Open World Conference of Workers
In Defense of Trade Union Independence & Democratic Rights
A dossier of weekly information published by the
Romania: Trade union leader Constantin Cretan has finally been released!
United States: You will find excerpts from The Organizer, the newspaper of activists in the United States linked to the ILC:
The meeting that was attended by 60 trade union activists, was held two days after the vote by the House of Representatives passing the Paulson Plan.
France: We are publishing the declaration of the national secretaries of the POI: "360 billion for speculators! This plan should be withdrawn!"
Italy: You will find "With teachers and students, the whole population
rises," an interview with a militant teacher unionist, conducted
a few days before the event on October 25 in Rome that was attended
by hundreds of thousands of workers and youth.
Philippines: We are publishing a text concerning the campaign of the Workers' Party of the Philippines (Partido ng Manggagawa) for job security.
Table of Contents
360 billion euros or the speculators!
This plan must be repealed!
The government says it is impossible to respond to the needs of the people who are subjected to the dire consequences of the crisis of capitalist regime. They say the only option is to continue and accelerate the "reforms" dictated by the European Union. And all of this is said as 360 billion Euros in public funds are being given to the speculators and the bankers!
While tens of millions of workers are facing graver and graver problems, tightening their budgets, and agonizing over the future of their jobs and their families
While job cuts are announced in the public sector, in the auto industry, in the shipyards, in aeronautics, in housing
While millions of pensioners are worried about their pensions and their savings.
the governments dare to vote in Parliament, to the applause of the bankers and speculators, a bank bailout plan that feeds off the pillage of the budgets of hospitals, housing, and public education.
This plan is part of the plan of the European Central Bank:
1,700 billion for the banks! And they dare to present this plan as a measure in defense of the "general interest."
What "general interest"?
What common interest is there between the postal worker who is the victim of the "reorganization" of the services and Nicolas Sarkozy, the dear friend of the big bosses and banks, the steadfast defender of the values of the collapsing capitalist economy? Is this government, which is completely devoted to financial capital, acting in the "common interest"?
What did they decide?
To find 360 billion to give to the speculators, they decided to accelerate the privatizations, the layouts, the liquidation of public services, and the aggravation of labor.
And they decided without shame to immediately privatize the postal services under the pretext that they were 3 billion dollars short!
How can Parliament pretend to represent the democratic mandate of the people while it votes this plan that runs against the interest of the immense majority of the people?
How can the MPs of the SP, a party that claims to be socialist, abstain?
How can the CP, whose MPs voted against this, claim to defend the interests of the people while they support "the urgent need to save the financial institutions and banks" (L'Humanite, October 14)? This is a position shared by the LCR of Besancenot, who states that "there is no reason, on principle, to oppose saving the banks." (Rouge, October 9)
The government, the Parliament of the Fifth Republic, just like all organizations subordinated to the European Union, have one slogan, which emanates from Brussels: national unity!
How can there be "national unity" between Seilliere, Parisot, Lakshmi Mittal, Ghosn, and a workers from Sandouville who is losing 400 Euros per month for legal unemployment and who just learned that he or she is one of the 1,000 workers who are to lose their jobs?
No to national unity!
Unity for the repeal of this plan!
These are the points around which the POI thinks there is an urgent need to gather workers and activists of all tendencies, to bring together a solid united force, and fight for the public well-being.
This is the meaning of the invitation to together prepare the national conference of delegates for unity on December 7, 2008.
This is the meaning of the appeal of the POI to break from the European Union, which is being submitted for signature to thousands of workers and youth.
Join the Independent Workers Party!
Paris, October 19, 2008. The national secretaries POI : Gérard Schivardi, Claude Jenet, Jean Markun, Daniel Gluckstein
PARTIDO NG MANGGAGAWA'S CAMPAIGN FOR JOB SECURITY
In September 28 of 2003, one the biggest garments manufacturers in the country shutdown its operations for good and threw out of work its 2,365 employees, some 80% of whom are women and almost all are family breadwinners. The workers only earn an average wage of P290 a day.
