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|Barricade of Radio Free Universidad, Oaxaca, November 2 2006|
On the 2 of October, 38 years since the massacre of Tlatelolco in 1968,(1) the eyes of the proletarian vanguard of the Americas and the world are fixed on the workers and people of that Mexican city that have created their own Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) against the power of the bourgeois ruling class.
There, on the 14 of June, defeating the police and the forces of repression sent by the PRI Governor Ulises Ruiz to smash their occupation of the central plaza of Oaxaca, the Zocalo, the striking teachers, took control of the city, created the Popular Assembly, formed their own self-defense committees, and established the workers and campesinos’ Commune of Oaxaca.(2) This commune is a revolutionary conquest not only of the Mexican working class, but of America and the world, yet it will not prevail unless its struggle and demands are generalised and adopted by the rest of the workers and poor farmers of Mexico and the world.
The heroic struggle of the Oaxaca Commune is at the head of the enormous workers and campesinos’ insurgency that has been shaking Mexico for several months, like the miners and steel workers of Michoacán, and the workers and campesinos uprisings in Atenco and Texcoco. The call has gone out to the workers of Mexico and the world to come to the defence of the Oaxaca commune. It is surrounded by the military forces of Fox and his successor Calderón, and by the PRI paramilitaries, who are defending the PRI state government of Ulises Ruiz, demanding that the leaders of the APPO “negotiate”. But If the APPO remains firm in its central demand to replace Ruiz, the ruling regime of the Mexican bourgeoisie in collaboration with US imperialism, is prepared to smash the Commune in blood and fire.
It is no accident that this rising insurgency has its parallel on the other side of the “border” in the United States, where 12 million Latino migrants have begun to fightback against the slave labor conditions and racist persecution of the immigration laws in the United States. Joining together in this struggle, the US and Mexican masses are rising up against imperialist domination of Latin America, and against its re-colonisation offensive under NAFTA that imposes slave labor conditions and super-exploitation of workers and campesinos on both sides of the border. Because in Mexico and the United States there is only one working class and one revolution, the ghost of the Mexican revolution now haunts the US imperialists who know that no 'Wall', ‘border police’ or ‘minutemen militias’ can prevent that revolution from entering the heart of US imperialism.
The revolutionary upsurge of the working class and exploited peoples of Mexico, creating their advance guard in the Oaxaca Commune, joined with the struggle of their class brothers and sisters in the US, and alongside the heroic struggles of the Chilean working class and the resistance of the Bolivian workers vanguard defending the mines of Huanuni, proves that the Latin American revolution is alive and resisting the fraud of the “Bolivarian Revolution” of Chávez, Morales, Fidel Castro and the World Social Forum that is today showing its true face by killing miners at Huanuni to defend the client regimes and governments of MERCOSUR that serve the imperialist monopolies.
NAFTA enslaves Mexico to imperialism and the fraudulent and repressive ‘transitional’ regime of ‘alternates’
Today the Mexican masses are rising up after 12 years of resistance to the North American Free Trade Agreement, the NAFTA, which began on 1st January 1994. The day that NAFTA came into effect, the campesinos of Chiapas rose up in an armed rebellion. To the war cry of “Down with the NAFTA” the insurgents stood up against the pact that allowed imperialism to strip them their land rights under the 1917 Constitution. The Chiapas popular rebellion and the economic crisis – the “tequilazo” – that followed shortly after, severely weakened the legitimacy of the Priato, the regime of the PRI that had ruled semi-colonial Mexico for more than 50 years. (3)
In order to prevent the masses from sweeping away the Priato, the imperialists and the Mexican bourgeoisie negotiated the “transition pact” – also supported by the PAN and the PRD – which consisted of measures to combat electoral corruption and fraud, including the “democratization” of the PRI.
But despite these reforms, the Priato collapsed in 2000 under renewed attack by the masses, who breaking from their bureaucratic leaders began mobilisations of students, workers and campesinos. For example, in the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) students went on strike for 10 months, and then occupied the university to force the release of 200 prisoners. At the Mexe Teachers College (in Tepatepec, Hildago province) students went on strike over poverty conditions and were supported by workers and campesinos who disarmed police and took them as hostages to force the release of imprisoned students.(4)
In the face of what looked like the re-opening of the Mexican revolution, imperialism and its lackey bourgeoisie, abandoned the Priato and its failed “transition pact” and devised a new plan to divert the masses back to the elections to vote for ‘alternatives’ to the hated PRI. The different fractions of the bourgeoisie create a new regime – the “regime of the alternates”. Instead of a single-party system like the Priato, the three parties, the PRI, PAN and PRD (both the PAN and PRD had emerged out of the PRI in the 1990s) were to be presented as ‘alternative’ governments.
The PRD and EZLN ‘baits’ the trap
To set this trap, they used the ‘leftist’ credentials of the leaders of the PRD, in particular Cardenas, and the EZLN, who had already signed the ‘San Andréas Accords’ in 1996 with the PRI, in which they renounced the fight against NAFTA and the Priato for land rights, in exchange for the “formal autonomy” of the Chiapas peasant communities. In 1997 the PRI lost control of Congress, and in 2000 Fox and the PAN won the presidency, ending the 70 year rule of the Priato. So came into existence, the first ‘alternate’ government, that of the PAN.
Thus in Mexico the political regime changed without any direct intervention of the revolutionary masses, but on the basis of an agreement between different fractions of the bourgeoisie and imperialism. This self-reform of the bourgeois regime from above we call ‘Bismarkism’ as it is loosely analagous to the policy of the bourgeois German Chancellor, Bismarck, in the late 19th century.
In the revolution of 1848 in France, for the first time in history, the rising proletariat had entered the fight against the monarchy on the side of the bourgeoisie, but then threatened to overthrow the bourgeoisie itself. The terrified French and European bourgeoisies turned and smashed the working class with blood and fire. To avoid the same threat in Germany, Bismarck negotiated a ‘peaceful’ transition to a bourgeois regime which allowed German capitalism to develop without the revolutionary overthrow of feudal social relations.
It is in this sense that we call the plan of the Mexican bourgeoisie to reform the regime from above in a pact with US imperialism, ‘Bismarckian’. But today, it is ‘senile’ because in the epoch of imperialism the destruction of the productive forces means that the ‘compromise’ between reactionary imperialism and the national bourgeoisie leaves no room for ‘democracy’, and so ‘Bismarckism’ must directly attack the proletarian revolution.
With the electoral victory of Fox in 2000, the Mexican bourgeoisie paraded this senile Bismarckian regime before the masses as the ultimate in 'democracy'. But this regime was just as dedicated to the NAFTA and administering the double and triple chains of super-exploitation of Mexico, that it was a no less fraudulent, corrupt and repressive than the old Priato. The ‘alternate’ PAN government became the direct agent of US imperialism. Despite its formal ‘parliamentary democracy’, it took on a Bonapartist character, attempting to reconcile class conflict in the ‘national’ interest. Yet, like the Priato, it resorted to the same old fraud in stealing the 2006 Presidential election from the PRD. So in the eyes of the masses, it took the PAN just 6 years to exhaust its ‘democratic’ credentials and to pass on the defence of ‘democracy’ to the defeated ‘third alternate’ the PRD.
