More than 1 300 delegates from more than 140 countries converged at the Copenhagen Congress Centre in Denmark to witness the merger of the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF), International Federation of Chemical, Energy and Mining Workers (ICEM) and the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation (ITGLWF) to form the IndustriALL Global Union, which now has 50-million members.
The South African delegation included Numsa, NUM and Sactwu.
There was a strong Numsa delegation, with the general secretary, Irvin Jim, addressing the historic congress.
In his address, Jim stressed the need for maximum unity and a common agenda for the workers.
Numsa’s input received massive support from mainly the African and Latin American delegation, which had earlier on staged a walkout in protest on what they viewed as marginalisation.
The new general secretary of IndustriAll, Jyrki Raina a former general secretary of the IMF, said: “With the creation of this new united global union for industrial workers, we will launch a new era of global solidarity.”
At the end of the congress, a global leadership was elected which included our own general secretary, Irvin Jim, second deputy president Christine Olivier, and the NUM general secretary Frans Baleni and the treasurer David Macatha.
To advance the work of the new giant, a ten-point plan of action was adopted.
Some of the key areas are:
• Build stronger unions
• Organise and increase union membership
• Fight for trade union rights
• Fight for good jobs and roll back insecure precarious jobs
• Build union power to confront global capital
• Promote industrial policy and sustainability
• Take action for equal rights and against discrimination in all its forms
• Support campaigns to achieve safe and healthy working conditions
• Promote democratic, transparent and inclusive practices in unions
Numsa also used the occasion to strengthen its bilateral agreements with a number of unions and made new contacts to help our international work.
In order for our agenda of transforming the international trade union movement to remain on track, Numsa will play a very active role in the new IndustriAll union and use its influence for transformation.
Skhumbuzo Phakathi is Numsa’s