The international Meeting of Workers Against Neoliberal Globalization, held in Havana, Cuba, on August 6-8, 1997, with the participation of 1,312 leaders of 400 unions, as well as representatives of political, social, intellectual and academic organizations, from 61 countries:

PERSUADED that neoliberal globalization is a new moment in the development of capitalism characterized by economic concentration in the hands of transnational corporations, which, in its search for competitiveness and cost effectiveness, are trying to cut back, by all possible means, the cost of labor.

This strategy, supported by the most powerful States and international institutions, such as the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, is based on concentrated economic growth which entails a social cost both for the South and the North, with a more serious impact on the conditions of inequality and exclusion affecting the poorer countries;

NOTING that the concentration and globalization of capital is the main cause of the worsening of unemployment, poverty, marginalization and social disintegration in the world, particularly in the underdeveloped countries, and which further prevents accelerated technological transformations from fostering greater welfare of the masses of the people in the advanced countries and the development of the poor nations;

AWARE of the fact that all men and women are, by virtue of their nature, equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights; that governments are instituted for the common good, protection and safety of the peoples, nations and the world population at large; that no man or group of men is entitled to perceive from global society any exclusive or special privileges; that any democratic power is inherent to the majorities and, therefore, stems from said majorities; that democracy to which the peoples and heroes aspire the world over through the peoples' liberating struggles, is a democracy of the people's decisive participation and social justice; that this spiritual and political legacy of the forefathers of real democracy - which we proudly proclaim ourselves heirs and standard bearers - is under a threat of death by neo- liberalism, which blocks any room to the people's participation and transparency.;

VERIFYING that the changes introduced in the capitalist system at a time when globalization is accelerated, accompanied and fostered by the neoliberal doctrine, have entailed, inter alia, that some twenty developed countries, with only one fourth of the world population, concentrate around three fourths of the world's revenues, total trade and loan flows, and even the consumption of raw materials and natural resources; or, what is still more disproportionate and unfair, recognizing that the seven richest countries in the world - the so-called G-7 - alone possess 66% of the gross product and revenues of the planet;

CONSIDERING that neoliberal globalization has extended the implementation of drastic structural adjustment programs that presuppose indiscriminate exposure and deregulation of labor, trade and financial markets, the restructuring of national States and the creation of great regional economic blocs, with the aim of subordinating things public to private interest and, in particular, things public and national to things private and transnational, and that these circumstances have imposed on quite a few counties and exposed many others to the concept of limited sovereignty and to the ever-more frequent implementation of supranational mechanisms of a coercive and extraterritorial nature;

ASSESSING the inhuman social cost exacted by the implementation of the neoliberal model, which has already impoverished entire countries and geographical areas, separating man from the land, his major means of production, while jeopardizing labor, increasing unemployment, part-time jobs and underemployment intensifying and lengthening work shifts, fostering the use of child labor, entrenching gender inequality and the discrimination against women, decreasing real wages, deteriorating pensions and social security benefits, reducing access to public services and distorting the purpose for which they were created, and, ultimately, substantially redefining capital/labor balance, always in favor of capital, even to the detriment of the workers' health;

CORROBORATING that the implementation of this model has led in the past few years to an insufficient unstable and concentrating economic growth, in favor of the financial sector and has failed to solve the social and economic crisis, this being particularly evident in an accelerated increase of unemployment that in addition to having reached unsustainable levels in the underdeveloped countries, is already affecting, to an alarming extent, the developed countries;

NOTING that the trade union movement is being particularly hard hit in terms of its numbers and might by the prevailing economic, social and political context, mirroring the fragmentation and stratification of the working class, and the change in the balance of power that has taken place in recent years with the disappearance of the Soviet Union and Socialism in Central and Eastern Europe. Likewise, that the transnational corporations, in order to increase their profits, restrict their right to organize and negotiate collective labor agreements, and that to facilitate greater exploitation, are bent on relaxing or doing away with the regulations that govern social and environmental labor conditions and, consequently, relaxing or doing away the democratic control of the State;

DEFENDING unity and joint action to hasten the launching of alternative projects against neo- liberal globalization from a position of commitment to the interests of the nations and their workers"., to the struggle for human and union rights, justice, social equity, a genuinely representative and participative democracy, peace and development on a world scale,

CALLS ON the trade union movement in all countries, intellectuals, farmers, women; pensioned and refired workers, the handicapped, senior citizens, and, in particular, youth and students; the business sector, threatened by growing transnationalization and superconcentration of capital; religious movements linked to their peoples and concerned over the poverty and moral degradation implicit in the most absolute submission to market laws and wild capitalism; ecologists, community organizations, the new social actors who are also victims of the exploitation, despair and frustration engendered by a doctrine whose philosophy can be summarized as "good business is the only true ethics."

