Comrades and friends:
As President of the Committee commissioned to prepare this Congress that we open today it is my duty to proceed with the start of this working session.
First of all I want to let you know that I greatly appreciate the big effort performed by all delegates that are here today with us; all of them have made this congress possible. Afterwards I will try to name them all, one by one, for we must be completely conscious of their presence´s importance and in order to make a brief summary of the common trade unionist and cultural background that we share.
Many other delegates are not here today due to different reasons in spite of their aim of taking part of this Congress. It is important in any case to summarize this long extended list of comrades.
The true starting point of this Congress lies in the FSM´s Congress held in Athens in April 2011, when our General Secretary, George Mavrikos (who send us his warms regards) accepted my proposal of celebrating a new meeting as we are doing here today.
On behalf of the CSU of Pensioners and Retirees, and as head of the Spanish delegation, I proposed during the sixteenth Congress of the FSM to study our chances to create an International of Trade Unions as part of the FSM in order to coordinate the different struggles kept by Pensioners and Retirees. It will be the tenth International of Trade Unions attached to our beloved FSM.
It was during those Congress of the FSM when the firsts steps to start up this International and the present Congress were taken. A first meeting was held with the delegates, Pensioners and Retirees, present there. Among them were comrades from all over the world that however I am not going to mention now for the sake of time. There, the proposal brought to Athens by the Spanish delegates was enthusiastically received as a common aim of all Pensioners and Retirees present at the sixteenth Congress of the FSM.
After the sixteenth Congress, the first Presidential Board of the FSM held in South Africa in February 2012 commissioned the Secretariat of the FSM to make possible the Congress that begins today.
It was the Secretariat of the FSM who, among the many tasks in which is involved, shaped the proposal approved by the FSM´s Congress and its Presidential Congress, and it was he who made the appeal to the first meeting of the Committee, held in Athens on May the 9th, whose tasks were to prepare the present Congress. At this point I would like to greet the valuable help and kind hospitality showed on those occasion by the veteran Pensioners and Retirees´ organization, member of the Greek PAME. Needless to say, the meeting´s needs were absolutely met by those comrades to whom we send today our best regards.
At those meeting a document was approved ; the document you all know as can be founded at the new International of Trade Unions of Pensioners and Retirees´web site :http://www.pensionistas.info
Further information that I am not going to mention now can also be founded at the web site.
However, I want to recall that among many other agreements reached then it was very important the order given to the CSU of Pensioners and Retirees to look for the best place and the best material conditions so this foundational congress could be celebrated; it was also ordered to prepare a first set of documents to be discussed at the Congress and to look for its economic means. I want also to recognize the order to appoint me President of the Committee in charge of prepare the Congress.
In spite of all difficulties the job is done. We, members of the FSM, fairly know that the class struggle will end in victory only if we are able to overcome the obstacles put in our way by the ruling class (while they still hold power). Its mere existent and its ways are being analyzed through the Congress´ documents.
At the same time it was also ordered to the Spanish Pensioners and Retirees´organization to carry out a survey that comprises the much needed data about the daily reality of Pensioners and Retirees all over the world. For the time being this survey with 38 questions has been released in six different languages, and so we count with no less than 28 answers
You can know these answers through our mentioned web site.
… About this let me tell you that the web site is currently under construction. In any case is a very ambitious project whose aim is to serve as a high quality tool to the activities of the new International of Trade Unions. That´s why it contains ten languages, including four from the Spanish state: Catalan, Basque, Galician and Castillian – mistakenly known as “Spanish”. We want this web site working in full force in the near future; for this reason we have called for help offered by different trade unions, especially in terms of language. We will ask other trade unions to help us to complete the management team from their own places of origin.
Back to the survey, we must gather as many answers as possible to realize a complete analysis. Among the materials contained in your folders you will find – on the three languages of the Congress – a brief commentary on the contents of this 28 answers.
I want to underline that the main proposal included in this text…, I mean the creation by this Congress of an International Commission formed by the most technically skilled comrades able to analyze these answers so they may be able to elaborate a document useful for the trade union activity everywhere in the five continents. It will be a device to be so special use to the Pensioners and Retirees´ trade unions. Apart from this, it will be also available to other International of Trade Unions so the fight for the improvement of living conditions of Pensioners and Retirees will be a common trait of the struggle waged by the whole FSM.
