Morning session

Download 386 Kb.
Size386 Kb.
  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8

Wednesday September 15



Congress reassembled at 9.30 a.m
The President: Good morning, everyone. Let me start this morning by saying thank you very much to the Bovey Quartet for their musical contribution this morning. What a lovely way to start the morning. (Applause)
Delegates, let me also give a very warm welcome this morning to Annie Watson, who has joined us on the platform. Annie is the Director of the Commonwealth TUC, the first ever woman director of an international union organisation. You are very welcome, Annie. (Applause)
We begin this morning's business with chapter 16 of the General Council's Report.
Congress Awards
The President: Colleagues, this year we are making a change in the format of the presentation of our three prestigious awards. In previous years the pattern was that after the formal presentation, the award winners would be invited to address Congress, but this year we thought we would try something a little different. We have our three award winners, the Men's and Women's Gold Badges and the winner of the Youth Award, interviewed about how their experiences have led them to this wonderful achievement. Who better than to launch this new format for us this morning as our interviewer than Ian McCartney, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, who, more than anyone else, has delivered our Fairness at Work legislation. It was Ian who took the Minimum Wage and Fairness at Work legislation through Parliament. We all know, of course, that Ian is a trade unionist through and through.

Ian, it is over to you. I invite you to interview our award winners. (Applause)

The Rt Hon Ian McCartney MP (Minister of State in the Cabinet Office): Good morning, Brothers and Sisters. True to good TUC organisation, I have a microphone that I am bigger than for once. By the end of this this Conference, I probably will have done about a hundred Labour Party/TUC events of all shapes and sizes, anything from an audience of 30 to one of 3,000. But this event, in particular, will probably give me the most pleasure and enjoyment because we are doing something this morning that the Movement is not always best at, and that is honouring our unsung heroes, and honouring them when they are alive and not when they are dead.
It is a tremendous honour for your peers, your fellow brothers and sisters, to receive this honour, and although there are only three recipients with us, they are representatives of the tens of thousands of men and women who, every day of every week of every year, give their time free to represent their fellow workers in the workplace, and many of them give that time at the expense of their own liberty and, in some countries, their own lives. In this country, thankfully, they do not have to give their life and liberty, but with their family they give so much to the Movement sometimes to the detriment of other parts of their life. Therefore, the three who come today come as representatives of all those other people who, around this country, have kept this Movement alive and, as we come to the end of this century, see it once again growing.

These are nervous moments. Everybody knows that we have all had some form of an award at some time and, therefore, I am as nervous as they are. This year, I received an award, and I can tell you I was somewhat nervous. I was asked to go and visit the Queen to become a Privy Councillor. I ask you! Do I look like a Privy Councillor? I was determined to make sure that I did not arrive late. Therefore, I made sure that the driver got to the gates of Buckingham Palace at about 15 minutes in advance of the agreed timetable. When I got in, a band struck up and about 50 soldiers stood to attention and my car was ordered to go in front of a red carpet. When I got upstairs, I said to a rather young RAF officer, who was an equerry, "Does a Privy Councillor always have this ceremony?" "Sir", he said, "you are rather early. That was for the King of Swaziland". (Applause)

I am going to ask you this morning to enliven the place to make this a really good memorable event for our three recipients, and remember that we are all nervous, so get that clapping gear working with plenty of cheers as well because these three recipients represent what is best in the trade union and labour Movement.
I will now start the event, having wound you up, hopefully, in this way. The first award is the Women's Gold Badge to

Miss Joy Moss. Joy has very kindly told us that she is 72 years of age, comes from Streatham in London and has been a member of the MSF for 51 years. That is a hell of a job to be in the MSF for 51 years. (Applause) I did not realise that when I mentioned "forbearance" it would come so true so early. She spoke at her first TUC Congress in Brighton in 1962, and she has attended the Women's TUC during the 1960s and 1970s. She is still a strong campaigner in the Movement and her particular interests are health and pensions. Joy, please come up and

join me. (Applause)

The Men's Gold Badge goes to someone who I know very well, namely, Norman Kennedy. We are a member of the same trade union, the Transport & General Workers Union. Unfortunately, he is a Castleford Rugby League supporter. They are playing Wigan, my home town, as you can tell with my Lancashire accent, in a do or die match at the end of this week. However, I will put that aside for the next few moments. Norman is 54 years of age and he has been a member of the Transport & General Workers Union for 35 years. He has been a member of the union's regional bodies since the early 1980s. He is a local campaign organiser and was very prominent and active during the miners' strike. For 23 years he has given on-going and unstinting service as a Labour councillor on the Wakefield Metropolitan District Council. Norman, please come up to the platform. (Applause)

