The International Labour and Trade Union Movement in the 21st century.
The history of the last sixty years of the labour movement is well-known. Many books have been written and there are indisputable historic documents; thousands of protagonists of contemporary history are still living and no one can overturn the facts of history.
During these last sixty years the WFTU has never been on the side of the monopolies nor with the transnational corporations. It has never been on the side of the bourgeoisie and imperialists. It has never been neutral either. It has always remained on the side of the workers’ struggles for basic rights and liberties all around the world. It has always been with those who have fought for peace, progress and the elimination of exploitation of man-by-man. It played an important role in the movements of Asia and Oceania, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. In this 60 years history there have also been omission and mistakes. These however, by no means nllify the positive and rich WFTU course. We are proud of tha history and we learn from the victories and the successes as well as from our mistakes.
- In order, for the Labour and Trade Union Movement to be capable of expressing the contemporary demands of the Working Class it has to be guided by the principles of class struggle and militant orientation. The study of labour movement’s history the last 200 years proves that what the International Working Class has achieved had been achieved by struggle. Nowhere in the world, no employer and no capitalist government has ever resolved working class problems by its own initiative. Our movement does not accept the theories of rejecting class oriented struggles.
- WFTU believes in the Independence of Trade Union organisations from monopolies and transnational corporations. We live in a society divided into classes, therefore trade unions represent Working Class with its contemporary characteristics, aiming at a wide coalition with broad popular strata. Trade Union movement must be organisationally independent from political parties. To fight back against the policies of governments that are harmful to popular strata. To be financially independent so as not to depend on secret sources.
- Today, there is a serious drawback in the issues of Democratic and Trade Union Liberties due to employer terrorism and state violence. The latest examples against the strikers of South Korea, the governmental violence against the striking teachers in Mexico, the barbarity of the Colombian regime against struggling trade unionists and the modern surveillance systems in Europe, the threats against the construction workers in Australia, and thousands of other cases are undeniable facts. The WFTU is ringing the bell of danger for progressive people about human rights that are been attacked under the pretext of the struggle against terrorism, by the governments of the USA, the UK and their allies. The struggle for democracy and free trade union action is constant but also concrete.
- In a period of imperialist madness, the struggle for Peace is for the class oriented trade union movement a principal task. The first victims of USA’s and NATO’s aggressiveness are workers and popular strata. They are killed in battlefields, in their homes and workplaces; they are burdened with the task of recovering from wars’ consequences. International Peace will help all peoples in all developing countries. Therefore, WFTU is present in the development of a wide, mass antiwar movement and underlines that Internationalism and Workers’ Solidarity are key points for the struggling movement with a new and rich content. WFTU is in favour of the abolition and destruction of all nuclear weapons from all countries without exception.
- The whole of humanity realises that in the last 15 years the negative correlation of forces which dominates in International Organisations such as the UN, legalise the illegal and aggressive acts of US governments. This is a very negative development. The Labour and Trade Union movement, developing a wide, mass movement, demands for a UN just and independent from the powerful of the earth. Our era needs such International Organisations.
- WFTU’s new leadership assesses that trade unions need to obtain a constantfrontagainstbureaucracyandelitism, so as to regain authority, trust and acceptance. History teaches usthat theprinciplesofcollectiveness, criticism and democratic functioning help the movement. Trade union leaders should be simple, be with simple people, love the Working Class and not become themselves wealthy allies of capital. True trade union leaders ought to educate the younger on the principles and values of labour movement. They ought to respect the base. To respect ordinary workers.
- We live in the century of knowledge and information. Trans-national corporations try to keep knowledge and specialisation for their cadres and managers. Thenecessityforworkerstohaveaccess to and the righttoknowledge, cultureandEducation is more imperative than ever before. Within this framework, Trade Union Education providedthroughseminars, schools, groups, and institutes is useful to all workers. Research and science are necessary tools. They give further advantages to the trade union movement for it to address youth, women, intellectuals, economic immigrants whose entering trade unions will revive the labour movement. It is essential that new trade union members have a higher educational, cultural and intellectual level.
- WFTU fights for the improvement of workers’ lives, for the solution of their economic, social security and labour demands. Demands, which are being formed according to the era and its needs. According to the time and the place. They work for the participation of all workers in Trade Unions. For the establishing and the free functioning of Trade Union organisations in every country. At the same time, it is stated in the statute of the WFTU that the organisation will struggle for the abolition of exploitation of man-by-man. This qualitative element gives impetus to the Working Class’s struggle and makes it the moving force of history in the construction of a society without social injustice, without wars, with democracy and freedom. With a right to knowledge and democratic media.
- WFTU struggles against culturalimperialism, whichaims at the distortion of History, which does not respect traditions, culture and the particularities of each nation, which tries through a multisided propaganda to impose the American way of life everywhere. Each nation, each country, each trade union movement has its own history, its own characteristics. WFTU respects and values this. And calls upon the youth to study the culture and history of their nations.
- WFTU states in the new page it has turned after its 15th Congress that it is ready to cooperate and act along with other international trade union organisations, with national, regional and branch trade unions, independent from existing ideological and political differences, for the promotion of the international working class interests. The only criteria for every WFTU cooperation are equality, mutual respect, the acceptance of each other’s differences and each time, a mutual designation of aims. The WFTU of today does not view trade unions as enemies. It sees enemies in capital and the Imperialists. A fundamental principal of WFTU was and is the promotion of UNITY of all workers independent of ideology, religion, colour, language and sex. This UNITY should promote the fighting characteristics of all trade unions and rally wide forces so that the struggle against capital is more massive and effective. In this fighting unity, poor peasants, the landless, self-employed, groups of people, who are concerned and worried about the world we are living in and its future, have a place.
The international balance of forces has, we hope temporarily, been disturbed! Let us work in order to oppose this Globalisation, with a globalised struggle. WFTU with its 60-year experience and activity and with its renewed and contemporary class attitude is the hope for the revival of the international Labour and Trade Union Movement.
Athens, January 2007