ILC INTERNATIONAL NEWSLETTER
A dossier of weekly information published by the International
Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples
June 27, 2006
Price 0.50 Euros
This week we are publishing the third part of the presentation by
Daniel Gluckstein, as well as the speech by Luc Deley (from
Switzerland) which opened the discussion, and that by H.W. Schuster
(from Germany) at the 13th ILC Geneva Conference.
Italy: On June 25 and 26, the Italian workers, youth, and people
voted in mass against the division of the country, the creation of
"20 little Italies," and the destruction of the democratic conquests
written into the Italian Constitution by the Resistance and the
Liberation. They said yes to Italian unity and yes to the unity of
We are also publishing various articles concerning the European
Summit of 25 heads of state and European governments that took place
on June 15 and 16.
Brazil: You will find in this issue of the ILC International
Newsletter an interview, which took place during the teachers´ strike
with the main leader of the teachers union in Fortaleza.
Bolivia: Two months alter the decree of the nationalization of the
oil and gas, the new president, Evo Morales, has begun the "second
The ILC International Newsletter provides you with indispensable
news. Subscribe to the Newsletter and distribute it!
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- Presentations of Daniel Gluckstein, Luc Deley, from Switzerland, and of H.W. Schuster from Germany at the 13th ILC Geneva Conference.
- - Italy: The people said "No!" to the reform of the constitution
- -- European Summit
- -- Brazil: Teachers´ strike in Fortaleza: An interview
- -- Bolivia: No the secessionist referendum
Entente internationale des travailleurs et des peuples,
87, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Denis -75010 Paris - France
Tel: (33 1) 48 01 88 28
13TH CONFERENCE IN DEFENSE OF THE ILO CONVENTIONS AND TRADE UNION INDEPENDENCE
Geneva, Sunday, June 11, 2006
The countries represented were Algeria, Germany, Bangladesh, Belgium,
Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ivory Coast, France, Gabon, India,
Italy, Niger, Pakistan, Romania, Senegal, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria,
Togo, and Chad.
A discussion began concerning the questions posed by the "new trade
On Sunday June 11, delegations from 21 countries came together in
Geneva at the 13th Conference of the ILC In Defense of the ILO
Conventions and Trade Union Independence.
This conference opened up a needed discussion concerning the reality
of the "new trade union international," that is set to be founded on
November 1st in Vienna, after the dissolution of the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the World
Confederation of Labor (WCL).
Due to the importance of the discussion at this conference, we will be
publishing all the speeches. This week, we are publishing the third
part of the report by Daniel Gluckstein.
The ILC is not in competition with any other organization of the
Its mission is not to formulate a program. Its responsibility is to
inform, alert and discuss the questions that affect the future of the
workers´ movement. At the end of the rich debate, the following
proposals were made:
- To organize the debate and continue the discussion, not only on a
national level, but in the framework of the newsletter of the ILC. In
the ILC International Newsletter we will include, until November, a
special section on this discussion, beginning with the publication of
speeches presented at the Geneva conference
- To mandate the bureau of the ILC to write a letter to all the
affected organizations and all the delegates to the November 1st
Congress in Vienna, to discuss with them the need to preserve the
independence of trade union organizations.
This week we are publishing the third part of the presentation by
Daniel Gluckstein, as well as the speech by Luc Deley (from
Switzerland) which opened the discussion and that by H.W. Schuster
(from Germany) at the 13th ILC Geneva Conference.
On this march towards "governance," there has been a slide. I spoke
of the CGT congress because it was there that this process was
expressed in the most spectacular and visible manner in my country in
the recent period. But it would be dishonest on my part to claim that
these problems are only posed in the CGT. Under different forms,
these questions are posed in France in all the confederations. I
imagine that this is the same on an international level.
But I think that we need to discuss the heart of the matter. This
process is not set in stone. We have a role to play, a role which the
ILC has always played. Our role is not to say "it is necessary to do
this or that" or to dictate any policies. But we have the potentially
useful role of organizing the debate and clarifying the stakes.
This is not an abstract debate. This is a debate that has extremely
concrete consequences. For example, throughout the world, we see that
many trade unions are revising their statutes, or bylaws.
Many trade unions throughout the world are rethinking their statutes
and the role of federations, unions, regions, etc.