The TUC Youth Award is to Jane Andrews. Jane is 21 years of age and works for the Port of London Marine Services. She has been a member of the Transport & General Workers Union since she was 17. This is her first time at Congress. Despite the ships she works on being 100 per cent union organised, she has been actively recruiting at the local creche where her daughter attends. Join them young. She is also a member of the Transport & General Union's Regional Youth Members' Forum and is at the forefront of efforts to regenerate the activity of young members in the region. I have also been informed by the TUC, but I cannot believe it, that she has been described as a "docker". When you she Jane coming up to the platform, if she is a docker, I am Naomi Campbell's understudy. Jane, please come up to the platform. (Applause)
I am now going to conduct a short interview, but it will not be the type of interview that I take part in when I interview prospective Parliamentary candidates or European candidates. We are going to give them an opportunity to express themselves in a very short time, and I apologise for that, about their contribution to the Movement. However, when reshuffles comes around from time to time, Ministers do get nervous. John Monks has already given me a bit of career guidance advice. He, basically, said that if I can do this job well today, I could become the TUC's professional interviewer, but I am not sure if that is a job I want.

If my friend Michael Crick from the BBC is here, Michael follows me everywhere. He follows me probably more than the CWU does. During the Wirral South bye-election, I got out of bed one morning and he was actually in my slippers. (Laughter) If Michael is listening, perhaps he would give me a few tips afterwards so that I can get it right because when John Monks offers you a job, you do not really want to refuse it, do you? So let us see how this new procedure goes, colleagues.

Joy, you have been in the Movement 51 years. Can you tell us what your first experience was in going to the TUC Congress in the 1960s, because I imagine that you are probably the only woman there?
Ms Joy Moss: That is absolutely true. There was just a sprinkling of women, probably about 20. Of course, in those days women did not join trade unions because they left school, they did a few years work, they married, they had children and they were expected to stay at home and bring them up. Anyway, I went to Congress for my union, which was then the old Association of Scientific Workers. I was about the only woman on the NEC and, because a motion was coming up on the NHS, and I was an NHS worker, I was detailed to speak to this motion.
On the morning of the day of the motion, I was in an absolute flap. One of the NEC members said, "Come on, you had better have something to help you along", and he took me out and gave me three double brandies. So, then, of course, the motion was moved and seconded. I was called, amazingly enough, next, and I thought, as I went down the aisle, "Everything is going to be all right" because in those days everybody used to talk during debates on motions. The point was that if that motion was of no interest to them, they were only interested in what was coming up and not interested in what was being said, so of course there was a general hum. As I walked up to the rostrum, I thought, "Nobody is going to bother about me. They will all be talking to each other". When I turned round and walked up to the microphone, the noise subsided and you could have heard a pin drop. I was petrified. My knees started to knock to such an extent that I was sure that everybody could hear. I read my little speech, I tottered back up the aisle to another three double brandies, and did I need them. (Applause)

Mr McCartney: Norman, I am sure that you did not join the T&G for the beer. Why did you tell us why you got involved with the union and why it is important?

Mr Norman Kennedy: I think I have played a part in it. In actual fact, I became involved with the Transport & General Workers Union along with the Labour Party at the same time with the intention of helping people less able to help themselves.
The very first Conference I attended was in this conference hall as a young lad. I came down on the Sunday. I was due to speak on the Wednesday and by Tuesday I was contemplating catching the train home. I have never been so frightened in all of my life. Moss Evans was the General Secretary of my union at that time. I happened to be in a pub with my full-time officer at that time and he said, "Norman, you look terrible. What is wrong with you?" I told him that I had to go to the rostrum on Wednesday and that I did not feel well. He said, "If you look at that fellow over there", who was Moss Evans, "he feels exactly the same as you, and look at the number of times that he gets up and speaks". I was physically sick on the Wednesday morning right outside of this hall. I came in, I went to the rostrum and that was the beginning of it. Conference is electrifying. There is nothing like Conference for getting the adrenalin running, and I have enjoyed and savoured every minute of it.
Mr McCartney: Thank you.
Jane, for the trade union Movement to continue, it needs young people to join it. You are part of that new generation. What do you, as a young person, think that the TUC should be saying and doing in connecting with young people so that they do join?

Ms Andrews: I think it goes to the very base roots of the Union, the branch meetings. When I go to the branch meetings, a lot of the members are much older than I am -- they are in their late 50s -- and a lot of places have the attitude of "This is how we have done it and this is how we are going to do it. When you are as old as us you can make the decisions." I think that you need to take the young people seriously. They do have a view. Many of the policies that are discussed affect young people, and we need to be taken seriously and listened to. Then you will recruit and retain and the Union will grow stronger.

