World Federation of Trade Unions

(redirected from WFTU)
Also found in: Dictionary, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

World Federation of Trade Unions


an interna tional democratic association of trade unions, established Oct. 3, 1945, at the first World Congress of Trade Unions in Paris. Initially, the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) included all the major national trade union associations of the world except the American Federation of Labor. In 1949 the right-wing leaders of the British Trades Union Congress, the Congress of Industrial Organizations of the USA, and the trade union associations of certain other countries announced that the organizations led by them were leaving the WFTU. They established the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. Despite these divisive actions, the WFTU continued to expand its activity. In 1969 the member organizations of the WFTU included over 150 million trade union members (of the 210 million workers organized in trade unions). The WFTU includes the trade unions of the USSR and other socialist countries and a considerable number of the trade unions of capitalist states and developing and colonial countries.

The basic tasks of the WFTU were formulated in the charter adopted in 1945: organizing and uniting the trade unions of the whole world without distinction as to race, nationality, religion, or political convictions; aiding the workers of socially and economically underdeveloped countries in organizing trade unions; fighting for the final elimination of all fascist forms of government, as well as any manifestations of fascism; fighting against war and its causes; defending the interests of the working people throughout the world in all international bodies; organizing the common struggle of trade unions of all countries against any encroachment on the economic and social rights of working people and on economic freedom; fighting to ensure jobs for working people, to increase wages steadily, shorten the working day, and improve the working and living conditions of the working masses; fighting for complete social security of workers, covering unemployment, illness, accidents, and old age; and organizing educational work among the members of trade unions concerning issues of the international unity of the working masses.

Between 1945 and 1969, the WFTU held seven world congresses of trade unions: the first (Founding Congress) was in Paris, Sept. 25-Oct. 8, 1945; the second in Milan, June 29-July 9, 1949; the third in Vienna, Oct. 10-21, 1953; the fourth in Leipzig, Oct. 4-15, 1957; the fifth in Moscow, Dec. 4-15, 1961; the sixth in Warsaw, Oct. 8-22, 1965; and the seventh in Budapest, Oct. 17-26, 1969. New trade union organizations have been established on all continents with the support and active aid of the WFTU. In 1947 the WFTU organized the first pan-African trade union conference in Dakar.

On the initiative of the WFTU, there have been repeated international actions of solidarity with the workers of Spain, Greece, and Indonesia, as well as with striking workers and victims of repression against trade unions in a number of other countries. The WFTU has initiated various international campaigns in support of the national liberation struggle. On the initiative of the WFTU, the International Trade Union Committee for Solidarity With the Workers of South Africa was established in 1963. The International Committee for Solidarity With Aden was formed with the WFTU’s support in 1964. That same year, the WFTU established the International Committee for Solidarity With the Workers and People of South Vietnam, which held two representative international conferences in Hanoi during 1964-65. The WFTU took an active part in the broad protest movement that unfolded throughout the world against the USA’s military actions in Vietnam and Israel’s aggression against the Arab states. In May 1968 a permanent committee of the WFTU was established in Cairo, the International Confederation of Arab Trade Unions—testimony to the strengthening of cooperation among these trade union associations.

A number of international and regional conferences have been convened on the initiative and with the active participation of the WFTU. In June 1956 the World Trade Union Conference on Problems of Women Workers was held in Budapest. The first World Trade-Union Conference of Working Youth was held in Prague in July 1958, the second in Varna in September 1970. The International Consultative Trade Union Conference on the Economic and Social Consequences of the Activity of the European Economic Community (the “Common Market”), held in Leipzig in December 1962, founded the International Committee of the Workers’ Struggle Against the Offensive of the Monopolies. The World Conference on Questions of Vocational Training was held in Turin in February 1968. A consultative conference of solidarity of the trade unions of Africa and Europe, convened jointly by the WFTU and the All-African Trade Union Federation (AATUF), was held in Conakry in March 1969. At this conference, an understanding was reached on further cooperation between the WFTU and AATUF. In May 1969 the World Trade Union Conference on Issues of the Liquidation of Illiteracy was held in Nicosia. A conference of solidarity with the workers and peoples of Indochina fighting against the aggression of the USA was convened in July 1970 in Versailles on the initiative of the WFTU and trade unions of Vietnam.

