The Thirteenth International Transport Workers Congress took place in Santiago, Chile on September 5-7, 2014. During the two days of work the Congress developed a strategy for the strengthening of the class-oriented transport workers movement and an action plan for the struggle for transport workers rights. A new leadership was elected consisting of the new General Secretary, Ricardo Maldonado from CONUTT-FUTAC Chile, the new President Ali Riza Kucikosmanoglu from Nakliyat-Is Turkey.
1. Capitalist Offensive Deepens Inequalities and Injustice
The international situation is characterized by the deepening of the crisis of capitalism, which is centered in the USA and with special importance in Europe, affects all countries at the global level.
The nature and worsening of the contradictions of capitalism have launched the world into a deep crisis which, while confirming its inability to free itself from the crises that afflict it cyclically, reveals a much broader crisis, of a structural and systemic nature, and reveals that the overproduction and over-accumulation of wealth, are not the solution to problems of humanity, but destroy the productive forces, intensify the exploitation of workers and peoples and attack the sovereignty of each country, imposing measures that constitute a huge civilizational regression.
A regression, which is in itself the generator of more and bigger crises.
· The centralization and concentration of capital and wealth;
· The financialization of the economy;
· The systematic attack on the social functions of the State achieved through struggle the struggle of the workers and peoples;
· The commercialization of all spheres of social life, in a logic of privatizing all that can bring higher returns to capital;
· The attacks on international law and sovereignty of the States;
· The centralization of political power and its submission to economic power and to the strategies of militarization of international relations, are features of capitalist policies that dominate most countries all over the world.
The exploitation of working men and women worsens and intensifies all over the world, being clearly marked by a denial of rights and the abuse of its workforce in return of increasingly lower wages. The central axes of this offensive are:
· Cuts in real wages;
· Intensification of work periods;
· Deregulation and increase in working hours; deregulation of labour relations;
· Widespread casual labour, particularly among the women and young workers;
· Overexploitation of migrant workers. Appropriation of labour productivity gains by capital;
· Increase in the retirement age;
· Cuts in pensions and retirement benefits;
· Increase in unemployment rates;
· Regression of social and labour rights;
· The denial of the right to bargain collectively and to strike
An offensive that is also expressed in the attack on class-oriented trade unionism and collective bargaining, that seeks to divide and rule, that increases the cleavage between public and private workers that deepens discrimination and division of occupations and fosters individual labour relations, to break the solidarity among the working class and weaken the unions.
An offensive that can only be stopped practicing a class-oriented and mass trade unionism, of unity in action around what is common: the defence of the rights, interests and aspirations of workers, for their emancipation and a society free from exploitation of man by man.
The processes of change that are being developed by some people and governments in Latin America bring us hope and the example that there are alternatives to the capitalist model. Despite the differences witnessed in each country, inherent to their own situation and existing contradictions and hurdles, there are common features that allow us to speak of a different path, leftwing and progressive, with Cuba as reference with its 50 years of revolutionary process and resistance against the US imperialist offensive on that continent.
2 – Destruction of a Sector Vital for the Development of Societies
On average, the companies of the sectors within the scope of action of TUI-Transport employ 5 to 8% of a country’s labour force and are responsible for 4 to 7% of the GDP. Facilitating communication and transport of people and goods, the sector also contributes to reduce poverty. This is assumed by the World Bank (2006), stressing the fact that, for example, in Nepal, around 42% of the people live below the poverty line and are found in areas where transport is non-existent or, when there is, has inadequate infrastructure. This figure rises to 70% when we consider India, where around 900 million people live in complete isolation and are thus deprived of basic needs, like health, education or even food, because they have no access to markets.
Despite agreeing with this warning, we cannot ignore the strong attack that the World Bank has been launching against the transport sector, in all manners, forcing the public transport companies to dismemberments and privatizations throwing millions of working men and women into unemployment, as is the case, for example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America or even Europe.
All over the world, particularly in the European Union, the neoliberal logic unfurls the banner of privatization of transport and communication companies as yet another of its inevitabilities: motorways, railways, ports and airports, post and telecommunications are increasingly more concentrated in the hands of large economic and financial groups, whose sole aim is unfettered increase in profit. And they do so, sacrificing national interests, at the expense of the exploitation of working men and women and sacrifice of populations.
Let us examine the negative consequences:
- Favoring big companies, which absorb or buy others, in many cases traditional companies or parts of them, creating big transnational groups with a strong capacity of pressure to make their interests prevail. Thousands of jobs are lost and worsens the deterioration of the working conditions which, based solely on the criterion of cost cuts, increases casual labour and denies or undermines the right to a decent work;
- Intensification of the exploitation of the workers through the continued deregulation of the organization of working time, which imposes increased working hours and patterns of work while reducing rest time, worsening a reconciliation of the professional life of the workers and their private sphere of life, while facing real wage cuts.
- Attempts to recruit workers from countries with weaker economies, more permeable to accepting low wages and labour without rights, facilitating the widespread imposition of a model of employment of semi-enslavement of workers and maximization of profit.
