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SPEECH OF COM.GEORGE MARVICOS, HONARARY PRESIDENT, WFTU.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE WFTU TUIS*
22-04-2024
*George Mavrikos’ Speech at the 3rd TUI Pensioners Congress

Athens, Greece – 15 of April 2024

Dear comrades, brothers and sisters,

It is an honor and a pleasure for me to be with you today, together with comrades with many of whom we have fought side by side for 50 years; with comrades from all over the world who have fought in the bodies of the WFTU for almost three decades.

All of us who co-decided in 2011 to found, under the wings of the World Federation of Trade Unions, the TUI of Pensioners and Retirees feel a special satisfaction because it has been strengthened very quickly and today is one of the most active and militant sectoral organizations of the WFTU.

The sectoral organizations of the WFTU have always been and must be the essential link of the WFTU with the factory and sectoral proletariat. They are the eyes, ears and feet of the WFTU in the workplaces. That is where the heart of the world working class beats.

Anyone who goes back to the archives of the WFTU will see countless discussions, agreements, disagreements, searches, questionings and continuous meetings, around the character of these international sectoral organizations affiliated to the WFTU, precisely because their role and character is particularly crucial. So much so that they have a significant impact on the very character and orientation of the WFTU.

When we took over the WFTU in December 2005 there were four TUIs. In 2022 we delivered 11 TUIs. The debates in the WFTU bodies were persistent.

Should we create others, new TUIs, or unify the sectors in the existing structures?

All this, of course, is ultimately answered by life itself, on the ground and over time; bearing in mind that any organizational structure, any apparatus in itself can neither make a work “flourish” nor destroy it. The structure may help more or less but the structure will not be the determining factor. The final judge is life itself, in time and place. And of course the logistical possibilities at any given time. I remember in 1976, on a visit to the headquarters of TUI Forestry and Agricultural Products in Sofia (socialist Bulgaria), the TUI employed 80 people in Sofia alone. A few years later, in 1983, in Budapest, at the headquarters of the TUI Transport, we saw a staff of more than 150 personnel and staff. Because at that time such were the possibilities. Much better than the conditions that formed after the 1989-1991 overthrows.

And in the two years from 2007 to 2009, when it was decided to create this TUI, there was no shortage of persistent discussions. We were in a phase of rebuilding the WFTU and its structures. Many were in agreement, others suggested we wait, etc.

We dared and life justified that choice. The whole WFTU class-oriented family is proud of the vanguard action of this organization.

And let me point out that in this successful path, two comrades have played the leading role. The Spanish Quim Boix as well as Dimos Koubouris. Together with the entire leadership of the TUI each time.

We all know comrade Dimos. But let me tell you something about Quim. He is very respected in the ranks of the WFTU. He has a straightforwardness, whether you agree with him or not. He belongs to that generation of Spanish militants who stood tall and firm in “the camps of undesirables” in the desert of the then Spanish Sahara during Franco’s dictatorship.

Of course we agree that above all and in the first place the collective effort is the engine, but the militants who have the responsibility of planning, organizing and executing a plan of struggle have their share. These two and together with them, by their side, dozens of leaders and dozens of unions of retirees from all corners of the planet have ensured that this TUI is today an example to be followed by all within the WFTU.

I have been fortunate to work with them over the years, in which they have supported and spearheaded the strengthening of the WFTU organizationally and ideologically. We express to them a sincere thank you in comradeship.

In conclusion, let me inform all delegates and all unions that together with important veterans of the WFTU as Valentin Pacho, H. Mahadevan and others from 17 countries (who we are in the rear but always with the rifle at our side) we have founded the International Workers’ Institute (IWI) as a contemporary auxiliary tool, next to the WFTU and together with all the class-oriented unions of the world with the aim of giving theoretical and ideological support especially to the militants and younger cadres of the class struggle. We have already organized 11 international seminars and conferences and we continue to move forward.

The next one will take place on May 9, on the subject of the achievements of the working class in the USSR. Participation is free.

