Dear readers of Marksist Tutum and worker friends,
On the occasion of the launching meeting of our association, the UID-DER (the Association of International Workers’ Solidarity), we would like to share our excitement, enthusiasm and happiness with you as well as impressions from the meeting. It was on “the General Resistance of 15-16 June” and organized by our association which opened its eyes a short while ago.
36 years ago on 15-16 June Istanbul was shaken. Workers stood up and showed an enormous class response against attempt to destroy their union. Power was cut off in factories, streets were joyful with workers. Two big hot days were experienced. 15-16 June was a peak from the point of view of class struggle in this land. Bosses had not seen such a day ever.
And who remembers those days now? Most workers of young generation are not aware of their class identity and history of struggle. Yet its class memory is a source of encouragement to struggle for the working class. We have to be organized in order to protect our rights gained through struggle, gain new rights and open the road to struggle. And now we wholeheartedly believe that our association which we built on our work over many years through Workers Self-education Groups will carry us forward on this road.
The launching meeting of our association took place on 25 June with a turnout of around 600 worker brothers and sisters from various factories, neighborhoods and towns. Apart from workers’ representatives from various union branches, there were people like Sebahat Türkler, widow of Kemal Türkler (the founding leader of DISK), Süleyman Üstün who dedicated many years of his life to the education of the working class and workers representatives from Europe to extend international workers’ solidarity messages.
The opening speech of the general secretary of our association came after the enthusiasm of the song “Merhaba” [“Salute”] played and sung by the band Yıldızlara Özgürlük [Freedom to Stars] and UID-DER’s workers chorus and a tribute of silence for our class martyrs lost throughout the history of class struggles. At the beginning of his speech he expressed UID-DER’s view of the history of working class struggle and its general objective, and then he stated a fact shared by all of us: “Ours is the way of those who want to leave a classless, non-exploiting world to children and entire humanity, full of peace and happiness, by overthrowing this exploiting order!”
Our longtime efforts that prepared the foundation of our association found expression in the opening speech as follows: “As you all know, the WSEG have come a long way in nearly 10 years carrying on its work within the rank and file of many unions. Our class brothers and sisters from different layers, employed and unemployed, unionized and non-union workers, joined this work. They discussed the plight, problems and solutions of class struggle. To do this they formed their own self-education groups. We knew we would progress a long way if we would work in a disciplined and resolute way in the spirit of the working class. And our work gave its fruit. As workers who incessantly carried on WSEG activities, we have now built the International Workers Solidarity Association! Thus our strivings over many years have been crowned and our self-confidence, belief in struggle have doubly increased.”
Importance of refreshing the working class spirit of solidarity and fight both on a national and international level and forming its unity and organization has also been emphasized in the opening speech. This goal of our association was one of the important points included in the speech: “To this end, we will carry on many activities to develop the working class culture of solidarity and struggle. To spread the activities of the WSEG among employed and unemployed workers, unionized and non-union workers will be our goal. We will organize education activities such as courses, conferences, seminars and panels. Besides we will strive to protect and develop economic, social, cultural rights and interests of workers. We expect you to participate in the activities of the Association and would like to say that we would be happy to march together and fight together.”
When the opening speech came to an end with a call for struggle for a world without exploitation, the slogan “Workers of the World, Unite!” echoed in the hall. After this speech a Spanish class brother who is a shipyard worker was invited to give his speech and he began his enthusiastic speech with Turkish words: “Merhaba Dostlar!” [“Salute Friends!”]. And he continued his speech emphasizing the key importance of the principle of internationalism: “I remember the huge mass demonstrations against the imperialist war in 2003. At that moment some petty bourgeois people –that kind of people who believe that History begins with them- said that those demonstrations were the first ever global (international) demonstrations in history. But it was not true. The first ever international demonstration in history was the first May Day in 1886, a hundred and twenty years ago. Without internet, without mobile telephones, without emails, but with the most important: clear ideas, the ideas of the class struggle, the ideas of Marxism.”
While our Spanish class brother emphasized the need for a kind of leadership that is to raise the consciousness, organization and struggle of workers, he also stated our common goal: “to overthrow world capitalism and build world socialism.” To this end, he said “international links need to be strengthened.” And his message was to be a source of enthusiasm for all of us: “I congratulate you for this marvelous initiative which I am sure will be a big step forward in the road to rebuild the international workers movement.” When he finished his speech with the slogan “Workers of the World, Unite!” in Spanish, the same enthusiastic call spilled out from our lips in Turkish.
Workers joined this launching meeting of our association with their spouses, parents, brothers, sisters and children. We were also workers who organized this meeting, working in factories and other workplaces like the audience. During our exciting preparation work in the run-up to the meeting we had felt in our hearts the enthusiasm of the fighting workers who created the 15-16 June. We all tried our best on every front (music performance, speeches, placards, banners, filming, child care, etc.) before, during and after the meeting.
The meeting was composed of two parts and lasted 3 hours. The main speech was given by two friends of ours who are workers from the WSEG with the company of a animated slide show on a big screen. A workers chorus sang songs and marches, and workers recited poems of fight. With their body language molded with their revolutionary fervor UID-DER’s workers’ theatre group showed that workers would squander their lives in darkness when unorganized, but an enormous power would emerge once fighting workers stand up and unite. A wave of energy radiated through the audience during this mime performance by 20 workers on the stage. The mime performance, which, in a sense, summarized the history of the working class struggle into minutes, was received with standing ovation by all the workers in the hall.
That day we sang our songs and marches altogether. At the end, when the time for the march of our class, the Internationale, came, even headscarved mothers and wives of workers joined us with their fists raised like all of us. When a call for halay (a folk dance) was made from the stage following a long standing ovation, halay lines of hundreds of people were immediately formed. We could not help thinking, “we wish all class brothers and sisters were here together with us and experienced the same enthusiasm, excitement and passion for struggle.”
All slogans we chanted that day echoed the working class internationalism, class solidarity, the desire for a classless society and the importance of organization in the hall, which was well suited with the significance of the day. The glare in the eyes of the people while they were leaving reinforced our faith that we were building sound foundations for the future. With this faith we invite all responsive class brothers and sisters with a feeling of discontent to join our activities under the roof of the UID-DER.
There is no individual emancipation; either altogether or none of us!
Long Live International Workers Solidarity!
Globalisation: Combined and Uneven Capitalist Development /1