Saturday, April 28, 2012

6 April 2012 marks 20 years of the General Confederation of Trade Unions (GCTU) affiliating trade unions in the New Independent States that emerged on the post-Soviet territory.

The GCTU was built by the free will of its member organisations, by their desire to save the decades-old fraternal links and jointly face up to the harsh realities that arose from the need for them to act in the challenging conditions of a transition period. It was largely due to this unification that our trade unions were able not only to survive, stand their ground, and preserve and solidify many of their earlier gains, but also to occupy a proper niche in the new socio-political and socio-economic systems of their young states.

Today, the GCTU is the most authoritative mass trade union movement in the region. Based on the accumulated experience, it coordinates successfully the efforts made by its affiliates to protect the rights and interests of wage-earners, and provides an environment conducive to the development of their fraternal ties and cooperation. To the benefit of its member organisations, the Confederation follows the labour relations trends in the region, analyses topical socio-economic issues, and offers common approaches to their solution. It effectively represents its affiliates in the governing bodies of the CIS and the EurAsEC, and participates in their standard-setting activities.

Since its formation in 1992, the GCTU has been building its relations with the outside trade union world on the basis of equality, ideological impartiality, and constructive dialogue with trade unions of different orientation. Time has shown this choice to be correct. Over the past period, the Confederation and its affiliates have become an integral part of the world trade union structure. Having won the recognition of global, regional and national trade union organisations, they got actively involved in the life of the world trade union community. The GCTU enjoys permanent consultative status with the International Labour Organisation, the UN Economic and Social Council and the UN Department of Public Information. It represents the coordinated interests of its affiliates in these institutions, and collaborates with other international non-governmental organisations on the UN grounds.

The GCTU has always been and remains an active champion and supporter of trade union unity. It advocates the need for the world’s trade unions to globalise their efforts in the face of the frontal attack by capital on workers’ rights. Therefore, it hailed the creation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and its Pan-European Regional Council (PERC) as a real breakthrough on the road to the unity of world trade unions. Today, some of the GCTU member organisations are affiliated with the ITUC and the PERC, while the Confederation as a whole has established constructive cooperation with them. Step by step, GCTU-affiliated industrial Trade Union Internationals are improving their relations with Global Union Federations. The objective community or identity of goals, objectives and approaches to the solution of burning social issues of our time provides a reliable basis for such cooperation.

Our Confederation has always attached primary importance to the involvement in the activities of the International Labour Organisation. Today, in an era of globalisation, the GCTU and its affiliates are vitally interested in maintaining a strong and effective ILO. Together with the rest of the world trade union movement, they have been working to further strengthen the role of the ILO and preserve its unique tripartite nature.

While commending highly its efforts to analyse and research the most pressing social and labour problems in today’s world, we are firmly convinced that the main task of the ILO should lie in the sphere of standard-setting and advocacy, the results of which are embodied in the code of labour standards, invaluable for trade unions. We will in every way encourage and support this activity. The GCTU has committed itself to monitor the ratification and observance of key ILO Conventions in lawmaking and labour relation practices of the region’s countries.

The GCTU will continue promoting the fulfilment of the Decent Work Agenda and other basic ILO documents, such as the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation, and the Global Jobs Pact. The Confederation and its affiliates were enthusiastic about the ILO's call for building a New Era of Social Justice in the world made at the Jubilee 100th Session of the International Labour Conference in June 2011, and are ready to contribute effectively towards this goal.

Our Confederation highly appreciates and consistently supports the UN line for adding a social dimension to global politics that was taken in Copenhagen at the 1995 World Summit for Social Development and later supplemented and developed at subsequent world summits. It is important that world trade unions do not slacken their efforts and urge the governments to meet the commitments made at Copenhagen, and observe the provisions of the UN Millennium Development Goals and other international acts of social value. The GCTU and its member organisations will use all available means to help realise UN initiatives aimed at achieving social justice in the era of globalisation and preserving universal peace and security.

The global world of today changes radically the essence of many customary problems, and creates new ones, which requires totally different approaches to their solution. Workers in all parts of the world are increasingly often faced up with challenges that cannot be solved without global combination of trade union efforts, whether it be the mounting attack on workers’ rights, the restriction and suppression of trade union activity, especially in TNCs, the attempts to impose atypical employment infringing the interests of the employees, or the problems of labour migration involving enormous masses of the population.

This was especially evident during the recent global crisis, and trade unions around the world are well aware of this. It was the new perception of the need for global solidarity that made it possible for the international trade union movement to stand its ground in the post-crisis period. They displayed unprecedented unanimity in rebuffing the attempts by capital to overcome the difficulties by shifting the cost burden on the shoulders of workers, pensioners and other socially vulnerable groups of the population, and on economically less developed countries and regions.

We are convinced that today, in an era of globalisation, it is in the common interests of the international trade union movement to rally closely for the effective protection of workers’ vital interests and rights. The desire to consolidate their positions through strengthening fraternal solidarity, inherent in trade unions, will help them surmount all obstacles to achieve the principal goal - the triumph of social justice in today's world of global capital.

The General Confederation of Trade Unions and its affiliates will in every possible way promote the progress towards this goal. Within the framework of international trade union solidarity, we will continue our struggle against any infringement on human rights, workers’ rights and trade union freedoms, against any discrimination in the sphere of employment or social policy, for the triumph of decent and socially protected work, for full and productive employment, and for the elimination of mass poverty and social exclusion.

Moscow, April 17, 2012