The ‘alternate’ PRD led by Lopez Obrador (AMLO) and supported on the ‘left by the Stalinists, Castroists, and the fake-Trotskyists in the WSF, today plays a key role in containing the exploited and oppressed masses, preventing their protest against the Fox-Calderón electoral fraud from turning the Federal District (DF) and all of Mexico into one big Oaxaca Commune.
This explains the occupation of the Zocalo of Mexico City “against fraud” and “for democracy”, and the PRD's support of the APPO’s demand to remove the PRI machine in their state by constitutional means. By posing as anti-imperialist and pro-democracy the PRD leadership tries to fool the masses into thinking that they can have ‘democracy’ without breaking with imperialism. This is the real fraud because Obrador and the PRD have no interest in breaking from NAFTA and US imperialism.
The critical role played by Lopez Obrador, and also by the EZLN – as we shall see below – is in response to the uprisings of the workers and farmers to the NAFTA regime. When the masses threaten to make a revolution and wipe the NAFTA regime off the map, the ‘third alternate’, the PRD comes to its aid, backed by the prominent Latin American leaders of the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ and their agents in Mexico, and supported by Castroism and all the reformist leaders in the World Social Forum.
Defend the Oaxaca Commune!
Down with Ulises Ruiz! All power to the APPO!
For all militant workers and campesinos organisations in Mexico to send mandated delegates of the base to Oaxaca to organize its defense and a nationawide general strike!
After 12 years of NAFTA, US imperialism has intensified its offensive against Mexico to complete the re-colonisation of Mexico and guarantee its superprofits. It wants to privatise PEMEX (Mexican State Petroleum) and and the national electricity company. It is no accident that the new president, Felipe Calderón, winning by fraud, is the ex-minister of energy of the Fox government.
The anti-imperialist uprisings are the workers, campesinos, and students reply to imperialism’s offensive, and the Oaxaca Commune is the most advanced of these uprisings. The Mexican bourgeoisie, the government of Fox-Calderón and the NAFTA regime are well aware of the terrible danger that the Commune – whose example begins to spread far and wide in Mexico to Guerrero and at least 10 other states – poses to their private property and class rule.
They understand clearly that in Oaxaca there are two absolutely irreconcilable class forces facing each other. On one side, is the power of the imperialistic monopolies, the national bourgeoisie, and its armed institutions and paramilitary gangs. On the other side, is the power of the workers, campesinos and other oppressed people of Oaxaca with their own institution – the APPO. The APPO unites almost 400 workers', campesinos', students' and popular organisations in struggle, provides its own independent justice, has formed its own organs of self-defense, and is now the only power recognised as legitimate by the workers and the all exploited Oaxaqueños.
That is why US imperialism and its lackey NAFTA bourgeoisie offer APPO the “carrot” of negotiation, but at the same time prepare their military forces to smash it. This is just like the popular front government of Morales in Bolivia. While seated at the negotiation table with the union miners of Huanuni and agreeing to the 1500 jobs that the people of region demanded, at the same time it was conspiring with the self-employed miners to attack the union miners and to privatize the mine!
The same trap is being prepared against the Comuneros of Oaxaca. While the Secretary of the Oaxala state government says that he will meet the demands of the teachers for increased pay, drop the charges against the leaders of the APPO and release the political prisoners, the Senate rejects the only non-negotiatable demand of the APPO, for the removal of the state governor Ulises Ruiz (URO), on the constitutional grounds that a ‘vacuum of power’ does not exist.
Some of the leaders of APPO take this as a signal to pressure the rank and file teachers to give up this demand and return to work. But in the event that the rank and file votes to continue the strike then the Fox-Calderon Federal government is preparing, together with the PRI Oaxaca state government, to use the troops and the “porros”, the PRI paramilitaries who have already killed at least 6 strikers, to smash the Commune with blood and fire.(5)
It is necessary to rally the international working class forces in response to the call of the Commune:
Long live the Commune and its demand “All power to the people”!
Down with Ulises Ruiz!
All power to the APPO!
Immediate and unconditional freedom for all political prisoners!
All the militant workers' and campesinos' organisations must send delegates mandated by the rank and file to Oaxaca to guarantee the defense of the Commune and to organize a national general strike to prevent the repression, and to generalise the Commune and its objectives to all the Mexican masses!
The heroic oaxaqueños comuneros have already organized for their self-defense, creating more than 3,000 coordinated and centralized barricades, and workers' and campesinos' self-defence committees to defend them, “Cuerpo to topiles” or “guard corps”.
Immediate formation of defence committees nationwide to defend the workers and campesinos, their organizations and their struggles from the the police and the army, and from the “porros” of the union bureaucracy “charra” and of the white guards of the landowners who openly kill the campesinos!
The EZLN has the responsibility to stop the isolation of Oaxaca!
The workers and campesinos of Chiapas and Guerrero must stand next to their Oaxaqueños brothers and sisters!
Oaxaca cannot be isolated when its slogans, “Down with NAFTA”, “Land for the campesinos” and “Down with the the hated regime”, are the same slogans raised by the Chiapas insurgents in 1994. In the neighboring state of Guerrero the oppressed masses are already building Popular Assemblies.
The workers and campesinos of Chiapas and Guerrero must be the first to respond to the call of their brothers and sisters of the Oaxaca Commune and unite in a same fight against imperialism and the NAFTA regime of the PAN, PRI and PRD!
The EZLN is at the moment giving its verbal support to the fight of the oaxaqueños communeros. Subcomandante Marcos (Delegate Zero) writes letters and crosses Mexico by motor scooter organising the “Other Campaign”. Enough of passivity and verbal support! The EZLN must make available for the defense of the Oaxaca Commune and its struggle for victory, all its resources, and call on the workers and campesinos of Guerrero to rise up and to follow their example, and create a Federation of Workers and Campesinos’ Communes of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Chiapas. This is the only way to revive the Mexican revolution, of overthrowing the fraudulent regime of the PAN, PRI and PRD, finishing with imperialism and the NAFTA, expropriating the land for the landless, and realising the demands for which so many of the chiapanecos gave their lives from 1994.
Down with the fraudulent NAFTA regime of the PAN, PRI and the PRD!
