(en) ITUSC International Workers' Conference Report.

Tue, 18 Mar 1997 22:29:26 GMT

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ITUSC General Secretary, Keith Standring presented the following Report to the International Workers' Conference 18-21 January 1997, on behalf of the ITUSC Committee. He said the Report contained a political/industrial analysis together with some important organisational proposals designed to consolidate the developments which had taken place in the ITUSC since the previous IWC in June 1996 and to improve its effectiveness in the coming struggles, as an integral part of the workers' movement. Following a detailed and interesting discussion, the IWC unanimously endorsed the Report and approved its recommendations.

'Until the third quarter of this century, in the major capitalist countries it was possible for the ruling class to grant from time to time a number of 'reform' concessions, on the basis of the profits of colonial slavery and expanding domination of world finance, trade and industry. These reforms were never inroads into capitalism but became the actual form of rule of capital, implemented through the Labour and 'Socialist' parties.


Every one of these concessions was indeed made in fear of the strength of the working-class, but the fact is that by means of them the ruling class was able to divide the workers of Europe and America from the impoverished masses in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and to divide the better-paid workers from the low-paid and unemployed in Europe and America.


The other, and most powerful, political force which held back the working-class from realising its international strength and socialist aims was the bureaucracy which usurped power in the Soviet Union after the socialist revolution of 1917. Its 'socialism in one country', which could supposedly 'peacefully co-exist' with and even overtake capitalism, has ignominiously collapsed.


This 'national' basis for the Labour and 'Socialist' (reformist) Parties and for Stalinism has ended. Capital has no way any longer of expanding globally. The future progress, indeed the very survival, of humanity now demands that the massively increased potential of higher productivity of labour with science and technique is at the disposal of free men and women. The obstacle to this is the continued existence of capital, for which living labour exists only for exploitation, profit, even at the expense of the destruction of millions of people and of nature. Capitalist 'enterprise' no longer carries humanity forward, but is turned to parasitic money-making, organised crime, the drugs and arms trades.


The basic and elementary demands of the mass of the people- work in human conditions, a decent standard of living, free time, housing, health-care, security in old age, freedom of expression, of organisation and of movement, and so on- can no longer be conceded and are everywhere under attack. These basic demands- of those defending the environment, of trade unionists, of the unemployed, of the old and the young, of the peoples of colonial and semi-colonial countries cannot any longer be tolerated and integrated into the capitalist system. Those who fight for these demands must expect to come under attack from the repressive forces of the state. The necessity of their solidarity, combining against those attacks and turning defence into attack is a solid objective basis for the construction of the working-class movement and emphasises the importance of our work in the ITUSC.


More and more, capital destroys full-time work and job security, driving for individual contracts, part-time and low-paid work, and inflicts mass unemployment especially on the youth. Trade union solidarity actions are made illegal. These attacks come not from capital's strength but from its crisis.


Here is a vital question for the reconstitution of the class movement of the working-class. 150 years ago, Marx saw capitalist industry as the historical force which exploited the working-class but at the same time was compelled to concentrate that class, its necessary opposite, driving it to organisation and discipline, producing the very force that would bring socialism. Some ex-socialists say that today's capitalist developments (decline of manufacturing, part-time work, individual contracts, etc.) now break up and weaken the working-class, destroying the prospects for socialism. It is not true.


The 'globalisation' in which capital has reached the limits of its expansion means at the same time a profound crisis of capital's old methods of control and rule. The international scale and the interconnections of the operations of every transnational company and bank make them more vulnerable to the united actions of the working-class, provided that these actions are united, combined internationally in solidarity.


The inability of today's capital to make any important concessions to the workers of particular countries, or industries, or occupations, means that the working-class must seek a way forward as a single class, internationally. Added to this, the fact that millions upon millions of those better-off 'white-collar' workers who once helped form a base for conservatism and reformism are now driven into unemployment and insecurity, brings new potential strength and unity to the working-class. The working-class can find millions of forces among the youth, who face a future without hope under capital.


The workers of Eastern Europe, the ex-Soviet Union and China, for so long separated from the working-class in the West, now confront a nascent class of capitalists who are, in the main, the very bureaucrats who paraded for so long as 'communists', leading the people to the victory of socialism. These budding capitalists are directly servile to the same international finance capitalists (IMF & World Bank) and transnational companies as exploit the peoples of Western Europe and the rest of the world.


In the ex-colonial countries, for three-quarters of a century the struggles of the working people in 'national liberation' movements have been used by the national capitalists of these countries to establish their own repressive power against the working people. Now their days of balancing between the capitalist powers and the ex-Soviet bureaucracy and claiming to be 'socialists' are over.