This is not a spontaneous development. It is the translation of this
offensive. I´ll speak of a current example which at first glance may
appear as if it doesn´t have anything to do with the subject. We have
recently heard of an intraprofessional agreement that was proposed to
all the trade union federations. This agreement has a specific
characteristic: It concerns 1,200,000 wage workers who are covered by
various existing National Collective Contracts (CCN). These
collective contracts were negotiated by the various federations. In
all countries, there are federations of the various sectors. In these
cases, the confederations have the responsibility to sign an
intra-professional agreement that does not affect the whole working
class, but only a determined sector. But this so-called
"intra-professional" agreement includes a whole number of clauses
that are inferior in relation to the existing collective conventions.
This poses two questions.
Is the role of a trade union federation to negotiate collective
agreements beneath the already existing agreements? Is the role of a
confederation to take away the power of the federation to negotiate
changes to the collective contracts or the existing agreements and
substitute these with intra-professional agreements that deregulate
all the borders between professions that are organized with their
It is clear that this is related to the current discussion. This is
related to the fact that they tell us that the labor code is too
complex. This is true. I read the official texts of this proposed
intraprofessional agreement. I was surprised by the number of CCN for
these 1,200,000 workers. This complexity is the result of the class
struggle. In each sector, the workers have sought to win a bit more
This class struggle is crystallized in the CCN. If with the single
stroke of a pen, an agreement can overrule a CCN, then this is
possible for all the CCN. This means that whole hierarchy of existing
norms, in which the norm most favorable to the workers must be
implemented, can be undermined.
This is related to the existence of federations and the structural
reforms. In another example -- once again from my country -- a
confederation wants to change its statues and indicates that "from
now on, the unions will organize workers in their sector, and beyond."
If the criterion is all sectors of the profession, and beyond, this
is no longer related to the collective guarantees of the profession;
the unions are no longer linked to a specific collective contract,
statute, or professional sector. This multiprofessional union,
disconnected from all collective guarantees, means the
individualization of rights.
Are these problems linked to the world governance? I think so.
Earlier, I spoke of the CUT congress in Brazil. Two famous
sociologists were invited to speak at the opening session. One was
Antonio Negri, who at one time was very ultra-left, but has visibly
watered down his politics.
He presented to the CUT congress a speech on "The role of unions in
the 21th Century." In this speech, he said: "It is necessary to tell
the truth: the working class has lost much of its hegemony as a force
for resistance and the productive sector has lost all its power. A
new tendency has emerged: that of immaterial labor and, in fact, the
power of the state, like the power of unions, is in the process of
He continued: "What role can a union play in this post-modern period?
What is the role of a union?" He proposed: "There are two forms of
unions possible today, two models of modern unionism. The first is to
accept being a contractual representative of the workers in the
service of governance. This is the model implemented in the United
States. The other is to see unionism as a process of social
representation which searches to occupy a greater place in society,
in the debate concerning wages, but more generally in the debate
concerning social well-being, though the construction of citizenship
which is being strengthened in various European countries."
Let´s translate what Negri is saying: He´s talking about the European
Trade Union Confederation.
Thus, the alternative proposed by Negri is either a union integrated
into governance or into the European Union.
Negri went on to say: "What is important about the two models is that
we should not consider them as being contradictory; they both have
elements than can be joined together. Unionism should enter a process
of interpretation and recognition of its role as an emancipation
movement to defend a common project together with all the corporative
interests and the social movements, as well as its role as a
constructive political force for a new social order."
If unionism is meant to construct this new social order, it must play
a role in a given corporation. This reinforces our view that the
world governance is nothing but what at one time was called
To end on an optimistic note, I would like to bring your attention to
the fact that after this speech was loudly applauded, the CUT
congress decided that it would be a good idea, in relation to the new
international trade union federation, that all unionism must be based
on the eternal need for the trade union to defend the interests of
the workers against capitalism exploitation.
This debate, which was opened by the sociologist, was left
unconcluded. This is a good thing, because it means the discussion
will continue in the federation and in the international workers´
The situation is difficult, we will not deny this fact. But I think
that we can, though this discussion, contribute to enlarge and
develop this debate to the benefit of the working class and democracy
on an international level.
Speech of Luc Delay (Switzerland)
Brother Delay presented the greetings of the UCPO (Union of Circles
of Workers´ Policies). He opened the 13th Conference and also invited
Rubina Jamil, General Secretary of the APTUF, Daniel Gluckstein,
coordinator of the ILC, Norbert Gbikpi-Bénissan, General Secretary of
the union of independent unions of Togo, and Patrick Hebert, a French
unionist, to the presidium.
