Venezuelan trade union leaders discuss way forward for the revolution
By Jorge Martin - www.handsoffvenezuela.org
Monday, 26 September 2005
More than 50 Venezuelan trade union leaders attended the First Trade Union and Political Education Workshop, organised by the UNT and the Bolivarian Workers’ Force (FBT), with the collaboration of the Ministry of Labour. The workshop took place in the Trade Union House in El Paraiso, Caracas from September 19 to 23 and there were trade union leaders from all over the country, representing the different regional bodies of the UNT: Mérida, Trujillo, Delta Amacuro, Amazonas, Carabobo, Zulia, Falcón, Sucre, Bolívar, Monagas, Aragua, Guarico, Anzoátegui, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Lara, Cojedes, Yaracuy, Vargas and Caracas-Miranda. Trade union leaders from different industries were also present representing workers in the electricity sector (who are at the forefront of the struggle for workers' participation and control), the sugar mills, INVEPAL (the paper mill nationalised at the beginning of the year), the oil sector, textile workers, the transport sector, and the auto sector,
The main aim of the meeting was to "start a process of ideological and political rearming of the trade union movement". There were a number of different workshops, including national and international labour movement history, political aspects of the trade union struggle in Venezuela and the challenge of the transformation of the socio-economic mode of production. Two of the main discussions were on the question of workers' control and management, and the need to call a new congress of the UNT and have elections to the national leadership, a process which has been postponed already once because of differences with the bureaucratic section of the UNT leadership.
The workshop passed a very interesting resolution which we reproduce here:
For a government of the workers and the people, the UNT in solidarity with the struggle of workers, peasants and the people in Venezuela and the world
For five days, a group of trade union leaders from all over the country attended the First Trade Union and Political Education Workshop, having been invited by the National Workers Union (UNT) and the Bolivarian Workers’ Force (FBT).
We would like to stress the role played by the National Coordination of the UNT and the FBT, who, together with the Ministry of Labour made all the necessary efforts to carry out this glorious gathering.
We ratify the leading role of our president Hugo Chavez Frias in this democratic and participatory revolutionary process. We understand that faced with the failure of capitalism, which is the cause of all exploitation, exclusion, oppression, hunger, pollution and misery in the world, we must go to a new model of society based on equality and with a social economy. We accept Socialism as the hope of the oppressed classes of the world; we believe that the means of production must be expropriated and collectivised, and we believe in the building of socialism of the 21st century as a government of the workers and the people.
We would like to stress the speech of President Chavez at the Organisation of United Nations (UNO); we reject all attempts of foreign intervention, and the legalisation by a small group of powerful countries of the interventionism of the empire in order to invade, kill and impose governments that will follow the interests of the empire. We stand in solidarity with the peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba and with the victims of hurricane Katrina who are really the victims of capitalism and imperialism.
We reclaim the historical struggle for the emancipation of the working class and understand that the history of societies is the history of the class struggle. We reclaim furthermore the struggle of all those comrades who have built the road to militant trade unionism. We wholeheartedly reject the trade union bureaucracy which has betrayed and given away our conquests. We stand in solidarity with the comrades at SIDOR and their unity agreement to fight the trade union bureaucracy (1).
We reject the reactionary elements of the parasitical tecno-bureaucracy in the government that have erected obstacles in the processes of co-management in the Basic Industries in Guayana, PDVSA [oil company] and CADAFE [electricity company]. (2)
We reclaim the demonstration outside VTV (3) as a response of the working class in order to defend this process and to exercise the right to accountability. We denounce the anti-working class attitude of some functionaries in the Labour Inspectorate and in some gobernorships, Councils and public institutions who are putting obstacles in the way of our trade union work.
We support the actions of the national government and of peasant social movements like the Ezequiel Zamora Peasant Front in their struggle against latifundios. We recognise the need to expropriate the land and for it to be distributed to those who work it, the peasants of our country, so it can be used to create jobs and develop an agricultural economy based on food sovereignty.
We must promote, within the framework of socialism of the 21st century, a Workers’ Constituent to build the country we want as workers, to elaborate a new Labour Law, for a general increase in wages and salaries, for the outlawing of dismissals and a freeze on prices.
We are in solidarity with the struggle of the workers at the Fabrica de Guantes Mis Manos CA in Amazonas, who are facing arrest warrants, and with the workers at Snack's Lara, who are threatened with eviction from the premises. We reject the vile action of the tribunals in Amazonas and Lara, which is an expression of the Fourth Republic. We demand from the National Assembly that these factories are declared of public interest and are expropriated under workers' management; furthermore we support the National Assembly in declaring the Sugar Mill Cumanacoa in the state of Sucre of public interest so that it will be expropriated and we demand that it be managed by the workers.
We are for the relaunching of the UNT at a national and regional level, through the calling this year of a National Workers' Assembly where the Statutes and Electoral Rules should be discussed, an Electoral Commission be elected and the date for elections at all levels of the UNT be set.
The UNT is a revolutionary tool of struggle. It is a conquest of the workers in this Bolivarian revolutionary process. We invite all currents of thought in the UNT to build this powerful tool in order to fight capitalism and build the kind of country that we want and to build socialism of the 21st century. Let's open then a national debate in unity.
Caracas, September 23rd, 2005
Regional and National leaders present at the 1st Trade Union Political Education Workshop
(1) SIDOR is the giant steel works in Guayana. At the beginning of September, 7 different revolutionary trade union currents which organise workers in the SIDOR trade union SUTISS, agreed to unite in a joint slate to defeat the current leadership of the union, who follow Ramon Machuca, the historic leader of SUTISS, considered by these groups as a traitor since he signed away the workers’ rights and conditions during the process of privatisation of the factory.
(2) The workers and the union at CADAFE have been fighting for some time for real workers' control in the company as against the proposal of sections of the management that want to give only token representation to the workers. High functionaries in the government have recently expressed opposition to implementing co-management in the strategic industries such as the basic industries, oil and electricity. The workers reply that they themselves are the best guarantee for the normal running of these industries since they recovered them against the sabotage of the reactionary managers during the sabotage of the economy in December 2002-January 2003.
(3) In the last few days there have been demonstrations outside the main state TV broadcaster against the removal of the programme Dossier, by journalist Walter Martinez, after he made some allegations of corruption against high functionaries.