Sao Paolo, Brazil Â August 22, 2013
Speech by the General Secretart of WFTU, George Mavrikos , at the Third CongressÂ of CTBÂ Brazil
Dear comrades of CTB,
Dear working people of Brazil,
Comrades and friends from all over the American continent,
We salute the Congress of CTB, a militant trade union organization which steadily defends the interests of the working people in your country and the region.
CTB supported and continues to support the World Federation of Trade Unions in the new dynamic course that the WFTU has been driving over the last years with remarkable steady steps for the interest of the international working class.
New members from all the continents have been organized in the WFTU over the last seven years. International Action Days have been organized by the WFTU for all the crucial issues that concern the working people. CTB has successfully participated and organized activities in Brazil during those days and we want to congratulate you for one more time. The WFTU has been organizing international conferences, meetings, forums in order to facilitate the exchange of experience and the formation of common positions and action in international level.
The WFTU has intensified its efforts for the organizing of trade union training programs, particularly useful in the contemporary conditions of the class struggle. The WFTU is stabilizing is presence and intervention to the International Organizations such as the UN in New York, the FAO in Rome, the UNESCO in Paris, the ILO in Geneva. The WFTU publishes useful and rich materials in international level and it generally has a modern, dynamic, trustworthy image which more and more organizations are trusting as the line of class struggle gains ground and becomes stronger.
We have made important steps, the WFTU is alive, it is active, it has presence, it has a voice, it has class-oriented direction. We all agree. We all recognize this upward course. This is the truth. Some are very worried by this course. But off course, all our friends, all our members are very happy, they feel proud for this course which is a result of the common effort of all our members and friends, of all our cadres in all continents and sectors.
On behalf of the entire leadership of the WFTU I would like in this important Congress of CTB for us to thank all our cadres in their countries and in their sectors who fight steadily, honestly, without being afraid of the difficulties and the autocracy of the capitalists and their governments. We are committed to continue this course.
However, we cannot be satisfied when in international level the international working class is being pressed up against the wall by an endless attack against the labour rights, the working hours, the collective bargaining, the social security, the retirement ages and rights, the free public Education and Health systems, the cheap and safe housing etc.
Can we be satisfied when our colleagues lose their lives every day in the work places from fatal occupation accidents or when parts of the working class and the popular strata are suffering from the imperialist aggressiveness and the competition for the wealth-producing resources in Africa, in Asia and in Latin America?
Can we be satisfied when despite the enormous productive possibilities and the existing needs of the population, millions of youth people and other workers are out of the production, of the creativity and the contribution to the society, by being unemployed?
Can we be happy when the multinationals around the world are having a blast with the oil, the diamonds, the gold, the uranium, the agricultural production, the water, the air, the natural and mineral wealth instead of solution being provided to the critical social problems?
In such times, it is the duty of each upstanding, conscious and determined class-oriented trade unionist to seriously think: why the workers’ problems grow but the response of the workers movement is not growing, according to the expectations?
Today, we need to realize why there are increasing millions of unemployed, homeless, people living in poverty, great masses of the young generation facing a precarious future, yet however a significant part of these popular strata doesn’t actively participate in the trade union movement. Do they not trust the collective action?
We are in conditions of deep and prolonged capitalist crisis but the workers’ struggles, the participation in the struggles and the results of the struggles are not growing according to the needs.
Only the class-oriented movement can put, discuss and project such thoughts and such perspective with those characteristics,. Though this debates we can bring the trade union movement in international, regional, national or sectoral level closer to the formation of a proposal that will be contemporary and vital for the revival of the trade union organizations; for the enhancement of their great role as schools, as tools that will provide solutions to the workers’ problems and will bring the success of our struggle for the abolition of the capitalist exploitation.
The 16th World Trade Union Congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions which was held on April 2011, in Athens, Greece discussed upon all those burning issues and concluded, after a widely collective and substantial discussion, in some meaningful guiding principles for what kind of movement we want and what kind of movement we need. What must we change, what must we leave behind and how we must move forward with boldness and faith to our principles and the experience of the movement in all continents.
Because we all agree that the reconstruction of the international class-oriented movement into a movement strong, class-oriented, massive, equipped with the past experience in order to avoid traps and mistakes and a movement determined to lead the popular movement into the clash with monopolies and capitalist, with powerful elements of internationalist solidarity and with the given perception that the national struggle is interacting with the international struggle, is more than necessary.
