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September 19, 2012

CLAC joins global organization

Delegates at a Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC) national convention in Vancouver last week voted to join the World Organization of Workers'(WOW), after being suspended from the world's largest trade union confederation.

“We put it to our members, from across the country, about withdrawing from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and they voted unanimously to withdraw,” said CLAC executive director Dick Heinen.

“The reason for the vote is how we have been treated by the ITUC. We have not been dealt with fairly and think the leadership acted without integrity. They are just not a good fit for us. We will be sending them a notice that says we are withdrawing our membership.”

CLAC held its national stewards conference and national union convention Sept. 12-14.

During the convention, several hundred delegates voted to join WOW, a Social Christian trade union that finds inspiration in the spiritual belief man and the universe were created by God.

The vote was decided by a show of hands by CLAC delegates, who were elected from local boards or were members of the national board.

At the same time, CLAC was also the Canadian host for the WOW Congress in Burnaby.

“The motion at the World Organization of Workers’ Congress was to accept our membership into the organization,” said Heinen.

He was elected WOW vice president representing North America.

“Our participation will be immediate and we will be cultivating closer relationships in Central and South America, including groups in Venezuela, Peru and Mexico,” he said.

WOW is a confederation of more than 130 member unions and federations in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and North America.

At the request of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), CLAC’s membership in the ITUC was suspended in September 2011.

CLC president Ken Georgetti accused CLAC of having policies and business practices that undermine the conditions of workers in Canada and hinder the organizing activities of CLC affiliated unions.

For example, CLAC is accused of negotiating collective agreements that are inferior compared to those obtained by traditional unions.

In response, CLAC argued the suspension was based on false allegations and the proceedings of the ITUC’s general council resembled a kangaroo court.

They maintain that the ITUC was predisposed to an anti-CLAC position and disregarded CLAC’s entire defense.

In addition, CLAC argued that the adversarial relationship between traditional trade unions and employers is too militant and confrontational.

Instead, CLAC prefers a partnership approach, which involves a more co-operative relationship with employers.

As a result of this ideological rift, CLAC is more comfortable developing a relationship with WOW, which shares the same values.

“We will have to see what synergies arise in terms of our day to day activities, but we have common principles and values with WOW,” said Heinen.

The ITUC was formed in 2006 in a merger between the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions with the World Confederation of Labour (WCL).

As a member of the WCL, CLAC automatically became a member of the ITUC.

CLAC joined the WCL In 1987.

WOW is made up of a group of unions that decided not to join the ITUC in 2006.

The organization is a Christian trade union federation founded in 1921 in Luxembourg under the name of World Confederation of Clerical Workers (WFCW).

Later, it joined the International Federation of Christian Trade Unions (IFCTU), which renamed itself the World Confederation of Labour (WCL) in 1968.

CLAC was established in February, 1952 by Dutch immigrants and is based on the European model of Christian labour unions, which stress the principles of social justice and charity as taught in the Bible.

The ITUC is the world’s largest labour union confederation representing 175 million workers in 155 countries.

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