I would like to say a few things concerning the situation in
Switzerland -- problems which affect all countries -- which pose
various questions inside the Swiss labor movement.
As in most countries, the privatization threats occur every day. A
few days ago, on June 7, faced with the government draft, the Federal
Council, the Swiss Parliament composed of two houses, refused to
completely privatize Swisscom, our telecomunications sectors, which
is no longer 100% controlled by the state -- the state own 60%. But
the proposal of the Federal Council was to completely privatize it.
This is an important victory for us. The question of the protection
of this sector was posed. Should we raise the following question:
Isn´t it necessary to return this public service to the full
ownership of the state?
This is an important victory because, in all the countries around us,
we see the implementation of the European directives that demand the
opening of the markets. This is a victory against privatizations and
in defense of public services, won through the action of the trade
unions and the Socialist Party, which echoed the masses´ will in a
Parliament that is, in its majority, bourgeois.
How was this achieved? First of all, it is necessary to point out the
trade unions declared that if the Parliament voted on this law, they
would organize a referendum, enabling the people to vote on it. In
Switzerland, we can reject any law by using our democratic right to
referendum. By collecting 50,000 signatures in three months, we can
force the government to subject the law to popular suffrage.
This is a right that has existed since 1873, which we have
successfully used against the implementation of the European
directives, such as the rise in the retirement age of women or the
liberalization of the electricity market. We use all the democratic
rights written into the Swiss Constitution as points of leverage.
Switzerland is the oldest democracy in Europe with a sovereign
Switzerland is not a member of the European Union. We are not at
their mercy if we do not implement the EU´s directives.
It is necessary to point out that our victories -- such as the
rejection of the privatization of Swisscom -- were won because the
unions and the Socialist Party organized together a campaign against
But the situation is contradictory because the government pushed
through an important revision of the Constitution, which threatens
the very foundations of our state and democracy by introducing a new
financial equalization which creates a new level, the "obligatory
legal settlements between cantons." This is the undermining of
democracy in Switzerland.
This is the undermining of democracy in Switzerland, which is based
on three levels: the communes, the cantons, and the confederation.
Each level has its own parliaments, completely sovereign
institutions. Thus, this is a serious threat to the existence of the
nation. At a time when the government modifies the Constitution, we
are very worried about the position of the leadership of the
Socialist Party in favor of joining the European Union.
We have just learned that the congress, which was supposed to take
place this year in October, will now be organized in September. But,
because July and August are a period of vacations in Switzerland,
there will be enormous difficulties for the branches to discuss the
Concerning the agenda, we see that the branches cannot take positions
on two important texts: a 120-page revision of the platform
concerning the European Union and a 190-page new economic program.
At the same time, this congress should prepare the party´s
intervention in the federal elections of 2007; thus the branches of
the Socialist Party will not be able to take positions on these
important documents, in a situation where there is a contradiction
between the aspirations of the workers and peoples against
privatizations and an economic program pledged to the European Union.
The program aims to make Switzerland compatible with Europe, which
gravely threatens democratic rights, because the right to referendum
and other democratic rights cannot be implemented.
On June 7, the Parliament sovereignly voted against the
privatization. But with this reform, this would no longer be possible.
This poses a problem that is necessary to discuss: It is not possible
to fight for our demands if we do not defend the rights for our
unions to lean laws, norms, statutes, and democratic rights to oppose
the undermining of our conquests.
We are faced with a serious threat and the discussion we will have
today will touch upon questions that we are faced with in
Switzerland, particularly, the defense of our organizations and the
defense of the nation, the framework in which we have won our rights
The question of trade union independence is necessary to enable the
workers to defend their specific interests faced with capitalist
Personally, I think that we need to fight for a position against
joining the European Union. Only through doing so can we defend our
public services, our conquests, and the independence of our trade
Speech of Schuster Heinz Werner (Germany), Workers Commissions of the
SPD (AfA), Ver.di, Düsseldorf
I am the president of Afa (Labor Community for Workers´ Questions) in
the SPD, as well as an individual delegate for the service-sector
Luc Deley spoke in his introduction of the threat to the unity of the
Swiss nation represented by the "reform of the constitution" proposed
by the government. And Daniel Gluckstein spoke of the danger of the
"new states" that the European Union would like to create, just as
they did with Montenegro. He also spoke of governance, a corporatist
scheme which aims to integrate the trade unions.