The massive layoff is indicative of the hemorrhage of jobs afflicting the garments and textile industry, and manufacturing as a whole, due to the onslaught of globalization. In reaction, workers in the garments and textile industry with the Novelty workers in the lead and under the umbrella of the Partido ng Manggagawa organized a campaign to fight for job security for all workers.
The campaign reached a peak with a one-day work stoppage on October 13, 2003 by some 50,000 workers from more than 100 unions in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog. The mass action was both the labor movement's solidarity action with the laid off Novelty workers and a protest against retrenchments, closures and rotation. On the same day, the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) picketed the showrooms of Baby Togs-one of the principal stockholders of Novelty Philippines-in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles to register their sympathy with the Novelty workers. Also the national council of the All-India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) wrote a letter to President Macapagal-Arroyo urging a "stop to the ongoing closures and retrenchment in garment industry so that the jobs and democratic rights of workers can be protected."
For one whole year after that work stoppage, garments and textile workers undertook building alliances within industry workers, dialogue with government agencies, specially the Garments and Textile Export Board, and mass actions to sustain the campaign for job security.
The campaign culminated in the one-day siege of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in November 30 of 2004 to highlight the inaction of government on workers demands for job security. About a thousand workers with Novelty employees in the lead forcibly entered the premises of the DOLE and occupied the building for several hours while labor officials listened to the demands of local union officers and PM leaders. The siege ended peacefully but labor officials later threatened to file cases against the labor leaders.
Novelty Philippines, Inc. is one of the pioneers of the garments and textiles industry in the country. The company produces baby dresses for export to the American market under the brand names of JC Penney, Dillards, Children's Place and B.T. Kids. Its majority stockholder is Baby Togs of US owned by Eddie Sitt, an American Jew.
Novelty started in 1952 with just 50 employees but due to the toil and skill of its workers, the company grew to a peak of 13,000 workers in the 1980's. Starting in 1991 management outsourced its production to numerous subcontractors that it financed and supplied with machines. This resulted in a series of retrenchments until just more than 2,000 workers remained with the main plant at Paranaque. Novelty gained windfall profit by replacing regular jobs with contractual workers whose wages are cheaper, its benefits few and lack the protection of a union.
The Novelty workers-of whom 2,100 are union members-contested the claim of management that the company is suffering from serious losses and have no more orders from their clients in the US. The workers charged their management with illegal closure, runaway shop and union busting.
Whether Novelty management shifted its production completely to its subcontractors in Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon-which is illegal under the law-or relocated its plant to China or Vietnam-which is the norm under globalization-the workers believe it is tantamount to runaway shop and union busting. For Novelty's aim in both cases is to increase profit by destroying regular jobs, demolishing unions and replacing them with cheap and docile labor.
The Novelty workers in particular and garments and textile workers in general are demanding a stop to the epidemic of closures and retrenchments, rotation and contractualization. The Constitutional right to security of tenure must be protected by legislative and executive action.
As a first step, Congress must hold an investigation as to the causes and solutions to the grave job losses in the garments and textile industry. The export sector of the industry alone employs approximately 400,000 workers in some 1,200 establishments.
The demands of the garments and textile workers are addressed directly to the State. It is the responsibility of the government to find a solution since it the promoter of globalization that has wrecked havoc on local industry and the Filipino workers. The Multifibre Agreement (MFA) that expired at the end of year 2004 is the cause for the shakeup in the garments and textile industry and the hemorrhage of closures and layoffs.
Simply retraining workers and enjoining them to work abroad are not viable and sustainable alternatives. As to the first, retraining will not do since unemployment is too high that even new young college graduates cannot find work. While as to the second, the social costs are too high and immigrant labor is hardly protected in their host countries.
The reforms necessary to address the issue of job security should run the gamut from the tactical, such as provision of unemployment insurance to displaced workers until they can find new decent paying jobs, to the strategic, that is protecting existing jobs by altering the trade policies pursued by the government that it is detrimental to local industry and beneficial only to industrialized economies.
