Presentation for the ITUC 4th World Congress

 

Chers camarades,
Chers amis, chères amies,

je suis heureuse d’être ici et de pouvoir me présenter à vous.

En l’absence de règles claires pour la compétition démocratique, beaucoup d’affiliés n’ont pas obtenu les informations et la possibilité de connaitre mon programme.

Cela est peut-être normal, dans une organisation très jeune comme la CSI, mais nous devons nous engager pour améliorer son fonctionnement interne. Cela n’est pas normal que tout le monde n’ait pas accès aux mêmes informations par rapport à la vie démocratique de notre organisation.

Je reviens à moi. J’ai commencé mon activité dans le syndicat de la métallurgie, puis dans le syndicat de l’agriculture et de l’alimentation, une expérience formidable avec les multinationales et les questions de l’alimentation.

Pendant les huit dernières années, j’ai été secrétaire générale de la Confédération Générale Italienne du travail, la CGIL. J’ai dirigé une organisation de plus de 5 millions d’affiliés, plurielle, complexe qui a toujours essayé de rejoindre l’unité avec les organisations italiennes CISL et UIL. Ma direction a toujours été emprunté de collégialité et de collaboration. Je n’ai jamais cru que le secrétaire général puisse être un homme ou une femme seule au pouvoir.

Il s’agit de la démocratie, de la transparence mais aussi du fait que nous devons toujours nous rappeler que nous représentons les travailleurs et les travailleuses. Comment pouvoir faire cela dans une organisation de deuxième niveau, une organisation composée d’organisations, comme la CSI ? Ce sont les organisations nationales, les affiliés, qui peuvent toujours décider leur engagement dans l’organisation.

Les liens avec les fédérations globales et les organisations régionales sont le cœur de cette nouvelle approche.

Je crois qu’il est clair que la démocratie, la transparence, le respect et la participation sont les éléments principaux de mon engagement pour la CSI.
En ce qui concerne la participation, il est indispensable que la CSI contribue à renforcer les affiliés, les régionales qui doivent effectivement faire partie de la direction.

J’ai entendu de Sharan qu’elle est d’accord sur cela. Alors pourquoi cela n’a pas été fait pendant les 8 ans de sa direction?

Et le même discours est valable pour les jeunes dirigeants pour la future direction: pourquoi cela n’a pas été fait? Et la pluralité des dirigeants de pays en développement?

Je suis fière en ce sens d’avoir dit à Sharan qu’il n’y a pas de possibilité de partager entre nous les postes de secrétaire générale et présidente. Il n’est pas possible de changer les règles en cours de route, mais surtout parce que – c’est le tour de l’Afrique et parce que le Président est le représentant des affiliés, de tous les affiliés et pas d’une équipe ou de l’autre ou de la secrétaire générale.

La CSI est une organisation jeune qui a douze ans et que nous avons la responsabilité d’améliorer.

Il faudra le faire dans une période, plus compliquée et difficile pour les travailleurs et les travailleuses: le néolibéralisme, la globalisation sans règles, la financiarisation de l’économie, le marché avant tout avec des attaques aux conditions de travail et à la protection sociale. Des attaques aussi aux conditions du monde: le changement climatique est un problème d’aujourd’hui et pas du futur. Le mouvement syndical doit soutenir une transition juste dans la CSI et dans tous les pays.

Les conséquences de ce changement sont évidentes pour le monde du travail, mais en particulier pour les femmes: augmentation du travail précaire, le travail informel et la mise en question du fait qu’un travailleur est un travailleur – peu importe sa nationalité, sa religion, son statut ou sa couleur de peau.

La globalisation a favorisé la libre circulation des marchandises et du travail, mais pas la libre circulations des travailleurs. La croissance des partis de droite, du populisme, des nationalismes sont à la base de la décision de fermer les frontières mais aussi du fait que la migration soit vécue comme un problème pour les travailleurs.

