In a joint statement, “Winds of change for social justice and democracy”, Global Unions supported the struggle by the peoples of the Arab States, with their legitimate trade unions, where they exist, to fight corruption and build democracy and social justice. The revolutions in the region served as the basis and background for a global call for action by governments for good jobs, quality public services, human rights, including trade union rights, and for measures to redress the slide into growing inequality, discrimination, and exploitation, much of it due to the explosion of precarious work.
Global Unions also initiated a joint “Declaration of Trade Unions from Arab countries for Democracy and Social Justice”. Trade union organisations in Arab countries affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Global Union Federations (GUF) and some friendly, independent unions in the region were given the opportunity to sign onto the Declaration. It associates the free trade union movement with the profound changes that are underway in the region as people, often demonstrating incredible courage and determination, oppose corrupt, dictatorial regimes and fight for social and economic progress and democracy.
In connection with any possibility of the development of democracy in the region, it is vital to repeal any legislation or practices that restrict freedom of expression and the rights of journalists to independently gather and impart information on society’s needs. Transparency is part of having government that is accountable. It is a key, although not sufficient, tool to fight corruption. This is true for all countries and regions. Government control and influence over the media is far from limited to the Arab countries. In addition, in far too many countries the commercial interests of owners and advertisers can limit the free flow of information that is essential to having healthy, democratic societies.
Free information is part of combatting fear. The fact that fear has not won in several Arab countries in spite of bullets, beating and brutality inspires us all.