The Political Role of International Trades Unions

Celebrating May Day: Trade unions as schools of democracy
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Nowadays, this not only does not happen, but exploitation is intensified while such great wealth is being concentrated in the pockets of few. A child dies each 3,6 seconds. In the countries of European Union the unemployed exceed 30 million. This is the true image in most capitalist countries, independent of whether neo-liberal, conservative, or social democratic powers are governing.

In the beginning of the 21st century, we see that neo-colonialism is emerging again strengthened, with new characteristics and elements. In Africa, many countries experience intense pressure from the USA.

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The same is true for Latin America. In the former socialist countries of Europe, the working class works in feudal conditions. Racism, neo-fascism, xenophobia are gradually reappearing! The revolt of immigrants in France and in the USA proves that. Even the official data confesses that contemporary imperialist wars have forced 8,5 million refugees and another 21 million people to change living place within their countries. Using the pretext of the struggle against terrorism, democratic and trade union rights are restricted.

The human liberties are also restricted. Peoples, states and governments are threatened. Almighty groups of capitalist control Mass Media and have imposed their antidemocratic terms. They libel, devise news and facts, spread lies and concentrate large profit. It recognizes the changes in the world balance of forces of power. It recognizes the changes in the make-up of the working class, their new needs and demands. But while all these changes take place, the main law of capitalism remains unchanged: The working class produces the wealth but, through the process of production, the wealth is appropriated by capital.

So against this overall picture the following issues arise for the international trade union movement: What type of trade union do the workers need today? What strategies and tactics have to be employed? What should be jettisoned and what maintained?

Building Workers’ Power

Between meetings, each group has access to materials on the Internet, including the results of discussions and work completed by other countries in previous sessions. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 19, 20 and 23 4 respectively: the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the freedom of peaceful assembly and association; and the right to form and join trade unions ; United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 22 on the freedom of association with others and Article 21 on the right to peaceful assembly ; United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Article 8, on the right to form trade unions and to strike. It recognizes the changes in the make-up of the working class, their new needs and demands. Each nation, each country, each trade union movement has its own history, its own characteristics. They are loose federations of national bodies accustomed to thinking and acting in national terms in a global context where the national framework is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

How new are the economic theories of today against those defined years ago at the commencement of the international trade union struggle? Should a trade union be judged by its words or by its actions and inactions? In the course of these principles were developed in substantial dialogue on contemporary issues between affiliates, friendly organizations and individuals from the world trade union movement in a series of meetings organized by the WFTU leadership. Emerging from these discussions and the Havana Consensus paper is a list of ten priorities the WFTU has nominated for itself in these challenging times.

They are not listed in any form of priority and the WFTU recognizes that each one of these issues could be a program in its own right. The 10 current priorities of WFTU 1. In order, for the Labour and Trade Union Movement to be capable of expressing the contemporary demands of the Working Class it has to be guided by the principles of class struggle and militant orientation.

International Trade Union Confederation

Nowhere in the world, no employer and no capitalist government has ever resolved working class problems by its own initiative. Our movement does not accept the theories of rejecting class oriented struggles.

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We live in a society divided into classes, therefore trade unions represent Working Class with its contemporary characteristics, aiming at a wide coalition with broad popular strata. Trade Union movement must be organisationally independent from political parties. To fight back against the policies of governments that are harmful to popular strata.

To be financially independent so as not to depend on secret sources.

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Today, there is a serious drawback in the issues of Democratic and Trade Union Liberties due to employer terrorism and state violence. The latest examples against the strikers of South Korea, the governmental violence against the striking teachers in Mexico, the barbarity of the Colombian regime against struggling trade unionists and the modern surveillance systems in Europe, the threats against the construction workers in Australia, and thousands of other cases are undeniable facts.

The WFTU is ringing the bell of danger for progressive people about human rights that are been attacked under the pretext of the struggle against terrorism, by the governments of the USA, the UK and their allies. The struggle for democracy and free trade union action is constant but also concrete. In a period of imperialist madness, the struggle for Peace is for the class oriented trade union movement a principal task. International Peace will help all peoples in all developing countries.

WFTU is in favour of the abolition and destruction of all nuclear weapons from all countries without exception. The whole of humanity realises that in the last 15 years the negative correlation of forces which dominates in International Organisations such as the UN, legalise the illegal and aggressive acts of US governments.

This is a very negative development. The Labour and Trade Union movement, developing a wide, mass movement, demands for a UN just and independent from the powerful of the earth. Our era needs such International Organisations. History teaches us that the principles of collectiveness, criticism and democratic functioning help the movement. Trade union leaders should be simple, be with simple people, love the Working Class and not become themselves wealthy allies of capital.

True trade union leaders ought to educate the younger on the principles and values of labour movement. They ought to respect the base.

To respect ordinary workers. We live in the century of knowledge and information. Trans-national corporations try to keep knowledge and specialisation for their cadres and managers. The necessity for workers to have access to and the right to knowledge, culture and Education is more imperative than ever before. Within this framework, Trade Union Education provided through seminars, schools, groups, and institutes is useful to all workers. Research and science are necessary tools. They give further advantages to the trade union movement for it to address youth, women, intellectuals, economic immigrants whose entering trade unions will revive the labour movement.

It is essential that new trade union members have a higher educational, cultural and intellectual level. Demands, which are being formed according to the era and its needs. According to the time and the place. They work for the participation of all workers in Trade Unions. For the establishing and the free functioning of Trade Union organisations in every country.

At the same time, it is stated in the statute of the WFTU that the organisation will struggle for the abolition of exploitation of man-by-man.

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions

With a right to knowledge and democratic media. WFTU struggles against cultural imperialism, which aims at the distortion of History, which does not respect traditions, culture and the particularities of each nation, which tries through a multisided propaganda to impose the American way of life everywhere. Each nation, each country, each trade union movement has its own history, its own characteristics.

WFTU respects and values this. And calls upon the youth to study the culture and history of their nations. The paper brings up several organizational models, including trade unions that extend their reach into the informal economy; unions formed by informal workers; cooperatives; non-governmental organizations; member based organizations; and community-based organizations.

What role do trade unions play in the 21st century?

The paper also discusses the international trade union movement and the informal economy. Through a wide range of examples it is shown that international union movement is realising the importance of organizing people in the informal economy who have traditionally been outside of the reach of union membership. International Politics and Society. By: Christine Bonner, Dave Spooner. Date: February, Go to publication pdf. Informal Economy Theme. Publication Type. Related Publications Books.