Finally, I consider it necessary to underline the primary task of the moment for the entire international militant trade union movement. The task of actively supporting the heroic struggle of the Palestinian resistance, the heroic struggle of the Palestinians in Gaza and throughout Palestine. To support and express in practice our internationalism towards the Palestinian people and, at the same time, to condemn in practice and without ambiguity the crimes of the Israeli governments that, with the support of the European Union, NATO, the USA and its allies, have murdered 33 thousand Palestinians, among them thousands of children, since October 2023. This is genocide. And the UN pretends to be asleep. In fact, it is not asleep. Today it is an instrument of the imperialists.

Dear comrades, brothers and sisters,

Here, in this international trade union apparatus, there is a rich experience of struggle. There is faith and knowledge and the will to transmit all this to the younger ones.

With militants like this, battle-hardened in the class conflicts in all corners of the planet, we have the right to be optimistic.

We wish you success in your Congress.

Health and strength. Until the final victory.

Thank you.

GEORGE_MAVRIKOS, IWI, PENSIONERS, PENSIONISTAS.

MAHESANA DISTRICT CONFERENCE HELD SUCCESSFULLY .

The biennial District Conference of Mahesana has been held at the venue of the circle Conference, Umiyaji Mataji Sansthan, Unjha on 16-04-2024. Com. G B Darji, District Secretary welcomed one and all. Com.N N Patel, Circle President and District President controlled the proceedings. Shri.B N Patel, Trustee, Umiyaji Mataji Sansthan inaugurated the conference. Shri. Hargovindbhai, Patel, Chairman, Rasoda Commitee was the Chief Guest. The keynote address was delivered by Com.M B Chaniyara, Circle Secretary and CHQ Vice President explaining the issues in detail.

Com.G B Darji, District Secretary presented the report and Com. P J Prajapati, Treasurer submitted the audited accounts and were adopted after discussion. The following are the important functionaries elected unanimously; Com. J B Chauhan (Patron), Com.N N Patel (President) Com.G B Darji (District Secretary) Com.P J Prajapati (Treasurer).

GUJARAT CIRCLE CONFERENCE HELD WITH GREAT ENTHUSIASM AND GOOD PARTICIPATION.

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The 4th biennial Circle Conference was held with good participation of delegates in an enthusiastic atmosphere on 16-17th April, 2024 at Umiyaji Mataji Sansthan , Unjha. Com.N N Patel, Circle President presided over the conference. The first part of the delegates session was held on 16th April. Com.M B Chaniyara, Circle Secretary and CHQ Vice President inaugurated the conference explaining the present status of pension revision, medical payments, medical card revalidation, submission of DLC, option to family pensioners etc. Thereafter discussion started and all the district Secretaries and most of the circle office bearers participated.

Circle Executive Committee meeting was held at 1800hrs on 16-04-2024. Biennial report on activities and audited accounts were presented by Com.M B Chaniyara, Circle Secretary and Treasurer and were approved after discussion by the CEC.

The open session was held on 17th April, 2024. Shri. Sandeep Sawarkar, Chief General Manager was the chief guest and inaugurated the open session by lighting the lamp and delivering the inaugural address. Com.N N Patel, Circle President was in chair. Shri.G L John Seldow, GM (Finanace), Circle Office, Shri.Pankaj Bhandari, GM, Mahesana, Shri.R G Gohel, DGM,Mahesana, Coms. M K Dave, Circle President and D A Patel,ACS of BSNLEU, Com.S J Thakar, Circle Secretary, BSNLCCWF and a host of leaders including Coms. A N Singh, District Secretary, BSNLEU, Vadodara, J K Solanki, P J Patel and R B Patel, District President, Secretary and Treasurer of BSNLEU, Mahesana addressed the open session. The guests were honoured with mementos. The open session was concluded with vote of thanks by Com. G B Darji.

The second part of the delegates session was held at 1400hrs on 17th inst under the presidentship of Com.N N Patel, Circle President. The report on activities and the audited accounts duly adopted by the CEC was presented by Coms. M B Chaniyara, Circle Secretary and R U Anjariya, Circle Treasurer. Both the report and accounts were adopted by the conference after discussion of the delegates and reply by the Circle Secretary.

The conference then elected the office bearers for the next biennial term unanimously with Com. J G Nayak (Patron) Com.N N Patel (Circle President) Com.M B Chaniyara (Circle Secretary) and Com.R U Anjariya (Treasurer). With vote of thanks by Com.G B Darji, Secretary, Reception Commitee the Circle Conference, held most successfully came to an end.