I would like to speak of these subjects in Germany.
Since the creation of the Grand-Coalition of the SPD and the CDU/CSU,
Germany has been struck by an important strike wave -- an expression
of the workers´ resistance, which aims to impose their legitimate
demands. My comrade Henning Frey will speak of this in more detail.
The global fusions between trade union federations principally take
the form of a strengthened representation of the CDU in the DGB.
Eight months after the formation of the Grand-Coalition, the DGB held
its congress and elected a candidate of CDU as vice-president of the
DGB. The position of the presidents of IG Metall and Ver.di was that
there should no longer any position given to Ursula Engelen-Kefer,
who up until now was vice-president and, among other duties, was the
representative of the DGB at the ILO.
She is a member of the National Bureau of the SPD, and in this sense,
incarnates the continuity of the historical links between the German
union and the SPD.
Peters et Bsirske defended, under superficially left rhetoric, the
growing links with the Left Party-PDS and the candidate of the CDU,
who wants to be a "bridge toward the CDU" and defended "constructive
dialogue" between the DGB and the Grand Coalition.
However, this is nothing less than that accompanying the destruction
of our system of social security and national collective contracts
and the integration of the trade unions into the reform of
federalism, which would subject all the existing workers´ conquests
(codified in the national framework) to federalization, that is,
The content and method of these laws show that the reform of the
constitution of Germany means the implementation of the European
The Fundamental German Law must be made "compatible with Europe."
Then, in a second stage, the financial relations between the Lander
must be destroyed. Cooperative "federalism" must be replaced by
The trade unions must, in the spirit of "good governance," become
actors in the application of the policies of Grand Coalition.
Thus, at the congress of the DGB there were resolutions that proposed
-- if the government imposed its project -- the implementation of
federalized statutes, which would create 16 DGBs acting separately in
the 16 different Landers. It was a very positive development that
these resolutions were rejected by the congress.
Nevertheless, the congress adopted the "minimum wage," thus
abandoning the basic union position all while big strikes were
But the congress revealed profound fissures and resistance. A metal
worker proposed that Engelen-Kefer, who was not supposed to be a
candidate, run against the CDU candidate. Forty-three percent of the
delegates, almost half of the congress, voted for Engelen-Kefer, thus
voting against the destruction of the links between the trade unions
and the SPD and the integration of the DGB into the Grand Coalition.
Engelen-Kefer is a reformist who states that things must change. Her
position offered a platform of resistance in the DGB in defense of
the class character of our organizations. She was already an obstacle
for the policies of Schroder and is even more of one for the Grand
Coalition. Her reelection would have been an obstacle to the
implementation of the "reforms" of the health-care system and the
pensions system. That is why the leadership of the DGB did everything
possible to keep her from being elected.
The 43% votes obtained were the expression of a resistance in the DGB
and a call for all the workers´ movement to organize against the
integrationist course of the leadership.
This resistance was concentrated against the "reform of federalism."
She called on the SPD MPs to not approve the constitutional upheaval.
She also spoke in favor of the defense of the national contracts and
the struggle in defense of the trade unions and the public services.
In practice, this means that the workers in the public-service sector
must struggle for the Ver.di leadership to abrogate their support for
the TvÖD which was negotiated between Bsirske and Schily, Schroder´s
Minister of the Interior, which replaced the old BAT contract and
permitted federalism in relation to the length of the work day; the
strikes of recent weeks and months have been directed precisely
against this policy.
The campaign against the reform of federalism found a large echo. SPD
MPs, on June 19, met with a delegation of the signers of our Open
Letter. Since then, the structures of the SPD and the SPD MPs have
called for the vote, originally scheduled for June, to be pushed
back, so that more discussion and public meetings can take place
concerning this reform of the constitution, particularly in the trade
unions and the SPD.
The Referendum of June 25 and 26 concerning the "regionalization"
reform of the Constitution: The people said no to the division of the
country and the destruction of the conquests and democracy!
On June 25 and 26, the Italian workers, youth, and people voted in
mass against the division of the country, the creation of "20 little
Italies," and the destruction of the democratic conquests written
into the Italian Constitution by the Resistance and the Liberation.
