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EI strengthens international trade unionism and its internal structures

At its 39th meeting held on 30 November-1 December, EI Executive Board adopted new policies related to the crisis and its impact on unions worldwide. These policies are partly represented by resolutions on ‘the Strengthening of International Trade Unionism within the Context of Globalisation,’ and ‘EI Structures.’

Board members, in the former of these two resolutions, acknowledged “the context of profound economic and social crisis which has led to the unemployment of 32 million working men and women and the spread of poverty and hunger.” Simultaneously, they condemned “the various attacks on trade union organisations as guarantors of the fundamental democratic rights of working men and women throughout the world and as decisive entities in negotiation processes.”

They also observed this a moment for trade unions to intensify, rather than retreat from, their internationalist orientation. This supports the Trade Union Declaration at the 2010 Summit of the United Nations General Assembly with a view to accelerating progress towards attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Board went on to call upon governments to perform their function as guarantors of all citizens’ rights, especially the basic rights to public education, public health, form trade unions and bargain collectively.

This resolution on international trade unionism demands the “fulfilment of the commitment to attain the MDGs by the year 2015, whilst addressing the questions of the debt crisis and international cooperation on fiscal matters.” Additionally, it urges EI “to intensify its work in the analysis of the global situation, the provision of updates and tools to the member organisations to support these various campaigns and also in coordination with other international trade union organisations.”

To better equip EI to face the crisis, as well as improve its decision-making processes, the Board also adopted the second Resolution on EI Structures.

This document recognises “that the democratic nature of EI and the representativeness of the governing bodies determine the strength of the International, and that the role and functions of the members and officers of the governing bodies determine the organisation’s effectiveness in carrying out its many tasks.”

Noting that democratic structures, roles and responsibilities of officials be periodically evaluated, the resolution mandates the Executive Board “to establish from among its own members a working group, consisting of two representatives from each region together with the EI President and General Secretary.”

The working group aims to examine, in particular, “the structure and representativeness of the Executive Board, including the allocation of regional and open seats, the role and functions of the Officers and other members of the Board, and the financial implications of changes in any of the existing arrangements;” and “the role and functions of the regional and sub-regional structures.”

An interim report will be sent to member organisations by January 2014.

EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, noted: “Given the current context, trade unions need to think about new and more effective ways of organizing and dialoguing with governments, locally as well as globally.”

He concluded: “I expect these resolutions will contribute guaranteeing the voice of strong teacher unions remain heard, bringing forward solutions to quickly exit the crisis.”

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