Voices of dissent are reportedly rising within the core executive committee of Brussels-based trade union group, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
According to ITUC’s Indian representative and vice president, G. Sanjeeva Reddy, this global body has fallen off track with regard to protecting the rights of workers across South Asia, Europe, and other regions.
Reddy said, “Trade unions are supposed to come together to support each other in the workplace, negotiating with employers to improve pay, terms and conditions, and ensure fair and equal treatment. And, if you are a top global body, your responsibilities become that much more significant. On questions of basic survival, ITUC has fallen off track, and executive committee members have begun to express their dissatisfaction with General Secretary Sharon Burrow’s style of functioning behind closed doors.”
Suggesting that the time may have come for Burrow to step down, Reddy added, “There are more people in ITUC who are disagreeing with her than those who agree, but they don’t want to express this openly like me. She has to realize why the organisation is not growing, why the membership is not growing, why Communist trade unions are developing again. ITUC has failed to strengthen the labour union movement in democratic countries.”
When reminded of the complaint filed to ILO Kathmandu against ITUC by Nepal’s leading trade union body, INDECONT, for negligence of duty, Reddy said their experience has been the same.
“Where were they when floods hit Chennai, in Uttarakhand a few years back, during Manipur earthquake and many such tragedies? Sharan Burrow and ITUC have been insensitive. They didn’t even visit once to show solidarity on the ground. It is only about lip sympathy,” Reddy said.
He further said, “Coming from an Australian and British culture, she (Burrow) has never worked closely with ground-level industrial workers. She comes from a teaching community, so, hardly has any experience with industrial and unorganized agricultural workers. She has also failed to gain the confidence of trade unions in developing countries.”
“The actions of Ms. Burrow are affecting the unity of trade union bodies in Asia. There is disillusionment among ITUC members. We are trying to pursue her to do right by the workers. If she listens, fine, otherwise we will see how it goes.”