-liberal globalisation, combined with the imposition of IMF policies, have been accompanied by an intensification of the attacks on trade union rights and human rights. The people’s right to live is at stake.

In this context, the trade unions and all working people have to decide their course of action, learning from the past and assessing the situation, to defend their interests as against the nefarious designs of imperialist and neo-colonial structures.

The call of the hour is to accept the challenge and give a befitting reply to the imperialist-capitalist power centres. This can only be done by unleashing a relentless and united struggle of the working people and their democratic allies, especially the progressive intelligentsia, against the neo-liberal ideological offensive. To successfully accomplish this task, it is all the more necessary to sharpen the class awareness of the workers and protect the movement from hostile forces and ideologies. Instilling confidence on their own capabilities, the working people and trade unions can successfully confront the problems and challenges. This is what all previous World Trade Union Congresses have strongly affirmed.

The 14th World Trade Union Congress being held at the dawn of the new millennium, firmly believes that the working people the world over, would resolutely respond to the call to maximise their solidarity – at the national, regional and international levels, promote their independent platforms and demands for a self-reliant and sustained economic development. Rejecting the policies of liberalisation, privatisation and neo-liberal globalisation and the policies of the IMF-World Bank-WTO trio, the trade unions can lead the way to establish a real pro-people alternative – to ensure that this new millennium is theirs, not of the TNCs, Big Finance and imperialist powers.

The working people who constitute the vast majority is determined to devote all efforts, together with all peoples, women and men, to build a better life and a better future. United we march. United, WE WIN.

The Congress also adopted a Declaration on ON TRADE UNION COOPERATION, SOLIDARITY AND UNITY IN ACTION which stated as follows:

The 14th World Trade Union Congress, meeting in New Delhi, India from 25 to 28 March 2000; Aware of the increasing concentration of capital at the national, regional and international levels, the negative effects of neoliberal globalisation and the enhanced global coordination and strategies of transnational corporations and financial institutions;Taking note of the present stage of trade union developments, intentions and opinions;Taking into account the existence of various trade union organisations at all levels;Respecting independence and sovereignty of every trade union organisation, the varied traditions and conditions in which they exist and function;

Considering that the sole important criteria of any trade union is its work for defence of interests of its members and all employees, in their struggle against exploitation and for improvement in their living standards;

. INVITES all existing trade union organisations at the factory, enterprise, corporation, industry, national, regional and international levels:

To strive to achieve coordinated policy and action in order to defend the common interests of all working people.2. To strengthen solidarity and support to each other both in policy and action;3. To strive to achieve local and global trade union cooperation and unity to meet the challenges of neoliberal globalisation and to defend workers’ interests and trade union rights;4. To utilise different forms of such cooperation ranging from unity in action as well as possibilities for organic unity;5. To uphold the principles and longstanding traditions of trade union cooperation: sovereignty and independence of each trade union organisation, full equality, and non-interference in internal affairs of each other. This cooperation should be on a just and fair basis, solely in defence of workers’ rights and interests;CALLS UPON all international trade union organisations - the WFTU, ICFTU, WCL - along with regional organisations – OATUU, ICATU, CPUSTAL, ETUC, GCTU – to establish appropriate coordination among themselves in order to promote international and regional trade union cooperation, solidarity and unity.REQUESTS the ILO, its Director General and Workers’ Group, to support and help create conditions for such cooperation which will corresponds fully with and could serve as a contribution to promote its aims and objectives.

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Guided by the guide lines adopted at the 14th Congress of the WFTU, the Presidential Council, the Secretariat, Regional Offices and TUIs have taken various initiatives to promote international trade union united action and solidarity in all continents.

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14TH SESSION OF WFTU PRESIDENTIAL COUNCILKuwait, 28-30 October 2000

Hosted by the Kuwait Trade Union Federation (KTUF), the Presidential Council of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) held its 14th Session in Kuwait from 28 to 30 October 2000. The session reviewed the developments since the 14th World Trade Union Congress which was held in Delhi (India) in March this year and decided on measures to implement the Congress decisions to further strengthen the unity and cooperation within the world trade union movement, in order to defend the rights and interests of the working people all over the world.

It was stressed that the 14th Congress promoted a broad front of trade union cooperation as between the WFTU and the regional and national trade union organisations in the struggle against the negative consequences of neo-liberal globalisation on the working people and the overwhelming majority of the world population. It was decided to take necessary steps to further strengthen the united action, cooperation and class solidarity of the world’s trade union organisations.

Discussing the global social issues, the Council expressed its deep dissatisfaction at the lack of agreements at the recent Millennium Summit and other conferences convened by the United Nations on global issues - and particularly on the question of assuring jobs and raising living standards.

In this regard, the WFTU Presidential Council called for global trade union actions:

to secure the implementation of the 10 Commitments adopted by the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen 1995) and especially the commitment to achieve full employment.for the implementation of the Programme of Action of the World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995)To further strengthen the world campaign against Neo-liberal Globalisation and for jobs for all, against privatisation, in defence of employment security and the economic security of nations and peoples, and for national and international regulation of the activities of transnational business and finance cartels and to observe an International Week of Action from 1 to 7 May 2001,to highlight these issues.To further strengthen the struggle for basic trade union rights in all countries and campaign for an end to anti-trade union repression.To highlight the Rights of the Child and to observe 1 June 2001 – International Children’s Day also as a day of struggle for the elimination of child labour.The Council called for initiatives to promote united action by all international, regional and national trade union centres especially at the level of the ILO and other UN bodies on the above-mentioned issues and other workers’ demands. In this regard, the Council considered it imperative that the composition of the ILO Workers’ Group should reflect the current realities in the world trade union movement and that progress in this direction should be reflected in the elections to the ILO Governing body next year.It was decided to continue and further strengthen the campaign for the elimination of all blockades and sanctions which cause great suffering to the peoples in the affected countries and to observe 1 September 2001 as an International Day of Action against Blockades and Sanctions.The Council welcomed and supported the convening of an All-African Trade Union Conference in Dakar in November 2000 in order to coordinate the struggle of the working people and trade unions in the struggle for regional economic and social development, democratic advance, human rights and a better life for all.The Council called for the total cancellation of the external debt of developing countries and urged the industrialised countries to fulfill the target set by the UN to devote 0.70 per cent of the GDP as development assistance. In this connection, the Council welcomed the convening of the UN conference on Financing for Development to be held in 2001.The WFTU Presidential Council adopted a Plan of Work for 2001 and decided on steps to further strengthen the activities of its regional offices and the sectoral activities through the Trade Unions Internationals.The Council condemned the bloody repression launched by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as the massing of Israeli troops on the borders with Syria and Lebanon, threatening these countries. The Council called for an immediate end to the repression and the threats to peace and security in the region. The Council reiterated that a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East is possible only through the full implementation by Israel of the UN resolutions and the total withdrawal of Israel from all occupied territories in Palestine, Syrian Golan and South Lebanon. The WFTU called upon all member States of the UN to compel Israel to stop the massacre of civilian population and withdraw from all occupied territories. The Council also urged trade unions in all countries to intensify their solidarity actions in support of the Palestinian people for the legitimate national rights, including the establishment of an independent, sovereign state, with Jerusalem as its capital.

The Council condemned the gross violation of trade union rights and the assassination of trade unionists in Colombia and other countries and decided on further strengthening the international campaign of mobilisation and solidarity with the struggle of the Colombian workers and people. It was also decided to send inquiry missions of the WFTU to these countries.

The Council members wholeheartedly thanked the Kuwait Trade Union Federation and all its members and all the Kuwaiti people for their warm hospitality and excellent conditions for the session. In a special resolution , the Council reiterated its complete solidarity with the Kuwaiti people and demanded the immediate release of all Kuwaiti prisoners of war held by Iraq and their return to their homes and families.

*15TH session of WFTU PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL, Brasilia, 4-6 March 2002

At the end of February and the beginning of March 2002, several events took place in Brazil, on the invitation of and hosted by the CGTB of Brazil, the militant affiliate of the WFTU in that country.

(1) Convened by the American Bureau of the WFTU, on 27 and 28 February, the III Latin American Conference of Trade Unions was held in Sao Paolo Trade union delegations of affiliates and friends of the WFTU from 22 countries participated. The Conference discussed the problems arising from the imposition of the policies of neoliberal globalisation, the consequences of the proposed “Free Trade Area of the Americas” (FTAA), the so-called “Plan Colombia” and other burning issues of the Continent and in the world. The Conference also adopted the Declaration and plan of activities of the WFTU regional bureau for America for the period 2002-2003.

(2) On 1-3 March, the IV Congress of the CGTB took place, with the participation of over 500 delegates and representatives of major trade union centres of Brazil as well as fraternal delegations from 42 countries. The Congress was addressed by two presidential candidates, members of the Senate and the Congress, representatives of political parties friendly to the CGTB, various social organisations and government officials Both events were organised in the Latin American Parliament, bringing it prestige and considerable attention.

(3) On 4-6 March, in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, the 15th session of the WFTU Presidential Council was held. The Council discussed the reports of the WFTU Secretariat and the Finance Control Commission and adopted the Final Declaration, the Plan of WFTU Activities for 2002-2003 (both attached) the WFTU Budget for 2002. The Council drew conclusions on several economic, social and organisational issues.

The Presidential Council endorsed the conclusions of the Latin American Trade Union Conference, including the proposals for participation in the International Meeting in Defence of Amazonia (Caracas, September 2002), for the intensification of solidarity with the workers and people of Latin America and Caribbean and participation in the International Conference of Struggle against the FTAA (Havana, November 2002), and in the preparations for the III World Social Forum.

The Presidential Council accepted the applications for affiliation received from:

Trade Union of Telecommunications of Santafe de Bogota (SINTRATELEFONOS),COLOMBIA Central Institucional de Trabajadores Autonomos, Santo Domingo, DOMINICAN REPUBLICThe Presidential Council appointed Brother IBRAHIM SYLLA (Senegal) as Vice President of the WFTU (to the vacancy caused by the sad demise of Brother Djibril Diop).The Council approved the replacement of Brother ZLITNY by Brother SHABAAN MUHAMED ABDULLAH as a Deputy General Secretary of the WFTU, as proposed by the General Federation of Producers of Libya.The meeting adopted special solidarity resolutions and measures in support of the workers and people of Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Colombia, Cuba, Kuwait, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Iran, Kuwait, Cyprus, Zimbabwe and Congo.The Presidential Council devoted particular attention to the strengthening of the WFTU and its structures and affiliates, to the development of trade union unity and cooperation.The following Declaration was adopted by the Council:

 

1. Peoples of the world ushered in the 3rd Millennium with great hopes. As we enter the second year of the new century, the international community finds itself in the midst of grim realities and unprecedented dangers:

The world economy is in deep recession and the economic crisis is becoming more widespread.The social situation of the people, both in the North and in the South, is rapidly deteriorating. Poverty is growing, unemployment is steadily rising, inequalities are aggravating along with the unprecedented concentration of capital and wealth in a few hands while millions of people are left out of the mainstream of development.The global development strategies to eliminate unemployment and poverty as adopted by the series of global summits organised by the UN in the 1990s are being virtually abandoned.The tragic results of implementing the policies dictated by Wall Street financiers through the IMF and the World Bank are currently seen in Argentina and other Latin American countries ground down by the huge accumulation of external debt. The social cost of the foreign debt burden is counted in the millions of lost jobs, the mounting bankruptcies and the total disruption of national economies. The people of Latin America are deeply concerned that such bankruptcies will multiply in the region if the FTAA is brought into force.2. There is heightened political and military tension. Armed conflicts are continuing. Arms budgets and the arms race are escalating, posing grave danger of a global or regional conflagration.

3. The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington underline the grave dangers confronting the people of our planet. Peoples of the world are convinced that neither can terrorism be eliminated nor the basic social and economic problems faced by humankind solved through the use of military force or war.

4. At the same time, the preparations for star wars capability announced by the US and its withdrawal from the ABM Treaty – the cornerstone of nuclear security, the developments in the Middle East as Israel intensifies its armed attacks against the Palestinian people, the continued Israeli occupation of Syrian Golan and parts of South Lebanon, the recent military tension in South Asia as between India and Pakistan, the threat to widen the war in Afghanistan and extend it to other areas, the recent US threats against Iran, Iraq and DPRK, the escalation of US military presence under Plan Colombia – all these are only a few features of the present situation.

5. We would like to underline strongly that the direction the world is pushed to has cannot lead to any solution. It is a dead end. Neoliberal globalisation blindly and uncompromisingly pursued by monopoly capital cannot provide a way out of the present crisis. The policy of world domination pursued by the US and its allies contains no solutions either. Last two decades of neoliberalism have left more millions of unemployed and into the mire of poverty. The unilateral policies pursued by the US and its allies brought human suffering and ruins in Yugoslavia, intensified the genocidal Israeli attacks on Palestine and have set off a new round of the nuclear arms race.

6. In the second year of the 21st century, the world trade union movement and democratic forces are being asked to accept a unilateral move by the Big Powers led by the USA, to re-define global priorities. It is even argued by vested interests who control the global information media that the priority task today is to redefine global priorities. The global development strategies to eliminate unemployment and poverty as adopted by the series of global summits organised by the UN in the 1990s are being virtually abandoned. Instead, it is asserted that the priority task today is to prepare for waging a third world war against an as yet unidentified band of terrorists.

7. The world’s trade unions are not impressed by this propaganda since they find that behind this facade of what is claimed as a “global coalition against terrorism“, the vested interests are implementing a hidden agenda of imposing hegemony and domination - all in the interests of Big Capital and Big Finance who already control the vast productive resources of our planet.

8. The hegemonistic policies are seen, for example, in the intensive efforts in the western hemisphere to establish a „Free Trade Area of the Americas“ (FTAA) - a proposal which is unanimously opposed by all the trade unions of north, central and south America, belonging to the WFTU, ICFTU, WCL as well as autonomous regional and national trade union centres. Member States of the UN are being compelled to implement policies of privatisation and to facilitate the unfettered exploitation of national economies by foreign capital. Democratic forces denounce these policies of enforced integration and demand that the people should be consulted through a referendum.

9. Also contributing to the development crisis is the huge drain of resources entailed by the soaring arms budgets. The WFTU is deeply concerned over the significant increase in the defence budget announced by President Bush and the US decision to terminate the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and the increased funding he has announced for his Star Wars project.

10. It is a matter of deep concern to the trade union movement that the principles of the UN Charter and the existence of the United Nations itself is now seriously threatened by the increasing unilateralism of the Big Powers, in particular, the United States, and the increasing resort to military actions without reference to the UN Security Council. The bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO and the recent military actions in Afghanistan introduce dangerous precedents. World’s trade unions and all democratic forces demand an end to such unilateralism which endanger the peace, security and sovereignty of nations and peoples.

11. Behind the facade of the global struggle against terrorism, Big Powers are implementing their private agenda of further reinforcing their hegemony as well as economic domination. Their allies like Israel have intensified the brutal genocide and scorched earth policy in the Palestinian Territory, destroying the peace process in the Middle East. Israeli rulers want to justify their illegal occupation of Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian Arab territories for decades, by accusing the national struggle of the Palestinian and Arab people for an end to Israeli occupation as „terrorism“. The WFTU condemns these policies and practices and demands that the UN and international community should immediately intervene to end the illegal Israeli occupation of Arab territories in Palestine, Syrian Golan and parts of South Lebanon, the withdrawal of Israeli troops to the borders befrore the 1967 aggression and create conditions for the establishment of a Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.

12. The WFTU reiterates its strong condemnation of the gross violation of human rights and trade union rights in Colombia and the continuing assassination of trade unionists, the leaders of people’s organisations struggling for democratic liberties and human rights. The WFTU protests against the planned military intervention of the United States under the so-called Plan Colombia and calls upon the ILO, the UN bodies and the international community to act decisively to end the gross violation of human rights and trade union rights in Colombia.

