From Issue 61 of the IWC Newsletter:
The Continuations committee of the IWC for a Workers International, which was set up by the Mumbai Conference Against War, Exploitation and Precarious Labour, met in Paris on October 30 and 31.
It hereby submits the account of its discussions, decisions and proposals to the IWC correspondents in 51 countries, and beyond to all workers, activists and organizations seeking to act on the ground of working class independence.
* War is developing everywhere. One year after the Mumbai Conference, war is deepening in Syria, occupation has increased in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kashmir, imperialist threats are multiplying against Venezuela, Iran, and Korea, and behind them are growing threats against China, which is the target of a military encircling maneuvers.
Millions of human beings are being thrown on the roads of exile and death – in the Mediterranean Sea, in Africa, in Bangladesh, in the Americas and Asia, and beyond.
More than ever, the only “future” that capitalism prepares for humanity is barbarism.
* Ten years after the subprime crisis, a new crisis is just around the corner, with consequences even more devastating for workers and peoples. The speculative bubble has reached unheard of levels; the debt is undermining each and every economy. In their attempts to hold off this new crisis, the capitalists and the governments in their pay know of no other means but to dismantle every barrier to unlimited exploitation – dismantling labor codes, labor laws, and all social gains.
* The world over, the destruction of labor gains is combined with the development of precarious labor. The facts we heard of in our meeting are there to prove it.
> India faces huge unemployment, low wages, long working hours, economic inequality of indescribable proportions, rising migration of people from the countryside who – because of land acquisitions by landlords – are forced to leave their traditional homes and livelihoods in search of jobs elsewhere, giving rise to precarious jobs.
Exploitation has become rampant. Out of 400 million working people, 90% are in the unorganized sector, where they are struggling without organizations, without any rights. Meanwhile, those workers who are organized have no democratic right to choose the representatives of their choice; secret ballots for union representation are denied. To make matters worse, the federal and state governments are in the process of changing the labor laws to provide greater laxity in hiring and firing, to intensify exploitation, and to increase precariousness. Trade unions have called for protest actions on November 9, 10, and 11, 2017, in front of the parliament in Delhi. The actions will also highlight the punishment meted to the 13 jailed Maruti- Suzuki workers and will demand their immediate freedom!
> In Germany, the main offensive against workers is the one against the right to collective bargaining. Until 1972, worker employment under interim contracts was forbidden. Since 1972, this form of contract has been reintroduced and has been ever more important. A few years ago a new law has been passed called the TEG. According to this law in every company only the most important union is allowed to bargain. This law was opposed by the supreme court and only partly legalized. With this law the workers cannot organize freely any longer. In the group of the main federations, five supported the law, and only two opposed it (Ver.di and GEW.)
> Besides the slave wages of the working class in Haiti, we should add the exploitation, repression and humiliation faced by the Haitian workers that immigrated to the Dominican Republic to work for the U.S.-controlled sugar cane industry. Not only are they not paid for their work, the majority of them are deported back to Haiti manu militari just before the end of their contract.
Haiti is facing large-scale unemployment. Workers now are leaving voluntarily to go to other countries in search of a job, for example to Mexico, Chile and Brazil.
All this is the result of the lack of jobs and privatization; it is the result of the neoliberal economic project of the US-French-Canada imperialist domination. They have been exploiting Haiti’s resources, in alliance with the compradore bourgeoisie and the consent of their puppet governments they have always put in power. In addition to that, police repression against the popular masses protest has grown, despite the so-called departure of the MINUSTAH occupation forces.
Haiti today is not a sovereign country because the occupation is still going on; a UN police force is right now doing the job to keep the working class under control to avoid an organized labor movement.
> In the United States, the Trump administration, in the name of “job creation,” is seeking to destroy full-time jobs with unions and benefits – and to replace them with part-time, contingent/precarious jobs with no rights and benefits. Unions and labor rights are under siege, with the bosses’/government drive to first impose a federal “right to work law” that would gut collective bargaining, and then deny unions the right to financing by their members (Janus case). In North Carolina, the state government has gone the furthest in its anti-union drive with its effort to ban farmworker unions altogether.
At the same time, there is a concerted effort at the highest levels of government to return to the racism and violence that pre-dated the civil rights movement that created the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.
The Mumbai Manifesto stated clearly and firmly: More than ever, the future of humanity, human civilization itself, is in the hands of the working class, and this means that it must assert its independence.
* One cannot but acknowledge that an onslaught against the working class is being launched the world over, and many of those in the top leaderships of the labor organizations are attempting to integrate the working class organizations into the implementation of the imperialist plans.
Such a policy is prompting the greatest resistance among the working class and a large debate inside the labor movement.
This is true in the United States, where a discussion developed at the national convention of the AFL-CIO about the need to break with “lesser-evil” politics and labor-management partnership councils and schemes.
This is also true in France, where there is an ongoing widespread debate concerning “concertation”, and in Azania concerning the open collaboration between some trade unions with the regime and the bosses.
Or in Germany concerning the “Grand Coalition”, and the self-destruction of the social democratic party (SPD). Since the party took part in the “greater coalition,” its membership has drastically decreased and the last election was a major debacle (an historically low result of 20%).
Consequently, the leadership decided to halt the funding of its workers branch (AFA).
* The form taken by this process of “labor-management partnerships” differs from one country to another, but everywhere a new line of separation is appearing between those in the labor movement who wish to be integrated and those who wish to remain independent.
For our part, we do not seek to compete with any existing organizations; we simply seek to participate fully in this debate by offering a fraternal framework to exchange our views concerning these issues: independence or subordination to the imperialist plans and governments.
