We call on all honest, class-oriented Union militants to watch closely the March 11 meeting of the disgraced International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) after the December 2022 arrest and forced resignation of General Secretary Luca Visentini as part of the EU-wide corruption, bribery and money laundering scandal.
Visentini admitted to accepting 50,000 euros as part of 1.5 million euros seized in suitcases and hotel rooms by Belgian police having originated from the government of Qatar in exchange for silence as hundreds and thousands of immigrant workers died building the stadiums, facilities and transportation systems ahead of the 2022 World Cup. Visentini and his ITUC predecessor, Sharan Burrow, who stepped down in November 2022 after 12 years as ITUC General Secretary, had praised the Qatar labor standards as these exploited workers in Qatar suffered and died.
Several members of the European Union also have been arrested and are charged in the corruption raids.
The ITUC General Council announced in December it held an “Extraordinary Meeting:”
“The ITUC General Council held an extraordinary meeting on 21 December and decided to suspend Luca Visentini as ITUC General Secretary until it meets on 11 March when it will give further consideration to this matter. This in no way implies any presumption of guilt.
The Council will make a decision early in January on the question of an acting General Secretary in the interim. Until then, Deputy General Secretary Owen Tudor will fulfil the responsibilities of General Secretary.
The Council decided to establish two processes:
1. An independent external audit of all financial questions concerning the circumstances relating to the allegations and of the ITUC’s financial rules and procedures; and,
2. The establishment of a special Commission to investigate the circumstances surrounding the allegations against Luca Visentini, including the results of the external audit, and possibly other matters.
The terms of reference for the two processes, and the composition of the special Commission, will be decided by the General Council in the shortest possible time-frame.
Reports from the audit, and from the special Commission with recommendations for action, will be considered by the General Council at its meeting on 11 March.”
At the January meeting the ITUC General Council announced an “ITUC Special Commission:”
“On 13 January, the 29th meeting of the ITUC General Council finalised the terms of reference to establish a Special Commission.
The Special Commission has been charged “to investigate the circumstances surrounding the allegations against Luca Visentini, will include the results of an external audit, and ITUC financial rules and procedures, the conduct of elections and related issues.”
At the request of the ITUC Special Commission, the ITUC is releasing the following statement from ITUC Special Commission Chair Eva Nordmark:
“After weeks of preparatory and exploratory tasks, the ITUC Special Commission convened its first formal meeting on 7 February. At this meeting, we reviewed the scope of our mandate as outlined in the terms of reference, heard initial reports, and charted the course of our work for the weeks ahead.
“The Commission has already met with the Trade Union Delegation that represents ITUC staff as well as with all available staff to brief them on the process and ensure them of our commitment to them and their extraordinary work.
“The audit secretariat has informed us that an audit firm has been selected that meets all requirements under Belgian law and has capacity to conduct all forms of investigation required. We look forward to receiving and reviewing the audit in the process of completing our own report, scheduled to be delivered to the ITUC General Council on 11 March.”
The U.S. AFL-CIO president Liz Shuler, and European trade union leaders from the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) have been loudly silent on Visentini’s removal after having celebrated his election. Visentini was a leader of the ETUC for 25 years, including ETUC General Secretary for 7 years before taking over as ITUC General Secretary. Active and militant workers demand a response from the ETUC and AFL-CIO regarding this scandal. Roofers and Waterproofers Local 36, affiliated to the AFL-CIO, has published a public letter demanding that the AFL-CIO and president Shuler respond to the largest corruption scandal in the history of the ITUC, to which the AFL-CIO is affiliated.
Local 36 has been informed that it must disaffiliate from the World Federation of Trade Unions on instructions from the national office of the AFL-CIO, as the AFL-CIO is “only affiliated with the ITUC,” and that affiliation to the WFTU is “not an option.”
The ITUC was formed after the 1949 split in the WFTU when the CIO (before it merged with the AFL in 1955), a founding member of the WFTU in 1945 following the defeat of fascism ending World War 2, broke away under cold war government pressure. The ITUC was palatable to the government and monopoly capitalism, exactly for this form of betrayal of the working class.
The WFTU continues, representing over 100 million union members in 130 countries as the world’s democratic, militant, class-oriented, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist international labor federation.
Cliff Smith, business manager, Local 36
Emil Olsen, chairman for brick layers of North of Jutland, Denmark and WFTU activist.