WFTU Congress, Havana (Cuba)

I was fortunate to participate in the 15th Congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) held at Havana, capital city of Socialist Cuba, from 1st to 4th of December 2005. Due to ideological differences, CITU and some other trade unions were not participating in a few earlier conferences. It was on the understanding that a change is expected, that 60 delegates from India, representing CITU, AITUC, TUCC, UTUC and Independent Federations participated.

First destination of the flight from Delhi was Jordan. One day stay at Amman. Along with comrades Elamaram Karim, K.K.N.Kutty, C.C.Pillai and other delegates visited Dead Sea, ancient city of Petro, Roman’s Amphi Theatre etc. Then to Havana via Barcelona. We were received and accommodated in a convenient hotel by Cuban hosts.

More than one thousand delegates from 71 countries participated in the Congress. 60 from India. Serious speeches and discussions. I spoke on the issues faced by Indian telecom sector. The ideological and tactical issues were discussed and settled. Comrade Mohammed Azooz (Syria) was elected as President and Comrade George Mavarikose (Greece) as Secretary General. Com.M.K.Pandhe (India) was elected as one of the Vice-Presidents.

It was announced that legendary revolutionary leader and Cuban President Comrade Fidel Castro will address the Congress. Though he had reached the place, due to certain security concerns, he did not address. Lost the opportunity to meet him in person and hear his inspiring speech.

The organizers arranged a visit to an important hospital and showed the treatment facilities. Cuba has one of the best health facilities in the world. It provides free medical studies to students of many countries.

Visited the union office of Telecom Union there. Union leaders came to the hotel where we were staying and took us to their office. Comrdes C.C.Pillai (NFPE) and V.V.Prasannakumari (Working Women) also were with me.  Union leaders explained their functioning, problems etc to  us. They know only their official language Spanish and we only English. Hence it was with the help of a translator that the discussion took place. Gave them some presents, which we had brought from India.

When we expressed our wish to visit the city, they sent the translator with us. She was a Professor of English in the university there. She took us to the beautiful beach, market etc. Visited the historic boat ‘Granma’ in which Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and other revolutionaries reached Cuban shores at the time of revolution.

While returning, the connection flight from Amman had already left, as our flight from Havana was a bit late. Hence went to Tunis in Africa and from there to Delhi. (Articles on Cuban journey in detail have been published in BSNL Crusader, Journal of BSNLEU Kerala Circle and Bank Workers Forum, the Journal of BEFI).  

TUI (Public Services & Allied Workers) Congress, Johannesburg

Participated in the Tenth Congress of the Trade Union International (Public Services & Allied Workers) held at Johannesburg, South Africa from 20th to 22nd March 2006. Comrades S.K.Vyas, K.K.N.Kutty and C.C.Pillai were there. There were representatives from Bank Unions also. TUI (PS&AW) represents Government and Public service employees all over the world and is affiliated to WFTU. I reported about the telecom sector in India and the sustained struggles organised.

Visited Johannesburg city, Ashram started by Gandhiji and his statue and connected institutions. The inspiring memories of Gandhiji’s fight for justice to Indian workers remembered.

TUI (Pensioners & Retirees) Congress at Barcelona, Spain

The formation Congress of Trade Union International (Pensioners & Retirees), affiliated to WFTU was held at Barcelona, Spain in 2014. Attended as a delegate of AIBDPA. The issues of pensioners and retirees were discussed in detail and it was decided to form TUI(P&R). I spoke about the issues of pensioners in India and submitted a detailed report. I was elected as a Member of the Technical Committee.

As General Secretary of BSNL Employees Union, visited Nepal four times on the invitation of Telecom Employees Association of Nepal (TEAN) to their annual conferences. As mentioned earlier, BSNLEU and TEAN have close bonds and attended each other’s conferences. Still continues the comradely relations.

TEAN represents all section of employees in the Nepal Communications, except the Directors, unlike in India where executives and non-executives have different unions.  One representative of the recognized union will be in Director Board.  Workers’ Participation in Management. Functioning of TEAN is very systematic and progressive. There is one more union in the Nepal Communications.

When I visited Nepal to attend  meetings of TUI (P and R), office-bearers of TEAN invited me to their office and honoured me. Once visited Nepal along with Pankjam and toured Kathmandu, heritage temples, old city and other places. All arrangements were made by TEAN Comrades.

Went to London four times with wife Pankajam to visit our son Shaji and family and stayed one month each time. Visited many historic places in and around London during these stays.

In 2010 August visited the tomb of Karl Marx, the greatest philosopher, revolutionary and author of ‘Communist Manifesto’, ‘Das Capital’ etc,  at the High Gate Cemetery in London. The cemetery covers a very big area. Karl Marx passed away on 14th March 1883 while he was staying in London and was buried in High Gate cemetery. The tomb was in very interior part of the cemetery. It was later shifted to a better place with his statue so that the visitors can easily reach there. His daughter is also buried nearby.

There were some youths from the Caribbean Islands and from Russia when we visited. We got acquainted and they took our photo  with the tomb in the background.   It was a great moment of life to have been able to visit the place. It is in this cemetery that South African freedom fighter Mohammed Dadoo, English Novelist Elliot George and Claudia Vera Jones  are buried. Next day visited Marx Memorial Library, which is having many books and memorials connected with Marx.

Next time visited Scotland which is endowed with natural beauty. Visited tomb of Famous Poet William Wordsworth. Visited Paris and other places in France as also the Walt Disney Park.

Visiting new places is always a matter of joy. (To be continued).