Speech and Video by George Mavrikos, WFTU General Secretary at Euromediterranean Meeting in Athens
It is a pleasure and an honour for WFTU to be here in this UITBB international event, co-organised by the Federation of Construction Workers Greece.
We believe that the issue that has been chosen to be discussed is extremely relevant and important. This is because throughout the world, the imperialist antagonisms and the endo-imperialist clashes create differences, wars and interventions. Therefore, we must help the trade union movement around the world to analyse the situation, always on a class-based line, and advice it not to raise foreign flags, nor run behind foreign banners which have nothing to do with its interests.
We witness in the Southeastern Mediterranean a critical situation. Since World War II, there has never been such a concentration of troops, armies, armadas, naval, airborne and ground forces. We can also see that the situation in Syria with the imperialist interventions bears dangers, in Lebanon and Libya the situation is also critical while in Ukraine the workers are being killed by fascists and other troops. We can also see the dangers created by the endo-imperialist antagonisms in the South China Sea and in the Korean Peninsula. In Latin America the imperialists, taking advantage of the problems in the daily survival of the people, are planning attacks on Venezuela and the right of the Venezuelan people to decide its own fate.
In total, we are witnessing a situation where the problems are huge; in the Mediterranean Sea the situation is even worse. For instance, the Turkish occupying army is still in Cyprus, Greek troops are participating in a number of imperialist missions abroad and so on.
The point is, what are we, as a trade union movement, doing about it? This is why the topic today and what UITBB and the Greek Federation of Construction Workers are doing, both relevant and necessary. I believe that our weapon is internationalism and solidarity, so that no people and no worker will feel alone. For the past two centuries, proletarian internationalism has been the main weapon for the class-based trade union movement, the workers movement and the peoples who are fighting for their right to democratically and freely decide their own fate.
Therefore, it is very important for us, in order to understand the need to fight as a unified class for our own interests, to always keep in mind the element of internationalism. From that perspective, we would like to express WFTU’s solidarity to the peoples fighting against imperial interventions.
Allow me here, friends and comrades, to briefly mention some initiatives included in WFTU’s Action Plan until the end of this year. We are certain that the construction sectors will be at the forefront of those fights, which is what they have been doing so far within the great family of WFTU. We would therefore like your participation and support.
The first action we would like you to participate in your countries is the 26th of July, an important day for Cuba. WFTU’s decision is to express our solidarity to Cuba, with our main demand being the termination of the embargo which has been in effect since 1960 with negative consequences for the Cuban people. We also demand the return of Guantanamo which is illegally being occupied by the USA. Despite the attempts by the Cuban revolution as well as elsewhere, we demand the end of this barbarity and the return of the land of Guantanamo to Cuba. We would like your own effort and participation along with everyone’s.
On the 27th and 28th of this month in Nigeria, we are organizing a Pan-African meeting, where 42 out of 49 African countries have already confirmed participation. The main issue to be discussed is the looting of Africa’s resources and, we believe that UTIBB’s members in Africa can take part. National federations have been invited, but these are issues that we see in their totality.
In early September, we are organizing an international solidarity event in Syria against the imperialist interventions, the second one we are having in two years, in an attempt to support the Syrian people and let them know that they are not alone.
At the end of September, in Athens, we will have a meeting with all Arab trade unions –members of WFTU. In October, from 25-27 in Paris, France, WFTU, along with our affiliated union in the pharmaceutical sector, will organize an international, global meeting with issues to be discussed such as medicines and their costs, the role of the multinational companies, the role of the trade unions and the needs of the working class.
On November 2 and 3, in Rome, we are going to organize a global convention of worker youth, because we all struggle to form the consciousness of the next generation of the working class. Young people from more than 50 countries will gather in Rome, discuss their contribution in the class-based trade union movement and their problems, and elect the new Secretariat of WFTU youth.
In November, we also have the meeting of all 11 sectorial trade unions including construction in India. As you know, WFTU has another 10 sectorial trade unions, each one playing an important role based on its characteristics and weight.
Moreover, within this year, we are planning a preparatory meeting for the foundation of a new sectorial trade union in Clothing, Textiles and Leather. We want you to inform the organisations in your countries so that they can be at the forefront of this effort and help in the successful organization of this conference, which will be done next year.
Finally, one of the issues the WFTU Secretariat which is going to convene next Monday and Tuesday will discuss, is the declaration of October 3 as an International Day of Action for Immigrants, applicable to all trade unions, a pan-army that is. At the same time, it will set a date and time for the event to celebrate the 100 years from the Great Socialist Revolution, so that we can see the role of the working class, its benefits, the conclusions and our duties from here on out.
I would like to finish by wishing every success to the Euro-Mediterranean meeting and to underline that the success and progress of WFTU in the recent years, is owed to a great extent to the support we see right here. Allow me in particular to mention the help given to WFTU by the Federation of Construction Workers in Greece and PAME. Without their help, things would be much more difficult. I would also like to ask our Brazilian comrades to convey our wishes to the CGTB Congress that will take place in Bahia on 24 and 25 August. A large WFTU delegation will be present, because this congress is important to us.
CGTB is a large WFTU organization with 9.500.000 members. We would like to wish every success to the congress, to convey our greetings to the leaders and all the comrades, to wish all the best to PEO’s convention on 16-18 November and say that especially now, which is a difficult period in Cyprus, we have every confidence in the Cypriot comrades that they will provide answers to the contemporary issues concerning the working class of Cyprus. Lastly, we would like to wish every success to the leadership of CWFI and all the comrades there. We believe they can play an active role in the Asian region, since it is an organization with many million members and class-based orientation.
In Syria, we would like to wish them all the best and to assure that we stand by their side, in Lebanon and to FENASOL, we wish every success in their struggles, to Pedro we would like to say that we are following the struggles in Portugal and we would like him to convey our solidarity to all the comrades there, and to the Greeks that we are always together and as I have said, we thank you for the multifaceted help and support without which we could never have taken such positive steps.
Thank you very much.