L’idée de pouvoir revenir aux Etats nationaux n’est pas seulement un problème pour l’Europe, mais aussi pour le multilatéralisme et pour les organisations mondiales, le retour à un monde divisé entre les plus riches et les plus pauvres.

La migration n’est pas seulement liée au thème des refugiés qui arrivent en Europe, mais aussi et surtout à la circulation des personnes dans les continents et les syndicats doivent défendre l’accueil et l’hospitalité. L’intégration et l’inclusion doivent être notre choix. Nous devons défendre le droit de migrer, mais aussi de ne pas être forcées à migrer.

Let me thank again the Danish trade unions for hosting the congress and for such a wonderful hospitality. I want to thank in particular the ITUC staff who are working to make this congress successful.

To do all this, we need to empower trade unions, more cooperation among trade unions and all tools to organise workers. We know that the world of work is under attack: our comrades around the world are intimidated, imprisoned or even killed. In this respect, it is very worrying that employers and governments have decided in the ILO to close the case of Guatemala.

This is a clear sign of the aggressive attitude of employers. I had already mentioned the role of the workers’ group in ILO and the need to involve affiliates in the discussion about the crisis of tripartism and the reform of multilateral organizations. They are fundamental instruments to empower national trade unions.

Our aim is for sure protecting the freedom of association and the right of collective bargaining. We live in a world where 8 white men hold the wealth of 3,7 billion people. We are not talking about countries, but enterprises.
It’s multinationals that decide about the future of digitalization, they own the technology.

So, we can’t be against progress, we have to be aware that technology is not neutral, so we need to be prepared to negotiate this technology (the algorithm) that affects workers’ condition, working time, contractual arrangements etc. As for digitalization, we cannot speak of transition, change is happening now. Life and the world of work are changing now, so if we want to defend and qualify work, we need to prepare and improve our capacities to do collective agreements.

At the same time, we cannot accept the privatization of public services by multinationals. Public services are the main tool for social protection, for security and to fight against poverty. For the historical role played by the trade unions, the subject matter now is how to preserve the force of collective bargaining.

A strong collective bargaining system, freedom to organize and the right to industrial action and strike are a pre-condition for trade unions’ growth. We don’t have to be afraid of change, we have to be able to negotiate how this change will happen.

We also need to be aware that new technologies can polarize and farther divide the world of work. We must fight this.

We value the work that global union federations have done in Bangladesh and in other countries, together with national affiliates. The work that has been done together with the ILO in Qatar is significant, now it is necessary to build there a free trade union organization. Everywhere we need to defend freedom of association and apply the ILO Conventions and recommendations.

Modern and old forms of slavery are a serious problem everywhere, including in Europe and in Italy, my country, where we are fighting hard against gangmasters and forced labour.

We are organizing workers, negotiating the national collective agreements and we are proud of having achieved a law against gangmasters that allows us to defend workers. Collective bargaining is a fundamental instrument to empower workers and increase salaries.

We need to increase minimum wages around the world with the participation of trade unions. But all campaigns must be agreed and implemented together with national unions. Defeating in-work poverty, precarious work and promoting transition into formal work must be a priority!

Wages and minimum wages are also a question of gender, we need equal pay for women all around the world. Gender equality is a possible goal, also by improving access to social infrastructure, public services and adequate policies to achieve this. This is why next year we need to adopt an ILO Convention on violence and harassment in the world of work.

I would like to say much more, but as the time is limited, I would like to close with a message to you, affiliates, the heart and richness of this organization: struggle for better working conditions is the best possible engagement for the present and for the future.

It is about changing the world for the better, and about shaping the future, it’s the possibility to strengthen solidarity and getting workers out of fear.

And ITUC itself should be like this, a place where everybody feels free to speak, have a discussion even when we have different ideas. The fact that colleagues were not feeling free to speak and make declarations is something that should never happen again!