To make sure that the Oaxaca Commune survives and is victorious, its struggle and its demands must be taken up by all Mexican workers and campesinos. This means smashing the NAFTA regime of the PAN, PRI and PRD and its fraudulent ‘democracy’. For that reason, it is necessary to raise the demands that the Mexican workers and campesinos organisations break all their ties to the bourgeoisie, and that their leaders immediately convene a National Popular Assembly of delegates of the rank of file of all the workers, students and campesinos’ fighting organisations, to centralize the struggles, and organize national general strike that will continue until the government of Fox-Calderón and the NAFTA regime of PAN, PRI and PRD are swept away, and that a new government that can meet the urgent demands of the exploited masses of Mexico has been created.
Down the regime of the fraudulent NAFTA regime of the PAN, PRI and PRD!
End the NAFTA plunder of Mexico!
Expropriate without compensation the landowners and the imperialists, Land to the landless! Expropriate the bankers without compensation, and create one state bank under workers’ control to provide cheap credit for the campesinos!
No to the privatization of PEMEX!
Nationalize without compensation and under workers control all monopolies and the privatized companies!
Worthwhile work and living wages for all, distributing the working hours among all those willing to work with a minimum wage set by the family cost of living!
Real national independence, land for the landless, and bread and work for the workers are objectives that can only be won by a provisional revolutionary Workers’ and Campesinos' Government, supported by workers’ and campesinos’ militias, following the revolutionary overthrow of the hated NAFTA regime.
A Workers’ and Campesinos’ Government will be the only government capable of guaranteeing a truly sovereign Constituent Assembly that breaks with imperialism, solves the agrarian question and in which the oppressed masses of Mexico can discuss democratically the solutions to its problems.
Emergency call to the workers and poor farmers of the United States, Latin America and of the world:
Stand up in defense of the Commune of Oaxaca!
The main ally of the comuneros of Oaxaca and the Mexican oppressed peoples, is the North American working class, and in particular, the millions of Latino immigrant workers of the United States. For the North American proletariat, the NAFTA means dismissals, wage cuts, loss of rights and privileges, and losses of benefits such as health schemes and pensions. For the Mexican working class and exploited people, the NAFTA is super-exploitation, free trade zones (maquilas), slavery, plundering the nations resources, and driving peasants off the land. The working class of the United States must rise in defense of the Commune of Oaxaca and its Mexican class brothers and sisters, demanding:
We are a same class on both sides of the border!
Down with the NAFTA! Down with the Wall of Bush, Hillary Clinton and Co!
End the persecution, super-exploitation, deportation and murder of the Mexican and Latino immigrant workers in the United States!
Immediate citizenship and all social, economic, political and trade union rights for all immigrant workers!
The NAFTA increases the profits of the US monopolies and the Mexican lackey bourgeoisie, and decreases the wages of the combined North American working class. It is necessary to increase the wages of the the workers and reduce the profits of the bosses on both sides of the border!
Equal pay for equal work!
The same conditions of work and benefits won by North American workers, for Mexican workers!
For the unity of the working class of North America in defeating the union bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO servants of US imperialism and the “Republicrats”, and the Mexican union bureaucracy, “charra”, hired thugs of the NAFTA regime of PAN, PRI and PRD!
The Leninist Trotskyist Fraction, answers the call of the Oaxaca Commune with its own Emergency Call to all workers', students' and poor farmers' organisations of America and the world to take to the streets, to surround the Mexican embassies and consulates, to make mobilizations, strikes etc., in support to the heroic fight of the workers and the oppressed people of Oaxaca to stop the repression and any attempt by Fox, Calderón and the hated NAFTA regime to smash the Commune in blood and fire.
Leninist Trotskyist Fraction - 20 October 2006
Afterword, 10 November 2006:
Since the above was written events in Oaxaca have taken a serious turn. On 27th October Priista paramilitaries shot and killed 3 people, one teacher, one neighbor and a US Indymedia journalist Bradley Will.
The next day Fox sent in the the Federal Preventative Police (PFP) a militarised riot police that Fox recently created to suppress popular uprisings.
The PFP continues to occupy Oaxaca city having taken over the Zocala. However, they have not prevented the APPO from retaining control of most of town outside the Zocala, and from holding the University which houses Radio APPO from a determined assault on Thursday November 2nd a staunch defence in which the supporters of APPO confronted the PFP with rocks, sticks and any weapons they could find. Another megamarch of over 1 million took place in Oaxaca on Sunday November 6 drawing thousands of supporters from many parts of Mexico.
Fox’s tactic is to use the PFP as an overwhelming force to prevent the APPO from regaining the Zocala and public buildings while he negotiates with the APPO leadership and tries to get Ulises Ruiz to resign.
Meanwhile the CND (National Democratic Convention) which arose out of the widespread resistance to the fraudulent election of Philip Calderon in July, is now supporting the APPO and trying to bring this grass-roots movement together with the PRD leadership plan to declare and alternative government to the PAN on November 19, the anniversary of the Mexican National Revolution of 1910.
Our program is to call for the formation of APPOs and defense militias everywhere, to call for strikes in the key industrial sectors, to build for a general strike to bring down the PAN regime, and to split the PRD base from the AMLO leadership, and the base of the military from the officers, and so form a Provisional Worker and Campesino Government
|Battle between state and privatised miners at Huanuni October 2006|
The renegades –fake Trotskyists – (former Trotskyists who claim to still be Trotskyists) are a left leg of the treacherous class-collaborationist policy of the COB (Bolivian Workers Center) leaders that sells-out the workers struggle.
Facing the Huanuni events, Lora’s POR (Revolutionary Workers' Party) again played the same deadly role it has been playing since October 2003: as the fundamental support of the Castroite bureaucracy (first Solares, now Montes) at the head of the COB.
POR leads a number of unions e.g. the La Paz city teachers, retired miners of Cochabamba, and student unions in different Bolivian universities. POR could have sent dozens of delegates with a mandate from the rank and file, voted by grass-root assemblies of the organizations it leads, in support of the wage-earning miners. Those forces, together with the Huanuni miners, could have called for the El Alto worker organizations to break with the collaborationist leadership of Patana and Mamani and to recreate the headquarters of the revolution. POR has done none of this.
Far from this, speaking about Morales’ government, POR wrote in its paper:“Facing the bloody evidence of the systematic assaults of the cooperativistas whose aim is to control all of Posokoni Hill, (Morales government) refused to use the public force to prevent the confrontation. And when the bloody events occured, it proved its incapacity to prevent the slaughter choosing to transfer its responsibility to (the state office for) Human Rights, the Ombudsman and the Clergy (Masas Nº 2012, 13/10/06, our emphasis).
So Lora’s POR, like Montes of the COB and the leaders of the FSTMB (Miners Union), makes Evo responsible for not having sent the “public forces” –that is, the cops and the murderous Armed Forces- to Huanuni. Not very surprising! It is the same old POR policy of telling the workers they have to build an alliance with the (supposedly) “red officers” of the army, which that party has organized for decades in the organization “Vivo Rojo”.(Red Alive) Today the POR advances the same policy that 35 years ago help to strangle the 1971 Bolivian revolution, by supporting – together with COB bureaucracy and the Stalinists – General Torres the then-president of Bolivia whom they introduced as an “anti imperialist” and even “socialist” officer.
