The 4th Meeting of the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles (ILNSS) was held in Dijon, France, from 21 to 14 April. The organisation, launched in 2013, has as founding trade-union members the Spanish CGT, the Brazilian CSP-Conlutas, and the French Solidaires.
This very important meeting brought together around 200 participants from 39 organisations in 21 different countries and 4 continents. A significant turnout, if the difficulties presented at this moment of resumption of activities under minor health crisis are considered.
Furthermore, the participation of some delegations was prevented by the French government, which did not grant visas to activists from Sudan, Morocco, Pakistan, India, Mali and Western Sahara. Overall, 52 union leaders were barred at the border. This vexatious expression of xenophobia against international delegations was exposed and a motion of repudiation was passed by those present at the meeting.
Despite this loss, the Network considered that since the last meeting and with the strengthening of relations with several other organisations, even under social isolation, the entity has advanced more and more in the radical internationalist struggle.
The first day of the event was devoted to taking stock of the work done by the Network over the past years, especially since the 3rd Meeting, getting through the crisis of the pandemic of COVID-19 up to the present days.
Leaders and activists had moments to speak in the plenary session to share experiences, complaints and reports on specific struggles and situations in different countries.
The introduction meeting was chaired by representatives of the founding trade unions: Nara Cladera, from Solidaires, Sandra Iriarte, from the Spanish CGT, and Wilson Ribeiro, from CSP-Conlutas. Other leaders addressed the plenary, like Marcelo Améndola from the Italian CUB, José Manuel Muñoz Polis, general secretary of the CGT, and Rosália Fernandes from CSP-Conlutas.
The CSP-Conlutas delegation was made up of over 20 people, representing different branches in education, health, civil service, postal service, Petrobras and popular and social movements.
After the inaugural meeting, the delegations were divided into groups to discuss the increasingly precarious labour relations spread all over the world and new forms of exploitation brought by the pandemic.
Adriana Urrea, a journalist and secretary of SutNotimex, the trade union of workers at the Mexican state-owned news agency Notimex, reported the historic and unprecedented two-years-plus strike for labour rights, dignity and compliance with the collective bargaining agreement in her country.
In addition to the problems strictly linked to the financial and legal conditions of the work, Adriana highlighted the fact that Mexico is one of the most violent and dangerous countries for journalists. This year alone, eight journalists have been killed or disappeared, according to the report.
In the panel on new forms of exploitation in the gig economy, the Network organisations spoke about their involvement in rank-and-file processes of struggle and mobilisation in different countries.
Irene Maestro, from the Popular Struggle Movement, and Raquel Tremembé, from the indigenous struggle and from the National Executive Secretariat of CSP-Conlutas, both from Brazil, shared their experiences in the process of struggles for territories, for native peoples and in defence of the environment and climate.
They detailed the main attacks of president Bolsonaro against indigenous people and the environment, as well as those of the state governments that repress and evict workers in the struggle for land and housing.
Thematic caucuses were also organised on “women”, “self-management and worker control”, “racism and colonialism”, “immigration”, “workers’ health” and “environment”.
Ukraine fights back
The emotional report by Svitlana Shapran, a teacher from the city of Krivoy-Rog in south-eastern Ukraine, moved the participants at the special panel on the situation of the Ukrainian working class.
“We Ukrainians, like all humanity, want to live in peace and harmony. We want to give birth to children in hospitals, not in underground stations or in basements to the sound of bombing alarm sirens. We want our children to live and study. Right now, parents write their names and telephone numbers on the backs of their children with pens, in case, God forbid, the mother or father is suddenly killed and it is then possible to find out whose children they are and where they live,” the Ukrainian woman shared in a choked voice.
Svitlana also cried as she told how the Russians, the supposed “liberators”, committed serious violations such as raping women in front of their children and relatives.
“This is the mighty Russian army: cowards, murderers and looters, under maniac Putin’s thumb. The same one who, while we were in the conflict against former president Yanukovych, quietly usurped Crimea. And most importantly: he did it with impunity! What can be said here… this is Putin’s democracy!,” Svitlana protested.
The Network’s Manifesto was updated in this meeting to criticise military alliances such as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation), under the assertion that “military blocs reinforce imperialist war threats and therefore should be eliminated.”
As a way to advance internationalist support for the Ukrainian workers’ resistance in a closer and more practical way, it was announced at the end of the panel the sending of trade union delegations of member organisations of the Network to support the Ukrainian fight.
Solidaires (France), CSP-Conlutas (Brazil), IP Inicjatywa Pracownicza (Poland), ADL Cobas (Italy) and G1PS (Lithuania) will fund the logistics of the operation, by which the donations will be used to buy goods according to the needs of the Ukrainian working class. In the country, the convoy members will meet trade union leaders and actions will be organised accordingly.
Paweł Nowożycki, an activist responsible for the IP’s international relations, is in charge of the organisation and logistics of the convoy. He was co-chairing the Ukraine panel and made an important statement on how they are supporting refugees arriving in Poland.
Several motions were drafted and read in the last plenary session. Among them, in defence of anti-fascist struggles and against repression, in support of the struggle for land and housing, out Bolsonaro, in defence of the native and indigenous peoples in Brazil, in solidarity with Cesare Battisti, with the Saharawi people, the Palestinian people, and in support of the GOSH workers in London, Notimex journalists in Mexico, support of logistics workers in Italy, among others.
The Manifesto was updated collectively. The new document of common principles and aims defends the strengthening of trade unionism to break with capitalism, to guarantee the independence of the trade union movement, which mobilises and fights effectively, as a key issue of this period. Nara Cladera stated that it is the Network’s duty to continue assuming these principles as the pandemic has highlighted the failure of the capitalist system.
Actions to be developed by the Network throughout 2022 were also defined, such as on the First of May, the working-class international day of struggle.