PARTICIPANTS IN THE SECOND WORLD TRADE UNION FORUM:
"TRADE UNION MOVEMENT AT THE HEART OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY"
PORTO ALEGRE, 22-23 JANUARY 2003
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
The General Confederation of Trade Unions (GCTU) affiliating national
trade union centres in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and
38 industrial trade union internationals of the region extends its
heartfelt greetings to all participants in the Forum and wishes them
In today's world, economic globalisation has become a major process
affecting the course of world development. It has a tremendous direct
impact not only on the labour relations and workers' social conditions,
but also on the way of life of the Earth's population in general.
Therefore, it is urgent that the public, and primarily the trade unions
as a powerful force in civil society, determine their attitude towards
The GCTU believes that the CIS countries should respond to the globalisation
challenges by promoting regional integration and working out a
common strategy centred on such values as decent work, human rights, social
dialogue, and adequate social security schemes. Particular attention should be
devoted to the issues of employment and labour migration, and to the quality of
workforce, all of which have been aggravated by globalisation.
As the problems arising from the accession of CIS countries to
the World Trade Organisation are increasingly topical today, the GCTU is of the
opinion that they should be solved based on economic and social expediency rather
than on political considerations. It is also essential that forestalling regional
programmes are adopted in the social sphere.
The GCTU brought its point of view on these problems to the notice of CIS
Parliaments and Heads of State and Government, as it summed up the outcome
of a major international conference "Economic Globalisation and Regional
Integration: Their Impact on the Workers' Conditions in the CIS Countries"
held by our Confederation last February. The Conference approved our approach
to these issues.
The GCTU demands that all transnational companies and finance-industrial groups
operative in the CIS countries should both respect national legislation, and
comply with the provisions of the international legal instruments regulating
their conduct. The latter include, among other things, the Agreement on
Regulating the Social and Labour Relations in TNCs Operative on the Territories
of CIS States signed by six CIS countries in the capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek,
in 1997. This act was prepared and adopted on the initiative of the GCTU, and
it contains a paragraph prescribing such TNCs to consult with the workers'
representatives, namely «with the council of trade union committees of the
enterprises or organisations affiliated to the corporation, or with the joint
trade union committee if any».
Particularly important in the present-day conditions is the problem
of strengthening the United Nations system, and strict observance
of the social and labour standards it or its specialised agencies have
elaborated, first of all the Conventions and Recommendations of the
International Labour Organisation. As an organisation enjoying special
status with the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (IPA), the GCTU addressed
the IPA in 1996 urging it to call on the national parliaments in
the Commonwealth countries to ratify a number of ILO conventions
we consider crucial for the workers in our region. The result was
that the ILO had since then received 83 new ratifications from CIS countries.
We intend to proceed with such activities. Measures for their realisation
have been included in the Guidelines for GCTU Activity in 2002-2007, the
main document adopted by the GCTU 4th Congress held last September in
The GCTU is convinced that, at the current stage of globalisation, urgent
and immediate measures must be taken to secure workers' rights and
interests and attach a maximum priority to the social aspects of world
development. It is particularly important for the international trade union
movement to rally for the attainment of this worthy goal. We have consistently
supported the idea that economic globalisation should be met with trade union
globalisation. The GCTU reiterates its willingness to contribute towards
a united world trade union movement based on the principles of equality,
mutual respect and united action of all its components.
We are positive that the efforts being taken by trade unions to this effect
could be more fruitful if combined with the efforts by other NGOs in the social
sphere. We hope that both the 2nd World Trade Union Forum and the 3rd World
Social Forum involving broad participation of union representatives from all
over the world will be conducive to achieving this aim.
Wishing you a successful and fruitful Forum,
General Confederation of Trade Unions
Moscow, January 2003