CONFEDERATION OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES AND WORKERS
A2/95 Rajouri Garden
New Delhi. 110 027
E mail. Confederation06@yahoo.co.in
Dated: 28th April, 2010
The IX congress of SIGTUR (Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union rights) was held at Sao Paulo in Brazil from 18th to 22nd April, 2010. On bebalf of the Confederation of Central Govt. Employees and workers, Com.K.K.N. Kutty Secretary General attended the Congress. The Indian delegation was led by Com.M.K. Pandhe, Vice President, CITU. India was represented by 16 delegates representing various industry wise unions and Federations. We reproduce hereunder the article written by Com. Pandhe on the proceedings of the Congress. Later we shall publish the final declaration adopted at the Congress on receipt of the same from Com. Rob Lambert.
NINTH CONGRESS OF SIGTUR.
Trade Unions in developed countries
to strengthen struggle against
globalisation and for T.U. rights.
One hundred and ten delegates from 26 countries who assembled at Sao Paulo (Brazil) at the ninth congress of Southern Initiative on Globalisation and T..U. rights held on 18-22 April, 2010 expressed their firm determination to fight the polities of globalisation and attacks on T.U. rights all over the world.
CUT, the largest trade union in Brazil hosted the congress which was held in Hotel Braston where all facilities were provided for the congress.
Joao Antonio Felicio, Head of the international department welcomed the delegates on behalf of the Reception Committee while Rob Lambert, regional co-ordinator presented a key note address detailing the deepening crisis of the Capitalist system undertaking the need to fight the polic8ies of globalisation dictated by the world bank and IMF. He explained the progress made by SIGTUR in unifying the T.U.movements of developing countries in the struggle against attacks on the working and living conditions of the workers in the southern part of the world.
Countries which participated were Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Colombia from Latin America, South Africa, Senegal, Togo, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, Kenya, Sicea Lione, Congo, Tunisia, Zambia, Angola and Eritrea from Africa, India, Thailand, Malayasia, Indonesia, East Timora, Philippines and South Korea from Asia and Australia.
Delegates participating in the debate pointed out how the offensive of the MNCs is more ferocious, than the resistance of the working class to these attacks. They noted that the dominant T.U. leadership in the world is striving for global agreements with capitalists which give very little to the working class and takes away much from them. While pointing out the gravity of the situation created by the global capitalist economic crisis they also pointed out that the crisis cannot be arrested so long the capitalist system exist in the world. Indian delegation explained how united movement can be built at a national level in spite of the ideological differences within the trade union movement which was clearly seen in the all in unity built in India on 5 points charter of demands. South Africa noted that the strengthening of the class struggle was the need of the hour; Latin American delegates asserted the need to fight against imperialist machinations to subjugate the national sovereignty of developing southern countries. The delegations from Australia emphasised the need to strengthen the solidarity action to intensify the resistance of the working class.
Sixteen member delegation from India consisted of representatives of CITU, All India State Government employees Federation, the Confederation of Central Government employees and workers, All India Insurance Employees Association and the All India LIC Agents organisation. One representative from NTUI from India came to attend the congress. However, the regional co-ordination committee disapproved his participation since he was not representing any accredited Central Trade Union in India.
Four Commissions were organised during the congress which discussed at length the topics of current interest.
The first commission was on the question of free trade, multilateral institutions and struggle for global justice which considered the exploitative and destructive logic of the so called free trade, free investment and the unimpeded movement of finance capital. It discussed the role of existing multilateral institutions such as the WTO, World Bank, and the IMF which serve the needs of MNCs and global finance capital undermining the interests of the global south. The participants in the discussions emphasised the need for MNC level co-ordination of T.U struggles and opposition to the market driven forces all over the world.
The second commission discussed the crisis of capitalism and how it imposed miseries on the working class and the toiling masses, while bail- out packages were provided for those who were responsible for the crisis, the working class who were not responsible for the crisis had to face the main brunt of the crisis. No bail- out package was offered to the working class who suffered most due to the closure of units leading to unemployment, ,massive retrenchment, lay off, wage cut and reduction of social security benefits. It reviewed the struggles conducted in various countries and called for strengthening and co-ordinating these struggles so that the interest of the working class was protected.
The reckless development of industries, in advanced capitalist countries has resulted in dangerously increasing carbon dioxide emission in the atmosphere which has resulted in growth in temperature on the earth. They Kyoto declaration provided reduction in carbon dioxide emission levels. However, in global north the emission levels have gone up violating Kyoto declaration. In the Copenhagen summit the advanced capitalist countries tried to bring pressure on developing countries to bring down their emission levels. The technology of green development is controlled by the MNCs and they charge high amount for the transfer of technology. Climate change has thus become a profitable venture for the companies controlling the technology. The trade unions should fight for free transfer of green technology and bring pressure on the Northern countries to drastically curtail their Co2 emission level. I was given the responsibility to chair the commission.
