We are facing multinational corporations (from General Motors to UPS, Monsanto or Apple) and international organizations that set the economic policies for our national governments (IMF, World Bank, World Trade Organization, European Central Bank), international solidarity and the international coordination of our struggle is a first necessity to win. In the CSP-Conlutas and the International Labor Network of Struggles and Solidarity (ILNSS) we think a real internationalist strategy to fight back in this crisis is needed.
The international trade union movement reproduces the same limitations we have faced in Brazil, in the US or all over the world when it comes to organize democratically rank and file workers to fight for our rights. Today most national labor federations are affiliated to one of the two major mainstream international ones: the ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) and the WFTU (World Federation of Trade Unions). The ITUC is today the largest one (after the unification in 2006 of the ICFTU and WCL), it represents 176 million workers through its 328 affiliated organisations within 162 countries. This mass labor federation to which the AFL-CIO, the Brazilian CUT and the French CGT belong to, among others, was traditionally the federation linked to the social democratic parties in Europe, which in the last decades have been applying all of the neo-liberal reforms and attacks to workers.
The WFTU does not have a real strategy to fight for workers interests and conduct to their emancipation, as the “communist” project they advocated for ended up producing the opposite effect and have lost almost all credibility among workers. The reality is that today its member are looking for alternatives as the leadership increasingly tails the ITUC bureaucratic methods and alliances with corporate powers.
Internationally this labor conglomerate advocates for collaboration with corporations in negotiating contracts and reaching “compromises’ when governments, or the European Union, seek to attack workers rights and benefits. This international leadership is also very hostile to workers self-organization and mobilization against attacks, and always wants to avoid strikes and mass actions.
The labor unions have become bureaucratic formations that do not help the advancement of the struggle and our living conditions, and whose leaderships have more in common with ministers and CEOs than the workers they represent. This is why it is impossible to fight for worker’s rights and self-emancipation in the the trade-union movement of one country alone: we need to build an independent international labor federation, around core and simple principles that unite us in our common struggle.
Without it, it will be very difficult to win and secure any significant preservation or improvement of our living conditions for our class. This is why we are making a priority of building from Brazil, France and wherever we can a stronger and more active ILNSS, so we can fight back, putting our political principles of internationalism, democracy and class independence at the forefront of our joint struggle.
The history of building of the International Labor Network of Solidarity and Struggles
The 2008 ELAC Conference: Many Voices but One Struggle
“ We are many voices, but one struggle and one people!”
1) Against the exploitation and oppression of workers and the people
2) For a decent job for everyone
3) Against the criminalization of social movements. Against the repression of workers struggles and organizations, and against the retaliatory dismissals and threats. Against the repression and murder of union leaders in Colombia.
4) For a class independence. For worker organizations independent and autonomous from imperialism, the national bourgeoisies, the State, government and parties. In defense of the right to unionize.
5) For the unity of all the workers of the world.
6) For affordable food for everyone. In support of the agrarian reform. For the nationalization of foreign trade of food staples under the control of workers.
7) Against the discrimination of native peoples, women, black and LGBT communities.
8) Against neoliberal reforms
9) For the nationalization without indemnisation and under workers control of all natural resources of Latin American and the Caribbean (hydrocarbons, precious metals, iron, water, biodiversity and others). Against public-private partnerships and for the re-nationalization of the privatized companies to become again 100% state owned.
10) Against the privatization of public services, education healthcare, social security, state-owned companies, water and for the re-nationalization of all privatized companies.
11) Against the payments of the external and internal debts
12) Against the Free Trade Agreements and alii. No to MERCOSUR.
13) Against the union federations that collaborate with corporations and governments.
14) All troops out of Haiti.
15) Imperialism out of Latin America, the Caribbean, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and everywhere else where there is a military presence. Against the economic blockade of Cuba. Against the imperialist and oligarchic attempt to divide Bolivia.
16) For a Second Independence, a true and sovereign one. For the self-determination of all the oppressed peoples.
– Long Live Proletarian Internationalism!
– Long Live the Struggle of the Latin American and Caribbean Workers!
– Long Live the Unity of All the Peoples of the Region!
– Long Live the Unity of All the Peoples of the World!
