First speech of the newly elected WFTU General Secretary, Pambis Kyritsis at WFTU’s 18th Congress
Dear colleagues, brothers and sisters, thanks for the election
I am aware of the responsibility I take on. WFTU carries a long and glorious history of struggle and in the current conditions it has a very important role to play in coordinating and guiding the class-oriented labor movement throughout the world.
I feel this responsibility even greater having in mind that I replace George Mavrikos, a comrade who has sealed with his 17-year presence at the helm of WFTU, a course of great organizational development and substantial expansion of its prestige and influence. A comrade with morals and political weight who with his personal example managed to inspire again the respect in the leadership and the procedures of our Federation, after a difficult period of regressions and uncertainty.
When we agreed that WFTU should continue to exist and and that after Havana a new beginning should be made with new leadership and modern, democratic and transparent processes, I know very well how heavy the burden was lifted by the leadership and the Secretary General of the WFTU and how big progress and improvement has been made.
Obviously I undertake in better conditions. The operation of our Federation today is not characterized neither by bureaucracy, neither by inaction and nor by fatalism. Today it is an active organization, operating in a spirit of collectivity and democratic participation, having positions and proposals and having active members whose presence and role in all continents and in all sectors is essential and very distinct. Nevertheless, in order to fulfill my role, I will definitely need everyone’s support and cooperation. And I’m sure I will have it. Especially of comrade George Mavrikos, whom of course we do not demobilize but we will certainly use him in every possible way. The same goes for other comrades with a great offer who after this congress will be included in the honored category of WFTU veterans. Our 18th Congress has highlighted with clarity the fields in which the Global Class Trade Union Movement is called to give its battles and to realize its goals. It has set priorities for more productive and effective intervention, a stronger and more united front in workers’ struggles.We have no illusions. The battles that await us will be hard and difficult. In the war between labor and capital imposed on us by the barbaric, exploitative nature of the capitalist system, the balance of power at the moment is not such as to ensure us everywhere and always victorious results. There is no doubt that this balance of power at the global level would be very different, if an important part of the Trade Union movement were not under the dependence and political and ideological influence of the dominant circles of capitalism. If this part would set its priorities in line with the class interests of the workers and not the interest anyone else. In such a case, the ability of workers to resist attacks and impose policies that respect their achievements and rights would certainly be much greater. The situation regarding living and working conditions would also be very different. The class consistency certainly does not characterize the whole Trade Union movement, but it does characterize the forces that unite in the WFTU. That is why the mechanisms of the system have tried and are still trying with blackmail and exclusion, to erase if possible the class pole in the world trade union movement. They tried to proclaim the universal alignment of the Trade Union movement with the logic of integration and assimilation into the imperialist new world order. But they did not manage to dissolve us, nor to silence us, nor to assimilate us. We are here armed with the decisions of our Congress, full of determination to change the balances, to resist fatalism and capitulation, to defend the rights of workers, to defend collective bargaining and collective agreement, to oppose the privatization and destruction of the welfare state. We are here:
- United with collective decisions, with thesis and priorities that unite us, we develop actions, we strengthen solidarity, we lead struggles, we intervene where the decisions concerning the workers are made.
- Organized with a presence in all corners of the earth, with Trade Unions representing over 110 million Members
- Structured with collective leadership and guidance, with regional offices on all continents, with TUI’S covering almost all areas of economic activity.
And most important we are here to inspire workers with the vision of a world without imperialist interventions and wars, without human-to-human exploitation.