Saturday, December 27, 2014


Eduardo Garcia Moure (centre) and Julio Robert Gomez (left on the photo) were two of the protagonists of the merger of CLAT with ORIT into the CSA. 

In May 2000 it was announced that CLAT General Secretary Emilio Maspero was deceased as a result of cancer (see my previous blog). Unfortunately, the outside world was never informed. I have no idea why this has not happened. Perhaps dying by cancer is still a taboo in Latin America. Maybe Maspero himself and the CLAT Board Members, which I assume they were aware, were afraid of political consequences and conflicts over his succession.

Maspero was succeeded as General Secretary of CLAT by the Cuban exile Eduardo Garcia, for decades a member of the Executive Committee of CLAT. It was no secret that Enrique Marius, Deputy General Secretary of CLAT for international relations, was disappointed at this turn of events. He would have loved to be the successor to Maspero. But Eduardo Garcia was much better known and more popular in Latin America than Marius. As director of ILACDE, the Institute of CLAT for international cooperation, his position was not easy. Incidentally he had to criticize member organizations of CLAT because of shortcomings in the presentation and implementation of projects.

Enrique Marius, Eduardo Garcia and Rodolfo Romero (Paraguay) were the only ones of the newly elected board CLAT who lived and worked in Caracas. The other Deputy General Secretaries of CLAT - Felicito Avila (Honduras), Julio Roberto Gomez (Colombia), Mario Morant (Argentina) and Anselmo Pontilius (Aruba) - continued to work and live in their own country. The new CLAT Board continued the policy of Maspero. Unfortunately was lost on this occasion the opportunity to make some innovations in the Board and the CLAT policy. It would have been good for CLAT, if a woman had become member of the board, as well as a representative of the trade union action. It might have led to a shift of less (party) politics unto more practical trade union work.

This photograph gives a rare view of Secretary General Willy Thys with his whole WCL secretariat with in the center the ILO Director General Somavia and WCL President Fernand Kikongi. On the left of the center: Eduardo Estevez (Argentina), Fred Pools  (Belgium) and Toolsiray Benedin (Mauritius).On the right: Necie Lucero (Philippines) and Piet Nelissen (Netherlands)

In the autumn of 2000, the WCL Confederal Board met in Washington. WCL had managed to invite two keynote speakers for this meeting: the Managing Director of the IMF, Michel Camdessus (France) and ILO Director General Juan Somavia (Chile). It proved that the WCL as a minority organization, was able to conduct a social dialogue at the highest level about social and economic policies for the benefit of workers worldwide.

Especially the Belgium trade union confederation ACV/CSC did important work in this area because of their good relations with the governor of the Belgian National Bank and the presidency of the Human Rights Workers Group at the ILO. With financial support from the Belgian government several international meetings were held in Wahington during which WCL leaders from different continents had meetings with IMF experts and World Bank staff. At these meetings, the trade unions could express their criticisms and demands on the role of the World Bank and IMF in the international debt crisis, its reform policy and its consequences for developing countries.

For this Confederal Board I had planned to raise the question about the organization of the secretariat, by not presenting the usual report on European activities. Of course, it is not customary to do so but there was no other way left. The secretary General did not want to take measures to strengthen the European secretariat. It was a personal form of protest against the state of affairs at the secretariat. Due to lack of resources and vision, all the work in de past in Central and Eastern Europe threatened to have been for nothing. That in itself was reason enough to pull the bell but there was more. By neglecting the European base of the WCL, the survival of the WCL became itself at risk.

IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus speaking at the WCL Conferral Board meeting in Washington (2000)

My protest was not successful. That the continents stayed silent, I could understand from their point of view that Europe is for the Europeans. On the other hand, I expected that high level WCL leaders would have the insight that a weak European base eventually had to have an impact on the survival of the WCL. The European unions were, after all, by far the largest financiers of the WCL, on the first place the Belgian trade union confederation ACV/CSC followed by the Dutch trade union confederation CNV.

That the ACV/CSC trade union confederation did not react and thus supported their General Secretary was logical and understandable. But that no European organization reacted, not even “my own CNV”, I found very disappointing. I had hoped that my action would have resulted in at least a debate, a debate that had come to a dead end at the secretariat. Also I did not succeed to develop a common WCL policy vision on European affairs, while on the European agenda there were new ambitious European projects like the introduction of a common currency, that is to say the Euro, that in one or another way would affect all European Union workers. Apparently such policy was the exclusive domain of the ETUC (and I believe, in consultation with the ICFTU).

My position was already not easy. It had started earlier with an overt accusation of the General Secretary on a European coordination meeting that I had organized without budgetary coverage, projects and missions in Central and Eastern Europe. I was shocked that this was not discussed beforehand because then he would have been aware of the falsity of his claim. However, during this meeting ACV / CSC policy officer Paul Buekenhout openly recognized that spendings were indeed justified in view of the financial commitments of the ACV / CSC trade union confederation itself. Later, the Secretary General attempted to dismiss me. Thanks to the CNV trade union confederation those actions had no results. Obviously the situation between General Secretary Willy Thys and myself had become increasingly difficult.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

WOW (World Organization of Workers) Annual Review 2014

Dear Friends,

I hope you enjoy the Annual review of WOW activities in 2014 published on You Tube: Board Meetings, European seminars, the ILO Conference WOW participation, WOW mission to West Africa and CLAC-WOW meeting in Santiago the Chile.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - Feliz Navidad y Feliz Ano Nuevo -Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année - Frohe Weihnachten und glückliches Neues Jahr - Feliz Natal e um Feliz Ano Novo - Perttige Kerstdagen en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar.