- Increase in workplace injuries and work-related diseases, either due to lack of safety in the infrastructure, inadequate signaling and weak maintenance, or long working hours or lack of training of the workers;
- Fosters discrimination and deteriorating social relations, trying to break the unity and bonds of solidarity between workers and weaken the resistance and struggle of those who work
- The deregulation of the sector has led to an increase in fares and a deterioration of the services offered to the citizens, which reflects on quality, reliability and safety;
3 – Create Alternatives with Struggle
The trade union movement has the duty to give a firm response in defence of the interests of the working class, with a strong and determined combat against capitalism, which is responsible for the crisis and the serious problems faced by the workers. The strengthening of the class-oriented trade union movement has to be an important instrument at the service of the workers, to meet their demands and for their emancipation.
The defence of the interest of the workers is achieved by strengthening the organization and through struggle, which, in the present confrontation with capital, has to be stronger, broader with the class-oriented trade union movement as the main driving force of the workers’ unity in action.
TUI-Transport, bearer of a class-oriented and mass trade union project, of action and struggle, in the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) has to lead the mobilization of the workers of the sector, by broadening unity in action in all continents, with the dynamics of struggle in each country, while trying to combine actions and demands, at the regional, continental and global level.
A fundamental vector of the intervention of TUI-Transport is the struggle for a public, safe and quality sector, complementing in its various components. That fight against privatization proceeds with the demand for public policies, which target the recovery role of the state and recovery sectors that are strategic to the economy of defending the country, such as Ports, Airports Fishing, Telecommunications, Urban Public Transportation etc.
As a strategic sector for human development, the transport and communication companies have a vital role in the development of the countries and peoples, since they:
•Promote economic development;
◦Are an essential public asset for society, with an important impact in bringing territories closer and fundamental to favor mobility and communication of citizens; ▪Create jobs;
▪Ensure a sustainable development of our societies;
▪And contribute to reduce poverty.
4 – Propose, Demand, And Struggle
In this context of a strong attack on the public component of the sector, wages, rights and working conditions, it is necessary to have a strong trade union mobilization around the following demands:
· Sustainable development of the transport, communications and fishing sector, with the logic of service to countries and citizens, with a strong public component;
· Efficient and fair distribution of public funds;
·Recognition and valorization of workers, by improving wages and their working conditions;
·Stimulation of collective bargaining as a means of social progress, so as to negotiate fair labour pay, with rules that respect the worker as a citizen with rights, which fights casual labour specially affecting the younger workers;
·Gender equality, based on the principle of equal pay for equal work or of work of equal value;
· A model where there is training and valorization of working men and women, with safety and health rules in the workplace, to ensure a quality and safe service.
5. Strengthen TUI and the Intervention of the Class Oriented Trade union movement
TUI-Transport is a sector structure of the World Federation of Trade Unions and exercises its action in the land, rail, metro, ports, maritime, air transport and communications in all continents, in articulation with the overall activity of WFTU and the Continental and Global level.
Since the last Congress, despite TUI-Transport’s discontinuous activity, we were able to prove the strong possibilities of involving other organizations in its action, even those affiliated with reformist organizations, but supported common actions in Europe.
To broaden unity in action has to remain a main concern of TUI-Transport in the near future, while taking into account the specificities of each continent. The increase of the influence of the class-oriented trade union movement in this sector depends on its capacity to put forward demands and action proposals that can unite the workers and their organizations. Unity builds on debate and proposal of themes with which the workers identify and TUI- Transport should try to attract to its action all organizations that agree with its proposals.
To carry out its activity, TUI-Transport has to structure itself at the central level, but above all in every continent and region. TUI-Transport has to assume, increasingly, as an important tool at the service of the workers’ action and struggle for their emancipation and for the end of exploitation. TUI-Transport has to essentially assume as a structure of action and struggle, fighting the trend to reduce its activity to meetings and gatherings, which, although important, cannot reduce its action, but be a step to enhance the mobilization of the workers. It will only be able to fulfill its role around the world, insofar as it is able to broaden its organized action.
Thus, these lines of intervention: Structure TUI in every Continent/Region, through the General Council and Secretariat, creating Regional Secretariats and / or Federations, which should spread to structures that identify with the proposals of the Class-oriented Trade Union Movement; Find support for the regular functioning of TUI-Transport; Increase TUI membership, according to the realities of each Continent.
6 – Measures for Immediate Action
In particular and regarding the main lines of work, intervention and struggle in the immediate future, TUI-Transport is committed to take steps to: Continue in the next mandate, the discussion on every continent, so as to adapt the demands and action to the realities and specificities of each;
To achieve this objective, priority must be given to establish TUI organisms in every continent/region, following WFTU’s regional structure, and articulate with it all its action;
Promote regional meetings of TUI-Transport in these regions and define the demands of the class-oriented trade union organizations and their defence and action, to defend the class interests of the workers, so, next year, you should make an effort to carry out regional conferences, to achieve this;
Ensure articulation with WFTU’s actions, namely days of Worldwide Action, with mobilization around concrete problems and aspirations of the workers of the sector, according to the specificities of each continent/region;
Mobilize, in the context of broadening unity in action, the workers of the sector around the world, for converging actions, on a day to be defined every year, and based on demands adopted in Congress, namely:
Valorisation of wages;
Combat against precarity and outsourcing in the world of work and combat against deregulation of working hours;
Health and safety in the workplaces;
Defence of the public component of transport and communication companies.
Santiago de Chile