The WFTU Delegation composed by Evgenii Kulikov, Presidential Council member and General Secretary of the Union of SPR-Russia and Anda Anastasaki, WFTU Head Office General Coordinator, is in Voronezh, Russian Federation to attend the works of the 31st Session of FAO Regional Conference for Europe (ERC) that takes place there from 16 – 18 May 2018.
During the first and official opening day of the conference, Evgenii Kulikov made an intervention on behalf of the WFTU, where he strongly condemned the recent Israeli attack in Gaza, Palestine, and sent a message of firm solidarity to the Palestinian people.
In the framework of the meeting the WFTU delegation held a meeting with Aleksandr Okhanov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation in the Agency for Fishery in FAO
Among others, in his speech he mentioned:
The World Federation of Trade Unions, founded in 1945 in Paris, and having in its ranks more than 92 million workers on the 5 continents, is a militant, international trade union organization who fights for the workers’ rights and for a society without exploitation. Having a consultative status at the ILO, the WFTU played a crucial role for the establishment of the Convention 87, among other Conventions. There is also permanent Representation of the Organization at the United Nations in New York, at UNESCO in Paris and at FAO in Rome, giving us the occasion to assist this session of the FAO Regional Conference for Europe. We wish you the best of success.
As the world class oriented trade union movement, we are very concerned about food insecurity, i.e. malnutrition and hunger of populations in countries of Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. More specifically about the region of Europe and Central Asia, FAO estimates that 14.3 million adults are severely affected by lack of adequate food because of poverty.
We are also concerned about the poor working conditions of farmers and workers at the food and drink industry and about agricultural and economic policies that seriously affect the national food sufficiency of the countries.
As mentioned in you report, Agriculture in Europe and Central Asia is mostly based on smallholder and family farms, and employs an important number of workers in countries of the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Balkans, and Eastern Europe. In the 28 member countries of the European Union, 44 million people, or 8.6 percent of the total population, are employed in agricultural production and in the food industry.
The farmers of the aforementioned regions are facing great difficulties in supporting themselves and their families, because they are unprotected against various factors that affect them:
– The low price they sell their production to intermediaries and companies and great delays in their payment.
– The lack of compensation in case of destruction of their production by extreme weather events, animal or plant diseases.
– The absence of necessary grants for buying of seeds or agricultural machinery and for paying the necessary fuel to operate their equipment.
Since 1992, the EU Common Agricultural Policy with the liberization of the agricultural market, affected negatively the agricultural sovereignty of EU countries as well as the farmers’ income. The quotas imposed to the countries’ yields reduced their agricultural production and respective trade balance. The economic crisis, as well as austerity measures and anti-labor directions by the IMF and the World Bank gave a severe blow to the acquired rights of workers in general, included workers of Food and Drink Industry, such as the abolition of collective agreements, the decrease of salaries, the closure of food industries resulting in the unemployment of thousands of workers.
The WFTU and its militant affiliates stably struggle for an agriculture, fishery and livestock farming that are able to feed the peoples. For all of us, the first priority of agricultural production and its principal function must be the feeding of the world’ population and not the profits of the big farmers and multinationals of the sector.
One example of the latter are the GMOs, dominated by North American brands like Monsanto and not based on necessary public scientific research to ensure the safety of their consumption. Another example are the agro-fuels which cause the replacement of cultivable land that can nourish the population, in favor of the big industries’ need for energy.
We also firmly fight against water commercialization. Water is a public good, a vital natural resource that must be provided with special care for the covering of the needs of all populations.
We agree with you that urgent measures must be taken for food security of the populations and for the protection of small and medium scale farmers, fishermen, foresters and food industry workers. We also strongly support the use of information and communication technology on agriculture, for the farmers and the peoples facilitation. The WFTU will continue its struggles for nutrition, health and and work with rights of the working class. We urge all responsible parties to seriously take into consideration and prioritize the peoples’ needs for food security in this region and globally.