This is the world of capitalism today: layoffs and mass unemployment threaten millions or are already everyday life for countless people, not only in underdeveloped countries, but also in the highly developed centers of capitalism. Often women are the first to be thrown out of work. Huge numbers of young people have no future! On the other hand: overtime, constant speed-up, intolerable working conditions and decreases in wages, making all areas of production, above all working hours but also job assignments, flexible, i.e.
- unlimited expansion of unprotected, degrading, dangerous work situations: short-term work contracts, industrial day-laborers without contractual and social security protection,
- breaking up of large work crews in industry through splitting-up among contractors, out-sourcing and privatization with the resulting wage and social service cuts
- privatization, or cost-reducing rationalization of medical expenses, those for caring for the sick and elderly, expenses for school, pre-school and youths programs and all other public sectors up to their elimination
This development places working people in a situation of increasing insecurity, destroys their bases of life and wrecks families. This however leads more and more working people to take counteraction, leads to increasingly intense struggles, which have aroused world-wide attention during the last years.So that these struggles do not remain isolated, so that solidarity becomes everyday practice among workers, and especially internationally, unionized workers from numerous countries have exchanged experiences, fostered international contacts and activities. Therefore we have held international meetings:
- in 1995 in Frankfurt
- in 1996 in Argenteuil near Paris
- in 1997 in Madrid and
- in 1998 in Strasbourg
They have shown that our experiences are similar. We had to recognize that our problems and the misery of so many people are a consequence of the general capitalist striving for maximization of profit. Therefore we have proposed as common slogan for the international workers' movement:
ALL TOGETHER AGAINST CAPITAL!
The common fight without restriction to individual countries, across all borders, must become everyday life for the working people of all countries. Our hardships and problems are the same.
So why should we limit our fight to our "own" work-place under these circumstances? That would lead to destructive competition among workers. It would mean organizing our own defeat? Struggling together with all people who represent the interest of the working people, in that alone lies our strength. That is the way the question stands!
Our meetings have shown how broad our unity must become:
- between the employed and unemployed
- between unionized and unorganized workers
- between workers with and without contractual and social security protection
- between undocumented, unemployed and employed workers
- between young and older workers
- between immigrant and native-born workers
Therefore we stand for equality and solidarity among all who are exploited, disadvantaged and oppressed by capital and the governments. We stand for the common fight of the trade unions, regardless of country.
For our 5th meeting we propose two main items for discussion:
-Today the demand for a decrease in hours of work is being debated in Europe. The trade unions demand it, but capital in some countries is also considering it. What do trade unionists in France think about that, how is the question put in Spain, in Italy, in Germany? What are the concrete experiences and struggles? For capital the answer to shorter working hours is more intensive exploitation and increasing flexibility. What does that mean for us, the working people?
-The place of women in the trade union movement! Not even the demand for "equal pay for equal work!" has been consistently realized today! What objective and subjective obstacles prevent equality between female and male workers within the trade union? What perspectives are there for a stronger participation of working women within the trade union movement? What experiences have there been?
We want workers from as many countries as possible to discuss this and search for solutions.
All workers face burning problems due to the development of today's capitalism and globalization. They must discuss these problems themselves and deal with them accordingly.
We call upon all interested workers to come to Ludwigsburg (near Stuttgart) in Germany from June 11-13, 1999, to discuss these and other problems. Come to the 5th International Meeting of Trade Unionists!
Today capital is international!
We must become so as well!
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