They said yes to Italian unity, yes to the unity of the Republic.
61.3% voted No. Also, 53% of the electorate participated; for the
past 12 years, no more than 25 or 30% participated in any referendum.
The people, the workers, the youth, the pensioners, and the activists
said through this vote: "We want to defend our national conquests,
national rights, national unity, and democracy."
After the "reforms" of 1992 and 2001, the first attacks against
democracy and the unity of the country, which introduced elements of
regionalization and the introduction of the system majority
representation, in the place of proportional representation, the
people said "Enough!"
They said "Enough!" to the regionalization of health care, which (in
order to implement the Stability Pact) has led to the destruction of
thousands of hospital beds, dozens of hospitals, the limitation of
the medical prescriptions, and the creation of longer and longer
waiting lists for examinations and operations.
They said "Enough!" to the dismemberment of public education, the
closing of classes, the lay-offs, the destruction of national
programs and diplomas (imposed by the Memorandum of the European
Union and Lisbon Summit), enough of the "process" of regionalization
of the professional high-schools.
The people said "Enough!" to regionalization: Five years is enough,
we know what this is all about!
During the whole campaign, all the parties who called for the No did
not cease to repeat that it was necessary to reform the Constitution,
that tomorrow it will be necessary to re-start dialogue with the
The program of the Unione presented during the elections (and signed
by all the parties, including the DS and the Communist Refoundation
Party, with all its currents, including the Italian friends of
Krivine and Besancenot in France) envisions fiscal "federalism," a
regional labor market, a regional senate, the end of the bicameral
system, the strengthening of the power of the government head, and
the reduction of the number of parliamentarians.
And, thus, despite the confusion introduced, after 14 years of
"reforms" adopted in the name of the Stability Pact and
"decentralization," the people clearly said No!
The politicians do not hide their worry in the face of the clear vote
which rejected the "devolution" of Berlusconi and the Unione.
Moments after the results were announced, Prodi, the head of the
government, declared on television, "Now it is an urgent necessity to
find an agreement with the opposition."
For their part, Fassino (DS), Bassani (DS), and Pecorano Scanio
(Verdi) and others admit that it is necessary to take into account
the vote because the Italians said no to changing the Constitution,
but they immediately added that it was necessary to reach more
limited agreements in order to pass an "organic" reform.
Thus, it´s necessary to reach an agreement with Bossi and Berlusconi,
against the clear mandate given by the vast majority of the people,
which said no to Bossi and Berlusconi?
The results of the referendum clearly state that nobody can accept
the division of the country, nobody in the North or South wants the
break-up of the country.
Only the capitalists, the multinationals, and the European Union want
to this, in order to destroy all the conquests and lower labor costs.
Today, June 26, an important step was taken against this division.
But, on the other hand, faced with the declarations of all the
parties, we should continue the discussion. Isn´t it true that all,
from Berlusconi to Prodi, from D´Aema to Bertinotti (as well as the
representatives of Sinistra Critica, who gave their vote of
confidence to Prodi), from Fini to Bossi, have subordinated
themselves to the policies of Brussels and consider that is "urgent"
to find a consensus on a "reform" to divide the country?
Isn´t it the moment to say that it is the European Union which
organizes this division? Isn´t it the moment to say that the cardinal
principle of the European Union, subsidiarity, is an instrument aimed
at destroying the nation?
Don´t we have reason to worry about the "Committee of Regions"
created by the EU to destroy nations?
To defend the unity of the country and democracy, isn´t it necessary
to break with the European Union?
The newspaper The Times published a worrisome geographic map of
Europe in 2020. In this map, we find 17 new "states," including a
state of Sardinia and South Tyrol. The division of the country? This
is a regression of 200 years, to before the unification of Italy!
Today´s vote means the people said "No!" to the balkanization of the country!
We call on all workers, activists, and unionists to deepen the
discussion and to join our National Committee Against the European
Union, for Democracy, Public Services, and the Unity of the Republic.