13. The WFTU reiterates its active solidarity with the trade union movements in Latin America and North America in their struggle against the imposition of a „Free Trade Agreement of the Americas“ (FTAA) which would reinforce the domination and control of Big Business and transnational monopolies and banks over the American continent and worsen economic disparities. The WFTU supports the demand that all such inter-state agreements be subjected to a referendum in all the countries in the American continent, that there shall be no exclusion of any particular country and that adequate safeguards be provided to safeguard national industries as well as national sovereignty over resources, economic independence of countries and people’s participation in development and all economic decision-making.

14. The WFTU demands that the United States implement the UN General Assembly dresolutions calling for an end to its boycott of Cuba. The WFTU also calls for an end to the military attacks by US and British forces on Iraq and an immediate end to all unilateral and arbitrary sanctions and boycotts imposed against countries such as Iraq, Libya, Sudan and other countries. The WFTU also calls for a quick humanitarian solution to the case of Kuwaiti prisoners of war and detainees held in Iraq.

15The WFTU expresses its solidarity with the struggles of the workers and people of Argentina in their struggle against the severe consequences of IMF-imposed neo-liberal policies of previous governments TheWFTU calls upon the developed countries and the international financial organisations to provide the urgently-needed help to bring about the economic recovery of the country and to provide immediate relief to the workers and people of Argentina who are bearing the brunt of the crisis.

The WFTU calls upon the new government of Argentina to adopt positive measures which could bring relief for the majority of the working people who should be helped to get back all that they lost because the neoliberal policies.

16. The WFTU, taking into consideration the talks which are going on to promote an overall settlement, reiterates its full support for the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, unity and non-alignment of the Republic of Cyprus and reaffirms its position for a just, viable and mutually acceptable solution providing for the establishment of a bi-communal, bi-zonal Federation in line with the UN resolutions and the 1997 and 1979 high-level agreements.

17.The massive international protests held in Washington, Prague, Genoa and Qatar in the last two years demonstrate the growing conviction in the minds of the working people that the unilateral solutions imposed by the Big Powers and their instruments such as the NATO, IMF and WTO can provide no solutions. This is confirmed by the World Social Forum in Porto Allegro held recently with broad international participation.

18.As trade union representatives, we strongly believe that the workers’ organisations could and must play an important role in the emerging struggles for a democratic, people’s alternative to advance peace, security and human progress. We are keenly aware of the real problems confronted by the working people and we are convinced that no country by itself can find solutions to the development crisis and the threats to peace and security. At the beginning of the new millennium, the world problems have really become truly global and only by coming together can we find effective responses to the challenges we face. 19.Having this in mind, we call upon trade unions in all countries and regions, irrespective of affiliation, to come together and join with all progressive forces to find real solutions to the people’s problems.*

16TH SESSION OF WFTU PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL

Hanoi, 15-16 October 2003

The 16th Session of the WFTU Presidential Council was held in Hanoi on 15-16 October 2003, hosted by the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour [VGCL]. The Council reviewed developments since its last meeting in Brazil in March 2002.

A minute’s silence was observed to condole the demise of Comrade Debkumar GANGULI, WFTU Deputy General Secretary for Asia and Pacific Region, life-long trade union activist and leader of India’s working class and trade union movement.

During two days of discussions, it was noted that there is growing resistance in the world to the ongoing neo-liberal globalisation, promoted by the TNC’s, IMF, WB and the WTO both from the side of many governments and from the world trade union movement. Major concerns are expressed by the continuous massive campaigns against privatisation, against the unjust economic and trade relations, poverty, unemployment and attacks on workers’ rights. The failure of Cancun WTO Summit this autumn, huge labour and social actions throughout the world, especially in Latin America, are sound indications in this regard.

The continuing US attempts to subordinate the world are met with growing rejection by people and countries. Increasing struggle of Iraqi people against the US-British illegal occupation of the country, the growing Palestinian resistance to the occupation of their land by Israel, are finding ever-greater sympathy and solidarity from the people and workers everywhere in the world. In this regard, the US threats towards Syria, the DPRK,, Cuba and Iran are widely condemned by the working people and international community worldwide. The WFTU PC has adopted solidarity measures with the people and workers of Iraq, Palestine, Syria, the DPRK and Cuba.

The Council adopted the plan of work for the rest of 2003 and for 2004. It was stressed that to strengthen regional and professional activities as well as global campaigns, there should be greater support from affiliates to the WFTU and its Regional Offices and TUIs. These activities should concretely respond to the growing challenges internationally and regionally and further strengthen international trade union mobilisation.

Particular attention was given to further develop the WFTU’s activities at the level of the ILO, the UN and its agencies, especially at the 92nd Session of the International Labour Conference as well as to the preparations for and participation in the 4th World Social Forum [Mumbai, January 2004]. It was stressed that the regular payment of affiliation fees and solidarity funds to strengthen the financial resources for raising WFTU’s and TUIs’ activities should be an important component of this work.

The WFTU Presidential Council accepted the requests from eight new trade union organisations, to be affiliated as WFTU members.

The Presidential Council elected as as WFTU Vice Presidents: Brother Mohamed Shaaban Azzouz, President of the GFTU [Syria], Mohamed Zletny, General Secretary of the General Federation of Producers [Libya] and Walter Pritchard, Seamens’ Union [Australia]. Brother H. Mahadevan, Deputy General Secretary of AITUC [India] was elected as WFTU Deputy General Secretary for Asia-Pacific.

Participants of the Session expressed their solidarity with the people of Bolivia, Venezuela and Cyprus, as well as with the struggle of over 175,000 government employees and teachers who were victimised for participating in a strike in the state of Tamil Nadu, India.

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17th SESSION OF WFTU PRESIDENTIAL COUNCIL- ATHENS, 31 October and 1 November 2004

-         APPEAL TO TRADE UNIONS IN ALL COUNTRIES TO SUPPORT AND STRENGTHEN THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION FORUM ON ECONOMIC GLOBALISATION-         15th WORLD TRADE UNION CONGRESS CONVENEDThe 17th Session of the WFTU Presidential Council met in Athens (Greece) on 31 October and 1 November 2004. The Session was hosted by the PAME and the European Regional Office of the WFTU. Thirtythree trade union leaders from 17 countries from all over the world participated in the Session.The Council discussed the Report of Activities, the Financial Report and adopted the Plan of Work for 2005 and other documents.The Session was addressed by Ms.Monique Cloutier, representative of the Workers Relations Branch of the ILO (ACTRAV) on the topic of monitoring the implementation of international labour standards.The Council welcomed and endorsed the decision of the joint meeting in Beijing of the ACFTU of China, the WFTU, the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions (ICATU) and the General Confederation of Trade Unions (GCTU) of CIS countries to establish a standing International Trade Union Forum. The Council welcomed the Forum as an open platform and as an important step to raise the level of international trade union united action at the present time, in the struggle for the economic and social demands of the working people all over the world.The WFTU Presidential Council called upon WFTU affiliates and friendly organisations to actively support and cooperate in preparing for the 15th World Trade Union Congress, in 2005, along with the observance of the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the World Federation of Trade Unions next year. The Council accepted the fraternal invitation of the CTC of Cuba to hold the 15th Congress in Havana from 26 to 29 September 2005.The Council expressed its grave concern at the continuing aggravation of the international situation that was and is developing in a very dangerous and unacceptable manner. In particular, the Council drew attention to:

-         the Occupation and war in Iraq, in fact, which is continuing and even escalating.-         The situation in the Middle East and in Palestine, in particular, has further aggravated, with no signs of resolution.-         Besides the continuing blockade of Cuba, the unilateral US sanctions are being applied against Syria and, more recently, against Byelorussia.-         Pressures and threats are increasingly exerted against Venezuela, Sudan, Syria, Iran, the DPRK and other sovereign countries.
It was noted that despite the growing global opposition – both political and popular - the United States is continuing its attempts to create a unipolar world or a New International Order under its economic, political and military domination. It was also noted that: -         Liberalisation and privatisation continue to be the dominant feature of the ongoing globalisation;-         As a result, mass poverty is growing and even now, it is clear that the Millennium Goals of the UN to reduce poverty is not going to be achieved;-         The process of concentration of capital in a few hands is accelerated and the gap between the rich and poor is continuing to widen within and between countries.-         Unemployment in 2003, as registered by the ILO was the highest ever recorded so far; half of the young people in the world are unemployed.-         The purchasing power of wages of the working people is constantly declining. -         The growth rate of the economy in most of the countries is minimal or is declining. Whole continents like Africa have no economic growth perspective.-         The so-called “informal economy” is replacing organised industry, bringing millions to the margin of the communities and societies.-         Even relationships within societies are negatively changed by total commercialisation. Public services are liquidated, corruption is on the rise and so are criminality and unacceptable social behaviour.The trade union movement itself has been affected in a very negative manner.-         Many laws on trade union and social rights are being eliminated, making workers and trade unions defenceless.-         In many countries, trade unions have been marginalized; even tripartite bodies are being eliminated.-         An anti-trade union environment is fostered along with the big change in ownership resulting from privatisation. As a result, trade unions everywhere – with few exceptions –are losing membership and bargaining strength.The Presidential Council expressed its solidarity with trade union struggles that are continuing, in many countries and regions, to demand a change in the path and methods of economic globalisation. It was noted that there have been numerous trade union achievements in this respect. In many countries, trade unions united together – irrespective of affiliation or orientation –to gain greater strength. The Council acclaimed the fact that the WFTU and its affiliates were and are among the most militant fighters to advance the interests of the workers and masses.. The Presidential Council called for effective actions by the trade unions at the level of the ILO and outside to secure the implementation of the recommendations of the ILO Commission on Globalisation. It was also urged that the world’s trade unions must ensure that world labour is fairly represented in the Governing Body of the ILO as well as in various ILO structures, in order to ensure collective efforts to secure the implementation of the UN Millennium Goals relating to economic and social development, the eradication of poverty and elimination of unemployment and underemployment. The WFTU Presidential Council called for effective actions by the UN and the international community to secure an immediate end to the Israeli occupation of Arab lands in Palestine, Syrian Golan and parts of South Lebanon, and an immediate end to the ruthless repression practised by Israeli forces on the people in the occupied Arab territories.The Council demanded the withdrawal of the US-led occupation forces from Iraq and for effective international action to ensure respect for national sovereignty and independence of countries and nations, putting an end to interference in the international affairs of States and peoples, respecting the right of free choice and paths of development.The Presidential Council adopted a message of congratulations addressed to the workers and people of Uruguay and the PIT-CNT over the election of Mr.Tabare Vasquez, leader of the EP-FA-NM, as the new President of Uruguay.The Presidential Council of the WFTU also ratified requests for affiliation received from trade unions since its last session.MEETINGS IN ATHENS: The WFTU Presidential Council was received by the President of the Greek Parliament, Ms.Anna-Psarouda-Benaki. Also they had discussions with the General Secretary of the Parliamentary Group of New Democracy and other Members of Parliament from the ruling Party as well as with leaders of PASOK and of the Communist Party of Greece.        Council members also participated in the Solidarity Meeting organised by the WFTU affiliate in Greece, PAME, on 31 October which was attended by more than 3,500 workers and trade union leaders. The meeting called for further intensification of international solidarity with workers and peoples of Cuba, Palestine, Syria, DPRK and Vietnam.

Council members visited factories and work places, including the TYPO-EKDOTIKI printing plant, the Coca Cola factory, and the Workers Union of Park Hotel and had meetings and discussions with the working people and trade union organisations. They also visited the University of Patra where the students organised a mass meeting in one of the big halls of the Campus.

The WFTU Presidential Council expressed its profound thanks and high appreciation of the excellent arrangements made by PAME and the WFTU Regional Office in Athens for the successful holding of the meeting in the Greek Capital.

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18th Session of WFTU PRESIDENTIAL COUNCILParis, 1-2 October 2005

The 18th Session of the WFTU Presidential Council met in Paris on 1 and 2 October 2005.

The Session reviewed the preparations for the15th World Trade Union Congress and finalised the dates of the Congress in Havana (Cuba) as from 1 to 4 December 2005.

The Session adopted the following Declaration on the 60th Anniversary of the WFTU:

1. Meeting in Paris on 1 and 2 September 2005, the 18th Session of the WFTU Presidential Council warmly greets the workers and trade unions in all countries on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the World Federation of Trade Unions.

2. The WFTU was established in Paris by the First World Trade Union Congress which met in Paris from 3 to 8 October 1945, attended by delegates representing 67 million workers from 55 countries and 20 international organizations.3. The establishment of the WFTU closely followed the San Francisco Conference in 1945 which created the United Nations Organisation (UNO). 4. The historic importance of the creation of the WFTU 60 years ago lies in the fact that it was for the first time in history, practically all the then-existing trade union organisations decided to found a united world trade union organisation, to fight for workers’ rights and social justice. This was done in 1945, following the victory achieved in the Second World War in which workers from different countries fought to save human civilization from Nazism and barbarism.

5. .The U. N. Charter adopted in San Francisco on 26 June 1945 declared: “We the people of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and for these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples, have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.”

6. These aims of the UN were carried forward by the the First World Trade Union Congress. The First Congress of the WFTU called for a world free from war and social injustices. It is widely known that the ILO Conventions, especially No.87 and No.98 on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining were adopted on the initiative and with the active participation of the WFTU and its members.

7. Since then, the history of the WFTU is inseparable from the history of the world working class and trade union movement and their struggle for national independence for the colonial countries and for democracy and human rights all over the world. The united struggle of the workers and trade unions and other anti-imperialist forces led to the global successes in terms of de-colonialisation and the establishment of new sovereign States. That was the beginning of the victories of post-second world war, and the worldwide movements of solidarity with the struggles of the workers and peoples of Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Chile, South Africa, Palestine, Haiti and others, against the aggressive wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, the struggle for peace and disarmament, development, justice, democracy and trade union rights. 8. Unfortunately, the trade union movement was not able to escape the consequences of the Cold War, which resulted also in its division. This division was imposed from outside on the trade union movement by the protagonists of the “cold war” and the arms race launched against the Socialist countries by the governments dominated by representatives of global Big Business. It is a matter of deep regret that the survivals of such cold war policies continue to distort international trade union relations. 9. Today, the world again is facing great challenges, threatening global peace and security, because of the policies of governments who want to impose hegemonism and world domination. Peoples of the world are challenged by the forces of neo-liberal globalisation, seeking to impose their “New World Order” dominated by the global monopolies. These forces seek the virtual elimination of basic trade union rights won through decades of struggles during the last century. They have unleashed an ideological campaign through their network of civil society organizations against any forms of public or social control over the economy and, on the other hand, to entrench the positions of the global monopoly corporations.

10. All these call for trade union united actions to change the negative course of world development. That is why the WFTU actively participates in the creation and development of the International Trade Union Forum, which aims to promote fraternal cooperation among all trade unions on a basis of equality and solidarity of all trade unions in the world.

11. On the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the WFTU, the 18th Session of the WFTU Presidential Council urges trade union organizations in all countries to find effective ways to work together at the national, regional and international level and promote a dialogue among all sectors of the world trade union movement to re-establish global trade union unity and united action to defend the rights and interests of the working people, in order to safeguard peace, security and social progress in all countries.EUROPEAN REGIONAL BUREAU OF THE WFTU

 

ESTABLISHED IN ATHENS

A European Meeting of regional affiliates of the WFTU and TUIs was held in Athens (Greece) on 7 April hosted by the All Workers Militant Front (PAME) of Greece. Delegations of eight organisations, representing a membership of 7.5 million, participated in the meeting. Attending on behalf of the WFTU Secretariat was Alexander Zharikov, WFTU General Secretary.

In accordance with the decisions of the 14th World Trade Union Congress to establish the European Regional Bureau of the WFTU, the meeting decided to situate this Bureau in Athens (Greece) and a Plan of Work for the year 2001 was also adopted.

The participants declared that the WFTU’s European Bureau will cooperate with other trade unions, social, anti-war, ecological and radical movements within the workers’ organisations, in order to further develop the movement for workers’ rights, peace and disarmament, against the so-called ”new world order” and exploitation. It was underlined that the Bureau will promote workers’ class struggle by undertaking initiatives and encouraging united actions of the working people against the attacks on them by the forces of Capital. It will develop a militant perspective by struggling against subordination to Big Capital.

PAME (Greece) was given the role of coordinator of Bureau activities.