TUI (P&R) 3rd CONGRESS CONCLUDED.

The 3rd Congress of TUI(P&R) held at Athens on 14-18 April,2024 has concluded with unanimous election of office bearers.

Coms. Dimos Koumpouris ( Greece ) and Quim Boix ( Spain ) have been reelected as President and General Secretary.

Com. K G. Jayaraj, General Secretary , AIBDPA elected
Vice Secretary.

Com. K. Ragavendran, Secretary General, NCCPA elected Asia Coordinator.

The propsals for
Com. Swastika Dasgupta, CHQ Vice President to the Executive Board

Com. A K. Ghosh, Coordination Committee of CGPA, West Bengal to Member, Finacial Committee.

Com. D . K.Debnath, General Secretary, AIPRPA to Member Technical Committee

are expected to be approved shortly.

GREEK WORKERS ORGANISED A HUGE 24 HOUR STRIKE ON 17-04-2024.

The Greek workers under the banner of united trade unions of PAME organised a spectacular 24hrs strike in Greece on 17-04-2024. Thousands of workers both men and women, even with small children on their arms participated in the demonstration held before the Parliament in Athens. The delegates of the 3rd Congress of TUI(P&R) along with the pensioners of Greece extended solidarity to the striking workers by greeting them physically during their demonstration. The Indian delegates , Coms.K Ragavendran, A K Ghosh and D K Debnath were delighted to get the opportunity to participate in the memorable event. The strike was warranted due to the refusal of the government to restore the trade union rights withdrawn as a temporary measure during the economic recession in 2010-18.

SOLIDARITY BY THE TUI(P&R) 3RD CONGRESS DELEGATES.

ATHENS DECLARATION.

DECLARATION OF THE III CONGRESS OF THE TUI OF THE WFTU P&R

The TUI 3rd Congress of the P&R, held in Athens from 14 to 18 April 2024, concluded with the adoption of the following Final Declaration.

The congress of the TUI of the P&R took the measure of the general nature of the attacks made by our common enemy: capitalism, which uses all the means at its disposal to discourage or weaken us, because it understood that our TUI of the P&R, the only international union of pensioners and retirees, has been strongly strengthened despite all the obstacles. Our enemy has once again demeaned itself by using the most cowardly means of visas to enter Europe for African trade unionists, we have attended for one visa application for 140 participants, only about sixty trade unionists from different African countries have obtained it, despite an official invitation and a hotel reservation, The inconceivable is that for most authorizations, the validity period varies between one week (07 days) and twenty days (20 days).Never before has an international trade union organization had so many visa refusals or visas issued for such short durations.

But these obstacles did not discourage our activists who took up the challenge and came to Athens in force, while those who did not have their visas insisted on attending this congress by video conference. At the Congress, they attended 200 pensioners from 90 countries, plus 30 pensioners from 20 countries via videoconference.

This congress was marked by the approval of the 3 documents presented: 1)Global developments ; 2) Amendments to the Statutes; 3) Report on activities and work plan and by the election of a leadership team that will continue the work done by the previous one and was an opportunity to pay tribute to those who have been lost forever since the first congress as well as to those who created this union.

The threats that weigh today on pensioners, the unemployed, unemployment insurance and the civil service are in line with those posed to the Labour Code and the methods of exercising labour law throughout the world. Only a union between all trade unions , including the pensioners’ unions, can defeat all these capitalist and imperialist projects. Today, in order to increase the retirement age and to privatize pension funds, governments announce their bankruptcies, so if this is true, it is easy to get the money from the bosses or recruit even more workers.

We cannot close this Third Congress without denouncing the genocide that has been taking place in Palestine for more than 6 months causing nearly 35,000 deaths, mostly children and women, with the blessing of NATO, the United States and the EU, despite the millions of citizens who are demonstrating in these countries to put an end to Israel’s terrorist acts and to recognize the Palestinian state.

MUST BE COMPLETED ON THE DAY OF THE CONGRESSThe congress closed with these recommendations:Motions in support of Palestine, to the workers of Greece on general strike on 17-4-24,Other two resolutions, Continuing to strengthen our union, Unifying pension funds and saying no to privatization

ATHENS, 16-4-2024

AMBEDKAR JAYANTHI CELEBRATED.

