Approximately 20 years ago, in order to be able to buttress the exploitative capitalist system; international capital and their respective governments, via making use of the demagogy of ‘globalisation’, have unleashed a worldwide assault. The assault embodies wide-ranging socio-economic attacks: from privatisation to flexible work, from extending the working hours and working life to subcontracting, and more recently repelling democratic rights and liberties. An unpleasant fact vis-à-vis the contemporary labour movement is that it is yet to organise or stage a muscular struggle to defeat these attacks. Although it goes without saying that there are certain differences among countries, sectors and trade unions. Weaknesses, instability, being fragmented, loss of power, being unorganised and distrust; is what characterises the general situation of the international workers’ and trade union movement.
The attacks of international capital and their respective governments haven’t only ruined the living conditions of labourers; they’ve also damaged the level of faith or trust the labourers have in one another and towards their trade union organisations. These two aspects or end-results of the aggressive attacks of capital have led to the impasse of the ties labourers have amongst themselves and with their trade unions. The recent periods have yet again proven that it is impossible to get out of this impasse with the dominant collaborationist and compromising trade union mentality. Although today the necessities that have given birth to trade unionism have ascended (i.e. the necessity to end the competition between labourers and in order to create the organised unity of workers against the capitalist class and today these necessities that call unions into being are getting stronger) a significant section of trade unions are continuing to lose blood. This is chiefly because of unions divorcing themselves from the practice or belief of fighting trade unionism.
On the other hand, whenever the labourers have voiced their mistrust vis-à-vis the ‘trade unions’, the collaborative trade union bureaucracy have used this as an excuse to escape from struggle. However, what lies behind the above-mentioned stalemate is not ‘the unwillingness of the workers’. Yet and again it is a proven fact that the labourers partake in the struggle whenever trade unions act in accordance with militant and trustable mentality, line and responsibility. And such unions organising the struggle in such a manner become stronger. Independent of their outcomes, the struggles and resistance organised by workers against the aggression and impositions of capital, indicate that it is not the workers and labourers who escape from struggle.
We, the fighting trade unions, unionists and union member whose names are listed below, who are face to face with the versatile attacks of capital, major damages and permanent problems of the trade union movement, do not think that what is going on in the labour world is impossible to change; the dilemma which the international union movement has been put through isn’t impossible to solve and the aggressiveness of the capital is impossible to fight off. On the contrary, both our own practice and the rich and guiding history and tradition of the international workers and trade union movement, shows us that there is an exit strategy from the dilemma and inaction, which has sharpened as a result of the line and practice collaborative trade union, experienced by the workers movement. The resistance and struggle put forward by the workers all over the world shows us that these problems can be overcome.
Leaving aside the past, the last 20 years alone indicate that by submitting to the aggression, blackmails and threats of the capital, making concessions one after another, it is neither been possible to satisfy the capitalist class nor is it possible to prevent the worsening of the living conditions of the labourers. Moreover, once again deriving from the experience of the 20 years, it is evident that all the bourgeois governments, from conservatives to social democrats, who have come into power, do not hesitate to implement the programme of capitalist aggression.
For the workers and their trade unions, the situation has become ever more clear: in order to be able to change the conditions for the benefit of the labouring peoples, fight off the economical-social attacks of the capital and its governments, protect the democratic rights and freedoms and to stop the wars waged and provoked by the imperialist states, especially the USA; we have no other choice but to further strengthen the struggles in our countries and in our trade union organisation.