So, while the leadership of the COB, the Stalinists, POR and other groups were entertaining themselves talking in the Popular Assembly, they adamantly refused to organize the workers and peasants’ militias to confront the coup General Banzer was openly preparing. As a result workers and peasants were utterly defeated and massacred, while Lechín (then COB’s head), Lora and his POR and General Torres (already deposed), organized abroad, “in exile” a “Revolutionary Anti-imperialist Front” that had the goal of seizing power and achieving socialism in Bolivia!!!
But POR`s infamous policy doesn’t end here. The article above also says “…in this struggle, the wage-earning miners embody Bolivian interests and it is inconceivable that the State will not assume its responsibility for holding onto its own wealth (…). The wage-earning miners’ struggle is the struggle of the entire country. It is all about the destiny of the national economy and that is why a big mobilization of the exploited is imperative to force this government to renew the state mining business. Which means the restitution to the COMIBOL of the management of the most important mines that are today operated by private (both national and transnational) medium and large mining companies," (our emphasis).
It is impossible to speak more clearly. Lora’s POR calls to exert pressure on the popular front government and the bourgeois state. It is feeding illusions of the possibility that a bourgeois government, which in the end is a servant of the transnational monopolies, to meet the Bolivian miners and entire working class’ demands of nationalization of the whole mining business without compensation and under workers control! Alas, it is the same government that has just handed over El Mutun hill, just sent the fascist cooperativistas’ armed gangs to kill the Huanuni miners!
POR proves once more to be the party of the Castroite bureaucracy in the Bolivian revolution, the same role played by all the liquidators of Trotskyism on our continent, having dragged the flag of the Fourth International under the feet of Stalinism.
As a fifth leg of this treacherous class-collaborationist policy, there is the PTS (Socialist Workers' Party) from Argentina and its satellite group in Bolivia the Revolutionary Workers' League, the LOR (CI). The PTS says: “the wage-earning miners had got solidarity not just from their community but also from other miners, students and popular sectors of Oruro. The Bolivian Worker Center (that is, the COB) marched on Tuesday along La Paz streets in solidarity with Huanuni and its demands” (LVO 208, 12/10/06). There is no mention of Montes` policy of “militarization”, so in fact covering up and whitewashing the COB class-collaborationist leadership.
In these matters of life and death for the proletariat, the PTS and its satellites don’t show the least interest. Why bother? They already have their Constituent Assembly, that which they claimed during 2003 had to be set up in Bolivia!
For them, the masses would be now “having their experience with bourgeois democracy”. PTS’ policy for an IPT [Workers Political Institution, a euphemism for PT - Workers Party] has already failed as well as their flirting with Solares [former COB head] and the COB bureaucracy. They are unquestionably a useless link in Bolivian reformism, but always happily hanging from the skirts of those responsible for the handing over of the Bolivian revolution –the COB bureaucracy.
We ask them: Would you please show us a program to confront fascism with a tactics of united front of all the working class and popular fighting organizations in Bolivia? Silence. Perhaps, a policy to remove definitely the COB treacherous leadership, sending delegates to fight in Huanuni and re-group working class ranks? Silence. What do you think about “national” armed forces going to “defend” the miners, as Montes and POR proclaim? Silence…. Silence is the only answer.
|State miners defend themselves from self-employed miners at Huanuni, October 2006|
After two days of hard fighting to resist the attack of the counterrevolutionary forces of the small cooperativista bosses supported and armed by Walter Villarroel – then mining Minister in Morales` government and a cooperativista boss himself –the heroic Huanuni miners stopped their attackers taking of the mine. 500 wage-earning miners and their wives, sisters and daughters of the Housewives Committee confronted 2000 cooperativistas and defended their mine, their houses, their town, their families and their historical gains. They had to pay the price of several comrades fallen in the struggle.
Thus while bargaining with the fascist Media Luna bourgeoisie and the transnationals in the fake Constituent Assembly, Morales intended to secure the huge tin reserves of the Huanuni mine, especially Posokoni Hill’s 948,000 tons valued in 4000 million dollars, for the profit-hungry “cooperativista” national bourgeoisie, driven by a world tin price which has risen from U$S 4890 per metric ton in 2003 to….. U$S 7385 in 2006!
The attack of the cooperativistas bosses was the Morales' government reply to the successful struggle of Huanuni miners who, with campesinos, unemployed and a sector of the workers exploited by the cooperativista bosses, had just forced the government to let the state mining company Comibol (Corporacion Minera Boliviana, or Bolivian Mining Corporation) work the mine in Posokoni Hill and to create 1500 new jobs in Huanuni.
Following this agreement, thousands of unemployed miners and many of those enslaved by the cooperativista bosses, started to arrive from all over the country at Huanuni in the hope of getting their jobs back in the state mines, and to win back their rights, their old living standards and their dignity.
The popular front government of Morales, servant of the transnationals, would not allow the agreement with the Huanuni miners to be honored. That is why it encouraged and organized the cooperativista bosses to attack the Huanuni workers and retake the mine.
But Morales’ plan failed because of the heroic resistance of the miners and their workers self-defence organisation. On the evening of 6 October, a provisional truce was signed between the wage-earning miners and the cooperativista bosses, and negotiations were opened.
During the next weekend, the wage-earning miners and Huanuni townspeople held a wake for the dead and then buried their five comrades who fell in combat, along with the three Huanuni townspeople killed by dynamite thrown by cooperativista bosses.
After the Huanuni battle, both Evo Morales and the bourgeois tried cynically to present themselves as the “peacemakers”.
But it is they, together with the imperialist transnationals, who steal the wealth of Bolivia and drive the masses into misery. And it is they who sent the fascist gangs, the army, the cooperativista bosses thugs to kill the workers.
Reaching the height of cynicism, Evo Morales asked the people to be “understanding” with him about the “mistakes” that he made due to his “inexperience” as he “had never governed” and that was “learning”. “Learning”….. yes! “learning” how to kill workers, as bosses do, and every bourgeois government serving the interests of the transnationals and imperialism like the one he is heading!
There is no doubt that Morales has proved to be a very apt “student”. In just a few months, he has murdered in Oruro a worker from the Movimiento Sin Techo (Movement of the Homeless); in the Chapare, two coca peasants, and now the Huanuni wage-earning miners.
After sending the cooperativistas to massacre the miners, Morales “denounced” it all as a “conspiracy” against his government and raised the alarm of a ‘coup’ being prepared by a “united front of destabilizers” including police, army officers, the separatist bourgeoisie of the Media Luna and… the school teachers with the wage-earning miners and their unions, the COB, the COR of El Alto, etc.!