All this means that the objective conditions for a truly internationalist movement have changed qualitatively in favour of the working-class. This is quite contrary to the view of those who bewail the collapse of the Soviet Union and of the so-called socialist camp. Facing the working class is a conscious settlement with all those false paths of 'gradual' parliamentary roads to socialism', 'socialism in one country', 'national liberation under bourgeois leadership', all of them now in the dustbin of history, and a conscious reconstitution on new foundations of the socialist, international, class movement of the workers and toilers and their communities. The work of the ITUSC is above all part of that reconstruction, and can be taken on these firm foundations.


There is one other, vital element in these objective conditions which favour the building of a socialist working-class movement. The crisis is global in the sense of universal (intensively as well as extensively) and threatening the end of humanity. Therefore, it provokes many, many struggles and demands, not in themselves socialist but requiring the abolition of capital.


The movement as a whole against capital is therefore pluralist, because capital's crisis gives rise to mass movements. This pluralism corresponds to the really mass nature of the production of a communist mass consciousness and self-emancipation, etc. As Marx stressed already in 1851, the working-class revolution is unique in that it is a social and not only a political revolution; it engages the masses in continuous struggle, beyond the conquest of power, to transform all their basic conditions of social life (' the permanent revolution', Marx).


With the miners' strike of 1984-85 in Britain, it was made very clear that the task facing the working-class is a political one (state repression, solidarity), and the import of Polish coal by Thatcher against the strikers proved the international character taken today by all struggles and of the necessary working-class resistance. Since then there are new and very important examples:

Liverpool dockers' internationalism (work for international solidarity, defence of Turkish workers, support for Bosnia miners' union, international conferences and now the building of a dockers international organisation which will go beyond the present dispute permanently), the youth ( Reclaim the Future) inspired by the dockers fight. Rejection by the dockers' leaders of anti-union laws, of the bureaucracy's control and of the political-industrial divide. Their anti-sectarianism. The role of women in the dispute.


The foundation of the ITUSC itself in 1991 and its work since that time, including International Workers' Conferences and its work on human rights issues world-wide, based on its assertion that trade union rights are also human rights. The refugee workers and human rights organisations now frequently turn to the ITUSC for assistance in their struggles and ITUSC has taken a number of initiatives in this field e.g. PAFFAC and the address by the ITUSC General Secretary to the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights in Geneva on behalf of the Kashmiri's.


The publication on a regular basis of the International Trade Unionist Bulletin. Eleven issues during 1996; the December issue was 12 pages (rather than 8 pages) and, in collaboration with other worker activists at LabourNet, the construction of a frequently visited website on the Internet. Equally importantly, our demonstrable ability to use the Internet to send protest and solidarity messages and comment on the struggles of the day, and to communicate with fellow activists in any part of the world. We are currently handling a prolific number of incoming and outgoing e-mail messages each day.


One of the current struggles in which the ITUSC has acted is that of the South Korean workers' movement. We have sought to mobilise international solidarity action with the strikers and to protest the actions of the Korean government.


The ITUSC is an international and internationalist organisation and any body (operating from Britain) calling itself such will neither be international nor internationalist, unless, like the ITUSC, from the very start it includes as members and in its leadership men and women from the many peoples of different national origins who now live and work in Britain. Asylum seekers, immigrant workers and their fights-- internationalism starts here.

We will build on the implications of our comrade Toure's (Ivory Coast) speech at the International Workers' Conference in June 1996--- the many liberation fighters from Africa and other continents now exiled or living as refugees in Britain are part of our class and movement. We are, and will continue, bringing together workers and political refugees from amongst others Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Bangladesh, Africa, Turkey and Kashmir, into the ITUSC.


The ITUSC Committee has met on 7 occasions since it was elected by the June 1996 International Workers' Conference. Every effort has been made to develop a collective approach to all the Committee's work. This process has been assisted by the frequency with which Committee members have jointly participated on demonstrations, pickets and other activities. The Committee meetings are for planning, organising and conducting the business of the ITUSC in all its aspects. They are not public meetings, yet the Committee has met with worker activists visiting Britain. These visiting comrades extended oral reports on the developments and struggles of the day in their countries of origin which included Bosnia, Gilgit Baltistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria and the USA. The Committee has greatly valued these visitors because the detailed reports they have made have extended and deepened the knowledge available to the ITUSC. In addition, important links have been forged with parts of the world where we previously had little contact, particularly Latin America.