Naturally, this international conference which we are trying to convene is neither an alternative to the trade union structures, platforms and conferences in the individual work branches and countries nor, on the other hand, does the existence of these structures render this particular conference superfluous. Our call is based on very concrete needs:
If international capital has the possibilities of deriving maximum benefit from the economical, social, political, legal and cultural differences between the countries and if it fearlessly utilises these possibilities in order to incite the competition between the workers and even between the trade unions;
If international capital is able to make use of international organisations such as the European Union, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the World Trade Organisation and the G8 as tools for manipulating the peoples against one another, for subjugating and for legitimising the joint and coordinated steps orientated towards restraining economical and political rights and freedoms as well as bringing them into life;
If the labourers in each and every country are not able to obstruct international capital from utilising these possibilities, partially due to helplessness and lack of being organised and partially due to lack of any connection. And if the collaborator and pro-capital trade union centres embracing ‘international competition’ as a law of nature necessary to subjugate to, have reduced international solidarity to symbolic statements and visits and have transformed and rendered meaningless the unity and solidarity of the workers of all lands; then undoubtedly it is an urgent or burning need for the fighting and sincere trade unionists and advanced workers organising a struggle in their own countries, which mostly are not even aware of each other’s existence, to come together in order to get to know one another; and to discuss the problems of the struggle they are waging against the existing attacks of capital and their respective governments. So that they, as a result of being able to transfer mutual experience and think about possible forms of collective action; collectivise these struggles around a specific line of struggle and understanding.
There is no doubt that the international trade union conference is a concrete necessity and one that cannot be postponed; uniting the struggles we are all waging in our individual countries against the international monopolies with international experience and relations and that lays the foundation of a joint understanding and line of struggle against concrete attacks upon this basis; to discuss how to stop the loss of power of the trade unions as one of the fundamental issues of today’s trade union movement and the multi-dimensional problems of building trade unions as organisations of struggle once again inspiring confidence to the workers.
For this reason we are stating that we should ‘meet together!’ again as the fighting trade unions and unionists representing hundreds of thousands of workers and labourers, in order to take up the topics below:
As trade unions, how and upon which foundation can we build our struggles against the multi-dimensional attacks of the capital and the governments on a common line and understanding and also in connection;
How and with what kind of a trade union policy and line can we overcome the impasse the trade unions are currently suffering as well as the loss of power that a majority of the trade unions are facing
What can we do in order to develop international trade union relations and render the sharing of the accumulation of experience more efficient?
In comparison to the years we have passed, today, both the vigorous and dynamic elements of the international trade union movement are more widespread and stronger and, at the same time, the determination for struggle and anger of the workers and labourers have become sharpened. It is exactly due to this reason that we are saying today is, ‘the exact time for us to meet together again’!
Ecuador: Nelson Erazo H.: President, General Workers Association Confederation (UGTE), Mery Zamora: President, National Union of Teachers (UNE), José Face: President, Local Authority Workers Union, Remigio Sornoza: Region President, Petrol Workers Union Petrol (FETRAPET), Marlos Ortiz: National Communication Union, Pacifictel, Wilson Albarracín: Co-ordinator,15 October Revolutionary Union
France: CGTE Dalkia France, Bruno Sinagoga (General Secretary of CGT-E), Ali Bendriss (Deputy General Secretary of CGT-E), Union Syndical Solidaires (SUD)
Germany: Bernt Kamin-Seggewies ( Ver.di), Rolf Becker (Ver.di), Detlef Baad (Ver.di), Dirk Wilke ( Communications Union), Olaf Harms (Ver.di)