This International Commission should work, except under determined and special conditions, on an Internet inter-change basis. Doing so, we will be in a good position to make a better use of our funds. Obviously it would be a great advantage to find among our comrades the person able to carry on this job.
To put an end to the point concerning the survey our intention is to know the world´s living conditions of people over sixty years old so, as an International of Trade Unions increase our fight for their betterment, as the main objective of this Congress is to achieve a dignified life for everyone in the world older than sixty.
Following with the procedure previous to the Congress I may remind you that we only know in full detail another European meeting of Pensioners and Retirees who are members or associates to the FSM. This conference took place in Spain, namely in the Canary Islands, in 2008, and it was sponsored by the trade union known as Intersindical Canaria, member of the FSM and linked to the Cypriot trade union PEO. As a result of t this meeting several documents and resolutions were issued by a group of unionist. Afterwards, comrades from Cyprus and from the Canary Islands will explain us the details of this meeting.
We also know that different meetings of Pensioners and Retirees´organizations have taken place to discuss their experiences in various South American countries: in proper time, these comrades will share with us their conclusions.
In any case I would like to remind you that it is precisely in South America were the bigger number of Pensioners and Retirees´organizations, and with the biggest figure of adherents, are currently developing its work. Thiers delegates present here will take their time to explain and report to us their activities.
Here let me remind you too that it is in Bolivia where a greater improvement to Pensioners and Retirees have been achieved in clear contrast with the setbacks suffered by our class in Europe. While President Evo Morales, under pressure from trade unions, lowered the age of retirement to workers from 60 years old to 55 (49 in the case of working women with three or more children, with a supplementary social bonus of tow year for every new born), in Spain, for instance, this age was delayed from 65 years old to 67 thanks to the agreement signed by the social democratic government headed by the PSOE along with the “official” trade unions – by this I obviously mean CCOO and UGT (Workers Comissions and Workers General Union), following the directions issued by its International managers, CES and CSI.
-We may also say that once again is in South America where the capitalists run a better management of information (due among other reasons to their big wealth taken from the workers), being this information a powerful weapon of class and ideological struggle. So, they hide from us the workers´ victories, and it is our duty to let other people know about these victories just to make, for any of them will be of great use to further conquest.
For instance, we must remember and tell about the fight and the great victory achieved by Pensioners and Retirees of Ecuador, who in 2004 faced the new shock measures established by President Lucio Gutierrez, who advised by the FMI tried to cut public pensions paid by his government up to fifty per cent. At those moment, the government clashed with an impressive fight organized by Pensioners and Retirees´trade unions, a fight whose highlight would be the hunger strike in which, unfortunately, 20 Pensioners their lives. However, against all odds, they, and the working class as a whole, won this major fight. It have always been by blood, suffering, tortures, repression and human lives that the working class has achieved its goals, but in this case, victory was able to overthrown the FMI plans. When the time comes, I will ask the delegation from Ecuador to share with us their memories from this battle and its various details.
To finish this brief summary of current trade union realities for Pensioners and Retirees all over the world I may recognize that for me the best experience related to trade union fight was that of Athens during the 20th Congress of Pensioners and Retirees adhered to PAME. It was then when more than 65 years of trade unionism were told… And probably that´s the reason behind the great battles they have fought for more than half a century. Once again I may ask them to share their experiences with the audience.
The documents issued and approved by the CSU of Pensioners and Retirees as a draft of further discussions were translated to French and to English. They were studied during the second meeting of the Committee in charge of preparations at first scheduled to be celebrated in Brazil a few days before the FSM´s Presidential Congress for 2013. Several problems made impossible that meeting: dates ´s confusion by the person in charge in Brazil, last hour absences of many of the delegates, and so on…
During some breaks at FSM´s the Presidential council held in Lima in Mars 2013 a date for a second meeting was appointed for May 2013. However and due to some difficulties aroused the meeting was canceled.