The Committee has considered the question of organising regular and frequent meetings of ITUSC Supporters & Friends in various locations. It is strongly recommended that the IWC should authorise the Committee to organise such meetings at the earliest opportunity.


Prior to the IWC last June the ITUSC had operated in quite an informal fashion. That IWC recognised that the period in which we are operating is favourable to the promotion of our principles and objectives. It concluded that despite the enormity of the enterprise we have undertaken, we had a solid basis for developing our potential. That IWC adopted certain organisational measures to seek to ensure that the ITUSC was better placed to fulfil its potential. The application of those changes has taken place and in the short period since June 1996, we can begin to see the benefits accruing to the Campaign.


The Committee took the initiative to appoint 3 Regional Co-ordinators at its meeting in October 1996. This was in recognition of the need for comrades involved in organising and co-ordinating outside Britain to have proof of identity and ITUSC status. The 3 new Regional Co-ordinators are:- Balazs Nagy-special responsibility for Central and Eastern Europe; Rade Pavlovic-special responsibility for ex-Yugoslavia and; Toure Moussa Zeguan-special responsibility for Francophone Africa.


The Committee gave consideration to the need for an ITUSC constitution in light of the growth of interest in the work of the organisation and its democratic and pluralist nature. It is strongly recommended that this International Workers' Conference asks the ITUSC Committee to draft a simple constitution for consideration and endorsement by the next IWC. Whilst identifying the broad aims and principles of the organisation and the obligations and rights of members, the constitution of the ITUSC must be minimal, thus emphasising the absolute need to attract and unite all those who embrace our 3 Founding Principles and who are in struggle to remove capitalism.


The Committee has received a number of enquiries about membership of and affiliation to the ITUSC. It is recommended that the ITUSC Committee be authorised to introduce a mechanism and appropriate fees for individuals and organisations to affiliate to the ITUSC


We in the ITUSC shall endeavour to draw all the lessons of the collapse of Social-Democracy and the Soviet bureaucracy, and of the history of sectarianism and we recognise the necessity of international reconstruction. We will strive to unite, even with some differences still to be thrashed out, into the ITUSC all those forces around the world committed to workers' internationalism; trade union democracy and trade unions independent of the state and employers. Those of us who are Marxists in the ITUSC will not be satisfied with the kind of Marxism which only knows how to win arguments, rather our task will be to develop Marxism in the real movement by combining and organising.


The ITUSC does not try to impose itself on the working class, but seeks to immerse itself in all its struggles. The ITUSC must continue to have a unity of purpose and a mutual solidarity and discipline founded on a common understanding of tasks, it must not tolerate any bosses, it cannot arrive at agreement and unity of purpose without the free expression of differences and clash of opinions.


In the seven months since the previous IWC the organisation has fought to transform itself. There is still a long way to go, however, we can confidently face up to the tasks of implementing the world-wide Programme of Action, in the knowledge that the ITUSC is always consciously seeking to be at the heart of working class struggles, wherever they happen. We are an integral part of the working class movement and as such there are few obstacles we cannot ultimately overcome.


We in the ITUSC are dedicated to rebuilding the workers' movement and to the removal of sectarianism and division in working class organisations. We fight for workers' internationalism, democracy in trade unions and for unions independent of the state and employers. We welcome into our ranks, as comrades in struggle, all individuals and organisations who support those principles, irrespective of their political outlook.


As we face the challenges of our chosen tasks, let us never forget that the bosses everywhere represent a system in its death agony; a system which exploits the labour of the many to maintain the privileges of the few. We, the workers of the world, are a class whose time is yet to come.

They are agents of a class and a system in its death agony; we represent a class which is alive and kicking and whose time is yet to come.

They act out of weakness; we act out of strength. They represent the past; we represent the future.

They will lose; we will win.

Forward to workers' internationalism! Forward to socialism! Victory to the struggles!' ____________________________________________________________________________ _________ This is from the International Trade Union Solidarity Campaign (ITUSC) at:- e-mail: itusc@gn.apc.org website: http://www.itusc.org.uk 'snail' mail: PO Box 18, Epsom, Britain, KT18 7YR Tel/Fax ++44 (0) 1372 817 778 The ITUSC is an international and internationalist association of organised workers and communities, dedicated to rebuilding the workers' movement and to overcoming sectarianism and division in working class organisations. It was founded in 1991 on the following principles: 1) trade unions independent of the state and employers; 2) democracy within trade unions, and; 3) workers' internationalism. Any individuals or organisations that accept these principles and are prepared to work for them, are regarded as comrades by the ITUSC. ____________________________________________________________________________ ________


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