Mr McCartney: Excellent. Thank you. (Applause) Could each of you, in 30 seconds, tell me what sort of campaigns the trade unions should now be engaged in to sell themselves to the British people? Would you tell the people listening to this debate why it is important that, if they are not in a trade union, they should join one?
Ms Moss: At the moment, I am involved with the state pensioners. I am on about five pensioner committees. Really, the way the state pensioner is being treated today is absolutely abominable. But you can get organised with us because you can join any Movement which you see around you for pensioners. We want the young people in to help us because, if things go on in the way they are going, there will not be any pension for you at all, and how do you know that you will not lose your jobs? You may have to rely on that pension. It is now £65.75 per week and it should have been over £90 per week if Margaret Thatcher had not taken us off the link with earnings and put us on to the Retail Price Index. We have lost all that amount of money since then and we want that returned to us. We want to be linked again to wages and not the Retail Price Index. (Applause)
Mr McCartney: I can see the headlines now: "Labour Minister battered by pensioner at TUC". Norman?
Mr Kennedy: I think that what ought to be on our respective union agendas is the fight against these evil, vile, right-wing Fascist and racist organisations. I am fearful of what is happening in the world today. We have seen what is happening in Germany with attacks on guest workers. We have seen what has happened in the former Yugoslavia, which is absolutely frightening, and race attacks in London. I think this should be at the top of our respective agendas. We should be going out and telling the public that we will not stand for these type of people. (Applause)

Ms Andrews: I think that children are important. I have got one myself. Everyone sitting in this room was a child and most of us have got children. I think that they need to be looked after, we can do it and that is what we need to do.

Mr McCartney: Thank you. (Applause)
I was just getting used to this interviewing business. I am watching the President with his eye on the clock. We were just getting going and the debate was getting interesting. I think you can see from the responses so far the wealth of experience, commitment and inspiration, the sense of warmth and social justice which has come through in the answers so far and the humour from my colleagues. I think we will all agree that we have three generations on the platform of the trade union family, and all of them, and I mean all of them, deserve their coveted TUC awards.
Therefore, I am now going to invite the TUC President, Hector MacKenzie, to make the awards. Colleagues, they are very deserving and worthy winners of these awards. Please show your appreciation. (Presentations made amidst applause)
The President: Thank you very much. I am sure that we all agree that that new format is excellent. I have been asked by the General Secretary to announce to Congress that Ian McCartney has been appointed as our full-time interviewer. He has passed the exam with flying colours. Thank you, Ian. (Applause)
Sir Ken Jackson (General Council), leading in on Chapter13, said: This Congress year has seen some notable anniversaries for the international trade union Movement. There is of course that of the ICFTU and you will see that from the special posters that we have distributed this morning. Bill Jordan will describe to us the challenges facing the ICFTU 50 years after its birth at the beginning of the Cold War and ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Trades Union Advisory Committee to the OECD is also 50 this year. It evolved from being the trade union focus for the Marshall Plan which helped to reconstruct Europe after the war and now it plays a key role in representing us in the context of the globalising of the economy.

The world is getting smaller faster. The development of international trade will receive a further impetus with the next round of the WTO negotiations which start in Seattle in November. I shall not elaborate on the need for core labour standards. In this context, that debate is scheduled for tomorrow. Nevertheless, I commend to you the work of the ILO in drawing up and promoting those core standards which are basic human rights.
The ILO's Director General, Dr Juan Somavia, who is here with us today, is playing a crucial role in advancing these standards. Congress, globalisation means more than the movement of goods. Capital flows are unrestrained and ideas and information can no longer be contained by lines drawn on maps. All this poses a huge challenge to the international community. We have a vast network in the United Nations family, covering in particular the WTO, the ILO, the World Bank and the IMF. The position is that too often one hand gives and the other takes away. The basic protections which the ILO provides can be negated by market imperatives of unmanaged trade.
Loans aimed at rebuilding economies can lead to abject poverty because of inflexible structural adjustment programmes.

The institutions also need to adapt. The UN Security Council, moulded during the Cold War years, has yet to reform itself in the new environment. Its job is to ensure peace and security particularly for minority peoples, but that task is too often held to ransom by unconnected considerations. That is one of the reasons why the General Council opposes Motion 95 and support the amendment. The people of Kosovo received the assistance they desperately needed. The Kurds and the Marsh Arabs in Iraq also need to be defended. The UN agrees in principle but action is needed to back this up. The General Council thinks that this is what matters irrespective of the criticisms we have heard. The people of East Timor are now going to be provided with assistance too. The current outrages cry out for immediate UN intervention. It took pressure from the big Western powers to get the Indonesians to agree to international involvement. That is the reality.

