China: Mr. Bush is focusing his attention on South-East Asia in order to "lower labors costs, using all means necessary, particularly through the destruction of state companies."
Pakistan: At this moment, the official estimates say that 510,000 people are in desperate need of aid. According to UNICEF, 128,000 children in the mountainous zones have still not received help. More than ever, international labor solidarity is needed!
Italy: A general strike took place on November 25 against the finance law dictated by Brussels.
Belgium: On November 26, in Liege, at the "Conference against the social regression imposed by the European Union" called at the initiative of the Belgian Committee Against the European Constitution, leaders of the PS (the Walloon Socialist Party), the SP.A (the Flemish Socialist Party) and the FGTB (General Federation of Belgian Workers) participated.
Spain: On November 12, a meeting took place in Madrid at the initiative of the partisans of the ILC in Spain, who decided to launch an open letter to president Zapatero.
Ecuador: We are publishing the Declaration of Principles of the Independent and Democratic Party of the Workers and Peoples of Ecuador.
Romania: The sentencing of the Romanian unionists is in contradiction with the ILO conventions.
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Mr. Bush is focusing his attention on South-East Asia in order to "lower labors costs, using all means necessary, particularly through the destruction of state companies."
We publish below the editorial of the China News Bulletin #253, November 1, 2005
Mr. Bush is focusing his attention on South-East Asia
Without a doubt, Bush will preach more openness on the part of China, more transparency, and more freedom, particularly religious freedom. What else? His friends donīt all share the same discourse. For Mr. Rumsfeld, China is a threat. But Mr. Wolfowitz, who recently arrived in China representing the World Bank, doesnīt agree. The big American corporations and the World Bank would be quite silly to complain about the conduct of the Chinese leaders.
Beginning over ten years ago, the World Bank used all the means at its disposal to promote immigrant labor, because no social protection applies and, thus, the labor costs are lower. The peasants are forced to move from the lands where the land canīt provide for everybody to the city, generally in a different province from the one which they were originally from, in search of odd jobs. There is no housing, no labor certificates, no assured pay, no school for the children, and no health care. These laborers have no rights.
This is due to the recommendations of the World Bank.
Each government in turn has authorized and promoted the development of private companies in order to create competition with the state companies. These private companies deprive the migrant laborer (a migrant "without papers" in his or her own country!) of any rights; the official unions refused to defend this sector until 2003.
The migrant workers living in the cities now number 150 million, but they have won some rights. This sector, which faces slave-labor-like working conditions, has resisted and continues to resist; this is particularly true of the youth. They are resisting in the same way that the workers of the state-owned companies are resisting the liquidations of their conquests.
What are the conditions in the private sector? A study by the official institutions conducted in 2004, based on the data from 2004, shows that the annual salaries (benefits included) in the private sector rose to 8,033 Yuans (800 Euros) versus 14,577 Yuans (1, 450 Euros) in the state companies, and 8, 678 Yuans (870 Euros) in the collective companies. Only one out of three private companies (33.4%) pays for health care coverage for its workers, 8.7% pay for retirement, and 16.6% pay for unemployment insurance. Even worse, this social protection mostly only covers the technicians and administrators, not the workers. Only 14.5% of workers receive health care coverage. (Source: China News Services, February 3, 2005)
Evidently, the World Bank has no solution for the 300,000 migrant workers from Guangzhou, the capital of Chinaīs richest province, who are not able to go to the hospital because they simply donīt have money or health care coverage.
The World Bank is not at all worried about the unqualified migrant workers who are the main victims of the tragedies in the private mines; these tragedies are due mostly to the fact the qualified mineworkers were replaced because they were too expensive. The World Bank has no advice to give to the millions of unpaid workers.
What does the World Bank say today? It says that is necessary to continue and accelerate the pace. At the end of 2004, the World Bank celebrated Chinaīs economic growth due, it said, to the liberalization of the market and the various reforms which accompany Chinaīs entrance in the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001.
Today, according to the report's authors, it is necessary to go even further. The challenge is to "reform the labor market in the countryside in order to raise productivity and allow for workers to migrate to more competitive sectors," declared Will Martin, one of the heads of the study. It recommends that 28 million rural workers head to the cities.
These permanent attempts to dictate policies to a sovereign nation have only one goal: to lower labor costs, using all means possible, particularly the destruction of the state companies, which remain the backbone of the Chinese economy. For these financial institutions and corporations, these state companies continue to represent the results of the 1949 revolution, which lifted the Chinese workers and peasants from famines, epidemics, servitude and over-exploitation. This is exactly what they want to destroy.
