Sunday, March 1, 2015

THE DOWNFALL OF THE WCL 46 (a new federation)

Together with Jacques Jouret (President of the ITF Textile & Cloithing) Jacky Jackers
(President of ITF Construction and Wood) was the initiator for the establishment
 of an independent and autonomous secretariat 'trade action'.
The photo was taken during the Congress of the Pan-African Federation of Building and Wood in Lomé 2003

Since the memorandum of General Secretary Willy Thys about the International Federations, the relations between the Presidents and the WCL General Secretary had not improved ( see: The Downfall of the WCL 38, trade union action paper /2014/08/the-downfall-of-wcl-38-trade-union.html ). The problems between the International Federations and the WCL existed already at the WCL World Congress in Mauritius in 1993. The International Federations felt that they received too little support from the secretariat despite their generous contributions to the WCL. Therefore, the Congress decided that the WCL would make available to the Professional Action 3 full time Executive Secretaries. During the Congress, a start was made through the election of a second Executive Secretary in the person of Dirk Uyttenhoven coming from ACV Textile. Thus there were 1.5 Executive Secretaries, including myself as a half Executive Secretary. However, to 3 full time Executive Secretaries it never came in all the years until 2000.

In the front row third from right WCL Secretary general Willy Thys. Behind him on his right side IFTC President Jack Jouret.
The second left of Jouret is Dirk Uyttenhoven, once an Executive Secretary of the WCL for the International Trade Federations.
The photo has been taken at the IFTC World Congress in Doorn, Netherlands 2003.

For President Jacky Jackers of the World Federation of Building and Wood (WFBW) and Jack Jouret of the International Federation of Textile and Clothing (IFTC) this was an eyesore. Add to that the differences about the affiliation policy between them and the WCL General Secretary and it becomes understandable that the two Presidents were looking for a way out by establishing a common secretariat, independent of the WCL and autonomous. They decided to invite the World Federation of Industrial Workers (WFIW) as so-called "market oriented trade union" to participate The recently elected WFIW chairman Jaap Wienen was prepared to join the 2 International Trade Federations (ITF's) in this common secretariat. For not entirely clearly reasons, the World Federation of Clerical Workers ( WFCW) WVB, although a white-collar union but also a “market oriented trade union” was not invited, despite insistence on my part. Given the poor relations between the WCL Secretary General and myself, it will surprise nobody, that I agreed with the creation of such an independent secretariat of the mentioned 3 ITF's.

The Executive Board of the World federation of Industrial Workers. From left to right:
Leon Van Haudt (finances), Fons van Genechten (secretary general), Jaap Wienen (president),
Carlos Gaitan (vice-president) and Piet Nelissen (executive secretary).
On January 1, 2000 came into force which was simply called the Federation. The three Federation members - WFBW, IFTC and WFIW - paid from that time on not anymore membership fees to the WCL. However, ACV/CSC Building & Industry continued to pay its voluntary annual contribution to the WCL. However, the WCL was expected to provide a number of previously defined services:
- Connection of the Secretariat of the Federation on the computer network of the WCL with corresponding services.
- WCL makes available his mailing address for the Secretariat, as well as telephone and fax.
- WCL provides translation of the documents that are presented by the Secretariat
- WCL provides administrative financial services to the Federation.
- Under the supervision of the Executive Secretary (Piet Nelissen) WCL provides support for the administration of the staff.

Visiting the Minister of Labour of Benin (2000). From left to right: Nebeyu Shone (director coordination office CNV International),
Isabelle Vos (assistant-secretary ITF's secretariat) and Roel Rotshuizen (president World Federation of Clerical Workers)

The three Federation Members agreed on a mutual key for the distribution the costs of the Secretariat. The Secretariat consisted of a full-time Executive Secretary and two assistants / secretaries. Each International Federation would finance its own activities as there are statutory meetings, seminars, regional meetings, conferences etc. Obviously, the Federation relied on other NGOs for the co-financing of activities in the continents as for example CNV International. The Executive Secretary of the secretariat of the Federation continued to attend the usual weekly coordination meetings of the WCL. The WCL General Secretary on his turn continued to attend the coordination meetings of the Presidents of the International Federations, the so-called Trade Action Committee CAP.

On the 25th WCL World Congress in Romania (20-27 October 2001) WFIW Chairman Jaap Wienen (boardmember of the CNV Industrial Trade Union) was elected WCL Deputy General Secretary. Under his leadership, a major three-year project was launched to strengthen the WCL international trade union federations (ITF's), funded by CNV International. Talks about the project had already started from 1999 onwards until the WCL Congress (memorandum of Jaap Wienen to Jack Jouret as the President of the 'Trade Action Committee' January 7, 1999). The project was a so-called "training the trainers" project. The project provided training programs for key members of the trade union federations (trade action) in the continents who in turn could train other people of the federations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The courses covered a wide field of skills, from communications to administration, from management to decision-making. The technical implementation was in the hands of three specially recruited staff members and a secretarial assistant, all managed by Jaap Wienen.

Although Jaap Wienen himself as chairman of the WFIW had supported the establishment of the Federation of the 3 ITF's, the project for the strengthening of the Trade Action was held totally outside the ITF's. In practice, it was a WCL project carried out with the help of the regional WCL organizations in the continents. The ITF's could only give advice through the WCL Trade Action Committee (CAP) and through their Executive Secretaries.This structure - political and financial – with the Deputy General Secretary of the WCL as a project manager reinforced the centralized nature of the WCL secretariat instead of strengthening the structures and the networks of the ITF's. This was not only contrary to the WCL professed principle of subsidiarity but worsened also the already existing confusion between the regional organizations and the regional federations affiliated to the ITF's. The International Federations stood practically with empty hands.

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