We must be united in solidarity to defeat capitalist exploitation, CBTU President tells African workers

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By Michael Oche

Only through unity and solidarity can workers across the world be able to tackle the various challenges of exploitation and poor working environment confronting them, Terry Melvin, President of the Coalition of Black trade unionists, CBTU, has said.

Melvin, who made the call in his address to the 5th Ordinary Congress of ITUC-Africa holding in Nairobi, Kenya, called for the building of bridges for true change and tangible justice for workers.

“We find commonality in our struggle and solidarity in our challenges. There is no cure that doesn’t necessitate true solidarity between us, our nations and our unions. Only together, sisters and brothers and comrades. Can we solve this global problem,” Melvin said.

The CBTU President said big businesses want workers to stand divided, noting that “We are living in a capitalistic global economy where the dollar is more valuable than the life generating the profit. We live in an age where wealth at the expense of others is applauded. Where individualism is promoted over communalism, where the common good only stands in the way of personal wealth.”

He, however, called on workers to be united, saying that: “let me be clear with my words. I want to make sure that it is translated correctly. Capitalism and corporate greed are the cancer that is killing our society. The force that is raging, ravaging our resources, the stimulus that is destroying our families, the storm that is eroding our social structure. And there is no remedy to this that doesn’t require us to be united.

He noted that victory for workers across the world cannot be won without unity, adding that “there is no victory without the majority. There is no liberation as long as someone is shackled. There is no success as long as others are left behind.”

While sharing the struggle for workers in America and its implications for workers in other continents, he said, “what I saw was that whatever gain we made in the US, became a hardship for another nation.

“Every raise my members got through a contract somehow coincided with Labour strife in another country. I realised that they were robbing Peter to pay Paul and that is why I’m here today. There can be no change that rises without a rising tide. There is no way to bring down a multinational corporation without a multinational approach. If we are not one, we are but a tiny many, scattered fragments to be victimised by the changing winds with no ground.”

He said as a pan-African organisation, ITUC-Africa must lead the charge for change by uniting workers across the continent.

He said, “We speak for the people on behalf of the people. And there is no greater place for this than the ITUC-Africa. Here is where the real fight remains, where Naked Capitalism is vulgar and exploitative, where the richest nations of the word continue to pilfer and rot and destroy.

“Africa is the land that created us all. If we do not do it here, we can’t do it anywhere. If it doesn’t rise here, it won’t exist in any other land. If it can’t fly in Africa, it’s grounded everywhere else in the world.”