For our part, we stand side by side with the Chinese workers in the defense of their rights, that is, for equal rights throughout all China. The most fundamental of these is the inalienable right to receive a wage, versus unpaid labor.
Not aid from "creditor countries," but "loans"! In Musharaf, the head of state guaranteed their profitability!
The Reuters news agency, on November 14, writes that "three important people from the American business world visited the affected zones of Pakistan. This delegation was formed by President Bush.
The delegation included the head of American AID; Karen Hughes, the General Director of the big pharmaceutical company Pfizer; the president of Xerox; and the former president of UPS, the biggest mail corporation.
They arrived in an American military convoy, together with Christine Rocca, Deouty U.S. Secretary of State for Asia.
They began their tour in the affected regions by visiting a townīs school (where eight teachers and twenty-four students were killed) and distributed copies of Alice in Wonderland in Urdi."
This visit was part of the "great effort" called for by a conference of creditor countries, which decided to allocate an "aid" of 5 billion dollars to Pakistan. In reality, most of this money was simply loans. The Pakistani head of state, General Musharaf, guaranteed "transparency," that is, the profitability of the investments.
At this moment, the official estimates say that 510,000 people are in desperate need of aid. According to UNICEF, 128,000 children in the mountainous zones have still not received help.
More than ever, international labor solidarity is needed!To contact the Pakistani union federation:
On November 25, the Italian workers once against organized a general strike against the policies of the Berlusconi government, dictated by the European Union. It was the sixth general strike in four years.
From the North to the South of the country, millions of workers responded to the call of the CGIL, the CISL, and the UIL against the Financial Law, which requires 30 billion Euros of budget cuts in health care, education, the communes, and the regions, and gives out billions to capitalists through the reduction of taxes.
The workers were also striking against "devolution," the "reform" of the Constitution adopted last November 16, which gives all power to the regions to regulate health care, education, the police, and taxes, opening the way to the division of the country.
The unions declared that the strike brought out 80% to 90% of all categories of workers, particularly in the state sector, industry, and the transportation sector.
"Corriere della Sera" on November 26 notes: "A mass of people took to the streets to say no to the budget: 80,000 in Rome, 100,000 in Milan, more than 30,000 in Palerme, according to the unionists. And the rate of strikers reached 80% to 90%, according to the CGIL, which declared the strike an enormous success."
"La Repubblica" writes: "While the unions claim positive numbers in all sectors, including in the symbolic FIAT factory of Mirafiori, where the strike brought out 80% of the workers, the sector in which the strike was most dominant was the transportation sector; the cities were completely paralyzed."
For the sixth time in four years, the workers responded to the call of their unions, and in the North and the South struck in unity to defend their rights, which are threatened by a budget adopted under the dictates of the Brussels Commission.
Here is exactly what is planned for in the 2006 budget: A 6.12 billion Euro cut in public services, particularly 2.5 billion in health care, 3 billion for the regions, and 1.14 billion for public employment. Hence, a bleeding, so to speak of 12.76 billion as part of the implementation of the stability pact dictated by the European Union. Moreover, the Minister of Social Affairs, Roberto Maroni, confirmed this when he declared to "Corriere della Sera" on November 26: "We cannot simultaneously call on the government to spend and to economize because it is necessary to respect the Maastricht criteria. We cannot try to spend more if we want to remain in Europe."
Thus, it is in implementing the dictates of the European Union that the Berlusconi government is attacking all the rights of workers. The passing of the law on "devolution," that is, the transfer of state powers to the regions (read the box below), aims to break up the Italian nation into 20 "little Italies", in order to divide the working class, with the goal of implementing the privatization/destruction plans.
One more time, the workers struck from the North to the South, showing their will to reconquer all the national social conquests, won during the revolutionary wave of 1944 and 1945.
In this situation, Romano Prodi declared: "Today is a sacrosanct protest, against the disastrous economic and financial policies of this government."
But arenīt the policies of the Berlusconi government dictated by the Brussels Commission in the name of respect for the Stability Pact? Isnīt it Brussels which has imposed two revisions of the Finance Law (from 25 to 27 to 30 billion) in order to respect the Maastricht criteria?
It is understandable that Prodi doesnīt talk about all the details because it was he who for five years at the head of this Brussels Commission developed all the counter-reforms that are today being implemented in Italy and all the countries of Europe. Wasn't it in fact Prodi who declared a few ago that "it would be unconscionable to threaten the Stability Pact"?
Prodi's ally in the UNIONE coalition, Fausto Bertinotti, General Secretary of the Communist Refoundation party and the president of the Party of the European Left, declared in his newspaper Liberazione, on the eve of the general strike: "The country is in need of a radical change: The general strike should encourage UNIONE to define an alternative program, which gives a positive answer to the questions posed by the unions."
