Successful conclusion of the the 13th Congress of the TUI of Public Services and Allied Workers in Larnaca
The 13th Congress of the TUI PS&A of WFTU concluded on November 17, 2019 in Parvolia, Larnaca - Cyprus. The Congress elected the new Secretary General of TUI PS, Comrade Zola Saphetha of NEHAWU, South Africa.
Speech of Artur Sequeira – President of the PS - TUI
First of all, I warmly salute the workers and the class-oriented trade union movement from the whole world and most particularly PASYEK – PEO’s Public Administration Trade Union, for the efforts developed to host the 13Th PS – TUI Congress.
I also greet most fraternally comrade George Mavrikos, General Secretary of our class-oriented international Trade Union Federation, the World Federation of Trade Unions.
I equally salute all trade unions, affiliated or not to the TUI or to the WFTU, and all delegates and guests who are attending this Congress, as well as those who for different reasons, namely financial, were not able to participate, but who, just like us, expect that from this Congress may emerge decisions to be implemented by our future leadership, decisions that strengthen our work and assert and reinforce our TUI.
We are holding this 13th Congress only a few months away from the celebration of WFTU’s 75 years of existence. Since its foundation, it has affirmed itself as an essential tool in defence of workers and peoples’ rights, in the class and internationalist struggle against our common class enemy: the capitalist system and its stooges. This coherent class action is reflected in its organic growth, since it currently represents around 100 million men and women workers and therefore hundreds of affiliated and friendly trade unions in all continents.
Concerning our TUI, we can also say that, in the last 4 years, it also grew in terms of affiliated members and in the number of workers represented, but being very frank and concrete, we are still facing difficulties and shortcomings, notably regarding our organisation and our communication.
Our TUI is a grass root organisation of the WFTU, which serves the workers in our sector. We are an important tool in the fight in defence of public services, which are fundamental to fight social inequality and to defend workers and peoples’ rights.
Our TUI has a very clear stance against the privatisation of public services and is in favour of renationalising services that are essential for the population, reason why we say that “public belongs to all, private only to a few”
Our struggle is centred in the defence of a Public Administration that serves the people, against the reconfiguration of the State that is being imposed by governments that pay lip service to big capital. This struggle must be developed taking into account the diversity of realities in our sector, in different continents and countries, by exchanging experiences and gaining more knowledge of the measures that are being implemented in each country, how we are resisting and organising workers for the struggle.
Nowadays, in Europe, and in many parts of the world, the main ideological capitalist orientation is targeting the destruction of the State social duties and of public services, which, until the seventies of the 20th century, had higher levels of satisfaction of workers and peoples’ necessities and demands, compared to countries in other continents.
Very important for these social achievements were the social revolutions in the decades before those years and following World War Two, with the implantation of socialism in several Eastern European countries and in other continents, and progressive regimes in different parts of the Globe.
As stated in the Draft Political Declaration of this 13Th Congress, with the downfall of most of the socialist and progressive regimes in the eighties and beginning of the nineties of the 20Th century, the world economy became increasingly dominated by big and financial international capital, through imperialist transnational organisations, leading to profound and dramatic consequences in the lives of workers and peoples. The intensification of the offensive by big capital against the workers has been accompanied by a vertiginous increase of the wealth centralisation and concentration in the hands of fewer multimillionaires, with the impoverishment of the large masses of the world population. Capitalism has done everything to increase workers’ exploitation, attack labour rights and destroy the State structures that fulfil its social duties: education, health, social security, housing, etc, only varying, from country to country, the mode, the dimension and the velocity of this process.
In fact, in a situation of acute economic crisis of capitalist overproduction, imperialism uses its transnational organisations – IMF, EU and NATO – to try to impose a new world order, using aggressive political, economic and military means, downgrading the workers’ living and working conditions, most particularly of the public administration employees, and also downgrading public and allied services, in a real social and civilizacional regression.
In Europe, which is one of the social and political science laboratories used by capital, after the downfall of the socialist camp and especially after the Maastricht Treaty, there was an increase in the use by the ruling classes of the State apparatus to try and impose a uniform policy of aggression against workers and peoples’ rights. That Treaty introduced the principle of user/ payer to destroy the public services, to outsource them to capitalist companies and also to privatise them. Financial capital now dominates insurance companies, hospitals, schools, universities and other public services and utilities.
Afterwards, with the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997, the Nice Treaty of 2001 and the Lisbon Treaty of 2007, they aggravated those policies and implemented the Economic and Monetary Union and the Euro – which is ana instrument used to progressively eliminate the national sovereignty of each member State, submitting nations to rules that destroy their production capacity, particularly of peripheral European countries like Portugal, Greece and others, and focused the functioning of the economy on financial speculation, with the transfer of State funds to private Banks.
And with the more recent Fiscal Compact, imposed by the French- German Axis, they are further aggravating those retrograde and recessive policies, which have as the prime objective the external control of the State public deficit, this leading to brutal cuts in public investment and very negative consequences in the workers and peoples’ living conditions, increase of poverty, misery, unemployment and precarious jobs.
Public Administration workers in the EU countries are those more affected by the blind economicist nature of those policies, losing social rights, salaries, pensions and welfare benefits.
Despite this violent capitalist offensive, our duty is to value and praise the courage of the workers and peoples who, in many countries of Europe, are resisting against these policies of the European Union and against the Euro. They are fighting, in each country, for alternatives of progress and social justice and, in many cases, rejecting the policies of successive “Adjustment Programmes” of the troika, which are destroying labour and social standards, denying the most elementary and essential living conditions and that are leading to economic decline and destruction of State sovereignty.
