The General Secretary of the new IndustriALL Global Union, Jyrki Raina, told delegates they are joining an extraordinary new family of heroes.
Jyrki Raina also outlined a ten-point action plan which he wanted to develop to ensure IndustriALL supports affiliates, especially those in the front line of human rights and worker rights struggles.
A quarter of the delegates coming to Copenhagen to the founding congress have reported being threatened, or their families threatened, because of their union work. 18% have been arrested or jailed because of their union work, and 16% have suffered actual physical violence for their union activity.
Speaking to the 1,400 delegates from 140 countries Jyrki Raina welcomed everyone and pointed out that there were several amazing heroes in the hall.
Grace Nyirenda, the general-secretary of the Malawi Textile, Garment, Leather and Security Service Workers’ Union.
"She has put her life on the line representing her members when workers were repressed and even killed," Raina said.
Mr Raina said he wanted to salute the many Arab sisters and brothers at the congress who have participated in the Arab Spring. In particular he pointed to Hashmeya Mushin al-Saadawi, the leader of the Iraqi Electricity Utility Workers Union.
"Hashmeya is recognized as one of the leaders of the Iraqi protest movement demanding workers’ rights," Jyrki Raina said.
"We've got an extraordinary new family of heroes in IndustriALL Global Union don't you think?," he asked delegates.
Mr Raina told the delegates that the creation of IndustriALL as a global union comes at a crucial time.
"IndustriALL is a recognition of the increasing integration of global capital. The increasingly related supply chains across different industries means union members need a stronger global voice.
"Workers must go global because markets are global, capital is global, information and communication is global.
"Employers are becoming more militant as they see their profits threatened.
"Workers everywhere are being asked to pay for a crisis that they are not responsible for creating," Mr Raina said.
Follow the link to read the full speech.