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May be an image of 6 people, people studying and text

Coordination Committee of BSNLEU, AIBDPA and BSNLCCWF Chennai Telephones Circle has celebrated Dr.B R Ambedkar Jayanthi in a befitting manner. A meeting was held at BSNLEU office, Flower Bazar, Chennai on 16-04-2024. Com.K Govindaraj, AGS and Circle Secretary, Chennai Telephones delivered the keynote address on the subject “Relevance of Dr,B R Ambedkar at this crucial juncture.”

3rd Congress of TUI(P&R) at Athens on 14-18 April,2024. Written speech by Com.K G Jayaraj, General Secretary, All India BSNL DOT Pensioners Association, New Delhi, India.

Respected President, Comrade Dimos Koumpouris, General Secretary Com. Quim Boix, other distinguished leaders on the dias, hosting Comrades of Greece and delegates participating from various countries representing numerous organizations both physically and on Zoom platform.

On behalf of AIBDPA, the militant and fighting organisation of Telecom pensioners of India, I have the privilege of extending Revolutionary Greetings to all of you. My hearty congratulations to our Greek comrades for hosting and holding this historic 3rd Congress at the capital city of Athens, which has the rich heritage of the famous ancient city, in a befitting manner.

I am extremely sorry for not being present physically among you and missing the great opportunity to see you all in person due to Visa problem. My hearty thanks to our beloved General Secretary Com. Quim Boix for extending the opportunity to participate in the 3rd Congress on the Zoom platform.

Comrades, we are having this 3rd Congress at Athens after five years since the 2nd Congress at Bogotá in 2019 and during these five years we have advanced and rejuvenated as the only world organization of the pensioners and retirees, thanks to our great and visionary leadership. But at the same time there are deficiencies and weaknesses, which warrant our serious attention and effective measures for resolution.

  1. The main problem is lack of initiative in organising the pensioners and retirees in many countries even by WFTU affiliated trade unions in their respective countries. I am fully aware of the great efforts by our General Secretary Com. Quim Boix through the WFTU leadership in this regard.It is observed that in many countries the retired persons are continuing in the leadership of trade unions of workers wherever the rules permit it. WFTU had taken a decision to the effect that the vast majority of the workers are still unorganized and it is the duty of the organised section to organise the unorganized. Accordingly in some countries like India CITU took the initiative to organise the casual and contract workers and the pensioners and that is how AIBDPA, AIPRPA, AIITPA, AKBRF, AILICPA, AIAAPA,BSNLCCWF, AIPCWF etc were formed. We do not know the real position in this regard in other countries.
  2. When we organised the 2nd Asia Regional Conference at Thiruvananthapuram on 1st October, 2023, the main problem we faced was lack of adequate representation from the Asian countries. Only three countries ie India, Nepal and Sri Lanka participated despite earnest efforts made by Comrade Quim Boix, General Secretary, Com. K. Ragavendran, Asia Coordinator and the Organising Committee. Barring this, the 2nd Asia Regional Conference was a grand success. The issues being faced by the pensioners and retirees were discussed in detail. The online speeches by Com. Pambis Kyritsis , General Secretary WFTU and Com. Quim Boix, General Secretary TUI (P&R) were highly appreciated.
  3. There are instances wherein some of our affiliated organisations are toeing the line of the respective self styled “Social Democratic” governments, jeopardizing the basic principles of TUI (P&R).
  4. Finance is very important for any organization for its effective functioning. But our leadership is burdened in this regard due to non -receipt of fees / yearly quota from many affiliates. In some countries like India, bank transfer has been made impossible, purposely by the government and the Indian affiliates were not able to remit their quota during the last five years. However, arrangements are now made for payment of quota directly during this 3rd Congress. But it is necessary to find out some alternate arrangement for timely remittances of yearly quota in future.
  5. Lack of awareness or failure to understand the issues in proper and correct perspective may put the particular organization in difficulty. Therefore ideological updating is very much necessary and our TUI (P&R) leadership has taken adequate care to include it as one of the important tasks in the report.
  6. We are all aged and most of us are ailing too. Therefore, burdening the General Secretary with each and everything is not at all desirable. In this connection, effective proposals are made in the report to share the responsibilities and also to replace an office bearer found to be inactive.
  7. Women representation is another area that we should have a clear perspective and effective proposals. Unfortunately, much importance is not being given on this important issue by most of the organizations. TUI ( P& R) has to be a role model for empowering the women in all aspects and should guide the affiliated organizations to follow suit.

