Open World Conference of Workers
In Defense of Trade Union Independence & Democratic Rights
A dossier of weekly information published by the
United States: You will find below news about U.S. support for Elie Domota.
Martinique: An agreement to end the strike has been reached.
La Réunion: There was a large demonstration on March 19.
After the European Conference on February 7 and 8, 2009:
Italy: A call in the provincial elections "for unity for the prohibition of layoffs."
Spain: An open letter has been addressed to José Luis Zapatero, President of the Government and Secretary General of the PSOE.
Belgium: "The speculators should pay, not the workers! Isn't it time to launch a bail out plan defending workers' interests?" We are reprinting a text published in the newsletter of For the Creation of a Movement for the Unity of Workers.
France: You will find the editorial from Informations Ouvrieres [Labor News]: "The time of revolts."
China: You will find the editorial of China Newsletter No. 305: "China is at a crossroads."
Table of Contents
p. 1: Introduction
After the European Conference on February 7 and 8, 2009 in Paris
A call for a slate in the next provincial election: "Unity for a ban on layoffs."
In Italy, as in all of Europe, thousands of factories, large and small, are closing and laying off, throwing millions of workers into the streets. The estimates refer to a million layoffs in the next few months, while Minister Tramonti announced that 2009 will be worse than 2008.
In our region, in Turin, the entire industry is hit very hard: Indesit is closing, Motorola is laying off, and Fiat has put its employees on "integration fund" (which in reality is unemployment, funded by the state, employers, and workers). And at the same time, the government cuts thousands of jobs in the education sector.
Every minute that passes there are more unemployed in the country.
Right and left, they speak of "social shock absorbers" and a "social wage." In fact, they accept that millions of workers lose their jobs and see their living conditions worsen. It is a fact, no party, large or small, has clearly stated: "Prohibition of layoffs, save all jobs." If we want to open a real solution to the situation we are experiencing, isn't the unity of workers and organizations required to demand that the dismissals be banned?
Isn't this the only measure that could revive consumption, wages, production and purchasing power?
Undoubtedly, unity on this point would open a perspective for the entire population to stop the destructive policy of the government defended by Confindustria (the employers' federation of industry - NDT).
It is around these slogans that we intend to campaign, especially by presenting a slate in the next provincial election in June.
We believe that we cannot get out of this crisis without breaking with the European Union. Others may have different positions, but in accordance with the positions of each, because of the urgency of the situation, we intend to act together to fight to save all jobs.
Informaciones obreras publishes a call for the initiative of activists linked to the ILC in Spain.
A call addressed to José Luis Zapatero, President of the Government and Secretary General of the PSOE.
On March 6, the Council of Ministers, chaired by José Luis Zapatero, adopted a decree of emergency measures to support employment and assist in the protection of jobs.
In summary, this decree aims to hand over 6 billion Euros to employers through tax exemptions and subsidies at the expense of unemployment benefits for new hires. This is six billion in stolen funds from Social Security and unemployment benefits, in addition to the 104 billion given to banks and 140 more in reserve.
Who could imagine that these measures can put a stop to the loss of jobs suffered by the working class in Spain?
In January, 196,000 layoffs in February, 144,000; the most optimistic forecasts agree on the fact that at this rate at the end of the year, there will be 5 million unemployed, more than 20% of the population. One million unemployed receive no benefits. 600,000 families are in danger of losing their homes because they are unable to repay their credit.
Across the country, workers are saying to their organizations, particularly the trade unions: we must immediately organize a general strike.
The protests are multiplying across the country. On March 14, in Barcelona, tens of thousands of demonstrators marched.
The militants linked to the ILC in Spain are the initiators of a call published in the newspaper Informaciones obreras, addressed to José Luis Zapatero, President of the Spanish Government, Secretary General of the PSOE, which has a majority in Parliament, saying: "The urgency of the situation causes us, like workers and young people across the country, to demand that you take urgent measures for the protection of workers and employees who have voted overwhelmingly for you so that you ban layoffs and defend social services. The money is there, simply take back the billions given to the bankers and speculators. "
"The time of revolts"
The capitalist newspaper Les Echos is concerned that we are entering "the time of revolts (1). Sony, Continental, Total? The daily newspaper sees "sparks" that marks the beginning of "an explosion". The origin of the true "social rebellion"? "A gulf of misunderstanding between, on the one hand, industrial strategies based on perfect economic rationality and, on the other hand, the perceptions of workers"?
