The second World Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which wraps up today on June 25, has provided a crucial opportunity for the global labour movement to strategize together about the many challenges facing workers today, says CUPE National President Paul Moist.
Now the People: From the Crisis to Global Justice
With more than 1,400 delegates from around the world in attendance, the congress - themed Now the People: From the Crisis to Global Justice - drew together 311 affiliated organizations, representing a total membership of 175 million workers from 155 countries and territories.
online magazine pointed out this week, if all ITUC
members were gathered together in one nation it would be the sixth largest country by population in the world, just larger than Pakistan and just smaller than Brazil.
“As the world’s largest umbrella group of independent unions, the ITUC is definitely the global voice of labour in this period of economic and financial crisis,” said Paul Moist. “So it’s extremely important for CUPE to be involved with workers from around the world who face similar but even greater struggles than we do here in Canada.”
Moist notes that the timing of the congress - only the second in the ITUC’s four-year history - was fortuitous, scheduled on the eve of the G8 and G20 conference also being held on Canadian soil.
ITUC congress motivates trade unions
“You hear so much about bailing out banks and getting control of the economy from private interests,” he says. “For CUPE members, this congress puts into context the non-response of the Canadian government in so many areas. It motivates us to keep fighting the fight for our federal government to be part of the solution on climate change, the transactions tax, and any number of issues.”
Moist adds that the other obvious benefit of having senior staff and leadership attending the ITUC congress is to educate, motivate and remind ourselves of how small the planet is.
Facing challenges together, in solidarity
“The challenges we’re facing from corporate multinationals, the underfunding of public services, the growing wage disparities between the haves and have-nots in Canada - we’re not the only country facing that, so it’s very educational to find out how workers from other countries are handling these challenges. As Canada’s largest union, we have much to learn from them and hopefully something to offer in terms of building a better world.”
Moist said that CUPE used the congress specifically as an opportunity to renew solidarity among Canadian affiliates in the private and public sector. They praised the Canadian Labour Congress, who received universal accolades as the Canadian hosts.
“It was also an opportunity to meet under the banner of Public Services International (PSI), to strengthen Canadian PSI affiliates’ commitment to public services here and abroad, and renew connections to organizations in other countries who face similar challenges to what we’re facing.”