The government must review its commitments to international agreements regarding trade with the end in view of securing national interest, that is, protecting local industry and promoting industrial development. It is up to the local industrialists to advocate reforms in trade policies they believe are necessary to safeguard the local garments and textile industry. In general, the workers are amenable to supporting them, for example the proposal to extend the quota system through a bilateral trade agreement with the US, which is the main market for garments exports made in the Philippines.
Nonetheless, changing trade policies in order to promote local industry will in fact directly benefit domestic business and only incidentally assist Filipino workers. Reforms in labor relations to enhance job security are an integral part of the demands of garments and textile workers. The labor movement is willing to advocate protection for local industry but it must go hand in hand with protection for Filipino workers.
The workers demand the following legislation to protect workers in the garments and textile industry and the working class as a whole:
First, while the seasonal need for contractual labor cannot be denied, it should not be used as an excuse to demolish regular jobs, as is the practice today despite the prohibition of labor-only contracting, the worse form of contractualization. To stop this gross abuse, the category of contractual worker must be abolished and instead replaced by regular seasonal worker. While such workers will only be seasonally employed, they will still be considered regular workers of the company that hires them and thus enjoy appropriate benefits and the protection of a union.
Second, excessive and forced overtime must be curtailed for it is a contradiction that workers are burdened by too much work when so many are left unproductive by lack of jobs. Every pair of workers that are forced by capitalists to do overtime by four hours daily mean the loss of an additional job that could have been filled in by a new worker working eight hours. If the government is committed to creating as many jobs as possible then overwork must be stopped by legislation through a doubling of the overtime premium to 50% as a disincentive to capitalists.
Third, violations of labor standards must be criminalized and punished by imprisonment not just by fines. Only such a rigorous system of justice will put a stop to the sweatshops so prevalent in the garments and textile industry. If kidnapping of the rich so incense the establishment that they find it appropriate to punish such crime by death, then stealing from the poor through substandard wages and benefits is an offense just as harsh, if not more so, and must be penalized accordingly by incarceration.
Fourth, when factories do shutdown permanently then workers must be given first preference over the State and other creditors in claims over assets left by companies. This must be clearly stated by new legislation that absolutely overrides all other laws and precedents. Also even companies that close shop due to grave losses and bankruptcy cannot be exempt from paying their workers separation pay and other money claims.
Finally, as regards the issue of competitiveness and supposed high cost of labor in the country, the lasting solution is not increases in nominal wages but the decrease of the cost of living in order to raise real wages. Thus instead of cheapening the cost of labor, as is the case today, the point is to cheapen the cost of living. Such is the secret behind China's low nominal wages, the fact that subsidized housing and medicine, inexpensive food and goods constitute the bulk of real wages. Among the various ways to go about it is tax exemption and social security subsidies for those earning below a certain ceiling. But the most substantial reform is the radical reduction in the price of food for such expense comprise about half of a working family's budget. A living wage law fixing the minimum wage at the level of the cost of living by combining increases in nominal wages with exemptions in income taxes, subsidies in social security contributions and discounts in basic goods is an urgent legislation that Congress must act upon.
SPECIAL NOV. 4 ELECTION ISSUE:
DEFEND THE RIGHT TO VOTE FOR BLACKS AND LATINOS! NO TO FRAUD AND DISENFRANCHISMENT!
Massive electoral fraud is in the works. The goal is the disenfranchisement of millions of working people, particularly Latinos and Blacks.
While The Organizer newspaper does not support Barack Obama or the Democratic Party, we are consistent fighters for all democratic rights. This means defending tooth and nail the right to vote, particularly in a country built on the ideology of white supremacy and the massive denial of basic democratic rights for Blacks, Latinos and all people of color.
2008 Presidential Election
As we approach November 4, the presidential election takes on enormous importance because of four factors:
* The biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression has engulfed us, threatening the world with the biggest economic depression since that time.
* There is a very real possibility that for the first time in U.S. history, the leader of the most powerful imperialist power on earth will be Black.
* The question of war looms large. U.S. casualties (though not Iraqi casualties) have dropped in Iraq, but they are mounting exponentially in Afghanistan, not only for U.S. imperialism but also for the subordinate European powers.
