As I write, on Dec. 19, the Ukraine is once again riven by national strife, fueled, as always, by rival imperial powers. On the other hand, just two months ago, Kiev was host to an historic international gathering of workers’ organizations from four formerly Soviet nations that proposed a very different future.
The Nov. 2-3, 2013, New Trade Unions and the Democratic Left Conference was organized by the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU), the Russian Confederation of Labour (KTR), the Belorussian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions (BKDP), the Confederation of Trade Unions of Georgia (KPG), the Global Labour Institute, and the Praxis Research and Education Center of Moscow.
“New Trade Unions” refers to workers’ organizations that are independent of both the old government-controlled Soviet unions and the U.S.-sponsored AFL-CIO-type unions the CIA attempted to implant in the early 1990s. Their orientation is radical rather than reformist. Alexei Gusev, radical historian and chair of Praxis, which I co-founded in 1997, reports below.
The Kiev conference was really a breakthrough. For the first time a meeting co-organized by Praxis was so representative—more than 200 people with strong trade unionist participation and leaders of the national free unions confederations openly expressing their democratic Left political orientation! Such events make us feel that our work is not in vain.
The conference also demonstrated the development of a new independent labor movement in Ukraine represented by the Confederation of Free Trade Unions, which is now very active in huge democratic-revolutionary movements against “Putinization” of that country, a movement that most of the political “Left,” still influenced by Stalinism, shamefully distanced themselves from or even attacked.
—Alexei Gusev, www.praxiscenter.ru