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IndustriALL Global Union family coming together

28 May, 2014The four regional conferences of IndustriALL Global Union confirmed what I was hoping. Our new global union family is coming together, pledging to fight for workers’ rights and living wages everywhere.

Almost two years have passed since the founding congress of IndustriALL Global Union in June 2012 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Two more years to go before our worldwide family gathers for a second congress in October 2016 to evaluate how far we have managed to launch a new era of global solidarity.

At the four major regional conferences this year, where we set out how we will promote IndustriALL’s five strategic goals, I was happy to see the energy and willingness of union leaders from all different industry sectors to work together and build union power.

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) opened the game in March in Amman, Jordan. We have seen revolutions and wars in several countries of the region, and major upheavals within the unions. The road from dictatorship and oppression towards democracy and people’s power is not straightforward. A lot of work lies ahead.

But I was happy to see the determination of the MENA union leaders to fight for a better life. Independent unions are gaining strength in Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and elsewhere. Tunisia remains a star example of how unions, with the leadership of UGTT, can play a key role in building new democratic societies.

Latin America and the Caribbean followed in early May in Bogotá, Colombia. We combined the regional event with a women’s conference and youth workshop. What an energy, what a feeling of workers’ power and positive attitude: yes we can, another world is possible!    

The conference agreed to give more space to women and youth. This is the face I would like to give to IndustriALL. Unanimous support for minimum 40 per cent women’s representation in the global leadership and Executive Committee shows the way. Unions need to build a new generation of leaders, women and men equally.

The Asia-Pacific conference in mid-May in Bangkok, Thailand, was equally energizing. In this region unions are growing, and they are mobilizing for living wages, universal social protection and against precarious work. The conference also supported minimum 40 per cent women’s representation.

The European regional conference in Brussels, Belgium, highlighted the need to continue modernization of unions in the CIS countries, where workers’ rights are increasingly under attack.

Two more regional events in Africa and North America will follow later this year.

What we see already is that the IndustriALL Global Union family is uniting. No matter whether you work in manufacturing, energy or mining, we realize that with our new global muscle and by working together with the ITUC and other global unions, we can change the world.

By joining forces, we are fighting for a world where all workers can join a union freely, get the protection of a collective agreement, and work in good jobs in safe and healthy workplaces. That is our historic mission.

Jyrki Raina

General Secretary