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ICFTU May Day Manifesto

ICFTU May Day Manifesto

May 1st, 2000

Transforming our vision into reality

As the world enters a new millennium, it also enters a new era of economic globalisation and technological change. The legitimate fears of the world of labour over the way in which both processes have been carried out have been proved right. Despite its enormous potential of wealth creation, there is increasing evidence that trade liberalisation is exacerbating income inequality and undermining democratic decision-making by national governments.

Today, 3 billion people, half of the world's population, survive on less than 2 dollars a day and 1 billion of them on less than one dollar. More than half of the world's population is deprived of any sort of social protection. 250 million children are at work and even more are denied their basic right to education. Unemployment and under employment have soared to unprecedented levels hitting young and female workers hardest. Not everybody has lost out in this approach to globalisation: the total income of the world's 3 billion poor equals that of the 225 richest individuals. Out of the 100 richest economies, 51 are not states but multinational corporations.

This is not our vision of how the work should be like in the 21st century.

o We want to build a world free from poverty, free from discrimination and injustice, and free from the threat of war and oppression.
o We want to see an end to unemployment and the realisation of full employment.
o It is a world where extremes of opulence and misery are eliminated, where women and men are equally able to work to fulfil their potential and share it with the community. We want decent work for all.
o It is a democratic world in which governments are accountable to citizens from the local level up to the organisations for international co-operation. Respect for basic workers rights strengthens democracy, which in turn provides a free and enabling environment for workers to exercise their rights fully and effectively.
o We want democratic processes, based on respect for and enforcement of universal human rights, to regulate concentrations of private power and big international business.
o We want to achieve the full equality trade unions have worked long to attain, with a society free from discrimination based on race, colour, creed, political opinion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, health or age.
o We want to create ways of living and working which are safe and promote quality living and are designed to sustain the environment for future generations.
o And we want our children to have lives of continuous learning and progress with real prospects of achieving better living standards than our own.

The international free trade union movement is a force that can make this happen.

We know what our movement can achieve by looking back at the first 50 years of the ICFTU s work. The generations that founded and built the ICFTU into the strong and globally representative organisation it is today also had a vision not dissimilar to ours. They faced what seemed at times to be insurmountable challenges but they changed the course of world history. They would not be satisfied with the world today, but they could be immensely proud of the progress working people have made in so much of the world through free trade unionism.

Tomorrow s challenges are very different from those of even the recent past.

We know we must refashion our movement to achieve our goals. We know we must change ourselves to change the world.

o We must convince working women and men that by joining a union they can help to change their own lives for the better and those of people just like themselves in other countries.

o We must concentrate on successful strategies both to realise the aspirations of union members and to sustain a powerful and effective trade union movement.

o We must win acceptance world-wide of organised labour s right to influence programmes and policies.

o We must mobilise unions capacity to achieve a balance of power on the international stage at the same time as making our presence felt at workplaces all over the world.

o And we must seek greater unity of the international free, independent and democratic trade union movement.

At the dawn of this new millennium, trade unions need the young generation and must invest in them to preserve their future. That starts today and it is today that the ICFTU (re) launches its Youth Campaign: The Future Starts Now! to organise young people in trade unions.

Young people need trade unions, because they are the hardest hit by the ill-effects of unbridled globalisation. They badly need the unions to collectively express their concerns and to organise in seeking solutions to the problems they face at work and in society.

And trade unions need to give young workers a greater say and enable them to contribute their energy, enthusiasm and ideas to our movement.

As we celebrate May Day 2000, trade union leaders from all five continents who attended the ICFTU's 17th World Congress in Durban (April 3-7) have pledged to work together to make the world a better place for workers and their families.

Congress identified ILO core labour standards, the fight against all forms of discrimination, the establishment of democracy and the need for economic stability through the regulation of the capricious world of international finance as key priorities. These are not new tasks for trade unions. The new thing is that our movement will seek to establish a global social safety net and will expand far beyond traditional collective bargaining to encompass hundreds of millions of workers to end once and for all the scourge of poverty which deprives billions of people of a decent life in dignity.

Today as ever, independent, democratic and free trade unions have a major contribution to make to social justice and economic democracy.

And there will be no force and no power to stop us as our strength derives from human solidarity and human universal and cherished values.

Long live May Day, Long live international trade union solidarity.

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