* There is a distinct possibility of massive fraud in the elections.
Not Mere Speculation
The possibility of disenfranchisement of millions of Latino, Black, and Native American voters is not merely speculation. Many states have begun purging voter rolls because of Social Security data mismatches, which is in violation of federal law. In Arizona and other states, people are being required to bring proof of citizenship to the polls.
On the website Stealbackyourvote.org, Greg Palast and Bobby Kennedy Jr. report on the depth of these attacks:
"Since the last presidential race, states used dubious 'list management' rules to scrub at least 10 million voters from their rolls.
"Republican Secretaries of State of swing-state Colorado have quietly purged one in six names from their voter rolls.
"More then 2.7 million people have had their registrations REJECTED under new procedures signed into law by George Bush. Kennedy, a voting rights lawyer, charges that this is a resurgence of 'Jim Crow' tactics to wrongly block Black and Hispanic voters.
"In 2004, a GOP scheme called 'caging' ultimately took away the rights of 1.1 million voters. Palast predicts that, this November 4, it will be far worse."
On October 15, The Huffington Post reported on the other instruments to perpetrate this fraud:
"Suppression efforts can appear innocuous, such as requiring voters to show photo I.D.s - a requirement that excludes a surprising number of poor, minority, very young and very old voters and kept several elderly nuns from voting in Indiana's Democratic primary this year. Suppression can pose as false righteousness, such as Fox News's 342 negative mentions of a single voter-registration group (ACORN) in just four days (casting the group's efforts to register underrepresented demographics as a threat to democracy, and frightening voters registered by that group into thinking that their registrations might be unlawful), or the past Republican practice of stationing armed, uniformed 'Ballot Integrity' personnel in minority polling places (again, tamping down turnout).
"And there is no lack of flatly illegal suppression schemes, such as vote 'caging' (in which voter resident status is challenged merely because their house is in foreclosure or because a piece of direct mail was returned by the post office), robo-calls falsely telling voters their polling places have changed, and deceptive flyers (like the ones posted in Pennsylvania's inner-city and college neighborhoods, warning of police plans to arrest voters for unpaid child support or parking tickets)."
High Turnout Expected
Since January 2007, almost 2 million naturalization applications were filed by Latinos seeking to vote. That is an increase of 60% over the prior year and was accomplished in spite of the 60% increase in the government fees required to naturalize.
Mainly, this was the accomplishment of a nationwide coalition led by the Service Employee's International Union, UNIVISION, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), and the AARP. Among non-Latinos, millions of citizens have signed up to register as voters as well, with areas of the country seeing increases of more than 1,000% in the rate of registration. In states such as Virginia, Washington, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Nevada, and Idaho, record numbers are expected to turn out, most to vote for Barack Obama.
The regime -- the system of the twin parties of big business, the Republicrats -- has been built on the basis of low voter turn out, particularly among workers and the oppressed. But in today's situation of deepening economic and social crisis, people are looking for change. Illusions are high in Obama, the first Black person in U.S. history likely to become president -- despite his pro-war, pro-business policies.
There are various inter-linked forces behind this year's drive for election fraud. There are the extreme-racist elements of the Republican Party that simply do not want to see a Black person elected president. These "loose cannon" sectors of the Republicans are calling Obama a terrorist and threatening violence in not too veiled a manner should he be elected. This white supremacist threat should not be underestimated.
These forces overlap somewhat with sectors of the Republican apparatus that aim again to use fraud to place or keep their party in power - as they did in 2000 and 2004.
And there are wings of the ruling-class that are not so-much scared of Obama (who represents a continuation of politics-as-usual), but rather of the millions of angry working people -- particularly Blacks and Latinos -- who seek to use their vote on Nov. 4 to give a mandate for fundamental change and who may not be so easy to contain if Obama is elected.
Defend Voters' Rights!
The trade unions and the organizations of the oppressed must unite to fight the fraud. The AFL-CIO has already begun a voter protection effort, but much more needs to be done.