It is our opinion that the methodical and decisive organizing of new members into the trade unions is a basic provision for the reconstruction of the trade union movement. The working class must be organized into the class-oriented trade unions. The trade unions must be the voice of the working class, its genuine representative and they must have increased presence in all the basic crucial sectors of the economy, the large industries, the place were large parts of youth, women, migrant workers work in. Special attention must be given for the organizing first and foremost of the most deeply exploited and hard working part of the working class.
Our trade unions must daily strengthen their open and democratic function, they must provide space to their members to express their opinion and contribute actively in praxis, they must enhance the criticism, self-criticism and the comradely emulation. Their administrations and leading positions should include young people, women and migrant workers. Life-long leaders should not exist. We don’t want trade unions that are closed, unions of a small elite which shares the positions, the travelling and the benefits. We must strike careerism, bureaucracy and corruption. We must strike individualism and project the values of collectivity, common class-interest, humanitarianism and brotherhood.
A crucial provision for the reconstruction of the class-oriented trade union movement in all levels is the role of the base. We must help the base become the real protagonist, the base should make the decisions. If the base is in the position to control and evaluate then, we believe, the course for the revival and the reconstruction of the trade unions will be shorter and more successful. The formation of class consciousness is the next essential provision.
The class oriented trade unions must unite the workers per sector and per region so that they can form class conscious bonds amongst the workers; That we are all part of the working class, class brothers actually, irrespectively of our position in the productive line.
It must be realized in depth that besides the high prices, the corruption, the waste of public money, the kickbacks and the tax-free policy for the businessmen, the exploitation of the working force is something much deeper and much bigger. It is our future versus the profit of the capitalists. The worker must think as part of his class and be determined and equipped in each turn of the struggle.
The cultivation of class consciousness helps us unite all the workers in a entity that is based in the common interests of our class. We are able this way to unite all the workers for the immediate, direct demands as well and at the same time to unite them for the ultimate victory over the system of the capitalist barbarity.
The class consciousness will put aside the extremist racial theories that aim to divide the working people into local and foreign, it is the one which will protect all of us from reformist delusions; it is the one that will give us confidence in the hardest times of the long and difficult struggle that we are conducting.
At the same time, a basic provision for the reconstruction of the working class movement is the selection of stable and real allies. Allies of the working class are all of those who are harmed by the monopolies and their activity and are not exploiting labour force.
The construction of a powerful and effective popular movement cannot become a reality without the alliance with the poor farmers, the self-employed, the youth and the women of the popular strata. The accumulation of forces around the working class, its goals and objectives is a basic precondition for the way forward.
Finally, there is a day to day need for the enhancement of the internationalist character of the working class. Each struggle conducted in national level reflects upon and lightens the way for dozens of countries, it strengthens the international movement.
Each national trade union as part of the international class-oriented trade union movement has a duty towards the international working class to struggle with all its forces for the intensification of the struggle in their country.
Additionally, each trade union which feels the difficulties, the attacks, the threats and the obstacles of each struggle must ee the need to become a supporter of the struggles conducted in other countries even in other continents. This way it empowers its colleagues to continue fighting and it spreads fear and worries to the governments and the employer.
In an era where there is great interconnection and interrelation between the countries and their economies as well as intensified activity of the multinationals in all sectors, the development of common struggles plays a crucial role. The effort that the WFTU has been working on, to strengthen the TUI’s is a very important effort with significant role for the present and future. Dear comrades and friends,
The effort for the reconstruction, the revival, the strengthening of the class-oriented trade union movement is a continuous, uninterrupted process so that in each era we can successfully express the real interests of the working people, to defend and effectively demand their contemporary needs in the lives of all wage-earners.
By intensifying the characteristics that we briefly presented, we believe that we can make our trade unions more alive, more attractive, more effective for the contemporary expectations of the working people in all corners of the planet.
By enhancing these elements and further more of them according to the level of each country and sector we can be optimistic that we are doing our duty towards our time and that we are simultaneously building the foundations for the next generations to step on.
All these provisions become meaningful and powerful when they have a steady compass. When we know where we want to go. And we want to bring the New that is born today in each small or bigger strike, in each small or bigger demonstration; we want a society where prosperity, creativity, productivity and solidarity will take the place of the rottenness of profit, of the imperialist wars and of the exploitation of human by human. We want a society where the working people will have the power and authority and where exploitation will be left behind.
With these thoughts, I wish every success to your Congress and once more we commit in front of you that as WFTU we will continue our common course and our common comradely struggles.