Today, April 1st the WFTU-TUI meeting is taking place with great success. High-Level delegations of all the TUIs composed by trade union leaders from countries around the world are participating. The main topic of the meeting is the role of TUIs in strengthening the class oriented trade union movement and the preparations of the 17th World Trade Union Congress in Durban, South Africa on 5-8 October 2016.
The meeting is taking place in the historical building of the Trade Union of Commerce Employees, in the meeting are also present cadres of PAME-Greece from the respective Greek Federations. The Greeting speech of WFTU General Secretary George Mavrikos:
On behalf of the Secretariat of the WFTU, I want to welcome you in Athens and thank you for responding to the WFTU Secretariat’s call. We are aware that the duties you have assumed in your countries are demanding, of the difficulties that all the trade union organizations around the world are facing and for that reason we especially appreciate the fact that we have here representatives of all TUIs, despite all these difficulties. We also want to thank even more all the colleagues who have come here from far away continents, assuming important expenses.
The exchange of experience, the collective discussion and the common planning of the WFTU with its sectoral organizations -the TUIs- is a permanent part of the orientation of the WFTU secretariat. For that reason, like every year, the WFTU decided to call this meeting. We are here in order to strengthen the coordination and cooperation among us.
The preparation for the 17th World Trade Union Congress is going on during a period, when the international working class has to face the international capitalist crisis, that is strengthening the aggression against the workers and the toiling masses, the inter-imperialist contradictions who are deepening, generating wars, poverty and waves of refugees. In Europe and in general, the need for support to the refugees and immigrants is an immediate duty for the class oriented trade union movement. We have to combat the anti peoples policies implemented by all governments.
On the same time, our colleagues, our brothers and comrades all over the world, unionists and social activists have to face repression, arrests, imprisonment, threats, even death promoted by states and the capital as an answer to their just struggles. In those developments we should include the blind terrorism, like we witnessed in Paris, Brussels, Pakistan, Turkey and elsewhere, that murders innocent people and at the same time gives an excuse to the governments, so they can take more repressive measures, raise the state and employer sponsored repression and limit the freedoms of the people.
During this critical times, the working class needs stronger, more dynamic, more massive, more class – oriented base trade unions, with deep roots in the working class. There is the need for a stronger WFTU, rooted in the workplaces, in the working class. This way, the unions and our movement will be able to defend the workers and fight for the attainment of the contemporary needs of the workers against poverty and wars generated by capitalist exploitation. Move forward with struggle, internationalism, unity – unity based on the interests of our class.
The role of the TUIs -The TUIs are the pillar of sectoral coordination and are especially important for strengthening of unity and coordination of the class oriented action of the WFTU affiliates and we must give much more attention. All sectoral organizations can and must be a powerful instrument of struggle against transnational corporations and the antilabor strategy.
– The role of the TUIs can and must be a leading role in the efforts of the WFTU to build an alliance of the working class with the self-employed, the poor farmers and the progressive intellectuals.
– The TUIs must steadily and persistently promote to the workers, to the base, the basic objectives of the WFTU and its programmatic goals. Along with their own sectoral plans of action and their particular initiatives, they should not forget to support and participate in the central activities of the WFTU. Most of the TUIs do so with success and we ask from those TUIs who are still hesitant, to take this in mind.
– At the same time, the TUIs with their action and contacts have the opportunity to bring new friends to the WFTU and help the affiliation of new members to our big class oriented family. This way we can strengthen the WFTU in quality and quantity.
– Also the TUIs can and must be the seedbed for the promotion of new trade union cadres from the sectors and the base of the movement. The promotion of union cadres that are tight with the bases and with all sectors of strategic importance is a priority issue for the class oriented trade union movement. Trade union leaders who will gain knowledge and experience through the struggles and become dedicated militants of the WFTU.
– The TUI leaderships can with specific examples from their sectors, make criticism to the role of the leadership of the ITUC and the Global Unions, that support many times e.g. the privatizations, the imperialist interventions, who equate the victims with their aggressors, like they are doing against the heroic Palestinian people, etc. Criticizing these positions of the ITUC leadership we help the bases of the workers to see the truth.
The most important of the duties we are discussing in this meeting is how to organize our work in front of the biggest trade union event of this period, the 17th World Trade Union Congress of the WFTU. We should plan together how the message of the 17th Congress will reach all sectors, workplaces and workers in every country and continent. Our 17th Congress will be held in Durban – South Africa, October 5-8 2016 and is the most important trade union event of the 5 year period.
We want it to be – and it will be- a Congress that is:
- Class oriented
following the standards set by the Congresses held previously by the WFTU. We have asked all the TUIs to send us a small report of their action for the period 2011-2016. Some TUIs have already sent. We are waiting all the TUIs reports until April 15th, so we can include it in the materials of the 17th World Trade Union Congress. We ask that the reports also contain what each TUI has done for the promotion of the central objectives of the WFTU. Every TUI will be represented in the Congress by 3 delegates and 2 observers, so that every TUI will be represented by 1 colleague from each continent. We ask all TUIs to be careful about the delegates and observers we will be sending. We must have strict criteria. Same criteria for all, be objective and just. There is a big interest for participation in the Congress, but there is also a limitation in numbers. Initially, we ask for discipline in adhering to the dates, arrivals, departures, according to the rules. Another criterion should be that the 5 representatives (3 delegates and 2 observers) will be from different continents. We would also like to ask that among the 5 representatives at least one woman is included.
Finances of the Congress
For the realization of the 17th World Trade Union Congress, the WFTU needs money that cannot come from sources other than mainly is affiliated and friendly unions. For this reason, the Secretariat and the Presidential Council of the WFTU has made a call to all TUIs, to all affiliates and friends to contribute with their fees and also with extra contributions dedicated to the realization of the Congress. We have asked and we also ask today from the trade union organizations to discuss in their bodies specifically on this subject and that everybody contributes according to their abilities. Also, we are preparing to an open fund raising campaign for collecting money for the needs of the 17th Congress. We ask that you too help to its success. We know very well that almost all TUIs have serious financial difficulties, since few organizations pay their fees. We also know that the big majority of our organizations are poor, as the workers are also poor. But, even under these circumstances it is necessary that the financial support to the 17th Congress becomes a matter and a duty for all of us.
Promotion of the Congress in the workplaces. The sectoral organizations of the WFTU can play a role in this. They should organize in sectors, workplaces, events dedicated to the 17th World Trade
Union Congress. We want the slogan and message of the 17th Congress reaches every workplace, factory, construction site, school, wherever the TUIs have contacts and bases. This way the bases, the workers will have a direct knowledge and active participation in the preparation of the Congress.
Besides, only this way we can speak about TUIs and WFTU deeply rooted within the workplaces and the working class. We are waiting to hear your proposals, planning together our next common steps, internationalist solidarity our next union struggles that are needed by the working class today.