If there is massive fraud to prevent Obama from reaching the White House, there must be an independent call from the unions, Black and Latino organizations and beyond to mobilize in the streets by the millions to demand that every vote be counted. This did not happen in 2000 and 2004, when the Democrats capitulated to the Republicans and refused to defend our voting rights. We must remain vigilant today, so that this does not happen again.
Labor Rally Targets Wall Street Speculators and Promotes Independent Candidacy of Cindy Sheehan
[Note: Following are major excerpts from three of the presentations to the October 5, 2008, rally organized by the Labor For Cindy committee at the Centro del Pueblo in the Mission District of San Francisco. For a transcription of all the presentations, visit www.cindyforcongress.org.]
The vote by the Congress to bail out the Wall Street speculators, led by Nancy Pelosi, should open everyone's eyes to the criminal role played by the Speaker of the House in bailing out the Wall Street speculators on the backs of working people.
Our entire labor movement in San Francisco should be joining us here at this rally to support Cindy Sheehan and to say "NO" to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats. Unfortunately, locally and nationally, our labor movement is tied at the hip to the Democratic Party.
The labor movement in San Francisco has been in the forefront of the U.S. trade union movement in advocating for progressive policies - for the immediate end to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, for the repeal of NAFTA, for single-payer healthcare, for the legalization of all undocumented immigrants, for a stop to the bailout of the Wall Street bankers, for a moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions for millions of workers - to name but some.
But while we adopt these policy positions and urge the rest of the U.S. labor movement to follow suit, we continue to support politicians like Nancy Pelosi, whose program and record in office are completely at odds with what our Labor Council has adopted on the big questions of the day. ...
The Democrats could not get a dog catcher elected without the resources and foot-soldiers of the labor movement. Yet the unions continue to support candidates who claim to be our friends but who quite clearly have far better friends in the corporate board rooms.
Labor can and must break with the Democrats and put forward its own independent labor candidates. More than ever, the central political question facing working people is the need for the trade unions to break with the Democrats and to build their own independent political alternative.
Today, we have with us on this panel a very important group of independent-minded unionists and labor activists who have said, "Enough is Enough!" with Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats!
And, most important, we have here with us today, an independent candidate for U.S. Congress - our next representative in the U.S. Congress from the 8th District in San Francisco, Cindy Sheehan, who is pointing the way forward for the entire trade union movement.
Our goal today is to present labor's true voices for working people and to urge all of you in the next few weeks to build the broadest support in your unions and communities for Cindy Sheehan. She is not running to make the record. She is running to win. With your help, and the help of your co-workers and friends, she can win.
Sisters and brothers: We have to support the candidates that we want, and not settle for the lesser of two evils.
There was a report that on the date the Senate took its vote to bail out the Wall Street bankers, Senator Diane Feinstein reported that she had received 92,000 phone calls, 85,000 of which urged her to vote NO on the bailout. Many of these calls came from Nancy Pelosi's district.
Pelosi gave a BS speech about "the party is over." She says that the fat cats on Wall Street will have to turn the lights off, as the party is over. But let's be clear about something: She was part of the party.
Those of us who call ourselves progressives have very long memories. When people start pointing fingers exclusively at the Republicans for issues of deregulation, we say, "Oh No," that happened on Nancy Pelosi and Bill Clinton's watch.
Bill Clinton was the one who saw the undoing of the Glass Steagall Act, separating investment banks from commercial banks, creating this avariciousness run amok on Wall Street. And Nancy Pelosi believes that giving some lip service to addressing this will make a difference. This is BS.
So when we vote on Election Day, Nancy has to go. She's got to go!
We've got to start laying the foundations for an alternative.
And if anyone wants to know why the so-called liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, along with the Bush administration, are in bed together, let me explain why.
The number one benefactor of these elected officials on both sides of the aisle is Wall Street. These candidates go to the ruling class, the corporate class, for funding - and they have plenty of it. Obama, for instance, received huge donations from Wall Street.
No matter how many our union dollars - and believe me, millions of dollars go to the Democratic Party - the question is, what do we get for it? Absolutely nothing. It's time to start using our money for something else.
