Congress of Trade Unions International (Petrochemicals and Energy) Held in Trivandrum

Swadesh Dev Roye

THE third International Congress of Trade Unions International (Petrochemicals and Energy), an international apex trade union organisation affiliated with WFTU, was held on September 11-12 in Trivandrum in Kerala. The previous two congresses were held in Mexico in September 2007 and in Caracas in December 2012.

Total 160 delegates, both from India and abroad, attended the Congress. Significantly, 115 delegates from more than 40 countries registered to attend the Congress. But the Indian government refused to grant visa to many countries including Venezuela, Algeria, Pakistan, Iraq, El Salvador and Djibouti. Ultimately 60 international delegates from 30 countries attended the Congress. Further from India 96 delegates representing CITU, AITUC, AIUTUC and sectoral federations from oil and natural gas, power, coal and pharmaceutical attended the Congress.

Elamaram Kareem in his capacity as the chairman of the reception committee delivered the welcome address, followed by the address of CITU president Hemalata. A power point presentation of the main document of the Congress was made by Prasanta Nandi Chowdhury, general secretary, EEFI and vice president of TUI (P&E). A collection of important contributions also was a part of the Congress documents: keynote address of George Mavrikos, general secretary, WFTU; write-ups by Hemalata and H Mahadevan, working president, AITUC; and papers on the theme contributed by Sandeep Pai, a research scholar from India, Prasanta Nandi Chowdhury, Ramanandan, Nogen Chutia and Swadesh Dev Roye.

The topics dealt with in the papers are – Energy Transition and the Future of Energy Workers; Working Class on Struggle Path across the World; International Unity and Struggles of the Working Class Against Imperialist Onslaught in Energy Sector; Energy World and Energy Workers; Coal Industries – Challenges and Struggles; Crisis in Upstream Petroleum Industries vis-a-vis Global Economy.

Thirty-nine comrades participated in the deliberations. Tapan Sen, general secretary, CITU and M M Mani, power minister of the Left Front government of Kerala also addressed the Congress.  The delegates expressed their solidarity with the people of Kerala in their struggle and the resolve of the Left Front government of the state to rebuild the state and rehabilitate the flood affected people. The general secretary of WFTU and the general secretary of FNIC, France handed over token monetary contribution to the Power Minister of Kerala for the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF).

The Congress adopted resolutions on issues of current importance for the international working class movement. Amendments to the Constitution of the TUI (P & E) were adopted unanimously. The new executive committee was elected by the Congress unanimously with Prasanta Nandi Chowdhury (India) and Eric Sellini (France) as president and general secretary respectively. The other members in the new committee are from Albania, Algeria, Brasil, Cuba, Egypt, Greece, Morocco and South Africa. The regional committees will be constituted in regional conferences to be followed.

The newly elected general secretary Eric Sellini, FNIC, France presented the concluding resolution of the Congress which was adopted by the Congress unanimously. The concluding address of the Congress was delivered by Swadesh Dev Roye in his capacity as the deputy general secretary of WFTU and international general coordinator, All Trade Unions International. Summary of the concluding resolution is quoted below:

The Trivandrum International Congress of TUI Petrochemicals and Energy, rededicate to the revolutionary goal to over-throw capitalism by organising class struggle and unifying all the workers in petrochemicals and energy sectors. For this, it is necessary to bring together various progressives, trade unions, political and popular forces into a single militant movement in all the countries.

The struggle for increasing purchasing power through full employment, better working and living conditions of the workers are closely linked to the politics of peace, disarmament and people-oriented development towards a new international economic order.

It is necessary to put under people’s control the strategic sectors like Energy (Electricity, Gas, Oil and Water), Health (Pharmaceutical Industry, access to Healthcare, etc.), Food, Education, Housing, Transport, Public Services, socialisation of production and means of production and distribution. To achieve these rights, alternative political system is essential.

The Congress reiterates to fight for unfettered Right to Trade Union and Right to Collective Bargaining, Right to Strike and guaranteed decent compensation package to achieve modern standard of living including universal Social Security, Safety and Hygiene in work-life; Decent guaranteed employment; stoppage of all sorts of onslaught on jobs; no discrimination between men and women in respect of job and wages; no racial discrimination and protection of migrant workers in all countries; Reduction of working hours; protection of environment.

TUI Petrochemicals and Energy puts priority to fight for freedom, equality and solidarity; against all act of discrimination based on sex, gender, marital status, social origin, national origin, ethnic and cultural origin, religious beliefs, political or ideological beliefs.

Having identified the foregoing rights and demands, the Congress of the TUI Petrochemicals and Energy adopts the following tasks:

Build movement in all the countries; Unionize the mass of workers and strengthen trade unions of the TUI Petrochemicals and Energy, as the priority in WFTU’s activities in this sector; Build solidarity between labor unions by organizing conferences, bilateral meetings, mobilizations by strikes and demonstrations; Massive propaganda campaign among workers and the people in pursuance of the path for planned actions; and TUI Petrochemicals and Energy trade union assembled in this Congress decides to organise World Day for Strike and Demonstration on common demands of the workers of this sector.

Despite the flood devastations in Kerala the holding of the Congress was a big challenge to the organising committee mainly composed of the representatives of Kerala State Electricity Board Workers’ Association and Kerala State Electricity Board Officers’ Association guided by the Kerala State Committee of CITU.

However, the grand success of the Congress has been openly acknowledged by the General Secretary of WFTU and the international delegates. The motivating decoration of the venue of the Congress and overall arrangements drew the appreciative attention of all delegates. All of them have remarked that it was an historic event. Similarly, the local leaders and other volunteers were also very happy at the presence of such large number of international delegates from the sectors; the presence of General Secretary WFTU, the rich deliberation by delegates and the ideological political and issues focused in the Concluding Resolution adopted in the Congress.
Vote of thanks was proposed by K Jayaprakash (general secretary, KSEB Workers’ Association), general convener of the reception committee. In the evening of September 12, a public hall meeting was attended by around 800 workers which was presided over by Elamaram Kareem and addressed by George Mavrikos, Tapan Sen and Eric Sellini.

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