* Beyond this matter, another question is raised with full force:
Workers had to fight for decades to set up their class, the working class, as a class, to create its organizations, raising it as a class against the exploiters.
This was done under various forms in different nations, but everywhere workers affirmed that those who sell their labour force have no other strength than their organizations, and they must have the right to determine freely the forms of their organizations.
* But there are attempts the world over now, to deny workers their right to choose freely who represents them.
This is true in China, where only the official trade unions are allowed to exist.
This is true in Azania/South Africa, where the new federation set up to try to resolve the crisis in the
labor movement was denied the right to negotiate collective-bargaining conventions.
This is seen by the looming dismantling of the institutions of representation like the bargaining council and other labor dispute institutions.
The refusal to accept safety to both bargaining councils and NEDLC (National Economic Development and Labor Council) is one offensive action that confirms the seige towards the independence of the labor movement.
Deals are cut between Government and Business and labor movement.
The recent minimum wage demand was recently betrayed by three main federations in the country, where it became clearer that independence of the labor movement in Azania remains a far-fetched dream post 1994.
This is true in Haiti. Right now 40 workers, including militants of grassroots organizations, are in jail for no other reason than they were protesting and denouncing the financial law of 2017-2018 adopted by the government.
This is true in Pakistan, where bosses and the government are trying to ban trade unions, as in the case of the Nestlé workers.
The powers-that-be are trying everywhere to ensure that only the States and some corrupted leaders should be the ones capable of choosing the framework of worker organization.
Is it not high time to organize a broad discussion on an international scale to gather at an international level all the facts that show that the basic principles of the labour movement are on the chopping block? Is not it time to have a common reflexion on the ways and means to return to the foundations of the labor movement, meaning the right to free association, a right that knows no borders?
We invite you to participate in this international discussion. Such is the means to regroup the forces of the independent labor movement, while respecting all points of view.
This would mean returning to the basic principles of the labor movement, and to the rights that allowed it to exist and struggle – particularly to fight against repression, a repression that today is dealing its heavy blows against the workers in Haiti, Pakistan, China. Azania, Benin, etc.
* Our IWC Continuations Commitee was heartened to take note of the fact that in the days following the Mumbai conference, the international solidarity campaign that we launched in support of the Maruti-Suzuki workers was able to link up with the processes of the class struggle in many countries, and with the organisations of the labor movement in some cases. We are pleased with the results of this campaign, but we remain aware that the workers are still threatened.
For instance, we denounce the repression permanently aimed at the Chinese workers, who are trying to organize their own defence.
The same is true in Haiti. In addition to calling for an end to foreign occupation of Haiti and the full restoration of Haitian sovereignty, and for freedom for all the jailed activists, we call for reparations for the more than 8,000 victims of cholera introduced by UN troops; the United Nations acknowledged the role of UN troops in introducing the devastating cholera virus, but it refused to pay reparations. They must pay reparations!
Extensive discussions are going on all these questions in the labor movement. New regroupments are being forged. Many currents and organizations are looking for the path to an independent policy. New questions are appearing, which are at the same time old questions.
This is the reason why we are proposing that we open a discussion on the possibility of convening a new world conference called by the IWC on all these issues.
* In this regard, we wish to take note that initiatives aimed at regrouping workers and activists from all horizons are being organized.
In the framework of the overall attacks on workers and oppressed peoples, the rights and gains of women – particularly poor and working class women – are under sharp attack.
In Germany on average women are paid 20% less than men. Most women work part time and mostly in menial jobs; especially in the hotel branch, the trade sector and services.
In Pakistan, in the government sector 45% of the workers are women, in carpet weaving it’s 35%, in soccer balls it’s 42%, in pharmaceutical it’s 51%, in agricultural sector it’s 54%, in bricklaying it’s 59%. Mostly women workers are denied the right to form unions ; these women workers have no appointment letters. In addition, women workers face : sexual harassment at workplace, no training opportunity, no social security, labor laws are not implemented, no occupational health and safety is implemented, no equal wages, working hours of 10-12 hours per day, no maternity rights.
The Continuations Commitee of the IWC proposes to its supporters worldwide that they develop questionnaires in each country concerning the status of women’s rights, particularly in relation to:
– maternity rights
– the right to organize unions
– equal pay
– access to equal job training and education.
On the basis of these questionnaires and their conclusions, broadly based public forums can be organized on March 8, 2018 – International Women’s Day.
> In Europe, a European conference – based on the appeal issued by the French, Italian and German comrades and drawing the lessons of the Maastricht Treaty — will represent a step forward. This is especially true at a time when all the reactionary forces and, unfortunately, several leaders in the leadership of the labor movement are denying the Catalan people the right to freely decide their future, or deny that there was a referendum on October 1st through which the people expressed their will to a Republic and independence, and expressed the need to abolish the monarchist regime and open the way for a free Republic, a free union of free peoples.
> In the Americas, the common appeal issued by Mexican and U.S. activists for a binational conference against the NAFTA and the Wall of Shame will also be a step toward unity of these forces.
> The same thing is true for the proposal of an initiative in relation to the ILO for the implementation of ILO conventions 87 and 98 and the defence of Chinese activists, their right to circulate freely, and the waiver of all prosecution.
* The IWC Continuations Commitee proposes to organise a broader circulation of information through the IWC Newsletter published in three languages and sent to more than 1,000 correspondents in over 50 countries.
The IWC Continuations Commitee invites its correspondents to multiply their contacts and to send contributions.
* Finally, the IWC Continuations reminds one and all that it is independent from all States and governments, all international institutions, and that it has no other resources than those of the activists, groups and organizations that guarantee its financial independence.