A few words about our congress: all organizations have rules, and respect of rules means respect for each other, the only way to preserve unity. And our Constitution is based on the concept of consensus. This is why a vote cannot be repeated, but it is possible to find a consensual solution. On this, I have ideas and I am ready to discuss with AFL-CIO.

ITUC has to grow, but to achieve this and have more affiliates we need free, autonomous and independent trade unions and an organization where women and men are free to say what they think, without any kind of pressure. Workers too often feel alone and isolated, we need to tell them not to be afraid and to be brave!

This is why I am asking for your support, to change and be united in solidarity, in our diversity, to promote freedom and democracy in every corner of the world.

Bueno!

Quiero acabar mi intervenciòn confirmando mi compromiso para una CSI unida, una casa abierta para todas las afiliadas, una organizaciòn de sindicatos libres, democraticos, independientes, una organizaciòn al servicio de los derechos de las trabajadoras y de los trabajadores.

Luchamos unidos!
Reivendicamos la centralidad del trabajo para construir una sociedad mas justa

Viva la Csi!

On the article appeared on Arbetet.se about the ITUC World Congress

Regarding the article “ITUC at a crossroads as Sharan Burrow is challenged” published on 7 November 2018 by the Swedish website Arbetet.se, in which some inaccurate, biased and misleading information about my candidacy circulated,  I wrote a letter to the authors. Find below a reply from the editors.

 

To Ivar Andersen
Erik Larsson

cc Yonna Waltersson
Editor in Chief
ARBETET
Stockholm
Sweden
Sent by e-mail

Rome, 28 November 2018

 

Dear Mr Andersen and Mr Larson,

we are only a few days ahead of the ITUC Congress in Copenhagen, and there is a very lively debate around the future of work and of ITUC.

This is already an added value of my candidacy, the world’s trade unions are debating around the future of work and of the ITUC. This debate itself is precious and important for unions and for the world of work.

Indeed, among the reasons behind my candidacy are transparency and a more
collegial management of the ITUC.

I am sorry to note that lots of the information included in the article is misleading: I am confident that if you contacted one of the organizations supporting my candidacy, or CGIL, you would have gathered a lot of correct information.

First of all, you describe CGIL as a “conflict prone organization”, whereas I would like to highlight that CGIL, together with CISL and UIL, has never signed as many agreements with employers organizations as in the last 8 years.
It is a piece of fake news that Italian trade union organizations support Sharan
Burrow. Nothing to add on that, see the support letters attached.

As for the solidity of my support, not only it is solid, I can even report an increasing support in all continents, including Africa. I wonder if the same thing can be affirmed for the other side.

There are strong reasons behind my candidacy, and they are available also on my website (www.susannacamusso.info). Some of them are connected to internal issues, but most of them concern the vision and the future of work. A document has widely circulated and it is attached here, too.

I want a plural and democratic ITUC, also by the language point of view. You could approach me and have a conversation, not only in English as it is the case for the present SG. In any case, nobody should be prevented from running for ITUC leadership because of language barriers; this would be an intolerable discrimination.

Failure to build future vision and also a future leadership is certainly not the
responsibility of a large group of national unions that are democratically putting forward an alternative for ITUC. I am engaged to this and much more, and thank all organizations for the huge support to change the ITUC.

With my kindest regards,

Susanna Camusso

 


Here is the reply sent by the editors of Arbetet.se “Clarification on article appeared on Arbetet” on 30 November 2018 

 

Dear Susanna Camusso,

We are surprised but delighted that you decided to get in touch. It will provide us an opportunity to dismiss some of the misunderstandings currently surrounding our article, and also a chance to explain the standards that guide our work as journalists.

First, let us express our genuine regrets that the English version of the article incorrectly stated that Italian unions did not support your candidacy.

That paragraph was the result of a human error which was discovered and corrected in the Swedish version, but unfortunately made it into the English translation. That is, like any erroneous information we publish, a failure. That being said, the error was corrected the instant it was pointed out to us and a clarification was published alongside the article.