Bastards! The only “conspiracy” here is that between Morales' government with Villarroel and the cooperativista bosses to massacre Huanuni miners and steal their mines! It is the transnationals and the national bourgeoisie together who conspire against the exploited masses of Bolivia to steal its hydrocarbons and its minerals! It is Morales' class collaborationist government and MAS members in the parliament together with the fascist bourgeoisie of the Media Luna, who conspire against the people and the worker and peasant revolution in that fake Constituent Assembly!
It was Evo Morales with MAS and the collaborationist leaderships of the worker and peasant organizations who in October 2003, conspired behind the rebellious masses’ backs, expropriated their victory in overthrowing Goni and handed power over to Mesa! And they conspired again in June 2005, when the masses in struggle had overthrown Mesa: they delivered the power to Rodriguez overnight, within a session of an unlawful parliament brought together in Sucre and surrounded by the hatred of those masses!
Morales' government –as every class collaborationist government led by the national bourgeoisie associated with the transnationals and the international financial capital –has not even thought about confronting the bourgeoisies from Santa Cruz/ Media Luna, which are openly secessionist and are barefacedly arming fascist brigades in order to smash the workers and peasants.
Before taking charge, Morales went to Santa Cruz to ask the oil and landowner oligarchy to “teach him how to govern” because he was going to take care of controlling the rebel worker and peasant masses. He has learnt perfectly from his teachers, to kill workers and poor peasants. This is the government that makes pacts with the secessionist bourgeoisie of the Media Luna in the Constituent Assembly, while sending the counterrevolutionary forces to massacre the miners.
This is the infamous role of the popular front, of the old Stalinist policy of class collaboration with which hundreds of revolutions and the world proletariat have been strangled for decades; a policy supported today by that den of counterrevolutionary bandits of the World Social Forum.
Down with the pact between the anti-worker and repressive government of Morales and the native slave-owner bourgeoisie, the Cruceña oligarchy!
Enough of making the proletariat and its struggle organizations kneel at the feet of the bourgeoisie!
Let’s regroup forces now around Huanuni heroic miners resistance!
The Bolivian working class needs a program and a strategy to win and renew the revolution that, from October 2003, has been snatched by the World Social Forum!
The COB and FSTMB leaders call for the “militarization” of Huanuni to subordinate the workers to the supposedly “patriotic” soldiers and give away the tin business to them.
Spilling their blood in their struggle, the heroic Huanuni miners spoiled the counterrevolutionary plan of the popular front. They prevented the mine from being stolen and re-opened the prospects for the worker and peasant revolution, now stolen, to rise up again. They could have re-conquered –this time in Huanuni- the “headquarters of the revolution”, raising its key demands.
Nationalization without compensation and under workers’ control of all the mines and the hydrocarbons!
Out with the transnationals, expropriation of the landowners!
Land for the peasants, bread and good jobs for all the workers!, etc.
But this prospect has been barred time and again until now by the collaborationist leaders of the worker organizations (mainly the COB and the FSTMB) that support Morales' bourgeois government.
Facing this counterrevolutionary attack of the cooperativistas against the Huanuni wage-earning miners, these leaders called for “pacification” and asked their “friend” Morales to send the armed forces to Huanuni to “defend” the mine, as the COMIBOL is state property. Moreover, these leaders use the possibility of a new attack by the cooperativistas, as a gun pointing at the miners’ heads to scare them and their families so as to force them to accept the policy of leaving their fate in the hands of the “nationalist” sector of the murderous military.
Montes and the COB leadership are asking “their” government, “their” friend Morales to send the supposedly “nationalist” officers that support him, to impose order because of the danger that the workers in Huanuni fighting back could mean the regrouping of the whole Bolivian proletariat.
The policy of COB and FSTMB leadership is only one more step in their treacherous class collaborationist politics of keeping the workers subordinated to the bourgeoisie, their ranks divided, and the worker and peasant revolution strangled.
These same leaders – the COB bureaucracy in first place – have abandoned thousands of unemployed to their fate, without organizing them, so allowing them to be enslaved and super-exploited by the cooperativista bosses and today used as anti-union armed thugs against the Huanuni wage-labour miners. The COB bureaucracy – formerly Solares, now Montes- have devoted themselves to dissolve the embryonic dual power organisations that the masses had built. Moreover, they handed over power twice to the bourgeoisie, first to Mesa, then to Rodríguez, and on top of that they called for workers to support their “friend” Morales.
Today when demanding the “militarization” of Huanuni, Montes and the Miners Union leadership are only repeating the old treacherous Lechinite [from the MNR union bureaucrat, Lechin, who sold-out the 1952 Bolivian revolution] policy of the COB bureaucracy of looking for “patriotic”, “anti-imperialist”, “red” soldiers to subordinate the proletariat to those “saviors”.
In that way the bureaucrats manage to deepen the division in the proletarian ranks, keeping them subdued to the popular front and so preventing the workers and peasant alliance being reforged again. As a reward for this “service”, they lure the sector of the Armed Forces that supposedly supports the national bourgeoisie –offering it the lucrative tin business.
This policy of finding “patriotic officers” had been already raised by Solares during May-June 2005. Then he went to knock on the doors of the barracks looking for allies to sell out the masses’ revolutionary days of struggle which were aimed at completely disorganising the bourgeois power institutions.
It is the same policy of Juan Lechin Oquendo then leader of the COB, who along with the Stalinists and Lora`s POR, which betrayed the 1971 revolution. Then they hand the revolution to General Torres –who even talked about “socialism –and joined his “Revolutionary Anti-imperialist Front” while Banzer`s bloody dictatorship was massacring the workers and poor peasants.
The imposition of this ‘patriotic’ class collaborationist policy of the bureaucratic leadership, meant the miners victory won through their joint struggle with the poor peasants and the unemployed, winning 1500 jobs under COMIBOL collective contract conditions was lost.
This class collaboration policy deepens the divisions in the workers’ ranks because it separates the Huanuni wage-earning miners –supposedly “guarded” by the armed forces –from the thousands of cooperativista poor miners. It leaves these super exploited workers at the mercy of the cooperativista bosses to enslave them and use them as armed gangs against the working class.
This policy also separates the Huanuni miners from the poor peasants, because the miners are prevented from joining forces with the campesinos who had their martyrs killed Armed Forces in 2003, and today suffer the repression of the “anti-drug” army brigades in El Chapare or Las Yungas!
The COB called a “national strike” for October 10, precisely with this program of demanding Huanuni`s militarization. A program that that is intended to make the miners and the whole working class kneel down before the criminal policy of class collaboration with the supposedly “nationalist” sector of the murderous army officers caste! But this totally symbolic measure wasn`t followed by the large majority of Bolivian workers that hate the murderous officers caste and still call for justice for their class brothers and sisters killed in October 2003.
