Words from Wayne Prins: the new president of WOW

It is an honour and a privilege to serve you as the newly elected President of the World Organization of Workers (WOW). I was elected to the World Board of WOW at the 2016 Congress in Frankfurt, Germany, representing the North American region. Since then, I have come to know and love the organization.

I would like to introduce myself to you, and to share some thoughts about the opportunities that we, as an international community of worker advocates who share common values, have in the years ahead.

I am the Executive Director of the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC). CLAC is among the largest independent unions in Canada representing over 43,000 members in nearly all sectors of the economy.

CLAC was formed in 1952 by a group of trade unionists who believed that social dialogue and collaboration with employers resulted in better outcomes for workers. This stood in contrast to the corrupt and abusive socialist labour movement that was strong in Canada at that time.

Though the early years were difficult, CLAC prevailed and enjoyed decades of growth while the rest of the labour movement in Canada slowly declined. Today, CLAC is firmly established as a prominent member of the Canadian labour community, and we are regularly called on to speak publicly on issues related to worker interests and public policy development. Although many years have passed since our inception, the guiding values of respect, fairness, dignity, and pluralism that brought life to CLAC remain the foundation for our purpose and vision.

CLAC also has a long history of involvement with the international labour movement. From the early involvement of leaders such as Ed Grootenboer and Ed Vanderkloot to more recent leaders such as Frank Kooger and Dick Heinen, CLAC has demonstrated through the years a strong commitment to advancing the cause of workers everywhere. I am proud to continue this noble tradition.

More personally, I have worked for CLAC for 16 years. I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, with my wife, Renee, and two young daughters, Claire (age 6) and Joelle (age 3). I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies at The King’s University and an MBA from Queen’s University.

In these times, on every continent, we are witnessing increasing polarization and tension among people. In many cases, this is the result of conflicting ideologies, both political and economic in nature. What had been true throughout history—and remains true today—is that the rise of ideology usually comes at the expense of values and principles.

This is true in the international labour movement too. The political ambitions of ideologues within the international labour movement may serve to consolidate power, but the interests of workers around the world are often lost in the process.

WOW has a rich history in leading a labour movement based on values and principles. It began as the World Federation of Clerical Workers (WFCW) in 1921, which held firmly to the Christian social values of dignity, fairness, freedom, and solidarity. Today, these values remain fundamental to our movement, but our commitment to respect all people and the drive for labour pluralism has allowed for the growth of WOW to include all those who share a common vision for the destiny of workers, a destiny defined by fairness, respect, dignity, freedom, and choice in the workplace. When we achieve these values in the workplace, lives are made better and all of society can flourish.

I look forward to working with Bjørn and all members of the World Board as the President of WOW. Under my leadership, WOW will pursue an agenda of growth, both in membership and in influence, and member service. We will create value for all members.

WOW exists to advance the cause of workers around the world, and to encourage and equip all labour leaders and organizations who share our values by providing a global community to belong to. Through the solidarity of WOW, we will work to re-establish values in every workplace around the world.

About WOW

WOW was founded as a Social Christian trade union and finds inspiration in the spiritual believe that man and universe were created by God or by persuasions coinciding with that. The increase of intercultural contacts provided opportunities for the WOW to expand and broaden its view with visions of other religious backgrounds. WOW does so in a joint attempt to build a world community based on freedom, dignity, justice and solidarity.

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