To define an "alternative program" isnīt it necessary to clearly state that it is necessary to break with Maastricht and the EU? But how is it possible to head down this road with Prodi at the head of UNIONE?
Thus, more than ever, after this new general strike, the rupture with Prodi is necessary to be able to truly satisfy the demands of the workers and to defend the unity of the Italian nation.
"Devolution" was voted for on November 16, 2005
Devolution is the transfer of most state powers to the regions.
--The Prime Minister is no longer elected by the parliament
-- The president of the Republic represents "the federal unity of the Republic" and no longer the national unity.
-- The power to dissolve parliament is now in the hands of the Prime Minister.
-- The regions have full control over the organization of health care, education, programs which affect the region, and police administration.
-- The number of MPs drops from 630 to 518, and the number of senators drops from 315 and 252.
This is serious attack on the Constitution of 1947, which declares that the Italian Republic is one and indivisible. With devolution, the unity of the Italian nation is breaking up.
This has created an unprecedented crisis. Even the three MPs to the Constituent Assembly of 1947 who remain today in the Parliament today, all of whom are members of the Christian Democracy, Giulio Andreotti, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, and Emilio Colombo, voted against the proposal. The Vatican itself presented an official protest.
La Repubblica writes that the assembly of bishops expressed "its fears of seeing 20 regional health care services."
In effect, an unprecedented crisis has begun, which affects all the institutions and parties. In the spring, maybe before the general elections, a referendum on the question of devolution will take place. This law will certainly be abrogated by the people. But the editorial of "La Repubblica" writes: "Devolution will be abrogated by the referendum. Thatīs true, but it is also true that though it is destined to fail, this attack on the Constitution has already produced serious damage."
Why? Devolution was first voted on because the Prodi government, between 1996 and 98, launched the "reform of the state" and passed a law implementing "federalism." This has institutionalized the disengagement of the state and opened the road to privatizations and regionalizations. Concerning "fiscal federalism," "La Repubblica" notes that "the bases for the budget revolution for the State and the regions was defined in the reform of the center-left, during the previous legislature."
It was the center-left government of Prodi which opened the process creating "20 little Italies." This is what the submission the Maastricht treaty leads to! And, from all sides, we are told that Prodi is the model to follow!
On November 26, in Liege, at the conference called at the initiative of the Belgian Committee Against the European Constitution, leaders of the PS (the Walloon Socialist Party), the SP.A (the Flemish Socialist Party) and the FGTB (General Federation of Belgian Workers) participated. We are publishing an article by one of our correspondents which summarized their speeches.
The workers of Belgium massively mobilized against the governmentīs plan to threaten collective bargaining agreements (the so-called solidarity pact between the generations). A conference just took place in Liege, in Belgium, in which leaders of the PS, the SP.A, and the FGTB participated. The base for the conference was a declaration which notes: "There cannot be a solution to the dramatic situation facing us if the agreements and dictates which threaten our rights continue to be implemented."
In the name of the Movement in Defense of Workers (a movement affiliated to the ILC), Philippe Larsimont explained what was at stake:
"Can we speak of democracy when the role of the government is limited to implementing the injunctions of the European Union? The workers responded to this question by mobilizing against the government plan, which directly stems from the Lisbon processes. It is understandable that these policies are implemented by the liberal parties, but how are we to understand the support from the Socialist parties? The majority of the affiliates of the FGTB vote socialist so that the PS and the SP.A can relay their interests. These parties cannot do so unless they end their support for the "pact between generations" and break with the liberals. If they were to do so, the path would be opened up for them to mobilize for a government which would refuse to continue to implement the dictates and demands of the European Union which threaten all our rights. This type of government is needed in Belgium. Without such a government, what sort of disaster will we be faced with tomorrow?
Former SP MPS, Jef Sleeckx, took the mic to explain the nature of the current struggle against the ratification of the European Constitution by the regional Flemish parliament. In particular, he mentioned the campaign to collect thousands of signatures for a petition demanding a popular referendum. The speech, which was translated from French by a Flemish unionist, was loudly applauded. In conclusion, J. Sleeckx called for the unity of the workers of Walloon and Flanders.
In the name of the regional FGTB of Liege, its president, Marc Goblet, spoke about the thesis that lowering labor costs would create employment: "The policies of structural reforms in the labor market will lower wages in a context where each country wants to install competitive wage deflation. For workers, this can only mean more precarity. We are being pushed more and more to the American model, where the poor become constantly poorer. We should pressure the political leaders to implement policies truly creating employment."
