Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Peru International Conference on Young Workers

by Mike Tolochko

Trade Union Youth Meet in Peru: Call for Peace, Defense of Planet; Right to Work at Equal Pay---No One is Illegal; Right to Education; Trade Union Autonomy

"A Different World Is Possible and that is Socialism"

Lima, Peru was recently the site of a major international conference that both attracted young workers and which were about young workers. Recently, at the AFL-CIO Convention in Pittsburgh, Pa, the federation also made young workers the focus of their attention. [See Below] Clearly there is national and international understand that young workers must be the focus of the trade union movement.

This Peru conference tackled that challenge on a national and international level:

"Given the far-reaching technological advances of our world today, young people act on processes that have changed the composition of the working class. The capitalists demand a "new professional" with initiative, critical awareness and ability to improve the production process. They demand teamwork with commitment to collective results, knowledge of languages, philosophy, continuous training, etc. But all these has one single purpose, to serve the labor market and not to contribute to the economic, social and political change, that our countries require."

Clearly employers across the world are relying young workers to produce their profits with wages, hours and working conditions that will yield the greatest profits.

The World federation of Trade Unionists and the General Confederation of Workers of Peru sponsored the three-day meeting: November 18-20, 2009.

The Final Declaration of the conference put the meeting into a perspective that made complete sense. And, then within that context, placed the crucial position of young workers:

"At the beginning of the 21st century the World remains a victim of a political and economic order that is unfair, exclusionary and exploitative. This order is leading the planet to its own self-destruction, which now is threatened by the climate change that comes in the middle of the biggest crisis in the history of capitalism.

"Young workers are the first victims of the labor market deregulation, produced by the imperialist globalization, and the results are alarming: millions of young workers are unemployed, sub employed or working in slavery-like conditions without health or social security; there homeless and persecuted emigrants, as well as child labor. In conclusion, a whole generation of young workers in material and spiritual ruin, with no promising future."

The conference cited the violence and individualism that permeates the world today. Social Solidarity that is the centerpiece of the labor movement and left wing political parties is up against corporate ideologues that see these values as a threat to their existence.

Latin America

Since the international conference was held in Latin America it stood to reason that the new and exciting events on the continent would be highlighted. They, of course, also demanded that the situation in Honduras be corrected:

"Latin America, where this first conference is being held, lives a change of time with democratic progresses and victories of progressive forces that must be defended and deepened. The response of the retrogrades, which are consolidated in the North American imperial government and with the support of its allies, is to prevent the self-determination of peoples, even by force. This fact demonstrates that they do not change. Their failed regime has nothing more to offer. The only thing that they can offer is domination, coercion, oppression, threats, aggression, and imposition of the war.

"In Honduras, the people are heroically fighting against this model of empire. The resistance of this people is an inspiration that proves that it is possible to defend our rights and sovereignty against the hypocritical and treacherous maneuver of the U.S. government and the oligarchs to circumvent the popular will and the demand of the international community. Once more we quote Che "...We cannot trust the imperialism, not even a little bit...". We demand the immediate and unconditional return of the legitimate government of Manuel Zelaya!"

In addition to Honduras, the Conference opposed the privatization of electricity and energy in Mexico City; U.S. military bases in Columbia and the Cuarta Flota new Venezuela.

They voiced solidarity with Peru workers in agro alimentary, shipping, textile and garments, miners, teachers, and civil construction.

European Union "Neo-Liberalism"

Of course, the neo liberal policies of the European Union received speical attention. The strengthening of transnationals and monopolies, which was promoted by the Lisbon Strategy, was condemned. The Lisbon Strategy was enacted by the EU to deal with their interpretation of low productivity and stagnation of economic growth. It was adopted in 2000 for a 10 years period. It grew into a virulent anti-labor, anti-worker program that each country in the EU attempted to enforce. Massive demonstrations have taken place in opposition to it.


The final declaration of the Conference set a road ahead:

1)The peace. The humanity is one only. To the hypocrisy of the globalization and the capitalist barbarism and pillage we must oppose the globalization of solidarity. No to war and imperialism!

2) The defense of our planet, facing the transnational corporations pollution that in their pursuit of profit are leading us to our own destruction.

3)The right to work and to reduction of working time with equal pay and the elimination of precarious employment and contracts. No one is illegal.

4)The youth's right to education, to work with rights and to health.

5)The trade union autonomy is not neutrality, but the assertion of the class interests. For the freedom of trade union association with youth features to boost trade union affiliation and the generational renewal in our movement.

Young workers say, as we were taught by Mariategui, that. "... The proletariat does not enter in the history politically but as a social class; at the moment that it discovers its mission to build a higher social order .... ".



The attendees came from 25 countries representing 250 trade unionists from 32 trade union organizations.

AFL-CIO Resolution on Young Union Members


WHEREAS, the continued strength and vitality
of the labor movement depends heavily on the
ability of younger union members to develop into
strong and effective labor leaders; and
WHEREAS, a powerful labor movement can be
built only through recognition and inclusion of the
full diversity of the labor force, including workers
of all ages; and
WHEREAS, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO has
developed a successful "Futures" Program,
which has introduced hundreds of younger union
members, from all sectors and industries, to the
broader labor movement in the commonwealth
of Massachusetts; and
WHEREAS, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO has
provided young union members a voice by
establishing a designated seat on the Executive
Council for a Futures Representative, approximately
age 35 or younger, elected by his or her fellow
delegates at an annual Massachusetts AFL-CIO
Futures Convention; and
WHEREAS, the establishment of the Futures
Program at the Massachusetts AFL-CIO has been
successful in getting younger union members
more involved in their local unions, the state and
national labor movement and charitable causes;
actively develop initiatives and programs
aimed at bringing young workers into the labor
movement at the national, state and local levels,
and dedicated to the leadership development of
younger union members throughout the country,
and that the Executive Council be regularly
updated on the status and progress of these