IN VIEW OF THIS REALITY and in the context of a growth and expansion of the resistance by workers and the peoples to the brutal neoliberal offensive--strikes and demonstrations against unemployment, the electoral defeat of openly neoliberal alliances-- it is imperative that we draw up a minimum program to confront the causes and the consequences of neoliberal globalization, passing from analysis to action, from dispersed resistance to a united and organized offensive, and we, therefore,



1. Lending continuity to this established and pluralistic dialogue, open to all workers and union and social movements that oppose the universalization of a dehumanizing doctrine, exclusive and dangerously attempting against the nature and the foundations of international coexistence.

2. Demanding the holding, before the end of the century, of a World Summit on employment, wages and working conditions of the workers, both formal and informal, urban and rural, sponsored by the United Nations and with a broad campaign of preparation and participation of trade unions throughout the world.

3. Convening regular meetings, continental and regional gatherings, as well as national forums to promote coordination and solidarity actions, that could include the creation of funds in the countries to support and assist workers engaged in strikes and other demonstrations of resistance to privatization, unemployment and other attacks on the working class, and the exchange of views and options against neo- liberal globalization and its political, economic and social tenets.

4. Putting in place mechanisms for the exchange of the most updated and truthful information among all trade union and social organizations, existing data centers and academic institutions. Organizing national, subregional and regional days against neoliberal globalization and declaring May First as a day to commemorate an international day of struggle against neoliberalism.

5. Working out formulas that will increasingly harmonize the interests, methods of struggle and organizational modalities of the unemployed workers and those in the informal sector, as well as of refired and pensioned workers, with trade union organizations and their affiliates.

6. Denouncing, by all possible means, the inhuman and brutal exploitation of child labor, as well as child pornography and prostitution, trade in children for adoption or in the use of their Vital organs, and all trends and manifestations of child destitution and abuse, first and foremost the extended negotiation of access to education and medical assistance.

7. Struggling for the full rights of working women, against sexual harassment and abuse in the work place; for their right to motherhood without limitations; for their access to jobs, labor training and wages under equal terms; against the discrimination against older women and the overexploitation of the work of adolescents.

8. Exacting actual respect for the rights wrested by the workers from capital after many years of arduous struggle, rights that have been recognized by international organizations and other rights enshrined by national legislation and traditions, which are now, however, being violated, disregarded or ignored to suit the flexibility and deregulation of the labor market, often with the complicity of the judicial system. Denouncing and forcefully confronting the persecutions, detentions, torture and murders that unionists are the object of in many countries; and demanding their due protection.

9. Defending the principle of the self-determination, independence and sovereignty of nations, the right of the peoples to their own juridical system, and to the protection of their cultural identity against foreign impositions. This is because it is imperative to denounce colonialism as an instrument of capital that should be combated and eliminated. Particularly to support the life and development of indigenous communities which are increasingly under attack today by the actions of transnational enterprises and their national associates.

10. Demanding the democratization of the United Nations, particularly,the Security Council, an organ whose membership should be expanded to include developing countries among its permanent members, as well as the elimination of the antidemocratic veto power, now wielded by only five countries, and its subordination to the General Assembly, made up by 185 States. In the context of this demand, reinforcing its institutional action in favor of social development and at the same time strengthening and democratizing the role and the means of the associated organizations in union and social activities.

1 1. Rejecting the practice of privatization, which places the national heritage in the hands of the transnationals, fosters,unemployment and underemployment and sanctions the criteria of competitiveness and maximum cost effectiveness even for purely social activities, such as health services, education, social security and others.

12. Propounding, vis A vis the unheard-of pervasiveness of neoliberal privatizations, the need to strengthen the role of the State, particularly in dependent countries, in economic activities and its intrinsic and essential responsibility in all processes affecting the quality of life of the peoples. We believe that strengthening national States against the privatizing and denationalizing wave is imperative to struggle for the genuine participation of the workers and trade unions, together with other people's sectors, in the preparation, implementation and control of decisions connected with the economic and social development of their respective countries, impeding all interference and domination arising from the centers of global power.

13. Increasingly demand the establishment of an atmosphere of peace and the implementation of disarmament programs and their consistent linkage with real, self-sustainable development, through the rechanneling of a significant share of the bulky military appropriations to the eradication of poverty and development assistance for the most backward nations, to the dissolution of military blocs, dismantling of foreign military bases and the return of these territories to their respective countries.

14. Unmasking the unpayable and unfair external debt as a mechanism to rob the underdeveloped world of its wealth, as evidenced by the present amount of the debt - now equal to the amount paid over the past ten years - which continues to grow with every passing year.

