Read below the seasonal message of thanks to all affiliates from UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings.
The UNI family can look back on 2017 with enormous satisfaction. We now have organising campaigns in over 50 countries with great wins for workers in every region and sector. We have won more global agreements, including Auchan and parcel-delivery giant GeoPost; cemented the central and eastern European organising centre, COZZ, in Poland as well as launching a new organising centre in Colombia; and signed a new Bangladesh Accord. Significantly, the G20 has given its endorsement to global framework agreements. UNI is firmly established as a leader in both the Future World of Work and as an influential partner with the Peace Movement. We have momentum going forward to 2018.
We are looking forward with anticipation and excitement to the World Women’s Conference and the World Congress in Liverpool in June 2018, which will herald the beginning of a new chapter in the life of the organisation. Gender equality is central to our work and this year the UNI Equal Opportunities department has taken giant strides to push for the adoption of an ILO Convention Against Violence Against Women and Men at the Workplace. Both the Women’s Conference and the Congress will also be an opportunity for us to redouble our efforts to bring the voice of youth into the main focus of all our work.
UNI remains both robust and dynamic and ready to face the multiple challenges of a world in turmoil. Trump’s first year has been troublesome both for the United States and the rest of the world. With the backdrop of the crisis between the U.S and North Korea, UNI has united with its partners in peace including the International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). It was a proud moment to be present in Oslo, representing UNI, earlier in December to witness ICAN receive the Nobel Peace Prize. UNI’s commitment to peace is strong and anchored in our Nagasaki World Congress where we forged links with the people of that city whose families have known only too well the horror of nuclear war.
UNI was also present to witness the UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn receiving the prestigious Sean MacBride prize from the IPB for his many years of unwavering dedication to peace. I’m pleased to announce that Jeremy has agreed to speak at the opening of our World Congress in Liverpool where peace and human rights will be debated. We will not shy away from difficult subjects, not least Palestine and Israel, where Trump’s incendiary remarks, asserting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, have dealt another body blow to peace. UNI stands in solidarity with our unions in Palestine and works with unions in Israel as we express our commitment to peace in the region. We will continue to send our specialised organising teams to develop the union movement in the region despite the barriers, the walls, the uncertainty and violence. Across the world UNI’s influence is spreading, and this year we sent senior leadership teams to both Turkey and China, as well as Palestine, and elsewhere.
I am pleased to have been appointed to the ILO’s Global Commission on the Future World of Work which will inform the ILO’s centenary in 2019. I will make sure that the voice of workers is heard loud and clear by that Commission, on behalf of our 20 million members and the other Global Union Federations. Taking the lead on our Future World of Work strategy, we have identified a huge gap in the regulation of the digital workspace which we are seeking to bring to the collective bargaining table as part of worker’s human rights. We are thought-leaders in the FWOW field, producing quality reports such as the Top Ten Principles for workers’ data privacy and protection and the Top Ten Principles for Ethical Artificial Intelligence. Similarly UNI is now positioned as a key voice and changemaker on trade, and the increasingly important topic of e-commerce. UNI is also firmly embedded in the environmental movement and move to a Just Transition to save our planet.
In March we had the last of our regional conferences before Congress year, with UNI Africa in Dakar, Senegal. It was a joyous event and an opportunity for all of us to get behind the new leadership of President Ndèye Founé Niang and new regional secretary Keith Jacobs who are delivering on their promise to make the continent ‘bounce’. Marcio Monzane is already doing great things as the new UNI Americas regional secretary, together with President Ruben Cortina, who will become UNI Global Union’s new President in Liverpool. Ruben will take over from our current President Ann Selin who has continued to show great wisdom and fortitude to guide us through this period of transition. The work in UNI Apro continues apace under the stewardship of President Noda and regional secretary, Chris Ng. Similarly the established leadership team of UNI Europa, President Frank Bsirske and regional secretary Oliver Roethig are increasing their circle of influence in Brussels and beyond, in particular in getting Social Europe back on the agenda through the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. This is another step towards a Europe of genuine social values and we can be proud of the work UNI Europa, and our trade union colleagues from across Europe, have done to influence the debate and ensure future decent work opportunities for all.
In terms of achievements across the board UNI has enjoyed an exceptional year, another shining star being the World Players Association launch of the Universal Declaration of Players Rights just a week ago, which has not only been reported on widely in the press, but has the potential to create a sea-change for worker rights in sport. Notably, the World Players Association has given backing to the ITUC and other partners to end the evil system of bonded labour in Qatar ahead of the World Cup 2022.
UNI’s New Year resolution is quite simply to keep on Making it Happen towards our Liverpool World Congress. Now is not the moment to take our foot off the gas because the work of ensuring that workers’ rights are part of human rights must go on. I’m proud of what we have achieved not only in 2017 but since UNI was established almost 20 years ago. We are very well positioned for the future and the candidate to succeed me, Christy Hoffman, along with a new look team here and in the regions, will take us to new heights. Our ‘over-night successes’ have been built on an ethos of winning for workers developed over two decades.
Ann Selin, our President and I, as part of an international conference of labour leaders visited the Vatican earlier this month. The Pope’s message to us and the world was that ‘there is no good society without a good union.’ He also spoke of the need for a new paradigm, which we agreed should be founded in dignity, love and mutual respect, where we should assert our collective humanity, strive for world peace and protect our planet from the ravages of climate change.
I would like to end this year by offering my heartfelt thank you to all of you, including our hardworking staff and affiliates, for your support in realizing our common goal to create a world fit for working people, based on respect and equality. We express our appreciation to President Ann Selin who has battled adversity and is now back on the frontline and gearing up for a demanding round of negotiations in Finland in early 2018. We all wish her well.
Before I sign off let us spare a thought for our brothers and sisters who have suffered this year and those have suffered for standing up for union rights, not least Brother, Han who is still imprisoned in Seoul Korea. The Candlelight Revolution brought change but for us it is unfinished until Brother Han is free.
We wish you a peaceful holiday period and a successful 2018.
Yours in solidarity,