Com Pambis Kyritsis, General Secretary, World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) was at Alappuzha, Kerala to participate in the 42nd National Conference of All India Trade Union Congress. Leaders of All Kerala Bank Employees’ Federation, Com K S Krishna (President) and Com B Ramprakash (General Secretary) had an interaction with him in the presence and guidance of Com C H Venkatachalam, General Secretary, AIBEA and President of WFTU’s Finance Control Committee. Here are some excerpts:
Q: Hearty Welcome to you, Comrade Pambis to Alappuzha, known as the Venice of the East and also to the 42nd National Conference of AITUC, the oldest trade union in our country. We are happy that you have become the General Secretary of WFTU. All India Bank Employees’ Association have been always active in WFTU. We express our greetings, best wishes and support to you.
Com Pambis: Thank you very much for your warm greetings and support. I will do my best and live up to your expectations. Situation in the world over is becoming more complex and difficult for the working class. The hard-won rights of the working class and the Trade Union freedom are under greater attack. Capitalists have more say. The big capital and its political representative, are even now using the pandemic to attack on fundamental democratic and trade union rights, like the right to strike, to demonstrate and to be organized. They are doing whatever they can to transfer the results of the crisis to the shoulders of the working class, pensioners, farmers, poor, etc. The struggling spirit of WFTU have to inspire us. There is only one path to fallow and this is the path of unity, the path of the struggles.
Q: Yellow Unions are involved in supporting the government and is a threat to the working class movement. What is your view on that?
Com Pambis: Yellow Unions (management-Government sponsored Unions) are supposed to be organization of workers, but unduly influenced by the employer and categorically they cannot be termed as independent trade unions. The employers always try to promote their interest by promoting yellow unions and a total surrender of the yellow union leaders. The struggle for unions to have autonomy away from bureaucracy, corruption etc. are very important for an ethical trade union movement.
Recently the General Secretary of International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) was arrested for a corruption scandal. The arrest of Luca Visentini brings to the surface one more time the issue of corruption within the Trade Unions and the necessity to intensify the struggles to protect the autonomy and their class orientation, away from bureaucracy, corruption and manipulation by the capitalists and employers. In this particular case the arrest is linked with the cover-up of terrible crimes committed against thousands of workers, many of whom lost their lives during their daily work.
The incorporation of the leadership of ITUC and ETUC to the neoliberal, anti-labour policies, the absence of a substantial reaction on its part, clearly coexists with the corruption and use of Trade Union positions for purposes foreign to the class interests of the workers.
Q: Whether the ILO is helpful to Trade Unions or whether ILO is not democratic?
Com Pambis: ILO is supposed to be an institution to have the priority regarding implementation of correct procedures, ethical labour practices and ensure justice to the workers around the globe. Even though ILO talks aloud about democracy, in each and every action, it is acting with discrimination and without respecting the representativeness of the Trade Unions in its functioning. It is simply ignoring WFTU which is the most historic, oldest and massive Trade Union of Workers in 153 countries. Is this democracy? No. It is lack of democracy. A new Director General of ILO has taken charge. WFTU has sent a letter to ILO for a meeting to discuss.
Q: In the emerging scenario, what do you expect from the trade unions affiliated to WFTU and what is the action plan of WFTU?
Com Pambis: Our first task as priority is to conduct the struggles against the mounting attacks all over the world, to gain our rights and protect trade union freedom. A coordinated effort is needed.
The task is to spread the WFTU and function, organize in a better way in the solidarity actions. Without solidarity and common action at the global level we cannot effectively confront the capitalist and monopolists. Capitalists join together to attack workers but not sharing raw materials.
Let us unite and continue to fight for defense of the political, social and Trade Union rights of Workers, against capitalist barbarity, for a world free of wars and interventions, without any kind of discrimination and exploitation of man by man.
Q: What is your message to bank employees in India and AIBEA :
Com Pambis : My message to all workers in the banks in India is that we should show our solidarity by supporting each other all over the world and overcome the difficulty without any discrimination. Protections are being stealthily stolen by the burgeoise. WFTU affiliates are at the forefront of these struggles for the satisfaction of the contemporary needs of the workers at all levels and to defend the democratic and trade union freedoms, the collective bargaining and the stable, permanent and agreements – regulated labour. Our common task is to fight for a better future for all workers in factories, banking, finance etc. Our interest is common.