The supreme directing body of the WFTU is the World Congress of Trade Unions. The congress elects the General Council, which is the directing body of the WFTU between congresses. The General Council elects the Bureau, which directs the activity of the federation between plenums of the General Council. The permanent representative body of the WFTU is the Secretariat, which has been located in Prague since 1956 (from 1945 to 1951 it was in Paris; from 1951 to 1956, in Vienna). International associations of trade unions, with their own charters and directing bodies, have been established under the auspices of the WFTU. The WFTU publishes a journal, World Trade Union Movement, as well as a bulletin, Trade Union Press. The chairmen of the WFTU have been W. Sitrine (Great Britain), 1945-46; A. Deakin (Great Britain), 1946-49; G. di Vittorio (Italy), 1949-57; A. Novella (Italy), 1959-61; R. Bitossi (Italy), 1961-69; and E. Pastorino (Uruguay), since 1969. The general secretaries have been L. Saillant (France), 1945-69; and P. Gensous (France), since October 1969.


Ustav VFP. Moscow, 1951.
Otchet o deiatel’nosti VFP (1949-53). Moscow, 1953.
Otchet4-mu Vsemirnomu kongressu profsoiuzov o deiatel’nosti VFP (avg. 1953-apr. 1957). Moscow, 1957.
Sovremennye problemy mezhdunarodnogo rabochego i profsoiuznogo dvizheniia: Materialy V Vsemirnogo kongressa profsoiuzov. Moscow, 1962.
VI Vsemirnyi kongress profsoiuzov: Materialy i dokumenty. Moscow, 1966.
VII Vsemirnyi kongress profsoiuzov: Materialy i dokumenty. Moscow, 1970.


[Pimenov,P.T.] Vsemirnaiafederatsiiaprofsoiuzov. Moscow, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Equally, among the largest affiliates there were ongoing mutual suspicions, especially between the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the American Federation of Labor (AFL), a legacy of the previous period when the former had been a loyal member of the WFTU while the AFL had never belonged and was the Federation's most vehement critic.
It is a long overdue history of the birth of the two international labour centres, which shared the second half of the last Century, the recently-disbanded world Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU, the "winner" and current home of the international labour movement).
The delegation was headed by WFTU General Secretary, George Mavrikos, along with members of the General Union of Palestinian Workers in Athens and All-Workers Militant Front (PAME).
The contest prompted the colonial authorities to implement policies that sought to circumscribe the influence of the pro-communist WFTU and the Malayan Communist Party on Malaya's workers.
The first vision is that represented by the revolutionary and class-oriented World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU); the second vision is based on a Catholic notion of collaboration and spiritual welfare of workers, as found in the World Confederation of Labor (WCL) and the Brotherhood of Asian Trade Unions (BATU); and the third and most powerful vision, represented by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions' Asia Pacific Regional Organization, advocates independent trade unions, human rights, social democracy, and welfare capitalism.
In February 1945, PAWS monopolized the Palestinian Arab credentials at a London meeting to plan a World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU); its self-appointed representatives, secretary Sami Taha and legal counsel Hanna Asfur, failed to prevent passage of a resolution supporting the Jewish National Home.
Previously, there was no doubt that there was a union international that represented unions behind the Iron Curtain (the World Federation of Trade Unions, WFTU), and there were unions representing what was called the free world (the ICFTU).
For two decades, the battle raged--first within the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union; then, within the American Labor Party; and finally, on the world stage in the post-world War Il days, as the Communists hoped to make their World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) the voice of world labor.
There are some who would like them to affiliate to the World Federation of Trade Union (WFTU), but that body is in decline as its membership has shrunk drastically in the last few years.
In 1945 the founding congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) saw the first attempt to bring together Communist and nonCommunist unions in one international body.
The government objected to the presence of a WFTU representative, on the ground that this amounted to treating the organization like a complainant, whereas Article 26 of the ILO Constitution does not permit such an organization to make a complaint (as distinct from a representation under Article 24).