#Throwback: Multiple working class actions as a response to multiple crises

As we are all down to the last month of 2022 and prepare for another year of struggle, BWI deems it necessary to revisit its 5th World Congress last October in Madrid, Spain, particularly the important  message of BWI Pan Europe Regional Vice President and EFBWW President Johan Lindholm. 

Lindholm reminds workers and trade unionists that humanity is facing a multiple crises that must be addressed by multiple actions and acts of solidarity from the global trade union movement. 

“Humanity is facing new crises - caused by war and military conflicts. We see more and more authoritarian regimes and far-right politics. We know that climate change risks resulting in - not only extreme weather conditions - but new waves of refugees - climate refugees! As the world was hit hard by the pandemic - deep and growing divides were revealed Gaps - not only between countries - but also between people. Between those who have everything - and those who have nothing - and also work under extremely precarious employment. Many countries committed to the free movement of people - nevertheless created barriers and closed borders. In various countries, packages were developed to support companies - and thus retrain workers,” Lindholm said. 

“But the shifting pandemic restrictions and total "lockdowns" in different countries - have also widened the gap between the people and the authorities. Even in my own country - Sweden - ordinary citizens have been enticed to vote for  right-wing populists - who divide people into us and them. The rise of Trumpism and xenophobia - must be stopped. We in the united trade union movement - must be one of the counter forces - both locally, regionally and globally,” he added.

The Swedish trade union leader also drew attention to unjust wars and military conflicts that caused so much hardship and misery for many workers. He stressed that there is also a “war on democratic pluralistic societies,” where he said human rights need to be protected instead of the bank accounts for a very rich few.

“Our friends, colleagues and their families in Ukraine - woke up to a rain of missiles and bombs.  They had to take cover and rearrange their lives in a flash. Life of dreams quickly turned - to a life of survival and fighting Putin's barbarism. Putin is trying to bomb away a people's dreams. Their dreams of freedom. Their dreams of democracy. Their dreams of peace. But our message to Vladimir Putin is crystal clear; You will never succeed! You will never succeed in bombarding a people into obedience Never! You can never crush a people's dreams of a peaceful and democratic future Never!” he asserted.  

“But Putin's war is not only taking place on and over the territory of Ukraine. We have also seen several smaller conflicts - in the shadow of Putin's war. In Central Asia and the Caucasus - we see an increasing repression of trade unions and workers' rights. That is why the motto of the Congress, "For Peace" is so important because we know that we, our members and workers, are always the ones who will pay the highest price in armed conflict and in war! It is not by chance that it is our members who are also hit hardest by rampant inflation and rising prices. It is the ordinary people who have to get to work by car and who have to heat their homes with electricity and gas, who are hit hardest,” Lindhold said. 

In BWI’s 5th World Congress, the global union’s Pan European region brought to Madrid 319 delegates from the Western and Eastern Europe, Balkans, Central Asia, Turkiye and Israel. They comprised 35 percent of the Congress presenters and interveners who supported and adopted resolutions and other key policies, including BWI’s new Strategic Plan. 

BWI's new Strategic Plan is anchored on its five strategic areas of work namely: 1) fighting for climate justice; 2) building trade unions; 3) ensuring safe and healthy workers; 4) globalising workers’ rights and 5) fair future of work.