The following declaration was unanimously adopted by the meeting:Meeting in Greece on the initiative and invitation of PAME, for exchanging views on trade union priorities and tasks in Europe, the meeting of WFTU and TUI affiliates in Europe declares that the basic demands of the working people of this region remain unfulfilled as the European employers and governments are imposing policies which adversely affect workers’ interests. The situation demands more intensive efforts on the part of the trade unions to organise themselves and wage united struggle for a Europe of the people, as the radical and democratic movements demand.The meeting calls for further enhancement of the role of the trade union movement in safeguarding the interests of the employees and to ensure that the economic and social policies are governed by democratic principles and implemented with the participation of the working people and their trade unions.The meeting positively stands for a real Charter of Fundamental Rights in Europe, which will uphold the right of the working people and trade unions to negotiate and conclude collective agreements at the appropriate levels and to take collective action to defend their interests, including strike action. A real Charter has to take into account the demands of the working people, and generally, the people in Europe. The basic orientation of this Charter should be the respect of the gains of struggle and demands of the trade union movement existing in each European country.

The Charter should determine the legal guarantees which are indispensable to update the rights of trade union organisations. The Charter should thus become an instrument to implement the commitment to work towards full employment and other objectives adopted at the World Summit for Social Development (WSSD, 1995).

The patterns of collective bargaining and the constitution of the European Works Councils should be reflected by guaranteeing the right to collective bargaining and the right of trade unions to take militant action at the European level.

The meeting expressed its grave concern over the situation of workers and trade unions in Central and Eastern Europe where the reforms carried out in the last ten years have reduced the social gains and workers’ just demands and interests. As a result, unemployment has become rampant and real wages have declined. A significant section of the population has incomes below the subsistence minimum. Wages and pensions are not being paid regularly. Trade union rights and demands have been seriously curtailed and laws and collective agreements are not being implemented. Unions have been stripped of the rights they used to enjoy, such as the rights to legislative initiative, participation in management, health and safety control, administration of social insurance, etc. There have been several instances of interference by employers and governments in internal affairs of trade unions.

The meeting expresses its position for peace in the Balkans region, supporting the withdrawal of all foreign military forces and respect of borders. In the Balkans region where live a medley of people and nationalities, the danger of racism, of xenophobia and of neo-fascist concepts, must be confronted by the working class movement.

It also expresses the strong demand for an immediate withdrawal of all foreign military forces out of Cyprus and the application of all decisions and resolutions of the United Nations Organisation so that the problem of Cyprus will be solved peacefully with justice and reunification of the island, in the framework of an inter-communal, inter-regional confederal state with one sovereignty, one nationality and one solid international personality. Within this framework, during the next eight months, it was decided to organise an international trade union meeting where trade unions from Greece, Cyprus and Turkey will participate and having as a topic of discussion the Cyprus issue.

The meeting also expresses its solidarity with the developing countries which are under the control of the IMF, the WTO and other international organisations which impose their very hard and unfair terms on these countries.

The meeting declares that for the social rights in Europe, without being dominated by the policies of Multinational Companies, there should be assured, inter alia:

- Full and permanent employment for All;

- 35-hour working week (5 days and 7 hours per day);

- Transnational Trade Union Rights;

- The right to social protection for the excluded and immigrants;

- Pensions which will assure a life of dignity;

- Gender equality;

- Elimination of all forms of discrimination and racism;

Public and free education for the children of the working class and immigrants;

A full medical cover of populations;

Public and Compulsory Social Security.

 

There is increasing concern all over Europe and other continents over the negative social consequences of the neo-liberal policies of globalisation – the elimination of social gains, redeployment of enterprises, dimunition of purchasing power of wages and the increase of unemployment, part-time work and the marginalisation of millions of workers as well as increasing poverty.

 

It is absolutely unacceptable that at the current high levels of industrial and technological development, which can assure a decent life for every citizen in Europe, there is so much unemployment, underemployment, poverty and misery. It is also tragic that allocations for social development are declining while the huge amounts devoted to armaments and armed forces are increasing rapidly.

It is also absolutely unacceptable that in many sectors and countries, the trade union movements are getting weakened because of the loss of jobs, the widespread introduction of individual contracts, part-time contracts and other irregular forms of employment as well as the refusal of many employers to recognise trade unions and the right to collective bargaining. The meeting demands that in order to correct this situation, there should be statutory safeguards through appropriate legal enactments As the 14th World Trade Union Congress (New Delhi, March 2000) demanded, the employers and their companies in their annual reports should specifically provide information on the implementation of ILO conventions 87 and 98, as well as on the collective agreements signed at the enterprise and company levels.

Moreover, it is also essential that representation is given to all trade union organisations at the company and regional level, thus avoiding the prevailing practice of involving only a section of the trade union movement in the consultative bodies at the national, industrial and regional levels.

It is also important the fact that we do not consider ourselves isolated within Europe. We consider ourselves a part of the global struggle within the framework of the global front for the formation of a new global order without exploitation, with solidarity and equal relations with other peoples and militant trade union movements, respecting and applying the principles of the United Nations.

Keeping this in mind, the meeting decides to establish in Athens, the capital of Greece, a European regional office to coordinate the activities of the WFTU and TUIs in the region and to promote cooperation among trade union organisations in Europe and with national, regional and sub-regional trade union organisations, in order to intensify the common struggle and to achieve trade union objectives.

 

*THE STRUGGLE AGAINST U.S. AGGRESSION AND OCCUPATION OF IRAQ

During recent years, the WFTU and other trade unions and peace forces have intensified their struggle against the aggressive policies of the US Administration , in gross violation of international law and the UN Charter, to launch a military attack and occupation of Iraq. The WFTU had sent a mission to Iraq just before the US-led war was launched, in the campaign to prevent this sordid act. The European Bureau of the WFTU organized a conference in Brussels to intensify the anti-war campaign.

It is now becoming clear that the US policies in the Middle-East backing Israel and storing Israel’s nuclear weapons in US military bases have destabilized the region. The attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq are now followed by US threats against Syria and Iran. This US policy upholding the interests of the transnational oil cartel has already led to the unprecedented rise in the price of oil which is undermining the economic situation in most countries of the world.

The Presidential Council, at its meeting in Hanoi, demanded that the foreign occupation of Iraq should end as soon as people. The country’s administration and the building of an independent, free and democratic Iraq, should be entrusted to its own people and their political and mass organisations. The human and material resources of Iraq should be used to promote economic and social development and to develop the present and future Iraq.

SOLIDARITY WITH WORKERS AND PEOPLE OF PALESTINE

The WFTU and its affil;iates in cooperation with the ICATU and the International Trade Union Committee for Solidarity with Palestine, have further strengthened their activities in support of the struggle of the workers, trade unions and people of Palestine against the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab lands, in gross violation of the repeated resolutions of the UN Security Council.

The WFTU, its affiliates and friends, acting unitedly in support of the struggle of the workers and people of the Middle East region have intensified their campaign to demand that the international community, the UN and all member States should work effectively to implement the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the UN Charter and call upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Syrian Golan and the remaining part of South Lebanon. The Palestinian refugees should have the right to return home and build their independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.

The WFTU demands effective actions by the international community to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East region. All nuclear and other mass destruction weapons of Israel should be removed from the region.

SOLIDARITY WITH SYRIA

The WFTU and its affiliates have further ingtensified their solidarity with the trade unions and people of Syria and have denounced the repeated conspiracies of the US-Israeli forces against the Syrian Arab Republic.The WFTU has reaffirmed its solidarity with the Syrian leadership, workers and people, to confront the threats, fabrications and pressures of US Administration and its ally, Israel. The WFTU condemned the intervention in the internal affairs of countries and the attempts to eliminate the people’s alternatives and their statutory institutions. The WFTU has condemned the US-Israeli attempts to disfigure and destroy the fraternal relations between Syria and Lebanon and their common interests and aims.

The WFTU pointed out that the main issue in the region is the immediate end of Israeli occupation of all Arab territories and to build the Palestinian independent State with Jerusalem as capital and to ensure the return of refugees in accordance with international law – and not Resolution No.1559. The only guarantee to achieve peace is to find solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflicts and ensure security and stability in the region and the world.

The WFTU called upon all affiliates and friendly organisations, all nations and peace-loving forces, to express their solidarity with the workers and people of Syria and Lebanon in their struggle against the threats and foreign intervention and ensure their legitimate right to resist the occupation and the attempts at neo-colonial domination. The US Administration and others should respect the freedom, independence and sovereignty of Syria and respect the treaties upholding relations of cooperation as well as agreements between Syria and Lebanon. The US and Israel should put an end to their policies of creating tensions and conflicts in the Arab region and in countries which have the right to defend their national interest and their own economic and social choices.

The WFTU expressed its grave concern and protest against the attempts to mis-utilise the United Nations and the Security Council and specialized agencies to apply pressure on the Syrian Arab Republic and other Member States and impose sanctions and blockades, in order to serve the interests of some super powers and their accomplices.

SOLIDARITY WITH SUDAN

During the period under review, the WFTU and its affiliated organisations have expressed their strong denunciation of outside interference in the internal affairs of Sudan and the attempts to intervene in the internal affairs of Sudan.

The WFTU and its affiliates strongly rejected the attempts of the US Administration and its allies to aggravate the crisis in Sudan and subject that country to pressures and all kinds of blackmail.

The WFTU called upon affiliated and friendly organisations and peace-loving forces to support the Sudanese people to confront these challenges at the international level, to express their solidarity with the workers and people of Sudan, safeguard their achievements and the cooperation of the people of Sudan and their neighbouring countries as well as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to implement the peace initiatives and national unityu, stop the civil war, and overcome hunger and destitution. The WFTU demanded that all those responsible for the crimes which were committed and those involved in any violations of State laws and sovereignty of Sudan should be punished. The regulations of the international bodies and regions which can ensure stability, development, peace and justice to all people of Sudan should be upheld, in order to achieve stability, development, peace and justice to all people of Sudan and ensure the unity, independence, sovereignty and prosperity of Sudan, and achieve peace and security in the world.

DEVELOPMENT OF COOPERATI0N WITHINTERNATIONAL, REGIONAL AND OTHER ORGANISATIONS

In the framework of the long-standing cooperation with regional organisations, the WFTU has close cooperation with the Regional Trade Union Organisations – the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions (ICATU) and the Permanent Congress of Trade Union Unity of Latin America (CPUSTAL).

Close cooperation exists between the WFTU and other international NGOs like the World Peace Council and the World Federation of Democratic Youth. There are regular meetings and consultations with them at the level of the ILO and other international organisations as well as in the framework of the Conference of NGOs accredited to the UN, the World Social Forum and other international and regional platforms.

WFTU delegations participated in the Congresses of the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions (ICATU) as well as the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity. Relations of cooperation with the General` Confederation of Trade Unions (GCTU) have been further strengthened.

In the year 2000, the WFTU participated in the Open World Conference in defence of Trade Union Independence and Democratic Rights.organised in San Francisco by a group of US trade unions. This was the first time that the WFTU was formally invited by a US trade union body. The continuing committee of this Conference was and continues to be very active in the campaign for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

THE STRUGGLE FOR EQUAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN AND AGAINST DISCRIMINATION

As the 14th Congress of the WFTU (New Delhi, 2000) declared, the blatant discrimination against women that was built into the feudal and capitalist regimes should not survive in the new century and new millennium. It is, indeed, scandalous that women who constitute half of the world’s population (and responsible for the entire population) and who put in two-thirds of the hours of work, earn only 10 per cent of the world’s income and own less than one per cent of the world’s wealth. Women continue to be segregated to unstable and low-paid jobs and as a result, 70 per cent of all those below the poverty line are women.

The neo-liberal policies camouflaged as “globalisation” seek to reverse even the limited progress achieved in the campaign to eliminate the discriminatory laws and practices.

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Programme of Action in the year 2005, the WFTU has reiterated its full support for the struggle of working women, the trade unions and women’s organisations, for the strict implementation of ILO Convention 100 on equal remuneration and other international standards concerning the employment rights of working women as well as the Programme of Action adopted by the UN Conference on Women.

The WFTU called for the further strengthening of international struggle and solidarity to put an end to the extreme insecurity and poverty faced especially by women and children in countries affected by conditions of war, military occupation and civil conflicts - the women and children who are victims of the genocidal policies of Israel in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories in Syria and Lebanon, in US-occupied Iraq as well as those who are the victims of economic blockades against their countries. Urgent solidarity is needed with the struggle of women trade unionists and social activists are victims of the brutal violation of human rights and trade union rights as in Colombia and other countries with repressive regimes.

The WFTU reiterated its total solidarity with the worldwide struggle of working women, the trade unions and women’s organisations for a better life and for just demands and for peace and security for all peoples and calls upon the world trade union movement and all democratic forces to further strengthen the worldwide actions for the rights and demands:

for the total elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, particularly in relation to recruitment, wages, promotion, social security, pensions and participation in management;for adequate protection for women engaged in agriculture, handicrafts and in the informal sector, and those working in Export Processing Zones and other places of employment where protective legislation does not apply;to reinforce their efforts to support the women workers’ right of association and adequate representation for women in all elected institutions, including the leading bodies of trade unions;to uphold their rights as workers and mothers, for the protection of motherhood, upholding family links and relations;- for peace and security in the world, through disarmament for development and to build a bright future for the children and their families and for social progress. *SOLIDARITY WITH CUBADuring the period under review, the WFTU and its affiliates and friendly organizations all over the world have further strengthened their solidarity campaign in support of Cuba and against the illegal US economic blockade of Cuba which has been continuing for the last 40 years. This gross violation of international law and the UN Charter has been condemned by the overwhelming majority of Member States of the UN General Assembly for 14 years now.The economic damage caused to the Republic of Cuba as a consequence of this imperialist policy of the US Administration is estimated at more than 82 billion dollars.The illegal detention of five Cuban citizens – Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labanino and Rene Gonzalez - by the US Government has also been denounced by world public opinion and at the United Nations. Even the Court in the United States has called for a re-trial. The WFTU and its affiliates have demanded their immediate release.The WFTU and its affiliates have also strongly condemned the US-led campaigns against the Republic of Cuba before the UN Commission on Human Rights, at the ILO and other UN bodies, in their international campaign to intensify their “cold war” and hostile campaigns against Cuba.

SOLIDARITY WITH TRADE UNIONS IN EUROPEAN UNION COUNTRIES

The WFTU has mobilized international solidarity in support of the demands and joint actions of the trade unions in the European Union member countries as well as other European countries. The WFTU denounced the fact that the deteriorating social situation of the working people in the European Union and in Europe as a whole, highlighted the cardinal issue of non-implementation of declared social policies and commitments solemnly undertaken at the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen (1995) and the basic aims of the European Social Charter itself.

 

The WFTU strongly supported the trade union protests in all European countries against the attempts to dismantle the social safety net and long-accepted principles of social policy. . Trade unions in the various European countries have organised massive protest actions against these anti-labour and anti-social policies.

 

The WFTU has repeatedly pointed out that it was unanimously and universally agreed at the 1995 Copenhagen Summit that all economic policies should have a social dimension, that there should be a social safety net covering all segments of the working people and that all States should work towards a full employment policy.

 

The WFTU has condemned the fact that instead of building a European social model based on the widely-accepted principles of the European Social Charter, laws are being changed by certain governments to deny the social safety net for the unemployed and to undermine the rights and interests of the working people on questions of job security, collective bargaining and trade union rights as well as working and living conditions. Systems of pensions and social security are threatened with privatisation. Deregulation and liquidation of public services are prominent in the declarations of several governments. There is widespread apprehension that this dilution of policies and principles is turning the organised sector into a fragmented “informal” sector, on the false claim that by reducing social protection, national economies will become more competitive.

 

The WFTU therefore called upon the European Union member countries to take into account these concerns of the trade union movement and devote more attention to advance from the positions upheld in the European Social Charter and the Copenhagen commitments. It was demanded that the EU member countries should disapprove the retrograde policy changes seeking to liquidate the social gains achieved by the trade unions and democratic forces in Europe as well as to liquidate the well-established social rights which have prevailed so far.