Great Britain: Bob Crow, General Secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT), Andy Snoddy, Unite (Personal Capacity)
Greece: PAME (Fighting Trade Union Confederation) have undersigned the above call to convene an International Trade Union Conference. PAME represent 415.345 workers. The unions and branches that are affiliated to PAME and in support of the International conference are as follows: Theatre and Cinema Workers Federation, Textile Workers Federation, Private Hospitals Workers Federation, Building Workers Union Federation, Communication and Print Workers Federation, Pharmaceutical Workers Federation, Accountants Federation, Social Welfare Pensioners Federation, Food Sector Workers Federation
India: Ashim Roy, General Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative, Gautam Mody, Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative
Iraq: Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions
Italy: RdB-CUB (Representatives of Base – Unitary Confederation of Base), SLAI Cobas (Trade Unions of the Self-organized Workers All Categories – Base Committees), Sindacato dei Lavoratori Intercategoriale (Trade Union of the Workers All-Professions), Sindacato Lavoratori in Lotta – per il sindacato di classe (Trade Union of Workers in Struggle – for a class based trade), Fulvio di Giorgio – delegato RSU/RLS, Luigi Dromedari – delegato
Pakistan: Sajjad Hussain, General Secretary, ABL Workers Union, Jaffar Khan, General Secretary, EM OIL Workers’ Union, Khan Zaman Khan, President, Mutahida Labour Federation, Balochistan, Abdul Salaam, General Secretary, Pakistan Workers’ Federation, Balochistan, Manzoor Ahmed, General Secretary, Mark Marcker Workers’ Union, Fazal e Wahid, General Secretary, Railway Workers Union Workshop Establishment, Ghulam Abbas Daha, Vice President, Open Line Railway Workers’ Union, Mukhtar Hussain Awan, General Secretary, Reckit and Bankiser Workers’ Union of Pakistan, Liaquat Bacha, Mutahida Labour Federation, North West Frontier Province
Russia: Anatolii Pizhov, Secretary of International Relations of the Executive Committee of the Interregional Association of Workers Unions, Zaschita Truda (Defence of Labour), Leningrad
Spain: Juan Olaso Bilbao (CCOO Madrid Branch Management Committee Member), Valentin Ruiz de Pablo (CCOO Executive Committee Member of Communication and Transport Union, Madrid), Dolores Val (CCOO Health Workers Union) Madrid, Richard Juan Escrich (CCOO Executive Committee Member) Barcelona, Juan Lacamba (Member of the Secreteriat of CGT Valencia), Angeles Cabanillas (CGT Representative) Valencia bölgesi, Juan Rodriguez Gomez (Petroalmig SL Industry Shop Steward) Valencia
Tunisia: Jilani Hammami (ex-General Secretary of the PTT Federation)
Turkey: Head Office of United Metal Workers Union
(DISK/ Birlesik Metal-Is), Central Management Committee Members of
Public Sector Union (KESK): Dilek Adsan, (General Secretary),
Abdurrahman Dasdemir (General Secretary), Sevgi Gögçe, Hasan Hayir and
Fevzi Ayber, Atilay Ayçin, President of the Aviations Union (Hava-Is),
Emirali Simsek, (General Secretary), Ismail Sagdiç (Central
Management Committee Member) Istanbul 2nd, 3rd and 4th, Gebze, Ankara
5th, Izmir 6th, Sivas and Amasya Branch of the Education and Science
Labourers Union (EGIT-SEN), Head Office of Food and Related Industry
Workers Union (DISK/GIDA/IS), Head Office of Glass and Ceramic Related
Industry Workers Union (DISK/CAM KERAMIK-IS), Ismail Özhamarat, Member
of the Central Management of DISK and Bedri Tekin Yapi-Yol Sen Member
of the Central Management of Construction Union (Genel-Is), Sükran
Dogan, Member of the Central Management, Orhan Karakaya, Chair of
Kayseri Branch, of Health and Social Services Labourers Union (SES)
Istanbul, Sisli /Anatolian and Aksaray Branch of Health and Social
Services Workers Union (SES), Communication Workers Union of Turkey,
Istanbul, 1st Branch, Veli Solak, President of the Kayseri Branch of
Communications Union, Maritime Workers Union, Istanbul Branch (
Liman-Is/Türk-Is), Leather Related Industry Workers, Istanbul Tuzla
Branch (Deri-Is/Türk-Is), Petrol, Chemical and Tyres Workers Union,
Istanbul Branch (Petrol-Is/Türk-Is), Atilla Irey,Member of the Central
Management of Agricultural and Animal Services Branch of the
Public Sector Union (PETKIM), Nuri Han, President of the Bursa Branch
of Petrol Workers Union and Recep Gökdeniz, President of the Bandirma
Branch of Petrol Workers Union, Hidir Yavuz Basin, Member of the
Central Management of Press and Communication Union, Media,
Broadcasting and Graphic Workers Union of Turkey, Istanbul Branch
(Türk-Is), Asim Üner, Chair of Ankara Arts and Culture Workers Union
Click here to return to the
April 2008 index.