World Federation of Trade Unions
|Full name||World Federation of Trade Unions|
|Founded||October 3, 1945|
|Members||78 million workers of 210 trade union organizations, from 105 countries across all five inhabited continents (2011)1|
|Office location||Athens, Greece|
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The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) was established in 1945 to replace the International Federation of Trade Unions. Its mission was to bring together trade unions across the world in a single international organization, much like the United Nations. After a number of Western trade unions left it in 1949, as a result of disputes over support for the Marshall Plan, to form the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the WFTU was made up primarily of unions affiliated with or sympathetic to Communist parties. In the context of the Cold War, the WFTU was often portrayed as a Soviet front organization.2 A number of those unions, including those from Yugoslavia and China, left later when their governments had ideological differences with the Soviet Union.
The WFTU has declined precipitously in the past twenty years since the fall of the Communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, in particular in Europe, with many of its former constituent unions joining the ICFTU. That fall seems to have come to an end since the congress in Havana in 2005 where a new leadership was elected with Georges Mavrikos, a Greek union activist from PAME, at its head. In January 2006 it moved its headquarters from Prague, Czech Republic to Athens, Greece and puts focus on organizing regional federations of unions in the Third World, campaigning against imperialism, racism, poverty, environmental degradation and exploitation of workers under capitalism and in defense of full employment, social security, health protection, and trade union rights. The WFTU continues to devote much of its energy to organizing conferences, issuing statements and producing educational materials.
In recent years, the WFTU has successfully managed to recruit several trade unions of importance in Europe, amongst which the Rail Maritime Trade Union in Great Britain, the Unione Sindicale di Base in Italy. In France, the CGT federation of food processing industry has maintained its affiliation with the WFTU. The CGT federation of Chemical industries sent delegates to the last congress in Athens in 2011. In 2013, two local CGT railway workers branches have taken steps to become affiliates with the WFTU.
In Africa, unions of major importance such as COSATU in South Africa, are debating the issue of affiliation with the WFTU.
As part of its efforts to advance its international agenda, the WFTU develops working partnerships with national and industrial trade unions worldwide as well as with a number of international and regional trade union organizations including the Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions (ICATU), the Permanent Congress of Trade Union Unity of Latin America (CPUSTAL), and the General Federation of Trade Unions of CIS.
The WFTU holds consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, the ILO, UNESCO, FAO, and other UN agencies. It maintains permanent missions in New York, Geneva, and Rome.
The following Trade Unions Internationals are constituted within the WFTU:
- Trade Unions International of Agriculture, Food, Commerce, Textile, and Allied Industries
- Trade Unions International of Public and Allied Employees
- Trade Unions International of Energy, Metal, Chemical, Oil and Allied Industries
- Trade Unions International of Transport Workers
- Trade Unions International of Building, Wood and Building Materials Industries
- World Federation of Teachers Unions
- Fabio BERTINI, Gilliatt e la piovra. Il sindacalismo internazionale dalle origini ad oggi (1776-2006), Roma, Aracne, 2011