VANCOUVER, Canada - In the video below, Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, addresses the International Trade Union Confederation's second world congress, June 21 here in Vancouver, Canada.
Trumka's speech summarizes the overwhelming majority of positions expressed during the congress by trade unionists from around the world. Delegate after delegate called for a new world economic order and demanded national and international stock transaction taxes to "make the financial institutions pay to clean up the mess their greed created."
Much attention was given to rising inequality heightened by the global economic crisis. Delegates called for united international efforts to organize workers in the "informal" or "underground" economies. Many called for special efforts to organize women and young workers, disproportionately the victims of the informal economy.
Delegates also strongly rejected corporate and government voices calling for austerity programs that cut jobs, wages, and social programs for workers in the name of "balanced budgets." Instead they called for new massive public investments in emerging green industries and infrastructure projects that benefit people and put money in circulation to create jobs.
And they didn't just talk. Delegates from the European Union countries developed plans for EU-wide protests on September 29 that will include general strike action in Spain and other countries.
The ITUC elected its first woman general secretary, Sharan Burrow. Burrow was elected president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in 2000, a post she will now give up to devote full time to the ITUC.
Photo: Scott Marshall/PW