People's Democracy

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


No. 01

January 02, 2011

Take Offensive to Defend Rights: UITTB


Debanjan Chakrabarti


THE Trade Union International of Workers of the Building, Wood and Building Materials Industries’ (UITBB), an affiliate of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), held its 15th world congress at Salvador in Brazil from December 6 to 9. A total of 96 delegates from 31 countries --- Albania, Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, Cyprus, El Salvador, Finland, France, Gabon, Greece, India, Japan, Lebanon, Mali, Martinique, Niger, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, Syria, Togo, Uruguay, Venezuela and Vietnam --- participated in this congress. Debanjan Chakrabarti and N Veeraswamy attended on behalf of the Construction Workers Federation of India (CITU).


The policy document of the congress referred to an ILO report’s conclusion that at the end of 2009 the number of unemployed in the world was over 200 million. In addition, 1.4 billion workers were those who earned only two dollars a day. This figure accounts for 45 per cent of the world’s working population.


According to Jean Ziegler, former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, in 2009 the 500 most powerful private multinational companies controlled 52 per cent of the gross world product, that is, 52 per cent of all the wealth produced on the planet in one year. At the same time a billion human beings are seriously and permanently undernourished.


Today, the capitalist class has turned far more aggressive in comparison to the four post-war decades. It is now brazenly attacking the workers, the unemployed, pensioners, young people, women and the people of the developing countries by imposing unemployment, deteriorating their working conditions and curtailing the people’s social security benefits in order to earn maximum profits. The congress asked the working class to stage counter offensives against the capitalist aggression in order to defend their rights.


Another absurdity of the capitalist system is the arms build-up in 2009 over 1500 billion dollars was spent on arms and yet it is estimated that a tenth of that amount every year for 25 years would be enough to tackle the issue of global warming.


After taking note of the current political and economic situation in various parts of the globe, the policy document noted that during the past four years the UITBB and its affiliates, together with the WFTU, have staged solidarity actions in support of peace and organised demonstrations against American aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, the coup of Honduras, the threats voiced against Iran and North Korea, the blockade of Cuba and the actions directed Venezuela and Bolivia. The UITBB also supported the campaign of solidarity with the Palestinian people and the campaign against the suppression of trade union rights (the ABCC in Australia and the Ark Tribe  affairs, the imprisonment of Turkish trade union leaders) etc. The UITBB report of activities for the period 2006 to 2010 provided detailed information about these activities.


In context with the construction workers in particular, the policy document dealt with the problems of housing and dwindling development funds, problems of working women and child labour, hike in prices of all building materials, migrant labour, health and safety affairs.


The congress also held two special sessions: one on working women and the other on migrant labour.


Apart from delegates from different countries Debanjan Chakrabarti and Comrade N Veeraswamy also spoke in the congress.


The congress adopted 14 resolutions on the following issues: Abolition of the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 in Australia; Ban on all forms of asbestos; Legal protection for the workers engaged in precarious employments; On peace and disarmament; To ensure occupational health and safety measures at the worksites; Against the killing trade union leaders in Colombia; Observance of the 65th anniversary of the WFTU in a befitting manner; Protection of the rights of migrant workers; On the Cyprus problem; In support of the ALBA decision for the welfare of workers and people at large; On the demand of release of 5 Cuban heroes from US jails; On the situation in the Middle East and demanding the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip; For a peaceful and democratic solution of the Basque problem in Spain; and On gender equality.


Apart from the policy document and accounts, the congress adopted special papers on the working women and migrant labour.


The 15th congress of the UITBB unanimously elected a 28-member executive committee with a 7-member secretariat. Debanjan Chakrabarti (India) was among those elected to the secretariat.