Obama said he didn't want any language in the bailout bills that gave the bankruptcy judges any power to keep people in their homes - when even voices in the Democratic Party were demanding this.
As a matter of fact, Obama, according to Naomi Klein, used the term "moral hazard" with respect to the government bailing out homeowners - suggesting that in some kind of way the government would be rewarding bad behavior.
We have to be clear why these people are doing what they are doing. We have to take off the rose-colored glasses.
Anyone in this room who believes the Democrats and Republicans represent working people may as well go ahead and believe in Santa Claus. Let's get behind Cindy for Congress today!
The people of San Francisco have a rare opportunity in this coming election that most people in this country don't have.
You have two antiwar referendums on the ballot - one about Junior ROTC; the other is a referendum on the war itself, telling the Congress and President, "Not one dime, except for bringing our troops home now!" That's a very simple message.
Well, there's a third antiwar referendum on the ballot - and that referendum is in the Congressional race.
You have the opportunity to send a message not just to Nancy Pelosi but to the Congress and to the world that the policies of this government are corrupt - and we're not going to vote for you any more.
It's a very simple proposition.
If anyone needs to be convinced that the capitalist system is a criminal conspiracy against the working class, all you have to do is pick up any paper in the country, or watch any TV station, in the last 10 days -- and you would have convincing evidence of the fact.
There's an op-ed piece in The New York Times today, and it starts by saying that Senator Reid, after the giveaway to Wall Street, said that now we should take up extending unemployment benefits to the 800,000 who are out of work as a consequence of this crisis.
And all of those good progressives, and all of those good conservatives, who were so quick to stand up to hand Wall Street a blank check said, "Not this time!"
And, as a consequence, unemployment benefits are going to expire for tens of thousands in this country. They won't get bailed out by Wall Street.
A lot of attention has been paid of late to mortgage relief, but few talk about unemployment.
This economy is in crisis, and the crisis is not going to be resolved by the bailout.
There was a crisis that was resolved by the bailout. That was the crisis of accumulation by the bankers. They've gotten taken care of.
We've got to talk about all these questions in a language that working people understand - and I'm proud to say that one of the things that makes Cindy Sheehan so valuable to this movement is that she never talks down to people. She speaks with them, from the heart.
Cindy talks about the realities that working families face; that parents with kids in the military face. She speaks about unemployment and what it means to people's lives. She speaks of people losing their homes because their mortgages are being foreclosed on.
Cindy Sheehan is a voice for us. When we go to the polls, when we sit down and write that check that Brother Clarence speaks about - each vote, each dollar becomes an investment in our voice.
Cindy's campaign is the opportunity to tell the system that we've had enough. And I'm grateful that Cindy is there for all of us.
TRIBUNE FREEDOM OF WORKERS
IKINYAMAKURU C'ABAKOZI PARTY - DEMOCRATIC WORKERS PARTY
EDITORIAL: THE COUNTRY IS NOT FOR SALE
Following the provocation concerning ethnicity in the public sector, the country now risks falling into ruin with a imminent privatization announced.
Privatization aims to eliminate the remaining gains of the country: the Public Abattoir Bujumbura (PDB), the Board of Educational Productions (RPP) which has fired more than 50 workers, REGIDESO (water and electricity), Mineral Resources (nickel, cobalt, gold ...), oil, etc.
The hotel, ONATEL (telecommunications), the SOSUMO (sugar), the COGERCO (cotton) and others are slated to be delivered to multinationals such as the Libyan Arab Investment Company.
Many reactions have demonstrated that this privatization would be illegal. It is noteworthy in this regard that the Senate, in its meeting on Sunday, 28/9/2008, approved these privatizations.
The question is that of the legitimacy of this policy in the face of the aspirations of the masses.
Everyone can see: the policy of privatization and debt repayment driven by external powers and their financial institutions (IMF, World Bank, European Union) has dismantled our country through wars of genocide and decomposition with catastrophic consequences for the working masses: physical destruction of populations, poverty, famine, disease, etc.
