The International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle constituted March 2013 after our meeting in Saint-Denis (France) is the product of years of exchanges and common work between several of the founding organisations. In this way and on the basis of common trade union policies and practice, we have been able to bring together trade unions, trade union trends and tendencies from numerous countries of the Americas, Africa and Asia.
Two years later, in June 2015, we organised a new international meeting at Campinas (Brazil). This time we have collectively assessed the positive evolution of our network, notably its increase in size but also the distance that we still have to go to create a common international weapon for all the trade union forces who demand and practice a trade unionism of struggle that is anti-capitalist, autonomous, democratic, Green, independent of bosses and governments, internationalist, and which fights against all forms of oppression (sexism, racism, homophobia and xenophobia). Workers democracy and self-organisation are also included as part of our shared reference points.
The 3rd Meeting has taken place in Madrid (Spanish State). It has been an occasion to further our joint work over the questions cited above. We have also dedicated the necessary time to consolidate our sectorial networks, for it is from the reality of the companies and services in which we work that we understand trade unionism. Given that patriarchal oppression is a burden for all humanity and that we need to fight it back, this theme has been our priority in this 3rd Meeting. We have to fight against machismo with no demagogy, including within the trade union movement and within each of our organisations. We need to be an example, that we owe to ourselves. In general, we have updated our analysis, our proposals, and our strategies of action on the basis of the reality of male and female workers in every country. We have done so with the aim of achieving our demands, and with them the construction of the society we want for tomorrow.
The bourgeois governments promote a social war against male and female workers
The economic, financial, environmental and social crises are linked together and feed on each other. The global crisis of capitalism shows the dead end of a development based on an increasingly unequal division of the wealth produced by the exploitation of the workers, the deregulation of the financial system, the widespread extension of the free market and the contempt for ecological constraints. In order to ensure the profits of shareholders and employers, the future of banks and global organisations (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, global organisation of trade, etc.) governments and employers attack workers’ rights with increasing strength.
Male and female workers are still suffering the consequences of one of the biggest crisis of capitalism, the one that began in 2007. Our current situation is characterized by an unprecedented attack against the standards of living of male and female workers, an attack that aims at guaranteeing the profits of the bankers and the big companies. Imperialism and the bourgeoisie carry out a social war, cutting salaries, pensions, and rights, and increasing poverty and inequality.
The economic and political system today is plundering numerous countries. It forces millions of people to leave their countries to survive while at the same time denying their rights under the pretext that they are immigrants!
The destruction of public services, the suspension of all social rights, attacks on workers’ rights, the scorn on trade union freedoms, the development of insecurity and unemployment in order to put pressure on the population… These same methods are used in all countries!
To achieve their goal, they use all means possible: criminalisation, the law, arrests, police interventions, military occupations, and the restriction of every sort of collective and individual rights. Repression is one of their weapons against those who resist, oppose and develop alternatives. Our solidarity, irrespective of borders, is one of our responses.
Attacks against social laws, pensions, salaries, working conditions, social insurance, public services and democratic freedoms are part of a strategic project by capitalism designed to permanently change the balance of forces between the ruling class on the one hand and the employees and people on the other. This project is part of a globalised capitalism, an economy which challenges social regulations, legislation and the conditions and the rhythms of work. This is producing and increasing insecurity in the world of work.
The question of health and security at work, the general conditions of the quality of life for employees amongst the people, will become of decisive importance in struggles and demands.
In countries in which a situation of under-development persist as a result of the ongoing forces of colonialism and imperialism, social conditions condemn people en masse to die of hunger, to be sold as slaves or even to emigrate, frequently putting their lives at risk, to countries where they then face high levels of discrimination. Colonialism and imperialism still oppress vast numbers of people throughout the world; trade unionism must fight against these forms of domination.
The right to land is a particularly important question in many countries, especially in those that are victims of colonialism and imperialism. We need to act against that, struggling for true agrarian reforms in unuity with the social movements that also fight for these rights.