These analyses are not ultimatums. We aim to continue the discussion
and we propose to all, even if they do not share all our conclusions,
to mobilize to discuss all the initiatives that should be taken:
-- For the defense and reconquest of the Italian Republic
-- For the defense and reconquest of national public education,
national health care, national contracts, and national public services
-- Against the Regional Senates and fiscal "federalism"
-- For the rupture with the European Union
-- For the free union of peoples of Europe
JUNE 15 AND 16, 2006: SUMMIT OF 25 HEADS OF STATE AND EUROPEAN GOVERNMENTS
The European Summit of 25 heads of state and European governments
took place last June 15 and 16. The press only spoke of one theme:
the discussion calendar of the European Constitution. The No vote of
the people of France and Holland marked this summit. Jacques Delors,
the former president of the European Commission, even spoke on June
13 of "the most serious crisis in the history of the European Union."
The Summit eventually decided to delay for one year any decision
concerning the European Constitution. AFP summarized the new
calendar: "The goal is to reach a decision by the end of 2008, under
the French presidency of the EU. The idea is to wait for the Spring
2007 (presidential) elections in France and the (legislative)
elections in the Netherlands at the same time, for wont of being
taxed with immobility."
But they are not abandoning their plans. Jean-Claude Juncker, the
Prime Minister of Luxemburg, resumed as follows the conclusions of
the Summit: "All the content of the constitutional treaty should be
reproduce in a founding text, which will not necessarily be called a
Was the Summit content to discuss this? Not at all. Tony Blair, as
the spokesman for American imperialism, gave another to the European
Summit: "What the citizens want resolved and what we should
concentrate on are the concrete problems -- the economy, illegal
immigration, and security. These are the questions that worry the
And under the guise of "concrete problems", the Summit adopted a
statement with conclusions on 60 points, most of which were hidden
from the press."
And what a conclusion!
Point 6 states: "Broader efforts are needed, particularly in relation
to the quick implementation of legislative measures concerning the
control of the borders and police cooperation."
Thus, with or without the European Constitution, the EU has decided
to accelerate the implementation of a "space" for repression and the
undermining of our rights.
Let´s look at Point 21: "The European Council underlines the
importance of the common market, and greets the proposal of the
Commission to proceed with a general re-examination of this theme,
which will be followed by concrete proposals aiming to complete the
"Common market" and "interior market": this is means particularly the
implementation of the European directives on privatization.
Point 22 says: "In its March 2006, conclusion, the European Council
recommended an energetic policy for Europe and invited the Commission
and the Council to jointly prepare various actions, linked to a
specific calendar, so that it can adopt at its Spring 2007 meeting an
action plan which defense its priorities."
It is in the name of this "energetic policy" that, on last May 16,
the European Commissioner of Competition, Neelie Kroes, sent
"inspectors" to investigate the gas and electricity enterprise of
France, Germany, Belgium, and Austria. Le Monde (May 19) resumed this
investigation as follows: "Excessive centralization, partitioned
national markets The old monopolies are the cause, according to
Brussels, of many of the ´disfunctionalities´ of the European energy
market. Thus, the liberalization of the market should, in principle,
be achieved by July 1st 2007."
All the monopolies, such as Gaz de France, must be liquidated. This
is what the Summit recently re-affirmed.
It is clear that despite the crisis produced by the resistance of the
peoples, the leaders of the European Union aim to push forward with
their destructive policies.
ON JUNE 21, A U.S.-EUROPEAN UNION SUMMIT TOOK PLACE
George Bush came in person to Vienna to meet with the representatives
of the European institutions.
In response to all those who claim that the European Union is a
"bulwark" against the interests of American imperialism, a note from
the Austrian president, published on the eve of the Summit, explains:
"The United States is Europe´s main partner in terms of commerce and
investments. In the European Union, close to two thirds of direct
investments come from the United States."
These "direct investments" essentially mean the take-over by the
American multinationals of the main European industries.
The note continues: "The importance of U.S.-European Union relations
is also illustrated by the multiplicity and diversity of their mutual
consultations. The depth and frequency of these consultations
concerning foreign policy are undoubtedly not well known among the
public. During one term of the Council of the European Union (6
months) there have been over 50 meetings between the European Union
and the United States."
What were the themes of these secret meetings?
In any case, two immediate results came out of the June 21 Summit.
Concerning agriculture, Bush presented his demands on the eve of the
Summit. The WTO negotiations hinge around the agricultural discussion
and must be settled by the end of the year.
Bush´s advisor on national security, Stephen Hadley, declared on
March 20: "We must see a response from our European partners that
truly compares to our offer."
And, thus, in the wake of the European Council, the European
Commission announced a "deep reform" of the wine sector, aiming
particularly to destroy 400,000 hectares of vineyards.
