People's Democracy

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


No. 15

April  10, 2011

World Trade Union Congress Begins in Athens



THE 16th World Trade Union Congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) started at the Faliro Pavilion or the Taek Wan Doo auditorium with great enthusiasm in Athens, Greece on April 6, 2011.


The 828 delegates and observers representing the trade union organisations of workers and employees from 104 countries in four continents across the globe gathered near the stadium for the inaugural session. Azouz M Shaban, president and George Mavrikos, general secretary of WFTU led the delegates around the pavilion to a thunderous applause, waving of flags and slogans by more than 5000 people – most of them young women and men - who assembled there to participate in the inaugural ceremony. A 35 member presidium comprising the presidential and financial councils of WFTU, and representatives of South Africa, Arab countries, ACFTU and CITU presided over the public meeting. CITU was represented by its national secretary, Hemalata.


The general secretary of PAME, the militant Greek trade union which led a series of struggles against the attacks on the workers on the pretext of the global economic crisis hosted the congress. Welcoming the delegates, he said that the struggles of the millions of workers around the world led by the class oriented trade unions and their experiences would give them the strength to further advance their struggles to protect the interests of the workers in Greece. He expressed confidence that the working class would be successful in countering the single minded attack of the ruling classes to suppress their rights and bringing about a change in the society.


Addressing the gathering, the president of WFTU emphasised the need for unity of the people against imperialist aggression and domination. Mavrikos, general secretary of WFTU observed that WFTU and its activities have expanded since the last congress five years back. He outlined the efforts made during this period to advance the class oriented trade union movement and to develop solidarity among the working class in different countries. He emphasised that the need of the hour is to unite the entire working class and strengthen the fight against the exploitative capitalist system.


The first vice president of Greek parliament, the speaker of Greece and the mayors of Athens and Pierus also addressed the gathering. All of them referred to the serious impact of the global economic crisis on the people of Greece and expressed their hope that the 16th congress of the WFTU would address the issue and provide the necessary direction to the trade union movement in the world to change the present exploitative system.


The cultural team of the reception committee presented inspiring songs and music which enthralled all those present.


The delegates’ session on April 7-10 will discuss the ‘Athens Pact’ that will be presented by the general secretary, the amendments to the WFTU constitution and other matters and elect the new presidential council and secretariat.


The 16th congress of the WFTU is expected to be an important milestone in the advancement of the world trade union movement and in strengthening world wide struggles against the attacks on the working class and the toiling people and in establishing a world free from exploitation.