AIBDPA and it’s functioning.

All India BSNL DOT Pensioners Association is an organization consisting of pensioners and family pensioners of the Department of Telecommunications and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd ( BSNL ) in India. It was formed in 2009 and due to its militant style of functioning, mainly organising struggles demanding settlement of important issues of the pensioners, AIBDPA has advanced as one of the major pensioners organisations in India. It is affiliated to NCCPA ( National Coordination Committee of Pensioners Association ) since its inception and continues to be one of the dominant affiliates. AIBDPA is part of TUI (P&R) since its first Congress held at Barcelona in 2014.

We have a website, aibdpa.com, being regularly updated with important developments, struggles and government orders. We also publish a quarterly journal, Tele Pensioner. Social media like WhatsApp and Face Book are also being utilised for campaigns.

We have achieved many demands through sustained struggles. We were denied medical benefits for about four years and had to organise continuous struggles, even during the Covid 19 pandemic. Finally a mammoth march of pensioners at New Delhi was organised on 24th August, 2022 after which the medical benefits were paid with arrears. This has boosted the confidence of our Comrades and attracted more pensioners to our fold. It also compelled the government of India to hold a discussion on 17th October, 2022 on the long pending issue of pension revision due from 01-01.2017. But the issue is still pending unresolved, though we organised several agitations not only by AIBDPA but also under the banner of Joint Forum of 8 Pensioners Associations. NCCPA also included the pension revision in its charter of demands on which a four phased struggle, culminating in a powerful Delhi March on 12-07-2023 was organised .

We are thankful to TUI(P&R) for supporting our struggles and also for circulating to all the affiliates with multiple translation and publication of these on the website.

Attacks on pension.

The first attack started against the defined and statutory benefit pension scheme which ensured 50% of the last salary as pension by replacing it with a contributory pension scheme called National Pension Scheme. It has since been proved to be a No Pension Scheme against which sustained joint struggles are launched unitedly by the organizations of Central government employees, state government employees and that of the Public Sectors and pensioners as well . This has its impact with some of the state governments deciding to restore the Old Pension Scheme. The Indian government also was compelled to appoint a Secretary level Committee to examine the possibility of any positive change within the frame work of NPS. But we cannot expect anything favourable from this Committee.

Another pension scheme made applicable for the vast majority of workers including for the private sector workers, is EPF Pension Scheme which is most retrograde and by which only a very meagre amount of pension is being paid . The government is trying to deny even a slight increase, as eligible as per the verdict of the Supreme Court of India.

The Indian government under Narendra Modi is pursuing aggressively the neoliberal policies by which the Corporates are given undue concessions while the common people are burdened with the record unemployment and unbearable price rise of essential commodities. The gap between the rich and poor is alarmingly widened. In addition, the government is trying to divide the people in the name of caste and religion. Also the government has started to show it’s fascist tendancies resorting to pressure tactics on all the constitutional institutions to toe the government line. Though the general elections is round the corner, the government did not care to concede even smaller and long pending issues of the pensioners including restoration of railway travel concession to the senior citizens withdrawn during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Kerala shows the alternative.

In sharp contrast to the policies of Narendra Modi government, the left Democratic government of Kerala is implementing so many schemes for the welfare of the common people without compromising on modern developmental activities. Kerala is implementing a pension scheme, called the social welfare pension to all weaker sections, ₹1,600 is being paid to more than 60 lakh people every month.

Comrades, our moto, Universal Pension, has to be made a reality for which we all have to strive hard to replace our class enemy, the capitalism with progressive left / socialist governments. It is not an easy task but not impossible too. So let us strengthen our own organisations, strengthen our TUI(P&R) and organise struggles unitedly with working class to acheive the goal.

Long Live TUI (P&R)
Long Live WFTU
Long Live the 3rd Congress.

Thank you Comrades.