There is only one problem: employees do not share this "perception." Stupidly, it would appear, workers see the job cuts as unjust and unacceptable.
Workers want to live and to work, they don't want to be evicted from their homes, they want to provide a future for their children? Apparently, hey just don't get it.
Yes, here comes the time of revolts.
Who can understand that, for all this time, the parties that claim to defend the interests of the working class and democracy refuse to listen to the workers' demands? Whatever the disagreements and nuances on other topics, what is more urgent than to unite all efforts, now, immediately, to call for a ban on layoffs at Sony and Continental Glaxo and Faurecia? And it is necessary to raise this demand at the place where the decisions are taken.
The speculators should have to pay, not the workers!
From the newsletter No. 1 for the creation of a movement for the unity of workers across the country (1)
Not one day passes without the announcement of further job losses, economic restructuring or expansion of unemployment in a particular company. In October 2008, unemployment increased 23.4% compared to September. In November, it increased by 50% compared to October and affected 172,223 workers. On January 8, 2009, the leader of the FEB (Federation of Enterprises in Belgium, the employers' organization '- Ed), Rudi Thomaes, in L'Echo reported that "unemployment will increase and merely serves as a buffer before the dismissals. Restructuring should be seen in February and March." The research department of KBC (Belgian financial group Bancassurance - Editor's note) predicts the loss of 100, 000 jobs in Belgium over the period 2009-2010.
Can you resist effectively if the workers have to defend only on a company-wide level, while if they fought together they would be much stronger?
Isn't it time to prepare a big march for jobs, to join the resistance, to demand the prohibition of layoffs, for a plan to protect workers?
In October, the government bailed out banks to the tune of 22 billion, which later became 25 billion (...). Who pays the consequences of the bailouts for banks? (...) In the name of the crisis, the owners demanded and obtained an agreement saying that the 2009-2010 intra-professional contract means nothing to them!
Full-time workers could get (but it remains to be negotiated by sectors and companies ...) up to 250 euros per year by 2010. The owners receive over a billion in "consideration " from reductions in social contributions and taxation! (...) The announcement of the General Federation of Workers of Belgium (FGTB) noted that "the first bailout plans have clearly not succeeded in stopping the crisis." Who has benefited from the billions used on these plans? (...) The only winners are the speculators (...).
Enough is enough: it is the speculators who must pay, not the workers! Isn't it time to launch a bailout plan in the interests of workers?
1. This newsletter is published by union workers and activists of all backgrounds (including members of the Movement for the Defense of Workers [MDT], affiliated with the ILC).
Through the general strike, which took place in unity for 44 days, workers, youth and the entire working population of Guadeloupe has concluded an agreement satisfying the key demands, including that of a 200 euro increase in the monthly minimum wage.
We met with Elie Domota, Secretary General of the General Union of Workers of Guadeloupe (UGTG) and spokesperson for Liyannaj kont pwofitasyon (LKP).He draws a few lessons for the readers of the ILC International Newsletter.
ED: It is a very good balance sheet. We saw 44 days of a total general strike. It was a great demonstration of unity of all workers and all the organizations forming the LKP.
Many said earlier that this was a Negro konplo a sé konplo chyen (a conspiracy of Negroes, a conspiracy of dogs - Ed) ... Well, we have demonstrated that we can unite trade unions, political organizations, consumer organizations, tenants, and cultural movements. It is our diversity that has forged unity.
ILC: What was the origin of LKP and its role in the movement?
ED: How was the LKP started ? Well, very simply. Previously, each organization worked on its own. In late November, at the UGTG, we decided to meet with other organizations, as a series of problems arose and we did not think that any one single organization could only the fight.
It was relatively easy to meet, because for six years we have tried to mount what we called a program of demands of the working class. We were also together on May 1. But during all this time, we were unable to come to an agreement.
On December 5, 2008, we met first with the trade unions, with unions in the education, cultural movements, with political parties ... And then, liyannaj (alliance) took root! There was the strike on December 16 and on the 17th, we went to the Prefecture de Basse-Terre [French Government Building]... and we decided to continue in January.
