Friday, October 12, 2012


The WOW World Congress was held in Vancouver, Canada from 11 to 14 September.

Since the fall of the wall in Berlin that came together with the failure of communism, capitalism reigns worldwide. US President Reagan (1981 – 1989) and British Prime Minister Thatcher (1979 – 1990) supported  the development by a policy of liberalization of labor and capital. The new capitalistic game resulted in more shareholder value and less workers value. Since those days it was all talking about ‘shareholder value’ which meant that shareholders should get as much as possible money out of their investments in companies even at the expense of the workers in those companies.

Roel Rotshuizen (left) was releceted as President of WOW. Maria Eminenti (right) representing the Asian Brotherhood of Workers ABCW, presides one of the sessions of the Congress.

Globalisation pushed workers even further to the edge. Capital moved to all corners of the world looking for more money value. Companies moved to low wage countries. Workers had to accept lower wages or else would loose their jobs.

Koffi Chrysanthe Zounnadjala, President of the Fédération Panafricaine des Employés FPE, speaks to the Congress. He was reelected as vice-president for Africa. At his right executive secretary Bjorn van Heusden.

The emergence of China as world’s greatest factory with its nearly unlimited labor reserves undermined the positions of worker’s worldwide even further. Chinese workers are organized in unions controlled by the communist government. Because of lack of freedom they have no other option than to accept labor conditions as established by their government: low wages and poor working conditions. But on a day Chinese workers will start to fight for their social rights. Nobody knows when, but someday it will happen.

Guenther Trausnitz, president of the WOW European Organization WOW/EO, was reelected as WOW Vice President.

It is clear that the world of labor has been pushed onto the defensive. What should be the answer of the free trade unions? Fight back, but how? We cannot go back to the past. We as unions have the task to develop a new vision for the future. What should be the basis of this new vision?

Roberto Mejia (to the right), President of the Latin American Federation of the Employees in the Communication and Cultural sectors FELATRACCS, informs the Congress on he activities of FELATRACCS. he was also reelected as Vice-President of WOW. To te left executive secretary Bjorn van Heusden.
We in WOW believe that our values as established in the past, can be of use today if we have the courage to reconsider them and to analyse reality with an open mind. That is what we did on the WOW World Congress held in Vancouver Canada, from 11 until 14th of September. We went back to our roots for the sake of the future of our unions.

Erwin Koenze(on the left) representing the Latin American Federation of  Employees in the Comercial sector FETRALCOS speaks about the activities of FETRALCOS in the last 4 years. On the right, behind the table, Miguel Duche representing the Latin American Federation of Employees in the Banking and Insurance sector FELATRABS. Miguel was elected as Vice President of WOW. In the middle executive secretary Bjorn van Heusden.

One of the results of the Congress was the adoption of the ‘Resolution on Workers’ Values’

1.    The World Congress of the WOW gathered in Vancouver, Canada from September 12 to 14 concluded that “Workers’ Values” should be the guiding principle of economic and social affairs in the world.
2.    Workers’ Values are based on the principle that the economy should benefit mankind and that all human-beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their religion, race or sex.
3.    Workers’ Values stand for ways to solve problems and conflict in the workplace, in the company or elsewhere by way of dialogue and cooperation bases on mutual respect and interest.
4.    Workers’ Values mean that every worker has the right to work and live with dignity and take his/her responsibilities on all levels of his/her life, be it in the workplace, his/her family as well as social life in the broad sense of the word.
5.    Workers’ Values should be the guiding principle to all collective agreements and their stakeholders.
6.    Workers’ Values include fairness, social justice, solidarity and transparency at every level of the society, from workplace to company, from community to nation-state and as well as on the international levels.
7.    Workers’ Values demand for transparent, open and democratic leadership on all levels of the society.

Dick Heinen, Executive Director of the Canadian CLAC was our host. He was elected as Vice President of WOW and as such he became a member of the WOW Worldboard.

Our task as unions is to make these ‘utopian values’ reality by developing an international, regional, national of local trade union strategy. Therefore we have to develop strong democratic unions as instruments to create the human world we want. Not easy but a honorable task.

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