First of all I want to send greetings on behalf of the organization formed by the most veteran WFTU´s trade unionists, the nowadays Pensioners and Retirees which, as a group, have been fighting during decades against the oppression of capitalism and imperialism.
I also want to thank our Indian host, who has welcomed us, this time in Calcutta.
And also our thanks to the WFTU Secretariat for having summoned to what we consider the most important annual meeting of the WFTU, although its usefulness will depend on how we make the meeting work, the conclusions we draw and the way in which these are implemented.
As veteran trade unionists, who have participated in thousands of meetings, we know that there must be at least two important aims in our meetings: one to define its contents and another to organizing of present and future work. To mix or confuse these aims would be a great mistake, a waste of time and resources we can´t afford, because our failures only benefit our class enemy.
The previous WFTU´s 17th Congress has already defined and approved the contents of the struggle of the WFTU. It is not useful to repeat them here, for it will only remind us of what we already know. Please do not make your intervention a simple summary of what was said at the WFTU´s 17th Congress.
What we need at this meeting is to improve our impact as TUI on our ability to organize and mobilize both active and retired workers.
Actually our TUI is the only one that organizes the non active workers, out of the 10 that have constituted the WFTU, although the 9 others should worry that when passing to retirees and pensioners the workers are not unorganized (on this matter our TUI has important experiences to share that I will summarize later).
In order to make the intervention that we consider most useful as TUI, and after agreeing the content of this discourse with the collective direction chosen at our First Congress, I am going to divide my exposition in two parts: 1) Information of our reality, with work already made and the proposals we have, adapted to the environment in which we act; and 2) Our proposals to improve the work of the TUI within the WFTU.
Our work as UIS of PyJ
We are organizing the largest group inside the WFTU, the one formed by people who have finished its working life and who can still live from 10 to 40 years without relying on an exploiting entrepreneur. And this happens while health advances have reached a high degree of success in its capacity to prolong human life with a minimum of dignified conditions. Only in this statement do we agree with the IMF, that it finds here the central argument to promote, with the great help of the ITUC and all the yellow trade unions, the delay of the retirement age and the reduction of what was collected as a pension.
In reality, the IMF, as the best expression of the multinationals, only wants to exploit the working class more years and to promote new business for its echelons by boosting private pension funds. These businesses are also assisted by the ITUC that supported Pinochet in the privatization of pensions, creating the Pension Fund Administrations (AFPs) that later would be copied by other countries, and now we, the Pensioners and Retirees, are fighting against these Funds, especially those operating in the whole of America, with one million Chilean workers demonstrating in the streets already twice.
Pensioners and Retirees are already, and these figures are increasing year by year, almost 20% of the world population and 30% of those entitled to vote. Organizing these people, giving them or reinforcing their class consciousness, is a very important way of fighting capitalism. Even today the vast majority of Pensioners and Retirees either do not vote or vote pro-capitalist options. The WFTU will never say to which party organization or acronyms it is necessary to vote, but if it can and must say to whom a member of the working class musn´t give his/her vote. As WTFU we have to achieve, and it is not an easy objective, that no employee or pensioner vote for his/her class enemy.
With this objective in mind, which is closely linked to the central goal of improving the living conditions of Pensioners and Retirees, the WFTU created the Pensioners and Retirees´ TUI at its 16th Congress (April 2011, Athens, Greece). In order to fight for a life worthy of the Pensioners and Retirees from all over the world we held in Barcelona (for the time being still a part of the Spanish state) our TUI´s First Congress in February of 2012. Afterwards, Regional Conferences have been held in America (Quito, Ecuador, 30-9-15), Europe (Denmark, 20-7-16), Africa (Dakar, Senegal, 16-11-16), and Asia -12-16). Following this path, the First Conference of Class Organizations of the Pensioners and Retirees of the Arab Countries will take place in Tunisia next October 26th, 2017; a Conference to which you, along with the WFTU´s leadership, can still help in order to attain a high degree of success.
What we have to achieve now is that the management teams elected in Congress and in the Conferences are not just an ordinary sum of trade unionists with more union responsibilities (added to the ones they already had), that it serves as a presumption of it, if not a task that they execute with the maximum possible yield. At the moment we have a lot of work to do, so what I just said is nothing else by a reflection of a daily reality: only in America we are starting to achieve our goals.
As the TUI of Pensioners and Retirees we are fighting for a dignified life that is summed up in the same conditions that the WFTU set out to celebrate on October 3th the anniversary of our foundation: 1) fresh water; 2) healthy food; 3) proper housing; 4) free access to public and qualified health services, and 5) education, culture and leisure activities of quality on public and free-access basis, as well as public transportation of proximity to enjoy them.
Actually, Pensioners and Retirees form the group of people most unable to achieve these five conditions in the whole of the planet.
To change this reality, in addition to the struggles in each country, we have organized an Annual Day of Internationalist Struggle, to be held every October 1st. This year we performed the second world action as TUI (see the attached poster) with more success and extension than the previous year. And in this growing line we hope to continue.
