ITUC participates in fourth BRICS Trade Union Forum

The President of the International Trade Union Confederation, João Felício, addressed the plenary session of the BRICS Trade Union Forum, which was being held in Ufa, Russia, in the afternoon of Thursday 9 July. Speaking to the delegates from the five BRICS countries, Mr Felício provided an overview of the international trade union movement at this time, broaching such issues as the fight against anti-trade union practices and for collective bargaining and freedom of trade union organisation throughout the world.

Mr Felício spoke against the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the West and stressed that the struggle of developing countries is not only economic in nature but also fundamentally political. "The BRICS have an opportunity to establish a de facto different political discussion on the direction of the economy, finance and the world of work. The new financial institutions of the BRICS cannot share the neoliberal rationale of the Troika, which puts the interests of big business above the rights of workers and the well-being of citizens in their countries. Recognition of the BRICS Trade Union Forum as an official venue for dialogue with governments would be an important step in that direction,” Mr Felício said.

The President of ITUC moreover stated that politicising he debate was the only way to combat the deepening of inequality, fight for better salaries, promote collective bargaining and reverse the downward trend in unionisation rates throughout the world, in both developed and developing countries.

In Mr Felício’s view, the ILO must be the mainstay to guarantee workers’ rights in the international arena and, above all, to defend the right to strike, which is constantly under attack from corporate banking. “It is necessary to put solidarity before austerity, rights before profits, democracy before the market. If the BRICS succeed in becoming at least part of this process, it will create a political and economic frame of reference for other bodies, such as the G20, the IMF or the World Bank and even national governments,” he said.

Mr Felício was the sole international trade union official to take part in the BRICS Trade Union Forum, further promoting the exchange of views between ITUC and the trade union federations of the BRICS.

See the Ufa Declaration of the IVth Trade Union Forum of BRICS countries

By Diego Azzi, Ufa.