French trade unions plan workers’ convoy to Ukraine

Simon Pirani looks at growing links with Ukranian trade unions.


Solidaires, a French trade union confederation, is organising a convoy to take aid to workers’ organisations in Ukraine.

“We know that the real victims of war are the people, the working people”, a statement from Solidaires says. It is Ukrainian workers who are under attack today, but “it could be us tomorrow”.

Solidaires is appealing for cash donations from union organisations to buy whatever Ukrainian union organisations need. A list of necessaries – from medical equipment to bulletproof vests – is being drawn up by activists in Kyiv, mainly from affiliates of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (CFTUU) and the Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine (FTUU).

Solidaires is a syndicalist union grouping, also known as Solidaires Unitaires Démocratiques (SUD), with strong links to anti-capitalist movements.

Solidaires is made up of federations of national, local and regional unions; it was formed in 2003 but has roots going much former back. It began with strong organisations among postal and telecoms workers in particular, but is also very active in the health care, education, transportation and other sectors.

Trade union convoys for the working people of Ukraine

Statement by Solidaires – please copy and circulate. (French original here.)

The Solidaires union is taking part in the organisation of union aid convoys for Ukraine. We are working on this project together with other trade unions organisations in France and with the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle.

Why union aid convoys?

As unionists, we are committed to defend workers, regardless of who they are or from where they come.

Why in Ukraine?

Our solidarity is, and has always been, international, because we know that the real victims of war are the people, the working people, and that it could be us tomorrow. We have expressed this internationalist solidarity on many other occasions. Today, Ukraine is being attacked militarily.

Aid convoys for whom?

We are raising funds for trade unions and workers in Ukraine and we will make purchases according to their needs. For now, we are not collecting any material goods. We act at the request of the local unions. Any and all funds raised will go to them, since the logistics of the convoys will be financed from our own funds. We will meet the local unionists in person if possible. On our return, we will report on the amounts received, the actions undertaken and the people met.

How can you help?

The “Convoi syndical” association, which has already taken part in many solidarity actions, is hosting the donations. Unions, union branches, unionists or individual workers can either:

make a cheque payable to “Convoy syndical” and send to  Solidaires, 31 rue de la Grange aux belles, 75010 Paris (please write “convoys syndicaux” on the envelope)

or make a transfer to the Convoi syndical association bank account: 2796496A020 La Banque Postale, France.

Ukrainian unions call for boycott

call for workers’ organisations internationally to boycott deliveries of Russian fossil fuels was made last week by the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (CFTUU).

“We, Ukrainian trade unions, call upon you for solidarity and help in stopping unloading Russian fossil fuels in European ports”, the CFTUU says. “We are grateful to all our trade union brothers and sisters for refusing to upload Russian fossil fuels.

“We believe that European trade unions can play a decisive role in cutting this war’s bloodline at its root and help Ukraine in concrete terms.”

from the CFTUU web site

All three main union groupings in Ukraine (the CFTUU, FTUU and the All-Ukrainian Union of Workers Solidarity) have appealed jointly to the International Trade Union Confederation to suspend membership of a Russian trade union federation that supported official celebrations of the Russian occupation of parts of Ukraine.

In a letter to Sharan Burrow, the three Ukrainian groupings pointed out that the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR) was among the organisers of the rally on 18 March at the Luzhniki sports arena, at which Russian president Vladimir Putin and others made warmongering speeches.

The rally was held to mark the anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea – “at a time when Ukrainian cities, towns and villages were continuously bombed and children and civilians were killed”, the letter stated.

This, and public FNPR support for Russian government threats to nationalise assets of companies who abandoned the Russian market, rendered worthless statements by FNPR leaders about the need for “diplomatic efforts” to end the war, the Ukrainian trade unions argued.

UK unity effort

In the UK, Labour party members and others are working to put together a new anti-war coalition around the demands “Russian troops out of Ukraine! No to war! Refugees welcome here!” The film maker Ken Loach is among the signatories of an appeal for the broadest possible unity around these slogans.

These unity efforts have been spurned, predictably, by the Stop the War coalition, which has complained that the appeal does not include reference to NATO, despite the fact that the murderous onslaught on Ukraine is being conducted exclusively by the Russian army.

Source > People and Nature

Hear Simon speak to our ACR public meeting on Thursday evening together with Yuliya Yurchenko and Andy Kilmister.

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