Second, please allow us to briefly clarify some of your statements:

“I am confident that if you contacted one of the organizations supporting my candidacy, or CGIL, you would have gathered a lot of correct information.”

This was not the case. We contacted several of the organizations that support your candidacy. None of them agreed to go on record. Several did, however, give anonymous comments.

It was not only the organizations that support your candidacy that requested anonymity; the same was true for most of the organizations supporting the current SG. Obviously, a lot of people in the global union movement feel that the upcoming election is a sensitive issue. In light of the lies and falsehoods currently being spread about us and our article on social media – and in light of the fact that the 208 million workers the ITUC represents are entitled to information about issues such as this – we believe that the movement would benefit from greater transparency in discussion. This is something the next SG, whoever it will be, might want to address.

”you describe CGIL as a ‘conflict prone organization’”

This is not a pejorative term. Several people we have spoken to are hoping for a future ITUC that becomes more activist in its approach to global challenges.

“I want a plural and democratic ITUC, also by the language point of view.”

The opinions regarding language voiced in the article do not represent our position, but the position of our sources. As we are confident you understand this, you will also understand that your letter can easily be interpreted as implying that we should not present the views of people supporting the current SG.

We will always, in compliance with the basic ethical rules of journalism, speak to both sides. Our article on the upcoming election presents arguments for and criticism against both candidates. Our job is not to judge between opposite opinions, but simply to present them in an impartial and balanced manner. If you read our article, we are confident you will find that we have.

We will be covering the World Congress in Copenhagen and we would like to take this opportunity to request an interview with you ahead of the election, preferably on Sunday or Monday. This interview would cover your future vision for the ITUC, challenges awaiting the global trade union movement and the arguments put forth by organizations supporting the other candidate. The same request will be sent to the current SG.

Kindest Regards,

Yonna Waltersson, editor in chief Arbetet
Erik Larsson, editor Arbetet Global

 

 

Es hora de cambiar, juntos

 

Queridas compañeras y compañeros, queridos hermanos, y colegas:

Ha llegado el momento de reunirnos en Copenhague en el Congreso de la CSI.

En muy pocos meses, después del anuncio de mi candidatura a la Secretaría General de la CSI, hemos logrado crear, entre todos y todas, una gran coalición de sindicatos de todos los rincones del mundo.

Una coalición que exige un papel eficaz en la toma de decisiones, en primer lugar de las mujeres, por la transparencia y la democracia, y para lograr la inclusión real de las diferencias que constituyen el corazón y el activo de la CSI.

Tenemos la ambición de realizar un cambio profundo en la CSI. En las reuniones y contactos que hemos tenido en los últimos meses, la mayoría de ustedes ha reiterado esta necesidad y me han dado más razones para promover un cambio en el papel, el liderazgo, la administración y el perfil de la CSI.

Actuaremos colectivamente, a nivel global y nacional, contra los ataques de las políticas neoliberales a los derechos de loas y los trabajadores. Promoveremos y defenderemos los principios y derechos fundamentales de la OIT en el trabajo, comenzando con el derecho a la libertad sindical y a la negociación colectiva.

Necesitamos un movimiento sindical internacional fuerte, coordinado con los Sindicatos Mundiales, para detener sin dudar la codicia de las transnacionales, exigiendo el respeto incondicional al valor de las personas y a su dignidad.

Al aceptar vuestra propuesta de ser candidata ser candidata y presentar mi programa, firmo un compromiso con todas y todos ustedes, con todos vosotros. Mantendré mi palabra y participaré plenamente en la búsqueda de la unidad de la CSI.

¡Basta ya de acuerdos basados en enmiendas de última hora a los estatutos que no pueden ser discutidos con propiedad ni presentados en nuestros respectivos órganos de toma de decisiones!

Estos acuerdos en el último minuto no son aceptables según los principios básicos de cualquier democracia: no es posible cambiar las reglas del juego a mitad del partido y sin que se haya dado ningún mandato para ello. Esta forma de proceder es una señal devastadora, por lo que tenemos que asegurar que la votación se realiza de acuerdo con un procedimiento transparente y democrático.

