People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
October 21, 2007
TUI (Energy) Conference Held In Mexico
Swadesh Dev Roye
A THREE-DAY conference of the Trade Unions International (Energy) was held in Mexico city on September 26-28, 2007. Different branches of the energy sector - electricity (thermal, hydro, nuclear), oil & gas, energy mining, water etc., were represented in the conference. More than 225 delegates from around 40 countries from the continents of Asia, Africa, America and Europe participated in the conference. A seven-member presidium consisting of Fermin Paz Lamigeuiro, Spain, Valentin Pacho, Peru, Edgal Ponce, Ecuador, Martin Esparza Flores, Mexico, Angel Morffi Lores, Cuba, Sergio Becerra, Colombia and Swadesh Dev Roye, India conducted the proceedings of the conference. The Mexican Electricity Workers’ Union (SME) hosted the conference.
REPORT OF THE SECRETARIAT
The inaugural session was followed by placement of the draft report of the secretariat and the audited statement of accounts. The first two days of the conference were fully devoted to discussion on the report. A total of 77 delegates from different countries participated in the discussion. The voice of struggle of the working class reverberated in the speeches of the delegates particularly from the countries of Latin America. The speakers came out strongly against the policies of imperialist globalisation and World Bank and International Monetary Fund prescribed neo-liberal economic policies. Condemnation of the US administration for its dirty game of establishing political hegemony all over the world by applying all foul and barbarian means against the people and the developing countries was focussed sharply in the discussion.
The draft report of the secretariat truly reflected the fighting spirit and picture of the working class movement with a clear commitment to the doctrine of class struggle. It noted that in the current context of the offensive of capital against labour under the policies of neo-liberalism and the aggressive de-ideologisation, it is necessary to reaffirm and march forward without any confusion onto the path of class struggle and noted, “It is important to delve deeper regarding the class struggle and class consciousness in the trade union movement.” It pointed out that neo-liberal policies are pursued not only under political and economic pressure, but also under other aggressive imperialist machinations.
The need for exposing the reformist trade unions which collaborate with the capitalist class has been emphasised in the report. Underlying the need for conducting the fight to change the governments pursuing anti-labour and anti-people policies it noted, “basic change in policies cannot be realised while power is in the hands of the reactionary forces and therefore there is need to conduct long drawn struggles to remove the reactionary forces from the government of the nation states.”
DEVELOPMENTS IN ENERGY SECTOR
It has given a detailed account of how the energy sector in the world is controlled by the transnational corporations and the world energy policy is guided by the principle of private profit and not the interest of the people.
The report noted that in Latin America it is a strategic challenge for energy workers to strengthen governments that defend energy as a foundation of sovereignty and its nationalisation should achieve programmatic definition.
It is significant to note that movement of the energy workers in the Latin American countries demanding nationalisation of the energy sector has been attaining momentum and the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Uruguay have been extending support to the movement. In Argentina, the movement is gaining strength and the workers of the oil industry in Colombia conducted a 37-day successful strike compelling the authorities to abandon the decision to privatise the public sector oil companies. The conference concluded that the energy sector has a deep bearing on the sovereignty, democratic polity, economic sustainability and regional integration of the countries of Latin American and the Caribbean and new forms of cooperation amongst the countries and people of the region. At the end of the deliberations with contributions from 77 delegates, the report was adopted unanimously.
ELECTION OF NEW COMMITTEE
Wide-ranging amendments of the constitution of TUI (energy) were deliberated upon, on the basis of the draft presented to the conference. The delegates put forward many suggestions. At the end of the deliberations the amended constitution was adopted by the conference with authorisation to the newly elected executive committee to finalise the suggestions that emerged from the discussions.
A noteworthy feature of the amended constitution is its broad-based approach in uniting the workers in the entire energy sector.
A new executive committee of the TUI (energy) was unanimously elected consisting of an 18-member team of office bearers. Swadesh Dev Roye, general secretary, Petroleum & Gas Workers’ Federation of India has been elected president and Chakradhar Prasad Singh, general secretary, All India Federation of Electricity Employees (AITUC), has been elected as one of the five vice presidents. The newly elected general secretary is Martin Esparza Flores, general secretary, Sindicato Mexicano De Electricistas, Mexico. The other office bearers are from Cuba, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Sudan, Cyprus and Spain. The headquarters of the TUI (energy) will be at Mexico.
TUI (ENERGY) IN RETROSPECT
Today’s TUI (energy) actually started its journey as TUI (miners) with the foundation conference at Florence, Italy in 1949. The subsequent years witnessed encouraging expanded activities of the TUI. It played a very important role during the historic strike of British coal miners under the leadership of the National Miners’ Union, UK. In the conference that was held in Altas Tartas, the then Czechoslovakia, in the year 1986, TUI (energy) came into existence by including trade unions from the other branches of energy. However, with a set back due to the fall of the USSR and East European countries, it had its impact on the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and so too on the Trade Unions Internationals (TUIs).
In the year 1998 a conference of the TUI was organised at Havana, Cuba. In the Havana conference it was decided to expand the jurisdiction of TUI (energy) by including trade unions from metal, chemical and allied industries and in the process TUI (EMCOAI) came into existence. However, subsequently in September 2006, the secretariat of the TUI decided to again reorganise it into two different TUIs – TUI (energy) and TUI (metal) in order to address the organisational need to conduct the fight against the onslaught of neo-liberal globalisation on the energy sector. It is worth noting that the SME, Mexico shouldered the responsibility of running the secretariat of TUI (EMCOAI) since the last Havana conference.
As a result of protracted struggles by the workers in Mexico, the electricity industry in the country was nationalised in the year 1960. Every year the electricity workers celebrate the victory of nationalisation and vow to protect the industry in the public sector by holding rallies etc. This year a huge public meeting of the electricity workers was organised, matching with the occasion of the TUI (energy) conference, on September 27, 2007 in Mexico city centre monument field. It was a huge gathering of around 20,000 electricity workers, which was addressed by leaders from the country and abroad. On the concluding day of the conference a very colourful cultural show was organised and the folk dance of Mexico was the attraction of the evening.
The conference ended on the positive note of carrying forward united struggles of the workers of the energy sector. It also appealed to working class and trade union movement in energy sector in the industrialised countries to come forward for strengthening the united struggles against the neo-liberal policies. The highlights of the politically rich deliberations were the denunciation of the notorious imperialist control over the energy sector, the need for liberating the energy sector from the clutches of the private transnational corporations and the imperative of establishing co-ordination between the workers and consumers for initiating popular movements against the cartel machinations in pricing of petroleum products. The voice against privatisation of the energy sector and demand for nationalisation was at a high pitch in the conference. The denunciation of imperialist globalisation and resolve to unleash a worldwide fight against the same through the path of class struggle was very loud and clear.