Susanna’s opening statement at the ITUC 4th World Congress


Dear comrades,
dear brothers and sisters,

I am taking the floor also because I’m a candidate for ITUC General Secretary.
I’m Susanna Camusso, now Secretary General of CGIL, and – I repeat – a candidate to lead ITUC because we need to change!

In 4 minutes it is quite difficult to discuss 4 years of activities, so I will concentrate my speech on 2 points.

1. ILO, the first condition for having strong and free trade unions are freedom of association and the right to strike. There is no evidence in the report about the attack to the right to strike and no mention of the agreements done with the employers. If I’m not mistaken there was no discussion with the affiliates before the agreement.

In the neoliberal era, not considering the importance of the fundamental access to public services has fundamental tools that trade unions have to make the workers’ vice heard, is a bad choice.

ITUC needs to be stronger and bolder to defend workers’ rights and effective tripartism. Precarious and insecure jobs, denial of collective bargaining, worsening of working conditions are the daily challenges of workers and their unions have to face. Instead, ITUC needs to be firm and use all avenues to guarantee that employers are held responsible for their behaviour and we must be coherent to be credible.

2. The second point relates to another flagship issue of the neoliberal agenda: public services and the need to reduce their role globally. Access to public services has a fundamental role in all policies for wealth redistribution.
The OECD makes us know that Public services represent 62% of the disposable income for those living in extreme poverty and in OECD countries 150 million people fall in poverty every year because of the health care services they have to pay from their pocket.

Defending public services such as education, health, water and sanitation means defending fundamental human rights, and particularly, empowering women, sustainable development and stopping the greed of multinational corporations that want to make profit out of people’s needs. This is what we are fighting for in Italy to defend children’s education, in Nigeria to defend public water, in Kenya and UK to defend the public health system, in the US to defend public education.

If this is our common engagement, is it acceptable that ITUC is twinning with the B-Team? And associates its name with the Virgin Atlantic founder, Richard Branson who wants to buy the NHS in UK? The ITUC we want will associate its name to those of nurses, young doctors, and cleaners who are resisting privatization?

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