However, various movements express the rejection of this policy and aim to defend our country: strikes by doctors on their contracts, defense of freedom of press for the release of the imprisoned Director of Net Press, defense of trade union rights, for the Liberation of Vice-President of union workers magistrates of the Ministry of Justice, struggle of workers using their unions to defend the gains of public sector workers and ILO conventions, peasant resistance against the privatization of coffee and tea, etc.
For PTD "Twungurunani", the country is not for sale. Thus,
the government and all institutions of this country should reverse this
It is the struggle for peace and democracy, to defend the people itself and its sovereignty over the national wealth.
EDUCATION: Back to school harder than usual
The school year 2008-2009 of September 15, 2008 took place in conditions even more challenging than in previous years.
This is a moment when the working masses have been plunged into unprecedented misery.
The policy of privatization driven by the World Bank, IMF and the European Union for the repayment of external debt has the consequences of the food crises, rising prices for food consumption, lack of basic services ...
The people of this country, according to international financial institutions is over 80% poor.
The government itself, in pursuing the implementation of orders for these institutions has announced the privatization of the remaining public enterprises.
The government seeks to divest public services such as the RPP (Control of Educational Productions), which publishes textbooks and school books in this context where the public schools suffer various attacks in each new phase of this process of social and economic dislocation.
For example, the population was called to build classrooms.
Despite this effort by the people, the local class are far from meeting all the needs; there are classrooms with more than 80 students in primary school!
Teachers themselves are not sufficient in number and many of them are unskilled.
With this year of 2008-2009, the needs expressed by the Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research amounted to 5 000 units to recruit.
With only 3,000 teachers recruited for this season, we understand that more than 2,000 classes (over 160,000 students) remain without teachers!
However, the government under the guise of 'free' education has remove the school fees which amounted to 1,500 Burundi francs (just over one U.S. dollar.) But per year per student, the notebooks, pens, uniforms ... do not cost less 40,000 Burundi francs (34 dollars U.S.)!
Is not it high time to break with the injunctions of the World Bank and IMF (for which the education sector is a "unproductive budget constraints") to meet the needs of the population?
"Re-nationalization of the lkhMZ plant! Payment of back wages!"
The ILC calls on all organizations of the labor movement, to all supporters of democracy and social progress to send messages of solidarity to their independent union formed under the auspices of the Union of Workers "Defend Labor."
We are publishing this excerpt from Labor News No. 15 (2409) newspaper of the Independent Workers' Party (France), the week of September 15 to October 1, 2008:
On Monday 15 September in the city of Pervomïski workers, more than 200 people attended a meeting convened without notice.
The main demands put forward by participants were:
After the privatization of the company, many unscrupulous investors have not only ruined the company, they partly destroyed its material foundation. Each "new boss" was quick to apply the method: Debt-grants-aid-bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, the population of the metropolitan area was reduced to 2,000. Many multi-story buildings and public buildings with social housing were destroyed. Problems have arisen with the water. Some buildings are totally private. There is no longer any heating or hot water (...). Today Pervomaïski is more like the Stalingrad of the second World War. The decision of the owner of the factory IkhMZ to stop production from Sept. 16 was for the people the straw that broke the camel's back.
The death of the company would sign the death warrant of the city,
condemn its people to a miserable existence and living in the street
Participants urged all workers and democratic organizations in Kazakhstan
and internationally to support in the fight for the life of the plant
and for the survival of their city. At the end of the meeting, the workers
took the decision to form an independent union under the aegis of the
Union of Workers "Defend Labor."
With teachers and students, the whole population rises
An interview with Lorenzo Varaldo, trade union teacher, conducted a few days before the October 25 protest in Rome
ILC: What is happening in education in Italy?
LV: We are seeing a very strong mobilization on the part of elementary schools in early September, which has spread to secondary schools, the nursery and to the universities. General Assemblies in all cities, demonstrations, occupations of schools, unions call for unity, for a general strike. Over 40,000 marched in Turin in unity with the unions on October 4; 40,000 protested in Florence on October 21, and there were hundreds of thousands in Rome on Oct 17. On October 30, the largest strike in the education sector ever known, is being called by trade unions CGIL, CISL and UIL-GILDA-SNALS.