More widely, the climate emergency forces us to incorporate this question into our trade union practices. Indigenous lands continue to be destroyed by capitalism. We welcome and support the fights of the indigenous peoples for a sustainable environment, access to clean water and human dignity.
The threat of an imperialist war is increasing. The International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle calls for workers to unifiy in their opposition against any imperialist intervention and to strenghthen the movements against war and militarisation.
In 2017, the struggles against oppression became even more important. The year opened with a massive movilisation of women in the USA against Trump. Later, the 8th March, a day of action for the rights of women, came done in history as one of the biggest global mobilisations. Also, in the USA the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the Marchas da Periferia in Brasil and others in Latin America and Africa are an expression of the struggle against racism. There were important LGBTT actions against homophobia and violence. The fight of immigrants in the USA and in Europe also gained massive relevance.
We are against all form of colonial expression and oppression, that is why we repudiate de Zionist government of Israel and defend the freedom of Palestine; for the self-determination of all oppressed people.
Some years after the “Arab spring”, massive mobilizations against oppressive regimes are still ongoing. Our network supports all these struggles in their defense of the workers´ rights and of democratic freedoms in those countries.
The mechanism of debt is stifling our countries and impoverishing us: their debt is not our debt and we will not pay it! It does not seem likely that the economic and financial policies presented as an incentive for the recovery of demand will guarantee a strong and durable economic recovery.
The political theories of government assume that the capture of institutional positions at the level of the state would allow, despite the classical instruments of public power and the institutional framework in place to serve capitalism, the imposition of a new political direction that would include a new social compromise involving all social classes seem to us illusory. The evolution of the economic-political block leads to a radicalization of the social and ecological fights in general and the fight between wage-earners and the system of domination in particular.
Because of this, we reaffirm our commitment to build and strengthen the international unity of male and female workers in a struggle against the criminalization of social movements, against structural adjustments, against reforms and privatization, and against all form of oppression and exploitation.
Strengthen the unions to break with capitalism
The trade unionism we stand for doesn’t support agreements with the existing powers to validate anti-social measures. Our trade unionism has the responsibility to organise resistance internationally and to construct, through struggle, the necessary anticapitalist social transformation. We wish to create a system in which exploitation has been banished, based on common needs, on an egalitarian redistribution of wealth between all those who create it (that is, the workers), on the rights of workers and a development which is ecologically sustainable.
The independence of the trade union movement which mobilises and fights effectively in then the key for this period. In effect, the issue is to break the strategy the system of domination of capitalism which is trying to impose an historic defeat on the workers, with the ruin simply of their ability to organise, act and position themselves independently to the benefit of a managerial trade unionism. Indeed it would see the disappearance of the workers movement at the same time that a larger proportion of the world population is being proletarianised, often under social conditions that are more and more difficult.
We affirm our opposition to state trade unionism and our support of one that is pluralistic and democratic. It is in no way contradictory to the fight for united trade union action, for workers unity and unity of all those who are exploited and/or repressed. On the contrary we have nothing in common with those who claim to be in the trade unions while they manage pension funds and are corrupted by the ruling class. This same ruling class which in addition has made corruption the normal practice of a whole group of political leaders.
Our trade unionism is allied to the defence of all, male and female, workers, and the support of profound social changes. It is not limited to the issue economic demands, it encompasses issues such as; the right to housing, to land, to equality between men and women, to anti-racism, to the struggle against homophobia and xenophobia, to the environment and anti-colonialism etc.
The interests that we defend are those of the working class (active workers or retired, the unemployed and young people in education and training). These interests link up with those of peoples from all parts of the world. We face head on the employers, the governments and institutions which are at their service and we insist on our independence from all political organisations.
International trade unions exist; as trade union networks which have been created based on the type of work or geography. From one part of the world to another, our trade union histories, our trade union structures and our trade union affiliations are different. However, what is most important is what we share. We are determined to go forward with a plan of international coordination of trade union struggle.