The General Council commends to you the statement it adopted on 9 September. Things have moved on a little since then but the massacres go on and they must be stopped.
Congress, there have been some positive developments during the year, and I will mention just two. In the Middle East we all welcome the agreement on implementing the "Wye" Memorandum. The TUC has already sought to encourage the trade union dimension, acting as a bridge across the communities. We have now taken the initiative of bringing together in Britain the top leaders from Histadrut and from the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions, and we hope that this will take place in November.
In Nigeria, the General Council welcomes the restoration of democracy. We applaud the development of the first trade union elections since the ban imposed by the military in 1994, and in particular that of Adam Oshiomhole as the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress.
However, whilst there have been positive developments, there have also been many set-backs. I cannot refer to them all today but I must say that the situations in Burma and Colombia are particularly shocking. The ICFTU's Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights makes grim reading. A record 119 countries are listed as perpetrators. We must be unremitting in our struggle for peace, justice and prosperity.

Congress, it would be remiss of me not to mention Northern Ireland. You will all remember the tremendous welcome that Congress gave to Mo Mowlam last year. She paid generous tribute to the trade union Movement in the Province, and I would repeat our admiration for our colleagues in the Northern Ireland Committee of the ICTU and our support in wishing to see the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. We share their disappointment and frustration in seeing the failures of meeting deadlines. The review process which started last week under the chairmanship of Senator Mitchell will be watched closely throughout the world. Violence can have no place in a democratic society. Whatever the immediate difficulties, the Good Friday Agreement opened a new period of peace and reconciliation. With our friends on the NIC, we say to all politicians: For all our sakes, make the process work.

Congress, the General Congress is keenly aware of the need for the British trade union Movement to engage itself even more in the international development issues. To increase our effectiveness, the General Council has agreed to set up an international development group so that we can encourage positive interactions in the development work carried out by many affiliated unions. There has been a significant response from unions to appeals for funds by TUCAid following a series of natural as well as man-made disasters. Unions have contributed more than £120,000 in response to appeals since the last Congress. We will, of course, maintain our full support for the Commonwealth TUC and we again urge unions to contribute to its 20th birthday appeal.
The General Council supports motion 20 on Jubilee 2000. The TUC is a member of the Campaign for the Cancellation of Bilateral Debt of the poorest countries in the world. We believe that the campaign did have an impact on the G7 Summit last June when they took a major debt relief initiative totalling $100 million, but that is not enough. We must move further than cancelling mainly unrecoverable debt. The G7 should meet again soon and agree further cancellations.
Andrew Motion spoke yesterday of liberty and catching the echo of others which ring around the rim of the world.
Congress, freedom from world poverty and basic human rights for all is the greatest price that we can aspire to. To reinforce the message of Jubilee 2000, we will now see a short video called "Drop The Debt - We Don't Want It" produced by

Comic Relief. Thank you very much.

("Drop the Debt" video shown)

Address by Mr Bill Jordan, General Secretary, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions

The President: Congress, I now have particular pleasure in calling the General Secretary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, Bill Jordan. As you all know, Bill has attended Congress many times before, but it is a particular pleasure to welcome him this year, which marks the 50th anniversary of the founding in London of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
The ICFTU has gone from strength to strength since 1949. With the end of the Cold War, the international trade union Movement has, once again, found its common cause. The ICFTU now has more affiliates in more countries than ever before.
The ICFTU has a vital role to play in standing up for working people around the world and we are proud to have Bill with us today. We look forward to hearing what you have to say to us, Bill.
Mr Bill Jordan(International Confederation of Free Trade Unions): Thank you, Chair. Brothers and Sisters, first and foremost, I would like to welcome the dramatic developments concerning East Timor, but world leaders must move swiftly on their purpose of putting together a Joint Intervention Force to restore order and stop the killing in the territory. The killing is happening now as you are sitting here!
The international community must be seen to apply the same resolute determination to protect the defenceless people of

East Timor as it showed on Kosovo.

I was in Montenegro last week and the leadership of that country told me of the importance that they and their people placed on Tony Blair's stance during the Kosovo crisis. We welcome the British Government's stated intention to act with equal decisiveness on East Timor.

