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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #286 - International trade unionism: A panorama to see clearly (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Wed, 12 Sep 2018 08:19:49 +0300

International syndicalism: this is a mysterious object for most union members ! Unsung acronyms, distant structures, linguistic Meccano with misidentified action beyond traditional internationalist slogans ... How are the different trade union movements organized at the world level ? What are they doing concretely ? This month, a complete panorama to better understand, before tackling next month, the question: " What to do in there ? " ---- Christian (AL Paris-Southeast suburbs) ---- International Trade Union Confederation ---- REFORMIST MASTODONTE ---- Founded in 2006, the ITUC is the organization with the largest number of union members to date: 331 organizations in 163 countries, with 207 million members. But this covers very different realities depending on the country ; in France, for example, the CGT, the CFDT, FO and the CFTC are members of the CSI.

The ITUC provides support to member organizations facing repression and denial of trade union freedoms. It supports " generalist " campaigns on themes that revolutionaries can share - climate justice, the elimination of slavery ... - but it does not organize direct actions such as strikes, demonstrations, etc., considering that it is the responsibility of national member structures on the one hand, and international sectoral federations on the other. The latter are not members as such of the ITUC, but they work with, notably through the Global Unions grouping (Global-unions.org).

The ITUC is both the locus of an agreed and highly bureaucratic unionism, and a means of meeting with unions from all over the world, some with radical orientations and practices. For the 4 th World Congress of the ITUC, to be held in December 2018 in Copenhagen, the French CGT supports the candidacy to the general secretariat of the current head of the CGIL (Italy), Susanna Camusso, whose election would be presented as a " turning left " ... The libertarian communists of AL / FDCA (Italy) and many other trade unionists of this country could explain with forceful examples how the eventual turning point would be moderate, with this worthy bureaucrat, also conciliatory with the bosses that untractable with its internal oppositions.


European Trade Union Confederation

The ETUC is not organically linked to the ITUC, which has its own regional sector for Europe. Its creation in 1973, its existence and functioning are in fact closely linked to the European Union. His policy is to accompany the capitalist system, to regulate it, without questioning its existence. Claim action is not at all a priority. " Little by little, there is a drift of the ETUC towards a trade union practice that is more of lobbying and representation than concrete and action, " regretted Philippe Martinez before the Confederal Executive Committee of the CGT, the 3 July. The report is correct ... but contrary to his words, there is nothing new !

The ETUC has some organizations in which libertarian communists intervene, such as the CGT in France or the CGIL in Italy. Our current, and more generally the revolutionary syndicalists, do not weigh in the national orientations of these union confederations, but are influential in some unions or inter-professional structures that compose them.

ETUC affiliates 85 organizations from 36 countries, and 10 European professional federations are formed. Some are both the sectoral federation of the ETUC and the European structure of a professional international. For example, ETF is the transport federation of the ETUC, but also the European structure of ITF, an international federation of transport that is much older, and combative, than the ETUC.


Platform of the unions of stateless nations
This network brings together class unions, independent of the parties, fighting against capitalist globalization, and associating social liberation and national liberation. So much reason to be interested, for libertarian communists, and to seek to promote the dialogue between these organizations and the unions in which we are invested.

A dozen affiliates - all from regions dependent on European states - participated in its last international meeting in 2015 in Italy. There was the LAB of the Basque Country, but also majority unions in their geographical area such as the STC in Corsica, the UTG in Guyana, the UGTG in Guadeloupe, the USTKE in Kanaky, or others like the Intersindical CSC (Catalonia) and the CUT (Galicia) also members of the WFTU, and a few more weakly established unions.

The network of social forums, the Global Labor Institute

If the European Social Forum (ESF) process has broken down since Istanbul in 2010, that of the World Social Forums (WSF) continues. These large gatherings are of real interest to the unions only if they are part of a long-term international work, regular, both professional and professional.

In Europe, the main trade union forces invested in the social forums are Solidaires (France), FSU (France), CSC (Belgium), ESK (Basque Country), IAC (Catalonia), Confederacion Intersindical (Spanish State). Other organizations participate, such as the CGT (France), the FGTB (Belgium) and several unions in Eastern Europe in search of international contacts. At the European level, networks such as Altersummit or Blockupy bring together substantially the same organizations.

At the intersection of international union structures and networks, we can locate the Global Labor Institute (GLI), whose link with popular education is another feature. The GLI project is also based on the search for greater efficiency for international sectoral federations. Solidaires and the CGT were stakeholders in the 2017 French meeting.


International union network of solidarity and struggles

The RSISL exists as such since March 2013. Its creation is the result of a joint work between the Union Syndicale Solidaires (France, " alternative " trade union ), the Centrale Syndicale and popular Conlutas (Brazil, very related to currents Trotskyists, including " Morenoites ") and the CGT (Spanish state, anarcho-syndicalist), 3 e union strength in the Iberian Peninsula.

