WFTU: 75 years of working-class unionism

By Martha Grevatt
October 13, 2020

The World Federation of Trade Unions marked its 75th anniversary on Oct. 3. Its 1945 founding Congress in Paris “spoke in the name of the working people of the world organized in trade unions who wanted a world free from war and social injustices. The foundation of the WFTU was thus seen as indicative of the new era that had opened with the defeat of fascism at the hands of the anti-fascist alliance of states. The working people and the democratic forces saw in that victory the new future of the world, where imperialism and colonialism would retreat and where freedom, peace, democracy and prosperity would advance for all humankind.” (

Pedro Euse, Secretary General of the United Confederation of Venezuelan Workers, and comrades celebrate the World Federation of Trade Unions (Federación Sindical Mundial).

At the 17th Congress, held in 2016 in Durban, South Africa, the federation proclaimed its adherence to anti-imperialist and “class-oriented” union principles. This distinguishes the WFTU from other world labor bodies, which have historically advanced an anti-communist and class collaborationist agenda.

In 2016, unions affiliated with WFTU represented 92 million workers around the world, and the federation continues to grow.

Speaking in front of a new monument erected in Greece to honor the 75th anniversary, WFTU Secretary-General George Mavrikos said: “We are proud for our 75 years, always together with the ordinary people, always, 75 years, with the workers, with the people who struggle for their interests, for their benefits, for their children and their families. We are optimistic that through our efforts we will build unions strong and with spirit, militant, all over the world.” (

President Mzwandile Michael Makwayiba of South Africa added: “75 years later WFTU continues the same uncompromising path — with unity, class orientation that is international” and, despite the COVID pandemic, “successfully combining struggles for health of the people with 75 years of life and action of WFTU.” (

Since the anniversary celebrations, held in numerous countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, the WFTU has issued progressive statements on the military conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the conviction of fascist Golden Dawn members in Greece and in solidarity with education workers on World Teachers Day. (Oct. 5)

Martha Grevatt was a delegate to the 17th Congress of the WFTU.