World Federation of Trade Unions ‘looking ahead’

General Secretary of the WFTU, George Mavrikos, speaking at the 17th World Trade Union Congress, Durban, South Africa.

General Secretary of the WFTU, George Mavrikos, speaking at the 17th World Trade Union Congress, Durban, South Africa.

The World Federation of Trade Unions held its 17th Congress on Oct. 5-8 in Durban, South Africa. Below are excerpts from the concluding speech by re-elected Secretary- General Secretary George Mavrikos, who represents the Greek union movement.

Since my election in 2005 in the position of General Secretary, I always tried to maintain with you a comradely, honest, straight and clear relation. This is how I want to continue to be today and therefore I inform you that This will be my last term as General Secretary of WFTU. In the next Congress, we will elect a younger comrade with the appropriate criteria. …

My first conclusion: Is that this was a Congress that was open, democratic, class-oriented and internationalist. A Congress that befits and reflects the history of the 71 years of the WFTU. We heard 112 speakers from 103 countries. They spoke freely. …

We voted yesterday with secret ballot … we elected as new President of the WFTU, comrade Mzwandile Makwayiba. His election is a new positive step for our organization and also underlines the priority we give to the African Continent and our effort to strengthen the trade union movement. …

A little while ago we approved all together by vote the new Program of Action…A resolution which is ambitious and realistic, it is contemporary and necessary…

The second conclusion by the Congress is: There are new organizational duties for all of us. … Greater tasks, more serious expectations for the organizational strengthening of the class-oriented trade union movement. …

Therefore we commit in the Organizational Level for:

New members in the WFTU.

New sectors in our [Trade Union Internationals].

New countries and regions in our ranks.

Just now we approved the affiliation of three new trade unions in the WFTU from Russia, from Angola and from the USA. The affiliation of these particularly important trade unions has a great symbolism for the WFTU but most of all it opens new paths for today and for tomorrow.

Therefore, all of us here today, we vote in a unanimous voice [for] the decision that we will put all our efforts [into] so that in our next Congress, the 18th Congress, we will have 100 million members in our ranks. …

We need trade unions that are lively in the base, massive, uniting workers against exploitation and bourgeoisie. We want trade unions of the base which will be real schools for the working people, teaching them everything that has to do with class struggle. We want trade unions that can operate within the wide masses. Not closed clubs, not bureaucratic leagues or small elites but open militant schools. … We are cadres, leaders bearing the duty to accumulate forces and to organize class struggles in order to change the world and make it socially just. …

The women who spoke, the young comrades, the migrants presented vividly the organizational need to enhance and to operate the relevant Committees. Working women, working youth, migrants and refugees are right to have many expectations from the WFTU. …

The third conclusion that comes from the Congress and many speeches is the need for the enhancement of our trade unions in ideological and political level. We do not operate in a sterilized environment. We live and struggle amongst friends, opponents and enemies. …

We are correct to struggle for better wages. We are correct to strike against privatizations, we are correct to demand collective bargaining agreements, conditions of health and safety, public and free education, health, better environment. …

At the same time, as a trade union movement … we have to radicalize our demands. We have to uplift the content and the forms of our struggle with the direct aim of the emancipation of the working class from the capitalist exploitation. To make the working class the pioneer and leading class ready to fulfill its strategic purpose.

It is a form of art to combine the struggle for the daily problems, for the direct and imminent needs of the popular family with the struggle that will uplift the level of consciousness of the popular strata who will not stand to live any longer in this filthy regime of exploitation…

Our main instrument for the empowerment of our ideological objective is Internationalism, the Unity of our class and our Militant line of Struggle. …

The capitalists today are better organized in their own associations …  they have intensified their aggressiveness against the trade unions and the militants of the trade union movement. …

The fourth conclusion: We must believe in our own power, in the power and the superiority of the class-oriented trade union movement. … We, as the family of WFTU, we have to convince the new generation that the struggle is worth it. … Only the militants of the class-struggle can undertake this role and bring back wide popular masses in the trade unions. … We have our feet grounded on the earth and we are looking ahead.

Long live the Working Class of Africa!

Long live Internationalism and Solidarity!

Long live the International Working Class!

For the entire speech, visit tinyurl.com/h3tnuyk/