Thursday, November 24, 2016
Appeal by the GCTU Executive Committee in Connection with
the 25th Anniversary of the General Confederation of Trade Unions 
Dear Comrades! 
Brothers and Sisters!
In the forthcoming year, 2017, our international trade union organisation, the General Confederation of Trade Unions, will mark its 25th Anniversary.
The GCTU was founded 16 April 1992 by the inaugural congress in Moscow as a result of the free will expressed by trade union centres in the Newly Independent States and the industrial Trade Unions Internationals of the region, in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The establishment of the GCTU came as an opportune and worthy response by trade unions to the challenges of the moment, in full accord with the drastic political and socio-economic changes that had shaken the region. It was a time characterised by breaking the old ties accumulated over decades of coexistence in a single economy, and a deep slump in production accompanied by an all-out offensive on workers’ basic rights and interests, and by migration of huge masses of people.
The unification of national and international trade union centres in our region met the vital needs and aspirations of workers and trade unions. For this wise and courageous decision we must sincerely thank those who stood at the helm of the region’s trade union movement in those fateful years.
From the earliest days, the GCTU and its affiliates declared their commitment to the ideals of international solidarity and the world brotherhood of working people. In our ranks, there are men and women, veterans and youths, and mental and physical workers of different nationalities and political outlooks. The region’s unions have become the core of public resistance to reforms at the expense of ordinary people, demanding that a greater social dimension should be added to the policies of their states.
Over the whole period, the GCTU and its affiliates have been intensely looking for the role trade unions were to play in a totally novel historical situation. This creative search was conducted with full respect for the best traditions of the home and the world trade union movements, with the desire to keep intact everything positive that has been accumulated during the years of living together in a common homeland. We have particularly cherished and preserved carefully the spiritual bonds of mutual respect and friendship that have linked our peoples for centuries.
Our Confederation and its affiliates have made it their priority to help the unions fully master the skills of operating in a market environment. The GCTU has been persistently accumulating, summarising, and publicising the experience of its member-organisations, while coordinating their joint solidarity actions aiming to protect workers’ legitimate rights and interests, and trade union rights and freedoms.
The General Confederation of Trade Unions has contributed to the establishment and development of trade unions in the New Independent States. Today, the GCTU affiliates have a strong standing in the political systems of their countries as influential civil society institutions enjoying international recognition. Simultaneously, the GCTU-affiliated Trade Union Internationals have played an important role in consolidating the sectoral trade union movement in the Commonwealth of Independent States.
During this period, a solid foundation was laid, and best practices accumulated, for GCTU interaction with a great number of newly-built agencies of interstate cooperation. The Confederation has always supported integration efforts in the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Community, the Eurasian Economic Union, and the Union State of Belarus and Russia, viewing integration as a main avenue leading to higher living standards, and the entrance of our countries into the world economy on an equal footing. Based on the principles of social partnership, the GCTU and its affiliates have been fruitfully cooperating with the intergovernmental bodies of the CIS and the EAEC where they represent and uphold the trade union stand on social and labour relations.
The fight for decent work, implying productive employment, decent wages, safe jobs, and social guarantees, is currently a top priority for the GCTU. We totally reject the glaring social divide as a shameful fact of the contemporary reality, and will do our best to do away with it. In the conditions of crisis and stagnation, particular attention will have to be devoted to the preservation and development of social gains achieved earlier.
In this just struggle, we are encouraged and empowered by the trust of ordinary union members that gives us confidence in the future.
We are eager to continue working tirelessly to make each member of our trade union family feel an equal among equals, surrounded by friends and comrades who are always ready to help out and support.
Our motto is “Together We Are Stronger!” Our goal is well-being of those who live by their work.
As we approach the 25th Anniversary of the GCTU, the Executive Committee calls on all member organisations to strengthen their unity, and develop coordination and cooperation when formulating concerted responses to the challenges and social issues of our time.
The Executive Committee is positive that the holding of the planned events, as well as further activity of the GCTU will help achieve greater unity in our ranks, and give a new impetus to our common efforts to protect workers’ rights and interests.
Moscow, 17 November 2016