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SOLIDARITY WITH VENEZUELA

On the initiative agreed during the 90th session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, on the invitation of the Ministry of Labour of Venezuela to study the democratic, social and political conditions, and to see on the spot the trade union, social and political situation of Venezuela, fifteen leaders of the international trade union movement visited the country from 15 to 29 July 2002

The World Federation of Trade Unions was represented by Alexander Zharikov, WFTU General Secretary and Antonio Neto, WFTU Vice President. Also present were delegates from Sindicato-Intercategoriales de Comite de Base, Confederacion General (CGIL) and Partido Della Rifondazione from Italy, the CGT of Brazil, CGTD of Colombia (WCL), CTC of Cuba, CNTP of Panama, PIT-CNT of Uruguay, CGTP of Peru, COB of Bolivia, CUT of Dominican Republic and CGT of Argentina.

Members of the delegation met with various trade union organisations and the Movement Forza Bolivariana de Trabajadores of Venezuela. They had discussions in the Ministry of Labour, the Directory of the National Electoral Council and the Presidential Commission on National Dialogue. The delegations were introduced to the National Parliament in Session and exchanged opinions with members of its Social Committee, visited the National Oil Company and Barina province and participated in the national Sunday live radio and TV programme.

The delegations were received and had substantial discussions with the President of Venezuela, His Excellency Mr. Hugo Chavez.

Acquainted with the life of various sections of the population in the country and having discussions on a wide range of issues related to the social, economic, political and trade union life, members of the delegation strongly condemned the April coup d’etat in Venezuela which interrupted the democratic process and suspended the Constitution and all democratic institutions. They welcomed the restoration of democracy in the country and expressed solidarity with the people and workers of Venezuela in their efforts to continue the process of transformations in the interests of the popular masses, for strengthening the independence and sovereignty of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. They expressed the readiness of the progressive international trade union movement to defend and to assist this process both nationally and internationally. The delegations highly evaluated the position of President Hugo Chavez and his Government against the Free Trade Agreement of Americas (FTAA) which fully corresponds with the attitude of the trade unions of the Americas and the world trade union movement, considering it as an expression of neo-liberal globalisation and as an attempt by the USA to subordinate the economies of the continent to the interests of US business and financial cartels.

The WFTU stated that the ongoing process of social and economic transformations in Venezuela is targeted towards the defence of the genuine interests of the population and workers and towards strengthening the sovereignty and independence of the country. President Chavez’s proposal “For an ALBA (a Bolivarian Alternative for America) and not ALCA (Free Trade Agreement of the Americas)” and specifically directed towards the unity of Latin America against US domination, is in the interests of the workers all over the continent.

The WFTU called upon its affiliates and friendly organisations in the Americas and all over the world to defend and assist the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, mobilizing the workers and people and highlighting the ideological and political clarifications against neoliberalism and its mentors.

MEMORANDUM TO SEVILLE EUROPEAN SUMMIT

-

The WFTU submitted the following Memorandum to the European Summit in Seville which was held on 21 and 22 June 2002:

 

The World Federation of Trade Unions draws the urgent attention of the Seville European Summit to the deteriorating social situation of the working people in the European Union and in Europe as a whole, which brings to the fore the cardinal issue of non-implementation of declared social policies and commitments solemnly undertaken at the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen (1995) and the basic aims of the European Social Charter itself.

 

There are increasing trade union protests in all European countries against the attempts to dismantle the social safety net and long-accepted principles of social policy. . Trade unions in the various European countries have organised massive protest actions against these anti-labour and anti-social policies. The protest actions planned by the Spanish trade unions on 20 June 2002 are widely seen as a sequel to the attempts of policymakers to reverse the social gains achieved after decades of trade union struggles.

 

It was unanimously and universally agreed at the 1995 Copenhagen Summit that all economic policies should have a social dimension, that there should be a social safety net covering all segments of the working people and that all States should work towards a full employment policy. Instead of building a European social model based on the widely-accepted principles of the European Social Charter, laws are being changed by certain governments to deny the social safety net for the unemployed (as the authorities in Spain seek to impose), and to undermine the rights and interests of the working people on questions of job security, collective bargaining and trade union rights as well as working and living conditions. Systems of pensions and social security are threatened with privatisation. Deregulation and liquidation of public services are prominent in the declarations of several governments. There is widespread apprehension that this dilution of policies and principles is turning the organised sector into a fragmented “informal” sector, on the false claim that by reducing social protection, national economies will become more competitive.

 

The WFTU therefore urges the European Summit in Seville to take into account these concerns of the trade union movement and devote more attention to advance from the positions upheld in the European Social Charter and the Copenhagen commitments. In other words, the Summit meeting should disapprove the retrograde policy changes seeking to liquidate the social gains achieved by the trade unions and democratic forces in Europe as well as to liquidate the well-established social rights which have prevailed so far.

*NEW AFFILIATIONS WITH THE WFTU

During the period under review, the WFTU has expanded its organisation in the various continents.The following organisations were granted affiliation since the 14th Congress:

No.1INDONESIAIndonesia National Federation of Trade UnionsJAKARTA, INDONESIA

No.2MAURITANIEUNION DES SYNDICATS LIBRES DE MAURITANIE (U.S.L.M.)NKTT – MAURITANIE

No.3BENINUNSTB – Force OuvriereBENIN

No.4CAMEROUNFENTEDCAMFédération Nationale des Sindicats des TravailleursDes Collectivités Territoriales Décentralisées du CAMEROUN YAOUNDENo.5COSTA RICACentral General de TrabajadoresCosta Rica

No.6CONGOCONSCIENCE DES TRAVAILLEURS ET PAYSANS DU CONGO – C.T.P.LUMUMBASHI - PROVINCE DU KATANGAREPUBLIQUE DEMOCRATIQUE DU CONGO {RDC] No.7 CONGO

GARANTIE SOCIALE DES TRAVAILLEURS – GST

Commune de Lubumbashi

Province du KATANGA

No.8

MEXICO

FRONT OF ENERGY WORKERS OF MEXICO

Frente de Trabajadores de la Energia [FTE]

MEXICO

No.9

ECUADOR

Federation Unitaria de Trabajadores de AZUCAREROS DE ECUADOR

ECUADOR

No.10

COLOMBIA

Asociacion Nacional de Empleados Bancarios del Banco de la Republica de Colombia ANEBRE, COLOMBIA

No.11

SPAIN

LAB, SINDICATO BASCO

No.12

WESTERN SAHARA

UGTSARIO

No.13

COLOMBIA

Trade Union of Telecommunications of Santafe de Bogota (SINTRATELEFONOS), COLOMBIA

No.14

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Central Institucional de Trabajadores Autonomos, Santo Domingo,DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

No.15

GABON

Congres Syndical du Gabon, Libreville

No.16

MAURITANIE

Union Generale des Travailleurs de Mauritanie UGTM

No.17

Trade Unions of Transport Workers of SERBIA

No.18

COSTA RICA

Sindicato de Trabajadores del Ina (SITRAINA), San Jose, Costa Rica

No.19

COSTA RICA

Sindicato de Empleados Universitarios Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica

No.20

ZIMBABWE

Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, Harare

No.21

BULGARIA

Central Generale des Sindicats de Branches en Bulgaria, Bulgaria

No.22

ECUADOR

Comite de Empresa Unico de Los Trabajadores de Petroecuador, Quito, Ecuador

No.23

CAMEROUN

Confederation des Syndicats Independants du Cameroun, Yaounde, Camerun

No.24

CONGO

Cooperation des Syndicats d’Enterprises Publiques et Privees, Profelssionnelles, des Groupements Ouvriers et des ONGs du Congo, Kinshasa

No.25

SIERRA LEONE

Trade Union Congress of Sierra Leone

No.26

NICARAGUA

Federation of University Professors, FEPDES

No.27

CHILE

National Association of Minors to protect young person´s rights ANTRASE

No.28

CHILE

National Trade Union Workers of Commerce, Textile and other Industries

Santiago – Chile

No.29

CHILE

United Federation of Transport of Latin America and Carribea FUTAC

Santiago - Chile

*

 

GLOBAL TRADE UNION CONSULTATIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION COOPERATION AND FOR DEMOCRATIC, ALTERNATIVE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIES AND POLICIES

1. WFTU-ICFTU TALKS IN 2001

 

A high-level meeting of delegations from the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) took place on 18 September 2001 in Brussels at the ICFTU headquarters.The WFTU delegation was composed of: Mr Alexander Zharikov, General Secretary; Mr. Antonio Neto, Vice President of the WFTU and General Secretary of CGTB of Brazil and Mr.George Mavrikos, Vice President of the WFTU and General Secretary of PAME, Greece.The ICFTU delegation was composed of: Mr Bill Jordan, ICFTU General Secretary; Ms Mia De Vits, General Secretary, FGTB, Belgium and ICFTU Vice-President; Mr Richard Falbr, President CMKOS, Czech Republic; Mr Bertil Jonsson, LO Sweden, Member of the ICFTU Millennium Review Group; Mr Eddy Laurijssen, ICFTU Assistant General Secretary; and Ms Mamunata Cissé, ICFTU Assistant General Secretary.Possibilities of bilateral and multilateral trade union cooperation in responding to the neo-liberal globalisation were discussed and comprehensively examined. Delegations agreed to study the proposals and questions which were put forward during the meeting and to draw respective conclusions.The WFTU presented the following paper at the meeting:

 

GLOBAL RESPONSE TO THE GLOBAL CHALLENGES

Some points for trade union debate1.1. The beginning of the 21st century is marked by tremendous achievements in the development of productive capabilities and technological achievements, which should be enough to create decent living standards for the entire humanity. At the same time, humankind, as a whole, faces unprecedented challenges and threats. The statistics and facts are well known and their impact deeply felt. Probably for the first time in the history of human civilisation, the world itself appears as a mutually bound global entity, because of the global impact of both these factors.1.2. In the social and labour fields, these developments resulted in a steady decline in the social situation as well as in the working conditions of the vast masses of the population There is a growing gap between the rich and the poor, leading to the marginalisation and social exclusion of more and more people, both in the developed world and in the developing countries.1.3. All these contradictory trends and negative factors are clearly recognised by the UN and the ILO and reflected in their reports and documents. From the positions of the world trade union movement, what then are the standpoints concerning the reasons for such a situation and the way out?1.4. It seems that we have come to the moment when all trade unions agree that the trends and developments which have come to prevail are unacceptable and that if they continue, they will bring irreparable damage to the society and the whole world we live in.1.5. We also find that the reasons for the negative developments, despite their different forms in different countries and regions, have a global and comprehensive nature and need a global and comprehensive response.1.6. Most affected are the working people and the weakest strata of the population everywhere.

1.7. The crisis involves the geopolitical situation, development of the world economy, trade and other aspects of international relations. It questions the role of international organisations, governments, parliaments and other institutions. It drastically affects the trade unions in a negative sense, questioning their role, their capabilities to represent workers and even their very existence.1.8. Assessing this as a phenomena, trade unions consider themselves both affected and responsible. They recognise their special role and potential as organisations deeply rooted in society, and believe that they have a mandate from their members to reverse the situation. But, unfortunately, trade unions at the national, regional and international level are weak, marginalised or divided.1.9. The very first thing to do is that the unions should unite their efforts in one direction, i.e., to search for a way to unite (merge) or to co-operate. It seems that this is the assessment of practically every sector of the trade union movement. The main point to be stressed is that the trade unions – just as parliaments and political parties – constitute an indispensable part of every civil society, that they have an irreplaceable role to play and that society is responsible to create conditions for trade unions to fulfil their role.1.10. Also we should realise that not only points of agreement should be dealt with but also points of disagreement.1.11. The next step is: how to co-operate. There are different possibilities but the first step is to go for dialogue. To start the dialogue, the parties concerned should agree on the principles of that should govern their relationship. On this, longstanding traditions exist: respect for sovereignty and independence of each trade union organisation, equality, mutual respect, and non-interference in international affairs of each other. This co-operation should be on a just and fair basis, solely in defence of workers’ rights and interests on commonly agreed issues: 1.12. It should embrace such issues as:Defence of workers’ interests;Economic and social development;trade union rights;legislationproportional representation and elaboration of common positions at the level of different bodies – economic (IMF, WB), labour (ILO), policymaking (UN).1.13. The forms of co-operation could be mutually agreed, e.g., a round table or joint working group, (composition to be agreed) meeting regularly, and engaging in broad debate where necessary, on a commonly agreed agenda, which could be seen as a permanent mechanism of co-operation. 1.14. Co-operation should address international, regional, national, industrial and workplace levels.1.15. This should be seen as the beginning, to initiate the co-operation for which we feel the time has come. How it will develop later depends on experience and willingness of all sides to observe the rules. The aim is to strengthen the voice of the working people, to build the necessary global response to meet the global challenges.IIAt the bilateral discussions with the ICFTU, the following specific points were raised by the WFTU delegation: The Trade Union Forum which was convened in the framework of the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 1995) showed possibilities to bring together trade unions of all countries and all international and regional trade union organisations on a common platform and to adopt a common declaration in support of the WSSD.Unfortunately, there was no follow up to the Copenhagen consultations. The result was that there was no effective national and international campaigns and actions by all the trade unions to secure the implementation of the Copenhagen Commitments, although many vital trade union demands regarding social development were accepted by the WSSD, in principle.At the national level, in many countries, on the principal policy issues such as the struggle against privatisation, factory closures and dismissals from jobs, etc., trade unions affiliated with the different international organisations have been acting together – and succeeding in winning demands in many cases. Therefore, it should be possible for all the international and regional trade union organisations to agree on co-ordinating their campaigns on specific issues or on specific questions of solidarity with the ongoing struggles in different sectors and countries.High priority has to be attached to find ways to reverse the trend of declining trade union membership and denial of right to organise in different industries and sectors. While the tripartite machinery and the recent Tripartite Declaration are loudly talked about, these high principles are seldom implemented. Therefore, the trade union centres at all levels should collectively insist that the right of association is not only formally accepted by governments and employers but allowed to be freely exercised by all employed persons in all trades, sectors and countries. To introduce an effective mechanism to review and overcome the serious shortcomings in this respect, it would be useful if the ILO and the world trade union movement jointly issue a World Trade Union Development Report, (on the lines of the UN Human Development Reports) analysing the extent to which the right of association is exercised in the different countries and the state of industrial relations in these countries. Such a Report could also assess how the concept of people’s participation in development, as upheld in the International Development Strategies adopted by the UN, through the involvement of trade unions and other people’s organisations, in all decision-making on economic and social policies, and related issues.It is also appropriate to propose that all employers (both in the private and public sectors) should publish annual reports (or include in their annual statutory reports) information about the trade union rights recognised in their enterprises, including the percentage of employers who are members of trade unions, and on the collective agreements signed with the trade unions.The reporting which governments are preparing for the ILO – in terms of implementation of the various conventions and now in terms of implementing the ILO Declaration on Principles and Rights at Work – is too elementary and over-generalised. It should be far simpler to ask all corporations and other employers to include this information in their statutory annual reports which they are expected to publish under existing national legislation.

A major problem facing all countries and especially the working people is that governance and governing structures continue to sustain a yawning ”credibility gap”, making them far removed from the goals and aspirations of the common people. This is so when the gap between promise and performance in the field of decision-making is widening and when double standards become the dominant trend – the trend set by the economic and political elite. The trade unions as democratic, self-governing and representative institutions of the working people are, therefore, called upon to educate and mobilise public opinion against such anti-democratic and anti-social practices. They must promote confidence-building measures and eliminate all attempts to impose various forms of discrimination. Trade unions at all levels must exercise vigilance against all attempts to impose hegemony. All institutions connected with work and life should uphold their universal character. Representation for the workers’ side in all tripartite bodies should be fully representative of all trends and this principle should be fully respected right from the local, regional and national levels to the international level including the composition of the Workers Group at the ILO.

Working Groups to examine the above-mentioned points and aspects could be set up at the international, regional and sub-regional level, as may be necessary and as may be agreed by all concerned.

