Manifesto of the Committee The International Labour Movement Against War
Across the world workers and people already burdened by much suffering – hunger, poverty, unemployment, child labour, epidemics, wars – imposed by the system of oppression and exploitation based on the private ownership of the means of production, are turning towards the Middle East with ever increasing anxiety.
War or peace?
That is the key question.
The war prepared by the Bush administration against Iraq, supported by numerous governments across the world and international institutions (UN, IMF, World Bank, WTO) is not just any war.
We, delegates of labour organisations have come from Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, South Africa, Algeria, Burkina-Faso, Burundi, Cameroon Chad, Tunisia, Brazil, United States, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka. We have received messages of support from Korea, Hong-Kong, Pakistan, Congo, Morocco, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Switzerland. We have convened in Paris today, 24 January 2003, in an International Emergency Conference Against War and Exploitation, initiated by the International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples. In our own countries, we have waged a fight in defence of workers’ rights, social and democratic rights, and in defence of the independence of working class organisations. We have discussed the situation. On the basis of the facts, we hereby solemnly declare: all the speeches to the effect that the impending war would be motivated by the defence of freedom and democracy are untrue.
War against Iraq would be first and foremost a war for oil: Iraq possesses the second largest oil resources in the world.
War against Iraq would not be a war for democracy; it would be a war on independence or on national sovereignty. That is true even inside Iraq; indeed the meeting of “Iraqi opponents”, convened in London, monitored by the US, composed of a majority of ayatollahs, stated in their final declaration that the future Iraqi state would be an Islamic state with a sharia-inspired constitution. They claim that they are bringing “democracy” to the Iraqi people, whereas the plans that are on the agenda for a constitution would set Iraq back centuries. That would be equally true for every country where, in the name of the so-called “war on terrorism”, the number of measures threatening liberties and democracy is multiplying.
War against Iraq would first and foremost mean carving up nations. The official plans concerning the future of “post-war” Iraq make provisions for a division of Iraq into 4, 5 or 6 chunks. The excuses put up for the carving process are “ethnic”, “religious” or other such criteria.
This is a fact in a much broader way.
All over the world, when faced with peoples that state their determination to create free, sovereign nations, world imperialism wants to impose the carving up of nations. This applies to Iraq, but also to Africa, to Asia, to Latin America, to Europe.
27 Yugoslav union delegates, who gave a mandate to their delegate to our conference, sent us a warning:
“We workers from the Balkans have drunk the bitter cup of war for the last twelve years. Deaths by the hundreds of thousand, refugees by the million, towns and facilities laid waste, governments as puppets on strings in dwarf “national” states – such is the aftermath of the war in former Yugoslavia. With this war, many of our political and social conquests have been ruined”.
It is fact in Europe. At the very time when the “Europe of the Regions” is being put to use in order to dismantle European nations, the US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld levels his criticism at France and Germany, deriding them as being “old Europe”. The “New Europe” according to Bush, is the one where the eight central European countries that joined an enlarged Europe first joined NATO in order to assert their allegiance to the USA; it is a Europe integrated into NATO that integrates it into war.
What do they want?
If Iraq is carved into seven “states”, plundering oil will be much easier than if Iraq is a single sovereign nation! (We have already witnessed the result of such a policy in Somalia, in Afghanistan` The nation is carved up, the state is non-existent, the population is prey to endless war). Once Iraq is carved up, this will be the starting point for the dismantling of all the countries in the region; not one will be spared: from Turkey to Afghanistan, from Syria to the republics of central Asia. No one can say when or where the process will stop.
A France and a Germany broken up into regions will make it much easier to put an end to all the rights won by the workers through struggle within the framework of the nation: labour codes, collective bargaining agreements, social protection and welfare!
This is exactly the sort of war that imperialism is determined to wage in order to dismantle all the nations across the world, the better to exploit the working classes and to avail itself of the countries’ natural resources.
What is the purpose of all this? We know: what is at stake is to implement the plans of the IMF, of the European Union, of the World Bank, of ALENA/NAFTA, and concerning the Americas, the threat posed by the ALCA-FTAA, all those plans dictated by the system of oppression and exploitation based on the private ownership of the means of production. This is the goal announced by the Bush administration: endless war in the name of a fight against terrorism. Yesterday, it was Afghanistan, today, it is Iraq, to-morrow, which country, what people will be the target? What is at stake is to use those plans in order to impose deregulation, privatisation, de-industrialisation, the end of all rights. What is more, they would like to harness the labour organisations to this destructive policy!
Peoples say NO to war!
We already know the results of that policy: two billion human beings live on less than one dollar a day, and, according to the WHO, 40 million people will die of AIDS in Africa in the next few years. The majority of African, Latin American and East European states are crushed under the burden of a foreign debt that often swallows up over 40% of their domestic budgets just to pay the interest.
We can see it: throughout the world, more and more peoples are standing up to say NO to war.
We read the constitutive resolution of the coalition “US Labor Against War” that was set up on 11 January 2003 in Chicago in the United States, by representatives of trade unions regrouping over two million members. Among others, the resolution states:
“Members and union leaders have the responsibility to inform all the working people on issues concerning their lives, their work, their families and to get their voices heard in the national debate over those issues. [They have to say that] the main victims of any military action in Iraq will be the children and families of the working class who will be drafted, as well as innocent Iraqi civilians that have already suffered so much; that there is no feud opposing us to the ordinary Iraqi working class men, women and children nor of any other country; that the billions of dollars spent on organising and realising that war are taken from our schools our hospital, our Social Security; that war is merely an excuse to hit the rights of workers and democratic rights.”
Then, it is up to labour organisations in every country to take the lead in mobilising against war, in other words for social justice and labour rights.
