OF TRADE UNIONS
(Impressions of the Russian Union Delegate)
In Turkey (in the region of Eren) from May 14-16, 1999, there took place an international conference of trade unions. There were more than 300 delegates from Turkey and many other countries of the whole world. At the conference concrete and specific problems of the class struggle of the contemporary proletariat were discussed, and also the possible means to solve them.
The high level of organization, the high sense of responsibility and the fraternal hospitality of the Turkish comrades made it possible for the delegates to the conference to move quickly from the formulation and discussion of problems to the discussion of practical questions of how to resolve them. The conference ended with a revolutionary festival in the city of Izhmir.
Given the high quality of the organization and the results obtained, this international conference of union solidarity has become a great step towards the cause of the consolidation of the workers movement internationally, and without a doubt should be considered an event of historic importance.
One can generalize the content of the speeches of the delegates and draw out the fundamental elements of the state of the class struggle in the world.
The general crisis of capitalism at present is accompanied by a strong and intensive offensive of the imperialists and the local bourgeoisies against the social rights and freedoms of the working class. This offensive has no equal in the history of capitalism, reaching all corners of the planet. The bourgeoisie tends to worsen the conditions of the working people to a level corresponding to the epoch of «savage» capitalism.
The privatization and decrease in production today has acquired a global character that affects all the workers of the world.
The privatization of state enterprises creates favorable conditions for the bourgeoisie to get rid of the unions and other class organizations of the proletariat, for the dispersal of the workers. This allows the capitalists to freely increase the exploitation of the workers, to make working conditions worse, to systematically lower wages, to do away with the social rights and guarantees that were not granted by the bourgeoisie but were the result of a hard and even bloody struggle.
As a result of the systematic closing of enterprises, the level of unemployment is systematically rising in all countries. Unemployment not only deprives the broad masses of the proletariat of the possibility of obtaining the necessary means of subsistence, even at the cost of slave-like exploitation; it creates on the other hand competition for jobs. In this way, the bourgeoisie divides the working class, promoting splits among diverse sectors of the working class, which become an obstacle to the organization of the class struggle.
The conference emphasized the fact that the problems faced by the unions of different countries have common elements. The essence of the class struggle is the same independent of the forms that it takes, its the level of development and other specific conditions. This points out the need for the trade union movement to unite on an international level, even to the extent of forming an international center to consolidate forces, for mutual aid and the coordination of actions.
On the other hand, local and particular factors influence the level of development of the union movement in a given country, they impose national and specific elements on it. Therefore the trade union movement in some countries is still in an autarchic stage of development. However, the community of interests of the international proletariat compels the union movements of different countries to seek comrades in the struggle at an international level. This consideration has to be taken into account at the time of establishing international ties. It is necessary to do everything possible to assist class union organizations at any level, local, regional or national, since these structures form the reserve of the international proletariat.
The conference emphasized the need to keep in mind the specific conditions of each country for the creation and development of the union movement, but at the same time it underlined the crucial importance and necessity of unifying the trade union movement on an international level in the struggle for the common interests of the proletariat until the abolition of every kind of exploitation and oppression in the whole world.
The trade union bureaucracy and the labor aristocracy try to divert the class struggle along the road of compromise with the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois system of exploitation. They try to reduce the protests of the workers to meaningless actions and to rob the workers' struggle of its class content, to make deals with the bourgeoisie, to renounce their class demands. In essence this union bureaucracy in practice plays the role of the opportunists in the workers movement.
The struggle against the opportunist disease in the heart of the workers and union movement takes on a fundamental character. The union masses should establish a strong control over the union movement. It is not possible to completely entrust the professional and social interests, the interests of the class struggle, to the union leaders. It is necessary to deprive the union leaders of the ability to make fundamental and serious decisions without the prior agreement of the union masses. It is necessary to deprive the union leaders of the right to dispose arbitrarily of the financial and material resources of the union. If there is a lack of participation of the union masses in the internal dynamics of the union, the union leaders will inevitably degenerate to the extent of betraying in an opportunist manner the interests of the proletariat.
The opportunists are the most effective defenders of the bourgeoisie, even more than the bourgeoisie itself, since they are in the heart of the union, they act inside the union movement in a concealed and hypocritical manner.