Remarks of General Secretary George Mavrikos at WFTU Presidential Council Meeting, Geneva, Switzerland, June 7, 2011
Dear friends and comrades,
We welcome you all to our meeting today. We thank you for your participation in our discussions. They aim to inform you about the initiatives and activities of the WFTU already decided by the Secretariat, to hear your suggestions.
Two or three years ago, when the new crisis of the system appeared, we heard several analysts trying to convince us that for the crisis we should blame the “golden boys,” “casino capitalism” and other such nice and pleasant phrases.
Later these same analysts tried and are now trying to convince us that we should blame the bad Greek workers, the bad Portuguese workers, to blame the Spanish people, the Italian people, the Irish, the Belgians etc., or else the big salaries of the workers, and so forth.
All these analyses have a single goal: to hide the truth from workers. To hide that the crisis is a deep crisis of the capitalist system and that multiplies the inter-imperialist and inter-capitalist rivalries for the control of new markets, to reorganize borders, to control countries and wealth-producing resources.
This is the truth. This is the reality.
Look at the antagonism between euro and dollar.
Look at the antagonisms over the next head of the International Monetary Fund.
Look at the antagonisms in the conflict in North Africa.
Look at the imperialist barbarity against the people of Libya.
Look at the strategy of U.S. and NATO for the so-called “New Middle East.”
Look at the huge increases in food stuff prices such as wheat, corn and sugar.
Did the “golden boys” create this situation?
We, the members and friends of the World Federation of Trade Unions, who organized two months ago in Athens the 16th World Trade Union Congress, we discussed on all these contemporary and critical issues. 828 delegates from 101 countries openly, democratically and with militancy we analyzed the contradictions in today’s world, we draw our conclusions and we adopted our new tasks.
On the basis of this rich discussion we note that the crisis of the capitalist system is paid by workers, the crisis exacerbates the contradictions between trusts, cartels and groups of states; it creates wars and states-puppets of USA and their allies. It increases unevenness and competitions.
The crisis is being exploited by all the capitalist governments to drive down wages, to cut pensions, to privatize public property, to generalize part-time work , to abolish collective bargaining and collective agreements.
The propaganda of capital that anti-popular policies will create growth and, course, of recovery is a myth. • See for example Greece, where this policy has taken-off the official unemployment rate from 7% to 18%. • See Ireland where unemployment according to official data recorded at 14.6% in April 2011. • See Portugal where in the first quarter of 2011 unemployment was 12.4%.
But overall in Eurozone countries it is confirmed that the so-called growth is weak, temporary and very fragile. On average, in EU growth is around 0.6% without any dynamism. In Japan it is around 2%.
In the U.S., despite the great promises, the OECD predicts that weak growth will be around 2.6% while U.S. debt will rise to 107% of the GDP. Unemployment is 8.8%.
What does this data mean? It means that the capital and its political represenattives are unable to provide a viable solution in favor of workers. The crisis is in the DNA of the capitalist system. Capitalism cannot be cured. It can only be overthrown.
Against this situation, the trade unions and workers in the world have a duty to resist, to struggle, to unite all workers regardless of political, religious and other differences. All workers belong to the same social class and we can fight together.
• To fight to defend the achievements of our people. • To fight to meet the contemporary needs of workers, immigrants, homeless, unemployed etc. • To fight so that every family to have proper food and clean water. • To fight for public social security, education, health, for democratic and trade union freedoms. • To promote all current demands, while calling for workers to find a real way out in a world without exploitation of man by man, where the workers themselves, the poor peasants, the self-employed will be in power.
All members and friends of the WFTU, the cadres of the new leadership elected in the 16th Congress in the first place, have to face new major responsibilities, to implement the decisions of the Congress, to coordinate the workers in all sectors in lasting struggles against monopoles and multinationals.
• The next big step will be the WFTU International Action day on October 3. That, by decision of the Secretariat will be day of double significance since it coincides with the founding day of the WFTU on October 3, 1945. The key objectives are:
35 hours of work – 7 hours per day – 5 days of working week, better wages.
Public social security for all.
Collective bargaining – collective agreements.
Trade union and democratic freedoms.
Solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The International Day of Action will mark the start of new protests against privatization and layoffs. It will mark the engagement of all social strata against the policies of the monopolies and multinationals.
In the framework of implementing the Congress decisions we have also planned: • Contacts and discussions in Istanbul Turkey on June 17-18 in order to analyse the decisions of the Congress. • Participation of the WFTU in the meeting of Nuestra America in Nicaragua on August 25-27. • Holding of an International Conference against imperialist aggression in the North of Africa and to the right of Arab people to decide by themselves, for the people to decide for their present and their future and the consequences on workers on September 12, 2011 in Strasbourg. • Holding of regional meetings for English-speaking and French-speaking Africa to improve the presence of WFTU in the continent and the functioning of our offices. • Meeting in Khartoum of all WFTU forces in the region in a Panafrican forum to discuss the current issues of the region and coordination of our forces at the beginning of 2012. • Solidarity event for Colombia. • Joint initiative of UNETE-WFTU in Venezuela. • Initiatives at sectoral level in cooperation with our nine International Sectoral Organizations – TUIs (Transport, Public Services, Energy, Construction, Education, Agroalimentation, Metal, Banks, Hotel-Tourism). • Continuing efforts to stop the monopoly of ITUC inside the ILO.
Along with this program, a series of initiatives and activities will be implemented: • We will organize three seminars in Africa and one in Asia. • The Regional Offices and our Sectoral organizations will organize their own initiatives and they will also push forward the decisions adopted in the 16th Congress on the many serious issues. • The Secretariat will prepare a special edition with publications dedicated to the celebration of the 16th Congress published in newspapers, electronic media, etc. • We have already prepared two special DVDs with all documents of the 16th Congress. It also contains about 700 photos. • We remind that the greatest unsolved problem of the WFTU is finance. There are no extra financial resources and this creates difficulties in action. We ask everyone to pay on time their dues.
We all have a duty to support our action program and our events. To be present on the front line with determination, based on our experience and knowledge, with arguments, with clear objectives and only motivated only by the collective interest. To be aware that our path is not an easy one and the difficulties are many and great.
We consider as positive that, in many countries around the world, young people and angry citizens come out and demonstrate in the streets and squares. We believe that we must help those who participate spontaneously, to gain consciousness, to have a class-oriented view of the causes of the problems, to help the new generation to participate in trade unions in an organized manner. The organized struggle, with specific targets and specific content, can always bring results for the present and the future.
We are optimist that based on the recent decisions of the 16th Congress, we can move forward, always guided by the true interests of workers.
As we have decided, in order to promote the Congress we are gathering in the headquarters all the articles and publications made about the 16th Congress and talking about the Congress to make a special publication that can be found in the libraries of all trade unions.
Finally, we inform all members of the Presidential Council that the next official meeting of the Presidential Council will take place beginning of 2012. We all need to be present.