Piet Nelissen

Monday, December 15, 2014


The Fifth Annual Latin American Coordination meeting "For an Integrated Humanistic Trade Unionism" took place in Santiago, the capital of Chile, between November 23 - 25. The meeting was organized bij FELATRACCS (The Latin American Federation of Workers in the Communications and Cultural Sectors) together with the Chilean Federation of Workers in the Communication Sectors (FETRACOSE). Some 40 trade union delegates from 14 different countries participated in the meetings and working sessions. Together they represented the three federations FELATRACCS, FELATRABS and FETRALCOS affiliated to the WOW. A special guest was President Oscar Semerel from Curacao of the Latin American Federation of Pensioners CLATJUPAM together with the Chilean Union of Pensioners UNAP A.G. 
The first day was dedicated to remember what happened in Chile during the dictatorship of general Pinochet (1973 - 1990) with a visit to the Museo de la Memoria and to the Circle of Journalists House in Santiago. After these visits on the Sunday morning, every Federation held its own boardmeeting in one of the halls of the hotel.

While waiting for the bus for a visit to the Museum de la Memoria, the first group picture was spontaneously taken in front of the hotel.

The Chilean Museum de la Memoria was founded with the intention that one should not forget
what happend during the Pinochet dictatorship. During the visit everybody received a red rose
that could be placed there where your thoughts go.

After the impressive visit to the Museum de la Memoria we went back to the centre of the city
where we walked along the Moneda Palace and the monument of President Allende
to the Circle of Journalists House.In the meanwhile our Chilean friends told us about the history of the palace and the putch of general Pinochet against the Government of President Allende (1973)

The Government of the democratic elected President Allende of the Unidad Popular Coalition
 was overthrown by the Chilean army led by General Pinochet in 1973. After te fall of the dictator in 1990 the democratically elected Government decided to erect a monument to honor him.

In the House of the Journalists were commemorated all those journalists and other media workers
who were killed or disappeared because of their profession with red roses placed on a special monument in the House that is dedicated to them. 

Preparing the boardmeeting of FELATRABS

Preparing the meeting of CLATJUPAM President Oscar Semerel with the boardmembers of the Chilean pensioners union UNAP A.G.

Monday was largely reserved for a conference in collaboration with the Universidad de Chile. The main theme was "communication, globalization and democracy. "As you can see on the displayed program, two panels were held. The first panel was devoted to "An integrated Latin American trade union movement" followed by a panel on "Perspectives in the exercise of social communication in Chile." The debates and discussions were interrupted by a musical performance by Manuel Sanchez, singer, folk poet, troubadour and guitarist.

After the colloquium the Fifth Coordination Meeting CLAC - WOW was officially opened in one of the meeting rooms in the hotel. Words of welcome were spoken by Abraham Armijo, President of FETRACOSE, José Jesus Trabulho, President of FELATRABS, Maritza Chireno, President of FETRALCOS, Roberto Mejia, President of FELATRACCS, Francisco Iturriaga, President of UNAP A.G., Miguel Duche, Vice President of WOW, The Local ILO representative, Piet Nelissen of the WOW World Board. The Coordination Meeting was officially inaugurated by Minister of labour Francisco Javier Diaz.

Here we see the second panel on "Perspectives in the exercise of social communication in Chile"
with Javiera Olivares, president of the Association of Journalists (left), Laureano Checa,
Director of the School for Journalists of the University of Chile (middle)
and Abraham Armijo (right), President of the Federation of Communication Workers,
Graphic Workers and Related services (FETRACOSE) and
vice president of the Autonomous Confederation of Workers (CAT).

After each panel there was an opportunity for the participants to ask questions and to make observations for debate. Here we see Zuliana Laina from the Peruvian ANP ask some questions to the members of the panel.

Before the opening of the Fifth Coordination Meeting CLAC - WOW the participants had to register themselves officially.

Minister of Labour Francisco Javier Diaz opens officially the Coordination Meeting CLAC WOW.
The participants were invited by the minister for an evening dinner.

The next day, Tuesday November 25th, the meetings took place in Parque La Auraca, a recreational centre for employees of different enterprises. The morning consisted of 4 panales:
1. "The World of Work against Neoliberalism."
2. "Trade Unionism in the XXI century and social crisis."
3. "Autonomous Workers and Trade Union Self Reform."
4. "Women, Youth and new Trade Union Action."
After these panels, 4 Working Shops on the above mentioned items were formed. After the Working Shops had finished their debates, conclusions were made up and presented to all participants. The conclusions will be elaborated as soon as possible and be send to all participants.
Alle participants received a diploma as a proof of participation. The meeting ended with a party.

It was a well organized event for which we thank the companeros of FELATRACCS and especially our Chilean friends of FETRACOSE. With their excellent job, they have set a high standard for the meetings to follow in the next years. The next meeting will be in the Dominican Republic next year.

Panel 3 on "Autonomous Workers and Trade Union Self Reform."

Panel 4 on "Women, Youth and New Trade Union Action."

Registering for the workshops.

A special working shop on "Pensioners and Trade Action" was formed. The pensioners want to become a member of CLAC-WOW.

At the end of a long working day all participants received a diploma as proof of participation.It was a well organized event for which we thank the companeros of FELATRACCS and especially our Chilean friends of FETRACOSE. They did an excellent job putting a high standard for the meetings to follow in the next years.