I have previously announced that I would report on how to work in a union so as not to lose members at the time of their transition from active workers to retired people. We simply have to:
1) Inform active workers who normally do not care about their retirement until a few years before they get to enjoy it. In this sense, the experience of the Federation of Chemists of the French CGT is very interesting, since they have spent years with exchanges between active workers and retired workers.
2) To place among the claims of active workers the specifics related to Pensioners and Retirees.
3º) To call active and retired workers as well to take active part in the actions and struggles of the other group to reinforce them and exchange experiences.
Only thus the change from worker exploited by an entrepreneur to worker receiving a pension can be made without further loss of continuity in the struggle.
The working class is a single class composed of people who go through three stages of life, analyzed from the perspective of the class struggle: learning, work activity and retirement.
To conclude this first part of my speech, I want to announce that at the beginning of the year 2019 we will be holding our Second Congress of the TUI of Pensioners and Retirees, probably in an American country. From now on, we are calling you to help us to ensure that there is no lack of representation in the Congress of any of the class conscious groups of Pensioners and Retirees that the WFTU knows about.
Sometimes these groups have been born as associations, with the simple will to protect the rights of Pensioners and Retirees, but without any links with the union struggle (as is the case of the NoMasAFP fight in Chile, although we are already trying to correct this situation). Another instance can be found in COBAP (Brazilian Confederation of Retirees), which has more than 1.100.000 members (and adding each month between 3.000 to 4,000 members). A month ago I met with them, in their headquarters in Sao Paulo, in the presence of their 70 highest leaders coming from the 27 Brazilian states. During this meeting I made a proposal that they join the WFTU. This proposal was very well received, and now they have begun the stage of discussing it internally.
As Pensioners and Retirees´ TUI we must know how to add to our ranks any organization that, from a class conscious point of view, can help us to reinforce our increasingly global struggle, since the measures against us are being applied and extended by the IMF in all countries of the world.
Finally I want to tell you that in order to save time and money, our Pensioners and Retirees TUI is starting to replace international travels aimed to meetings of few leaders for videoconferences that today can be done for free through the computers that we already have.
Our proposals to all TUIs and to the WFTU leadership
We believe that at this present stage the TUI does not fulfill the tasks that we should carry out to reinforce the WFTU. Even many unions see the fight in each state as a priority and leave the internationalist struggle in a second – or even in a worst place.
It is not enough that we declare ourselves internationalists, we must exercise and act as such.
It is not enough to make good Congresses or Conferences of our respective TUI (sometimes spending enormous financial and time resources which therefore are not been spent on fighting the class enemy).
We know that it is easier for our TUI than to the others to set a date for world struggle day; as you know, October 1 has been chosen to this aim.
But in any case I must to insist that in spite of the fact of the TUI capacities and reasons to unite in Internationalist Struggle Days, their claims still today raised separately from country to country. Our class enemy is well coordinated at the whole of international levels, more than those who try to fight him.
Surely it is easier to start a Day of Internationalist Struggle of the workers of the same multinational. This will not be promoted by the yellow unions, interested in the persistence of differences between the working class according to the countries. At this point I would like to remind you that yellow and collaborationist trade unions already voted in the First Congress of the WFTU against condemning colonialism.
It should not be the Pensioners and Retirees´ TUI the one who tells the others how and when to organize World Day of Internationalist Struggle, but we do insist on the need for our UIS not to be the only one to organize them.
To the world-wide enemy organized as an oppressive class we must oppose a strong world action of the exploited ones, branch to branch of the production and services, unifying the objectives of the unions of class in the whole planet (for example with a panel that serves for all countries: permanent contracts, working hours, holidays, health and safety at work, salary level related to the cost of living of each country, trade union rights, retirement age, minimum wage, minimum pension, Social Security, rights of the unemployed , environment, emigrants' rights, vocational and trade union training, etc).
The WFTU´s central leadership can and should help to make these proposals, which we do as veteran trade unionists (trade unionists who have been leading the territorial and sector trade unions for many years), to move forward everywhere.
But also the central leadership has to stimulate the WFTU Territorial Offices so that in addition to being the simple and important representation of our organization in each geographical area, they are also an organizing element of the workers´ and peasants' class struggle.
As the TUI of Pensioners and Retirees we have the bad experience, which should not be repeated, of little or no action taken by the regional offices. Few have been the ones who helped our TUI. I mean only and simply the minimal help to get a call to the unions in their respective territories. If we do not know how to help the growth and structuring of the WFTU organizations we will be unable to fulfilling the objectives that we say to defend. It is of no use that we repeatedly talk about and recall these objectives if we do not really work to achieve them.
To finish our proposals, we want to suggest the creation of some new TUIs. The Textile was already mentioned at the 17th Congress of the WFTU, so we propose others such as: Graphic Arts and Media, Computer, Cleaning and Care of Disable and Old People, Commerce, all of them key sectors and of great importance in the current functioning of the capitalist system that we want to defeat. Certainly, some of the sectors I have just mentioned are already (although sometimes only partially) organized in one of the existing TUIs, but we think that they could develop much more, and help more to the class struggle, if they worked independently.
Thank you, comrades for listening.
Secretary General of the TUI (International Union of Trade Unions) of Pensioners and Retirees (P&R) of the WFTU