Monday, June 13, 2016
"...nobody can afford to close their eyes and ears. Nobody can afford to wonder 'For whom the bell tolls?' The bell tolls for everybody."---George Mavrikos of the WFTU
World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) General Secretary George Mavrikos provided the following remarks at the the Plenary Session of the 105th International Labour Conference held on June 6. During his speech he underlined the importance of international solidarity to the workers in struggle around the world, the importance of class struggle against the capitalists and the governments and the preparations for the 17th World Trade Union Congress on 5-8 October 2016 in Durban, S. Africa.
The Speech of the WFTU General Secretary:
“Ladies and gentlemen,
Colleagues, representatives of trade union organizations,
On behalf of the World Federation of Trade Unions, I want to express our internationalism to the workers of France, who have been organizing strong, massive mobilizations against the anti-labor policies of the Francois Hollande government. The law promoted by the French government, attacks rights that were won through workers struggles.
We extend our solidarity to the people of Brazil, which is struggling against the antidemocratic, parliamentary maneuvers of the bourgeoisie; we unite our voices with the heroic Palestinian people which suffer from the Israeli politics. We are on the same side with the peoples of Syria and Venezuela which are in the aim of the imperialists and the capital.
Today, in all European Union Countries, the attacks of all governments against the workers and against trade union rights are generalized. This policy is centrally planned; it is a central strategic choice of the European Union and the monopolies.
In fact, these strategies have one aim: to convert us into modern – day slaves. Slaves without salary, labor, social security and democratic rights.
At the same time, state violence, the persecution against the trade union movement and those who fight in the first line of the struggles, is getting stronger and stronger.
Right now, as we are speaking here in Geneva, fighters of the World Federation of Trade Unions are in prison, because they fought defending the workers.
In Colombia, elected union leader Huber Ballesteros is in jail for 3 years now.
In Guatemala, Julia Amparo Lotan, a vice-president of WFTU, is in prison for over a year, facing fabricated charges. In Paraguay, Ruben Villalbe, a leader of rural workers, is held in prison for over 4 years now, for organizing the struggles of his sector.
We will not let these comrades alone, not even for a moment, until they are free. The WFTU is proud for these cadres and their proud and militant stance.
Also, a central problem for the working class today, and not just for European workers, is the defense of the life of the immigrants and refugees, who are trying to save themselves by leaving the war zones. The main reason of this situation are the imperialist wars, imperialist interventions, who aim to steal the natural and economic resources of the peoples.
This image of the millions immigrants and refugees, side by side to the antilabor and antipeople policies of the governments, is exploited by xenophobic, racist and neofascist political forces. Neofascism is again threatening the peoples.
Facing this situation, nobody can afford to close their eyes and ears. Nobody can afford to wonder “For whom the bell tolls?” The bell tolls for everybody.
The World Federation of Trade Unions, that is preparing for its 17th World Trade Union Congress on October 5 to 8, is developing a modern, militant, unitary, class oriented strategy in order to give the answer of the workers side and the side of the class oriented trade union movement.
We are saying to the governments and the multinationals: We will not let you make us slaves of the 21st century.
We are telling to the world working class: united, with class unity, like brothers, we will make unions stronger, we will make participation of the youth in the unions stronger and having internationalism and solidarity among us as our weapons, we can successfully organize our defense and offence. Until the elimination of exploitation of man by man.