Finally, this meeting of the Committee in charge of preparations took place in July 2013 in Athens and once again counting with the hospitality and support from Pensioners and Retirees of the PAME. In that meeting several documents were approved and subsequently released as all of you know – they have been included in your folders for the Congress, so they can be thoroughly discussed. At this opening time we have received some interesting comments, but however, a few less than expected. We hope to gather more comments and opinions concerning this documents during the Congress.
It was during this meeting of the Committee in charge of preparations that the date for our Congress at Barcelona, February 2014, was appointed, andit was in this town were our Pensioners and Retirees worked out the different details that made possible this Congress.
Two days ago we held the last meeting with the Committee in Barcelona, so we have been finally able to establish the schedule of the collective work in progress since yesterday, when we held the Congress´ opening session.
Although the Committee in charge of preparations knew during its second meeting in Athens, but I consider of the highest importance to say that all the details were placed under the exclusive responsibility of the Spanish CSU of Pensioners and Retirees, whose invaluable help, along with those from the JUBIQUÉ organization, based in Madrid, has granted the work of the Spanish Committee of the Congress.
We have organized this Congress with very small economic resources… this may explain the absence of many delegates whose travel expenses from their countries to Barcelona we were unable to pay for even in some cases in which they directly asked for our help. As I previously said, there are in some countries trade unions of Pensioners and Retirees stronger than us, but we understood from the very beginning that it was our duty to organize this Congress without furthers delays due to our economic weakness. This was something we could not accept.
We have opened a bank account for the gathering of economic resources. To this account we have received generous contributions from several Pensioners and Retirees´ organizations as well as from individuals. We are going to place this account at the disposal to the collective directory to be elected during the Congress to make it possible a complete report of every single penny we have spent on preparations.
Another vital aspect in which we have worked consisted in our aim to celebrate this Congress at the lesser possible expense. Here we are, without paying any fee for this place and enjoying of proper working conditions. These facilities are a property of the Lawyers Collective Team in defense of workers´ rights called Col-lectiu Ronda, whose representative was here with us yesterday. All this work have been performed on a strictly militant and voluntary basis. To these comrades and to the cooking team under supervision of an outstanding professional cook I want to extend our appreciation as well as the big applause they all deserved from us.
Before the end of my speech I want to name and say thanks to the organization team, from comrade María Majó, responsible of this facilities where the Congress takes place, to the technicians in charge of Computers, to the drivers and to many other people, all of them volunteers, in charge of different areas. Also I want to give my special regards to the translators, those in the cabins and those who help us to hold our meetings and conversations at break-times; those who have translated and will translate many documents. Without them this congress would have not been possible, so I ask you for them your applause.
Now I want to explain the Barcelona event. Here where we are it has been possible to offer technical facilities as the simultaneous translation system; however, we couldn´t have this facilities at the place ge had got for free here in Barcelona. Had we celebrated the whole Congress in Barcelona it would have been under a shorter schedule and much more expensive: about triwe the expenses in Hotels and accommodations and almost five times other expenses as catering.
Anyway, the use of that place located in Barcelona where yesterday we made for the first time the public presentation of the FSM in Catalonia, allowed us to extend our invitation to many people in whose presence we were highly interested. Probably most of these people wouldn´t have been able to assist had not the event taken place in downtown Barcelona-.
For those who could not assists to the yesterday meeting I want to let you know that it wasn´t part of the activities properly attached to the Congress. For that reason not any decision was taken: it simply worked as an announcement of the Congress´ opening in this cottage we called Masía in catalan, that as most of you know is our mother tongue in Catalonia.
However, our yesterday´s meeting was of great importance to our class conscious struggle even before its opening sessions, as it granted us a place in the capitalists Media´s agenda forcing them to give news about us and about the FSM, a mainly unknown organization in the majority of the Spanish territories since the times when the leaders of CCOO betrayed the principles of the International class conscious trade unionism whose help was so important in our fight against Franco´s dictatorship.
Then, yesterday´s presentation has enabled us to make this Congress widely known.
In this same days and during the previous weeks and months the different attempts to worsening the rights and living conditions of Pensioners and Retirees have resulted in huge demonstrations in which hundreds and thousands of us have played an active role. Actions have been carried out almost every Hjek, and in all of them we have tried to explain the CSU of Pensioners and Retirees of the FSM´s points of view. That´s is why we may consider a great success our yesterday´s meeting held in the Engineers College of Catalonia with the presence of some many people and friends.
