People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 21

June 08 , 2008


International Conference Of Metal & Mining Workers  Begins A Second Journey


IMMEDIATELY after the World War - II, in the rapid phase of reconstruction there was vast expansion of metallurgical industry. The situation demanded a great expansion of activities in mining sector, in the industries that produced metals like steel, aluminium, copper and others, followed by engineering industries, in other terms known as metal-mechanics. The workers in all these industries had a very important role in the process of reconstruction. Naturally the workers in all these sectors had to organise themselves for just wages, better service conditions, safe working environment and a decent way of life. In the given situation a strong trade union movement developed in these industries and the metal workers, as commonly known, were torch-bearers in the trade union movement showing way to others.

World War was over in 1945 but peace was not there. After defeating Hitlar's Germany, Musollini's Italy and Hirohito's Japan, the imperialists wanted to crush Soviet Union but could not do it because of its military might. So the Western powers continued the war in other theatres like Korea, Vietnam, Africa and inflicted war on Egypt, India, Middle East and many other places. That was the era of cold war and proxy wars in many places were directed to end socialist system by all means.

The metal workers all over the world decided to fight for peace. Peace was essential for reconstruction. It was the paramount need to ensure that there was no more the horrible destruction that mankind had witnessed from 1939 to 1945.

To achieve this goal it was needed to have an international forum to co-ordinate the trade union movement and the peace movement world wide on a common platform. So, Trade Union International for Metal Workers or TUI (Metal) was founded in 1949. The organisation had a glorious role in organising the metal workers to build up a movement in support of peace and in defence of socialist system particularly.

In 1990 when Soviet Union broke down, the TUI (Metal) which worked under the umbrella organisation of World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) also became weak. The chariot of imperialist globalisation started rampaging every part of the globe. The left movement was too weak to hold it back; even a section of the left movement joined the bandwagon of globalisation. Whatever the metal workers earned through forty years of struggle got lost in all the continents as the attack on them was swift and severe. The employers in every country launched a united attack on jobs, wages, social security, and labour rights of the workers. The defence of the workers was in disarray. Reformist trade unions took side with the employers.   

It is but natural that resistance against globalisation is growing, as people are suffering in various forms from job loss, wage depression to food crisis. No country and no people are free from the pernicious effects of globalisation.

This is the situation in almost all the developing countries. In developed countries, too, the gap between rich and poor is increasing. People's rights and democratic practices are under all round attack.

In such a situation trade unions in all the countries, except those which are funded lavishly by the World Bank and employers, decided to regroup and build up a strong resistance movement against the process of imperialist globalisation.

World Federation of Trade Unions started its process of revitalisation after the conference in Havana in 2005. TUI (Energy) was constituted in Mexico in September 2007. Thereafter TUI (Metal) consisting of trade unions in mining, metallurgy and metal-mechanics (engineering) has been re-founded on May 19 - 20, 2008 in the city of San Sebastian in northern Spain. The conference was hosted by the powerful LAB union in the Basque region of Spain. A preparatory committee was formed in May 2007 with Ardhendu Dakshi as chairman, five other members were from Greece, LAB of Spain, Peru, Brazil and WFTU. The documents were prepared by the preparatory committee. Representatives from thirty countries attended the conference. Many countries could not attend the conference because of denial of visa, some others could not because local strikes and struggles kept them engaged. The Indian delegation comprised of Ardhendu Dakshi (CITU), P K Das (Steel Workers Federation of India), Bishnu Mohanty (general Secretary, Orissa state committee of CITU), B D Prasad (Bokaro Steel Plant Trade Union, CITU) and Jagdish (ABB Workers Union, Bangalore, AITUC).

