World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) Address to the POPCRU 8th National Congress delivered by Comrade Nikolas Theodorakis (16 June 2015)
Brothers and sisters of POPCRU,
Delegates and guests,
Allow me to transfer to you the best wishes of the 92 million members of the WFTU, from 126 countries all over the world, and the personal wishes of the GS of WFTU to POPQRU and to the POPQRU leadership for a successful congress.
Your congress, your decisions and resolutions will become a valuable asset, not only for your members but to the class trade unions of the world, as your congress takes place in a very special period.
Firstly, as you discuss, your congress takes place in a period when the international capitalist crisis has advanced a new attack against workers all over the world. From wage cuts and layoffs in Europe and North America, to wars, starvation and poverty to Asia, Middle East, Africa. Under the crisis of capitalism, we witness the rottenness of system that feeds from our flesh and blood. We witness wealth, enough to feed the masses, to be spent for the provocative luxurious life of the few. The few who do not work, do not contribute the advancement of humanity. The few, for whom does not apply your slogan, JUSTICE FOR ALL, but the few who thrive through injustice and exploitation.
This phenomenon of injustice, of poverty for the many, and provocative wealth for the few, is the main cause that leads to crime, racism, xenophobia. The few, who in order to keep their power support neo-Nazi forces, who attack immigrants, trade unionists, communists. They promote a rise of oppression, a new attack against trade union rights and freedoms.
This attack, has the shameful backing of organizations that call themselves, workers’ representatives. Great example is the ITUC’s role in undermining the right to strike, as the ITUC has accepted the oppositions of the employers and the ILO on the right to strike. This is a development we will not accept. The growth of the attack we suffer, grows the need for a unified, organized class response by the working class. A response that the WFTU and its members have been fighting for 70 years now.
Dear comrades, this year our organization, WFTU, celebrates 70 Years of continuous fight for the rights of the working class. 70 years of fight for the abolishment of exploitation of man by man. 70 years that connect the struggles of the South African Workers, with the working class of Chile, Palestine, Nepal, Greece, of the heroic Cuba, as we all together in the great family of WFTU united our voices against fascism, against colonialism, against military dictatorships, against the apartheid, against imperialist wars, against the exploitation of Africa’s natural resources by monopolies. And today we continue to support the peoples who fight against imperialism. The people of Syria, of Palestine. Support not just in words, but with action. That is why the Israeli state arrested a WFTU cadre last Friday. They arrested, held and deported our comrade, because WFTU is a danger to the Israeli State, as they said. This provocation will not go unanswered. We will not be intimidated. We continue our unwavering support to the people of Palestine.
That is why this anniversary of the WFTU is not a typical issue. With events from India to Turkey, from Australia to Russia and from Egypt to Brasil the WFTU educates the new generation of trade unionists about the history, the struggles and the heritage of our movement. We make our history weapon against the lies, the slander and misinformation of the capitalist system. On the 70th anniversary of the WFTU, special part has the role and contribution of the South African trade union movement, of SACTU, of comrades like Moses Mabhida, Eric Stalin Mchali and so many others. All these lead to the duty we have today to continue their struggle, until the historic demands of the working class are realized. And allow me to say, that POPQRU has played an important role for this goal. POPQRU, along with NEHAWU, SEPAWU and of course with the great contribution of the SACP have played a key role for the South African trade union movement to become an important factor in the international trade union movement.
Comrades, here, from the 8th National Congress of POPQRU announce a great decision, for which you have played a key role. The Presidential Council of WFTU, which convened in June 6, accepted the request of COSATU for South Africa to host the 17th World Trade Union Congress of WFTU, in October 2016.This means, that for the next year and we wish also for the years to come, the Trade Union Movement of South Africa, will be the center of the world. Comrades, the world trade union congress will bring hundreds trade unionists from all over the world to South Africa. Trade unionists who are on the van guard of the workers’ struggles. Trade unionists from Cuba, Palestine, Vietnam, Venezuela, Greece, from wherever the workers are fighting against capitalism. But they will all come here, in South Africa. This brings a great duty to the trade unions of South Africa to represent, not only their homeland, but the whole African Region. To highlight the struggles of the working class of Africa against capitalism today. To propose action for the working class of the world. That is the role WFTU wants for you. To be the voice, the leader of the oppressed and the exploited not only of your country, but to be a loud voice, a strong voice for the workers of the world.
Dear comrades, this invitation is only one small part of the work we have done together the recent years. We, together, organized meetings, seminars, schools. We strengthened the exchange of information and experience, the support and solidarity of workers from all over the world. However, we cannot be satisfied. We must see our weaknesses, our delays. And by overcoming them, we will become stronger, more capable in our struggle.
In the next period, the trade union movement of South Africa will become the trade union center of the world. We trust though the World trade Union Congress you will be successful in promoting the interests of the working class of Africa, and pushing the whole trade union movement one more step forward. It is a great task, but your congress today, the steps you plan for the next period make us optimistic.
The success of your congress, your resolutions, your decisions will contribute a year from now to the 17th World Trade Union Congress of WFTU.
So dear comrades, be strong, keep the fire burning, we are with you!
VIVA POPQRU viva
VIVA THE 8th National Congress of POPQRU
VIVA WFTU VIVA
Welcome the 17th World Trade Union Congress of WFTU in South Africa