Then, the event we celebrated yesterday gives us a chance to explain, not only in Catalonia but on the whole Spanish territory, the contents of the Congress´agreements. At this point let me tell you that prior to our current activities we have been making several presentations and conferences about the Congress in many places through Spain. This is the reason why so many Spanish Pensioners and Retirees are here with us.
Other point that however its importance should not to be discussed here is the way in which we must improve the collaboration among the many groups and organizations operating in Spain.
Actually, this is not a problem of the Spanish trade unionism but of the trade unionism of every country. Divisions in trade unionism is a common trend with maybe its highest point in places as in the Democratic Republic of Congo, represented here, with more than 500 different trade unions.
This division means a great advantage to our class enemy, as there are also of great advantage for capitalists the difficulties we, Pensioners and Retirees all over must face whe trying to organize ourselves. One of these difficulties must be one of the main topics to be discussed in this Congress.
I´m talking about this question: Where may we advise a worker to keep his or her trade union membership when becomes a Retiree? Once they finish their working life most of them leave his or her membership, as they tend to think that trade union´s assistance is no longer needed. This is a big mistake, and here, among the delegates, we can find many instances of how this mistake could be of great important. On the other contrary, class conscious Pensioners and Retirees remain as members of their trade unions helping others with their experience and even taking new responsibilities.
It is not bad news that “old timers” among trade unionist should help to continue their work performed during previous decades, but this must be made while trying not to disrupt the fighting capacities of our class conscious unions in anything related to the needs of Pensioners and Retirees.
Pensioners and Retirees are not currently exploited by a company, neither public nor private. We can´t be fired, that´s true, but still the system can lesser our income (sometimes with a small increase situated under the growing average cost of living). They can also take away our right to proper medical care or to our free of charge leisure opportunities. They can deprive us of home assistance programs, as it´s happening in Spain, where the government has proceed with deep cuts to the national Budget in order to void of any real content its own laws, especially that known as Dependents Law… It doesn´t matter: Pensioners and Retirees actually remain and will remain in the future with our claims, whether from a class conscious or a trade unionist´s approach.
For this reason the Pensioners and Retirees organizations that aren´t part of class conscious trade unions do not fight for those goals of us, as they are unable to realize that what determines what we get from the different governments will mainly depends on who holds the political power, the capitalists or the working class.
It is not in front of this audience that I may remember neither the social conquests for the Pensioners and Retirees made possible by the socialist governments of Eastern Europe, nor those enjoyed in Cuba even in spite of the American blockade and other circumstances (I have no data about other socialist countries; we should be able to gather it and to release it…).
I want to remind you that the first document written during the preparation process of this Congress was titled: “IT WILL BE USEFUL FOR THE WORKING CLASS TO ORGANIZE THE PENSIONERS AND RETIREES OF THE WHOLE WORLD IN TRADE UNIONS”. This title perfectly summarize our main objectives today.
We are to establish the International of Trade Unions of Pensioners and Retirees to help the working class, as veteran trade unionist, in its fight to end with capitalism as a blot for the whole human being. We are going to make reality what our Greek comrade and head of PyJ of PAME told us: We are veterans and former workers…, but we will always continue, side by side with our class, fighting for our rights.
We work and therefore we fight in a world under almost complete control of the capitalists system, a social and economic structure analyzed by Marx and Engels and whose continuous crisis we all know well. Year by year a concentration of capital is underway as well as the social abbys between rich and poor. Today 85 million of people (those responsible of everything that happened or was decided at the International meeting recently held in Davos) own the same wealth as another 3.500 million inhabitants of the planet. In other words, any of this millionaires hold as much as wealth as 40 million people. It may seem impossible, but this are figures provided by those same capitalists. From her ewe know how unfair the capitalist system is and will be in the future if we allow it to continue its existent.
The capitalist´s crisis is systemic and affects all its structures. Neither the FMI´s advise, nor the formulas proposed by the EEC, the Troika, of G-20 will put an end to the crisis. For the working class there will be no solutions at all on the recipes proposed to the EEC by the collaborating trade unionism, whose leaders are trying to teach some economics to their masters, helping with this attitude in the ideological war waged by the capital against workers.
