A Labour Strategy for Peace

The labour movement has always been an important part of the peace movement. Socialism and pacifism as movements have overlapped, but often also conflicted, as labour organisations have supported armed liberation struggles or even armed interventions, in order to achieve social justice, democracy or freedom first, while "bourgeois" or "radical" peace organisations favoured arbitration, world government or non-violent struggle, with the motto "Peace first", in order to be able to advance society, and work for higher aims.

This conflict may be academical, as it neither advances the cause of peace nor freedom, justice or socialism. In the nuclear era it was obvious for every socialist, that Peace must come first (I dont't know of anyone who supported a nuclear first strike), and few pacifists oppose all forms of organised violence, including some form of police force or the right to self-defence. Non-violent struggle is promoted as a better and safer way to achieve other aims.

Nevertheless, this difference of point of view has always hampered both movements, as will be obvious if you read the historical essay or the union strategy material on this site. A recent example is that the IUF withdrew from the IPB, as IUF supported armed intervention in Kosovo in order to avoid genocide, while the IPB opposed it.

The nuclear threat of the cold war has subsided, replaced by "low intensity conflict", terrorism, "axes of evil" and formidable, sophisticated psychological warfare.

All the more important to have a clear view, and a coherent strategy for peace in the labour movement. The International Union of Food Workers' Associations (IUF) formulated such a strategy in 1989. It is still valid, a good basis, and a good strategy for the whole peace movement, but it has become time to review the issues and demands in the light of our new world system.

This is an appeal to labour movements to relaunch a Labour Strategy for Peace!

“Towards a Labour Strategy for Peace” was adopted by the 21st congress of the International Union of Food and Allied Workers’ Associations, which was held in Geneva from September 12 to 16, 1989.

Recent examples of Labour Union Statements on armed conflicts

History: The Peace Movements efforts to reach out to the Labour Movement