THESES OF THE SIXTH ECCI PLENUM ON THE TASKS OF COMMUNISTS IN THE TRADE UNION MOVEMENT
March 1926 Inprekorr, vi, 68, p. 1038, 5 May 1926
[ EXTRACTS ]
I. NEW PHENOMENA IN THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION MOVEMENT
Since the fifth world congress of the Comintern a number of events have occurred in the international trade union movement which require the most careful study if our future tactics are to be correct. These are:
(1) the fall in the standard of living of the working masses;
(2) new forms of class collaboration;
(3) the growing influence of the American Federation of Labor on the reformist European trade union movement;
(4) the rapid development of the trade union movement in colonial and semi-colonial countries;
(5) the crystallization of a left wing in reformist unions;
(6) the growing international influence of the Soviet trade unions and the desire of the workers to send delegations to the Soviet Union;
(7) the establishment of the Anglo-Russian unity committee;
(8) the sharpening of the struggle inside the Amsterdam International;
(9) the growth among the masses of the
desire for unity. . . .
IV. THE GROWING INFLUENCE OF THE AFL ON THE REFORMIST
UNIONS IN EUROPE
The ideological and political influence of the American Federation of Labor has recently grown much stronger, not so much in America itself... as in Europe, where the right wing of the Amsterdam International has long been dreaming of finding
American support in its struggle against the English trade union movement, which is becoming steadily more radical. The expansion of the reactionary influence of the AFL keeps pace with the rise of the international hegemony of American
imperialism. . . .
V. RAPID TRADE UNION DEVELOPMENT IN THE COLONIAL AND SEMICOLONIAL
The trade union movement in colonial and semi-colonial countries is a post-war product; it is only in the last few years that it has become an organized force and has begun to play a large part in the national liberation struggle. The activities of the unions in China and India were particularly significant. The strikes in Shanghai, Hongkong, and Tientsin
. . . introduced a consistent proletarian element into the
Chinese struggle for national freedom, and the Chinese proletariat has become the axis and the chief power in the Chinese national freedom movement.
In these circumstances the affiliation of the Chinese unions to the Profintern is particularly significant; it shows that the unions in the countries enslaved by imperialism are seeking allies where they really can be found—in Moscow and not
in Amsterdam. . . .
In relation to the union movement in the colonial and semi-colonial countries the communist parties have three tasks:
(1) to establish a perma-nent link with the labour movement in all countries, in particular the link between the metropolitan
country and the colony;
(2) to give complete, unreserved, and all-round support to the labour movement in these doubly oppressed countries in its struggle for national and social emancipation;
(3) in those countries, such as France, where workers from the colonies come to work, to admit them to the unions and to conduct cultural and educational work among them in order to train them as militants in the fight for national and social
VI. THE CRYSTALLIZATION OF A LEFT WING IN REFORMIST UNIONS
The growth of unemployment, the interminable economic crisis, the fall in living standards, and the growing financial and economic hegemony of the United States in the world market are accompanied by rising discontent among the proletarian
masses, which is reflected in the reformist unions.
. . . The practical question of closing their ranks for the fight confronts the workers, but that is impossible without a united front, without a working agreement between workers of different political beliefs, inside and outside the factory, on questions of practical interest to the working masses.
Thus the pressure of organized capital is driving the idea of unity deeper and deeper into the working masses, and the results are beginning to show in their daily struggle. There is practically not a single Amsterdam organization without its left
tendency. . . .
The attitude of the Comintern and of communist parties to the growing opposition in the reformist unions is quite clear; it is the outcome of bolshevik tactical principles—to support every opposition in reformist organizations directed against their theory and practice. We cannot and should not wait while these left tendencies crystallize and take final shape. We must exert all our might to help the opposition movement, to support those workers who are beginning to throw off the influence of
reformist ideology. . . . The communist parties must openly reach agreement with all opposition elements on the basis of a concrete programme of action, without for a single moment abandoning the struggle for the communist programme and
communist demands. . . .
VIII. THE ANGLO-RUSSIAN UNITY COMMITTEE
The change in sentiment among the working masses and the majority of the organized working class in England is expressed organizationally in the creation of the Anglo-Russian unity committee. This did not happen without a struggle. The
Amsterdam International made great efforts to prevent a rapprochement between the English and Russian unions, as did the reactionary wing of the trade union movement in England. Nevertheless the rapprochement took place and was consolidated by the establishment of the committee.
The Anglo-Russian committee, whose foundation was greeted joyfully by the masses, marks a new stage in the history of the international trade union movement. ... It demonstrates the practical possibility of creating a unified International, and of a common struggle of workers of different political tendencies
against reaction, fascism, and the capitalist offensive...
All communist parties must support the Anglo-Russian committee in every way and wage a vigorous struggle against the social-democrats and right-wing Amsterdamers who are sabotaging the work of the committee and hope to break up
the Anglo-Russian bloc. The Comintern welcomes most warmly the rapprochement between the English and Soviet trade unions, and for its part will do everything in its power to help the committee to carry out its tasks. . . .
X. THE CENTRAL COUNCIL OF THE SOVIET UNIONS AND AMSTERDAM
The slogan put forward by the fifth Comintern congress and the third Profintern congress of the merging of the Profintern and the Amsterdam International through an international unity congress, and the Anglo-Russian committee's slogan of a
'united, all-embracing international', encountered the sharpest opposition from international social-democracy and the Amsterdam right wing. This opposition took two forms; a campaign was started against the idea of an international unity
congress as an 'impracticable and harmful fantasy', and at the same time the reformists attempted to reduce the entire problem to one of the relations between Amsterdam and the central council of the Soviet unions; then they began to sabotage the negotiations with the central council and even rejected the proposal for an unconditional conference. . . .
Social-democracy is trying to present the honest desire of the central council of the Soviet unions to do everything to establish real unity in the international trade union movement
. . . as meaning that the central council is anxious to leave the
Profintern, break the bonds that link it with the revolutionary trade union movement in other countries, join Amsterdam, throw off the influence of the CPSU, and so change the entire political orientation of the Soviet trade union movement. The
central council of the Soviet unions is an integral part of the Profintern and will, like all member organizations of that body, carry out the policy laid down by theProfintern. . . .
XV. STRENGTHENING THE RILU
The struggle to establish a united international and the work of bringing communist and social-democratic workers closer together will be successful to the extent that we work at strengthening our own ranks nationally and internationally.
While defending the unity of the trade union movement and submitting to trade union discipline, communists must vigorously defend their right to wage an ideological struggle within the unions, to defend their point of view and advance their own opinion. The fight to strengthen our own ranks in every country must be accompanied by a fight to strengthen the
Profintern itself. It is essential to carry out planned and orderly work to strengthen all the organizations affiliated to the Profintern, and the revolutionary minorities in other unions, in conformity with united front tactics and the demand for trade union unity.