People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 05, 2006
14th Congress Of World Federation Of Construction Workers
HELD at Athens, Greece, the 14th Congress of the World Federation of Construction Workers (WFCW) saw participation of 80 delegates from 40 countries including Cuba, South Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, Portugal, France, and India. Representing India was Debanjan Chakrabarti, general secretary of the CITU-affiliated Construction Workers’ Federation of India (CWFI), as well as V Kunissery and G V Krishna Rao (All-India Construction and Building Workers’ Union-AITUC).
Set up in 1949 in Milan after the Second World War, the WFCW has worked tirelessly since for the interests of the millions of construction workers around the world. Construction workers remain as yet largely in the unorganised category and a principal task of the affiliated units of the WFCW has been to make them organised.
The general secretary’s report and the delegates’ participation on it brought out how the world body has been engaged over the past four years in taking up the issue of migrant worker with the ILO. Mindful of the pollution that is an inevitable part of the construction industry, the WFCW observed worldwide, an anti-asbestos day on September 9 last year. It also fought strenuously for the securing and recognition as well protection of TU rights of construction workers around the world.
The discussion on the general secretary’s report made it amply clear that the WFCW believed in class-based unified action. The slogan raised at the conference was ‘Build the organisation through class-based unionism and united action.’ Taking part in the discussion, Debanjan Chakrabarti spoke of the need for class-based united action, of politically educating the cadres; he also stressed the democratic functioning of TUs.
The report identified the problems that plague industry.
Various forms of precarious and non-perennial labour including informal labour, casual labour, and spurious sub-contracting
Increasing problems of migrant workers
Health and safety issues at sites
Struggle against child labour
Struggle against forced labour
The WFCW vowed to build up worldwide struggle through its affiliated units and through participation in the democratic movement to fight these evils and advance the cause of the construction workers. Throughout the sessions, imperialism and imperialist globalisation was stringently criticised. The general secretary’s report emphasised the need to bring together all working people irrespective of region, religion, gender, language and colour. It also spoke about building a broad unity of TUs.
The congress adopted the following resolutions:
In support of the December 14, 2006 all-India strike action
Against the attack by the Australian government on 107 construction workers at Perth
Against asbestos production and its use
In support of workers’ struggles in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Europe
For health and industrial safety
The congress elected a 28-member executive committee with John Sutton as the president, José Dennis as the general secretary, and Rino Gelmi as the treasurer. The congress also elected a sex-member working women sub-committee.