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WFTU Announcement on the Questioning of the Right to Strike and the Relevant Debate on the Interpretation of Convention 87

The World Federation of Trade Unions, on behalf of its 105 million members who live, work, and struggle in 133 countries on 5 continents, and on the occasion of the debate on the interpretation of ILO Convention 87, unequivocally condemns the attempt to question the right to strike.

The effective implementation of the freedom of association and the right to organise and the effective ability of workers’ organisations to organise their administration and activities and to formulate their programmes is not understood or implemented without the consequent unimpeded utilization of the most decisive form of trade union struggle, that is the strike.

For the World Federation of Trade Unions, it is clear that the sacred and non-negotiable right to strike is directly and necessarily linked to the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise enshrined in Convention 87 of the ILO and is in full accordance with the spirit and the context and in the light of the object and purpose of the treaty and particularly its article 3 and does not lead to a result that is manifestly absurd or unreasonable.

C87 Article 3: 1. Workers’ and employers’ organisations shall have the right to draw up their constitutions and rules, to elect their representatives in full freedom, to organise their administration and activities and to formulate their programmes.

  1. The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof.

This position is not only in agreement with the interpretation of the ILO Committee of Experts, but it is also confirmed by the fact that for decades the self-evident interpretation that the right to strike is included and guaranteed by Convention 87 was accepted by all.

It is no coincidence that the questioning started around 1989 when the correlation of power and the international balance was changing drastically, marking a conscious attack of the capital and employers against the labour, trade union, and social achievements at all levels.

That’s why in the long period of the many successive capitalist crises we are experiencing, along with the harsh and all-out attack on wages and other labour and social rights of workers, the attack against the trade union and democratic freedoms is intensifying.

Particularly in conditions of price rise and inflation where labour force is devalued and the living standards of workers are impaired, the attack on democratic and trade union freedoms is intensified in order to silence the workers and limit their ability to defend their class interests and put forward their just de- mands.

At the same time, the selective and hypocritical attitude of the employers group regarding the competence and the power of the ILO expert committee must be underlined once again. It is well known that in several findings of the Committee of Experts that were in line with the interests of capital and imperialism, the employers’ group not only accepted them but also promoted them. The à la carte acceptance and approval of the validity and jurisdiction of the Committee of Experts reveals their instrumental, ulterior, and self-serving attitude and, by extension, completely deconstructs their arguments and allegations.

The World Federation of Trade Unions believes that despite and beyond any procedures provided in the ILO Constitution and Rules of Procedure for the settlement of the dispute, the essence of the issues is not and cannot be limited to a legalistic confrontation and procedure which always involves risks and clouds the real substance of labor issues and disputes. The class-oriented trade union movement condemns the

questioning of the right to strike and fights for its legal, institutional, and based on conventions enshrinement in all countries of the world.

However, it is known that event conventions that are not in dispute as to their interpretation, are violated every day in countless workplaces, even in countries that had already ratified them and consequently they are already obliged to implement it. Simultaneously violations are also recorded in fields and rights that are covered by the 5 ILO fundamental rights, a fact that underlines the need for effective methods of safeguarding workers’ achievements and rights in practice.

It is obvious that the existence of a class-oriented and militant trade union movement is the essential, decisive, and irreplaceable parameter to ensure that both the right to strike and conventions, collective bargaining, labor laws, and workers’ achievements are not just empty words on paper and are implemented in practice. The World Federation of Trade Unions calls for struggle in every country, sector, and workplace to secure the sacred right to strike in practice.

The Secretariat

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