The ICFTU, however, is still calling on the international community to suspend any new financial assistance to Indonesia except direct humanitarian help until there is proof positive that the Indonesian authorities intend to cooperate in ending the carnage and restoring order.

We were reluctant to take this latter step, but the fact is that until you threaten the business interests, which includes most of the Government and military in Indonesia, nothing will be done in that country.
The last time I was in Indonesia, one of the most senior businessmen in that country told me that 30% of the money of every single contract in Indonesia finishes up in the pockets of politicians and the military. This is a country which recently had 40% of its population unemployed and the poverty levels doubled within months.
Of course, peace must be followed by reconstruction in the Balkans and in Indonesia. In this regard, I would like to pay particular tribute to the exceptional contribution made by the British TUC on both of these issues in both of these crisis areas. Credit must also go to Clare Short and her department for starting to rebuild the Government's reputation on development aid and for the significant initiatives which are being taken now by the British Government, particularly in Indonesia. I am referring to humanitarian aid.
Colleagues, the ICFTU's action on East Timor is your action. The ICFTU is your international. Fifty years ago, it was here in Britain that the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions was launched, with the British TUC as its largest affiliate with nearly eight million members and the Falkland Islands Trade Union Federation with its 610 members as the smallest.

The ICFTU was to go on to become today, unchallengably, the most powerful trade union body in the world with its 125 million members in 143 countries. It has been fifty years of trade union achievement which began with the trade unionism's role in the rebuilding of a war shattered Europe. Those same trade unionists who had fought in a war for freedom from facism were not going to sit idly by while the working people in less happier lands were still denied freedom. From those early days, it was trade unionism that provided the most consistent voice and action against the tyrannies of colonialism, communism, apartheid and the numerous dictatorships which dominated the developing world.

The ICFTU's story is a story of collective determination and the exceptional courage of thousands of trade unionists around the world who sacrificed their freedom and, yes, their lives for trade unionism's cause.
But the hopes generated by the ending of the last of the tyrannies that dominated the 20th century have been cruelly overshadowed not only by mankind's seemingly inexhaustible appetite for power, conflict and exploitation but also by the emergence of new uncontrolled, immense threatening forces that will dominate the 21st Century - the forces of globalisation.
Globalisation has, for all time, ended the cosy comfortable market economy of one billion people in the developed world. Another four billion people have joined the world's market economy, and all of them are, rightly, hungry for a share of the prosperity that we for so long have taken for granted.
Those who moved first to organise and operate in this new world order have been the industrial and financial multinationals. There are 53,000 of them with a quarter-of-a-million subsidiaries, and their size, power and influence, already immense, is growing. Today's mergers are only measured in billions of dollars. Of the 100 largest economies in the world, only 49 are countries. General Motors is bigger than Denmark; Toyota is bigger than South Africa and Mitsui is bigger than Indonesia, a country with a population of 200 million.

It is not that multinationals are without their own standards or morality but that the globalisation of trade has, with its unregulated market principles, so intensified world competition that it pulls them into a cut-throat culture where lowering workplace standards is seen as a competitive edge. It is a culture that is shaping the very nature of work as secure well paid jobs give way to temporary or part-time work, often low paid. Multinationals see their global mobility as conferring a competitive advantage. Why manufacture in the developed world where labour costs range from £10 to £20 an hour when there are 150 million manufacturing workers in southern China alone whose labour costs are about 30 pence an hour and who do not have the right to join an independent union?

Brothers and sisters, the visibly widening inequality within and between nations is a grim and urgent message to the world's trade union Movement that if we want to change the dangerous direction that globalisation is taking the fight we had to establish rights and standards in the developed world must now become a global one.
Our first objective must be the establishment and application of the ILO's core labour standards in every country in the world. Juan Somavia, the new Director General of the ILO, is going to be a good champion and an ally to us in that cause.
Furthermore, we must target the international institutions, the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary

Fund and the World Bank, which are playing a crucial role in the development of globalisation. They must accept their responsibility for the world's growing inequalities that their blind promotion of a flawed free market system has engendered.

In two months time the trade union Movement, through the ICFTU, will be taking the case for reform to the World Trade Organisation at its meeting in Seattle. We will be telling them that they must answer the millions of people who are justifiably questioning the benefits of an open world economy. This, we will tell them, can only be done by incorporating fundamental workers' rights, developing countries' concerns and social development into the World Trade Organisation's system.
The problem is that social development can only grow if there is economic stability. The Asian financial crisis demonstrated in a pretty terrible way the power of the financial multinationals to shake the stability of the world's economy. The catastrophic social consequences which that crisis inflicted on Asia sent the starkest warning yet to world leaders that without regulation and standards globalisation is inherently unstable.

