Message of Greetings to the 18th World Trade Union Congress of WFTU (6-8 May 2022) in Rome, Italy

Dear Delegate comrades,

Red Salute to all, and Greetings from AICCTU and millions of working people of India on this great occasion of 18th World Trade Union Congress of WFTU. At the outset, we would take this opportunity to salute the dock workers of Italy for stopping the Arms Shipment to Israel in May 2021 in an exemplary move of solidarity with the people of Palestine. We salute the militant working class movement of Italy for its relentless resistance to the neo-liberal and imperialist designs.

The 18th World Trade Union Congress of WFTU is being held in the backdrop of the unlimited miseries heaped on the humankind by COVID 19. These miseries in the form of millions of deaths including health and front-line workers, massive job loss, skyrocketing poverty and inequality, etc. were more the making of the brutal and profit-driven capitalist system and the governments across the world which run it. On one hand, the Pandemic has exposed the complete failure of private health care system and at the same time revealed the severe lack of much-needed public health care across the world particularly in the richest countries, the leaders of capitalist system including the US and UK. On the other, it has also gone to show how the capitalist governments including the Indian government used this most serious ‘crisis’ facing humanity as an “opportunity” to push through their agenda of neo-liberal policies resulting in curtailment of labour rights, minimizing the minimum wages and social security and pushing the vast majority of toiling masses to hunger and destitution, while the richest 1% continued to amass wealth. In addition, the whole world saw the unprecedented crisis for migrant workers in India who, due to sudden and whimsical lockdown by government led by Modi, in several thousands were forced to travel, facing hunger, hundreds of miles on foot in the absence of any transport from the province of their workplace to their native places resulting in deaths of hundreds of men, women and children. So, it is the brutal capitalist governments which are mainly responsible and accountable for the inhuman miseries faced by common people across the world due to pandemic.

The crisis of capitalism and its policies of neo-liberalism and globalization is worsening by the day, only further aggravated by pandemic. This crisis is being passed on to the shoulders of working people. As these policies reach their peak with 4th Generation of Globalization and Industry (including automation and artificial intelligence), they suffer from all round failure in respect to even the essential needs of people i.e. Health, Jobs, Living wages, Social Security, etc., i.e. to say failure to ensure social production of labour even at the level of bare subsistence. The rights of working class are being snatched pushing the workers into 19th century slavery. And, Crisis of neo-liberal economy is being dealt with the conscious pushing and furthering of trends of authoritarianism, totalitarianism, racism and Islamophobia in a significant part of world, dislodging democracy. The working class must unitedly thwart these divisive machinations and stop them.

Challenging the increasing neoliberal and right wing onslaught on the working class and toiling masses, powerful resistance including collective actions of the working class across the world are witnessed. Across the globe we are witnessing powerful movements against attacks on labour rights, minimum wages and social security.

To mention some, the recent successful unionisation in Amazon industry in the United States is an inspiring chapter for working class movements across the world. The international Palestine solidarity call against the Apartheid Israel's Zim shipping was joined by working class organisations across the world. Similar international collective actions were taken against ships carrying NATO armaments meant to be used against the people of Yemen. The impact of these actions reiterates the importance of further strengthening the global solidarity among working class against all forms of oppression. In Latin America and Northern Africa, we are witnessing a wave of protests against IMF loan and austerity policy interventions.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have witnessed increasing labour actions amidst the healthcare systems across the world, which suffer from low wages, contractualisation and inhuman working conditions. Similarly, the gig economy has witnessed a surge since the pandemic and delivery workers face significant issues, including low pay, poor working conditions, and extremely long working hours. The delivery workers in South Korea went on a series of strike in 2021 and similar working class actions are taking place across the globe.

The present international situation is also marked by continued attacks for more than two months on Ukraine by Russia which is of grave concern. We demand an immediate stoppage of war and diplomatic solution. At the same time, we strongly condemn the continuing interference by the US and NATO constituents on the pretext of Ukraine and demand dismantling of NATO.

India, which is being ruled for 8 years by a majoritarian, fascist government called ‘Modi govt.’ has witnessed a massive destruction of livelihood and rights and constitution. The pandemic crisis was turned into opportunity up to the hilt to aggressively push the corporate, neo-liberal agenda. Replacing and doing away with protection of all labour laws, 4 labour code Acts were enacted pushing the workers into slavery; EDSA (Essential Defence Services Act) was brought to snatch the right to strike and even protest by Defence workers; policy of monetization has been brought for wholesale privatization of all public sector undertakings and government department including those of strategic importance to the country and people’s life, like Railways, Defence, Banks, Insurance, etc.; 3 Farm Acts were enacted for corporate takeover of agriculture land; and at the same time, a regime of oppressive laws and diktats is being established. Not to talk of job loss during pandemic, even post-COVID the contractual and other informal workers are being thrown out of jobs in thousands. A large number of contractual health and other informal workers, who played the role of frontline workers during pandemic and were promised job permanency and benefits, have been thrown out of jobs.

While under this government, India is witnessing the corporate takeover, at the same time secular fabric of our country is being demolished by fomenting communal hatred and particularly targeting Muslims and creating Islamophobia. Under this government India has come closer to Israel and become a partner of US-Israel nexus against Palestine. Overall, the Modi government has come to be symbolized as the rule of corporate-communal-fascist forces.

But these policies and measures have met with powerful resistance. Our country witnessed historic farmers’ movement, fully supported by trade union movement, which compelled the government to withdraw the anti-farmer, anti-people Farm Acts.

The Platform of 10 central trade unions of the country, including AICCTU, continues to unitedly resist the rightist attacks on working class. It launched several all India protests, industrial and sectoral actions including two all-India general strikes since beginning of pandemic the latest being the strike on 28-29 March 2022. Meanwhile, workers of various sectors, like Coal, Defence, Banks and other financial institutions have organized strikes against the privatization move. The country is witnessing powerful protest movements including strikes by various sections of informal and contract workers. Currently, against retrenchment the contract workers of Indian Telephone Industry are on path of struggle for more than 5 months and similarly the contract health workers for more than a month, both led by AICCTU. One of the most notable developments for some years is the rising, independent assertion of women workers of the informal sector, more than 10 million of honorarium workers (not recognized as workers and forced to work without actual wages, but just pittance) working in various govt. services and their increasing participation in working class struggles.

So, the working people of the entire world stand in powerful resistance against the neo-liberal, imperialist attacks. The situation today demands focused, powerful working class assertion against rising trends, in different forms, of authoritarianism and fascism. Let the 18th World Trade Union Congress of WFTU take up this urgent task and usher a new phase of powerful working class solidarity movements to thwart designs of authoritarianism and fascism.

Long Live International Solidarity of the Working People!

Long live WFTU!

Down With Imperialism! Down with Fascism!

Rajiv Dimri

General Secretary, AICCTU