TOGETHER WITH WORLD TRADE UNIONS, FIGHTING FOR DECENT WORK AND SOCIAL JUSTICE. Statement by the 7th Congress of the General Confederation of Trade Unions 

Monday, October 22, 2012

The delegates to the 7th Congress of the General Confederation of Trade Unions mark the steadily growing demand for international solidarity and united actions by world trade unions, and reaffirm that the GCTU and its affiliates are willing to contribute towards their further development and strengthening.

The global financial and economic crisis that broke out in 2008 and has brought a social crisis in its wake is still being felt in most countries. Its main outcome is the unprecedented growth of mass unemployment involving over 200 million people worldwide, including 75 million youths. This is accompanied by a serious drop in the living standards and social protection of workers, attacks on their rights, and attempts by governments and employers to dilute the very essence of social policy.

The crisis has exacerbated the challenges of globalisation, and revealed the distortions and ills that have prevailed in the global economy over the last decade, which trade unions have repeatedly warned against. The real economy was actually in the service of financial capital, while the role of multinational corporations, banks, and international monetary, financial and trade institutions had unduly increased. The persistent idea is being impressed on the peoples that privatisation of vital public services is an inevitable necessity and that the state and municipal sectors of the economy are losing ground. As their brothers and sisters all over the world, workers in the countries of GCTU affiliates have also been hit by the negative effects of the crisis.

The General Confederation of Trade Unions is deeply concerned with the anti-union campaigns inspired by employers and authorities at different levels that have become too frequent in the region, as elsewhere in the world. The purpose of the attacks is to curtail the universally recognised trade union freedoms, and the rights of trade unions to protect workers’ interests, including the fundamental right to organise and bargain collectively as enshrined in the ILO Conventions.

Convincing evidence of the increased attacks on trade union rights and freedoms is provided by the destructive position taken by the Employers’ Group at the 101st Session of the International Labour Conference in June 2012, as they blocked the work of the Committee on the Application of Standards, and made an attempt to undermine the whole supervisory machinery of the Organisation. Delegates to the GCTU 7th Congress strongly condemn such acts by employers, and call on all trade unions of the world to give them a fitting rebuff.

In these circumstances, workers and trade unions need more than ever to join forces and develop solidarity and unity of action among the various components of the world trade union movement. The resemblance or similarity of tasks to be solved pushes them objectively to do so. The recent global economic crisis showed that such unity can be a possibility, as the world trade union movement, with unprecedented unanimity, raised their voice against the plans to pull the world economy out of recession at the cost of gross violations of social and labour rights. This encouraging fact was received with great satisfaction and enthusiasm by the trade union movement in our region.

Congress urges trade unions in all countries to jointly seek solutions to the two fundamental global challenges: implementation of decent work and promotion of social justice for all. The accomplishment of these two tasks will bring humanity closer to a New Era of Social Justice proclaimed as an aim to be achieved by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The guidelines and benchmarks for these actions should be drawn from the Decent Work Agenda adopted by the ILO in 1999, the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation of 2008, the Global Jobs Pact, conventions, and other ILO instruments.
We are confident that the implementation of the Decent Work Agenda will facilitate a sustained economic growth in the world, help establish the principles of social justice in the labour relations, reduce poverty, and strengthen the viability of enterprises, jobs, and society in general.

Congress declares that the GCTU as a stakeholder interested in the success of this struggle is, as always, ready to work together with other organisations of the international trade union movement in order to:

1. Prevent a return to the old order of things in the world economic relations. The new model of the global economy should be geared to the goals of social justice for a fair globalisation, and be built with due regard for the interests of all national economies through effective, democratic and responsible governance, in the spirit of the demands and proposals contained in the Washington, London, Pittsburgh and other well-known declarations by the Global Unions, supported by the GCTU and its affiliates.
The dominant role of financial markets in the world economy should be eliminated. We must in every possible way reject the attempts by employers and/or governments to use the current and future crises as an excuse to justify their policies that worsen the living and working conditions, reduce social security, infringe workers’ rights and the freedom of trade union activity, and refuse to respect the collective agreements and other commitments in the sphere of social policy.
2. Insist on a speedy resolution of the most acute among today’s social problems, namely the elimination of mass unemployment on the basis of the ILO Global Jobs Pact. Full and productive employment must be provided for all, and primarily for young people. The path to this goal lies through increased investment in the real economy, strengthening its public sector, enhancing the regulatory role of the state, and expanding green employment. Simultaneously, a decisive rebuff must be given to the policy of extending the informal economy, the increasingly wider spreading of agency contract labour and other forms of atypical or precarious employment that reduce workers’ protection and erode the traditional framework of social dialogue; and the use of child, forced and bonded labour. We believe that the active involvement of world trade unions in the implementation of the decent work principles will speed up the fulfilment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by the world community.
3. Seek to preserve and expand universally the social guarantees and worthy, adequate work remuneration. Trade unions of all countries should join efforts in the fight for decent wages, for the creation of social protection nets covering all workers without exception. Congress appeals to the world’s trade unions and other civil society organisations to insist that the governments and employers ratify and observe ILO Convention No. 102 on the Minimum Standards of Social Security, and support and implement ILO Autonomous Recommendation No. 202 on the Minimum Social Protection Floors adopted by the 101st session of the International Labour Conference.
4. Through joint efforts and fraternal solidarity, thwart any encroachments by governments and employers on workers’ social, economic and political rights, including the right to organise and bargain collectively. We are confident that full respect for trade union rights and freedoms is easier to achieve where social dialogue is well established and where a strong system of collective bargaining is available at all levels, including TNC structures.
We call on the member organisations of the General Confederation of Trade Unions to step up their fight for decent work and social justice to be established in the whole world.
Congress confirms that in the forthcoming period the GCTU and its affiliates will carry on their policy of open, constructive and mutually beneficial cooperation with the International Confederation of Trade Unions and its Pan-European Regional Council, the European Trade Union Confederation, the Global Union Federations, and other regional and national trade union organisations. As an integral part of the international trade union movement, our Confederation will, within its mandate, continue to do all it can for this cooperation to be successful.

Moscow, 2012/09/12