In two weeks time the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank meet in Washington. Today I call on the British Government and other governments at that meeting to recognise the vital importance of tackling the urgent need for reform of the world's financial system. The bitter lessons of the Asian crisis must be translated into agreement to put sensible regulation into the world's financial system. The IMF and the World Bank must be told that the social needs of development must be put at the very heart of their programmes.

Brothers and Sisters, at the beginning of the week John Monks asked you to join with him in the rebuilding of the strength of the British trade union Movement. At the ICFTU Congress next year I will be asking the leaders of 125 million trade union members to empower me to launch the process of reform of the international trade union Movement. Reform, rebuilding, at national and international level is vital if the trade union Movement is going to change the unacceptable face of globalisation.
The size and scale of the task facing the international trade union Movement -- it is facing you -- is greater than anything trade unionism has faced for almost two centuries. It will mean nothing less than the mobilising of millions of trade unionists and others in the world who will never accept a globalisation that needs (1) women to be herded into barbed wire compounds called Export Processing Zones, denied all their normal rights and forced to accept this in order to earn a living; (2) that needs 250 million children to work long hours in inhuman conditions; and (3) that needs 2 billion people to live on $2 a day so that 358 billionaires can collectively own more than the total incomes of 45% of the world's population.

Brothers and Sisters, if we are to rid the world of these grotesque inequalities and the savage indignities inflicted on millions of people that today represents a cancer growing within globalisation, it has got to evoke a response from the trade union Movement greater than anything we have done in living memory.

Globalisation may be the newest and greatest force in the world today, but trade unionism has a greater force, a force that has already changed one world revolution and will change globalisation, and that force is solidarity! Let's use it! Thank you. (Applause)

The President: Thank you. Your address this morning addresses the importance of us looking out from our own shores in this country. Rights and standards are not just a domestic issue, and thank you, Bill, for your leadership in this international movement.

Rehabilitation of torture victims and international law
The President: I now call Motion 94, Rehabilitation of torture victims and international law. The General Council support this motion.

Ms Michelle Spicer (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) moved Motion 94.
She said: Why is this motion here? Obviously we all support the motion without a second thought, but let me spend a few moments adding some reasons to our automatic condemnation of torture. I want to talk about the victims: who, and how many and where they are. I want to talk about the consequences of torture and show you how it affects all of you here today. Torture is the deliberate, systematic or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering on the orders of any authority to force another person to yield information, to make confession or for any other reason. Its purpose is to destroy the victim's humanity, identity and self respect. It produces long term physical, emotional, psychological and social problems in its victims.
It is known that a large percentage of refugees have been tortured. Studies have shown this to be up to 35 per cent or about 5 million people world wide. There is no point in asking who these victims are. They are anybody who, for whatever reason, is seen to be on the wrong side of the prevailing authorities. Not surprisingly, in many parts of the world, trades unionists, journalists and teachers are singled out for torture and persecution.

Health professionals are caught up in this violence trying to protect and care for the victims as well as being victims themselves when they refuse to carry out the torturers' instructions. This is a particular reason for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy's proposing of this motion. Physiotherapists and others in this country are treating the victims of torture every day. Some are directly treating recent refugee arrivals in the United Kingdom, a significant proportion of whom have experienced torture. Others are dealing with longer term, sometimes after, effects of abused and mal treatment years earlier. I have an 82 year old patient, a prisoner of war in Japan in 1944, for whom the nightmare experience of the camp was vividly re created when he was placed into isolation after contracting an infection following surgery. He has lived a normal untroubled life for more than 50 years but the effects of torture are still there.

As physiotherapists we are directly involved in the treatment of resultant joint deformities, pain, poor posture and walking difficulties. We are part of the multi disciplinary team committed to the rehabilitation of torture victims who require a special approach, care and considerable expertise.
So this motion is not just a pious statement, it is one that affects the working lives of people in this country. In the light of recent developments, the timing of this motion could not be more appropriate, with the situation in the Balkans still extremely fragile, the latest horrific developments in East Timor provide a critical test in which the TUC has a part to play.
A very important player in the promotion of human rights is the ILO which is the only international organisation empowered to set and defend standards for workers across the globe. For example, this year's ILO convention on child labour broke new ground. Britain has so far failed to ratify several United Nations and ILO conventions, which takes some more ethics out of our foreign policy. British law is at odds with international agreements which establish and protect basic trade union rights, despite the recent Employment Relations Act. We cannot allow the government to leave these matters here.
The continuum which begins with the failure to safeguard basic rights in the workplace ends with the tortuous freedom to degrade, debase and destroy people. Support this motion.