But once more, the COB and FSTMB leaders enjoyed the assistance of the fake Trotskyism to carry throug this policy. Lora`s POR joined the chorus of those calling for the militarization of Huanuni, applying that old policy of Stalinism in search of a “red” military to subdue the proletariat to. (see box below)
The same old Stalinist policy of a bloc with the “patriot” military has long been tragic for the Latin American proletariat. Thus, during the glorious Chilean revolution of the “cordones industriales” (industrial belts, the name given to the linked nuclei of soviet-type organizations in that revolution) in the ‘70s, the Socialist Party and the Comunist Party –both of the supported by the same counterrevolutionary policy of the Castroite bureaucracy – made the Chilean workers believe there could be a “peaceful road to socialism”.
They made them believe that without arming themselves they could defend their gains; that without creating dual power, splitting the army and the murderous officers caste, they could achieve national liberation. In hundreds of revolutions this Stalinist policy has been already been proved to be counter-revolutionary. In the Chilean tragedy, the “patriotic” officer who was appointed by Allende as Commander in Chief of the Amy, was no other than… Pinochet, the dictator who massacred the Chilean workers and poor peasants.
Stop the workers’ organizations kneeling at the feet of Morales’ government with its pacts with business and the Cruceña oligarchy!
Down with the murderous officers caste of the Bolivian army!
For committees of rank and file soldiers that democratically choose their officers and send delegates to all the worker and peasant organizations!
Against the policy of Morales and the COB Castroite leadership, we Trotskyists say that the only way to stop the killings in Huanuni and to smash the fascist gangs that are being formed , is to take the path of the heroic Bolivian revolution of 1952 that destroyed the army and created worker and campesino militias of the COB.
Throw out of the workers organizations the bosses’ agents and the murderous officers’ caste of the armed forces!
Everybody to Huanuni!
Assemblies from all the workers and campesinos movements to send delegates to Huanuni now!
The Bolivian revolution must rise up again, rebuild its headquarters, expel from its ranks the treacherous leaders who collaborate with the class enemy, and re-enter the road of October 2003 and of the Bolivian revolution of 1952.
Oppose the fraud of the “Bolivarian Revolution” proclaimed by the national bourgeoisie and their major imperialists partners all over the continent (such as MERCOSUR and the TLC) who are preventing the masses from defending themselves from the governments and regimes attacking them as in Mexico and Chile.
Oppose the traitors who make the proletariat kneel at the feet of Chávez whose oil feeds the US-UK war machine that massacres in Iraq, and prepares the way for Fidel Castro to restore capitalism in Cuba.
In summary, oppose the den of thieves of the revolution in the World Social Forum, and renew the Bolivian revolution again to fight for the workers and campesinos revolution, demolishing and destroying the machinery of the bourgeois state.
Out with the counter-revolutionary armed thugs of the cooperativista bosses sent by Evo Morales Government and the transnational companies to divide and smash the miners!
Stop the “Bolivarian Revolution” fraud!
For the worker and peasant revolution!
International Supplement of the Internationalist Trotskyists of Bolivia and Argentina
Jointly Issued by Octubre Rojo Internacionalista (Bolivia) – Liga Obrera Internacionalista-CI (Argentina) Members of the Leninist Trotskyist Fraction (LFT) 10 October 2006
From Class Struggle 69 Oct/Nov 2006
The Socialist Workers Organisation now says the Labour Party has no roots in working class and that the ‘Workers’ Charter’ is the start of a new workers party. This ignores the many workers in unions who still have direct or indirect links to the Labour Party. It turns its back on these workers. It tells them not to vote for ‘middle class’ people. We say instead, "these people in the Labour Party and the CTU leadership are not ‘middle class’ but ‘working class traitors’. If you don’t believe us, vote them into power and demand that they do what you want and learn from their betrayals".
The Socialist Workers Organisation idea that the Labour Party is now a 'social liberal' party only confuses and fudges the question of the class character of the Party. The fundamental question is: has the class character of the Labour Party changed? It was formed in 1916 as a bourgeois-workers party, i.e. with a bourgeois program and working class base represented by its organic links to the unions. Has the class composition of the Labour Party shifted to the ‘new middle class’?
“Increasingly, NZ Labour is a party not of unions or of business, but of lawyers, administrators, ‘creatives’ and others from the new middle class. The party¹s new rulers support social reforms dear to their heart, but embrace neo-liberal economics which kicks the working class in the guts. This fusion of social reforms and neo-liberal economics gives us a label for NZ Labour today: social-liberal.”
There is no question that Labour has embraced neo-liberalism in the form of Blairism – a rightwing social democracy that accepts the rule of the market. But does this shift in its program to the right need to be explained by a ‘new middle class’ takeover?
According to the SWO: “Today's Labour Party is dominated by lawyers, administrators, academics, professionals, artists, designers, researchers and others from the new middle class. They play an important role in late capitalism's information technology and global production. The new middle class aren't direct exploiters of workers, nor do they have a boss breathing down their neck all day. They form a layer between capital and labour, often mediating between these two main classes.”
So this ‘new middle class’ is the modern version of the ‘old middle class’ of self employed people. Only now instead of shopkeepers and farmers they are professionals, lawyers etc. They are not ‘exploited’ by capital, nor do they ‘exploit’ labour. They are a ‘layer’ of small business people between capital and labour’. Yet for every self-employed lawyer, farmer or business person in the leadership of the Labour Party, there are ten who are not self-employed. They are not ‘new middle class’ but drawn from the salaried professions – teachers, lawyers, public servants, union officials etc. The scientific Marxist term for these workers is the labour aristocracy. They still sell their labour for a higher wage or salary and are more privileged than ordinary wage workers, but that does not make them ‘middle class’.
The fact that the Labour Party and its CTU partners are led mainly by ‘professionals’ i.e. ex-teachers, ex-lawyers, ex-union organisers etc. does not make them ‘middle class’. It means the leadership of the party and the CTU is in the hands of the hands of the labor bureaucracy a layer of functionaries that has emerged out of the labor aristocracy. Just as it’s always been.
Long history of Class Collaboration
This is not new. From the beginning the Labour Party bourgeois program (i.e. defence of private property) was administered by the labour bureaucracy. This bureaucracy has its origins in the labour movement but is promoted into parliament. The best known Labour leaders were unionists or professionals. Their function was always to collaborate with the employers to contain the workers movement to the legal channels of bourgeois parliament.
Hence Labour's class collaborationist character was determined from the start by its adherence to a bourgeois program and defence of capitalism, combined with its organised labour composition and working class support.
Those who argue that Labour has changed its allegiance to the capitalists are ignorant of Labour’s historic pro-capitalist program. Those that argue that Labour has lost, abandoned, or replaced etc its working class base are naïve about the class collaborationist role that Labour continues to play. In reality class character of the Labour Party is unchanged as is the labour bureaucracy that leads it. What has changed however, are the conditions of the world market and the conditions which dictate what policies the capitalists want Labour to impose on the working class.
