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Alive and Kicking

By Stan Sharkey, Workers Online, issue 52, 5 May 2000

Those representing right wing political forces and strategists for multi-national corporations would be disappointed by the success of the recently concluded Congress of the WFTU in Delhi.

72 nations, represented by more than 400 delegates, participated in robust debate and working class analysis of the current world scene.

Many examples were given of workers in struggle against anti-social and anti-peoples economic policies being imposed by the employing class and their conservative governments in the name of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation.

These policies, as in Australia, have led to privatisation of public services, discontinuing essential services to communities and forced transfer of these services to private monopolies for unrestricted exploitation for private profit.

Democracy, national sovereignty and people's rights are the casualties of globalisation of capital

Congress declared that: "the last 5 years of the 20th century have witnessed systematic efforts by the ruling circles in many countries to liquidate the gains of the trade union movement achieved over the whole century - especially in the matter of job security, income security and social security, the right of association, collective bargaining and people's participation in development."

Further, in what could have refered to the Howard Government's policies, a resolution warned that globalised capital and its compliant national governments immediate aim is to dismantle the "welfare State" system.

This is to be achieved by ending all social guarantees won by trade unions including safeguards for the deprived and dispossessed, unemployed and underemployed, attacking trade union rights, cutting jobs and wages, eliminating collective bargaining agreements and promoting individual contracts, part time and temporary employment.

World public opinion is increasingly expressing concern at the growing anarchy and crisis in world markets while transnational corporations closely linked with global finance and banking capital are further reinforcing their stronghold over key sectors of the world economy.

Of serious concern to world development and UNO declared policy is the transfer of investment from production of goods and services for human development to currency speculation.

While economic growth in the industrialised countries has grown by 60% since 1980 the capital traded in the world's stock exchange has increased by 1,400%.

The daily trade in currency exchange alone is more than 50 times the value of world trade in goods and services. Daily turnover in currency exchange exceeds 1,500 billion (US) dollars and capital of the speculative elements is estimated at over 21,000 billion (US) dollars.

These are speculative funds which are not used for production of goods and service, for peoples needs. They are misused for private fortunes and personal enrichment

Call to restore original principles of the UN

Congress observed that the past 5 years have seen a dangerous tendency by the US to marginalise the United Nations. Membership fees were withheld to politically influence UN policy. Decisions of the General Assembly concerning development strategy, social development, women's rights, protection of the environment, food security, habitat and human rights are being sidelined or undermined.

Instruments of the UN (i.e. World Bank and Monetary Fund) are being used to impose economic policies, which are harmful to social development. The so-called "adjustment measures" demanded by IMF are causing a huge rise in unemployment, a serious decline in living standards and a worsening of social and economic crises in many countries

All unions are called upon to demand that the UN structures are reformed and democratised reflecting the true interests of all its members and all people's of the world, as was intended on its formation.

Call for World trade union unity

The final Congress proposal observed that:

  • The struggle for a democratic alternative economic and social policy is gathering strength all over the world, as the turbulence in currency markets and stock exchanges and the bursting of the bubble economy "reveal the incapacity of neo-liberalism to ensure stable economic growth or social development".
  • The world trade union movement, by building and strengthening its unity in action, must rise up to meet the challenge

Stan Sharkey is a former national secretary of the CFMEU