II

WFTU PROPOSALS AND EXPECTATIONS

To establish continuous stable relations between the two organisations – locally and worldwide.To look for possibility of multilateral cooperation between the international and regional trade union organisations (Trade Union Front).To organise – bilaterally or multilaterally – actions of trade unions on common points: foreign debt of developing countriesend of blockades and sanctionsagainst neo-liberal policiesfor full employment, for the implementation of the Ten Commitments of the Copenhagen SummitAgainst violation of trade union rights.Mechanism for unity and cooperation within ILO, on matters of labour standards.Elaboration and presentation of common stand towards specific aspects: the U.N.,Towards the IMF and WB; WTONOTE: This meeting was not followed up by the ICFTU. In the year 2005, the ICFTU and WCL decided to merge.EMERGENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION FORUM

It was in the background of widespread trade union struggles and the growing dialogue for international trade union cooperation that the International Forum on Economic Globalisation and Trade Unions was convened in Beijing, China, in October 2004, jointly by the WFTU, ACFTU, OATUU, ICATU and GCTU.Interventions made at the Beijing Forum highlighted the following points:

With world multi-polarization and economic globalization moving forward in twists and turns, science and technology developing at an amazing speed, the international environment is undergoing complicated and profound changes. Peace and development remain the themes of the present times, while unilateralism and hegemonism in international politics and economy still exist. The changes in international politics and economy, especially the process of economic globalization, have exerted great impact to international labour and trade union movement. In international trade union movement, more and more people, while recognizing the role of economic globalization in world economic development, are paying increasing attention to the fact that economic globalization widens the gap between rich and poor and the unfairness worldwide. All these have a deep impact on the workers and the trade union movement in developing countries and presents serious challenges to workers’ employment, social security and trade union rights of all countries.   In the background of economic globalization, it becomes a pressing need for the trade union movement to strengthen solidarity and cooperation in the whole world. The free global flow of commodities, technologies, information and especially capitals, coupled with rapid development of multinational companies makes it more difficult than before for trade unions to protect workers rights within one country.People are becoming more aware of the necessity of strengthening international solidarity and cooperation between trade unions, while trade unions in developing countries also begin to realize that only through enhancing international trade unions’ solidarity can the rights and interests of workers of developing countries be safeguarded in world political and economic developments.Faced with the challenges arising from economic globalization, trade unions from all countries should enhance solidarity and explore counter-measures together.  In today’s international trade union movement trade unions especially from developing countries should play a greater role. A multilateral forum that can fully represent the voice of trade unions of developing countries should be built, enriched and improved in various forms, at which they shall be able to exchange experience and coordinate their positions as regards how to better protect interests of workers and of those of developing countries in particular in the process of economic globalization.      Trade unions should continue to expand the basis for international trade union cooperation by seeking common ground while reserving differences. The differences in ideology, social system and international affiliation should not become barriers to dialogue and cooperation between trade unions across the world. To further mutual understanding is the most effective way to gradually dispel differences and strengthen solidarity. Trade unions in all countries, big or small, should be equal and share the right to participate in and express opinions on international trade union movement affairs. Trade unions in all countries should, on the basis of independence, equality, mutual-respect and mutual non-interference in each others’ internal affairs, seek common ground with a constructive attitude, engage in cooperation instead of confrontation, coordinate with each other, instead of imposing one’s views on others, commit to narrowing differences instead of sanctions, so as to realize a cooperative win-win result.  It should be universally recognised that trade unions in the world are organized in various forms. There is no single model for organizing trade unions up to now and it is impossible to have such a model. All trade unions and international trade union organizations should respect, but not intervene in those countries who choose their own trade union model and national development policy based on their national reality.          The international community should work even harder to maintain peace and stability. Especially, the developed countries should assume greater responsibility and obligation to do good to help resolve local conflicts and contradictions and create sound domestic and international environment for economic growth of the developing countries, do more practical things to improve the living standards of workers in these countries, and conscientiously make joint efforts to promote employment and decent work so as to, at long last, eradicate poverty and realize common progress of all the countries.

In the context of ever growing economic globalization, interdependence between different countries is rising. As industrial contradictions keep increasing, both parties concerned are readjusting their approaches to each other. Growing unemployment rate, undermined collective negotiation rights, confined trade union rights and various other developments have greatly discouraged exercise of the traditional confrontational approach by trade unions. In contrast, focus of trade unions in many countries is being shifted towards establishing stable and harmonious labour relations, settling disputes through coordination and dialogue and doing whatever possible to avoid antagonism and confrontation.

It is widely agreed that both parties to industrial relations have shared interests in upgrading national economic growth and boosting enterprise economic efficiency, which provides the possibility for them to solve disputes through dialogue and consultation and ultimately achieve a win-win result. This approach is beneficial to defend legal rights and interests of workers.

To achieve solidarity, the friendship and cooperation of the international trade union movement should always be the objective of the movement as a whole.

Solidarity, friendship and cooperation should, as always, be the goal of the international trade union movement. And it is particularly true today in the context of economic globalization. It is necessary to strengthen unity, promote friendship and cooperation and work to push forward healthy development of the world trade union movement.

Hegemonism and power politics still remain in existence in the world. It is still difficult to achieve solidarity of the international trade union movement in a concrete manner. A few western trade unions have not shed off the cold war mentality and at the same time, only care about interests of their own countries while ignoring problems facing the others, especially the developing ones.

In the meantime, political and economic development in different countries is uneven and there is a great deal of disparities between countries at different development levels in terms of interests and demands. International solidarity of the trade union movement will unavoidably be affected by these factors.

In the international trade union movement, there is a need for dialogue, exchanges and mutual respect, and organizations should refrain from confrontation and blaming each other, in order to face up to the challenges brought by the globalizing economy. Only by putting priorities on the interests of workers and accommodating each other, can the international trade union movement embark on a reliable road of solidarity, friendship and cooperation.

Solidarity of the international trade union movement should be developed on the basis of independence, complete equality, mutual respect and mutual non-interference into each other’s internal affairs. Trade unions of different countries should, by proceeding from aspirations of the workers and actual conditions of their own countries, maintain their own characteristics and advantages so as to give full expression to diversity of trade union itself. All trade unions, no matter big or small, should treat each other as equal and participate in international trade union affairs collectively to promote healthy development of international trade union movement so as to genuinely work together for the well-being of the working people across the world.  

Beijing Consensus 2004 adopted by International Forum on Economic Globalization and Trade Unions

Held in Beijing on October 11, 20041. We, the ACFTU, WFTU, OATUU, ICATU and GCTU, jointly launched the International Forum on Economic Globalization and Trade Unions in Beijing, China, from October 10 to 11, 2004, having discussed about the two subjects: impacts of economic globalization on the international trade union movement and their possible solutions as well as the development trend of the international trade union movement.  

2. There is a growing trend towards economic globalization. On one hand, with the fast advancement of science and technology, globalization has, to a certain extent, optimized the allocation of resources, deepened the international division of labour, and promoted wealth growth and economic development worldwide. On the other hand, with the free cross-border movement of capital, globalization has aggravated wealth disparity and social injustice across the world, and brought immense pressures and challenges to workers all over the world in the spheres of employment, social security and workers’ rights. 

3. The Forum also noted that in the context of globalization, the international trade union movement is faced with new situations and severe challenges. To this end, the trade union movement should transcend differences in ideology, culture and religion and international affiliation, promote exchanges and dialogues amongst trade unions, seek common grounds while putting aside differences, strengthen solidarity, enhance friendship, promote cooperation and achieve a win-win outcome.  

4. It was reaffirmed that peace and development are the main themes of the world today as well as the foundation and premise of the sound development of the international trade union movement. To preserve peace and promote development is the common task of trade unions of all countries. Poverty and unemployment remain the major problems plaguing developing countries. The international community should pay more attention to peace and development. In particular, developed countries should take up more international responsibilities and work hard to maintain world peace and stability in order to create a better environment for the world economy. Trade unions in a vast number of developing countries should actively explore effective ways to eliminate poverty and promote employment and make unremitting efforts to improve the living standards of their workers.  5. It was recognised that the vast numbers of trade union organizations in developing countries are a major force of the international trade union movement, which shoulders the important responsibility of representing and protecting the rights and interests of workers.. They should also get actively involved in the affairs of the International Labour Organization and contribute efforts at the ILO, in the circumstances of economic globalization, to better safeguard the rights and interests of the broad masses of workers, actively facilitate the application of international labour standards and attach great importance to the protection of the unique advantages and characteristics of developing countries in world economy and trade. 

6. Development models for trade unions are somewhat different as they are affected by various factors such as economic development level and cultural background in different countries. Therefore, trade unions of various countries have the right to choose their own path of development in line with their own national conditions and the aspirations of their workers. In the international trade union movement, the principle of equality, mutual respect, and non-interference into each other’s internal affairs should be upheld. Trade unions of all countries, big or small, should be treated as equals and have the same right to participate in the international trade union movement.

 7. With a view to strengthen unity and cooperation amongst trade unions, promoting friendship and development, the ACFTU, WFTU, OATUU, ICATU and GCTU will set up an International Trade Union Forum and propose topics for discussion at each forum through consultation and make it an open platform for all trade unions to voice their opinions, exchange ideas and coordinate their positions.     

8. Each Year during the International Labour Conference in June, all the parties will be involved in the decision through consultation on the topics, timing and venue of the next forum. Each party will be the coordinator in rotation responsible for the discussion of issues concerned.

*

CONCLUSIONS OF

THE 2005 INTERNATIONAL FORUMON ECONOMIC GLOBALISATION AND TRADE UNIONSShanghai, China, 21 September 2005

1. The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) convened the 2005 International Forum on Economic Globalisation and Trade Unions in Shanghai, China, from September 20 to 21, 2005, together with the World Federation of Trade Unions, the Organisation of African Trade Union Unity, the Brotherhood of Asian Trade Unions and the Central Latino Americana de Trabajadores as well as the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, the Hind Mazdoor Sabha (India), the Bhraratiya Mazdoor Sangh (India), the Indian National Trade Union Congress, the All-India Trade Union Congress, the National Council of Trade Unions (South Africa), the Central Unica de Trabalhadores (Brazil), the Confederacao Geral dos Trabalhadores (Brazil), the Forca Sindical (Brazil), the Confederacao Geral dos Trabalhadores (Brazil), the Central Geral dos Trabalhadores (Brazil), the Central Autonoma de Trabajadores de Mexico, the Confederacion de Trabajadores de Mexico, the Confederacion Revolucionaria de Obreros y Campesinos (Mexico). 39 participants from 19 national and regional as well as continental and international trade union organizations attended the Forum.2. The subjects of this Forum are: “Strategy and Measures to Raise Unionisation Rate” and “Trade Unions and Poverty Alleviation in a Context of Economic Globalisation”, Participants agreed that these are the two major issues besetting trade unions throughout the world and that poverty reduction is a main challenge facing all governments and their peoples as well as the international community. After an in-depth discussion of the two issues, trade unions exchanged views and experience and proposed possible solutions. This is of practical significance for increasing trade union influence, defending the rights and interests of workers and promoting the anti-poverty drive.3. Centring on the two subjects under discussion, participants reached the following conclusions: - People come first. The ultimate goal of economic development is to constantly improve and upgrade the living standards of the people. Trade unions shall work towards a coordinated social and economic development.- Peace and development are the themes of the present times and an important prerequisite for poverty eradication. Development is the key to overcoming poverty and a guarantee for the fundamental rights of workers across the world. Trade unions shall promote a sustainable social and economic development.- Unemployment is a leading root cause of poverty. Full employment is the key to poverty eradication. Trade unions shall work hard for the generation of decent employment. Proactive employment policy should be incorporated into economic development programme. Trade Unions shall do whatever they can to create decent employment opportunities. Women, particularly those in the informal sector shall warrant more attention from the society as a whole in the areas of employment opportunity and poverty alleviation.- Economic globalisation has produced an unprecedented level of material wealth for mankind. But the main beneficiaries of globalisation are multinationals, and workers, in particular those of developing countries, have benefited little from it. In many African countries, neoliberal economic policies have brought negative impacts on the broad masses of workers and peoples. In some Latin American countries, capitalist globalisation has led to new social division. All hope that economic globalisation will ultimately benefit all equally.- Trade unions have a great role to play in the fight against poverty. Trade unions can play an active role in materializing decent work and social justice, particularly a fair distribution of income.- Developed countries shall give more aid to developing countries in support of their efforts to reduce and eliminate poverty. Industrialised countries should be fully aware that debts of developing countries and the unfair and irrational international economic and trade order are one of the main reasons behind chronic poverty in developing countries, which will be, in turn, detrimental to the common development of the entire world. Rich countries are urged to annul all debts of the least-developed countries. Trade unions in the developed world shall help their counterparts in the developing world in a real spirit of solidarity.

- Trade unions of all countries shall transcend differences in ideology and international affiliation, develop communications and dialogue, join forces to meet the challenges of economic globalisation and strive to achieve mutual gains for workers worldwide.

- Trade union membership has been declining in many countries, which must draw high attention from all trade unions of the world.

- Only if trade unions constantly increase the unionisation rate and earnestly defend the legitimate rights and interests of workers, can they enhance their legitimacy. An important criterion for judging a trade union is whether or not it is able to protect the legitimate rights and interests of its members and the broad mass of workers in an effective manner.

- Trade unions shall adopt prompt and innovative measures to contact and mobilize workers. Trade unions shall take concrete and effective steps to strengthen themselves constantly and make themselves closer to the rank and file and more democratic. And trade unions shall deliver more social services (including legal aid, training and education, etc.) to their members.

- All countries shall act actively to build a tripartite consultative mechanism. Trade unions of various countries shall proceed from their own national conditions, vigorously promote the application of the universally accepted international labour standards, and facilitate the formation of a stable and harmonious labour relations.

4. Discussions at the Forum are warm, candid, open and pragmatic. Participants are of the opinion that despite their different international affiliations and different social systems and ideologies in their countries, they had conducted extensive discussions of both subjects, in the spirit of showing mutual respect, treating each other as equals, seeking common grounds while putting aside differences and achieving common progress. Such exchanges and communications are conducive to the promotion of a healthy development of the international trade union movement and the establishment of a fair and rational new order of the international trade union movement.5. Participants expressed appreciation for the organization and convocation of this Forum and agreed that in the context of economic globalisation, trade unions of all countries, in particular those of developing countries, shall strengthen communications and dialogue, and promote friendship and cooperation. Trade unions in developing countries shall play a more active role in meeting the challenges of economic globalisation. To this end, participants agreed that they would, on a voluntary basis, discuss and decide follow-up activities at the appropriate time.

*

 

 

 

PRINCIPAL ISSUES OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION DIALOGUE AND PROPOSALS FOR UNITY

AND UNITED ACTIONS

In the last five years, there were important initiatives to promote united action at the national, regional and international levels, as trade unions as well as civil society organisations operating at the various UN, ILO and other international organisations.

Important initiatives in this regard included the WORLD SOCIAL FORUM under the slogan: ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE. Trade unions of all affiliations participated in the annual meetings of the World Social Forum.

At the World Social Forum organised in Mumbai, India, an International Trade Union Forum was organised in which all international trade union centres including the WFTU, ICFTU and WCL participated.

However, these positive trends to promote global solidarity and trade union united action could not be carried forward, since the ICFTU Congress held in Japan in 2004 decided to have a merger with the WCL, thus continuing the global trade union split imposed by the architects of the cold war and carried out in 1948.

The cold war ideologists who wanted to use sections of trade unions as their foreign policy instruments are also misusing the UN forums like the ILO and the UN Human Rights Commission in order to ensure their control and domination of these institutions. Sections of NGOs are being financed and used as propaganda transmission agencies. This was seen in recent years in the ILO where complaints were made against China, Cuba, Belarus, Venezuela and other countries alleging violation of trade union rights. These are considered as plots to undermine the united trade union movements in these countries.

Similar complaints are filed at the UN Human Rights Commission against countries that do not want to accept the neo-liberal policies of globalisation.

Among the victims of such blatant discrimination are the WFTU and its affiliates in many countries. This is seen particularly at the level of the ILO where such discrimination when worker delegates are nominated to the tripartite delegations attending the International Labour Conferences. Moreover, in the Secretariat of the Workers’ Group of the ILO and in the various departments of the ILO, there is no one belonging to any WFTU affiliate.

