June 25, 2012—In a historic step for global labor solidarity, three global union federations came together this week to form IndustriALL Global Union, uniting 50 million workers across the supply chain. IndustriALL combines affiliates of the International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF), the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), and the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF).
IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina, who was the general secretary of the IMF, told the 1,400 delegates to the founding congress in Copenhagen, Denmark, that they were joining “an extraordinary new family of heroes.” He outlined a 10-point plan—later passed as a resolution—aimed at ensuring IndustriALL support for affiliates, especially those in the front line of human rights and worker rights struggles.
Raina saluted the many Arab sisters and brothers at the congress who participated in the Arab Spring. In particular he pointed to Hashmeya Muhsin Hussein, the leader of the Iraqi Electricity Utility Workers Union, a longtime Solidarity Center partner.
Raina also recognized the repression and struggle of Los Mineros, the Mexican mine workers union and Solidarity Center partner whose president, Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, was elected to the IndustriALL executive committee. Gómez Urrutia congratulated the delegates on IndustriALL’s founding via video from Canada, where has been exiled since 2006 because of persecution by the Mexican government.
Recognizing that precarious work is on the rise across all sectors, affiliates resolved to support a global campaign to STOP Precarious Work, which draws upon existing campaigns led by ITGLWF, ICEM, and IMF with the aim of promoting equal treatment for precarious workers. Delegates also passed resolutions in support of the Fijian labor movement and Spanish miners.
Raina told the delegates that the creation of IndustriALL comes at a crucial time. "IndustriALL is a recognition of the increasing integration of global capital,” he said. “The increasingly related supply chains across different industries means union members need a stronger global voice.”
In addition to Raina, delegates elected IMF President Berthold Huber as president of IndustriALL. Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and also a member of the Solidarity Center Board of Trustees, was elected vice president, along with Senzeni Zokwana, president of the National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa and ICEM, and Hisanobu Shimada, president of ITGLWF.