Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Athens, 16-19 May 2011

Moscow, 10 May 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The General Confederation of Trade Unions (GCTU) representing over 50 million union members in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) extends its warm fraternal greetings to all participants in the 12th Congress of the European Trade Union Confederation.

This ETUC Congress is of special significance as it is taking place in a complicated, crucial period. Although Europe has mainly overcome the peak of the global economic crisis, many of its consequences, first of all in the social sphere, are far from having been removed and are still keenly felt by the population.

The countries of Europe are hit by mass, multimillion unemployment. As part of their post-crisis austerity policies, some of them are cutting down or freezing wages and social benefits. The governments are preparing, or have already started to implement, pension and other social reforms that threaten to reduce dramatically the living standards of a huge portion of the population. Wage and salary earners and their trade unions are increasingly often confronted with cases of social dumping. In some of the countries, attacks on the universally recognised rights of workers and trade unions, including the freedom of collective bargaining, have become all too frequent. All these negative effects are also well known to workers in our region.

The GCTU fully shares the concern of the European trade union movement at the persistent attempts to impose the burdens of overcoming the crisis on workers’ shoulders, and considers it important for trade unions to give them resolute rebuffs. We agree with the principal conclusion made by the ETUC that the postcrisis restructuring of the economy must include establishing stronger public control over the activities of TNCs and the international financial institutions, and over international transactions by capital. The world cannot be allowed to return to the business-as-usual precrisis practices that have proven to be inefficient and bankrupt. We support the trade union demand that the European socio-economic policy should currently focus primarily on full employment with the maintenance of all social guarantees, and on measures to improve the working conditions and protect the environment.

We are positive that the ETUC 12th Congress will be able to find adequate responses to these and other serious challenges of our times, and its decisions will provide guidance for the trade union movement in its fight for workers’ interests in the new global conditions that have emerged in the aftermath of the crisis.

The General Confederation of Trade Unions confirms its willingness to continue its friendly ties and cooperation with the European Trade Union Confederation in the spirit of mutual support, solidarity, and coordination of efforts in protecting workers’ rights and trade union freedoms.
We wish you a successful Congress!

General Confederation of Trade Unions