The conference was organised with great enthusiasm as powerful trade unions from Latin America came in good numbers that marked a complete change in the international scenario of the trade union movement. Trade unions from Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela are now brimming with activities and are the biggest challenges to US hegemonism. The presence of Belarus delegation also heralded a change in the current alignment of pro-US trade union movement in the erstwhile Soviet states. More and more trade unions from CIS countries are coming down to the field of movement disgusted with the process of globalisation. The militant trade union, PAME of Greece and also from Cyprus, where recently elected President is a leftist was also present. The entire atmosphere was upbeat with enthusiasm and confidence because a good number of leaders from ICTU (United States sponsored) are showing their private willingness to join the anti-globalisation movement. A good number of trade union leaders in different trade unions in Europe affiliated to ICTU have expressed their desire to work in close collaboration with WFTU and TUI (Metal).

On May 19, 2008, the conference was held at the Hotel Amara Plaza, San Sebastian. A 12-member presidium with Ardhendu Dakshi along with leaders from Brazil, Sudan, LAB of Spain, Belarus, Peru, India, Nigeria, Galicia and Venezuela, Chile and Mauritania presided over the conference.

Valentine Pacho gave an inaugural introduction of the conference and Jesus Maria Gete Olarra outlined the conduct of the conference.

Ardhendu Dakshi presented the base document on political and economical aspect of the present situation and the ideological perspective on the basis of class struggle behind the formation of TUI (Metal). That was followed by debates and finally the base document was adopted unanimously after enrichment by comrades from different countries from all continents.

The main emphasis was given against privatisation of natural wealth and industries. The document demands re-nationalisation of natural resources and production facilities should be in service of the people not for the profit of multi-nationals. Dakshi emphasised that in the present time the employers, the MNCs and the government have taken away millions of jobs, therefore our main slogan should be “jobs for all”. They are denying our just and living wage, so we should call for “decent wage for all” similarly “social security” and labour rights for all, he said. The conference decided to relaunch the motto of “workers of the world unite”.

The adoption of the base document heralds a new era of class-based trade unionism in (non-coal) mining and metal industry opposing the loot of natural resources and exploitation of workers under the imperialist globalisation. Naturally, the motto of the congress read as “Working Class Trade Unionism towards Social Change”, which denotes that TUI (Metal) is going to work in the interest of the workers, the people and the national interest and not for profit of multinational corporations.

On May 20, 2008, the “Articles of Association” or the constitution of the TUI (Metal) was placed by Valentin Pacho, deputy general secretary of WFTU. The document outlines the structure, the responsibilities and the provisions that bind the affiliates to discipline and adherence to the ideology. It was adopted unanimously. Dakshi asserted that the constitution was created by disciplined people and ideological discipline will be the mainstay of the new organisation of TUI (Metal).

Resolutions were passed on: 1) condolence, 2) against economic blockade on Cuba, 3) for release of five patriots of Cuba jailed in US with fictitious charges, 4) against conversion of food grains into motor spirit thus causing severe food crisis in developing countries, 5) in support of struggling workers in Peru and Chile, etc.

In this re-foundation conference, a new executive council was formed with the president, five vice-presidents, general secretary, deputy general secretary and ten secretaries, including the secretary (finance).

Ardhendu Dakshi was elected president of TUI (Metal), Jesus Maria Gete O'Larra of LAB was elected general secretary, Arturo Rodriguez Font of Cuba was elected deputy general secretary and P K Das was elected secretary-in-charge of Metallurgy. Jagadish of AITUC was elected as one of the vice-presidents. Dimitri Chubris of PAME, Greece was elected secretary (finance).

The conference had a modest beginning but it ended with the confidence that the attacks on metal workers in this era of neo-liberal globalisation will be the unifying force of resistance in not so long a distant future, and in the process, TUI (Metal) will be a rallying point of the metal workers from all the continents.

In the concluding speech, Dakshi reminded the delegates that the worst of globalisation was yet to come. With a downturn of the capitalist economy worldwide, the first signs of which are already visible, attack on the working class will be further intensified and the manufacturing and mining industries are expected to be worst hit. In the face of such a possibility, the metal workers in all the countries, their trade unions should act fast to organise themselves with confidence that this form of globalisation can be defeated and it is possible to create another world. The conference ended with thundering slogans in all languages of the delegates.