From email@example.com Sat Mar 4 05:35:32 2000
In the new millenium: XIV Congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions; Workers arising in struggle; Challenges and hopes for the future
By Valentin Pacho, General Secretary Adjunct, World Federation of Trade Unions, 2 March 2000
Another Century has ended and a new one has begun. Humanity has experienced gigantic advances in science and technology, as in the field of communications and the conquest of space, and the most sophisticated and destructive nuclear armaments. The economy has globalized under the control and power of the now-transnational corporations but the world continues divided into two social classes - the rich - and the poor, who now number 4 thousand million of the 6 thousand million world population. The immense majority of the planet's workers are among these last. The panorama of the new millennium is dark for the workers' sector, but the trade unions in every country, region and continent continue to resist and continue to be the most important instrument for the defense of the working class despite facing so difficult a situation.
The Century which ended a few months back was one of great historic achievements for the workers and for humanity. The world-shaking bolshevik revolution caused consternation in big capital, but it helped to achieve important conquests at the cost of great struggles and sacrifices. But at the end of the Century, with the disappearance of the socialist sector, many of these conquests have been expropriated from us. At the same time, the First and Second World Wars took the lives of millions of human beings,, with fabulous material losses. The repercussions were very painful for humanity but not for the beneficiaries - such as big capital and the arms manufacturers. And then the so-called "cold war", which was in practice the Third World War because it took the lives of more than 22 million, with different scenarios and levels of intensity in the various continents..............
In this stage, war zones were produced to suit imperialist convenience, putsches, bloody dictatorships, and the most criminal acts of terrorism organized for the most part by the Pentagon and the CIA, with consequences also tragic for the peoples and the workers. The demands of humanity for punishment of those responsible for hundreds of thousands of tortured, assassinated and disappeared victims and others who suffered in prison continue to this day.
It needs to be emphasized that during the period of the 'cold war", big capital and the enemies of the working class struck a hard blow at the unity of the international trade union movement when in 1949 they were able to divide the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), which until then comprised all the trade union organizations of the world. It had cost great efforts of the working class to reach the dream of its greatest hope, TRADE UNION UNITY, in 1945. Generating by this split the division of the trade unions in each one of the countries, regions and continents, fabulous sums were invested to achieve this object, utilizing organizations financed by various transnational enterprises and by the North American State Department, agents of the CIA infiltrated into the unions, the majority of national governments succeeded in dividing the trade union movement. The consequences hold the trade union movement back even today. In the end, the winners were big capital, the workers were the losers.
However, the workers have not surrendered, they keep fighting from the grass roots for trade union unity, although the road continues thorny. In spite of the fact that in talks and theory there is full agreement with capital, it collides with reality. But it is clear that, from 1949 forward, avaricious interests have been doing everything possible to erase the WFTU from the map for having held high the banners of struggle and the fundamental principles of the working class. In recent times it has had to confront another very different situation, with the disappearance of the socialist camp, the disaffiliation of the ex-socialist countries was bought about. They thought that here ends the WFTU. Others began to write their epitaphs, radiating joy, as they did when the socialist camp fell. But the WFTU was not formed only by the trade unions of the ex- socialist countries who disaffiliated, but ever since its foundation it grew with the affiliation of the trade unions of the 5 continents to such an extent that this episode affected it, but not so that the WFTU would disappear.
And against all prognostications the WFTU is alive and with new confidence arrives at its XIV World Trade Union Congress, which will take place between the days of March 25 to 28, this time in New Delhi, India, in one of the regions where the working class has a history of struggle honored by the entire world trade union movement. The XIII Congress, which met in Damascus, Syria, was decisive for the WFTU; there the trade unions participating took up the challenge of once more overcoming the difficulties. These five years have not been easy, but we have not been defeated. They were not able to make us disappear. And they will not be able to, although the WFTU must continue overcoming many deficiencies. But it has principles, conviction, and a historic loyal trajectory and, consequently, it can commit errors in the struggle, but it never betrayed the working class. Our militant comrades in all countries and regions, offering their blood and their lives in the struggles, the great majority were victims of jailings, tortures, persecutions, assassinations and disappearances. The WFTU will never be able to forget its martyrs. We have no millionaire financial resources but we have a moral authority. The organizations affiliated to the WFTU are affiliated for principles and conviction.
On arriving at the XIV Congress, the trade unions participating will debate actual priority problems, starting with concrete realities, confronting the neoliberal globalization which is incessantly hammering the trade union movement and the immense majority of the world's people, and of which brilliant diagnoses have been made in all international forums. All of us feel on our backs the blows which this model has been dealing. So what is now necessary is to give an answer to the question, WHAT TO DO!? And, what proposals can bring the active cohesion of the trade union movement? - at the same time - the role which the WFTU must play in the new millennium?. The member organizations are conscious that it is one thing to survive but another to go over to the offensive. And by what means can an international trade union organization be most efficient in defense of the workers?. Is it necessary to further perfect trade union democracy and representation? No worker wants an international to convert itself into a bureaucracy isolated from the masses.
What is important now is not who has the most members, but what are the alternative proposals, whether organizational, strategic, political, or ideological? - but necessarily to be demonstrated by examples to be credible. How can we advance by making TRADE UNION UNITY a reality? So let us be clear that THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT IS STILL FRAGMENTED. We must take examples from how in some countries the workers have succeeded in constituting a UNITED CENTER. The urgent necessity of integrating the struggles of the trade unions and of civil society in a single front. The isolated struggles of the trade unions, however heroic they may be in their respective countries, are not sufficient in a globalized world. The trade unions are? or are not? at the same time a political expression? Must? or must not? lend their force to the ideological struggle against the dominant ideology of neoliberal globalization? And have we advanced on those questions? or have we not? Have we completely overcome the remainders of the "cold war" in the trade unions? . . . These are some among the problems which are confronting the workers and which call for a major interchange of opinions. The XIV Congress is an opportunity.
Experience is teaching us that the trade union movement has to struggle against a material power which in practice is what is governing the world and deciding policies over the heads of the national governments in spite of the fact that no one elected them. For this reason we are obliged to globalize our actions of struggle. But we of the trade unions are not strong enough. We need the power of civil society, and they need the trade unions. So the demands and problems of civil society must be our problems. Within this understanding the debates and conclusions of a world trade union congress must contribute to give guidelines since the struggle of the workers today is international, but together with civil society. There is no other option. It is clear without a doubt that we are facing a unipolar world, and that the intent is to impose on us absolutely conformist thinking. But there exist other thoughts and opinions contrary to the dominant ideology, although in the minority for the moment. In this context all the workers who are struggling at the grass roots over all the world, whether union members or non-members, hope that the trade union internationals will unite their voices in a framework of mutual respect to confront this material power. Because today the defense, the rights and the interests of the workers is of supreme importance, the leadership of the international trade union organizations must assess these problems in their true dimension. The WFTU will continue to fight for UNITY OF ACTION.
The working class wants a united trade unionism, militant, of solidarity, democratic , with class independence, capable of assuming the role of protagonist in the new conditions, since it is one of the most experienced sectors of society, in order to achieve the most urgent demands:
History Has Proved That Empires, However Powerful, If They Impose Abuse And Injustice, Sooner Or Later Will Be Eliminated. The Evidence Is, That Though We Workers And Peoples Struggle Today In Difficult Conditions, We Will Win In The Future Because Humanity Will Never Accept Injustice.