Ms M Simpson (UNISON) seconding the motion said: Torture has been called the twentieth century epidemic. Amnesty International estimates that over 90 countries in the world have systematically practised torture. To use a quotation from Amnesty's 1996 Stop Torture Campaign, "Torture takes place every day on every continent. It is happening to someone somewhere in the world today at this very minute."

Government failure to stop torture makes us responsible for what is happening. We are about to enter a new century. We all need to work together to make torture a thing of the past. In October 2000 Amnesty will launch a new stop torture campaign. The long term aim of this campaign is the total abolition of torture. It will focus in particular on the torture of members of vulnerable groups of people, such as the ethnic, gay and lesbian, refugees, asylum seekers, the socially deprived and the economically marginalised and people caught up in armed conflicts. This campaign requires every government, including our own, to look at their own practices. We should never assume that torture is always something that happens somewhere else. We are sure, given this government's stated commitment to defending human rights, this is something they will want to take up as a priority.

We also want the UK Government, in line with its ethical foreign policy, to set up diplomatic pressure on those states which systematically practise torture and to ensure that UK companies do not contribute to the torture trade.
Support this motion and let us stamp out this terrible practice once and for all.

* Motion 94 was CARRIED

The President: I now have great pleasure in welcoming to Congress Shahir Said, General Secretary of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions. As Ken Jackson said this morning in his lead in, the TUC is working with the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions and with Histadrut to involve trade unions in creating initiatives in Israel and Palestine. You are very welcome. (Applause).


The President: Paragraph 13.3 on Africa covers developments in South Africa, and we have all witnessed with a great deal of interest the transition to a new national leadership in that country. A new government has taken office and it is building on the democratic foundations laid down by President Nelson Mandela. That unique contribution that has been made by Nelson Mandela is recognised in very many ways, but one of these is a collection of tributes, a book of tributes which the Prime Minister, which opposition leaders, people from every section of British life, something like 300 British MPs, have contributed to and have signed.
One of the organisers of this initiative is Joan Armatrading who, as you know, is a famous singer/songwriter. She is here at Congress today and she would be delighted if leaders of delegations could add their tributes to this book which will be presented to Nelson Mandela at the Commonwealth Conference later this year in South Africa.

Asia and the Pacific

The President: Paragraph 13.5 deals with Asia and the Pacific. Delegates will have seen in recent days the reports of the dramatic developments and some of the horrors that have been taking place in East Timor. As the General Council's Report to Congress demonstrates, the TUC has been actively supporting those forces against adversity to press for democratic developments in that country. One of the foremost people in that struggle has been Dita Indah Sari. Dita a young woman, 26, has already spent three years in prison for her activities and for her beliefs. Dita was released from prison in July of this year, and we are very, very proud to have her here as a visitor to our Congress.
I think it is absolutely right that we invite her to ask her to address you this morning. I now call Dita to address Congress. I am sure you will give her very, very warm applause.

Address by Ms Dita Indah Sari, FNPBI

Ms Dita Indah Sari (FNPBI): First, on behalf of my organisation and on behalf of me personally I would like to thank you, the TUC, I would like to thank Amnesty International and I would like to thank comrades in UNISON for inviting me to Britain and for inviting me to attend this Congress. Very importantly, I would like to thank you for your campaign for my release during the last three years. I do not know if you know that I have only been out of prison for six weeks, and today was the first time I have used a typewriter in three years to type this speech.

When Suharto stepped down last year, we hoped that then the old system of dictatorship would automatically wither away and lead my country to a complete political and social reform. Unfortunately we were wrong. Although many changes have taken place, some fundamental things still remain the same: the role of the military in politics, in industrial relations, and the corrupt and collusive judicial institutions are the two main points of how until now the social transformation cannot be realised.

Our history has created a very strong political role of the army. Through all these years they tried to corrupt, intimidate and repress every possibility of building and strengthening a democratic society. The role of the military in East Timor is one of the very clear reflections of their common and general attitude to the Indonesian people.
When the Indonesian people found out that the independence movement had won the August referendum it became clear that this was not happy news for those who opposed freedom for East Timor. Some right away said that the result of the ballot was impossible and could not be trusted because they claimed -- and the Government also claim -- that it was manipulated by United Nations UNAMET. There was a huge wave of anger and protest against President Habibie for having taken the first initiative of bringing the referendum to the East Timor people.
The massive disappointment against Habibie unfortunately made the people fail to realise the essential role in East Timor, the dominant role, of the military, in providing training and arming the civil militia to side by side create terror and violence against the East Timorese. It has taken huge intensive international pressure to force the Indonesian army to invite the UN peace keeping forces, despite the deep feelings of humiliation amongst the Indonesian generals.
This is not only a victory for the East Timorese but also a victory for international solidarity. We shall not ever forget that the guilty must be brought to justice, including the ex-President General Suharto who, in 1975, decided to invade East Timor and who was in charge of all the sufferings that has been happening there.

