15 December, 20162016 is drawing to a close, and we can look back on a year filled with action. In my first months as General Secretary since Congress in October, IndustriALL has joined solidarity actions for Korea and the victims of the Mariana disaster in Brazil, as well as condemned deadly accidents in the world’s most dangerous industry, shipbreaking, in Pakistan.
The powerful IndustriALL 2nd Congress in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in October, gathered more than 1,500 trade union delegates from more than 100 countries. They voted on a renewed action plan for the organization, and together with updated statutes we are in an even better position to fight for workers’ rights around the world.
Our Congress was an opportunity to show a fraction of the work that has been ongoing since the creation of IndustriALL in 2012. Using IndustriALL’s five goals, affiliates showcased and discussed building strong unions, confronting global capital, defending workers’ rights, sustainable industrial policy and precarious work.
Pages 10 – 19 display some of this. Congress adopted a number of solidarity resolutions, reaching out to unions around the world and showing our support. On pages 6 – 7 you can read more about the peace process in Colombia and the role unions play in bringing stability to the Latin American country.
Unions in South Korea are struggling against government attacks on labour rights. President Park, implicated in a corruption scandal, has attempted to make changes to Korean labour law that include permitting firing without due process, cutting wages for senior employees and allowing more outsourcing. Delegates in Brazil adopted a solidarity resolution supporting the struggle against the crackdowns.
IndustriALL offered further solidarity to trade unions in Korea during a global union mission in November. We joined a staggering one million people on the streets of Korea’s capital Seoul in a mass mobilization, calling for the immediate release of all workers imprisoned for trade union activities.
In early November we highlighted a tragic anniversary. It was a year since a dam at a mine in Mariana, Brazil, owned by BHP Billiton and Vale, broke. The toxic mud spill killed 19 people and caused lasting damage to the environment. IndustriALL joined hundreds of demonstrators for a rally, promising to hold the companies accountable and ensure that this could never happen again.
Climate change is a union issue. Last year’s climate conference COP21 in Paris was widely publicized and the outcomes include the necessary ingredients for a successful accord. A Just Transition for the industry is incorporated, and as unions we need to ensure that both workers and the environment are included. COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, comes a year later and the discussions continue with a strong union presence determined to show the way to a sustainable economy.
We will continue our relentless struggle to organize and defend workers in 2017, taking on the responsibility given to us by Congress. I look forward to carrying on the fight.
A luta continua!