ILC: Guadeloupe will never be as before, say the workers, activists ... Do you agree? And for you, what does that mean?
ED: I agree. But I want to say that we do not operate in fits and starts, by shock. We must maintain some regularity in all our actions if we do not want to fall back into the system we condemn.
This means, above all, changing social relationships, establishing new social relationships, new relationships between men and women of our country. And above all, social relations in the workplace. We Indians and Blacks, who are majority in this country, must feel proud and stop bowing our heads and accepting the unacceptable.
ILC: In the immediate sense, what does this movement symbolize for the people and workers in the world?
ED: This may symbolize the fact that it is the big struggles that makes life. Today, large international capital controls everything, including the politicians who apply their dictates. We can show that a small nation of 400,000 inhabitants can challenge this system based on exploitation and submission.
The truth is that we are still out on strike in companies that refuse to implement the Bino agreement (2), we call for the implementation of the agreement ... And what does the prosecutor do? He opens an investigation for extortion signing. This, I repeat, is an attempt to smear us, to demonize us.
Just yesterday, we have seen (in France) that the CEO of Sony has been sequestered. However, no journalists, no judge has talked about terrorism!
We are ready and we are not intimidated if they proceed against us! In the court there will be a forum to expose to the world what our society is all about, what the French state does in a small dominated country.
(1) Interviewed on television while békés bosses refused to sign the agreement, Elie Domota said: "Either they will implement the agreement, or they will leave Guadeloupe; we will not let a bunch of békés restore slavery."
(2) The name of the trade union activist shot dead in the night of February 17-18, 2009.
Preamble to the inter-regional agreement on wages in Guadeloupe: Jacques Bino agreement.
-- For the organizations of employers UMPEC, UCE, GRIP, OPGSS, UNAPL;
In the presence of Mr DESFORGES Prefect of Guadeloupe region and under the mediation of Mr BESSIERE, LOPEZ, LEMAIRE Arcont Directors and Labor.
- Considering that the economic and social conditions in Guadeloupe
are a result of the persistence of the plantation economy model.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Eduardo Rosario and Alan Benjamin
End of strike agreement
As in Guadeloupe, the strike ends with an agreement which satisfies the main demands.
An end of strike agreement was signed on Saturday March 14 in Martinique, on the 38th day of general strike against high prices led by the Collective of February 5.
This group, composed of trade unions and popular organizations and cultural organizations, signed an agreement employers organizations, local authorities (region, county, municipality) and representatives of the State. The agreement was called "unprecedented."
"This end of strike agreement allows for the group to reserve the right to go back on strike if agreements are not met or if the negotiations drag on," said Michel Monrose, spokesperson for the collective, emphasizing the "historic" nature of the mobilization.
In the streets and under the windows of the prefecture, where the meeting took place, thousands of demonstrators wearing the red shirt of the collective were singing Matinik lifted ( "Martinique standing" in Creole) driven to music by drums. More than 15,000 protesters marched round the city in support, as has become usual, with the members of the collective.
During the signing, the speech of Michel Morose was warmly applauded by members of the collective in the room. The representatives of the employers who were facing them stood up in turn, with the exception of the President of the local Medef, Patrick Lecurieux-Durival.
In Réunion, a large demonstration took place on March 19
On the island of Réunion, which has been on a general strike since March 5, the negotiations continue.
Those on wages, which were scheduled to resume on Friday, were pushed back at the request of COSPAR, the Collective Against the High Cost of Living. The prefect has submitted a draft interim agreement and the recent responses from the state to 62 demands of the collective. COSPAR has justified its absence by the need to consult its members. "We do not sign anything in haste," said the secretary general of the CGT of Réunion, Ivan Hoareau.
COSPAR called for a protest March 19, a national day of action.
Excerpts from "The China Newsletter" published in France
"2009 will be the most difficult years since 2000," said Premier Wen Jiabao to the members of Government who were meeting on January 19. He insisted on speedy action to be taken, such as those decision already made to support the steel and automotive industries and those planned for eight other industries and has requested that companies reduce their operating costs and maintain employment. This raises again the question: How can workers escape disaster?