For Hendrick Vermeersch, leader of the SETCA-FGTB branch of the Bruxelles-Hal-Vilvoorde industry: "We are confronted throughout Europe with the same measures: attacks on the unemployed, budget cuts in the health care sector, the putting into question of pensions due to privatizations, and a postponement in the retirement age. The next attack will be on the automatic index of wages. All this is the strategy of Lisbon and it is shocking that the ETUC supports this strategy." He concluded by calling for the independence of FGTB.
Paul Paternoga, a unionist in IG-Metall, member of the German SPD, explained: "While I listened to the speakers before me, I felt quite at home because the problems which we are discussing also affect my country. The real situation in Germany is that the nationīs riches have reached an unprecedented level. Profits for big businesses have skyrocketed to the point they equal the wages of 39 million salaried workers. The reality is that there is shortage of funds for public services while the rich are paying less and less taxes. The workerīs payments to Social Security are constantly rising. Productivity rose by 1,200%, which should have provided the means to pay for the pensions. They say that there isn't enough money for the workers, while Germany is one of the richest countries on the planet, one of the main exporters in the world. Schroeder declared that 30% of European profits are made in Germany. There is no justification for the destruction of social rights.
Today, we are fighting to break the SPD from the grand coalition. We are for a SPD-PDS-Linkspartei government mandated to implement policies benefiting the workers. Schroder has not succeeded in destroying the SPD. A SPD which defends the workers is needed. The International Conference which will take place on February 25 and 26 will provide a space, in a similar way to the conference you have organized, in which to exchange experiences. You are all invited."
Former PS European MP and former mayor of Liege Jean-Maurice Dehousse praised the conference: "Our hearts have been warmed, because we have discovered the basis for a true common solidarity." He highlighted the continuity between the conference and the April 20, 2005 International Meeting. He then focused his attention on the Bolkenstein directive: "The parties of the right say that the accepted amendments are insufficient, while the European socialist parties are silent, as is the ETUC. This is not the kind of democracy we want. What should we do? We need to reflect, nourish our contacts, and spread the news. That is why we launched our appeal to create committees everywhere against social regression. It is necessary to support the actions of the trade unions. We should also remain in contact with those who struggle in other countries, because we are condemned to defeat if we try to lead the battle alone."
The conference concluded by launching an appeal to continue the discussion in "committees against the social regression imposed by the European Union," to support the Berlin Conference, and to continue the struggle against the reform of the pensions.
From the month of October 2005, the workers have mobilized, with their unions, against the government plan to implement restructuring, the end of careers and the end of labor contracts.
This plan (like many before it) is a dictate from the European Commission.
It is time to say together: We cannot accept that the governments continue to implement the European dictates and demands which threaten our rights, one after another!
On October 7, 2005, the general strike called for by the FGTB brought out all the workers and paralyzed the country from the North to South against the "pact between the generations" of the Verhofstadt government which would implement restructuralization, the end of careers and the end of labor contracts.
On October 28, more than 100,000 workers and youth protested in Brussels - in the framework of a 24-hour general strike-called for by a joint union front. In the name of the FGTB, Jean-Claude Vandermeeren declared that in a democracy the government should listen to the people. Verhofstadt responded that he would nevertheless implement the governmentīs plan. What is the cause of this anti-democratic action? The problem is that neither the population nor the Parliament, but rather the European Commission runs the show.
On October 26, the Chancellery of the Prime Minister addressed the European Commission with a detailed report. In this report, one finds all the current anti-social policies, notably the so-called "pact between the generations." This is hardly shocking, seeing as the plan was dictated by the European Commission, as the report of the session of the National Labor Council on August 21, 2005 proves.
Yesterday, the dictates and demands of the European Union caused the privatization of our public services, the threatening of the rights of the unemployed, etc. At the same time, the European Union, enlarged to 25 members, has become the framework for pitting the workers of different countries against each other. Constantly, the bosses are resorting to delocalizations. Not only do the structures of the European Union not prohibit these, but they feel that these are factors for economic growth!
If the federal, regional, and local governments continue to implement the policies of social regression imposed by the European Union, tomorrow the index of our wages, and our collective bargaining contracts, and the rest of our rights will be threatened. The proof is in the return of the Bolskeinstein directive to the European Parliament, which some had declared "dead" and "buried."
During all 2004 and 2005, the initiators of the present appeal multiplied their efforts inside the Committee against the European Constitution, because the Constitution implies an aggravation of all the policies we have rejected. If in France and the Netherlands, the people - above all, the workers - said no to the draft of the European Constitution, it is to defend the social model which is currently under threat.