There are three stages of Labour’s evolution that have nothing to do with its class composition and everything to do with the dictates of capitalist rule. First, from 1916 to its election in 1935, was the task of diverting the militants into parliament; second, from 1935 to 1984 was the task of massive state regulation and protection of the economy from direct foreign competition; third, from 1984 to the present, was the task of de-regulating and opening up the economy to global market forces.
Labour bribed the workers into the welfare state
The Labour Party was founded by the labour bureaucracy to coopt the labour movement from the general strikes and class warfare of the period 1908-1913 into parliament where the 'socialisation' of the means of production, distribution and exchange would be legislated rather than expropriated. It was necessary to offer a very radical sounding program to con workers away from the Red Fed and its independent breakaway unionism, despite serious defeats, and back into the arms of the ‘class neutral’ state and its Arbitration Court.
By the time it was elected in 1935, Labour had the loyalty of mainstream organised labour, as well as landless and poor farmers, and a group of national capitalists like James Fletcher. Even the CPNZ in its popular front period after 1935 joined Labour. Labour got away with this class collaboration as so long as it could deliver 'reforms' that allowed workers to materially share in the wealth of NZ capitalism.
This was possible under the form of economic nationalism where NZ capitalists were protected from having to compete on the world market allowing workers to share in the prosperity that resulted. Labour could pass off this economic nationalism as class compromise and class peace. But in reality it was the protection of the NZ capitalist class that was behind these reforms, not the demands of workers. This was proven by the anti-worker attacks of the period up to 1951. The workers were no less exploited under protection and paid for their social welfare out of their own surplus labour.
The reality was that these social conditions could not outlive the crisis of NZ capitalism once the protected companies got too big for the local economy. To grow they had to compete openly on the world market and the protected economy had to be deregulated. So as the economic conditions changed NZ capitalists had to switch from protection to international competition. These demands of the capitalist class (BRT etc) completely determined Labour's every move.
From the mid 30s to the 1970s workers saw Labour as their party because they shared in rising prosperity. They still thought this during the 1970s years of mounting crisis. Muldoon refused to face this reality for ten years from 1975 to 1984. Ironically he was trying to be King Canute turning back the tide of neo-liberalism. He borrowed and hoped and ran up the debt. The NZ economy was rapidly heading for bankruptcy.
Rogernomics was no mistake
When Labour was elected in 1984 its new program, Rogernomics, was determined by its fundamental class loyalty to NZ capitalists and their property, not any loyalty to its working class supporters.
The long term loyalty of workers was severely strained during this period. Yet Labour's role as a Bourgeois-workers party did not change. While the abstention of workers saw Labour lose in 1990, by 1993 it had almost regained its lost support. The reason? New Labour was going nowhere except back into Labour and National had launched a direct massive attack on the working class in the form of benefit cuts, ECA etc
In the 1990s workers continued to vote for Labour. However, after MMP workers split voting saw NZ First draw on Maori and workers votes, and due to Winston's opportunism, National stayed in office but as a lame duck government that could not advance its more market program significantly.
Labour's re-election in 1999 reinforced its organised Labour support by reforming Labour law to re-empower the unions as 'social partners', and a range of minor social reforms. Its brand of of neo-liberalism is a blend of British Blairism and European social democracy, which tries to reintroduce the state as an active player in the market pushing the strategy of 'public private partnerships'.
Does this mean its class collaborationist character had changed? No it continues to operate in the same old way sucking workers into a modified version of neo-liberalism on the claim that this is good for workers.
How to break from labour
So the question persists: if Labour is still seen to represent workers and claims to be able to deliver a class 'partnership' (most clearly expressed in the CTU strategy of productivity sharing) along with a national culture and national identity, doesn’t it still operate crucially as a class collaborationist party diverting the big majority of workers away from independent class politics into parliament?
The answer has to be yes. And until the militant left has won considerably more support to form a mass workers party that fights mainly outside parliament to overthrow capitalism, then it is necessary to base our tactics to break workers from Labour's class collaboration on this understanding.
One tactic is to fight at every dispute for rank and file control of the dispute to expose and replace the labour bureaucrats and the Labourite 'partnership' strategy. Calling for rank and file discussion and voting on dis-affiliation to the Labour Party is part of this.
Another tactic, like Radical Youth pickets, is to attack Labour's 'worker party' pretences on issues like youth rates etc. While Labour is in office it should be attacked unmercifully for its class collaboration.
Third, always behind these tactics is the need to build support for a mass workers party with a revolutionary socialist program. But until this gets support, most politically active unionists will continue to vote Labour as the party that gives them something back. No amount of talk about Labour and National being the same will convince these workers to vote for a Party that cannot be in a Labour-led government.
That's why come election time refusing to bloc with these workers in a united front to put Labour in office to once more expose its fundamental class collaboration and prove in practice that workers cannot put faith in this party, or the CTU leadership that is the main prop of the Labour Party, is sectarian in the true sense of the word i.e. putting narrow party interests ahead of the workers’ class interests.
From Class Struggle 69 Oct/Nov 2006
|Tuhoe blockade Rayonier forestry on disputed Maori Land|
After a year of activity kicked off by the protest that met the Waitaingi Tribunal last year (1), a group of Tuhoe ‘confederation’ members set up two roadblocks on Thursday afternoon near Waimana. The protest is directed against the sale of 94,300 hectares of timberland last year. Rayonier, a Florida-based multi-national company which is the seventh largest private owner of timberland in the United States, bought the forest off Carter Holt Harvey for $435 million.(2)
Two roads into the Matahi Forest and the public Matahi Valley Road are being blocked with metal gates, cars and cones. Up to 50 people are at blockades and a camp has been set up.
Tangata Whenua have taken action against Carter Holt Harvey, the 2001 Roger award winner, for many years in this dispute.
Omuriwaka kaumatua Tom Te Pairi said: "Rayonier have brought stolen property, so that is why we are at the gate there turning them away." The metal gate has been erected on the Matahi Valley Road at a point where it crosses Maori-owned land.
"You take a look at the devastation up there," said Henare Heremia. "We¹re wanting to protect the forest - the pine trees should be gone in 30 years and native forest should be regenerated." Looking after the environment was a form of spiritual practice that is needed to save the earth from the dangers it is facing. "And that¹s not achieved by politicians writing laws, but people on the ground making a stand."
It is understood that Rayonier bought the forest last year as part of a $435 million purchase from Carter Holt of 94,300 hectares of timberland. Ngati Awa are also upset over the sale of forest interests from Carter Holt to Rayonier in the Eastern Bay, notably the Omataroa Rangitaiki No. 2 block.
Waaka Vercoe, chairman of the Omataroa Rangitaiki No. 2 Trust, has threatened legal action to test the validity of the sale. "We are awaiting a fixture with the Maori Land Court," Mr Vercoe said.