Dicen algunos que votar podría dividir y quebrar a la CSI. Muy al contrario, lo que hará será fortalecer nuestra unidad gracias al respeto mutuo y la vigilancia de reglas democráticas.

No habrá perdedores ni ganadores, sino una organización más fuerte y madura, unida y comprometida a apoyar al nuevo grupo de personas que hayan sido elegidas para liderar. Debemos llegar al Congreso con la seguridad de que hemos actuado por el bien de la organización y por su fortalecimiento.

Entre todas y todos acordaremos cómo componer el Consejo General de manera que sea plural y verdaderamente representativo. Estamos también trabajando para formar un equipo sólido, cohesionado y unido, con Secretarías Generales Adjuntas (dos o tres, según los acuerdos finales) que garanticen la representatividad, y que tengan en cuenta los criterios regionales y de género.

Las propuestas se anunciarán justo antes de la apertura del Congreso, después de haber consultado con las afiliadas nacionales y las organizaciones regionales. Respecto al nuevo Presidente, respaldaré la candidatura propuesta por África de acuerdo con los criterios de rotación.

Confío en que representará a toda la CSI y orientará a sus afiliados. Por lo que respecta a las vicepresidencias, no deben tomar partido por ningún cargo electo, sino que deben representar y orientar a toda la CSI y a todas sus afiliadas.

Me gustaría agradecerles a todos y a todas por sus consejos, por su gran apoyo y por la confianza que me han dado en estos meses de campaña.

Nos reuniremos y continuaremos trabajando en conjunto a partir de Copenhague.

Todas y todos, trabajando a uno, podemos cambiar el rumbo del movimiento sindical internacional, dando voz, defendiendo la libertad y protegiendo los derechos de las y los trabajadores, empezando por la de las personas más vulnerables.

It is time to change, together

ES / FR

 

Dear sisters and brothers,
Dear comrades and colleagues,

Time has come to meet you all in Copenhagen at the ITUC Congress.

In a few months, after my nomination for ITUC General Secretary, we managed to build a large coalition of trade unions from every corner of the world.

A coalition calling for an effective decision-making role – of women, first of all, and men – for transparency and democracy, more inclusiveness of the differences that make up the heart and asset of the ITUC.

We have the ambition of a deep change in the ITUC. In the meetings and contacts we have had in recent months, most of you have reiterated these demands and given me further reasons to promote a change in the leadership, management and profile of the ITUC.

We will collectively act, at global and national level, against the attacks of neo-liberal policies to the workers’ rights. We will promote and defend ILO as the unique institution based on the Tripartite system, and ILO fundamental principles and rights at work, starting from freedom of association and collective bargaining.

We need a strong international trade union movement, well coordinated with the Global Union Federations to stop transnational corporate greed without hesitation, claiming for unconditional respect for the value of persons and their dignity.

By accepting to be a candidate and presenting my programme, I have made a commitment to you. I shall keep my word and fully engage in pursuing the unity of the ITUC.

No more agreements based on last minute amendments to the bylaws are possible, as they could neither be discussed or shared in our decision-making bodies.

Such last minute agreements cannot be acceptable according to the basic principle of any democracy: it’s not possible to change the rules of the game halfway and without any mandate on this fundamental subject. It would be a devastating signal.

Some said that a ballot could divide and break the ITUC. This may be a threat, if the vote happens in the absence of transparent and democratic rules. There will be no losers or winners, but a stronger and more mature organization, united and committed to supporting the new elected leadership group.

These are common wishes we have to bring to the Congress, certain that we have acted for the good of the organization and for its strengthening.

We will work together with you to elect a plural and fully representative General Council.

