CLAC Quits ITUC, Joins WOW

DATE: September 17, 2012

Langley, BC—Delegates to the CLAC's National Convention voted to resign immediately from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and join the World Organization of Workers (WOW).

CLAC, which joined ITUC as a founding member in 2006, no longer believes that ITUC respects union pluralism or workers’ right to freedom of association. As such, CLAC does not feel that ITUC would be a reliable partner in CLAC’s collaborative efforts to support labour unions and promote their development globally in the cause of international justice for workers.

CLAC delegates voted to join WOW, a confederation of over 130 member unions and federations from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and North America. CLAC shares WOW’s views regarding economic activity, conflict resolution, and employer-employee relations. CLAC also shares WOW’s commitment to freedom of association, improving the welfare of workers, and development of national and international pluralistic union movements as well as its open and inclusive membership. It joins WOW in being an agent of reconciliation in the workplace and in working toward a society of solidarity, social justice, and peace.

BACKGROUND

In 1987, CLAC joined the World Confederation of Labour (WCL), an international confederation of labour unions that represented tens of millions of workers across the globe. The WCL was equally committed to working for justice in the workplace on every continent, regardless of the diverse political situations in which its members found themselves. More often than not, WCL unions found their inspiration from sources similar to CLAC's principles.

On October 31, 2006, the WCL dissolved itself to pave the way for a merger with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) to form ITUC. CLAC debated joining the new federation, worried that doing so might compromise its principles or impose restrictions on its independence. But after carefully scrutinizing the new organization's proposed constitution and speaking with numerous representatives of both former federations, CLAC was assured that its principles would not be compromised.

WOW is a Christian trade union federation founded in 1921 in Luxembourg under the name of World Confederation of Clerical Workers (WFCW). Later, it joined the International Federation of Christian Trade Unions (IFCTU), which renamed itself the World Confederation of Labour (WCL) in 1968. The WFCW Congress decided not to join ITUC and instead formed WOW.

At ITUC's first congress, held in Vienna, Austria, November 1–3, 2006, CLAC joined as a founding member. CLAC said it would review its participation in ITUC every two years, to ensure that its involvement helped rather than hindered its independent existence in Canada and its collaborative efforts to support labour unions and promote their development globally.

In September 2011, ITUC sent a delegation to Canada to meet with CLAC’s leadership following a request by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) to revoke CLAC’s membership in ITUC. The CLC is diametrically opposed to CLAC’s model of labour relations, and its member unions often compete with CLAC. Since CLAC’s inception in 1952, unions affiliated with the CLC have been openly hostile toward CLAC, calling for its elimination and doing everything possible, legal and otherwise, to hinder CLAC and workers’ right to freely join the union of their choice.

In calling for CLAC’s removal from ITUC, the CLC made numerous allegations against CLAC, every one of which CLAC proved were false, backed by numerous court and labour judgements all in CLAC’s favour. Despite the overwhelming evidence and despite active and effective representation of Canadian workers for sixty years, it was obvious that the ITUC delegation was predisposed to an anti-CLAC position and disregarded CLAC’s entire defense.

On October 17, 2011, ITUC’s General Council suspended CLAC’s membership—without extending CLAC the courtesy of a hearing. The proceedings of the General Council had all the earmarkings of a kangaroo court. On several occasions, CLAC attempted to meet with the CLC and, in particular, with Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress and a vice-president on ITUC’s General Council. Members of the General Council leaked word of CLAC’s suspension before CLAC was informed, displaying a crass lack of professionalism.

CLAC attempted to communicate with all the individual members of ITUC’s General Council and sent all of them translated statements of defense asking for a fair hearing. Not one of the members of the ITUC General Council responded to CLAC’s plea for a fair hearing, indicating that there is little to no likelihood of CLAC getting a fair hearing.

 

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