ILC: Why such a volatile situation?
LV: The government released its decrees during the summer: 87,500 teacher jobs cut; 4,700 schools closed in two months; 44 of 500 personal assistants removed; removal of 4 hours of education in all colleges; elimination of "full time" in primary schools (the afternoon would be entrusted to private payments), precarious three-quarters of researchers and university professors. And above all, the privatization project "pure and simple" of the schools and universities.
ILC: Why these attacks?
LV: For years, all governments have focused their blows against the public school under the Stability Pact of the European Union and guidelines on "autonomy" on the destruction of diplomas, programs ...
But now the global crisis requires a further step: the outright destruction of schools and the public university. The European Central Bank has allocated 1,700 billion for speculators for the last month alone: it is precisely in the context of the drive to recover these billions that the cuts already enacted by the Prodi government (and thus by the left parties, who oversaw 30,000 posts cut) are deemed not sufficient -- it is necessary to go all the way in this destruction.
Teachers, students are at the forefront of the mobilization, but also the entire population is involved ...
The entire population is mobilized because it understands that what is at stake is not only the schools and the universities, but it is the unity of the Republic, the national contracts, democracy. The problem is therefore not "educational", but political, and directly undermines the government and its institutions.
The movement seeks every opportunity to find the path of unity with the trade unions for the withdrawal of decrees and the bill, against the political groups and "coordination" which seek to isolate the battle and aim to divide the "movement" of unions. Turin is the city where unity has made the greatest gains. The general assembly of schools in this city took a position for the general strike of October 30, and now there is a new call for a major historical event of millions of citizens in Rome if the government does not withdraw its measures.
Trade union leader Constantin Cretan has finally been released!
Excerpts from the release of the ILC welcoming the successful mobilization of the international labor movement and calling for the release of two remaining prisoners.
On Tuesday October 28, at 1 P.M., after three long years in prison, Constantin Cretan, a former mineworker trade union leader from the valley of Oltenia, was released. He had been sentenced - with five other unions, including Miron Cozma - in 2004 by the Court of Appeal in the Bucharest to five years in prison for "violating the security of the State". Their alleged crime: organizing marches against mine restructuring and lay-offs in 1999. One of the convicts, Ionel Ciontu, died in prison, from a lack of care in January 2007, and Miron Cozma, who had already served long years in prison, was released the same year.
The ILC, which together with the International Committee Against Repression, initiated a broad international campaign for the release of imprisoned trade unionists, welcomes this early release, which is the product of pressure from the international labor movement.
In February 2006, in Berlin, activists from Serbia, Germany and France helped through the framework of a International Workers Solidarity Fund pay almost 15,000 Euros to families of imprisoned minors. In May 2006, the national trade union confederation Meridian of Romania filed a complaint to the Committee on Freedom of Association of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
* In January 2007, after the tragic death of Ionel Ciontu in prison,
the ILC increases the delegations to the embassies of Romania.
It is now essential to continue this campaign until the release of two imprisoned trade unionists: Dorin Lois and Vasile Lupu.
Paris, Tuesday October 28, 2008.
Teachers win a 50% increase in wages
The Romanian president, Basescu announced on Friday a Law on the increase of 50% of teacher salaries. This decision comes after teachers in the country, mobilized en masse in response to the call of their unions, and forced the National Assembly to vote by show of hands a law guaranteeing an increase of 50%. Finance Minister Varujan Vosganian, had sharply criticized the vote by MPs, stressing that this law would cause a "unprecedented rise" in the public deficit beyond the 3% imposed by the Maastricht Treaty. Vosganian had argued that the vote "challenged the status of the European Union."
Prime Minister Tariceanu, criticized the decision of the president: "This is catastrophic for the Romanian economy (...) against a backdrop of economic crisis and financial world that could affect the country." But the president, after the MPs, has yielded to the strikers. Encouraged by this vote, government officials and employees of the health sector have also asked for similar increases, threatening otherwise to trigger strikes.