People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
May 21, 2006
M K Pandhe
the eve of the forty eighth Congress of CGT France, a meeting was arranged
between National Committee of CGT and several leaders of the international TU
movement on April 23, 2006 at Lille
(North of France) to consider the problems of unity in the world TU movement.
CITU was invited to participate in the discussion.
Ryder, General Secretary, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU),
Willy Thys, General Secretary, World Confederation of Labour
(WCL) participated in the meeting.
Thibault, General Secretary, CGT in his introductory remarks referred to the
challenges faced by the trade union movement all over the world due to the
policy of globalisation. The resistance by the working class to these policies
cannot be effective without a powerful international trade union movement. He
stressed the need for exchanging different approaches towards new unity of the
TU movement with a view to evolve common understanding on these issues.
Gabaglio, leader of the European trade union movement, reviewed the background
of the division in the world TU movement. He noted how the World Federation of
Trade Unions was founded in 1945 when the fascist forces were on the retreat. It
brought together on a common platform unions of different ideologies
and a powerful trade union center emerged to
defend the interests of the working class. The unity was, however,
short-lived and on the eve of implementation of Marshall Plan, the WFTU was
split and ICFTU came into existence. The division continued in the cold war
OF THE WORLD TU MOVEMENT
dismantling of socialism in former Soviet Union and East European countries,
WFTU was considerably weakened. Earlier All China Federation of Trade Unions
also left WFTU during the cultural revolution period. CGIL (Italy) and CGT
(France) also left the WFTU.
division and weakening of the trade union movement at the international level
enabled the capitalist class to adopt the policy of globalisation and impose
onerous conditions of work on the working class. Closure of factories, growing
unemployment, imposition of the right of hire and fire, downsizing of manpower
and increasing the workload, increasing the hours of work and part time low paid
employment, casualisation, contracterisation and outsourcing of jobs, attack on
trade union and democratic rights of workers including right to strike became a
who participated in the discussion highlighted these features in their speeches.
The representative from Belgium pointed out that in his country right to form a
union in an establishment where less than 50 workers are working is denied by
legal enactment. In Colombia hundreds of trade union leaders have been murdered
by the hirelings of the employers without any action by the government. In
Indonesia, curtailment of trade union rights of the workers have become a matter
of daily occurrence and TU activity has become increasingly difficult. In former
Soviet Union countries, privatisation offensive is in full swing and the trade
unions have to go on strike even to get their earned wages. The trade unions in
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have to fight against closure of
several establishments and large scale unemployment. The standard of living of
the workers is declining while pensionary benefits bring them below the poverty
speaker from Communication Union in USA noted that his union has been fighting
against the policies of Bush government. He called for strengthening of the
struggle against globalisation not only in meetings but on streets also. Without
a firm policy of worldwide struggle the unity of the working class cannot be
possible, he observed.
Ryder, General Secretary, ICFTU, called for reorientation in the world TU
movement. He observed that for a meaningful dialogue in the world today within
the TU movement we must be prepared to listen to the views of those who differ
with us. He underlined the task of combating poverty, exploitation, oppression
and inequality through united international action of the working class in a
globalised economy. He advocated universal respect of the fundamental rights of
workers and access to decent work as indispensable for sustainable development.
He condemned all forms of discrimination as affront to human
dignity and to equality. He endorsed the need to promote, support and
coordinate international trade union action on multinational enterprises and
international social dialogue with international employers organisations.
Thys, General Secretary, WCL, expressed his conviction that organisations of
democratic and independent trade unions were crucial for the well being of the
workers, their families, and for
the social progress and prosperous
future for all. “Today, more than ever in history, confronted by
unbridled globalisation, effective internationalism is essential to the
future strength of trade unionism and its capacity to realise that mission,”
he said. He condemned all forms of violations of freedom of association, the
right to strike and the right to collective bargaining and called for
mobilisation of international solidarity. He concluded by highlighting the need
to develop mutual cooperation with all trade union organisations to maximise the
coherence and impact of the democratic and independent trade union movement.
In Union Membership
Monks, Secretary General of Confederation of European Trade Unions, expressed
concern at the low trade union membership of less than 10 per cent in most of
the advanced countries. He also mentioned about growing resistance of the
workers in these countries against deteriorating working and living conditions.
The massive vote of the working people against European constitution was a
reflection of the feelings of the workers about the unfavourable situation they
had been facing. He called for strengthening the unity of the workers to resist
the attacks with more determination.
expressed concern at the growing economic crisis in the world due to steep hike
in prices of petroleum products.
from developing countries pointed out how under WTO regime trade relations have
become more unfavourable to the developing countries as a result of which the
share of the developing countries in the world trade is declining. They also
mentioned about the protectionist policies adopted by advanced capitalist
countries, which prevent entry of products from developing countries in their
market. The trade blocks formed by them are also not favourable to developing
countries. The working class movement is facing difficulties in improving their
standard of living as a result of these policies.
capitalist countries are transferring highly polluting industries to the
developing countries without taking necessary protective measures for the
workers. The workers are thus exposed to several risks and health hazards
without any protective measure from the governments of developing countries.
