On December 2-4, 2016, the XXVI Congress of the International Workers' Association took place in Warsaw, Poland. Delegates and observers from 12 countries took part in the Congress, which reached a number of important decisions. The Congress reaffirmed its committment to organizing on egalitarian principles and also to increase the focus on workplace activities over a broader area.
One of the decisions was to establish a loose guideline for new organizations that would like to join the International. Organizations which would like to affiliate should consider how they may develop to be more stable organizations, with activity involving workers and the workplace. The IWA has also formed a working group with the aim of helping to develop strategies in this respect. It is expected that the working group will help Sections to seek inspiration to develop a strategy which is realistic in their current circumstances, taking various factors into account, such as the social climate in their location, the history of the organization and its current capacities.
The above perhaps marks a turning point in the IWA as it is the first attempt to develop such cooperation between the Sections in an organized fashion.
In addition, the Congress approved the creation of a working group to develop training for workplace organizing. Comrades from the ZSP and SF will be in the group and will try to share experiences and practices that have helped them over recent years. Exchange with the other organizations will take place to take into consideration the great variety of circumstances that comrades around the globe may find themselves in. All Sections of the IWA may contribute to this collective effort to support each other and help encourage and inspire comrades to more workers' action.
The Sections of the lnternational also decided to host various events in the period before the next regular Congress in 2019. Such events may be practical, such as organizing workshops or meant to promote anarchosyndicalism, the lnternational and its Sections.
The Congress also accepted two new Friends of the IWA - the WSA from the United States and the ULE from Colombia. We are looking forward to productive cooperation and hope that they will take part in upcoming events and organize their own.
Since the Congress ran exceptionally smoothly, there was plenty of time for discussion about developing strategies to strengthen the organizations and engage in workplace activity. Most of this took place in an informal session of the Congress. We found that many Sections, old and new, bigger and smaller, faced the same types of issues in organizing and were able to give each other hints or to signal problems for further consideration. More discussions will be on the agenda of the next Extraordinary Congress, which will be held in 2017.
The Extraordinary Congress is necessary because of certain developments with the international federation which are extremely serious and have been negatively impacting its work for the last couple of years. The Congress issued a statement in which, among other things, it pointed out the disaffiliation of three of its affiliates: the CNT from Spain, USI from Italy and FAU from Germany. This, unfortunately, was made necessary after the three decided to try and launch another international, under the guise of „refounding” the IWA. As these and other actions taken by these three are in contradiction to our statutes and our principles, and given the fact that they had already initiated this project, we had no choice but to recognize that they had in fact split from the organization and tried to draw other Sections into this split faction as well.
On the other hand, people are ready to reconstitute IWA affiliates in ltaly and Germany and there are many unions from Spain that declare they have not left the IWA. A numerous delegation from Spain appeared, from the project to reconstruct the CNT-AIT and also from the now defederated organization. These organizations distributed statements, papers and pamphlets expressing their support for the IWA and describing the current derive of the CNT into a more verticalized organization where, in their opinion, the committees have too much power and usurp the decision-making powers of the militancy.
Importantly, most of the comrades stress that there was no real decision to form a new international and that the committees are largely acting on their own in these matters.
Although the CNT in Spain, led by the union bureaucracy, is disaffiliated, we recognize that all those who adhere to our principles, tactics and goals and feel still part of our movement, who respect the federalist pact, not acting against it, are our comrades. Only they can claim to be the CNT-AIT. We do not accept the faction of CNT Spain led by the Confederal Committee and participating in the parallel international project, which goes against our statutes and agreements. They have no right to appear or act in the name of our federation, to which they no longer belong.
The next Congress will deal with the issue in Spain, where the CNT-AIT will be represented by those continuing in its legacy.
Despite this very difficult topic, there was much comaraderie and enthusiasm at the Congress. New challenges lay ahead of us, but also new opportunities await. The chance to build ourselves up in a healthier way, to meet new comrades, to help each other to go forward together. A chance to go beyond the spectre of history and to find ways to be relevant in the here and now, in our real situations, which might always be so favourable.
We thank those who sent their best wishes at this trying time and we look forward to working together against the double oppression of the State and of Capital in the years to come.
Long live anarchosyndicalism and long live the IWA!