Former Waitangi Tribunal director Ian Shearer said Tuhoe was in a better position than Ngati Awa to air complaints about their forests. "Ngati Awa have signed a settlement on Treaty claims, but Tuhoe have at least another 12 months before the report and recommendations come from the Waitangi Tribunal," he said.
"Thus Tuhoe have more bargaining power, and the Government has an ongoing obligation to ensure the land is put to correct use until the settlement is agreed on," Dr Shearer said. Office of Treaty Settlements director Paul James said the Matahi Forest was not part of the Treaty negotiations.
"Matahi Forest is privately owned land," he said.
CWG says that occupations based on indigenous struggles are not enough to win back privatised stolen land.
It has to be expropriated by the actions of the united working class.
The Mapuche struggle in Chile is an example where the struggle to get back land taken by private forestry corporations has led to many killings and imprisonments.
Students and workers organisations are strongly backing demands for the release of political prisoners and the return of stolen land.
Trade Union green bans to back the occupations!
Return stolen Maori land!
Nationalise the land under workers control!
Updates: Tuhoe website
Foreign buyers spree
(1) January 16, 2005 Tuhoi protested the history of crown invasion and persecution.
See The Ruatoki valley blazes as Tuhoe stands tall
(2) Confederation members set up road blockades and fight for their forest
From Class Struggle 69 Oct/Nov 2006
The fourth Labour government of 1984-1990, privatised Telecom, NZ Rail and many other state assets. It also set up State Owned Enterprises, a health system based on contracts, boards of trustees running schools, competitive power companies, and put law in place for councils to privatize their services also, through Local Authority Trading Enterprises. All of these changes were based on capitalist program that competition between capitalists created efficiency gains.
The sellouts of the Labour party are continued because the Clark Labour government has not undone those changes, and sits by without intervening, while destructive competition continues to hurt the working class. This Labour government is selling out, and always has.
That destructive competition is clear when companies collapse or sub-contract their workers, when quality is lost, when wages and conditions and staffing levels do not keep up with inflation or previous standards.
In railways it is clear that 10-15 years of private ownership, did not adequately maintain the tracks and the Government had to buy back the tracks and pay for their maintenance. Likewise the locomotives, carriages, etc, are run down and the quality of services has decreased. Staffing levels were slashed but quality has also fallen.
In Air New Zealand the government owns 80% of the company, yet fails to protect workers jobs. The Labour government bailed out Air NZ in the ‘national interest’ and has said it would not sell the airline. To protect the working class, it has to preserve the standards of Airline workers jobs and the standards of airline maintenance. Already Air New Zealand failed in its’ ANSETT company leaving workers unemployed and without redundancy. The government had to rescue it then, with $885 million.
Will we see the running down of the quality of airline services after the massive job cuts which Air NZ are part-way through doing? – already that has been predicted.
CTU negotiates redundancies and increased exploitation
The Employment relations law has the potential for increasing industrial bargaining strength. If unions can force employers into negotiations through Multi-Employer Collective Agreements (MECAs) then these have the potential to set (wages and conditions) like awards, across a whole industry. However, the NDU – Woolsworths dispute has shown that relying on the ERA failed to gain even a multi-site agreement with the same employer. It seems that to force the bosses to accept MECAs etc the workers have to step outside the ERA and use their collective power.
This shows the weakness of Air NZ workers who are trying to defend their wages and conditions in the face of the competition of other airlines. Air NZ management is trying to cut costs by contracting out almost all its jobs. To defend their wages and conditions Air NZ workers need MECAs to prevent other airlines from offering ‘cut price’ services by cutting their workers wages and conditions. That would mean efficiencies between airlines would not be based on lower wages or conditions of workers in the ‘cheapest’ airline.
Air NZ plans to contract out the jobs of staff who load the planes, is the latest in a long list of workers invited to apply for redundancy. Last time it was maintenance engineers who were being threatened massive jobs cuts. The Engineers Union (EPMU) tried to out manage, Air NZ management. Not behaving like a super union – but a super capitalist. They paid management consultants to come up with a counter-proposal to show that their workers could out-produce the contracted out workers and meet Air NZ cost cutting. This allowed some engineers to keep their jobs by agreeing to work harder and smarter, but sacrificed 100s of others. Obviously the EPMU agrees with the principle that the job of unions is to make workers produce more. They trade off job losses for increased exploitation of those whose jobs they ‘save’ doing a better job than the capitalists in screwing the workers to increase profits.
The EPMU has tried the parliamentary road to try to protect workers, spending hundreds of thousands to support Labour Party and get it elected to government. Similarly the Service & Food Workers Union (SFWU) has supported Labour and got it’s own, former bureaucrats elected. This very same Labour government has stood by and will stand by and watch another round of job cuts at Air NZ. Job cuts which are attacks on the organization and membership of those same unions.
Renationalise, no compensation, under workers’ control
Neither of those strategies worked to prevent job losses in the past and they won’t work this time either. An effective strategy to fight job losses can only be found if workers are united to make an effort to protect these jobs. United strike action would need to be backed by pickets to stop management or casuals doing the work. Instead of redundancies all jobs should be shared by reducing the hours of work without loss of pay. Increased worker productivity would be reflected in further reduction of hours without loss of pay. But such a fight for the rank and file control of the union and for job sharing without loss of pay would challenge the rights of the private owners, including the 80% ‘public’ shareholding of the government to cut the losses and subsidise the profits of the private sector. It would then become clear that to win these basic demands, workers would have to take over the ownership and control of the industry.
This would require the re-nationalisation of the airlines without payment of compensation and operated by the workers. If workers really had control of their unions and could force the government to nationalise under workers control the major industries then we would be talking about a workers’ government. Because such a nationalisation would be an expropriation of capitalist property no capitalist government would do this. The fate of the Airline industry then like all industries, banks, etc would be determined by a workers plan. This plan would allocate resources, set wages, conditions, safety standards etc. to meet the needs of all working people, without considerations of cutting costs to meet profits.
Privatising the Ports
Port companies were also left in a rotten position by these Labour governments. Ports have been competing against one another and have cut labour costs by casualising the waterfront workforce and decreasing health & safety standards. Stevedoring companies compete on costs, and it is workers whose wages and conditions are driven down. The working class loses out. Health & Safety standards are not able to be adequately enforced by union members when industrial action may be met by the entire company ‘going bankrupt’ and throwing workers out into unemployment without redundancy, and another company can replace the workforce. The record of the ‘Wharfies’ union is shocking. Not only has it gone along with the privatisation process, it has joined it, now holding shares in a stevedoring company! It is the mark of a rotten union when it goes into business exploiting its own members as workers!
Port Unions get out of business!
For a national rank and file movement to take back control of the unions!
Re-nationalise the ports without compensation under workers’ control!