The third commission was on the role of the Transnational Corporations and prospects of enhancing working class solidarity. It reviewed how the globalisation has helped the corporations to increase their profitability by intensifying the exploitation of workers. They refuse to recognise the right of the collective bargaining to the workers and bribe the officials of the developing countries to ensure their connivance at their exploitation. The turnover of some of the corporate is more than the National Budgets of some of the African Countries. During the last two decades these companies have acquired enormous financial power to control economy and natural resources over a large part of the globe.
The fourth Commission was on the concept of Decent work talked over by the ILO Director General. It discussed how informalisation of the work has resulted in casualisation and contractorisation of the workforce. Outsourcing of a large number of jobs has drastically brought down the permanent workforce in most of the undertakings. On the plea of competing n the global market labour costs are being curtailed through the mechanism of irregular employment. This mechanism has brought about the abuse of workers' rights to get decent work. Women and children are increasingly used as cheap source of labour to augment the profitability of the corporate sector. Labour immigration, both national and international has become a common phenomenon in most of the countries. The Governments of most of the developing countries are supporting are supporting the exploitation on the plea of boosting foreign direct investment . Workers struggles are facing brutal repression and their right of collective bargaining and strike are being callously undermined.
A special commission was arranged to consider the gender issues and the serious discrimination being faced by the women at the workplace. It was participated by both men and women delegates. Unequal wages, sexual harassment of women at workplace, denial of social security benbefits, denial of proper promotional avenues were discussed at length by the delegates. The participation of women at policy making bodies is extremely less compared to their rise in employment. The Commission advocated the meetings of trade unions taking gender issues more seriously and strive to ensure end of all discrimination against working women. Special emphasis was given on this question since this was the centenary year of the observation of international women's day all over the world.
The ninth congress was addressed by the Minister in Lula Government of Brazil. He pointed out that the Government has to rely on the support of the Centrist parties which created limitation on the role to be played by the Government. He explained the steps taken by Lula Government to increase the minimum wages in Brazil and the steps taken to develop a self reliant economy. He emphasised the need to strengthen the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa) as well as IBSA(India, Brazil and South Africa)alliances so that developing countries interests are protected.
The Congress also heard the detailed presentation by Prof. Emir Sader who analysed the developments in Latin American countries which was once considered as backyard of U.S. Imperialism but which has now become the mainstay in the struggle against imperialism. He noted how reactionary forces in Latin America backed by imperialism are playing the role of opposition to the progressive policies pursued by the left oriented Governments to bring back the rule of reactionaries in Latin America. He expressed confidence that the people in Latin America will defeat the designs of the reactionary forces
In a special session the congress discussed the need to use modern communication technology to convey information about the struggles conducted by trade unions in different countries. Eric Lee explained through video conference how such a technology can be used free of cost by the trade unions to strengthen solidarity actions in their struggles. The concept of Union book to communicate information was also discussed by the congress.
The Congress passed resolutions condemning the Israeli aggression in Palestine and called for solidarity action to establish a home land for the people of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. By another resolution the congress condemned kidnapping and killings of several trade union leaders in Colombia and demanded full restoration of trade union rights for the workers. The Congress condemned the occupation by Moroccan troops the territory of Saharan Republic. It supported the ten month long struggle of the Canadian miners against the Brazil MNC VALE. It expressed solidarity support to the people of Erritria against foreign military intervention.
Special meetings of Trade unions in Asia, Africa and Latin America were held and the plenary session was reported about the struggfles conducted by the Trade Unions in these continents.
The Congress further considered future activities of the SIGTUR. On behalf o f the Asian Group it was suggested to have continent wise co-ordination of activities so that global struggles could be strengthened. The Asian Trade unions meeting decided to constitute an Asian regional co-ordination committee with Com.K.K.N. Kutty from India as the Regional Co-ordinator.
The Asian group suggested that there should be a dialogue between trade unions of North and South should come together to launch programme to oppose capitalist exploitation. It further suggested that working class should be ideologically educated to accept socialism as the only alternative to capitalist economic crisis.
KCTU of South Korea decided to organise protest demonstration when G 20 countries meet in South Korea in November. It was suggested that trade Unions should participate in the protest rally. The Indian delegation suggested to observe October 7th and November, 16th world protest and anti –repression days and ensure the observation thereof by all participating organisations in SIGTUR.
On 22nd April, the delegates visited the H.Qrs of CUT and President CUT gave an account of the trade union movement in Brazil. The delegates were also explained about the landless people's movement in Brazil and the land reforms undertaken in the state which resulted in increase of food-grains production in the State.
In the end the Congress adopted a declaration stating the conclusions of the congress. It visualised a world free from nuclear weapons, wars of aggression and occupation, economic blockades and unjustified sanctions.
The Congress declared that it would strive to establish gender equality in all respects and creation of a world free from all forms of exploitation. The congress called upon the working class to prepare for a united struggle against the globally co-ordinated forces of neo-liberalism in the multi-nationals, in the banks and stock markets of the world and in the IMF, World Bank and the WTO.
The declaration ends with a clarion call to the trade unions of South to strengthen their class struggles and solidarity action so that the process of neo liberalism can be reversed through united might of the workers struggles.