Why is International Workers’ Solidarity Necessary?

From Europe to Asia, Latin America to the Middle East, all around the world, workers’ struggles are on the increase. Everywhere these struggles point out to working class’ anger growing against injustices and exploitation. Also in Turkey, reactions are continuing against low wages, restrictions on the freedom to organise, sackings, contracting-out, usurpation of gained rights and the bans on the right to strike. Workers who were sacked for trying to unionize against low wages and unbearable working conditions, are not going back their homes. In BEDAŞ, TEDAŞ, TOGO, THY, Hey Textile, Billur Salt, Çapa Hospital, workers who were sacked for claiming their rights keep the fight on.

Workers’ struggles in different countries show that these struggles should not be kept in one workplace or in one country but gain an international dimension. Workers must unite on an international scale. Globalised capitalism spread the production over the world scale much more than the past. Giant monopolies are not making production in just one country. A company which is based in Europe or the USA is simultaneously making production in China, Turkey or any country of the Middle East. Therefore it is not enough for workers to get united and fight to get their rights in only one country; for workers to be successful, they must gain the support of the workers working in other workplaces in other countries. To succeed against their bosses and achieve their all demands, the Japanese workers in Toyota, the French workers in Renault or the Italian workers in Fiat, must gain the support of the workers working in other plants of these companies in other countries. At first sight, to achieve the international solidarity of workers may seem difficult. But, rain or shine, every worker must act with this consciousness; this is imperative. Moreover, when the workers’ unions do their job, it will seem that to achieve the international solidarity of the working class is not so difficult.

Let’s give an actual example: the AKP government banned the right to strike in aviation sector. To struggle against to this ban, aviation workers went into action and succeeded in stopping hundreds of flights. This act which went on just one day, determined the agenda and alarmed the government. In the day of action, European unions said that “if there will be Turkish airplanes landing in our countries in violation of the strike, we will not let them go back.” Even this little example of international workers’ solidarity shows how important the unity of the world working class is.

We experienced one of the best examples of international solidarity in UPS Cargo. There, the workers who were sacked because of unionization and started an unofficial strike were not left alone by their class brothers/sisters from all around the world and were supported by solidarity actions. In these actions demands such as reinstating the sacked UPS workers, recognition of the union and stopping of injustices were voiced.  The actions organized by the affiliate unions of International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have been so widespread to include countries like ABD, Argentina, Germany, Lithuanian, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Jordan, Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan. In some of these countries workers paralyzed the UPS buildings, in some places they expressed their anger to UPS representatives, in some places they picketed in front of the UPS centres. The workers from tens of countries who took part in these actions, did not know the UPS workers in Turkey in person, they were not Turks or Muslims. Workers form an international class with common interests; regardless of their religions, languages and countries, they are members of the same class in the face of bosses. International workers’ support played a great role in reinstating the sacked UPS workers and recognition of the union by the boss.

UİD-DER (Association of International Workers’ Solidarity), as its name suggests, defend solidarity of the working class on both national and international level. Getting stuck in one country does not strengthen workers, rather it makes them weaker. Acting with this consciousness, UİD-DER is trying to strengthen international workers’ solidarity. That UID-DER took part in the signature campaign launched by Japanese workers’ unions to shut down nuclear power stations, that it organized a campaign to stop repression of Iranian working class in Iran, that it spread the campaign against banning of the right to strike in aviation industry over international level, are all very significant. But this effort itself will not be enough. There is a great role to play by unions in achieving international workers’ solidarity. International rule of capital does not only make the problems of the working class common, but it also make the solutions common.


[The original Turkish version of this article was published in UİD-DER’s monthly bulletin, İşçi Dayanışması (Workers’ Solidarity) issue no:52]

15 July 2012