After the rejection on the part of the people of France and the Netherlands, one could think that these policies have been abandoned. But those who govern us want to continue as if nothing had happened. The European Unionīs policies give everything to the bosses and the corporations and destroy our social and democratic rights.
There is only one conclusion to be drawn: "There cannot be a solution to the dramatic situation facing us if the agreements and dictates which threaten our rights continue to be implemented." This should be a call to action to everybody on left, most of all the leaders of the PS and SP.A.
The institutions of the European Union in effect proved that they are incapable of giving the population a positive answer to their demands, particularly in relation to the preservation of the social model won after the second world war.
To impose a solution requires that the workers mobilize in unity with their organizations around their demands in all countries of the world. Since the No vote in France, a wave of resistance has spread throughout Europe. On September 18, 2005, the German people proved that when they rejected the destruction of their living conditions by dropping their support for Gerhard Schroder at the same time as they prevented the right from winning an absolute majority. In our own country, the mobilizations begun in October, 2005 show that the workers want to put an end to the social regression. On November 22, after two general strikes, the unions once again came out against the "pact between the generations."
A way out can only be found through the unity of the peoples who fight to preserve their popular sovereignty, which is being threatened throughout the world. This unity is required to defend our rights (our social model) and our duties (particularly, the proportional taxation of citizens based on their incomes).
No to social regression!
We cannot accept that the governments continue to implement the dictates opposed to these legitimate demands.
We call on the workers to create, on the basis of this appeal, committees against the social regression imposed by the European Union.
This appeal was launched at the Federal Conference against the social regression imposed by the European Union which took place in Liege on November 26, 2004. The initial signers of this appeal are the members of the preparatory commission to this conference:
Jean-Maurice DEHOUSSE, former vice-president of the Socialist group in the European Parliament; Robei GIARROCCO, unionist, ex-representative of the JS in the PS leadership; Philippe LARSIMONT, co-ordinator of the MDT; Oliv PALMANS, CGSP TÃlÃcom-aviation Liage; Antoine RUGGIERI, former leader of FGTB Cockeri Sambre; Paul WATTIEZ fomer delegate to the CGSP-ALR Bruxelles.
This appeal constitutes the base for the formation of committees against social regression imposed by the European Union. These committees will act within the framework of the needs of the union organizations.
On November 12, a meeting took place in Madrid at the initiative of the partisans of the ILC in Spain, who decided to launch an open letter to President Zapatero.
Around this letter, a political regroupment of workers and youth for democracy has been formed.
On February 19, 2006, a conference of delegates of workers and youth of all the peoples of Spain will meet. This conference will mandate a delegation to the European Workers Conference in Berlin, on February 25 and 26, 2006.
On March 14, 2004, the workers and youth looked to the PSOE (Socialist Party), to Zapatero, and said: "Donīt deceive us!" What is the situation today?
An uncontestable balance-sheet: The same policies have been implemented
In the wake of his election, Zapatero decided to remove the troops from Iraq, a principal demand of the workers and peoples of Spain. He also froze a few of the most reactionary laws of the Aznar government, such as the National Ideological Plan and the law privatizing the university. He also partially regularized the situation of the 700,000 clandestine immigrant workers. He also made Congress adopt a proposal to open a negotiated political solution on the Basque question in May, 2005. Without a doubt, these measures responded to the aspirations of the majority.
But at the same time, this government refused to abrogate the 30 counter-reforms of the labor code imposed by the Aznar government and, today, this government is preparing a new counter-reform, under pressure from Brussels, which, amongst other things, raises the retirement age to 67 years.
Zapatero was a principal defender of the European Constitution. He convened a referendum for February 20, 2005 on the Constitution; two-thirds of the electorate either abstained or voted no. Zapatero continued the policies dismantling our industries, through the privatizations of our shipyards and the closing of the Charbon mines. All this was dictated from Brussels.
This government is far from creating enthusiasm in the ranks of the workers and peoples and Spain, notably because on every serious measure it caves in to the reaction. On November 12, the Catholic Church and all the reactionary political forces, notably Aznarīs Popular Party, mobilized hundreds of thousands of people in Madrid in defense of the Church privileges in the schools.
The government ran to try to moderate, by "negotiating" how to accept the demands of the Church.
On Saturday, December 3, 2005, Aznarīs Popular Party, organized in Madrid a new march in defense nominally in defense of the Constitution, but in reality against the national rights of Catalonia. In effect, the Catalan parliament adopted 90% of a reform of the existing regional statutes, in which article 1 declares: "Catalonia is a nation." This is what the Francoist apparatus and its political representatives want to hear nothing about.