The Birth of the International Labor Network of Solidarity and Struggles (ILNSS) in 2013
Even though the ELAC encounter was mainly composed of Latin American and Caribbean delegates, other countries around the world sent observers: ILWU Local 10 from San Francisco, the MOVICE movement from Colombia or the bus drivers union from Barcelona Spain. The ELAC was committed to seek partners for an alternative union current everywhere in the world. And that was materialized in the coming years, mainly because of the major struggles and rank and file led strikes led in many countries (Spain, France, Portugal, South Africa), and of course the democratic revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East which led in many cases to the creation of embryos of independent unions.
On March 2013, in the midst of the economic crisis, a very important step forward was accomplished in the constitution of the International Network of Solidarity and Struggles. CSP-Conlutas and the Union Syndicale Solidaires (SUD) from France held a very important conference in Paris that brought together major players of a new generation of alternative union activists and currents. The beginning of a real joint project and collaboration with SUD/Solidaires in France and the CGT in Spain marked a qualitative step forward in the construction of this international network.
SUD was created as an independent union in France in 1981, yet it became a key player in the 1995 wildcat railroad workers strikes against the privatization of the public train system in France (SNCF), supporting the strikes and organizing a broad solidarity coming from other sectors. SUD has played a key role in major mobilizations, for example in the CPE student and young workers strikes in 2006, it supported actively the student and worker unity and helped involve postal workers, rail workers, teachers and other sectors in joint mobilizations. Today it is one of the pillars of resistance against the new French labor law (Loi El Khomri). Since then it has grown in public education and services (postal workers), and went from representing 0.4% of the French workforce in 1992 to 3.82% in 2013, negotiating more than 40 sectors labor contracts and still growing.
The 2013 Paris conference gathered union representatives from 22 countries: Brazil, France, Spain (with representation of Cataluña, Galicia and the Basque Country), Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, UK, Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Haiti, Canada, Indonesia and Benin.
The Paris Congress put out an international call stating the following:
“The trade unionism that we want to build cannot be in support of deals with the [corporate] powers in place and endorse antisocial policies. The trade union movement has the duty to mobilise resistance at the international level, in order to enact, through struggles, the needed social transformation.
Our trade unionism aims to overturn the existing economic, social and political development model, based on the supremacy of finance, profit and competitiveness. On the contrary, we want to build a system that is grounded on common goods, on the redistribution of wealth among those who contributed to its creation, on the rights of workers and on an environmentally sustainable development.
We call for the extension, democratisation and social appropriation of public services (education, healthcare, transport, energy, water supply and sanitation, housing, etc.). Our shared objectives also include the free flow of people, and equality of social and political rights for all, regardless of their nationality, origin or gender.
Our trade unionism combines the protection of workers’ immediate interests, and a desire for meaningful social change. It does not restrict itself to the economic sphere but includes issues like the right to housing, to land, gender equality, anti-racism, environmentalism, anti-colonialism, etc. (…)
We are not calling for the establishment of a new international trade union organisation. We choose to strengthen, broaden, and render more efficient, a trade union network that is combative, democratic, autonomous, alternative, feminist and internationalist.
We want to share our experiences, learn from each other’s struggles and victories, build unity across our national borders, and turn international worker solidarity into a reality. Faced with the current crisis and its effects on the populations of all countries, and for which capitalism is responsible, it is necessary to coordinate and unite our struggles. We ask all trade union collectives to join us in the struggle to build this trade union unity of action, essential if we are to effectively combat social decline, conquer new rights, and establish a different society.”
In 2015, the CSP-Conlutas, Solidaires and the CGT from Spain called for a second international conference of the ILNSS this time in Campinas (Sao Paulo, Brazil). This second international union gathering, with 184 activists from 24 countries, voted an international platform of struggle and a week of actions against austerity plans and for labor rights on October of 2015. The second conference issued statements supporting women’s rights, immigrant rights, for workers control and against the criminalization of protests and social movements and union struggles.
The third international conference will be held in Madrid on January 26-28, 2018.
The ILNSS arose from the need to get dispersed independent union initiatives and reform caucuses and currents closer and to unify the workers and popular struggles against the attacks of governments and bosses that spread throughout the world. Our goal is to promote union actions with a combative and internationalist character aiming at strengthening the working class in the struggle against capital and governments, and to promote international solidarity.
Visit ILNSS website HERE.