WFTU Speaks to French Unions

The WFTU participated in the 39th Congress of the FNIC - CGT [Federation Nationale des Industries Chimiques - Confederation Generale du Travail] federation  in France and was represented by its General Secretary, George Mavrikos, who delivered the following speech.

Dear comrades, colleagues and friends,

On behalf of the World Federation of Trade Unions, we salute the workers of the chemical industry sector in France, the members and cadres of FNIC

We convey a comradely, militant greeting to the working class and all the workers in France. The working class of France has played in the past an important role in the trade union movement among the lines of the WFTU and the international class-oriented trade union movement. 

Your congress, the 39th Congress of the FNIC is held in a crucial period for the working class who is struggling all over the globe against the tough, unjust and barbarian anti-people policies. In our times, in this period there are two basic characteristics that define this period:

First, the deep crisis of the capitalist system. All over Europe, all over the capitalist world, the crisis is deep, big and prolonged. For the workers and the peoples, the consequences of the crisis are hard. The unemployment is striking hard. The official unemployment rates are frightening:

Greece: 27.4%
Spain: 26.7%
Croatia: 18.6%
Cyprus: 17.3%
Portugal: 15.5%
Slovakia: 14%
Bulgaria: 12.9%
Italy: 12.7%

This situation is even worse among the youth and women. The unemployment is in the DNA of capitalism and is an ally of the capital and a threat for the struggles and the conquests of the workers. At the same time, we witness generalized privatizations in all strategic sectors of economy. The salaries and pensions are under attack, they are limited, reduced. The social rights are also taken back, informal work, undeclared work is generalized, state and employer violence and authoritarianism are the arsenal of governments.

In Europe, neo-fascism, xenophobia and racism are growing and become a mortal enemy, for the working class, for the trade union movement, for the struggles of the workers and the struggles of the Peoples. This is the current image. This is today's capitalist reality. The European Union, the IMF, the World Bank and the governments, whether they're neoconservative or social democrat, claim that the crisis is –supposedly- just a "debt crisis". We all know that there are indeed debts, for example in Greece, Portugal, Spain Italy, Ireland etc.

But, the attack on labor relations, the salary cuts, the attacks on social security, the privatizations, high prices of all goods are generalized phenomena in all countries, whether they're in debt or not. The crisis of capitalism encompasses the economy, politics, environment etc. The picture is the picture of a rotten, unjust and barbarian social system. The important struggles held in Greece, Portugal, Spain and other countries, are struggles that are directed also altogether against the rotten capitalism.

The second basic characteristic of this period is imperialist aggression. In Ukraine, Syria, Mali, Central African Republic, the rivalries between the imperialists generate a daily death toll. Like in the cases of Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, the imperialists claim that they intervene, kill innocent people, create waves of millions of refugees and immigrants, supposedly for the protection of "democracy" and "freedom". The imperialists are pretending.

We all know the truth and the truth is that they are fighting for the sacking of natural and economic resources, for petroleum, gas, for gaining new spheres of influence, new frontiers and promote their geostrategic plans and geostrategic games against the peoples, against the natural wealth that exists in the countries receiving foreign intervention. In this picture we should add the continuing aggression of Israel against the people of Lebanon, against the Palestinian people, which is illegally denied its right to have its own state.

Facing this situation, a central, strategic question emerges: What kind of trade union movement does the working class need today? What kind of trade union movement do the current conditions call for?

• Does it want a trade union movement that is an applauder of governments or does it need a trade union movement that will unite and organize the struggles against anti-people policies?

• Does it want a trade union movement that is a mere spectator of events or does it need an active trade union movement, in the frontline, that will shape events and developments?

• Does it want a trade union movement that is a collaborator, partner of the capitalists or does it need an instrument, a strong mechanism of struggles and demands.

• Does it want a trade union movement – that is an "interlocutor and partner in social dialogue" or a movement that will project the demands and will utilize all forms of struggle?

• Does it want a trade union movement without ideological and political objectives or does it need a school of struggle with ideological and political supplies that will lead to the abolition of capitalist barbarism?

• Does it want a movement that will just describe the problems or does it need a movement that will demand solutions to the problems, in favor of the popular strata?

• Does it want a movement collaborator of the EU, the IMF, the World Bank or a trade union movement that will coordinate, will organize internationalist solidarity, will support the World Working Class in every corner of the planet?

For the World Federation of Trade Unions, founded in Paris in 1945 and today having 86 million members in over 120 countries of the world, the answer to the above questions is clear and known to everybody. In addition, we consider necessary to stress that in our day, we the workers need to hit the bureaucracy that exists inside the trade unions, hit careerism, hit corruption.

Striking against all these negative phenomena, it's necessary that the class, militant, internationalist characteristics of the trade unions on sectoral, national, regional and international level be reinforced. We call all militant unionists in France, Europe and the world to work on these basic points mentioned above, for a better present, for a better future for a world with social justice and without exploitation.

Thank you.

April 2, 2014
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