In the face of this, Zapatero demanded of the representatives of the parliament of Catalonia to substantially modify its reform proposals in order to accept the demands of the Francoist apparatus.
On March 14, 2004, a majority of workers, youth, citizens, and peoples of Spain elected you to end the reactionary, neo-Francoist policies of Aznar and the Popular Party.
Eighteen months later, while the actions such as the removal of the troops from Iraq which, was saluted by the immense majority, showed that a political change, resting on the will of the majority, is possible, the workers, unionists, youth, unemployed, and peoples of Spain declare their preoccupation with the fact that:
-- The counter-reforms of Aznar continue to be implemented. His labor reform even risks being deepened. The LOU (1) was not abrogated, but extended. The law on parties is still on the books and allowed for hundreds of unionists and picketers to be arrested and sentenced in January.
-- The conflicts between peoples continues, despite the fact that in May a Parliamentary motion was approved which proposed a negotiated solution to the conflicts. The reforms of the statutes of autonomy provoked new conflicts, because they didnīt respect an elementary democratic right: the self-determination of the peoples. This is contradictory with the prohibition of modifying the Constitution of 1978.
-- The orders from Brussels, which impose the dismantling of industry, ruin the country-side, and the counter-reform of the labor code have been heartlessly implemented by the governments, despite the rejection of the peoples of Europe, expressed in the referendums in France and Holland and in the municipal elections, as well as in the class struggle (for example, the two general strikes recently organized in Belgium).
-- The reaction has launched an offensive to defend its privileges and to prevent all progress. The government does not counter this offensive but rather proposes to make concessions to it, in the education sector, in the counter-reform of the labor code and in the offensive against Catalonia.
A socialist government with socialist policies is needed.
This is a decisive moment. Eighteen months after the electoral victory, more than ever it is possible to advance. The workers, youth, peoples, and our union are more than ever disposed to support a socialist government, which can count on all the forces of the left to help implement a truly socialist policy. This government would:
In the heart of our organizations, unions, and parties, there is a rising number of voices demanding another political line, in defense of the workers and not dictated by the corporation, Francoists, and Brussels.
The forces to move down this path exist. Any measure which the government would take in this respect would be supported by the immense majority, as was the case with the removal of the troops from Iraq.
We are seeing the forces of reaction organizing and growing, demanding each day more and more with the goal of sinking the government itself. It depends on you. Socialist policies are more than ever possible and necessary to unite the immense majority.
We propose to circulate this proposal in all the workers organizations, to have it be signed massively, to organize in each city meetings and forums to elect delegates to a Conference of workers, youth, and people of the Spanish state to freely discuss the means to organize the struggle to impose policies in defense of the immense majority. We see this struggle as an integral part of the common struggle of the nations and peoples of Europe against the despotic power of the corporations, of Brussels, and Nato, and in defense of the free union of peoples and nations of Europe.
(1) The Organic Law on Universities
The ILC International Newsletter has reported on the struggle led by the activists, unionists, workers, and youth for the construction of an independent and revolutionary party (Issue 108), to kick out President Gutierrez (Issue 130), and to defend national sovereignty (Issue 155).
This struggle was concretized on October 20, 2005 in Quito through the decision to form an Independent and Democratic Party of the Workers and Peoples of Ecuador. We are publishing its political platform.
1. We workers in the city and the countryside, students, unemployed, house-wives, cleaning ladies, and participants in the conference held on October 20 in Quito, have decided to move toward the construction of Independent and Democratic Party of the Workers and Peoples: a party independent of imperialism, the regime of the traditional parties, the financial institutions, the Churches and the NGOs; a party based on the idea that the liberation of all the workers will be the task of the workers themselves; a party which fights to end the private ownership of the big means of production; a party which is based on the method of the class struggle, and thus the united action of the working class in the city and countryside, the unions, and popular organizations and which opposes those who say that so-called "civil society" should prevail, those who would have us think that the workers and bosses have the same interests.
2. What is the political situation during which we have founded the party?
On April 20, 2005, in continuity with the formidable mobilizations which kicked out the president Bucaram and Mahaud, an enormous mass mobilization, particularly in Quito, kicked out Colonel Lucio Gutierrez from power for having sold off the national riches, and the people, who had been subjected to so much humiliation, said: "Weīve had enough, they should all go!"
President Alfredo Palacio, in his first speech as president, declared that it was necessary to "refound the country." But what does refounding the country mean? For the oppressed people and the working class, refounding the country means ending the domination of Capital, ending the old structures of the bourgeois state, restoring national sovereignty, ending the payment of the foreign debt, reestablishing workerīs rights, and ending the privatizations and recuperation the sold-off national companies.