In Portugal, and despite the fact that the Aggression Programme of the troika finished in 2015, and that in October of that year the government of the right-wing parties was defeated, the fact is that we are still facing anti-labour and anti-social policies, determined by the political directorate of the major powers of the European Union, namely Germany and France. The Portuguese Public Administration workers are still being attacked in their fundamental rights – namely with big cuts and losses in salaries, pensions and social benefits.
In opposition to this, and in the last decades, there were policies developed in some Latin American countries which had a progressive nature and in defence of their sovereignty, with a stronger State intervention in the economy, and with policies that were more worker and people – friendly, thus helping the growth of more sustainable economies, protection of workers’ rights and more social justice. However, in the last years, imperialism counter-attacked once again, trying to destroy those progressive processes, namely in relation to Socialist Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Brazil and more recently in Bolivia. But we are certain that the brave and determined resistance and struggle of workers and peoples of these nations will finally defeat the imperialist offensive.
It is clear that this situation demands the deepening of international solidarity from the class-oriented international trade union movement, which leads to the development and increase of struggles at national, regional and international level, more specifically in the sector of Public Administration and allied services.
For the class-oriented Trade Unions there can be no economic development and real democracy without the deepening and increase of workers’ rights, the elimination of today’s most striking social inequalities, and this demands ensuring free, public and universal education, health, social security and other public services, such as public water, housing and environment protection.
This fundamental goal can only be guaranteed with the workers’ intervention and participation in the transformation of State power, nowadays dominated by financial capital, and only possible if workers gain the necessary class consciousness, to develop the struggle that leads to a change in the balance of forces and allows for the transformation of society and the building of socialism.
It was in this context of resistance and struggle that the FNSTFPS of Portugal decided to affiliate to our Public Services TUI, an organisation of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), with whom we share the essential principles of our trade union project: a trade unionism of unity in action, of the masses, class-oriented, democratic and independent. In its action, my Trade Union Federation has stood coherently in defence of public services and workers’ rights, as opposed to other organisations that promote reformism and class conciliation.
Meanwhile, the participation of my Trade Union Federation gained an added responsibility, since we have held the position of President of the TUI.
Our affiliation to the PS- TUI does not in any way hinder the continuation of our contacts and relations, as well as unity of action, with other class-oriented European and international trade unions that are not members of the WFTU, as long as those organisations share our trade union and political project of building a fairer society, without exploitation, and as long as they wish to fight in unity against right-wing policies like those that are being implemented in Europe.
Although we are facing difficulties, limitations and shortcomings in the functioning of our TUI, at the world or regional level, we have been able to go forward and progress in all continents, strengthening our intervention, solidarity and struggle.
We have fought and will continue to intervene and fight:
- Against the closure, handing over or privatisation of public services and their taking over by private monopolies;
- Against workers’ exploitation and destruction of rights attained in their struggles across the world;
- Against the attack on workers’ rights and work with rights – namely in our sector, by trying to reduce labour costs;
- Against precarious contract links;
- Against the use of manpower agencies to hire workers;
- Against the loss of pension rights, the increase of the age of retirement and cuts in the amounts of pensions;
In the present international context, it is increasingly crucial to develop internationalist solidarity among class-oriented trade unions. Important steps were taken over the last 4 years, for the growth and strengthening of our TUI. To a large extent, this was due to the efforts of the USB and of our comrade Pierpaolo, whom I salute very warmly. He deserves, that our Congress pays him a fitting tribute, for all his militancy and dedication.
But, as our comrade Pierpaolo says, a lot of work remains to be done, like improving our internal communication and attracting more class – oriented trade unions to our TUI. So, after this Congress, and on the basis of the orientations we are now adopting, we must continue improving our organisation work, our accountability and our collective commitment to develop our action, in order to overcome current difficulties, namely regarding our financial resources, so that we are able to meet our expectations and those of the workers we represent.
We are certain that the contributions from all the participants in this Congress will strengthen the organisation capacity of our TUI and enhance our actions and solidarity work, in the internationalist combat of the Public Administration workers against capitalist exploitation. To achieve it, we need a greater presence of our class-oriented trade unions in the enterprises and workplaces, and to intensify our struggles at national, regional and world level, with the following main objectives:
- Fighting capitalist and militaristic integration, rejecting diktats and conditions that hurt workers and nations and defending peoples’ sovereign right of deciding their own future;
- Implementing social policies that respond to the interests of workers and peoples, for a fairer redistribution of wealth and the rejection of Charity-type social policies;
- Modern, efficient, quality, universal and free public services that meet the real needs of the people, against their outsourcing or privatisation, refusing their utilisation for the profit-making of private capital;
- Put an end to job precariousness, ensure stable jobs with rights for all workers, namely for our workers in central, regional and local government and in the State owned sector;
- Payment of overtime work ; value and dignify shift work;
- Right to trade union freedoms ( association, meeting, demonstration, participation, strike) in all workplaces and right to collective bargaining;
- Workers’ united action and fight against reformism and bourgeois ideology.
United and organised, let us strengthen our action and develop concrete initiatives and struggles of international solidarity that involve as many workers as possible in our sector, members or not of the PS-TUI or of the WFTU and, in this way, attract more and more friendly trade unions to share our objectives of struggle and of changing the society.
Finally, I want to convey our permanent and active solidarity with the workers and peoples who, in different continents, fight against imperialism, for freedom, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and against oppression and exploitation. This is a principle always held high by the WFTU, a principle we will always fight for.
LONG LIVE THE TRADE UNION INTERNATIONAL OF PUBLIC SERVICES!
LONG LIVE THE WORLD FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS!
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONALIST SOLIDARITY!
LONG LIVE THE WORKERS OF THE WORLD!