Speech by Michalis Papanikolaou, UITBB General Secretary, at WFTU’s Presidential Council,
Havana, Cuba, 3-4 May 2017
First of all, I would like to extent UITBB’s gratitude towards the fighting Cuban people, for its warm hospitality they have provided us during our stay in their country, which goes on to express the deep relation that exists for many years now, between the Cuban people and the progressive organisations around the world.
At the same time, we would like to pay a tribute of honour to the historic leader of the Cuban revolution, comrade Fidel who, in his fighting presence in life, has marked the way in which we must all fight for justice and against everything that is wrong, as well as how we should, with an unwavering faith in socialist ideals, to defy all difficulties and create a new society, without exploitation.
We believe that the last WFTU Congress in Durban, South Africa, was a historic milestone in our organisation’s course for the future, and that with the discussions, the decisions and the action plan that was approved for the following years, the basis has been set, upon which WFTU’s class-based trade union movement, can stay on the correct course it has been moving in the last years, as well as take leaps forward.
The importance of the existence of WFTU, given today’s global conditions, is greatly enhanced due to the aggressiveness the world capital exhibits not only against the rights and the interests of the working class, but also against fundamental principles that have to do with the future of humanity in general.
Through the daily action of all of us who make up the great family of WFTU, our aim must be to move steadily forward in building an organization which will have continuity in the future.
In order to achieve this goal, our main characteristic must be the faith in the working class ideology, to express solidarity among ourselves, not to be disappointed by the difficult conditions when they appear, and finally, to understand how important the new generation of members is, who must be enlightened with the above characteristics.
I would like, on behalf of UITBB, to salute once more, the decision of our most recent congress, to pay attention to an even greater extent, the international trade unions per sector, who are affiliated with WFTU.
We believe that this direction is very important, and will help in to a great extent, in order for us to be able to promote in an even more specialized way the problems the workers per sector are facing, it will strengthen our unity and solidarity within the lines of WFTU and it will also underline even more the difference in approach of the various issues the workers are facing, between the class-based trade union movement and the reformist trade union movement.
Unfortunately, this difference is not very much discernible among the workers, and we believe that the further upgrading of our work in the sector, will allow those differences to become even clearer.
Representing UITBB at WFTU’s Presidential Council, I would like to briefly mention a few things about our organization and its action.
UITBB’s latest Congress was organized in Uruguay in April 2015. As per the Congress’s decision, the central offices of our organization has been transferred to Cyprus since the beginning of 2016. Our organization, in our view, despite the difficulties we are facing, is operating in a satisfactory way, contributing responsibly, to achieving the common goals defined by WFTU.
We participate in all campaigns organised by WFTU for various issues, we maintain our own webpage in 3 languages (French, Spanish and English) which is updated almost daily with content both from UITBB’s action and its affiliated members around the world, and from the action of WFTU and its organisations in various countries, while we also issue a newsletter 4 times a year which reaches all of UITBB’s members and friends.
Through the Action Plan for 2017 which the bodies of UITBB have defined, we host regional meetings, participate in ILO’s sessions in Geneva, we organize various seminars, solidarity campaigns towards other organisations, written interventions and drafting of resolutions are carried out on issues which have to do with the workers’ interests etc.
Our organisation’s bodies, the Secretariat and the Executive Committee, meet at least once a year. Generally speaking, even though our organization is at a stage where it is being reorganized, we are satisfied with the progress so far, and we are certain that the basis that has been formed, will help the further strengthening of UITBB as well as the promotion of WFTU’s positions among the workers in the sectors we represent.
A basic element that characterizes our organization is the class-based unity that exists, both at the level of the members as well as at the level of the leadership.
I would like to finish this intervention by declaring, on behalf of our organization, our absolute agreement with the decisions of the recent WFTU Congress and the Plan of Action for 2016-2020. I would like to express my great optimism that WFTU, as the class-based trade union which represents the workers around the world has a presence and it will have a future.