Anyone visiting the efficient and active headquarters of the World Federation of Trade Unions in Athens, Greece is treated to a real confidence booster. In a world that is reeling with the devastating affects of the over whelming greed of the world corporations and their front organizations: World Bank, World Trade Organizations and the International Monetary Fund; here the fight back is in high gear.
The Following Interview is of George Mavrikos, the General Secretary of the WFTU and he is also a Member of the Greek Parliament. He clearly has his plate full; and happy for it.
PA: What are the changes in WFTU?
GM: At the WFTU Congress in Havana, Cuba in December, 2005, the decision was made to move hte WFTU headquarters from Prague, Czech Republic to Athens, Greece. This took place the following month, January, 2006. Most of the records are now in place in Athens, Greece.
PA: What are the main prioities of the WFTU?
GM: We have three main priorities: First at the our actions. We are holding seminars in all the continents with strong solidarity. We just held a Conference on Working Women in Brussels where 105 women from 65 countries attended. We held a conference on Immigration in the 21st Century and last year, in Ecuador 145 trade unionists meet to discuss the new situation in the WEstern Hemisphere. As you know the changes have been dramatic.
The second priority is strengthening our organization. We are strengthening our regional organizations/branches/regions; and, the TUIs, Trade Union Internationals groupings which are active include: Construction with a conference in Greece; Energy with a recent conference in Mexico; Transport with a conference in Brazil; and metalworkers in Spain. TUIs on public services, education/teachers, and agriculture are in the works.
Our 3rd priority is to fully participate in international organizations. For example at the International Labor Org. At the recent meeting of the ILO we fully participating in helping to gain the leadership of the Chinese trade unions into the ILO Governing body. It is said that we were instrumental in that effort. We met with The Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy; and our representative in UNESCO has made our presence their well known. We are also fully represented at the United Nations in New York by our permanent representative Dr. Frank Goldsmith. We are looking more in these arenas.
PA: Have there been any difficulties?
GM: Yes, our affiliates tend to be the most active but also not in strong financial condition. This is why our own financial situation is not as strong as is needed. We take no other money to do our work than from our own affiliates. There is another international trade union group that is trying to convince unions affiliated with us to drop their affiliation. They offer a lot of money, But, they have not been successful.
PA: Are there new initiatives?
GM: Yes, this year we are planning a major meeting in Nigeria for all of our African affiliates. Also, September 19 and 20th, there will be a meeting in Nepal for Asian affiliates in December 15 & 16 in Lisbon on the affects of Globalization on European workers.
In 2009 we will be having a meeting in Peru on Working Youth and Globalization. Comrade Valentin Pacho, sitting right here, will be headed up that important meeting.
And, in 2009, the WFTU will holding its next Executive Council meeting in Cyprus. This will be a good time reassess our positions.
PA: Thank you very much