Thursday, April 20, 2017
The Council of the General Confederation of Trade Unions, meeting in Moscow in the year of the 25th Anniversary of the GCTU, calls on all friendly trade union organisations to strengthen international solidarity in the face of increasingly new formidable challenges posed by globalisation and its negative consequences for workers.
Built in April 1992, the GCTU was a school of solidarity, cooperation and joint action for the trade union movements of the newly independent states that emerged on the post-Soviet expanse. In its ranks, they jointly learnt the basics of trade unionism in a transition economy, together looked for ways to uphold their members’ interests in the novel situation, and assimilated international trade-union experience. With the support of its affiliates, the Confederation has established and maintains fruitfully cooperation with CIS and EAEU interstate bodies.
Today, in a context of dramatically dropping economic growth in our countries, an almost universal decline in the living standards, weakening social security, increasing social stratification and, as a consequence, intensified attacks on the rights of workers and trade unions, the importance of the GCTU as a structure possessing a vast potential for staging actions of support and solidarity, and organising cooperation and exchanges of struggle experience has become particularly evident.
From the first moment of its establishment, the GCTU took a politically important decision to communicate with the outer trade union world in a spirit of openness and ideological impartiality, on the principles of equality and mutual respect. Time has shown it was the correct choice. It made it possible for our affiliates to successfully fit in with the world trade union community and actively indulge in its life, while largely retaining their own specific character. The GCTU, as a regional body, has won recognition not only in the international trade union movement, but also among non-governmental organisations in consultative status with the ILO and other specialised UN agencies.
Today, globalism is experiencing a crisis: multinational structures set up within its framework are cracking, trade and economic contradictions are aggravating, and wars and armed conflicts do not abate. We are witnessing the collapse of social welfare built on liberal values. The problem of migrant workers and political refugees, already unprecedented in scale and acuteness, has been further aggravated by a new surge of nationalism and xenophobia.
Recent developments in Europe and the US have ushered in a new phase in world development, when national interests openly enter into an uncompromising confrontation with globalisation modelled according to TNC patterns. The world has come to see that globalisation, in its current form, is not a historically objective reality to be taken for granted, but an artificial creation of transnational capital. That means we can and have to fight it, and this gives us new confidence in our struggles for workers’ interests and trade union rights and freedoms.
In these conditions, the GCTU and its affiliates reaffirm their adherence to the principles of trade union solidarity, their willingness to support the fight of the international trade union movement in defence of the common gains, goals and values, indispensible for accomplishing the ambitious objective of the human race, decent work for all.
The list of these goals and values is well known, as it has been clearly defined by the congresses of international, regional and national trade union centres. They include the securing of full and productive employment, especially for young people; the achievement of sufficient work remuneration, social protection and social dialogue; the eradication of hunger and poverty, particularly the poverty of working people; the guarantee of human rights and trade union freedoms; the elimination of all forms of discrimination in working life and social exclusion; the ensuring of equal rights for men and women; the annihilation of forced and child labour, the protection of the environment; and the struggle for a peaceful settlement of armed conflicts now aflame in the hot spots of the planet.
We share the anxiety of the world's trade unions about the unprecedented spread of the informal economy, including its odious forms such as the global supply chains, with lawlessness, overexploitation and even slave labour actually flourishing in their labyrinths.
Simultaneously, we are concerned over the situation that has evolved as a result of rapid technological progress in the global economy, and may be dangerous to trade unions. The sweeping advance of information and communication technologies, the computerisation and robotisation of production, the increasingly intensive use of atypical employment, such as distance and agency-mediated work, outsourcing and outstaffing, fundamentally change the very nature of work and threaten to transform radically the sphere of labour relations, eroding the very essence of the relationship "employee-employer". There appear actual conditions for the emergence of a parallel, virtual labour market with its low level of social protection, a high degree of alienation of the worker from the workplace, and practical inaccessibility for trade unions.
All this undermines the traditional membership base of trade unions, narrows the scope of organising, and shatters the classical foundations of social dialogue through weakening the position of one of its principal participants – the workers' organisations. This can lead to dire consequences for the future of the world of work.
The General Confederation of Trade Unions fully supports the measures proposed by the major international and regional trade union movements, whose aim is to make the unions fully equipped for taking up the challenge, delve deeper into the ongoing processes, and get ready to give them an appropriate response.
We are glad that these problems have recently been addressed by the International Labour Organisation, ahead of its 100th Anniversary. We welcome the "Future of Work Centennial Initiative” it launched in 2013, and encourage our affiliates to get directly involved in its implementation and be active participants in the ongoing Dialogues on the future of work.
The ILO's course for decent work and social justice in a world of globalisation, reinforced by its policy documents of recent years, has met, and will meet, support from the trade unions of our region. We will resolutely fight for strengthening the tripartite structure and the standard-setting function of the ILO, for the compliance with international labour standards by all national and global stakeholders of the labour relations and social dialogue. For this reason, the GCTU will continue the trade union monitoring it initiated in 2006 to follow the process of ratification and observance of key ILO conventions in our countries. All attempts to challenge the legitimacy of ILO conventions, whoever makes them, will be decisively rebuffed by us.
Trade unions in our countries have accepted with understanding the programme of ILO modernisation. They are certain that, upon its completion, the Organisation, without losing anything of its unique experience, without deviating from its fundamental principles and tasks, will acquire new qualities and opportunities that will allow it to more promptly and in the spirit of our times respond to the challenges of the changing world of globalisation, and interact more closely and substantively with the UN in the sphere of labour and social protection.
As a regional non-governmental organisation enjoying permanent status with the UN Economic and Social Council and the UN Department of Public Information, the GCTU welcomes the United Nations’ course for adding a genuine social dimension to world politics, and will promote and advocate all its important initiatives to this effect. Together with its affiliates, the GCTU declares its intention to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We believe the voice of working people, as all social strata of the world's population, should sound louder and more confident in the ECOSOC and other UN agencies and bodies dealing with social problems.
Time puts before the world’s trade unions more and more complex tasks whose solution is impossible without effective interaction. We are firmly convinced that in today’s world there are no objective obstacles to the unity of working people and their trade unions. Their inherent desire to strengthen their stance through united efforts will overcome all difficulties in the name of achieving their principal goal: effective protection of workers’ socio-economic interests.
14 April 2017