The 17th World Trade Union Congress hosted by the World Federation of Trade Unions will take place from October 5-8 in Durban, South Africa. Founded in 1945, the WFTU represents 92 million organized workers in 126 countries, with its headquarters in Athens. The federation’s most recent Congress took place five years ago in Greece, with 828 delegates from 101 countries.
Preparations for this Congress have been underway for over a year, around the theme “Struggle – Internationalism – Unity! Forward for the attainment of the contemporary needs of the working class against poverty and wars generated by capitalist barbarism.”
South Africa was chosen to host the 17th Congress in recognition of the country’s heroic traditions of liberation struggles, and as an expression of internationalist solidarity with the people of the entire African continent. The country’s largest trade union body, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is an affiliate of the WFTU.
As the Call to the 17th Congress says, “the World Federation of Trade Unions as well as the South African working class have struggled side by side from the very first moment against the racist apartheid regime, for a world without exploitation, for a socialist world, and continue till today the struggle for the defense of the workers and people’s rights.”
Putting the 17th Congress into a global context, the Call says this event takes place “at a time when the International Working Class is affected by:
- The International Capitalist Crisis: a crisis which intensifies the ruthless competition between the monopolies and forces the implementation of anti-labour and anti-people policies that seek to impose the burden of the crisis on the shoulders of the toiling masses. The labour, social and trade union rights are under attack. Privatizations flourish and unemployment is skyrocketing. The quality of life is degrading.
- The inter-imperialist contradictions that generate new wars and conflicts: For the control of natural resources, markets, roads for transport of goods and the control of new territories, the competition between the imperialist forces and their satellites is being intensified day after day generating new wars, conflicts and interventions in different countries.
- The reconstruction of the political sphere: The two main poles, the social-democrats and the neoconservatives, which are represented by new or older parties, are utilized by the capitalist system to transform the indignation of the masses against the anti-people policies into passive or active support for the policy of the ruling class.
- The struggle of the working class and the toiling masses worldwide: Struggles unfolded in all parts of the world during the past years. Many of them, great and heroic, had to deal with the brutal reaction of authorities and the capitalists who responded against the fair struggles with arrests, imprisonments of militants and even murder of trade unionists. The workers struggle against the anti-labour and neoliberal anti-people policies is the positive perspective that can open up new roads for the reconstruction of the trade union movement.
The working class needs stronger, a more dynamic, more mass based, more class-oriented, trade union movement, Trade unions with deep and stable roots within the industries, within the multinationals and within all sectors, to defend its rights and demand “the attainment of its contemporary needs against poverty and wars generated by capitalist barbarism”. Move “Forward” with struggle, internationalism and unity.”
The agenda for delegates in Durban will include reports on the activities and finances of the WFTU from 2011-2016, a Plan of Action for 2016-2020, and the election of a new leadership.
For more information, visit the WFTU website, www.wftucentral.org