Letter from Members of the Association of International Workers' Solidarity (UID-DER) Turkey

On June 25, 600 worker brothers and sisters from various factories, neighbourhoods and towns in Turkey turned out for the launch meeting of the UID-DER (Association of International Workers’ Solidarity – Turkey) determined to make it a success and offer a genuine class alternative to the Turkish workers.

Introductory note by Marxist Tutum:

With all our revolutionary fervour we celebrate and greet the UID-DER, which has been founded as a product of the work carried out for many years by the Workers' Self-education Groups (WSEGs) among workers from various industries and layers, among both unionised and non-unionised workers as well as employed and unemployed workers. We believe that the UID-DER will help to raise the level of struggle by its determined and persistent work carried out with the purpose of strengthening the resolve of the working class for international solidarity, struggle and unity. In reply to their letter in which they shared their excitement and happiness with us for the launching of their association, we extend our thanks to the UID-DER on behalf of all collaborators of Marksist Tutum and readers, and wish them every success in their struggle.

Dear readers of Marksist Tutum and worker friends,

On the occasion of the launch 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 our 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 the attempt to destroy their union. Power was cut off in the factories, the streets were filled with joyful workers. Two big hot days were experienced. 15-16 June was a high point from the point of view of the class struggle in this land. The bosses had never seen such a day.

And who remembers those days now? Most workers of the young generation are not aware of their class identity and history of struggle. Yet for the working class its class memory is a source of encouragement to struggle. 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 with our work over many years through Workers Self-education Groups will carry us forward on this road.

The launch meeting of our association took place on 25 June with a turnout of around 600 worker brothers and sisters from various factories, neighbourhoods and towns. Apart from workers' representatives from various union branches, there were people like Sebahat Türkler, the 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 the Stars] and the UID-DER's workers' choir and also a moment of silence for our class martyrs lost throughout the history of class struggles. At the beginning of his speech he expressed the 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 our children and the whole of humanity, full of peace and happiness, by overthrowing this exploiting order!"

Our long-standing efforts that prepared the foundation of our association found expression in the opening speech as follows: "As you all know, the WSEGs have come a long way in nearly 10 years carrying out their work within the rank and file of many unions. Our class brothers and sisters from different layers, employed and unemployed, unionised and non-unionised workers, took part in this work. They discussed the plight, problems and solutions of the class struggle. To do this they formed their own self-education groups. We knew we would progress a long way if we worked in a disciplined and resolute manner, in the spirit of the working class. And our work has given 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 and belief in struggle have doubly increased."

Founding of Association of International Workers’ Solidarity (UID-DER)The importance of refreshing the working class spirit of solidarity and fighting both on a national and international level and forming its unity and organization was also 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. Our goal will be to spread the activities of the WSEG among employed and unemployed workers, unionised and non-unionised workers. We will organize education activities such as courses, conferences, seminars and panels. Besides we will strive to protect and develop the economic, social and cultural rights and interests of the 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 throughout the hall. After this speech a Spanish class brother who is a shipyard worker was invited to speak and he began his enthusiastic speech with the 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 petit 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 the Internet, without mobile telephones, without emails, but with the most important things, 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 the 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 marvellous initiative which I am sure will be a big step forward on the road to rebuilding 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.

Founding of Association of International Workers’ Solidarity (UID-DER)The workers took part in this launch meeting of our association with their spouses, parents, brothers, sisters and children. Those of us who organized this meeting are also workers, working in factories and other workplaces just like the audience. During our exciting preparatory work in the run-up to the meeting we felt in our hearts the enthusiasm of the fighting workers who created the 15-16 June. We all tried our best on every front (musical performance, speeches, placards, banners, filming, child care, etc.) before, during and after the meeting.

The meeting was made up of two parts and lasted for three hours. The main speech was given by two friends of ours who are workers from the WSEGs accompanied by an animated slide show on a big screen. A workers' choir sang songs and anthems and workers recited poems of struggle. With their body language matching their revolutionary fervour the UID-DER's workers' theatre group showed that workers will squander their lives in darkness when unorganised, 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 given 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 a standing ovation by all the workers in the hall.

That day we sang our songs and anthems all together. At the end, when the time for the anthem of our class, the Internationale, came, even mothers and wives of workers wearing head-scarves joined us with their fists raised like the rest 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 the slogans we chanted that day echoed working class internationalism, class solidarity, the desire for a classless society and the importance of organization expressed in the hall, which well suited the significance of that day. The look in the eyes of the people as they left the hall reinforced our confidence that we were building sound foundations for the future. With this confidence we invite all responsive class brothers and sisters who have a feeling of discontent to join our activities under the roof of the UID-DER.

There is no individual emancipation. Either all together or none of us!

Long Live International Workers' Solidarity!

By workers who are members of the UID-DER

The original is available at: http://www.marksist.com/okurdan/Uid-der(ing).htm