Time for a Cuban Connection
Bickerton, Geoff, Canadian Dimension
"If the governments of the region can meet, which we welcome, then how can it not be possible for the representatives of the working people to meet, exchange ideas and coordinate contacts?" Pedro Ross Leal, Secretary General, Central Organization of Cuban Trade Unions.
The passage of the Helms-Burton Bill and the escalation of the American economic and political assault on Cuba requires a significant response from the trade union movement.
The 1996 CLC convention broke important new ground in this regard. In addition to supporting Cuba's right to self-determination, the convention called upon the Congress to "encourage all affiliates to strengthen solidarity ties with their counterparts in the Cuban trade union movement."
The solidarity ties must go far beyond exchange of delegations of trade union leaders. Worker-to-worker exchanges and solidarity projects, involving large numbers of local trade union members, are the greatest weapons we have against the efforts of the Right to isolate and marginalize the Cuban revolution.
Some suggestions for local trade union activists include:
Twinning locals: building a direct relationship with Cuban counterparts in the same sector promotes worker to worker exchanges and the development of long-term relationships. For example, CUPW now has five locals twinned with locals of the Cuban Postal and Telecommunications Workers Union, and more are planned. It works.
Worker-to-worker exchanges: organize a trip to Cuba. Invite Cuban speakers to meetings, educationals and conferences. Ask to attend their meetings.
Pressure international trade union bodies: almost all Canadian unions are affiliated to international trade union secretariats of the ICFTU. These bodies must be pressured to invite Cuban participation at seminars and conferences. Canadian locals of American-based international unions have a right to demand that their international union recognize the right of Cuba to self-determination. It's time to put right-wingers in the American labour movement on the defensive. …