Bush can be content with his voyage to Vienna. And this weekend, we
learned of the agreement on the Mittal-Arcelor fusion by the leaders
of the European trust.
The president of the European Commission, Barroso, spoke, on the eve
of the Summit, of a "partnership" with the United States. Instead of
a partnership, this relationship will consist of the submission of
the institutions of the European Union to the interests of American
THE ETUC PRESENTS ITSELF AS A CANDIDATE ONCE AGAIN
In the wake of the European Summit, on June 19, the ETUC declared:
"The ETUC supports the fact that the European Council opened the path
toward finding a solution concerning the Constitution, by putting a
final date for the period of reflexion. The ETUC continues to
support the main elements of the Constitution. It is essential that
the ETUC be associated as soon as possible into the new discussion on
the Constitution, in a manner at least as participative and
transparent as the past processes in which the ETUC played a role."
Could we ourselves express any more clearly the fact that the ETUC
demands to be a co-writer of the Constitution? Does this have
anything in common with trade unionism?
Excerpts from Labor News (France) Issues148 and 149
Teachers´ Strike in Fortaleza
We are publishing below an interview that took place during the
strike, with the main leader of the education workers´ union of
Fortaleza, which is affiliated with the CUT.
After 45 days of the strike, the teachers of Fortaleza (the capital
of the state of Ceara, in the North-East of Brazil) went back to work
after receiving the concession of wage increases.
Nevertheless, one of the main demands, the adjustment of wages, was
not satisfied, because the city government, led by Socialist
Democracy (the tendency of the Workers´ Party linked to
Basancenot-Krivine in France) opposed this by using the instrument of
participatory democracy to claim other "priorities."
ILC: You are a teacher and unionist in Fortaleza. For more than 40
days, the teachers of this sector have been on strike. Can you
explain to us why?
This strike is one of the strongest in the sector in recent years.
The demands are very simple and legitimate, as you can see. They
essentially deal with wages.
For years, we have gone without a wage adjustment in the face of
inflation. The accumulated loss has risen to 51%. This is enormous.
When you take in account the already miserable wages paid here (the
minimum wage of Brazil is less than 100 Euros), this massive
education spending-cut by the administration is even more
Thus, we are demanding a 51% adjustment, which corresponds to the
We are not irresponsible: We made a proposal for a progressive
adjustment: 12.3% immediately and an adjustment plan for the other
38.7% during a time period which we are ready to discuss with the
municipality. But the municipality has only offered us a 3.3%
increase, which is unacceptable.
In addition to this, we must add something even more scandalous: For
the past 5 years, a bonus written into our contract has not been paid
In principle, we should receive each year a bonus which represents 1%
of our wages. For five years, this bonus has simply been withheld.
This occurred for three years with the former PSDB mayor and has
occurred for two years under the new administration run by Workers
Party (PT). The mayor, Luizinia, is a member of the Socialist
Democracy current (DS, a current of the PT which the ex-Minister
Rosseto belongs to and which regroups the Brazilian friends of
This 5% should be paid to us. Isn´t this the only just thing to do?
How are we supposed to understand the intransigence of the
municipality for over forty days?
ILC: What are the arguments given by the municipality to reject these
completely legitimate demands?
They have two principal arguments. First of all, they talk to us
about the Fiscal Responsibility Law (LRF). This law, passed under
Cardoso, imposes on all the municipalities and all the state
governments a leveling of the budget which obliges them to cut all
What is the purpose of this? Only one thing: the payment of the
public debt, to fill the accounts of the federal government so that
it can pay the external debt.
Lay-offs in the public sector on all levels, salary freezes,
non-payment of gratification, closings of hospitals and schools
these are the results.
The money taken from municipal public services goes straight into the
pockets of the big banks and the international financial
institutions, who profit off of this cursed debt, which the Brazilian
people is not responsible for. In any case, the debt has been already
been paid back many times over.
This is the "argument" of the representatives of a current which for
years chanted with us, "IMF out!"
The municipality also uses the "participatory budget" against us. As
you surely know, this is the great invention of the Brazilian left,
first implemented in Porto Alegre by a PT-Socialist Democracy city
government. The participatory budget consists of calling on the
workers and the people to decide for themselves which of their
demands should be rejected.
