Thursday, April 20, 2017
A little more than two weeks remains till May 1 when workers all over the world, including the countries of our region, will take to the streets of cities and villages to participate in rallies, meetings, demonstrations and marches to be organised by trade unions, and remind the authorities and employers of their requirements.
Despite all attempts to disguise May Day under other names and slogans, if not abolish it, for us, as for all trade unions in the world, this day remains the main day of the year when we can together declare our determination to strengthen the international class solidarity of working people and their trade unions in the fight for social justice, peace, and decent work.
This year, May 1 will be observed in a global environment marked by growing political tensions, economic instability, and international terrorism. Armed conflicts in the Middle East and in the southeast of Ukraine continue unabated. The contradictions in the European Union have aggravated, and the problem of migrants and refugees has taken on a dangerous scale, which has triggered a new outbreak of xenophobia, intolerance, and ethnic clashes in Europe and the United States.
This affects gravely the situation in the global economy, the world of work and,  consequently, the socio-economic conditions of workers. Financial markets are still dominating the real economy, the informal employment is expanding, more and more employees are being stripped of their rights, the working incomes and social protection are decreasing, while extreme poverty and unemployment, especially among young people, are growing.
Trade unions around the world are seriously looking for a way out of this situation. They see it their priority to protect workers and their families from any attempts by the official authorities and employers to solve the economic difficulties at the cost of worsening their social and economic situation. This is something the unions cannot agree with under any circumstances. They consider it important to fight against the decline in workers’ living standards and social security at all levels of their structure, from primary organisations and to global trade union federations.
A complex and controversial situation has developed in the countries of our region that are going through an economic downturn, albeit for various reasons and to varying degrees. The rising prices and electricity, fuel and utilities rates have led to a significant drop in the living standards. The monitoring of the social and economic situation carried out by the GCTU in the countries of the region has shown that social stratification and inequality are growing everywhere, while in some countries almost a third of the population live below the poverty threshold. Our countries are steadily moving away from the principles of social state as proclaimed in their Constitutions.
Against this background, the anti-union sentiments and attitudes have intensified in the employers’ community, mostly at the level of companies and enterprises. They attempt to undermine the unions from within and prevent the building of new trade union organisations. More frequent have become the cases of infringement of the rights of trade unions and interference in their affairs by official authorities, especially at local level. As a consequence, increasingly new barriers are set up to frustrate social dialogue and collective bargaining, while the terms and conditions of collective agreements concluded are often not fulfilled.
In view of this situation, the Council of the General Confederation of Trade Unions calls on all GCTU-affiliated national trade union centres and Trade Union Internationals, all working people in the region to mark 1 May 2017 as a Day of International Workers' Solidarity by holding mass activities, with a focus primarily on the problems and requirements currently vital for their countries or industries.
Simultaneously, let us jointly demand that the state authorities and employers:
- take effective measures to strengthen the real sector of the economy;
- continue with the efforts to create conditions for decent work for all;
- secure full and productive employment, especially for young people;
- establish decent wages and social benefits;
- raise the minimum wage to a level at least equal to the subsistence minimum;
- reduce poverty and prevent the impoverishment of the working population;
- ensure real equality of men and women in economic and political life;
- guarantee respect for human rights and trade union freedoms;
- strictly observe international labour standards - conventions and recommendations of the International Labour Organisation;
- provide a safe working environment, and take into account the needs of environmental protection in their policies;
- ensure conditions for unhindered social dialogue and collective bargaining; and
- take measures to withdraw the largest possible number of workers from the informal to the formal economy.
Long live labour, the source of economic growth and prosperity!
Long live the 1st of May, the Day of International Workers’ Solidarity!
Moscow, 14 April 2017