WFTU calls for struggle against unemployment, for strenthening solidarity

Presidential Council of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) has called for worldwide struggle against unemployment and for the strengthening of solidarity actions in the struggle against capitalist and imperialist exploitations. The meeting of the Council, the highest policy making body of the only class oriented International Trade Union Organisation, was held in Rome on 14th and 15th February, 2014. The meeting hosted by USB, Italy was presided by WFTU’s President Muhammad Shaaban Azouz, who is also President of GFTU, Syria.  Thirty two members of the Presidential Council out of the 43 members participated. There were some special invitees. From India CITU was represented by A.K.Padmanabhan and Swadesh Dev Roye, Vice President and Deputy General Secretary respectively. Others included H. Mahadevan, AITUC(Deputy General Secretary) C.H. Venkatachalam, AIBEA (Convenor, Finance Commission) and Debanjan Chakravorty (General Secretary, TUI Construction), S.P. Tiwari, TUCC . Among other participants included those from China, Vietnam, Cuba, DPRK (North Korea), Venezuela, Peru, Columbia, Brazil, Chile, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, U.K, South Africa, Nigeria, Gabon, Palestine, Iran, Lebanon, Sudan, Malaysia Bangladesh and Sudan.  USB Italy, the host Organisation had made elaborate arrangements for the meeting and its General Secretary Pierpalo Leonardi welcomed the participants.

Opening Remarks:
In his opening remarks, President Muhammad Shaaban Azouz, said that the meeting with the main agenda of the Reviewing the activities in 2013 and approving the plan of Action 2014-15 is very important in view of the global situation. We have to strengthen the unity of the workers of the world to fight the economic and social onslaughts of the world capitalism and imperialism. He referred to the stepping up of brutality against legitimate aspiration of the World Working Class and peoples of the world who are struggling for freedom, independence and sovereignty. Explaining the present day devastating developments of the capitalist world, he referred to the multifarious oppression and exploitation, through military, financial and industrial machination, and the way they are sowing the seeds of division among the people in the same country. Referring to his own country Syria, the President said that the achievements of his country since the dawn of liberation from French colonialism by Seventy years are threatened by the tools and agents of brutal global exploitative system. He explained in detail the brutalities against the people of Syria by those of the USA, Britain, France and some regional powers led by Turkey. He also said that “the smell of Petroleum has blinded the foresight and vision” of these forces, “ who are lavishing the capabilities of Syrian people, especially those of Oil, which is sold to brokers and dealers of those countries at unreasonable prices.” He was confident that the people of Syria will be victorious in this battle which he said was “an integral part of the battle of mankind against exploitation and colonialism.”

General Secretary’s Report
Presenting the report, which included Review of the activities in 2013 and Action Plan for 2014-15, General Secretary, George Mavrikos, captured the present day situation at Global level.
Quoting from the documents of the 16th Congress of WFTU in 2011, he said that the happenings have confirmed the analysis of WFTU. There is universal attack on jobs, wages and salaries. He said that Capitalism is condemning millions of workers to unemployment, poverty in persistent, permanent, relative and absolute misery. He also referred to the imperialist interventions against people of Syria, in Mali, Libya, Central Africa and also recently in Ukraine. Reviewing the activities in the year 2013, he said that the decisions taken in the Presidential Council in Peru, was consistently implemented. Series of initiatives have been taken on campaigns, solidarity actions, official WFTU missions etc.

On the Organisation front, there were improvements, including formation of new Sectoral International Organisation (TUI) of Pensioners and Retirees. There were International Day of Action Programme in 43 countries, 31 Thematic International Conferences, and solidarity campaigns for Cuba, Palestine, Syria, Mali, Venezuela, Columbia and others were organized. There were active participation of WFTU Head Quarters in International Organisations and also in Congresses and conferences in over 90 countries. General Secretary said that “the rich action of the WFTU on central, regional and sectoral levels has aimed to unite the forces of the working class in class struggles, to unite the workers, no matter their ideology, religion, language, gender, unite the people in the struggle against capitalist exploitation and against imperialism” While explaining the situation in various regions of the world, where working class is waging persistent struggles, he exhorted the Presidential Council members and affiliated unions to work for strengthening of WFTU and march ahead with unity and class orientation. Referring to the activities of Regional Offices, Sub Regional Offices and the activities of various Trade Unions International (TUIs), coordinating sectoral activities, he underlined the difficulties as well as weaknesses in the functioning.

Action Plan:
The Action Plan for 2014-15, included increased activities on important issues. This year International Day of Action – the foundation Day of WFTU – on 3rd October will be observed with its central issue as Unemployment. Coming 3rd October will also mark the beginning of the 70th Anniversary of the foundation of WFTU. The programmes included a World Congress of Working Women, to be preceded by Asian and also European Conventions. TUI Conferences of Transport and Public Services will be held in 2014 in Chile and Nepal respectively. A detailed Programme for strengthening organizational activities have been finalized. WFTU will be more active in activities connected with UN, UNESCO and ILO. WFTU representatives will attend UN 58th session of the Commission on the status of women. Dr. K. Hemalata, Secretary CITU will be in the WFTU delegation. WFTU Website is being renewed and a Web Radio will be operationalised, as an effective tool for campaign and dissemination of information.

Discussion of the Report
38 Comrades participated in the discussion, sharing the situation in different countries and also on sectoral issues. Intervening in the discussion, A.K. Padmanabhan, President, CITU, expressed solidarity with the struggles in different parts of the world. He gave details of united struggles in India, for which Central TUs and National Federations affiliated with WFTU and ITUC had come together with other non affiliated organizations. He also referred to the country wide strike of Bank Employees on 10th and 11th February and the Central Govt. Employees strike on 12th and 13th February in which nearly 2 million employees had participated. He thanked WFTU head quarters for participating in the National Conference of CITU and also for the opportunities given to CITU leaders for representing WFTU in various forums.
He assured all support and co-operation for the programmes being finalized for 2014-15 and said all efforts will be made to implement these, with the co-operation of all affiliated and friendly organizations, in India.

Summing up
With all the participants generally in agreement with the proposals, General Secretary in his summing up of the discussions, stressed again the need for furthering activities of WFTU. He also underlined the necessity of propaganda and campaign exposing ILO’s continuous refusal to allow proportional representation to WFTU which is legitimately due to it. The struggle for such status will have to be carried out in ILO forums and outside. He was happy to announce that the WFTU anthem with its lyrics in different languages is ready. The Orchestration for the anthem by a famous Nepali Composer was presented as a ‘draft’. It is proposed to have singers and instruments from different regions in the finalization of the Anthem which will be in different languages, representing the global character of WFTU. The meeting unanimously approved the report of General Secretary. The next meeting of Presidential Council will be held in 2015, in Gabon, Africa. The meeting also adopted resolutions on Solidarity with the same struggles, including that of the Bank Employees lead by NUBE, Malausia. Meeting concluded with the remarks of the President, profusely thanking the leadership and volunteers of USB, Italy and declaring to confine our fight for steady, stable and decent work for all and support and social benefits for the unemployed and also reminding that unemployment and capitalism go hand in hand.

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