5 Independent trade union, and workers’ and toilers rights

Final Resolution for Workshop 5
25-27 May 2001
Zutphen, The Netherlands

Independent trade union, and workers’ and toilers rights and reduction of working hours at full pay against mass unemployment and decreasing wage levels

Preambular Part

The end-goal of monopoly capitalism for super-profits requires it to shift its policies in the midst of its ever worsening over-production and financial crisis. Under the neoliberal policies of liberalization, deregulation, privatization, state and private monopolies impose strangulation of smaller nations, and workers and toilers worldwide.

Both in industrialized and Third World economies, monopoly firms continue to pump more capital resource to new technology for efficiency and higher rate of profit while cornering more public corporations.

Resultant to the above are: mass unemployment in advanced countries and worsening of chronic unemployment in the Third World; flexible labor policy that promote contractualization, temporary and part-time jobs; a wage-level that is frozen and is going down in real value; and incessant attacks on workers’ rights and violation of full union rights all over the world.

Not surprisingly, the current global unemployment rate is now going beyond 40 percent and poverty afflicts 90 percent of the people of the world. One-third of the world’s labor force is either unemployed or underemployed. The ILO states in its World Labor Report 2000 that income security from unemployment is being undermined by the global trend towards the “informalization of labor contracts and informal sector and temporary employment.”

According to ILO data, about 500 million workers are unable to earn enough to keep their families above the US$ 1 a day poverty line. These are entirely in underdeveloped countries. Structural adjustment programs (SAPs) dictated by the IMF-WB to client states to ensure their payment of loans demand trimming down of public expenditures, thus placing a barrier to salary hikes for government workers and facilitates regulation for low wages for workers in the private sector purportedly to “combat inflation” and attract foreign investments.

There is also rampant suppression or violation of rights of workers to form unions and to strike, both in the public and private sector. While the constitutions of most countries formally recognize the right of workers to unionize and form associations and to strike, in practice states collude with big foreign and local capitalists in discouraging and even outrightly thwarting trade unionism. Furthermore, human rights violations often accompany trade union repression: the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) reports that for 1999 alone, at least 140 trade unionist were assassinated, disappeared or committed suicide after they were threatened; 3,000 were arrested; 1,500 were injured, beaten and tortured; at least 5,800 were harassed; and at least 700 received death threats in the course of their trade union work. The ICFTU conducted the survey in 113 countries.

Given this global and systematic exploitation and oppression of the working class in terms of wages, job security and democratic rights, there is a grave need for more concerted and militant response by workers all over the world. Recent struggles against foreign multilateral finance and trade agencies (Battle of Seattle against WTO, protests against the WEF in Australia and Switzerland) and even against US militarism (military bases in Okinawa and air strikes in Yugoslavia) showcase the effectivity and powerful potential of globally-coordinated actions by workers, in alliance with other democratic sectors of society.

Resolutory Part

It is therefore imperative that workers worldwide wage a struggle not only against falling wages, growing mass-unemployment and labor-flexibilization, and trade union repression in particular, but also against neoliberalism (or imperialist globalization) in general.

We hereby commit ourselves to fight for the following:-

  1. Substantial wage and salary increases to meet the ever-rising costs-of-living.

  2. A stop to retrenchments, contractualization, casualization, part-time work and other forms of labor-cuts that are inimical to workers’ job security.

  3. Full exercise of our right to form unions, bargain collectively and to strike. In particular, we demand equal application of trade union statutes to public sector workers.

  4. A system of governance that upholds the interest of all workers and toilers, and the interest of all other democratic sectors of society.

  5. A stop to the implementation of privatization, deregulation and liberalization as economic policies in our countries.

In going about this task, we as delegates of this workshop vow to accomplish the following:-

General

  1. Conduct education and information drives to drumbeat workers’ issues at the national, regional and international levels.

  2. Expand and consolidate the ranks of organized workers and toilers through anti-imperialist and militant trade unionism in workplaces, offices and communities.

  3. Launch local, sectoral and multi-sectoral struggles that will press for concrete short- and long-term gains for the workers’ movement as well as those of other democratic sectors, and that will mobilize the support of unorganized and unaffiliated workers and unions.

  4. Conduct alliance work among the broad ranks of the workers, the peasantry, the middle forces and the ruling elite to broaden support for workers’ struggles, and in turn support the advocacy of other democratic forces.

  5. At the international level, strengthen linkages and coordinate high-impact campaigns with other workers’ organizations, as well as with broad-based organizations and entities that advocate anti-globalization.

  6. Continue efforts in popularizing the ILPS, work for expansion in its membership and actively participate in all its projects and undertakings.

Specific

  1. Consolidate researches and other outputs of workers’ and toilers’ organizations or advocacy groups from various countries regarding imperialist exploitation and oppression of the working class. This will serve as material for educating, mobilizing and organizing workers, especially in countries where workers’ struggles are still in the stages of inception, or where yellow unionism prevails.

  2. Conduct fora, symposia, discussion groups, teach-ins and other forms of mass-education that will contribute to greater public awareness of workers’ issues and struggles.

  3. Consolidate the experiences of various workers’ and toilers’ organizations in organizing in factories, offices and communities, and come out with a manual for basic organizing that will serve as a field guide for trade unionists.

  4. Build up local strikes and other actions into a movement that can be developed into industrial strikes, and that may further be combined and coordinated with the struggles of other democratic sectors of society.

  5. Further develop the capability of workers’ and toilers’ movements to launch concerted global protest actions or campaigns on red-letter occasions, such as May 1, anniversary of Bretton Woods organizations, summits of multilateral finance and trade agencies (IMF-WB-WTO) and regional trade and military alliances (ASEAN, APEC, NAFTA, AFTA, G8 and so on). This may be waged at the regional or global level, depending on the geographical scope of the issue and the degree of consolidation of participating workers’ networks, and will be implemented in the respective countries of network members.

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