In many countries, the trade unions and democratic forces are criticising the misuse of sections of the NGO community by foreign funding agencies and used as instruments for interfering in the internal affairs of countries.

The architects of the renewed Cold War strategies and policies are the very same power structures created by the global monopolies and transnational corporations and military-industrial complexes.

*WFTU ACTIVITIES AT WORLD SOCIAL FORUMS

MAIN CONCLUSIONS OF THE TRADE UNION AND PEOPLE’S

INTERNATIONAL FORUM, ORGANISED BY THE WFTU

ON 29 JANUARY 2005, IN THE FRAMEWORK OF

THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUM IN PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL

 Trade unions, social and people’s organizations of the 5 continents participated in the Trade Union and People’s International Forum convened by the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) in the framework of the V World Social Forum in Porto Alegre (Brazil). The participating trade union and social organizations expressed, in the interventions of each one of their representatives, the realities of their respective countries and regions, as well as their opinions, analysis and their proposals. We put this at the disposal of the organizing committee of the World Social Forum and of international opinion. 

1. - We appreciate that during the last 5 years the World Social Forum has been able to bring together and mobilize anti-liberal social sectors of the planet in each of the continents and regions. 

2. – Clearly, this Another World That is Possible, which we hope to build, can become a reality only through profound changes and social transformations, eliminating the ills that afflict humanity arising from the present unjust model imposed by imperialism. This needs structural transformations. 

3. - These profound changes can become a reality only through the united action and struggle of the working people, of the progressive forces and the peoples of the world, building unity from below until the popular forces take political power in all nations, and strive to deepen these changes in favour of the excluded.  This is the challenge of the present hour.

4. - It is urgent to further strengthen the International Anti-fascist Front of all social forces in the world.  Only with the action and mobilization of the masses in the streets in all the corners of the planet will it be possible to stop the so-called “preventive wars” unleashed by imperialism headed by Bush and his accomplices. 

5. - Let us intensify mass participation in all the mobilizations such as the Day of Solidarity with the People of Iraq on 19 March 2005, demanding an immediate end to the military aggression and war, and the dismantling of military bases that the U.S. has established in strategic zones in the entire world with the complicity of servile governments. 6- We condemn terrorism as such.  Those who are struggling against the invading forces in Iraq and other countries are not terrorists but patriots fighting for national liberation.  We demand respect and self-determination for the peoples. 7. - We reiterate the decision to continue struggling for trade union unity without exclusions, on the basis of principles and class consciousness, to struggle for the transformation of society together with the masses in action and the peoples in struggle, but not to support the neoliberal governments. 8. - We reaffirm full support and solidarity with the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean in the struggle against the FTAA, and the “Free Trade Treaties”, as being against the interests of the peoples and engendered by the US administration with colonial objectives, to favour their transnational enterprises.  And as an alternative, we support the proposals and processes of INTEGRATION of the peoples that is taking place in this region. 10. - The hour has arrived to eliminate the repayments on the external debt that is seen as being the worst swindle of the XX century. It is no longer possible to continue bleeding the peoples of Latin America and the other countries of the Third World. 11. – We declare our full support to the Cuban Revolution, which heroically resists the aggression of the US imperial rulers and their accomplices and condemn once again the criminal blockade imposed by imperialism against the fraternal people of Cuba.

12. – We reiterate our support to the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, because this process seeks to interpret the aspirations of the people to bring about social changes.  We condemn the attempts at sabotage organised by the ultra right forces and the imperialist interference.

 13. – We support the heroic struggle waged by people and progressive forces of Japan for respect to the Japanese Constitution especially its Peace Clause, Article 9. We condemn the pressure exercised by the United States on Japan to revise its Constitution, with the object of militarising the country and to facilitate wars against Asian countries, basing its strategy on using Japan.

 14. - We identify fully with the claims and demands of the people of Vietnam that the United Nations and other international organizations give needed attention and aid to the struggle for payment of compensation to the victims of the deadly Agent Orange chemical weapon which was sprayed by the United States armed forces in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. We issue a Call to the international community to intensify the campaign to force the government of the United Sates and its chemical enterprises that fabricated and delivered that chemical weapon assume their full responsibility.  The effects of Agent Orange are suffered by millions of persons, including women and children.

 15. - We express our feeling of great sorrow and solidarity to all the workers and peoples of Southeast Asia who have suffered the fatal consequences of the Tsunami causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of human lives and enormous material losses and destruction. We convey our heartfelt condolences to all the families, trade union organizations and peoples of the countries of Asia who have lost their dear ones. 

We urge the organizations of the UNO, the rich countries and other international organizations to redouble efforts to ensure that effective aid arrives directly to the populations affected.  Let us all intensify the campaign of the trade union and social organizations for reconstruction and resettlement of the peoples of Asia who fell victims of the Tsunami.

 16. - We express our solidarity with the struggle of the trade union organizations of India - AITUC, CITU, HMS, UTUC, (LS), TUCC and other organisations, as well as with the struggle the workers and people of Nepal who are struggling against the autocratic measures of the government.

 17. - We call upon the UN and all international organizations to put forth new efforts to give greater attention and assistance to the peoples of Africa, keeping in view the fact that the transnational corporations have shown interest only to pillage the wealth of this continent and not to invest for development. 

We also urge the international community to multiply all efforts possible to intensify the campaign to ensure that the governments diminish military budgets and invest these savings to eradicate the terrible illness AIDS which seriously affects various African countries.

 18. - We consider that the reconstruction and democratisation of the United Nations is an urgent necessity, as a guarantee of peace and to ensure that the UN is not utilized by the United States ruling circles or marginalized when it is convenient. 

19. - We express our full support and solidarity with the peoples of Syria and Iran who are becoming the object of constant provocations and threats by the government of the United States after the armed invasion of Iraq.

 20. - All the workers and all the peoples of the world hope that peace will reign in the nations of the Middle East; but this will only be possible when the occupying military forces of Israel quit unconditionally from the occupied Arab territories – Palestine, the Syrian Golan, and parts of South Lebanon and when the troops of the U.S., Great Britain and others withdraw from Iraq.

 21. - We value highly the efforts that the trade union organizations and people of Sudan are taking to ensure a lasting peace and to avoid external interference. 

22. - We salute and support the heroic struggles which women are carrying out through their organizations on all continents for equal rights and other vital demands. We express our thanks to the Women’s International Democratic Federation for their invitation to participate in all their programmes of action.

 23. - Our full solidarity to the five young Cuban political prisoners imprisoned in the United States only for the fact of struggling against the terrorism carried out by the Miami mafia against the people of Cuba. 

 24. - We express our recognition of the trade union and social organizations, organizations of men, omen, youth. artists, intellectuals, of human rights activists and large sections of the people of the United States and important organisations in Canada, who have undertaken numerous campaigns and demonstrations to condemn and reject the war policies of the Bush Administration. 

25. – We reiterate our solidarity with the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and condemn the war threats from the Bush government, which put the people of this region in grave peril of fatal consequences.

 26. - We place great hopes in the changes and challenges that are being assumed by the governments of Argentina, Brazil and recently, with the triumph in the elections of the progressive forces in Uruguay who were elected by an electorate that desires changes.

27. - We express our thanks to our affiliate CGTB of Brazil for its cooperation and help which has permitted the convening of this World Trade Union and People’s Forum, as well as to the Organizing Committee of the V WORLD SOCIAL FORUM for the facilities provided for our events.

 In the activities of the V World Social Forum, leaders of the World Federation of Trade Unions, Antonio Neto, Vice-President, Hariharan Mahadevan, Jose Ortiz and Valentin Pacho, Deputy General Secretaries took part.

WFTU activities at the

World Social Forum,

(Mumbai, India, 15-21 January 2004)

The World Federation of Trade Unions took an active part in the preparations for and deliberations of the 4th World Social Forum which was held in Mumbai, India, from 15 to 21 January 2004) on the theme: ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE.There were several trade union activities in the framework of this mass gathering of representatives of various social organisation, which brought together over 100,000 persons from a large number of countries all over the world. These activities included: 1. The WFTU joined in the preparations and deliberations of various events at the WSF. WFTU General Secretary, A. Zharikov, was one of the main speakers at the WSF Conference on Labour and the World of Work that was held on 20 January 2004. This Conference was attended by around two thousand participants, discussing Freedom, Equality and Labour Rights, Discrimination and Exclusion, Full Employment, Living Wage and Social Security.2. The WFTU was among the organisers and active participants of Seminars organised by trade union organisations at the World Social Forum in the World Social Forum 2004. These included meetings and seminars on the following topics:- International working class unity against imperialist globalisation(17 January 2004); - Privatisation, Disinvestment and its Impact on National Economy and the Working Class (18 January 2004);- Communalism, Religious Fanaticism and Sectarian Violence, Labour Rights and the Trade Union Movement (19 January 2004)- Unorganised Sector Workers, Right to Work and Livelihood (20 January 2004)3. The WFTU was among the active participants of the World Trade Union Forum organised in Mumbai on 15 and 16 January 2004 in Mumbai, prior to the WSF, with the participation of representatives of different international and regional trade union organisations (WFTU, ICFTU, WCL, ETUC, OATUU and ICATU) and which was addressed by Mr.Juan Somavia, Director General of the ILO.4. On 19 January 2004, at the premises of the WSF, the WFTU organised an International Trade Union Seminar on “Efforts, Effects and Future Actions of the Working Class against Neo-Liberal Globalisation.” This was attended by 62 participants from different countries – India, Japan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Russia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Cyprus, Spain, Vietnam, Philippines, Brazil, Cuba, USA and Germany.WFTU MEMORANDUM

TO WORLD SOCIAL FORUM

Porto Alegre,

23-28 January 2003

1. The 3rd International Assembly of the World Social Forum in Port Alegre meets in the background of a further aggravation of the economic and social crises all over the world, a rapid increase in the number of the unemployed and under-employed and ever more millions living in poverty and destitution.

 

2. At the same time, peace and security of our planet are threatened by the massive troop movements and preparations for a US-led war on Iraq and possibly other countries. It is a matter of deep concern that the principles of the UN Charter and the existence of the United Nations itself are now seriously threatened by the increasing unilateralism of the Bush Administration. It is widely believed that as a result of the gross violations of international law, the system of international security built after the Second World War, with the founding of the United Nations, is now seriously threatened. This is underlined by the fact that Israel continues to refuse, as it has done for the last 34 years, to implement the UN Security Council resolutions calling for the withdrawal of all Israeli troops from all occupied Arab territories. The double standards which are applied, especially by the US Administration, have been widely criticised by trade unions and democratic forces in all continents.

 

3. The global movement for social change and human progress, which the World Social Forum in Port Alegre has come to represent, has reason now to be more optimistic than before in our unanimous declaration that ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE. This optimism is further enhanced by the election of one of the leading personalities of the world social movement and a reputed trade union leader, Brother Inacio Lula Da Silva, as the President of the host country of the World Social Forum, the Republic of Brazil. The WFTU welcomes the fact the people’s movement against neoliberal globalisation is making new advances as shown by developments in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Brazil, fully convinced that the promises and inducements of the neo-liberal model are exposed as devoid of social content.

 

4. The current decade has been designated by the United Nations as an International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence. Concurrently, the UN also designated this decade as an International Decade for the Elimination of Poverty. But these priorities are now overruled by the greatest military power in the world today, the United States, which is now busy preparing for its high tech war against Iraq, ignoring the worldwide protests against such incendiary actions.

 

5. The massive march of almost one million women and men in Florence at the time of the European Social Forum in November 2002 was a march for peace, without which no social progress can ever happen. The military-industrial complexes led by the US Administration evidently want to impose their hegemony, and they exercise a veto against the implementation of all the decisions of the UN concerning economic and social development. The decisions of the UN General Assembly as well as the various UN Summits on the various global problems remain unimplemented on the plea of lack resources. The resources that are needed for development are being diverted to further accelerate the capital accumulation of the global monopolies and financial cartels and to take over control of all strategic materials and markets as well as to increase military budgets.

 

6. While the new President of Brazil has rightly drawn international attention to settle the “social debt”, i.e., to take immediate measures to end the poverty and destitution of millions of unemployed, underemployed, the dispossessed and downtrodden people, the policy-makers of neo-liberal globalisation are calling for the liquidation of all social gains achieved so far and the liquidation of basic trade union rights and human rights in order to further enhance the domination and control of the Big Business and transnational corporations and banks on the lives of the working people.

 

7. In this regard, the WFTU strongly condemns the efforts being made by reactionary forces in Venezuela to undermine the national economy in order to achieve their political aim of overthrowing a democratically-elected President, solely because he rejects the policies of neo-liberal globalisation and emphasises the need to settle the social debt owed to the working people. It is tragic that a section of the leadership of the trade union centre, CTV, who are linked with the former ruling groups, are acting against the best interests and wishes of the Venezuelan workers. It is widely recognised that these efforts to destabilise the country are masterminded by the global oil cartel led by the politically powerful Texas oil billionaires who want to take total control over Venezuela’s oil.

 

8. The WFTU reiterates its strong condemnation of the gross violation of human rights and trade union rights in Colombia and the brutal killing of hundreds of trade union leaders and social activists. The Plan Colombia under which US military intervention into this country is planned constitutes a serious threat of outside interference in the internal affairs of Colombia and Latin America. The WFTU calls for the involvement of all social sectors in Colombia for a negotiated settlement of all problems.

 

9. It is a matter of grave concern to the international community that the United States Administration continues to defy the repeated resolutions of the UN General Assembly calling for the withdrawal of the US boycott and other discriminatory steps against the Republic of Cuba. These actions are further compounded by the recent arbitrary condemnation of five Cuban citizens in a US prison, because of their fight against terrorism coming from US territory. The WFTU urges social forces the world over to further intensify their campaign of solidarity with Cuba, for an immediate end to the illegal US boycott against Cuba and for the release of the five Cuban citizens unjustly held in a US prison.

 

10. Non-compliance with international law and conventions is becoming widespread. Even half a century after the adoption of the ILO Convention 87 on freedom of association, the most economically and military powerful country in the world, the United States, has not ratified it. On the other hand, union busting has become an organised industry in that country. Nearly 90 per cent of the employees in the private sector in the USA are not represented by a trade union. Indeed, this fact underlines the social deficit that exists in that country. At the same time, the US Administration continues its unilateralism by its refusal to accept and enforce the Kyoto agreements on safety of the environment and it has claimed special rights vis-à-vis the newly set up International Criminal Court.

 

11. All over the world, the trade unions and the working people are organising massive protest actions in order to oppose the arbitrary decisions of the governments and employers to liquidate the basic right to job security, impose retrograde amendments to the labour laws and social security legislation, and to push forward privatisation of publicly-owned energy undertakings and other utilities. These protests have drawn specific attention to the massive retrenchment and dismissals announced by the Big Business groups which further worsen the problems of unemployment and underemployment. In the American continent, all trade union centres have opposed the establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), considering it as an instrument to further increase the dependence of countries in order to maximise the markets and profits of the transnational corporations. In this regard, the WFTU endorses the decisions of the Conference against the FTAA held in Havana in November 2002 and the call to organise hemisphere-wide demonstrations at the time of the Cancun (Mexico) meeting of the World Trade Organisation from 10 to 14 September 2003.

 

12. The World Bank and the IMF which are supposed to provide development resources are busy forcing governments to sell national assets and public enterprises in order to raise money to service the foreign debt. This is now seen as the main reason to impose a policy of privatisation and liberalisation, through which national assets and development resources are transferred to the global monopolies and their banks.

 

13. This privatisation process has only worsened the unemployment and underemployment.

 

14. Moreover, the liberalisation process has come to mean not only the elimination of tariffs to protect national industry. Governments are now asked by the TNCs to “liberalise” labour laws, i.e., to eliminate all the job security, income security and social security which the working people won after decades of struggle.

 

15. In fact, as unemployment and underemployment are increasing all the more, the global monopolies are using this crisis to abrogate all the social gains achieved by the trade unions and social organisations in terms of building a welfare state, upholding human rights, democracy and trade union rights.