In late December, Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Dejiang said that state enterprises should assume their role as an engine of the economy in this difficult situation (even though they are down, profits of state enterprises will exceed 100 billion euros in 2008) and Li Rongrong, the head manager of the state enterprises, said he must give priority to the maintenance of employment and not to cut wages. Who does not see the difference with private companies that do not pay wages and that close the factory over night? At the same time, we learned that steel will be submitted by the Government to a plan of aid for the restructuring of steel companies, which usually leads to job cuts.
New Year Holidays lasts fifteen days. And after this? The year of the Buffalo starts January 26 and in February we will have to find work. Then we can actually measure the extent of the disaster and determine the means that will be used to cope. Where will millions of workers find work? Some experts have announced the return of growth of exports with tax reduction as the key support to industries with high labor-intensity, a selection of foreign investment according to these criteria, and a freeze on project mergers and acquisitions and the privatization of banks.
Nobody knows where the crisis will lead. The National Bureau of Statistics states that "the financial crisis deepens and spreads with persistent negative impacts on China's economy." (Reuters, January 21).
However, a reassuring voice is heard from abroad: Beijing will maintain social stability, Beijing knows how to manage partial satisfaction of demands and arrest leaders, Beijing has learned to manage difficult situations with the privatization and closure of state businesses in 90 years, and so on. Nothing is certain ... The government has also adopted on January 21 a timely health reforms in the cantons ... the first since 2006! Goal: 850 million yuan (97 billion euros) for medical coverage affecting 90% of citizens by 2011.
In any case, unfortunately, there was a decision of the Municipality of Beijing to raise the retirement age from 55 to 60 years for women managers and workers. It is not clear that this measure could free up jobs for young people who graduate, looking in vain for work.
China is at a crossroads. Will the central authorities continue to encourage private investors, Chinese or foreign, to implement the relaunch plan or rely on public companies? And do local authorities have their own plan? Will they still keep allow hundreds of thousands of private companies that do not pay salaries, which do not contribute funds to social protection, who lay off workers overnight without compensation? Will they allow labor laws to be violated again and allow super-exploitation (one company was convicted in October for the death of an 58 year-old employee because of abuse of overtime)?
Or can the Chinese workers expect that public companies complying with the labor laws be developed, grow and provide them the jobs they need?
After the massacre at Tiananmen square in 1989, it was difficult to resume the policy of "reform" and a slogan spread across the globe: the "reform" and the opening will bring democracy to China.
We can measure the true relationship between democratic freedoms and democracy on the one hand and economic reforms on the other hand in an interview by Albert Keidel in the financial daily "Les Echos" (December 18).
When asked whether to "initiate an urgent project of political reform", the expert from China, former chief economist at the World Bank office in Beijing and former U.S. Treasury, replied: "In China, political reform must contribute to social stability (...) there is no urgency to challenge the entire system. This could have unfortunate consequences in the long term success of democratic reforms." For him, the important thing is to know "how fast China has to sell its banking and other financial institutions to private Chinese hands, but also to foreign capital," as he said after the seventeenth congress of the CP in October 2007. Democracy can wait, but not privatization!
We can not talk about democracy without talking about freedom of expression and organization of all strata of society, and thus freedom of association for workers. (...)
Communiqué of the Independent Workers' Party (POI)
About the commitment of France in the framework of NATO
On March 15: The 26th French soldier died in the war in Afghanistan since the commitment of France in the framework of NATO. In Afghanistan, NATO has 57 000 soldiers, including 2,800 French soldiers and 38,000 from the United States (there will soon be 17,000 more). Sixty one foreign soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the year. And 2,118 civilians have been killed!
Communiqué of the Independent Workers' Party
The Independent Workers' Party is opposed to the integration of France
The Independent Workers' Party says that the Treaty of Lisbon, after the treaties of Maastricht and Amsterdam, means deepening subordination "to the commitments made within the NATO" (48 amendment to the existing treaties).
The Independent Workers' Party calls for the withdrawal of French troops from all countries where they are deployed, especially in Afghanistan.
The Independent Workers' Party believes in the right to self-determination
for the Afghan people, to decide their future without any foreign military
occupation of the country.
The national secretaries of the POI