We wish to share our experiences, to enrich ourselves through resistances and knowledge of all, to build unity across borders, to put in place international workers’ solidarity. Faced with a crisis which strikes people in all countries, and for which capitalism is responsible, it is necessary to coordinate and unify our struggles. We make a call for trade unions to join us in the construction of this unity of union action, a unity that is necessary to fight back social cuts, conquer new rights and build a different society.
The construction and the reaffirmation of the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles is very important in a world in which the economy is increasingly globalised. We need unified struggles against the companies and the bourgeoisie that internationalize their business. This entails the development of solidarity actions, actions and campaigns coordinated worldwide whether by professional categories, sectors, countries, and continents. It is our duty to give these objective fights a strategic, anticapitalist orientation.
We have decided to strengthen, enlarge and make more effective an offensive trade union network: of struggle, democratic, autonomous and independent of employers and governments, green and internationalist, and built change through collective struggles. We will fight against all forms of oppression (sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia).
After the meeting on January 2018, we have concrete objectives and common commitments. Together we will decide what they are and how to bring them to a successful conclusion.
We will always act in support of international solidarity and notably against all anti-trade union repression. Our fight is against all forms of oppression, notably that against women, black people, immigrants and LGBT.
We will take actionunitand coordinated mannerto support the struggles and international campaigns, reaffirming the right to self-determination of all peoples.
We will strengthen and widen international work in the sectors of; transport, education, call centres, industry, commerce, health, etc.) and on inter-professional issues (rights of women, black people, LGBT, migration, housing, environment, health and work …)
We will pursue research to deepen our understanding on the crisis of capitalism and the alternatives.
We will assemble together the means necessary for the success of our common project: websites, email lists, coordination of related sectors, etc. The organisations that belong to the Network will make these known by means of their own communication tools (links in their websites, articles in their journals, logos in their pamphlets, dissemination of joint texts within every organisation, and so on).
For greater effectiveness we will coordinate our member organisations and organise our network by region; South America, Europe, Africa…
We will organise a week of mobilisations and international struggle during the second week of October 2015 with the common theme “against austerity and budget cuts, for the defence of the rights of workers. We will not pay for the crisis!” The form this action takes will depend on the concrete situation in each country.
The international day of women´s fights next 8th March is an important moment for the feminist struggles and thus for trade unionism. The International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle will support the women´s strikes that will take place on that day.
On 25th April 2013 at least 1135 people were killed in their working place in Dacca, Bangladesh, in the fire of Rana Plaza. They were assassinated by the capitalist that forced them to work without any respect for their safety. The International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle will take part in the demonstrations that will be organised next 24th April to condemn this economic and political system that kills the people it exploits.
The organisations of the International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle will take the necessary actions so that 1st May becomes an international day of trade union struggle.
The struggle of the Palestinian people is a symbol of many other expressions of resistance. The International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle will be actively involved in the initiatives that will take place on 15th May 2018 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nakbat. We continue to support the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
Beyond the multiple actions that we organize in each country, the International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle calls for an international day of solidarity with the migrants to be celebrated yearly.
Union action against multinational corporations is essential. Our sectorial coordination groups are useful tool in that fight but we must also liaise with the social movements also acting upon this question. The International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle will be involved in those joint campaigns that fall within our understanding of trade unionism.
We need time to coalesce at an international level. Every year, those who direct capitalism in our countries meet in Davos (Suiza) in order to organize our exploitation and the sack of the world. The International Trade Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle will organise a day of demonstrations, in whatever form may be appropriate in each country, coinciding with the following editions of the meeting. This is a proposal for both trade unions and social movements beyond our own network. It could also take the form of an international demonstration against the World Economic Forum. By means of these actions, we will mark our opposition to capitalists and the governments that serve them.
In the face of the capitalist encroachment and pillage of public goods that are essential for life, the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles will launch a campaign in favour of their reappropriation and advancing the self-management of these goods by workers and users.
Originally published @ laboursolidarity.com