The Network is open to confederations and inter-professional unions as well as professional federations, local unions or trade unions, as well as trade union trends. This makes it possible to take into account combative currents existing within trade union centers which are almost unique in certain countries.

Participation in the Network is based on a call whose anticapitalist, ecologist, feminist, self-management, anti-racist, anticolonialist, etc. content is very clear. It is signed by some 60 organizations including CUB and SI-Cobas (Italy), Batay Ouvriye (Haiti), UNT (Salvador), RMT (transport, Great Britain), CGSP-FGTB (rail, Belgium), CGATA (Algeria), Sinaltrainal-CUT (agribusiness, Colombia), CUPW-STTP (Post, Canada), CGT (Burkina Faso), FGPTT-UGTT (Post, Tunisia), PPSWU (Post, Palestine), KPRI (Indonesia ) ... In France, in addition to Solidaires, CNT-SO and CNT-F, trends like Émancipation and CSR are members.

RSISL membership is not exclusive. Thus, one finds within it organizations also members of the CSI, the WFTU, the Red and Black Coordination, or without any other affiliation.

The Network works on three axes:

solidarity to support struggles or against repression ;
the strengthening of sectoral networks to anchor internationalism in everyday trade unionism (rail network without borders, call centers, health, Amazon, automobile, etc.) ;
reflection on subjects deemed to be priorities: self-management, worker control ; women's rights ; migrations ; repression against social movements ; colonialism.

Red and black union coordination

This coordination brings together organizations claiming anarcho-syndicalism: CGT and Solidaridad Obrera (Spanish State), SAC (Sweden), USI (Italy), CNT-F (France) and IP (Poland). All - apart from SAC - are also members of the International Union Network of Solidarity and Struggle. There is also the ESE (Greece) or the BIROC-IWW (Great Britain) which, de facto, hold more affinity group than the trade union organization. The Spanish CGT carries most of this coordination.

The Red and Black Trade Union Coordination sometimes publishes common material in several languages, but the weak implementation of most of its member organizations in companies limits its capacity to lead real international campaigns or to weigh in the European social movement.


World Federation of Trade Unions

Founded in 1945, the WFTU was once the trade union international in Moscow. Already weakened by the crises of the communist bloc (exclusion of the Yugoslavian trade unions in 1950, Chinese in 1966, departure of the Italian CGIL in 1975), it is greatly diminished in the 1990s by the breakup of the Soviet bloc. It then suffered the defection of the state unions which, in the East, formed the backbone, and pro-communist unions of the West which, like the CGT, then reposition themselves.

Today, the WFTU has three types of organizations.

First type, the most solid: the official unions of dictatorial states (Iran, Syria, Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea ...) who have a union that the name, and are in fact class supervisory bodies worker in the service of power.
Second type: organizations marked by nostalgia for the USSR, such as the PAME trend (Greece), BTC (Brazil) and, in France, the CGT federation of agribusiness.
Third type: organizations that join the WFTU mainly by rejection of the International Trade Union Confederation (and ETUC for Europe), such as Cosatu (South Africa), LAB (Basque Country), some federations of the CGTP (Portugal), USB (Italy) or RMT (Great Britain). In France, the CGT federations of Chemistry and Commerce, the UD 13 and 94 for example, are part of the structures that have joined the WFTU for this reason or have launched the process to do so.
The situation of the WFTU is therefore paradoxical since, within its ranks, authentic class struggle unions are associated with class collaboration organizations supporting exploitation regimes that deny trade union freedoms.

At the next confederal congress of the French CGT, in March 2019, the rattle of the " return to the WFTU " could be agitated by the Stalinist oppositional currents, in the absence of a real alternative orientation to the Martinez leadership.


International Workers Association

The AIT was founded in 1922 by robust revolutionary syndicalist organizations (and subsequently, anarcho-syndicalists) refusing Soviet tutelage. Among them: the CNT (Spanish State), the FAUD (Germany), the USI (Italy), the SAC (Sweden), the Fora (Argentina) ... Most were broken by fascism in the 1930s and have survived in exile.

After the war, the AIT played a role in the reconstruction of anarcho-syndicalism in the world but, in the 1990s, it experienced a dogmatic and sectarian drift, linking schisms and excommunications. So much so that it exists today only around small anarchist groups in Norway, France, Italy, Poland, Russia, Portugal and Great Britain. The only organization worthy of the name is FAU-IAA, active in social movements in Germany, albeit on a modest scale. Even the historic CNT (Spanish State) has been excluded from the AIT for any doctrinal deviation, and is now considering rebuilding a new AIT.


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