 

16. The WFTU reiterates that the basic issues outlined in the international development strategies and the UN General Assembly Declaration and Programme of Action for the establishment of a New International Economic Order (NIEO) and the Action Programmes of World Summits on the major global problems aimed at the elimination of poverty, unemployment and other social ills, must become the very basis of world development..

 

17. On this basis, the WFTU calls for the rejection of the policies of neoliberal globalisation and the adoption of a global development strategy based on the full utilisation of all available human and material resources and directed towards:

 

· a policy of Full Employment;

· effective measures to eliminate poverty and destitution, hunger and malnutrition;

· positive solutions to the global economic and social crisis;

· reaffirming the sovereignty of nations on the vital issues of economic and social development;

· strengthen the role of public and social institutions;

· comprehensive reform of the global financial system, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, enforce strict regulations on globally-operating banks;

· ensure the implementation of the UN decision for the establishment of a New International Economic Order (NIEO); and

· democratic control over all industrial, financial and other economic enterprises and companies in private and public sectors;

· Amendments to Laws on Corporate Governance to provide for annual reports of companies pertaining to the recognition of trade unions, collective bargaining agreements, implementation of international labour standards and regulations for the protection of the environment;

· the setting up institutions for Social Audit, with authority to look into the social consequences of all economic decisions by Corporations and Government and submit reports to Parliaments and other elected bodies.

 

18. In regard to the crucial question of raising adequate resources for economic and social development, the WFTU calls for:

· the cancellation of the external debt of developing countries and to call upon the UN to convene a World Summit with the participation of the trade union movement and social organisations, to examine the serious repercussions of the repayment of the external debt which affects millions of people, and decide on its cancellation and to ensure that these resources are re-allocated and dedicated to the creation of jobs to combat poverty and contribute to the development of peoples.

 

· Reduction of military budgets and transfer of the savings to finance social development;

 

· the total elimination of all nuclear and other mass destruction weapons;

 

· the dissolution of all military blocs and alliances and the establishment of systems of collective security in all regions and all over the world.

 

19. The WFTU considers it important that the United Nations sets up an Economic Security Council to oversee the institutions for global governance especially for the regulation of international trade and financial flows and to promote:

 

· Internationally coordinated efforts to control speculative capital movements;

· Impose a tax on speculative capital movements – the Tobin Tax;

· Management of Branches of TNCs to be supervised by Boards including representatives of public bodies, trade unions and consumers.

 

 

20. As we entered a new century and a new millennium, the United Nations adopted its Millennium goals, summing up the international agreements reached at the various UN Summits on Environment, Food Security, Housing, Social Development, the Rights of Women, etc., pledging to assure Education for All, Health for All, Housing for All and human rights and social security for all. There is enough talent, technology and human resources in the world to bring these goals into a reality.

 

21. In order to achieve these aims, Member States of the United Nations should take measures to uphold the principles of the UN Charter, disapprove all forms of unilateralism and insist that all countries respect and implement international law and UN resolutions.

 

22. Israel should be asked to strictly implement the UN resolutions for the total withdrawal of all its troops from occupied territories and stop the gross violation of human rights and the bloody repression the Israeli troops carry out against the Palestinian people. It is urgent that a Palestinian State be established with Jerusalem as its capital.

 

23. The WFTU believes that these are the aims of the World Social Forum and that all of us, acting together, can mobilise public opinion to make it compulsory that all economic decisions have a true social dimension, as was agreed at the Copenhagen Summit on Social Development in 1995. Through their united actions, all those represented at the Forum in Port Alegre can stop all wars and preparations for wars and promote international cooperation to promote economic development and social progress for all peoples and countries. The WFTU reiterates its fraternal solidarity and support to all participants at the Forum in mobilising world public opinion to achieve our common aims of social development, based on peace and international cooperation.

*

WFTU PARTICIPATED IN THE GLOBAL PROGRESSIVE FORUM

IN BRUSSELS

Alexander Zharikov, General Secretary of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) participated in the discussions at the GLOBAL PROGRESSIVE FORUM which was organised from 27 to 29 November 2003 at the European Parliament in Brussels.

This Forum was convened by the Socialist International, the Party of European Socialists and the Parliamentary Group of Socialists in the European Parliament. It was attended by around 1500 participants coming from socialist and social-democratic parties and their organisations – youth, women, students as well as from trade unons and various NGOs. The bulk of the participants were from Europe and there were participants from some developing countries, including China, as well as representatives of the United Nations and its agencies. Juan Somavia, Director General of the ILO was also one of the speakers.

In a background paper, the organisers underlined that alongside the internal process of political re-thinking, social democracy is actively looking for “a wider progressive alliance for change” concerning the many challenges of globalisation.

The Forum was organised in two short plenary sessions – opening and closing – and in 19 round tables on such issues as the UN Millennium Goals, Global Security, Human Rights and Democracy, More and Better Jobs, Trade and Poverty, Reform of the UN, IMF and World Bank, Regional Integration, etc.

A Report on “Europe and the New Global Order” was submitted to the participants.

Discussions at the Forum showed the growing concern of social democracy and other participating organisations over the negative consequences of neo-liberal globalisation and the “unilateralism” of the United States dominating recent world developments. In this respect, the Forum also played a role to identify the political agenda and some concrete initiatives for formulating strategies and activities in order to change the situation for a better one.

 

FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS OF BELARUS

REAFFIRMS RELATIONS OF AFFILIATION WITH WFTU

 

At the invitation of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FTUB), a WFTU delegation consisting of Alexander Zharikov, General Secretary, and Adib Miro, Deputy General Secretary, paid a visit to Belarus from 19 to 23 May 2003.

On 20 May, the WFTU delegation had a meeting with Brother L. Kozik, President and other members of the leadership of the FTUB, the heads of departments, leadership of republican committees, the Minsk association of branch trade unions and activists. The main questions discussed included the role of the WFTU in the international trade union movement and directions of development of cooperation between the FTUB and the WFTU.

The WFTU delegation was also received by the Minister of Labour and Social Protection as well as the President of the Confederation of Employers. The WFTU delegation visited some tade union basic organisations as well as the trade union sanatoria and health care facilities at the Belorussian health resort, Naroch.

The WFTU delegation addressed a press conference in Minsk in which the Belorussian press, radio and TV participated. A joint communique was released which stated as follows:Taking into account the historic relationship between the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FTUB), including the fact that the Belorussian trade unions, as part of the AUCCTU, were one of the founders of the World Federation of Trade Unions;Noting that the FTUB and WFTU, by joining efforts, will be able more effectively to deal with the tasks to defend the socio-economic interests and rights of workers, strengthening international trade union movement and solidarity;Both organisations hereby confirm that:

- the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus will augment activities in the framework of the World Federation of Trade Unions and will promote dissemination of information about the activities of the WFTU among members of the FTUB;- the WFTU will contribute to the strengthening of authority of the FTUB in the international arena and will help to facilitate dissemination of information about the activities of the FTUB among national and international trade union organisations;- Both organisations will contribute to the establishment of contacts and development of relations among trade federations and unions affiliated to them.

WFTU GREETS 60TH ANNIVERSARY

OF THE SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM

On the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the foundation of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, on 2 September 2005, on behalf of its members all over the world, the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) conveys its fraternal greetings and congratulations to the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) and all the Vietnamese people. At the same time, this congratulation goes to all working people and progressive forces all over the world and to all of us, who feel that Vietnam is an inseparable part of their lives and struggle for a better world, for a better destiny for all humankind.

Today is a great occasion to pay our tribute and admiration to our Great Leader, Ho Chi Minh and his comrades and followers and to the Communist Party of Vietnam, who laid the foundations for the independent, sovereign, socialist country, and to all Vietnamese people who decided resolutely to follow this path.

The foundation of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam 60 years ago was also the result of world developments, first of all, of the Great Victory over fascism and militarism, the 60th anniversary of which was celebrated this year. It coincides with the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations and the great hopes of the workers and peoples of the world for a better future.

The emergence and existence of Vietnam as a sovereign country has had then, today, and will have in the future, a great historic significance. It opened the era of anti-colonial anti-imperialist revolutions, followed by the creation of independent States in Asia, Africa and America, which resulted in the de-colonisation of these continents.

The heroic victory of the Vietnamese people over US aggression, in a brutal war, and the reunification of the country was received by the world as a convincing example that the aspirations of the people for freedom and independence cannot be stopped by any force.

The achievements of the Vietnamese people and workers in economic, social and cultural life, in a relatively short time of peaceful development, deserve all-round admiration. The existence of dynamically developing, strong and stable Socialist Vietnam has great significance in today’s turbulent and globalised world. We believe it will contribute effectively for the creation of a more stable, peaceful and just world.

The World Federation of Trade Unions also celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. The creation of the WFTU sixty years ago, as the first united international working class organisation, has the same roots as the foundation of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Since then and throughout its existence, the WFTU, Vietnam and its working class were and are inseparable entities. The WFTU was always in solidarity with the Vietnamese people – at the time of the foundation of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, during the war and in peaceful construction.

Vietnam and its heroic struggle are regarded as the precious heritage of the working class the world over. We are proud that the Vietnamese trade unions and workers were and are playing a very important, decisive role, in the development of Vietnam, its economic, social, political, and cultural life. We are proud that workers and trade unions of Vietnam, are part of the WFTU and play a very important role in the international working class movement. Comrade Cu Thi Hau, President of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, is a Vice President of the WFTU.

The achievements of the Vietnamese people both in economic development and in steadily advancing social standards, are watched with admiration by the working people and trade unions all over the world. For us, trade unionists, it is evident that this could not have been achieved without the important contribution and active role played by the Vietnamese trade unions, the VGCL. We know also that achieving these results and advancing along this path required the great efforts of the Vietnamese trade unions and society.

The WFTU and its affiliates all over the world express support and solidarity with the victims of “Agent Orange/Dioxin” sprayed by US troops during the war on Vietnam and their struggle for justice.

We believe that the Vietnamese trade unions have interesting and rich experiences and achievements to advance the campaign to organize trade unions in conditions of a global market economy and this positive experience is certainly universally applicable. We look forward to the further development of the fraternal relationship between the WFTU and the VGCL, between the international working class and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

The WFTU was represented at the 60th anniversary celebrations in Hanoi by Alexander Zharikov, General Secretary

WFTU GREETS

XVI WORLD FESTIVAL OF YOUTH AND STUDENTS

 

In a message of greetings to the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students in Caracas, Venezuela (8 to 15 August 2005), the WFTU stated:

The WFTU believes that the young people along with the united strength the working class and the peoples in struggle can change the present unjust system which has deepened the gap between poor and rich, and defeat the policies of the neo-liberal politicians who with the complicity of governments, Big Capital and imperialism have brought the inhabitants of our planet to the edge of a precipice, putting in danger the very existence of the human species.

The dictatorship of the transnational corporations and the policies of US rulers are leading to a re-emergence of nazi-fascist dictatorships to the detriment of human development.

The panorama of the future which neo-liberalism and imperialism offer to the new generations in their urge for domination are more wars. They have put into execution a policy of “preventive” wars with which they have terrorized the people, committing genocide in whole nations, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and are threatening other nations.

In this context the WFTU reiterates its international solidarity with the aspirations of the youth of our planet. We urge them to unite with all democratic forces to build another world that is possible, a world in which there will be no more wars. Because the first victims of wars are the young people and other innocent persons.

Peoples of the world say: NO MORE NEO-LIBERALISM, because it generates more poverty and inequality; no more blockades of sovereign nations, because it violates the free determination of the peoples; NO to the Plan Colombia and the so-called Free Trade Treaties (FTAA) because it means re-colonization and intervention of the US big capital in Latin America.

Together, let us demand the withdrawal of the invading Anglo-American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from occupied Palestine, Syrian Golan and part of the Lebanese territories. The peoples demand punishment for those responsible for the crimes against humanity.

*WFTU AT THE ILOAND THE INTERNATIONAL LABOUR

CONFERENCES OF THE ILO 

During the period under review, the WFTU and many of its affiliates (which have the possibility to participate in national delegations to the ILO conferences) have been participating in the annual International Labour Conferences of the ILO and other tripartite meetings convened by the ILO as well as the meetings of the ILO Workers Group. The WFTU’s Geneva Office is coordinating the activities of affiliates at the level of the ILO and the UN Offices in Geneva.MEETING WITH ILO DIRECTOR GENERAL

On 5 June 2003, Juan Somavia, Director General of the International Labor Office (ILO) received Mr. Alexander Zharikov, General Secretary of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and Members of the WFTU Secretariat participating in the 91st session of the International Labor Conference in Geneva.

 

In a spirit of mutual interest to find ways to increase the effectiveness of the activities of the ILO in furtherance of its objectives to promote workers’ interests, the delegation of the WFTU reiterated its keenness to increase the effectiveness of its participation and contribution to secure a wide implementation of the international labour standards set by the ILO.

In order to advance to achieve these aims, it was stressed that there is a need to further expand the technical cooperation that the ILO contributes to the WFTU, assessing the positive effects of this cooperation.

 

The ILO Director General appreciated the efforts to contribute to the development of the ILO programmes made by the WFTU which has been reinforced by the work of its representation in Geneva.

 

Within the framework of the bilteral meeting, the will was expressed to continue developing exchanges that favour, like this one, the further development of cooperation between the WFTU and the International Labour Office, especially in relation to the implementation of the agreements and international labour standards and to find solutions and programmes to deal with the current problems facing the labour world.

 

THE CONTINUING CAMPAIGN AGAINST DISCRIMINATION

The situation of gross discrimination against the WFTU and its affiliates at the ILO has been continuing since the international trade union split of 1948. This discrimination is also seen in the composition of various ILO bodies and departments where the WFTU and its affiliates are excluded. This “cold war” policy was seen at the 93rd Session of the International Labour Conference in 2005 and in the elections to the ILO Governing Body and the exclusion of the ACFTU of China which is the largest trade union in the world from the Governing Body of the ILO, as from the Workers Group.

This was underlined in the WFTU statement at the 93rd Session of the International Labour Conference (reproduced below): 

The 93rd Session of the International Labour Conference is meeting in a year which commemorates the anniversary of our organisation, WFTU, which was founded at the end of the Second World War 60 years ago, just after the creation of the UN.It is only logical that we recall the fact that it was on the initiative of the WFTU that the fundamental ILO Conventions 87 and 98 – on the Right of Association and Collective Bargaining – were adopted.Towards the end of this year, the WFTU is convening the 15th World Trade Union Congress to discuss how the trade unions and workers can be mobilised and united in the struggle against neo-liberal globalisation, war and exploitation, for social justice, full employment, solidarity and peace.Similar questions were discussed last year at the Beijing International Trade Union Forum.For us, it is not only time for reflection but for action to implement the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Because, this time, the arguments need to be followed by strong and powerful actions.The WFTU strongly deplores the fact that the big employers like the transnational corporations pay very little or no attention to this ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Even in the industrialised countries, the percentage of workers enrolled in unions remains low and many employers do not recognise the trade unions. The biggtest industrial power – the USA – still does not ratify the core conventions of the ILO and thus continues to be one of the major violators of trade union rights and human rights. It is in this context that the WFTU continues to call upon the ILO to compile a Trade Union Development Index, to factually record the actual implementation of ILO conventions 87 and 98 in Member States and to ensure that all States and TNCs assume their obligations under these core Conventions.

It is now widely admitted that the social situation of the workers in all parts of the world continues to worsen because of the policies of neo-liberal globalisation. Poverty is growing constantly. Unemployment is biggest in modern history. Workers’ incomes and living standards are declining and labour standards and conditions of work deteriorating, while exploitation is mounting and the profits are unprecedented and soaring.

The Copenhagen agreements adopted at the UN World Summit for Social Development and the UN Millennium Goals remain unimplemented.

The ILO should deeply analyse the ways to change these grave negative developments, while seeking to implement the Copenhagen decisions, the UN Millennium Goals and recommendations of the ILO Commission on Globalisation. The upcoming reform of the UN should lead also to real strengthening of the social dimension of globalisation and the role of the ILO itself. Therefore, all trade unions should unite their efforts and act effectively to check the gross violation of human rights and trade union rights by the transnational corporations. Productive employment is not only an instrument for poverty reduction but for economic and social development and the development of productive forces.

