To the Interview asked
by the Iranian Committee for Labor-Union Relations
1. What is your assessment of the prospect of the general labor-union struggles?
The international trade union movement has great responsibilities in the current developments and a significant potential. All together, collectively and in solidarity we can achieve multiple results, amassing forces on national, regional, sectoral and international level, thus strengthening our national struggles, building internationalist solidarity. Our irrevocable goal, which should be daily at the center of our struggle is to unite the working class under its own interests, to contribute with all our forces to rebuild the trade union movement and to coordinate our efforts on national, regional and sectoral level, in order to strengthen our potential.
2. What is the effect of the economic crisis on workers and the labor-union movement?
The capitalist financial crisis, which unfolded in all developed capitalist countries has dramatically worsened the situation for the working class in all aspects of their lives. In all capitalist countries, in all continents, the capitalists, the monopolies took advantage of the financial crisis in order to accelerate the anti-workers measures they had elaborated long before the crisis with the aim to extort bigger surplus value. They take advantage of the mass unemployment, so they can impose state and employer sponsored terrorism, oppression and increase the exploitation rate for the youth, especially the children of the working class and the popular strata.
The policies for an exit from the crisis elaborated by capitalist governments, no matter the name or composition, and the international imperialist organizations have as a main prerequisite very low wages and salaries, their constant decrease, with a tendency to meet the lowest wages and salaries of the world market. We can notice all this phenomena and tendencies in every country and continent: in
in Europe, in Asia.
3. How are the present-day labor-union movement and the World Federation of Trade Unions’ role in the current era?
We, as workers, as the class-oriented trade union movement, as the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), we have a duty to expose the plots of the exploiters and to edify the workers of the world with a militant spirit of struggles, of internationalism, of constant struggle against the imperialist wars.
The WFTU and its members and friends around the world have conducted important struggles during the last years.
The WFTU maintains strong presence in Arab countries, where the major organizations are members and friends of the WFTU, to curb the resistance of Arab workers, who are against the imperialist plans for the so-called “New Middle East”. We will continue on the same direction, forging solidarity with our class brothers in the Arab World against imperialist aggression, constantly uncovering the plans of the imperialist forces antagonizing in the region.
4. How are the World Federation of Trade Unions’ struggles and its achievements after the last Congress – the Sixteenth Congress?
The 16th World Trade Union Congress was a historic event for the international class-oriented trade union movement attended by 828 delegates from 101 countries. It reflected the large open, democratic, modern, internationalist and class-oriented character of the WFTU.
The "Athens Pact", the main resolution, is an important legacy for the international trade union movement as a collective, mature and democratic decision of the 16th World Trade Union Congress which crystallizes the timely and critical analysis on social and political and economic developments, and also the way out for the benefit of workers and popular strata.
The rich action of the WFTU on central, regional and sectoral levels has aimed to unite the forces of the working class in class struggles; to unite the workers no matter their ideology, religion, language, gender; unite the simple people in the struggle against capitalist exploitation and against imperialism.
The organizational growth of the WFTU into more than 86 million members in 126 countries is one result of this progress.
5. How are the International Labor Organization and the World Federation of Trade Unions’ activity within it?
The WFTU has permanent representation in the ILO as well as all other international Organizations such as the UN, UNESCO, FAO where it expresses its views and positions in favor of the working people. However we are also realistic about the role of the ILO which is not in favor of the working people rather than for the governments and employers interests. In the best case the ILO easily expresses wishes, generalities and vague promises. For long now, we have been listening to nice words for dignity, for equality, for democratic rights etc. but for the real issues and problems of the workers no action is taken.
On the contrary the ILO and its Regional Offices are blocking the democratic, proportional representation from the trade unions, are continuing to allow the monopoly of the ITUC within the ILO and are discriminating a part of the trade union movement and the affiliates of the WFTU. We will continue the pressure until this stops.
6. On several occasions, the World Federation of Trade Unions, and you as its First Secretary, have called for release of the detained Iranian workers and labor-union activists. As a large and well-known labor-union center, what is the World Federation of Trade Unions’ role in defending the labor-union rights, including the Iranian workers’ labor-union rights?
The workers and the trade union internationally face similar problems that relate to unemployment, dismissals, salary cuts, attack in social security rights, for the age of pensions. The violation of trade union rights, the persecution of trade unionists has to do with the establishment of such policies and reforms.
The WFTU defends the rights in trade union freedom in every country. The Convention 87 of the ILO ratified by many countries is an outcome of the action of the class-oriented trade union movement and the WFTU.
The internationalist solidarity and support can and must continue assisting the national struggle of each working class into making trade union freedom a reality in every country.