Those reunited here know that as long as capitalism exits exploitation of man by man will continue, as well as inequality, poverty, hunger, war and a complete absence of social justice. This is what the collaborating trade unionism will never tell.
The FSM´s fight aim, side by side with other organizations with whis it shares its common goal, is to destroy capitalism, to overtrown it, to bury it in the deepths of History as something that mustn’t be repeated (as well as our forerunners overthown slavery two centuries ago). The International of Trade Unions that we are creating now strives to this final goal.
We can organize millions of people. For instance, only in Spain we are more than nine million people those Pensioners and Retirees who live on our public pensions. That means 20% of the Spanish inhabitants and up to 30% of voters.
That this big group would be able to influence in the political decisions that could affect them most will depend only on our way to organize them and on our way of giving them an active political and social role.
And this not only in Spain, but in the whole world.
That´s why the International of Trade Unions that we are going to create will be helpful in the further development of Pensioners and Retirees´organizations for acquiring the presence and the strength needed to defend our rights.
We are to condemn the FMI´s President, who says that Pensioners and Retirees are living too much without being productive (we are not for the capitalist´s interests, but we are useful for the further development of human values all over).
We are going to condemn the Japanese Ministry of work that with great publicity has proposed to the Pensioners and Retirees of his country to commit suicide through hara kiri so the could die with honor while avoiding at the same time a future in poverty.
We are also to condemn the activities and collaborating ways of CES in Europe and of CSI in the rest of the world, who help capitalists to worsening the living conditions of Pensioners and Retirees.
This our main task that could not being carried out by the FSM as a whole, as its task is also of crucial importance. This is our responsibility. An that´s what we are going to do following the agreements to be reached here in our Congress.
We are going to issue a trade union document with contributions from all delegates. Following this same procedure we are going to approve the regulations of the tenth International Union of the FSM.
I could try to make a joke saying that ten scores as the best qualification, as it happens in most educational systems…, but I can tell you for sure that as long as we remain healthy we will have at our disposal the best trade union members, as from the inner of class conscious trade unionism we are the most experienced, we have fought in many battles and we have learnt more.
Now, let me introduce the delegates that are here today. Also I will name, continent by continent, those who can not assist.
I will try to make it short, for time´s lack, but I propose that little by little we may be able to enrich and enlarge our web site at the new International of Trade Unions, placing there in order to be known by everyone interested, the trade unionist story of every qualified member of the International of Trade Union of Pensioners and Retirees. It is true that not any other International of Trade Unions will gather such a big story of courage and struggle.
It started in Australia,
And finally Europe
-Don´t be upset for those who think in our small numbers. It is true that we could have been more – as I have explained – , but our main goal right now is to start: this should be only our first step. Actually, it is the objective fixed to us during the sixteenth Congress by the FSM´s secretariat.
As proposed in our regulations to be approved today, the first task to be carried by our borrad will consist in establishing the schedule of future Regional Congresses to be held in Africa, America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
In preparing this Regional Congresses we are to count with the collaboration and presence of Pensioners and Retires´ organizations who in spite of not being here today with us have sent us their warmest regards, and also with other organizations that we will meet in the near future, when we start to explain and spread the agreements to be reach in this Congress.
Those present here are about to take the first decisions concerning this International of Trade Unions actually unpaired in the whole trade unionist´s spectrum. CSI has only one European office, just one, that only once in a while produces some theoretical texts without organizing – even without the slightest Desire to do so – the Pensioners and Retirees. Then, we are going to be the only World Trade Union Organization of Pensioners and Retirees. We must bear this great responsibility by ourselves, as it should mean a fresh and great opportunity for class conscious trade unionism all over the world.
Comrades and friends…,
I would like to end this opening words of our Congress declaring that we are taking a historical step that will be greatly added to the wolrd class struggle waged and headed by the only class conscious organization, the FSM.
– ¡VIVA THE FSM!
– ¡VIVA THE WORKING CLASS!
Presidente Comité Preparatorio
Primer Congreso Mundial de Sindicatos de clase
de Pensionistas y Jubilados (PyJ)
Comprometidos con la lucha de la FSM