It is necessary to cancel the colossal external debt of developing countries – the huge barrier which blocks their development. Resources for development should be found through cuts in arms budgets and by implementing the UN directives concerning Disarment for Development and ending the ongoing aggressive wars.

Working people and trade unions all over the world over are deeply concerned over the situation of the workers who are gravely affected by the ongoing wars, foreign occupation, illegal blockades and sanctions, confrontation and threats, gross violation of international law, the sectarian conflicts, double standards and brutal interference into the internal affairs of sovereign States and by the attempts to dominate and to police the world, by the restriction of basic rights on different pretexts as witnessed today in occupied Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, parts of Syria and Lebanon, the blockades against Cuba and other countries. We are concerned also with the attempts to utilise the ILO for some of these purposes and practices.

We regret the failure of this Conference to elect to the ILO Governing Body, the representative of the All China Federation of Trade Unions – the biggest trade union in the world and from the most dynamically developing major economic power, as well as representatives of the different trends in the trade union movement, thus ignoring present realities, making the Workers Group not representative and thus weakening the ILO itself – at a time, when we are all convinced of the necessity to strengthen this important organisation.

The world - and the ILO - at the beginning of a new century, are again at the crossroads. We are all again forced to make vital choices because we believe in the noble principles upheld by the ILO that peace and justice are irreplacable and inseparable and are cornerstones of human values.

COMMUNICATION OF ALL CHINA FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS TO MEMBERS OF THE ILO WORKERS GROUP AT 93rd SESSION OF INTERNATIONAL LABOUR CONFERENCEThe Chinese Trade Union delegation at the 93rd session of the International Labour Conference of the ILO circulated the following message on 7 June 2005:In the election for deputy members of the Workers Group (at the ILO) on 6 June 2005, the Chinese workers’ delegate won your broad support. We would like, in the name of the Chinese working class, to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to you. The Chinese workers’ delegate participated in the elections of the ILO Governing Body, in the hope of strengthening unity amongst the Workers’ Group, promoting communications and dialogue between trade unions of various countries and meeting challenges of economic globalisation in a better way. We have made every possible effort and displayed our strongest sincerity, so as to avoid confrontations between trade unions with different ideologies on the issue of the election.However, the end-result of the elections prove that some people still embraced the confrontational and antagonistic mentality of the Cold War, manipulated the election process through arbitrary, undemocratic and unfair means and excluded a workers’ organisation with a membership of over 100 million from the ILO Governing Body. Toward this end, we express the greatest indignation.We strongly feel that, if an international organisation fails to recognise its own unfair practices or to earnestly democratize itself, it will be neither able to deal effectively with the challenges of the global economy, nor become a body that is trusted by workers of various countries and broadly recognised by the international community.We strongly urge progressive trade union organisations to unite and make joint efforts to oppose hegemonism in the international labour movement and strive for materialisation of the ILO’s lofty objective of decent work.* * *DECLINE IN TRADE UNION MEMBERSHIP AND THE NEED TO ORGANISE THE UNORGANISED

In recent years, the WFTU has repeatedly drawn world trade union attention to the need for more concerted activity to ensure that effective measures are taken (a) to arrest the sharp decline in trade union membership in several industrialized countries and (b) to organize the unorganized all over the world.

It may be recalled that it was on the initiative of the then newly created World Federation of Trade Unions that the ILO Conventions 87 and 98 were adopted.

It is a mater of deep concern that till today, the home State of the largest transnational corporations in the world has not so far ratified these core conventions. Moreover, the unionization rate in the USA has sharply fallen in recent decades. On the other hand, the USA is one country where a “union-busting industry” is flourishing.

All these show how the employers in many countries willfully violate the ILO conventions on the right of association and collective bargaining and this trend has become more pronounced in the wake of the so-called “globalisation” It is argued by the big employers – and, in particular the transnational corporations – that the ILO conventions must be “flexibilised”, i.e., devoid of any effectiveness, in order to advance their kind of globalisation.

We have also to note another trend which became visible in the wake of the cold war since 1948 and the international trade union split that followed, to use the ILO machinery to accuse the trade union movement in socialist countries of allegedly violating ILO conventions since there is no division in the trade union movement. These cold war types of attacks are still continuing and there are various complaints filed at the ILO against countries such as China, Cuba, Belarus, Venezuela and other countries.

Such gross distortions are witnessed at the ILO as continuation of the cold war policies. Although the ILO is considered to be a “labour” organisation, the Workers Group at the ILO is itself is dominated by the forces which broke away from the united WFTU in 1948 and who joined the “cold war” strategists.

Those who are dominating the ILO WORKERS GROUP violate the basic principle of seeking to promote representation for all countries and international organisation in the leading bodies of the United Nations and its Specialised Agencies. This was seen at the recent elections to the Governing Body of the ILO representing the Workers Group, the most populous country in the world – China – which has a national trade union centre with the largest trade union membership in the world – was excluded from the ILO Governing Body.

It is therefore necessary that all these questions are seriously discussed and the world trade union movement rejects all forms of discrimination, based on the “cold war” ideology of imperialism.

At the sessions of the International Labour Conference convened by the ILO, the WFTU has repeatedly demanded that the ILO insists on full compliance of ILO conventions 87 and 98 – on Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining. The WFTU demanded that Member States of the UN should bring about legislation to ensure that Annual Reports of all incorporated businesses and transnational corporations submitted to Governments should include reports of how they are implementing the ILO conventions 87 and 98. The employers should concretely mention in their Annual Reports, in particular, the collective bargaining agreements signed with the trade unions and the names of unions with which the employers have signed Collective Agreements.

The ILO and Member Governments should publish periodical reports particularly on how the Right of Association (under ILO convention 87) is enforced.

It is generaIly recognised that in many industrialised countries, the difficulties faced by trade unions and, in particular, the decline in their membership, which very often represent a very small percentage of workers and employees in the private sector, reflect the profound economic crisis and the attacks launched against trade union rights. Thus, the fundamental right to organise, the right of association, is not only not recognised, but deliberately attacked by reactionary forces.

 

The situation in the developing countries also shows a low percentage of workers organised in trade unions. Thus, the campaign to “organise the unorganised” has become a top priority for the trade union movement.

 

Brutal violations of trade union rights, including the assassination of a number of trade union leaders, continue to be reported from many countries..

 

The trade unions should initiate their own actions and develop common activities with all other NGOs and democratic forces to denounce these violations of trade union rights and human rights and to secure the enactment of national laws and regulations providing for the compulsory recognition of trade unions by employers both in the private and public sectors.

 

The world trade union movement should further strengthen united action and solidarity at various levels to accelerate the campaigns to organize the unorganized in all continents.

 

 

UN MILLENNIUM GOALS AND POSITION OF WORLD TRADE UNION MOVEMENT

 

On the occasion of the celebrations in 2005 of the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the United Nations, there was a lot of discussion about UN Millennium Goals and global development strategies that are needed to achieve these goals. Major themes for discussion are what are designated as anti-poverty strategies and projected by institutions like the World Bank and IMF.

 

The world’s trade unions have been highly critical of the policies of the IMF and the World Bank since the so-called structural adjustment policies imposed by them on countries have only worsened the economic and social development crises in the developing countries, aggravating unemployment and underemployment, depressing living standards and increasing poverty.

 

It is now clearly seen that in all countries caught in the foreign debt trap, pressure is mounting to privatise state owned enterprises especially in the energy sector, as one of the ways to find money to continue the huge debt service payments on the external debt contracted by developing countries.

 

Although it is well established that the external debt burden is itself a major contributor to the drain of resources, the IMF and the World Bank want to use it to pressurise countries to find resources through the privatisation of publicly owned industries and service facilities. They also urge governments to resort to further belt-tightening measures to find the funds for servicing the foreign debt that only further reduce living standards and increase poverty and destitution.

 

The worldwide anti-globalisation protests which are gathering force in the first years of the new century and millennium have forced several commentators to speculate on the dim future of the market fundamentalism which is being reintroduced in the name of “globalisation”.

 

Towards the end of the last century, the recession and the currency crisis in almost all regions led to renewed criticisms of the ruling orthodoxy of “market fundamentalism”. The allure of the neo-liberal model has been tarnished by the recurring collapse of stock markets, the rampant corruption and scandals involving top management in such big companies as Enron, WorldCom, Tyco and others. After the total collapse of Argentina and other countries under their tutelage, the World Bank and IMF have been forced to review their disastrous Structural Adjustment Policies. These policies, which made the rich richer and the poor poorer in the countries under structural adjustment, are now re-styled by them as “Poverty Reduction Strategies”.

 

In both developed and developing countries, governments are under pressure from vested interests to privatise social security institutions, education and public services.

 

In the case of social security, the evident aim of the privatisers is to control the vast funds which are collected under these schemes and to use these funds for speculation and profiteering.

 

The IMF and the World Bank are advising governments to privatise social security. This advice is linked to measures that are needed to reduce the budget deficits. Of course, they overlook the evident fact that the deficits arise mainly because of the colossal tax evasion by the rich persons and the big private business groups and because of unnecessary expenditures on the military budget under pressure from the military-industrial complexes.

 

In a large number of countries, the policy package pushed through by the advocates of globalisation includes amendments to labour laws, nullifying basic trade union rights. There was a total general strike in Italy against the policy of the government to radically change trade union rights and collective bargaining rights. In many cases, the IMF is reported to have made this as one of its conditions for providing loans.

 

After the collapse of the colonial empires and the emergence of new nation states and the changed composition of the General Assembly of the United Nations, several important decisions were taken by the United Nations to promote economic and social development all over the world.

 

The most important of these decisions was the Declaration and Programme of Action for a New International Economic Order adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1974. In the 1990s, the UN organised a series of Global Summits covering all major global issues – social development, human rights, women’s rights, environment, habitat and food security. These Summits dealt with the major global issues and development strategies to deal with the widening inequalities between and within countries and the growing disparities between the affluent rich and the jobless, landless and dispossessed millions of poor people.

At these Summits, the international community undertook solemn commitments to review policies, identify the obstacles to progress and initiate measures to reduce poverty in the world.

 

The role of trade unions in advancing these processes was highly assessed. In his message on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the WFTU, the then UN Secretary General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, said:

 

”The World Federation of Trade Unions played an important role in the preparation of the World Summit for Social Development. . . The Declaration of the WFTU’s 13th Congress called upon trade unions and other non-governmental organisations to heighten their efforts to mobilise world public opinion on the need for a true social dimension to all economic policies and development strategies. I fully share this view. The social aspects of development are increasingly critical, not only for the betterment of the human condition, but also for international peace and security.”

 

The current international scene is dominated by the US military invasion of Iraq, and now threatening Iran. As Prof. Noam Chomsky commented:

 

“Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world. It has always been likely that sooner or later, the US would try to restore this enormous prize to Western control, meaning now US control, denying privileged access to others.

 

”The planned war can serve immediate domestic needs as well. It is hardly a secret that the Bush administration is carrying out an assault against the general population and future generations in the interest of narrow sectors of wealth and power that it serves with loyalty that exceeds even the usual norms. Under those circumstances, it is surely advisable to divert attention away from health care, social security, deficits, destruction of the environment, development of new weapons systems that may literally threaten survival and a long list of other unwelcome topics. The traditional, and reasonable, device is to terrify the population.”

 

The huge rise in the price of oil – to more than 60 dollars a barrel recently –is a direct result of the US invasion and occupation. This huge increase in oil prices is causing immense problems for the oil importing countries, thus worsening their economic and social situation.

 

The 14th World Trade Union Congress of the WFTU (New Delhi, March 2000), which brought together representatives of over 400 million trade unionists, unanimously rejected the policies of neoliberal globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation. The Congress formulated a democratic alternative, based on the agreements that exist in the framework of the UN decisions concerning international development strategy. It was pointed out, among others, that:

 

- On 1 May 1974 - twenty-six years ago - the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration and Programme of Action for the establishment of a New International Economic Order (NIEO). That declaration was adopted to fulfil the spirit of the UN Charter to “promote the economic advancement and social progress of all peoples” by establishing a new international economic order “based on equity, sovereignty equality, interdependence, common interest and cooperation between states . . . which shall correct inequalities and redress existing injustices (and) make it possible to eliminate the widening gap between the developed and developing countries.” The widening gap noticed quarter century ago continues to widen.

 

The NIEO declared that the new economic order should be founded on several guiding principles, among them recognition that all states had “full permanent sovereignty” over their natural resources and economic activities. It was specifically stated that states were entitled to exercise control over them, including the right of nationalisation - and should be free of economic or political coercion for exercising those rights.

 

The NIEO set itself the goal of establishing a “just and equitable” relationship between the prices of products, raw materials and primary commodities like coffee, rubber and jute exported by developing countries, and the prices of capital and manufactured goods and equipment imported by them with the aim of bringing about improvement in their “unsatisfactory terms of trade”. It also called for “preferential and non-reciprocal” treatment for developing countries.

 

As against these aims and objectives of the NIEO, those who are pushing the corporate agenda of the transnational corporations seek, in the name of liberalisation and globalisation, absolute control over all natural resources and all economic and financial sectors. The task of formulating a Code of Conduct for the Transnational Corporations has been abandoned and the UN Commission on TNCs no longer exists.

 

The events which led to the Great Depression of the 1930s must alert all those formulating strategies for the 21st century to the grave dangers of market manipulation, domination and control exercised by the monopolies and cartels and their modern incarnations as transnational corporations, trading companies, banking and finance cartels.

 

The unending outflow of resources from the developing countries to the coffers of the TNCs deprives the purchasing power of these countries that can sustain a balanced development of international trade. The World Trade Organisation must seriously look into this problem of unequal exchange.

 

For all those who expected that the Uruguay Round and the establishment of the WTO would promote equitable and just international economic relations, trade and economic growth, there are now growing misgivings. Established structures such as the transnational corporations continue to dominate world production and trade. Already a larger part of world trade takes place as internal transactions within the transnational corporations and outside the framework of national or international regulation.

 

World trade does not measure up to its actual potential mainly because demand is inhibited by the falling purchasing power of the vast majority of the world population. As UN reports show, one-half of the world population has an income per capita of less than two dollars a day. The purchasing power of developing countries as a whole has been declining because of the low prices their peasant producers and small undertakings get from the transnational corporations. Moreover, the outflow of resources from the developing countries resulting from declining terms of trade and the high cost of debt service to the foreign banks show up in their declining import capacity. Most developed countries have not fulfilled their commitment to devote 0.70 per cent of their GDP as Official Development Assistance (ODA). Moreover, the overall purchasing power of the working people, both in developed countries and developing countries is declining because of the decline in real wages. This is a major reason for the recession in several industrial sectors, which affects trade growth as well.

 

Therefore, there should be a comprehensive review of these negative effects of the ongoing “globalisation” under the auspices of the transnational corporations and banks and, in particular, over the negative impact of trade liberalisation on employment and living standards of the working people in many sectors and the consequent deterioration in the world social situation. Such a comprehensive review should cover all the trade agreements negotiated and to assess the gains and losses in order to provide necessary relief to those negatively affected by these agreements.

 

The trade unions are of the opinion that in the last 25 years, no serious efforts were taken to eliminate the distortions, inequalities and the pernicious influence of monopolies and cartels on vital sectors of world trade. As a result, the grim statistics of the Human Development Reports produced by the UNDP are now all the more glaring and scandalous. For instance, some 250 financial tycoons have more wealth than the combined assets of almost one-half of the world population. The other side of the global picture shows that one-third of the labour force is either unemployed or under-employed, that more than one billion people are unable to meet even their most basic human needs, over 800 million are undernourished and hungry and that nearly 60 per cent of the population of developing countries – more than 2.5 billion people – have no access to basic sanitation and 30 per cent cannot get safe, drinkable water.

That is why the WFTU considers that economic development strategies and anti-poverty strategies can succeed only if the current domination of transnational monopolies is eliminated and serious efforts are taken to implement the UN Millennium Goals, eliminating the drain of resources on wars and military build ups and by implementing the UN decisions on promoting Disarmament for Development.

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