Why can they propose to bring Milosevic to the International Court and why can that not happen to Suharto as well? We cannot make it happen to Hitler because he is dead, or maybe hiding somewhere with Eva, but we can do it to Suharto because he is there in his palace, surrounded by the army, safe and guarded by the army. Why can we not do it to bring justice, to bring mistaken people to justice before the international court?

This whole question of East Timor comes at a crucial period in which the Indonesian people can learn about the true historical reality of East Timor which has been totally manipulated for 23 years by the Indonesian Government. Through all these years, unfortunately, all the while the IMF and the World Bank keep on, continuing, giving money to the Suharto regime.
This whole case of massive torture and suffering finally must create a new perspective among the leaders in developed countries regarding their attitude towards the militaristic regimes in developing countries. This oppressive role creates a long and hard way for the democratic movement of which the trade union is a party to winning democracy. The arms, guns and weapons of the Indonesian military are not only carried to torture the people in East Timor but also in Aceh, West Papua, and to shoot the workers, students and the urban poor when they march on the streets.
It is impossible for trades unions to try to improve the economic conditions of the working class unless there is a complete freedom from fear amongst trades unionists so that they can organise and carry out their activities in peace and freedom.
So we thank you in advance for the solidarity which you will show by putting pressure on your government to stop at last, after years, selling arms to the Indonesian Government and to the other oppressive regimes in the world. It is necessary to make sure that in the future it will not happen again: it will not happen again in Chile, it will not happen again in Burma, trades unions must play a more important role in controlling the government.

It is very important to define again the position of the trade union Movement in Indonesian society. It is not only how we can build a strong independent and mass based union but also to work together with the other existing trades unions. The question is not any more about competition, but definitely about cooperation, because we not only have to face the employers that are ready to take profit from the workers as much as possible, but also to face the militaristic government who most of the time become the tools of the employers.

That is why we welcome very warmly the ILO project which the TUC proposed to help build free trade unions in Indonesia.
I would like to give some reflections about my experience when I was in prison. When I was there I wrote a letter to my friend, Wilson, who was also in prison. It was a very comforting letter because I tried to comfort him during our time in prison. I told Wilson that Suharto made a big mistake when he decided to put us democracy activists in jail, like me and the others. He made a big mistake. He thought that putting the democratic activists in jail means it will weaken the strength of the democracy movement; he thought he had won the first time. But instead of making us more weak he makes us stronger, because when we were in the prison it means he created a little lion during our stay in the prison for three years, for five years; that little lion grows quickly. We have time, that little lion has time, to sharpen the nails and the teeth and when the lion was finally released the nails and the teeth were already sharp. That is why Suharto may create a bigger and stronger enemy than before. Suharto creates a painful memory among the Indonesian people that finally led them in May 1998 to overthrow him. So he did make a big mistake. It is not a victory for him, but a victory for the democracy movement.

Since I have been out of prison, lots of people have said that what I have done is very inspiring, the struggle and all the fighting that I have done. For me it is not a big deal because we are in the situation that we do not have another choice. We can keep silent and continue life as safe as possible, but we also can say no to the government and end up in jail or somewhere else. So for me it is just a matter of the choice that I have to make in that situation. All the admiration that we have been receiving I would like to dedicate it to my friends who are still in jail. I would like to dedicate to our friends in Indonesia who are still kidnapped, that are still missing without knowing their fate, and I would like to dedicate all the admirations and the joys that I have here to the Indonesian workers that are still suffering with a very low wage and with a very low respect for their rights to form free trade unions and to express their political expressions.

I would like to thank you for giving me the chance to speak in front of you, and I hope that we can start to build more practical international relations in the future and that we can also control our government so as not to make the same mistakes again as they did before. Thank you. (Standing ovation)

The President: Thank you very much for that address, Dita. We all salute your bravery. You know that you have the full support of Congress and all of our good wishes. We will be following very closely indeed what is happening in your country and continuing to work for democracy there. Thank you very much indeed again.

Share with your friends:
  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8

The database is protected by copyright © 2019
send message

    Main page