Unions in Action

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Trade Unions circle November 9 for a WTO Global Day of Action.

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) will join with workers around the world in a Global Unions' Day of Action by the Workplaces of the World. The day of the action will mark the opening of the next ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Doha, Qatar on November 9.

CLC president Ken Georgetti brought the proposal for the event to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) this April. He says the ICFTU and its member unions around the world are calling for:

  • protection of basic workers' rights from world-trade exploitation;
  • reform of the world-trading system to benefit the poor in developing countries;
  • quality universal public education and health services, free from WTO rules;
  • cheap and affordable medicines to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS;
  • opening of the WTO system to consultation with trade unions and other democratic representatives of civil society.

Actions will be co-ordinated at a global level and delivered locally. Georgetti says the CLC will announce specifics in late September. Possible activities range from stoppages and demonstrations to workplace discussions and public meetings.

"We will show the secret WTO cabal that it can't run and hide from us in Qatar."

The CLC is committed to ensuring that Canadian public services - medicare, health-protection regulations, public education, social services programs, water and environmental services and systems - are not part of the ongoing negotiations on services at the WTO and other venues.

The CLC condemns the closed and secretive decision-making process of the WTO, which restricts developing and expanding industries in the interests of Canadian workers, particularly the Autopact, aerospace industries and pharmaceuticals.

"A more transparent process with input from workers organizations - including the right of labour to appeal any decision - must be incorporated into these organizations," says Georgetti.

ICFTU general secretary Bill Jordan says, "We represent hundreds of millions of people who have stopped believing that trade liberalization can bring higher living standards and more employment. While globalization has created unprecedented wealth and resources, there is universal agreement that it is widening inequality worldwide, evidenced by growing and appalling poverty in all parts of the world."

The ICFTU represents more than 156-million workers in 221 affiliated organizations in 148 countries and territories. The ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions.

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