LAS VEGAS – Joseph Nkiso, first vice president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), attended a workshop on global justice after Sept. 11 at the AFL-CIO convention here Dec. 3.

AFL-CIO International Affairs Director Barbara Shailor, the workshop’s speaker, asked Nkiso for his comments on the subject. Nkiso responded by pointing out the need for a World Social Forum.

In an interview with the World, Nkiso revealed that the forum he mentioned is not just speculation – COSATU has already forumlated plans and begun to put them into action. They have approached the main Brazilian labor federation and received a positive response toward building the international trade union event. If the plans succeed, trade union organizations from all over the world, including the AFL-CIO, will be invited to discuss the world economic situation and the political responses currently in play.

Nkiso said he believes that progressive non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other “progressive civil society organizations” will also be invited.

“It is beyond doubt that the world is in an economic crisis,” Nkiso said. The number one objective of the international conference would be “to deal with the economic crisis that is facing the world, especially the working families.”

Nkiso said that a second focus would be “on development that is not taking place.”

He also said the conference “will be looking for trade union rights in countries where they are not being given.”

Nkiso said the present roles of international organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) would be debated at the World Social Forum.

The South African trade union leader also gave his views on the military action led by the United States. “We don’t support that Bush must attack other countries. We believe that he should bring in the United Nations that should then facilitate the entire process. Everything done should be done in a peaceful manner. If you attack the other countries, you are killing units of the working families.”

As Nkiso envisions it, a World Social Forum should discuss terrorism, “Because it has an effect on the working families.” Nkiso said he and his organization strongly oppose terrorism. Nkiso said he feels that “We should also look to the broader challenges that made these terrorists to exist … We have to look to a long-term solution.”

Economic suffering throughout the world remains the main concern, he said. “That is the main problem for the World Social Forum.”

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