Our brothers and sisters of the American labour movement are showing the way that sets an example to the international labour movement.
For our own part, we have decided to set up together the committee “International Labour Movement Against War.”
Our committee does not target anyone, any organisation, any initiative against war; it does not try to compete with those. What we want is to contribute to unite all efforts. There is nothing more important than peace.
As we set up our international committee, we demand:
- An immediate end to the military escalation against Iraq;
- An immediate end to the embargo and the sanctions that hit the Iraqi people;
- An end to military budgets, and that all those amounts be allotted to works of peace, of social protection and of education;
- The dismantling of military bases across the world, and that all the troops return to their home countries;
- That the unity and sovereignty of nations be respected, an end to any form of “intervention” of whatever kind aiming at dismantling nations;
- We take a stand in favour of the unity of workers and people, as the only possible way of preventing the murderous plans that pose a deadly threat to the entire human civilisation.
As we set up our committee “The International Labour Movement Against War”, as we appeal to you men and women to join us and circulate this manifesto:
We state that we trust the capacity of peoples worldwide to break free from the chains of exploitation and oppression, their capacity to build a world in which the harmonious collaboration of nations and workers will replace the determination to send us reeling into a world of barbarism.
We hereby declare: no one can know what precise form the events will take in the days, weeks and months to come, but we commit ourselves, whatever may happen, to follow up on what has been undertaken. We pledge to continue the fight to prevent the shattering of the Iraqi people.
DOWN WITH WAR!
DOWN WITH EXPLOITATION!
UNITED, WORKERS WILL GIVE PEACE TO THE WORLD!
First signatories’ list
Algeria: Amar Takdjout, Executive Board, Cloth and Garment Federation, UGTA; Rachid Matassi, Executive Board, Oil Workers Federation, UGTA; Youcef Merrouche, Workers Party; Louisa Hanoune, deputy in Algerian parliament, spokesperson of the Workers Party.
Azania-South Africa: Tiyani Lybon Mabasa, president, Socialist Party of Azania (SOPA).
Bangladesh: Tafazzul Hussain, general secretary of National Workers Federation of Bangladesh
Belgium: Philippe Larsimont, MDT.
Brazil: Julio Turra, member of the Executive Commission of CUT; Markus Sokol, member of national leadership of Workers Pary.
Britain: Stefan Cholewka, editor of The Link, member of Labour Party
Burkina Faso: Richard Tiendrebeogo, unionist, deputy general secretary of General Workers Confederation (CGT-B).
Burundi: Paul Nkunzimana, member of the Executive Board of University Workers Union (STUB).
Camerun: Martin Mbille, member of the Executive Bureau of CGT-Liberté.
France: Michèle Simonnin, unionist; Marie-Edmonde Brunet, education unionist; Véronique Pepers, chemical industry unionist; Olivier Doriane, Workers Party; Jean- Claude Loew, chemical industry unionist; Jean-Charles Marquiset, public function unionist; Subhi Toma, activist, against the War on Iraq; Jean-Pierre Barrois, activist, against the War on Iraq; Daniel Gluckstein, National Secretary, Workers Party, co- ordinator of the International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples; Patrice Sifflet, Le Manifeste des 500 pour l’indépendance syndicale; José Nicol, Post Office Workers Unionist; Marie-Claude Schidlower, Working Women Commision of the International Liaison Committee, Workers Party; Patrick Hébert, unionist; Jean-Jacques Melloul, rail road worker, Workers Party.
Germany: Cornelia Matzke, former deputy in the Saxe parliament, member of Ver.di union; Klaus Schüller, DGB official, member of workers comission of the SPD in Thuringen; Michael Altmann, workers commission of the SPD in Hesse, member of “Social Democrats’ Initiative against the War”
Greece: Dimitri Koumas, public function unionist.
Guadeloupe: Jocelyn Lapître, Movement for a Workers and Peasants Party of Guadeloupe (MPTPG); Serge Apatout, administration secretary of the General Workers Union of Guadeloupe (UGTG).
India: Nambiath Vasudevan, general secretary of the Blue Star Union.
Italy: Guido Montanari, Permanent Committee for the Defense of Public Services and Workers Gains
Portugal: Carmelinda Pereira, former deputy in the Constituent Assembly; Joaquim Pagarete, POUS.
Romania: Florin Constantin, editor, Tribuna Sociala.
Spain: Angel Campabadal, unionist, services federation, General Workers Union (UGT); Luis Gonzalez, unionist, Healthcare Federation, Workers Commissions (CCOO); José Miguel Villa, unionist, services federation, General Workers Union (UGT); Roberto Tornamira, unionist, unionist, services federation, General Workers Union (UGT); Juan José Llorente, unionist, Public Function Federation, CCOO; Isabel Cerda, unionist, Public Services Federation, General Workers Union (UGT); Yagoba Álvarez, student unionist; Blas Ortega, unionist, Public Services Federation, General Workers Union (UGT); Jesus Bejar, unionist, Metalworkers Federation, CCOO; Jesús Mª Perez, unionist, Allied Industries Federation, UGT; Vincent Alcover, unionist, Public Services Federation, General Workers Union (UGT).
United States: Clarence Thomas, International Longshoremen Workers Union (ILWU, local 10) San Francisco.
Sri Lanka: Mallawa Avachelinge, JVP; Saman Mudun Kotuwage, JVP; Prasan N.-H. Chathurara, JVP.
Tchad: Gami N’Garmadjal, general secretary of Teachers Union (SET).
Ukrainia: Vitali Kulik, “Borotba”.
Yugoslavia: Pavlusko Imsirovic, Alliance for a Workers Policy.
I do hereby agree to be a member of the Committee “The International Labour Movement Against War”
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in 2003