Speech by Childa Chacon, WFTU Representative at the constitutive Congress of TUI of Pensioners:
“The idea of gathering pensioner and retiree workers in an International Trade Union is no longer a dream, it is a purpose that has come true with the will of all of you, the WFTU and all the trade unions who supported this initiative, On behalf of WFTU secretariat we thank the support of the trade union organizations in Barcelona, especially CSU, which facilitate the conditions to celebrate this event.
Today, more than ever, unity is very necessary, the struggle against austerity measures, neoliberal policies, against capitalism and imperialism becomes stronger, the millions of people who suffer because of these measures and policies are increasing, and only a minority is benefited by them.
The world population is getting old rapidly and the workers arriving at retirement age, added to the retirees already, are a very important part in society today.
Given the current crisis, the measures being taken by capitalist governments in many countries are affecting dramatically retirees and pensioners and they are losing their rights, rights won through struggles, which many of you were protagonists, so the WFTU has committed to organize and unite you to defend together what you have earned during hard battles and will enjoy decent pensions and conditions to live properly.
The World Federation of Trade Unions was founded in 1945 in Paris after World War II because of the need to unite the workers after the defeat of fascism. Despite some opposition pressures WFTU imposed its condition as class oriented, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-colonialist, unitary and democratic organization, principles that it has remained until today, fighting alongside the working class.
Many of you witnessed the glory days of the working class in the socialist stage, especially in Europe, the international trade union movement was strengthened with the strength and struggle of the WFTU and many victories and rights were achieved by workers worldwide.
After the collapsed of the socialist bloc the FSM was weakened, many of their European organizations chose to join the former ICFTU, now ITUC, and others decided to remain independent, but all the ones who remained loyal to their principles sustained the commitment and continued fighting side by side with the workers.
Today we can say that, facing the dramatic global economic situation, the attacks to the class oriented trade union movement, the anti trade union and anti workers measures applied by many capitalist governments, WFTU has increased its actions, after the XV Congress in Havana in 2006, the WFTU began a new stage of recovery, leadership and strengthening, results demonstrated in the XVI Congress in Athens 2011 and in every action made till today.
Currently we have 86 million members in 120 countries around the world, and you will expand that number, we are proud to count with your force, your experience and your irrevocable desire to continue the defense of your rights as retirees, this strengthen WFTU even more.
WFTU has 9 Brach International Trade Unions: Food, Hotel and Tourism, Metal and Mining, Public Administration, Education, Banking, Construction and Transportation and this TUI of Pensioners and Jubilees would be the 10th.
The WFTU work is getting stronger with the actions that develop the 6 regional offices in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Francophone Africa, Anglophone Africa, the Middle East and with the Sub regional Offices in North America, Middle East, Africa and Asia and it has consultative status at the UN, ILO, UNESCO and FAO.
In these more than 60 years it has accompanied the workers, migrants, unemployed, youths, women, retirees and landless in the struggle for full employment, for living wages, against racism, xenophobia, for gender equality, for the right of freedom of association, for the right to strike, for decent pensions and for living as human beings.
We condemn the aggression and imperialist wars that destroy our countries and people with the loss of innocent lives, threatening to turn the world into a holocaust caused by a nuclear war, we are at the side of Syrian workers and the Palestinian people in their just struggle, with the people of Venezuela and its revolutionary process, we fight together with the Cuban people for lifting of the unjust U.S. blockade imposed to Cuba for more than 50 years ago and for the release of the 5 Cuban prisoners in U.S. prisons for fighting against terrorism, we fight together with the African people, we are at the side of all oppressed people and workers of the world.
We accompany you, who have given much of your lives to work and have faced great battles for your rights as workers, leaving a proud legacy to new and future generations, so we must continue this struggle, your effort has not been in vain, this conference is the continuation of that effort and we are here to defend our achievements.
Retirees are already part of the WFTU family, we are sure you will play a very active role within the TUI, you multiply the actions from your positions and will maintain the TUI functioning permanently, we cannot constitute this UIS and that everything stays at a conference, we should be able to keep it alive and very active.
Retirees are starting a new phase of their life, which they should live it fully, without gaps, without injustice, without harassment.
The austerity measures, the neoliberal policies, capitalist governments and multinationals have endeavored to shed their obligations to you, to recover themselves from the crisis -created by themselves-, at the expense of pensions cuts, eviction of houses, raising prices of medicines, food, water and services such as electricity, gas and transport, How it is possible to cover all those needs with miserable pensions? How it is possible to live a healthy life without having access to the most elementary basic needs, without social security?
Especially in Europe workers and retirees’ future is very uncertain, countries like Spain, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Portugal, France, among others, suffer the constant cuts in pensions, protests by many retirees and pensioners in these countries prove it.
The constitution of this TUI is an expression of the continuity of our struggle, it is an expression of the support of the WFTU and all its affiliated workers to retirees, it is an expression of the strength of our organization against capitalism, imperialism and all those policies that are aimed to exterminate the rich and glorious history of the class oriented trade union movement, of the workers who have built with their effort our society and that, at the end of their working life deserve the recognition for their contribution to the economic development of our countries.
This TUI will become the bastion of the struggle of retirees in the world, accompanied in every action by the WFTU, by the workers and class oriented trade unions, never the militant and solidarity support of each one of us will be missing with the certainty that with this unit we will achieve the victory.
The WFTU calls for unity in the struggle, only then we can defeat capitalism and start the path to regain socialism, only system that defends and respects the real rights of humans.
I wish, on behalf of WFTU, success in this historic event, in the rich discussions that will take place in these two days of meetings and in the actions and agreements emanating from this conference, with the confidence that we always be at your side, supporting you in the struggles that at the end will become in or victories.”