European Trade Union Solidarity Conference with Cuba & Latin America 2006

European Trade Union Solidarity Conference with Cuba & Latin America 2006On 24 - 25 February 2006, 260 delegates representing 63 trade unions from 21 countries attended a Conference at London’s City Hall to discuss trade union solidarity with Cuba and Latin America.

The Conference was organised by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) and supported by the TUC together with more than twenty British trade unions. It gave an opportunity for unions across Europe to share experiences of solidarity work, and stand united in condemning the 45 year-old US blockade of the island, and support for the defence of Cuba’s independence. Additionally, the presence of delegations from Cuba and Venezuela gave trade unionists a vital opportunity to hear first-hand of the threats and challenges facing their counterparts in Latin America.

Speaking at the Conference, Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC, stressed its importance in “bringing together unions from across Europe to talk about solidarity and discuss some of the new possibilities there are due to political changes in Latin America.” Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, built on this theme, emphasising the importance of Cuba to such changes, using the example of Venezuela where “tens of millions who have never seen a doctor in their lives, are now benefiting from the treatment of Cuban doctors”. Throughout the day, a number of contributions centred on how with Cuba offering such important support, defence of Cuba is central to protecting these progressive developments.

This is especially the case now the Bush Administration is intensifying its threat to Cuba and lobbying European governments to follow their hostile policies. British government officials recently had meetings with Caleb McCarry, the Bush Administrations, ominously named ‘Cuba Transition Co-ordinator’. His role includes building international support for ‘regime change’ in the country and installing a new government which would introduce a ‘free market’ to Cuba with policies to dismantle and privatise the countries world renowned public services. Pedro Ross, General Secretary of the Cuban Workers’ Trade Union Central (CTC) Federation, said at the conference that this was the most “dangerous and crazy” US policy yet towards Cuba, and urged that “trade union forces in Europe need to be present in the massive campaign of solidarity that will be convened this year.”

Following the conference, British trade unions are exploring opportunities to increase solidarity work across Europe; all the more important with the EU set to review its position on Cuba in June.

Download the conference report

View the conference video  (requires Flash Player 8)

Programme, speakers and speeches

First plenary session: Perspectives on solidarity with Cuba and Latin America

Ken GillKen Gill, Chair, Cuba Solidarity Campaign UK

Brendan BarberBrendan Barber, General Secretary, TUC (download speech)

Pedro RossPedro Ross, General Secretary of the CTC (download speech)

Frederiq ImbrechtFrederiq Imbrecht, National Executive, CGT, France (download speech)

Kleiv FiskvikKleiv Fiskvik, Oslo President, Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), Norway (download speech)

Dave PrentisDave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON, UK (download speech)

Bob CrowBob Crow, General Secretary, RMT, UK

Jacabo TorresJacabo Torres, Leader Bolivarian Workers Front, UNT, Venezuela

Seminar topics

  1. The Cuban trade union movement: employment, social, economic rights in work, trade union democracy
  2. Relations with Europe: Europe’s position towards Cuba, the influence of anti-Cuban propaganda, and organisations in creating this policy, and its affect on European trade union and parliament policies?
  3. The US’s neo-liberal agenda for Cuba and Latin America – where should Europe stand in supporting progressive governments and movements in the region

Lunch in the Living Room, City Hall

Ken LivingtoneGuest speaker, Ken Livingtone, Mayor of London (download speech)

Second Plenary Session: Perspectives on the European Position

Diana HollandChair, Diana Holland, National Organiser, TGWU

John MonksJohn Monks, General Secretary ETUC (download speech)

Miguel Angel MartinezMiguel Angel Martinez, MEP, President of the Group for Solidarity and Friendship with Cuba in the European Parliament  (download speech)

Xavier DeclercqXavier Declercq, Director of Mobilisation, Oxfam Belgium

Florival LancaFlorival Lanca, International Secretary, General Confederation of Portuguese Workers (CGTP-IN)

Rob MillerRob Miller, Director, Cuba Solidarity Campaign, UK (download speech)

Closing Plenary

Chair: Keith Sonnet, Deputy General Secretary, UNISON, UK (download closing summary)

Maurizio ScarpaMaurizio Scarpa, Executive Member, FILCAMS-CGIL, Italy

Gloria MillsGloria Mills, President, TUC, UK (download speech)

Leonel GonzalezLeonel Gonzalez, International Secretary, CTC Cuba

Other interesting documents

Statement from the CTC to conference (download)

2003 TUC Congress Motion on Cuba (download)

Institute of Employment Rights Report on Workers and Trade Unions in Cuba (download)

List of European unions represented at the conference (download)

Interview with Leonel Gonzales, International Secretary of the CTC about the conference (download)
For the full interview in Spanish see