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"Workers need a strong, independent voice"

2 June, 2022When IndustriALL’s Executive Committee on 1 June gathered more than 200 participants online, international solidarity was on the agenda.

Opening the meeting, IndustriALL president Jörg Hoffman stressed that a further escalation of the war in Ukraine must be avoided and that as part of the international trade union movement, we have a responsibility.

"IndustriALL has taken a strong stand against the war and has set up a solidarity fund, visited Kyiv, workers in Europe has collected necessary items for their colleagues in Ukraine. The war affects us all as supply chains are breaking down, energy and food prices sky rocketing. Those who lived hand to mouth before the war are even harder hit. We must not allow people in the global South to pay the price for Putin's war.

"The war in Ukraine cannot allow us to close our eyes to other troubled spots in the world. War, violence, climate change that has followed on the pandemic – never has a strong commitment to freedom, peace, equal rights been more needed. We need a strong independent voice of the workers and we can provide that strong voice."

In the secretariat report, IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie said that we must stand up for democracy and rights.

"The right to organize and collective bargaining are grounds for peace. But it is not all dire; in Brazil, Renault workers won increased wages after a 16-day strike; SINTTIA in Mexico won an important symbolic victory when they obtained the right to bargain collectively at a General Motors plant; garment workers in Haiti faced rubber bullets but did not back down and GOSTTRA won the minimum wage for its members; in Thailand a 13-month campaign led to legal severance finally being paid to garment workers who were illegally fired during the pandemic; and the tremendous victory by Finnish paper workers on strike for 112 days, fighting back against the employer who wanted to break the CBA."

IndustriALL affiliates from Ukraine reported on the situation on the ground, describing a very dangerous situation, giving the example from a mine where miners were caught underground, in the dark, due to a power cut. Schools and educational institutions have been destroyed beyond repair in the war. Hundreds of children have been injured or killed, people are raped, killed and tortured.

"But we continue to do what we can and we need your support."

Affiliates took the floor in support of people in Ukraine and the Executive Committee endorsed a statement condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine and calling on the aggression to stop immediately.

Following a meeting in May, IndustriALL’s Women's Committee reported on the discussions to the Executive Committee. Advancing gender equality in all IndustriALL sectors, empowering and promoting the participation of young women, how to use global framework agreements to advance gender equality, and ending the gender pay gap - there is lack of understanding of what it is and that it actually exists. Classification alone does not prevent gender pay gap.

Following up on the Congress resolution on youth, the meeting heard that throughout the year, young workers in each region will establish their priorities ahead of the road map to implement the resolution next year. Capacity building is needed and building a second layer of leadership should be a priority, supported by the Women’s Committee who has proposed a mentor programme to advance young leaders.

The Executive Committee was challenged to discuss the strategic direction of IndustriALL’s work on multinational companies. This included the scope and mandate of the working group on global framework agreements. There was agreement that the scope has to be extended to deal with all leverage points towards multinational companies, not only GFAs. The working group might have to split up into smaller action groups to deal with different challenging topics. To safeguard workers’ rights in the supply chain, there is a need for binding and enforceable global rules to confront global corporate power. The discussion is carried over to the next meeting of the Executive Committee in November, where the new working group will be finalized.

The meeting endorsed a global day of action against inequality on 7 October. From the proposal:

“Inequality is growing around the world despite increased productivity, and workers in many countries face a cost of living crisis. Workers need a fair share of the wealth they produce. Until we address the question of the unequal distribution of wealth, we will be unable to advance in other areas, including Just Transition.”

The Executive Committee also endorsed

  • A campaign week on Just Transition, ahead of COP 27, which will be held in Egypt 8-20 November
  • Proposed roadmap for the implementation of Congress resolution on sexism and misogyny
  • Proposed steps to advancing gender equality in IndustriALL sectors