15. Denouncing the iniquitous exploitation of the work of migrants and calling for positive changes in the legislation of the host countries, as well as for the conclusion of official bilateral agreements that will lay down and ensure the labor and social rights of migrant workers. Rejecting xenophobic and racist practices against migrant workers which also strongly affect men and women in some developed countries, and encouraging, amid the working class in the host countries, feelings of solidarity and support for their doubly exploited, abused and destitute brothers and sisters.

16. Rejecting the manipulation of the accelerated technological development as an excuse for mass layoffs, underemployment and increasingly intense, lengthier and more exhausting work shifts; struggling for shorter shifts that will favor employment and for remunerations commensurate with increases in labor productivity.

17. Maintaining that the trade union movement must be linked to the political struggles of the respective nations, without renouncing its institutional autonomy, but supporting and joining forces with all movements that challenge the practices and doctrines of neoliberal globalization from the political, social and economic points of view.

18. Conquering and developing alternative communication spaces and media as an option to the cultural and information manipulation fostered by the wave of neoliberal globalization and which, quite frequently, turns its victims into unwitting accessories of their own aggressors. Defending State media against privatization and transnational control of messages, while advocating their democratization.

Using international communication networks. and all possible means to convey to the workers and the masses at large an educational message regarding the true designs and consequences of neoliberal globalization, a message proposing solidarity against selfishness, unity against atomization, hope against nihilism, a spirit of struggle against conformity, vindication of the working class against the ideological offensive that attempts to undermine its significance and historical perspective in the processes that make for human development

19. Confronting the process of globalization of world economy from labor positions, in full respect of national independence, by promoting a movement in favor of fair interdependence, favorable to all the countries.


To this end, it becomes necessary to:

transform the structures of the present trade and financial order, which promotes the unequal exchange that is increasingly ruining Third World producers.

adopt measures to control and regulate prevalent destabilizing speculation flows and prioritize the rechanneling of resources to production development.

replace present neoliberal adjustment policies by others that, making use of the resources allotted to the servicing of the external debt and of part of the large profits of the transnational corporations, will make it possible to incorporate technologies to improve manpower efficiency, competitiveness and skills in many countries whose economies are dramatically removed from those of the small group of nations that make up the so-called First World.

develop regional and sub-regional unity and integration as a means to strengthen the bargaining power of some countries vis a vis others and have it serve equally all the countries that are part of that integration and not the interests of the transnational corporations, whose actions and participation must be controlled.

put an end to the irresponsibility and impunity which seriously and irreversibly damages ecology, whose imbalance threatens human e)existence. neoliberal globalization has proved its inability to solve this issue and, conversely, has turned into a more ant-ecological system with each passing day and, hence, inviable and hostile to the ends of humankind.


20. Proposing a development model focusing on the human being through:

economic policies that foster more and better jobs, since in some countries this would involve agrarian reform and the application of Convention 158 of the OTI.

increased salaries and income for both formal and informal workers sufficient to cover the basic necessities of life

a reaffirmation of collective negotiations as a mechanism for regulating capital/labor relations

a Social and International Charter enshrining the fundamental rights of male and female workers, based on compliance with ILO international agreements that contain and call for fulfillment of all fundamental rights of workers

the shortening of the work shift with the same wages

substantial increases in health, education, social security and housing budget appropriations

winning policies to prevent accidents and occupational illnesses in the function of effectively protecting the life and health of workers.


21. Fostering communication between workers and their unions, within specific economic sectors and branches and within the multinational corporations for which they work by means of reinforced rights of information and meeting for workers and their unions, within the same companies as well as on the continental and international level.

22. Establishing a co-sponsoring group to organize our next meeting on the most convenient date, and to exchange new information and experiences, linked with some of the actions expressed in this document.

In pledging our commitment to the above, we, the participants in this meeting, are aware that their dissemination and implementation cannot be delayed as we enter the third millennium with new and encouraging victories in the struggle to rebuild national unity, renewing our internationalist endeavors in solidarity with all those who, in the world, have been excluded and impoverished by neoliberal globalization. In this sense, the participants in the Conference declare our sympathy and solidarity with the XIV Festival of Youth and Students, recently celebrated in Cuban territory with more than 12,000 representatives of 131 countries.

Also the Conference wishes, as a large number of the delegates have charged, to condemn the North American government for the criminal blockade and economic, political and diplomatic war that it wages against the heroic Cuban people. Therefore we call on all progressive forces in the world, as explained in the Resolution we have adopted on this issue, to demonstrate by all possible means their solidarity with Cuba and to oppose the imperial attempt to erase by force the example of independence and social justice that Cuba represents.


Return to top of page L.A. Labor News home page