The 18th congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) is currently underway in Italy, being hosted by the country’s main grassroot union Unione Sindacale di Base (USB). 435 trade union delegates from 101 countries will be attending the congress in Rome, Italy. In addition, another 300 delegates are connecting to the congress online.
The focus of the debates in this year’s congress will be on the problems of the global working class which continues to bear the brunt of the economic crisis sparked by the pandemic and intensified with the ongoing war in Ukraine.
On the morning of Saturday, May 7, as part of the conference, participants paid homage to the Fosse Ardeatine, where 335 Italian civilians and soldiers, political prisoners, Jews or common detainees, were slaughtered by German occupation troops on March 24, 1944 as an attack to the partisan resistance in the Italian capital. A wreath of flowers will be deposited with the inscription “Never again Nazism, never again Fascism”.
Also present at the congress are diverse Italian social and political forces such as the left-wing political party Potere al Popolo (Power to the People). Marta Collot and Giuliano Granato, the national spokespersons of the party, shared solidarity greetings with the gathering.
Dear comrades, dear activists,
We are living in difficult times, and seeing hundreds of combative trade union delegates coming together warms our hearts and shows us a concrete horizon of struggle. For that we thank you.
The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have made it clear to every single person all over the world: what happens thousands and thousands of miles away from our homes – for those lucky enough to have a roof – directly impacts our lives.
It was true of the virus, which triggered a health crisis in which the collective antibody for which our grandfathers and grandmothers, our fathers and mothers, fought – the public health systems – proved far more fragile than our people had hoped.
And not because of the inability of health care workers. On the contrary, they have shown all their self-sacrifice in defending what is most precious to our people: life itself. The fragility of our health care systems is not the responsibility of the workers, nor is it the result of bad luck. No! It is the product of decades of privatization policies, carried out in all our countries.
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, with the complicity of the vast majority of the national governments, have not changed their recipes: they continue to lend money to our countries imposing the freezing of public sector wages, a greater ease of dismissal in the private sector, the introduction or the increase of taxes on value added, and cuts on cuts in public spending, starting with consumption subsidies for the most suffering sections of our populations.
We are happy and glad this congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions is taking place in Italy. At the outbreak of the pandemic we were told that “everything will be fine” and that “we will come out better”. False! Working men and women and the unemployed came out in pieces, the minority of privileged people have further enriched their already indecent riches.
Informal work, precariousness, starvation wages, and absence of rights are the reality for millions and millions of workers.
And yet, even in dark times, the sun continues to flood us with its rays.
These rays are the struggles that millions and millions of men and women develop every day, organized in trade unions that make conflict their beating heart and against “social peace”, corruption, co-optation into the system.
From the first trade unions in the United States that managed to penetrate the Amazon dictatorship to the “cartoneros” (cardboard recyclers) and “trabajadores sin techo” (homeless worker in Argentina, from the peasants who occupy land and self-manage it in Brazil to the workers in Sri Lanka who strike and take to the streets against the increasing cost of living, facing the harsh repression of the government – there are many battles that allow the light to arrive.
Every seed needs light and water to develop and grow. Until it becomes a strong and vigorous plant, able to resist the enemy, take on a thousand faces, speak thousand languages, use different tactics depending on the geography, but everywhere the same: against the logic of capital that drives every choice of the ruling classes.
Against this common enemy and in order to develop the plant of rebellion and the future, we from Potere al Popolo will always be your brothers and sisters of struggle.
We are with you and wish you good work and a happy congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions!
Marta Collot, Giuliano Granato