IN THE FIRST EUROPEAN SOCIAL FORUM
Florence, 6-10 November 2002
The General Confederation of Trade Unions, GCTU, an
organisation affiliating national trade union centres in the countries of the
Commonwealth of Independent States and industrial Trade Union Internationals
of the region, sends its warm greetings to participants in the European Social
Forum. We are positive that this forum will provide possibilities for a broad-based
dialogue of public forces concerned over the negative consequences of
globalisation for most of the Earth's population, and develop a platform of action
that will meet the needs of Europeans in today's complicated situation.
The globalisation processes have seriously affected the workers on the European
continent, including the region where our Confederation operates. The neo-liberal
economic reforms presently carried out in the CIS countries, the breakdown
of former economic ties, together with the hasty and unchecked privatisation have
resulted in an unprecedented drop in the economy, massive unemployment,
the impoverished masses of population, a sharp decline in social protection,
and unparalleled growth in the social equality gap.
Transnational corporations penetrate deeper and deeper into the economies
of CIS countries, taking advantage of their plight in order to exploit ruthlessly
their workers, minimise the rights of trade unions at their enterprises, or even
prevent their creation. In this context, on the initiative of the GCTU, seven CIS
countries signed an agreement in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, in 1997,
providing for unimpeded establishment of a trade union organisation at each
transnational enterprise operative on their territories. However, much has to
be done to make the agreement work and widen its coverage.
Many CIS countries have effected their reforms according
to recommendations issued directly by the international financial institutions, and
their deplorable results for workers show that it is high time we put an end to the
interference of these institutions in the internal affairs of our region. Now that
some CIS countries have joined, and others intend to join, the World Trade
Organisation we must insist that social aspects and protection of workers'
interests should become part of this process.
In today's world, it is essential that the basic instruments
of the International Labour Organisation, which we regard as a world labour
code, should be observed to the fullest extent, and we will continue the line for
all-round strengthening of the ILO and its monitoring functions.
To accomplish all those tasks, it is necessary to enhance
the international solidarity of workers and trade unions. The recent terrorist acts
committed in different parts of the world make this particularly topical. The GCTU
strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in New York in September 2001 and in
Moscow in October 2002, as it considers international terrorism to be a principal
enemy of workers and all people on this planet.
The GCTU's position on the main problems of our times
coincide with, or are similar to, the goals proclaimed by the World Social Forum
held in Porto Allegre in 2002 where the decision was taken to call this European
Social Forum. Although the GCTU will not be able to attend it, we would like to
stress our wish to maintain contacts with its organisers in the future.
We wish you a successful Forum.
General Confederation of Trade Unions
Moscow, November 2002