On the occasion of May Day 99, symbolising the unity and international solidarity of workers of all countries, the World Federation of Trade Unions warmly greets working women and men the world over and wishes them success in their struggle for their rights and demands, for the well-being of their families and peace and security on our planet. The WFTU pays homage to all martyrs of the working class who sacrificed their lives to usher in a world of peace and well-being for the working people and the rest of humankind. On this historic May Day, the WFTU reiterates its appeal to further strengthen the struggle of workers of the whole world for social justice.
The forthcoming May Day demonstrations û the last May Day observance of this millennium - take place in the background of the severe social consequences of the global economic crisis brought about by the misdeeds of the exploiting classes, the rampant speculation, financial swindles and other economic crimes. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost.
There has been a steep fall in living standards in several countries and a further rise in poverty, destitution and hunger..
The greatest violations of human rights at the close of this century are the terrible social consequences of the neoliberal economic policies imposed by the IMF and implemented by neoliberal governments backing the transnational monopolies. The cumulative effects of these anti-social policies are seen in the global reports of the UN and ILO. One-third of the world labour force is either unemployed or under-employed. Mass poverty is increasing. More than one billion people are unable to meet even their most basic human needs. Over 800 million are under-nourished and hungry.
As it has always happened in such periods of economic crises, attempts are being made by the dominant powers to resort to militarism and war. Global security is under serious threat.
Peace-loving forces throughout the world have strongly denounced the massive bombing of Yugoslavia by the NATO countries led by the USA, in gross violation of international law and the UN Charter, destroying factories and other undertakings, killing and injuring hundreds of workers and depriving thousands of their means of livelihood. These bombings have only worsened the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo, and there has been an unprecedented outflow of refugees. Urgent steps must be taken to end this war immediately and to guarantee the return of all refugees to their original homes. The war has also disrupted the economies of countries neighbouring Yugoslavia and in particular, Romania, Bulgaria. Greece and others.
The double standards that are applied by NATO seeking to justify its war, as an attempt to prevent a humanitarian crisis, are now widely criticised by world public opinion. NATO takes no action against the human rights violations on the part of its members and allies like Israel and Turkey, as seen in the case of the violent repression against the Arab peoples in the territories illegally occupied by Israel in Palestine, Syrian Golan Heights and South Lebanon, against the Kurdish minorities in Turkey, and similar gross violations of human rights in other continents. .
Basic trade union rights and other international labour standards are not respected especially by the transnational corporations and governments acting in the interest of TNCs. Efforts to organise trade unions are frustrated and trade union leaders assassinated. A recent ILO report refers to the serious concern expressed by the workers' side at the «substantial decline in trade union membership in the United Statesö, because of the refusal by many US employers to recognise trade unions.
Union-busting has become an organised industry in the US with a budget of over 300 million dollars.
The solemn commitments undertaken by Heads of States and Governments at the Copenhagen Summit as well as other UN Conferences, especially the commitmentto work towards a policy of full employment, have not been implemented in the last four years.
It is a crime against humanity that the precious resources which could be used to fight poverty, to create jobs and improve living standards, are now wasted for war and preparations for war, as well as for the development and use of mass destruction weapons as those used now against the people of Yugoslavia, including the people of Kosovo, and the continuing massive air attacks against the people of Iraq and other countries.
The trade unions have always called for peace and disarmament, the elimination of all nuclear and other mass destruction weapons. The trade unions insist that all disputes between nations and peoples are solved by peaceful and diplomatic means. They have fully supported the UN call to promote «disarmament for developmentö, the elimination of all boycotts and sanctions and the promotion of international cooperation for economic and social development which can assure more jobs, better living standards and a better life for all.
These are among the principal issues which will be debated at the 14th World Trade Union Congress which will meet in New Delhi, India, from 23 to 27 November this year.
On this May Day, the WFTU calls for more active dialogue and common actions by all trade union organisations at the national, industrial, regional and international levels in preparation for the 14th Congress and appeals to them to further strengthen their efforts to promote trade union unity and international trade union cooperation to achieve their economic and social demands and contribute to the establishment of a new international economic and social order, an end to all wars, and a better life for all in the new millennium, based on peace and friendship among all peoples and nations.
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