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For human dignity against terror

21 December, 2015As 2015 is coming to an end, the IndustriALL Global Union family vows to continue building a world of human dignity, mutual respect and tolerance; a world in which terrorists can never be successful.

I am trying to get through the usual Christmas market crowd in the old, historical quarters of my hometown Annecy in France. People are chatting, sipping mulled wine, and waiting for the light show to be projected on the town hall building. The three policemen present are vigilant but calm, as they see no imminent danger.

Yet danger is probably somewhere in the back of the heads of everybody, just a month after the terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, in the same country where I live.

But people have decided not to allow panic to take over, not to lock the doors and wait inside for the next strike, not to stop living. That would mean giving the terrorists what they want.

“We stand for freedom, solidarity, equality and democratic societies. We refuse to be diverted to the road of radicalism and xenophobia. We will not be intimidated and driven into hatred and misanthropy.”

This was the political message from IndustriALL Global Union’s Executive Committee, which gathered 150 union leaders from all five continents to Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 9-10 December 2015. The committee adopted a statement against terror, and vowed to continue work based on our shared trade union values.

The Executive Committee was shocked and appalled at the awful terrorist attacks against innocent people in France, Turkey, Mali, Nigeria, Tunisia, Lebanon and Syria, as well as on the plane flying from Egypt to Russia. The attacks do not target only these countries, but all peace-loving people. They are an attack on our common principles of human dignity, mutual respect and tolerance.

The union leaders said they would not allow being played off against each other over nationality, religious, political or other differences. Different cultures and religions enrich our society and the world. Globalization has developed into a process with two contradicting tendencies. On one hand, the world was integrated into a global economic system. But at the same time the majority of the world’s population has been socially marginalized into unemployment, precarious work and poverty, and bereaved of their rights.

We have to reject attempts to stigmatise refugees, who are victims of political and economic violence in their countries of origin. Today, at least 60 million people throughout the world are fleeing from poverty, hunger, war and persecution. They need our help.

Terror can only be eliminated in societies that guarantee quality jobs for all, social protection, adequate housing, education, cultures, and equal access to land. Building societies based on social justice is our global mission. Fighting terrorism can never be an excuse to limit democratic rights or individual and collective freedoms.

We congratulate once more our Tunisian sisters and brothers for the Nobel peace prize 2015. They have shown how trade unions can play a key role in building democratic and peaceful societies. This will be an essential part of our continued worldwide struggle in 2016.

Jyrki Raina

General Secretary