We have also worked out a strong, cohesive and united team, with Victor Baez (incumbent S.G. of CSA-TUCA) and Rafael Lamas (FGTB Belgium) as Deputy General Secretaries who will ensure representativeness and commitment to our programmes and values.

Regarding the new President, I shall endorse the candidacy proposed by Africa in accordance with the rotation criteria. I am confident he will represent the whole ITUC and give guidance to its affiliates.

Deputy Presidents should not take sides with any candidate or elected General secretary, instead they should represent and give guidance to the whole ITUC and its affiliates.

I would like to thank you all for your advice, for your great support and trust in these months of campaign.

We will meet and continue to work together, starting from Copenhagen.
Together, we can change the course of the international trade union movement, giving voice, defending freedom and protecting the rights of workers, starting from the most vulnerable.

The ITUC we want

ESFR / AR/ IT

 

The ITUC we want is based on shared rules, which reflect democratic principles and values, and solidarity.

Only clear and transparent rules allow to manage the life of a broad organization like the ITUC. Rules that everyone must always respect, regardless of role, position or personal interest.

The respect of rules would be a guidance for all affiliated unions, and a substantial asset for an international organization that is characterized and enriched by its cultural diversity.

An organisation that can identify with every corner of the planet and implement equity, participation, solidarity, transparency, democracy, according to its founding principles and values.

These are the needs raised and shared by many affiliates that in these years, on several occasions, have asked to the Secretariat more listening and more sharing, a demand to be at the service of the affiliates rather than passing on decisions already taken without the sufficient – and patient and essential – practice of collegiality and search for consent.

That is how the organization, its ability to have an impact and the sense of belonging grow, if those who lead it can promote and facilitate opportunities for debate, analysis and content from the most purely political-trade union issues to those related to management, from identifying the countries at risk to finding the best communication strategies, from understanding which alliances to favour to the relations with international agencies and organizations.

The ITUC Congress represents for every organization the time of synthesis between rules and practice of democracy, through the behaviour, the method and the merit of the decisions taken.

All affiliates are entering the Congress path with great passion: from the discussion of the Constitution, to the political document, to the congress rules about the candidacies.

Unfortunately this path has highlighted shortcomings in the regulations and in the organization that have left room for discretionary behaviours, and this harms the whole organization.

The existing rules do not allow full participation. They produce confusion and uncertainty. They turn the debate and the dialectics from content to opposing sides and to personal attacks.

They reduce the space for participation and consensus building with respect to the diversity of positions and opinions. This exercise can be hard but fundamental, indispensable for an international organization based on democracy, such as the ITUC.

The discussion about the rules has raised attention among many affiliates, both at a regional and national level, to the point that we had to shed light on the common need to review our system of rules, to improve the system and the way we work.

It is about helping and responding positively to the demand of participation and discussion, just as we do when we ask to the workers for their opinion and their mandate. This helps the organization to build a strong and authoritative representation and make the affiliates the true owners of the ITUC.

Instead, this path has been restricted and a frozen, relying only on the summary decisions of the management, with a defensive approach, more bureaucratic than political.

But the aspect that worries us most, and that we are experiencing now, is about the management of the campaign for ITUC General Secretary, without clear internal rules, all left to the mere will of those who manage the Secretariat, although formal requests and concrete proposals had been made so to have a congressional campaign in conditions of fairness.

Such void is generating a wrong and incomprehensible behaviour for an organization like the ITUC as we wanted it to be: open and ready for dialogue and listening.

It is unfair and it hurts that the access to sensitive and necessary information to manage properly the candidacies for the Congress are at the sole use of one party and not given by default, as in any democratic contest, at the other’s.

It is unfair and it hurts to attend meetings where ITUC staff, both political or technical, makes use of its role and function to intervene heavily and promote and condition the vote, rather than offering a correct information as it should be.

It is unfair and it hurts the democratic living of an organization to know that it has not been deemed necessary to share since the beginning of the Congress preparation among the parties the information about the critical situations and the economic difficulties, or the issue of entry visas for those affiliates who needed assistance, as an actual form of solidarity, to guarantee that there is no discrimination or favouritism of any kind.