The speakers noted that the MNCs in developing countries do not abide by the national laws and regulations which gave them unbridled right of exploitation of the workers. The governments of these developing countries do not take any action against MNCs for fear of foreign direct investment not coming to their countries. Conditions in export processing zones all over the world are worse since no labour laws are implemented there.
therefore, proposed that the world trade union movement had to give up its
present defensive position and become aggressive so that capitalist onslaughts
can be fought more effectively.
Unity of the world trade union movement must be directed towards this objective.
speakers mentioned that the task of social transformation should be suitably
highlighted by the united trade union movement.
on behalf of CITU, I pointed out that global finance capital is united to launch
offensive against the working class which is sorrowfully divided. This has
resulted in inability of the trade union movement to fight the offensive with
determination. Hence unemployment is growing while downsizing of the manpower
has become the order of the day. Millions of regular jobs are being converted
into low paid informal jobs and closure of large number of small and medium
industries all over the world is taking place with concentration of capital in
the hands of lesser employers. In the name of labour flexibility, labour laws
are being changed in favour of capitalists. Attacks on TU rights have now become
a global phenomenon.
dominant world trade union movement is today more concerned with the problems of
developed countries while adequate
attention is not properly focused on the issues of the developing countries
which are employing largest number of workers in the world today.
on TU Rights
noted that the policies of globalisation have played havoc in the developing
countries and the government policies are increasingly dictated by MNCs and
advanced capitalist countries. Consequently global as well as national
inequalities are increasing adding to the army of poverty stricken population.
The international trade union movement must pay more attention to the problems
faced by the working class in the developing countries. Millions of jobs in IT
sector are transferred from developed countries to developing countries due to
low rate of wages. A large number of children are forced to work in developing
countries due to poverty of their parents and mere seminars will not stop the
phenomenon of child labour since it is closely linked with the question of
growing poverty in the developing countries.
The conditions of women workers are deteriorating with no attention of
authorities to their problems.
and more solidarity actions of the working class all over the world are of
paramount importance today to regain the losses suffered by the working class
due to the ferocious attacks by the global finance capital.
presidium welcomed the dialogue which expressed united as
well as divergent views prevalent in the trade union
movement and expressed the hope to continue the dialogue to protect the
interests of the working class.
April 24, 2006 another meeting was convened on the question of formation
of a new international organisation. TUs from Uruguay, India, Peru, Colombia,
Madagaskar, Angola, CIS countries, Poland, Niger and France participated in the
discussion. General Secretaries of ICFTU and WCL were also present.
founding conference of a new world organisation after merger of ICFTU and WCL
will take place in Vienna (Austria) on November 1-3, 2006. On October 30
separate meetings of ICFTU and WCL will be held to pass resolution about
dissolutions of the two organisations.
CITU expressed its inability to join the new organisation since it would prefer
to remain independent to strive for still wider unity of the TU
movement in the world. It noted that the WFTU is not included in this
unity and some working relations should be
established with WFTU so that worldwide action on common issues facing
the working class could be organised. The CITU also felt that no worldwide TU
unity is possible without involvement of All China Federation of Trade Unions, a
trade union of the largest populated country in the world.
for Clear cut Policies
CITU felt that a worldwide unity of the working class has to spell out clear-cut
policies of the TU movement towards neo-colonialism. US imperialism attacked
Iraq on the plea of finding out
weapons of mass destruction and openly talks about regime change in certain
countries which do not agree with US government. The unilateral declaration of
blockade of Cuba for decades in open defiance of UN resolution, the threat of
attack on Iran, non-observance of UN resolution on Palestine, are all issues
which international TU movement cannot ignore. We should not merely oppose war
but also struggle for total
destruction of all nuclear weapons as well as disarmament.
CITU welcomed all international dialogue between the countries of the North and
South with a view to evolve common understanding and action programme to protect
the interests of the working class. The CITU stood for cooperation with trade
unions irrespective of ideological differences and international affiliations in
the struggle against the policies of globalisation.
General Secretaries of ICFTU and
WCL expressed their respect for the views of the CITU and wanted to continue
dialogue on the contentious issues faced by the trade union movement the world
meetings held in Lille despite expression of divergent views became a forum in
which an international dialogue could be started. Though inconclusive, it
underlined the need for continuation of the worldwide
dialogue among trade unions of divergent views so that common
understanding in the world trade union movement could be evolved.
of the world unite!” is a slogan which was never so relevant as it is today!