Is it possible to refound the country without posing the fundamental problems, such as the end of the payment of the debt, the end of the dollarization, the immediate end to the privatization threats in the oil, electricity, and telecommunication sectors; the redistribution of the land to the peasants; and the end of the military agreements with the United States. That is why the people said: "They should all go!" -- beginning with the IMF and imperialism.
The current situation is characterized by the fact that during the period of the return to democracy, the policies of "structural adjustment," the "free market," and the "state reforms" were forced down our throats by the IMF and the World Bank. The successive bourgeois governments docilely accepted these policies and brutally implemented them against the interests of the great majority of our people, principally against the working class of the city and the countryside.
This situation has plunged the nation of Ecuador into a social and political crisis which threatens the very existence of the nation. The privatizations, the dismantling of industry, and the counter-reforms have aggravated misery in the countryside and the cities. The dismantling and degradation of public education and monstrous growth of the foreign debt have undermined the material base of our nation.
The Bush government, with its economic and social "total war" led under the pretext of the struggle against terrorism, is imposing the destruction of nations throughout the world. In Latin America, it seeks to impose the FTAA, a plan to dismantle nations throughout the continent in order to pillage their resources.
3. We consider that the resistance movement of the Ecuadorian nation is part of the revolutionary struggle of the Latin American peoples to defend their sovereignty and their natural resources.
We support and have made our own the struggle of the people of Bolivia who, led by the Bolivian Workers Federation (COB), the minerīs federation, and other union and peasants organizations, fight for the nationalization of the hydrocarbons. "The gas belongs to Bolivia" shouted the Bolivian people in the protests and general strikes. Nationalizing the hydrocarbons means affirming the constitution of the nation, it means struggling for the rights and existence of the working class as a social class.
In Venezuela, the central element for the working class and for the development of the revolution is the National Workers Union (UNT), a independent union federation which groups together the large majority of the workers, which fought against the coup dīetat organized by the CIA in 2002 to overthrow the Chavez government, and which defends the sovereignty of the nation over its natural resources.
In Uruguay, the working people, through a referendum, ended an attempt to sell of the water to the corporations and, in mobilizing on the electoral terrain, the Ample Front Party, giving it the mandate to assure that the resources and state companies remain the property of the nation of Uruguay.
The mobilization and struggle of the nation of Ecuador gains strength from the revolutionary movement of the peoples and nations of the continent and the world.
The struggle against imperialism requires the unity of the working class and the peoples of the continent and the world, including the working class of the United States.
4. The victory of the French people in the referendum of May 29, 2005 and the on the people of Holland who said "No!" to the draft of the European Constitution, shows that the struggle in defense of national sovereignty is a common to all the peoples of the world.
5. The resistance movement of the people of Ecuador confronts and is hampered by internal and external obstacles. Externally, it faces the parties of the bourgeoisie in the government which submit the country to the interests of imperialism and attack all the conquests of the working class and people in general. Internally, the resistance movement is confronted with numerous obstacles. The workerīs and peasantīs movement is atomized and divided as a result of the policies of the leaderships which in a certain manner practice class collaboration with the bourgeois governments.
In this context, it is clear that the policies of the majority of the leaderships of the workers and peasants refuse to break with imperialism and the bourgeois regime.
The Party of the Workers and Peoples categorically refuses the attempts to divide the country, under the disguise of "autonomies," defended by the Social-Christian Party. The implementation of these policies is encouraged by North American imperialism. These policies have led to the massacre and destruction of whole peoples due to the so-called ethnic wars in the Balkans and in the nations of Central Africa.
The leaderships of the bourgeois parties defend the idea of "civil society," in which the capitalists and wage earners are said to have the same interests. They deny the division of society into social classes with antagonistic interests, and situate themselves in the terrain of the Social Forums and alter-globalization, which sells the idea that another "more humane" capitalism is possible.
The Party of the Workers and People rejects these conceptions which lead the working masses of the cities and countryside to participate in their own destruction, the destruction of their rights and conquests. By denying the class struggle, they deny at the same time the oppression imposed on the nation of Ecuador by the imperialist countries, principally North American imperialism.
6. The immediate objective of the Party of Workers and Peoples is to help continue and deepen the resistance movement of the nation of Ecuador to take back its sovereignty and, thus, contribute in a practical way the development in a practical manner to the struggle to organize a power of the workers in the cities and countryside.