And how cannot be accepted the demand for clear and transparent rules, to guarantee secrecy, a fundamental rule for a democratic organization, that spreads fairness and tranquillity, rather than doubts and uncertainties?

For this reason, we believe that the Berlin voting procedure shall be improved if we want to ensure the secrecy of the vote. We are still in time, we are ready to make our contribution so that we can get to the Congress with a proposal that guarantees everyone the freedom to vote as it should be in every democratic organization.

Rules and internal democracy are not an option and cannot not be biased: they are a right and duty of the whole organization. When there are gaps or regulatory gaps, it is everyone’s responsibility and in everyone’s interest to report it and make proposals for solutions.

And it is the responsibility of those elected to give answers and to ensure the highest democratic guarantee, for the sake of the organization.

Some proposals and comments concerning rules and procedures of the ITUC Congress (Download pdf document)

Digitalisation: a challenge for the global trade union movement

 

Digitalisation is a wide and multifaceted phenomenon and impacts on working conditions in a very different way on the basis of the country, the clusters of workers and industries and even within these groups. Its outcomes can be influenced by the role played by the social actors. Trade unions, at all levels, should aim at leading the process.

It would be misleading to focus the debate only on how many jobs robotisation will destroy and how many it will create. This debate would hide the discussion on the quality of work, and does not take into consideration what stakeholders can do in influencing trends or even reverse them.

One of the challenges is to make the opportunities of digitalisation available also to the millions of workers that are still excluded from the digital society.

The wider perspective of the society we want to live in has not to be neglected: the reduction of the working time and its redistribution, with pay rises due to an increasing productivity is, for example, a topic to focus on, when assessing the quantitative “effects” of digitization. And we very much know that the rise of digitisation opens new challenges for our democracies: on one side, more people can access information and have freedom to express; on the other, digital can also be a tool for misinformation and surveillance.

It’s necessary to understand how digitization impacts on markets. Global value chains become more and more integrated by digitization, thanks to dramatic transformations in logistics and the possibility to connect industries, companies, consumers all over the world.

The international trade union confederation and the global union federations must monitor the global value chains, struggling for fairer conditions for all, because a decision taken in the headquarters of a company of the global value chain, has significant impacts on the organization of work and on the working conditions in companies located in other countries.

Even in the same company, being it a micro-multinational or a giant multinational such as the GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon), the governance is often centralised but the system managing human capital and labour is often at the national level. The gap, that splits time, actors and place where decisions are taken from where they produce their effect, has to be properly managed.

An example is the platform economy: the algorithm that “determines” the organization of work and related conditions (e.g. ranking of workers, working time, wage, etc.) is often centrally programmed (e.g. the Silicon Valley), without taking into consideration the consequences produced in other contexts – or, all the more so, the effects on labour in general. It is not enough to act at the national level, it’s necessary to bargain on the inputs given to the algorithm, in terms of values, variables to be considered and patterns among them.

Collective bargaining structure and tools have to be updated to the global economy, and this is not an easy task.

To achieve the necessary strength and capacity for such a challenge, it’s necessary to improve training of unionists, representation and unionisation of workers, both in quantity and quality, for the entire global working class. We also need institutions which are able to govern a globalised and digitised economy. One century after its creation, the ILO should design and implement new regulatory tools aligned with the reality of the contemporary economy, extending and recognising fundamental rights to the new workers, and acknowledging the international structure of industrial relationships.

It’s necessary to reach workers in remote areas and online, to rely on them for establishing global networks and develop their sensitivity and experience on the working conditions of people working together from all over the world, using digital tools to our own advantage.

As an example, to illustrate the functioning of the economic and social systems: the economy is global, but the two main tools at the service of the redistribution of wealth and social justice – taxation/fiscal systems and representation of labour – are still national. This creates a race to the bottom among states to compete by reducing taxes and labour rights.

