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National Congress  |  Affiliates Speeches

COSATU 10th National Congress - Greeting speech of WFTU General Secretary George Mavrikos 23 September 2009

Dear Leaders of COSATU President and General Secretary
Dear General Secretary of South African Communist Party
Dear Ministers, dear Minister Noluthando

Dear Comrades

Sisters and Brothers

We want to convey comradely greetings on behalf of the World Federation of Trade Unions and we wish you from the bottom of our heart all success in your Congress, strong and good decisions and achievement of your objectives.

We are pleased and proud to be here with you, because the World Federation of Trade Unions since its foundation in 1945 has always been firmly on the side of your people. Firmly with you in the hard and heroic struggles against Apartheid. We fought together not with words but with actions against the brutality of the racist regime. And we all together defeated them. We defeated the regime of racism, we brought down the institutions of the imperialists, the puppets of their European masters. And today the struggle continues for the interests of workers, for socialism and progress.


From 1945 to 1990 the World Federation of Trade Unions played a major role in the class-oriented struggles around the world. After the overthrow of socialism in Eastern Europe until nearly 2000 it faced great difficulties. It was attacked and slandered. Multinationals and monopolies tried to dissolve it. But they did not succeed. Since 2000, we have started to gain new strength and now our organization is a strong global trade union and a social power.

Today our big family counts 70 million members in 95 countries. All major militant and revolutionary trade unions belong to our great family.

We are proud to have in the leadership of the World Federation of Trade Unions the Revolutionary Confederation of Cuban Workers, the General Confederation of Viet Nam, the General Confederation of Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, the People`s Republic of Korea etc. We feel honoured by our fraternal relationship with the ACFTU that now has 213 million members in its ranks. Of course we are proud of all our members from major countries such as India, Brazil, Russia, Palestine, Australia, Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Syrian and all the countries that follow a pure class-oriented labour internationalist line. We are proud because the lines of class-oriented trade unions around the world gave birth to militant trade unionists who kept their pride despite of imprisonment, terrorism and persecutions. Unlike others who turned trade unionism into a job and became rich.

Sisters, Brothers,

The time we live in is marked by most important features: First, the global financial crisis and second, the U.S. imperialist aggression and its allies.

The international financial crisis has negative consequences for workers and peoples of all countries. This crisis is a crisis of the capitalist system itself and it shows that the future of humanity can not reside in capitalism, neither with a neo-liberal face, nor with social democratic face. In both cases the burden is carried by the working class. Look for example at the neo-conservative governments of Ms Merkel in Germany and of Mr Sarkozy in France or at the social democratic governments of Mr Brown in England and Mr Zapatero in Spain.

In both cases, the profits of the capital grow while unemployment and poverty increase for the working class.

We believe that the analysis done by Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto on the cyclical crises of the capitalist system is now more relevant than ever. The real solution, the only real way out of the crisis, is socialism. This is our answer. It is the answer and the objective of the class-oriented trade union movement, and in this connection allow me to congratulate COSATU for raising the issue of socialism as a central topic for discussion at your conference.

Since the beginning of the economic crisis, the WFTU centrally has taken a number of initiatives:

  • We discussed the issue in January 2008 at the Global Trade Union Forum in Beijing, organized annually by the ACFTU, OATUU, ICATU and WFTU.
  • We organized an International Conference in December 2008 in Lisbon.
  • We organized in Cairo, Egypt, in July 2009 a meeting on the impact of the economic crisis on women. So did we in Nicaragua.
  • We organized an International Day of Action on 1 April 2009 with demonstrations, strikes and protests in 48 countries.
  • We are planning an international seminar which will take place in a few days, on 5-6 October, in Brussels Belgium. Of course COSATU has been invited.
  • On 18 and 19 November 2009, we shall organize an international meeting on the impact of the crisis on young workers.

Yesterday and today in Sao Paulo, Brazil, all our unions from all countries of Latin America are organizing a conference on these issues under the title "Nuestra America".

In addition, our Regional Offices and the branch TUIís of the WFTU develop a rich program of actions. Also we organized campaigns for the release of Cuban Five, for solidarity with Palestine etc.

This is how we move forward, with concrete activities and initiatives, but we must do even more because the needs are immense.

Dear Colleagues,

Many people worldwide suffer from imperialist wars and imperialist aggression. The policy of U.S. and their allies creates big problems. Today, according to UN official data, 42 million immigrants are political refugees, and 18 million immigrants are political refugees within their own countries. This is imperialism.

In Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Georgia, Palestine, the Golan Heights in Syria, we clearly see the results of U.S. policy. This policy is killing innocent people, is killing women and children, but is also destroying the environment, ruins the quality of life and the dreams of young people for a decent life and a better tomorrow.

This policy turns the governments of the Third World into puppets of the U.S., increases the foreign debt and generalises poverty. It hands over the wealth and the resources of the third world to the developed capitalist countries of the Western world. And unfortunately, the UN, other International Organizations, the ILO, do not do what they should. They donít play the role that people need them to play. The UN supports aggression, the ILO is a monopoly without equal representation and objectivity.

This is the situation. This is the truth.

Thus the critical question today is: in todayís world what kind of international trade union organisation does the world working class need?

  • One that allies and supports the G8 or an organization like the WFTU in
  • conflict with the G8 and its anti-labour policies?
  • One that works to modernize the capitalist system or an organization like the WFTU fighting to overthrow capitalism, fighting for the abolition of exploitation of man by man fighting for socialism?
  • One that supports the attacks of U.S. and their allies against Iraqi people or an organization like the WFTU that supports the resistance of the Iraqi people until they expel the invaders?
  • One that mostly supports Israel and treats on equal footing Israel, Lebanon and Palestine or an organization like the WFTU that organizes, actively supports and struggles with the heroic Palestinian people and with the Lebanese resistance?

What do you think, dear comrades? What do you want? An international organization that blames socialist Cuba? That calumniates Venezuela? Or do you want a WFTU stronger, bigger and more internationalist, actively supporting the Cuban and Bolivarian revolution? a WFTU which will be open to all, as it has always been, a WFTU democratic, modern, class-oriented, to unite all workers on common goals?

Dear comrades,

We have confidence in your people and your movement. We trust and appreciate the role of the South African Communist Party, the role and the big struggles of COSATU.

We are with you. We wish your Congress all success.

Viva COSATU Viva!
Viva the Working Class Viva!
Viva Socialism Viva!
Solidarity for ever !
Thank you.