7. To struggle for these objectives, the Democratic and Independent Party of Workers and Peoples adopts the following platform for the immediate struggle:
* Cancellation of the national and foreign debt and the distribution of these resources to the development of production, employment, and basis services
* Rejection of the free trade agreement
* Abrogation of the agreement with the United States and the immediate removal of the military base installed in Manta. Total rejection of the "structural reforms," that is, the rejection of the privatizations and concession of the most profitable sectors of the national economy, such as: the oil, electricity, telecommunications, drinkable water, education, social security, and all the services which should be provided by the state of Ecuador.
* Defense of the unity of the nation and thus the national framework for rights. Rejection of the policies of decentralizations, munipalization, and "autonomies", which aim to privatize and put an end to the public enterprises, budgets, and social development.
* Support for a true agrarian reform, which includes providing credits at a reduced price and technical assistance for the peasants, as well as giving the land to those who work it. Defend bio-diversity. No to pillage of our resources by the corporations.
* Defend the existence and independence of trade union organizations, workers rights, and the abrogation of the anti-worker laws (trole 2 and trole 3 laws) (the popular name given to the Laws of Investment and Citizen Participation, voted on in 2000, which allow for all sorts of privatizations). Abrogation of the laws which make labor more flexible.
* Defend the national system of education. The education workers should have the same rights throughout the whole nation. Abrogate the decentralization and municipalization programs of public education. Against the dismantling of the public universities, against all the measures in which aim to degrade the level of education and destroy public education by opening up this sector to the multinationals.
* For the organization of a Sovereign Constituent Assembly, formed by true representatives of the people, mandated to break with imperialism, cancel the debt and the privatizations, and defend the unity of the nation.
Interview with one of the organizers of the conference for the liberation of the imprisoned mineworker unionists, Saturday, December 3, in Tirgu Jiu. (For more information see ILC International Newsletter Issue 157.)
Question: A conference for the liberation of the mineworker unionists imprisoned in Romania will take place on Saturday December 3, in Tigu Jiu, in the mining region. Can you tell us how it is being prepared for, who supports it, and who is going to participate?
Answer: Several hundreds of people have signed the appeal for the conference. Many union and union federations have responded positively to the appeal and will participate.
Several of them have even decided to contribute financially to its organization. This list includes the League of Mine Worker Unionists of the Jiu valley, the most powerful regional minerīs organization; the energy union of Oltenie, the Miron Cozma Workers League and the Association for the Emancipation of Workers, the Romanian organization affiliated to the ILC.
Moreover, very recently, the conference received the support of national council of the National Union Bloc, the second largest union federation in Romania.
Q: Romania has ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98. Nevertheless, union leaders have been thrown into prison for implementing the mandate given to them from the union ranks. What is your opinion on this?
A: The international ILO norms have the power of laws in countries where they were ratified. Thus, they must implemented. We want to draw the attention of the authorities in Bucharest to the fact that these norms are not optional. Workerīs rights, which these norms protect, are not optional.
We have proposed to the trade union organizations to register a new complaint to the ILO to demand that the Romanian authorities respect the workerīs rights to organize and protest to defend their interests and, consequently, to free the five imprisoned mineworkers, Miron Cozma, Constantin Cretan, Dorin Lois, Ionel Ciontu and Vasile Lupu and to cancel the sentence; Romeo Beja for the moment has succeeded in escaping Romanian "justice."
Q: What are, in your opinion, the problems posed in a few months by Romaniaīs entrance into the European Union?
A: I will recall one fact: In December 2004, after Miron Cozma was pardoned by Ion Iliescu, the then president of Romania, the same Iliescu, after visiting Brussels, revoked his pardon, and Cozma was once again sent to prison. The media affirmed at the time that the decree revoking the pardon was signed under pressure from the United States and the European Union.
Thus, there is a direct relationship between the content of the institutions of the European Union, the concrete policies of Brussels and the fact that there are five unionists imprisoned in Romania.
The "restructuralization" programs, the liquidations, the anti-social policies, etc. are the same in your country. But through the action of organized workers, gains can be won, despite the demands of Brussels. For example, the LSMVJ (a co-organizer of the conference) succeeded in forcing the government to prolong the subsidies to the coal mines in the Jiu valley until 2010. That was a great victory!
Q: What is the significance of this conference in a region, the Balkans, where the peoples are constantly being pitted against each other?
A: Workersī solidarity in the Balsa-Danubian region has a tradition going back over a hundred years. The links between the peoples and workers of this region were not able to be broken by the two Balkan wars in 1912-1913, nor by the world wars, nor by the bloody wars in the ex-Yugoslavia in the years 1990. The presence of worker and unionist delegates from Ukraine and ex-Yugoslavia at our conference is also proof of this.