We need to change our strategy, taking advantage of technological innovation to reach this goal, turning upside down the common approach on this topic: the real challenge for trade unions in digitization is to promote the use of technology to answer the main – and many – global challenges (e.g. climate change) and to build the world we want our children to live in.

We, as trade unions, have to guard and control where and how innovation is developed and where and how it is applied, to have a voice not only on its ex post effects on labour and society, but also on the decisions taken upstream.

This is the only way to make the difference and we have to act at the global level as well as in the tech companies.

There’s no conclusion to this story, digitization will not save us all and apocalyptic scenarios are misleading as well. We have to work to play an active role in the process, for decent working and living conditions and a fairer society all over the world.

We can do more for peace in the Middle East

The international community has a great responsibility towards the Palestinian people and the international trade union movement must go beyond mere declarations of intent.

If we really want to contribute to building coexistence and mutual respect between Palestinians and Israeli , a just and stable peace, we must put in place an action to defend political, human rights and fundamental labor rights for the Palestinian people.

The conflict between Palestinians and Israelis has been since too many decades at the heart of the instability of the entire Middle Eastern region.
After the signature f the Oslo agreements, we all thought we were on the right way to reach a negotiated and accepted solution for both parties. But after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, by an israeli extremist, this process slowed down, then the two signing parties progressively withdrew, and consequently froze the process.

This situation and the absence of direct talks between the two parties, led to the emergence of the “de facto” policy with the continued and constant occupation of Palestinian territory, to expand the illegal settlements and to build new ones.

This has led to the isolation of the Gaza Strip that has favored the dominance and control of Hamas on the almost two million Palestinians, mostly refugees, victims and hostages of a spiral of violence that has been repeating itself for over ten years, trampling the whole of human rights and humanitarian law.

The territory and the Palestinian community were consequently fragmented; the dependence of the Palestinian economy from the Israeli one increased with a profound and structural exploitation of the Palestinian workforce, unacceptable living and working conditions for the great majority of workers.

Last but not least, we are witnessing provocations and diplomatic constraints such as the initiative of the US administration to move its embassy to Jerusalem, which is producing nothing but new tensions and mistrust in the role of the international community.

As an international trade union movement we must be committed to:

demanding the full recognition of the state of Palestine by the States and by the United Nations, and respect for the special status of Jerusalem (UN Resolutions 181 and 252), as a first step for the resumption of peace negotiations with the support of the whole international community;

requesting the re-launch of the initiative by the UN system, for an investment plan that promotes work, education and services in the Palestinian territories, including the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem;

strengthening dialogue and cooperation between the two communities, starting from employment, ensuring respect for human rights and fundamental labour rights for all workers, both in Palestine and in Israel;

promote an ITUC-led cooperation programme, with the participation and support of all available trade unions, for the strengthening of the Palestinian trade union movement, starting from the PGFTU, for the defense of labor rights and for the cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli trade unions.

This must be our commitment in order to build a just and stable peace and peaceful coexistence in the Middle Eastern region.

CGIL, on the basis of the fundamental principles included in our own constitution, considers solidarity between trade unions a decisive factor for peace among peoples, as the supreme good of humanity, for the affirmation of human rights and freedoms, for national independence and full protection of the cultural and ethnic identity of each population.  For these reasons, we categorically reject the rumors circulated on social media for mere speculation and opportunism tending to discredit our work and our history. A history that is proven by a longstanding commitment and militancy in favor of the rights of the Palestinian people and the solution of the “two states solution .

 

VIDEO – Mrs. Mai Alkaila: “Susanna is very respected in Palestine and we consider her a promoter of the Palestinian cause.”

I want to thank the Ambassador of the State of Palestine in Italy, Mrs. Mai Alkaila, for having wanted to give evidence of my longstanding commitment to the Palestinian cause, against all violations of Palestinian people’s rights. Thanks Mrs. Mai Alkaila, shukran.