It is a system which is based on the payment on the debt. The debt
must be paid, and the LRF must be scrupulously implemented. Next,
with what remains of the budget, they tell us that "clearly, we can´t
do everything" -- and most often we can´t do anything.
Thus, they call on the people to choose between building a child-care
center or a hospital or paying the wages of the city-workers.
This is a perverse system, which aims to pit the workers against each
other, instead of having them unite in the face of the mayor, the
state government, or the federal government. We shouldn´t be shocked
that the World Bank has declared this system to be excellent.
The Socialist Democracy government of Fortaleza thus blackmails the
teachers by telling them: "If we agree to your demands, we will have
to cut other services. However, the assemblies of the participatory
budget decided on other priorities."
They even went so far as organizing a meeting of parents -- without
much success -- to pit them against us.
ILC: Have there recently been violent clashes with the police?
Yes, the municipality sent the police and municipal guard in against
us. They brutally broke up a protest and then a gathering in front of
the mayor. Unionists and teachers were beaten.
The teachers responded by occupying the Municipal Secretariat of
education. There were more injuries. But the teachers came out of
this confrontation with a first result: The municipality was obliged
to open negotiations.
ILC: In recent days, have the teachers of the state (Ceara) sector
joined the strike?
Yes. They also are calling for an adjustment of their wages. And they
also want the repeal of a draft of a law which will soon be proposed
to the State Legislative Assembly. This draft, called "Evaluation of
Activity" was first elaborated and implemented, three years ago, in
the state of Minas Gerais.
They tell us that the purpose of this is to evaluate the competency
of the teachers. What does this mean? Is this a means to improve the
quality of the education offered to the students?
No. The experience of Minas Gerais demonstrates that the only goal of
this "evaluation" is to justify the lay-offs of teachers.
That is why the teachers of Ceara demand the repeal of this proposal.
In the fight for their demands, they have come up against the
obstinate will of the PSDB government, which was just as brutal as
the PT-DS government.
The government threatens them with immediate withholding on their
wages or the makeup of hours lost due to strike during the vacations
But the teachers remain firm. The education workers´ union
(affiliated to the CUT), which is leading these struggles, is
dedicated to completely unifying these struggles.
There are currently more than 20 thousands teachers on strike. Our
demands are just and, despite all the maneuvers, the population
On the eve of new nationalizations, the agrarian reform has begun:
"For the Unity of the Nation! No to the Secessionist Referendum!"
Only two months after having issued a decree that nationalizes the
Bolivian oil and gas, the new president, Evo Morales, has begun the
"second agrarian reform" by distributing to the landless peasants and
the indigenous peoples 3.1 million hectares of land that belongs to
During the same week, Morales announced "a wave of nationalizations'
that will take back the telecommunication, mines, and post-office
From Washington, Donald Rumsfeld declared the "very serious
preoccupation" of the U.S. government concerning the "growth of
populisms" in the Americas. He referenced not only Morales in
Bolivia, but also Chavez in Venezuela, and, in doing so, issued a
warning to the candidate of the PRD who is predicted to win the
presidential elections of July 2 in Mexico.
On May 1st of this year, in front of a massive demonstration in the
Plaza Murillo, Morales, the new president of Bolivia, announced
Decree DS 28701, which nationalized the oil and gas.
This decree stipulates that "the hydrocarbons are the direct and
inalienable property of the state." The nationalization is part of
"the historic struggle of the nations and peoples for the reconquest
of their resources, as the basis for the recovery of the sovereignty
of the country.
In this spirit, the decree determined that "the extraction,
exploitation, transport and the commercialization of the oil and gas
is the duty of the state."
The reactions of the American, Spanish, French, and Brazilian
multinational corporations -- which up till now jointly pillaged the
natural resources of Bolivia -- were very heated.
From Brussels, the European Commission "lamented" the fact that "the
Bolivian government did not consult it before approving the decree."
In Spain and Washington, the reaction was even more heated. In
Brazil, while the company Petrobras threatened to resort to
international arbitration, Brazilian President Lula declared that his
government "will respect the sovereign decision of the Bolivian
In Bolivia, the oligarchies of Santa Cruz and Tarija, the two
departments where most of the oil and gas resources are concentrated,
immediately reacted by threatening to secede from the country. The
referendum on "departmental autonomies", which will take place at the
beginning of July, will give them an opportunity to do so. Supported
discreetly by the U.S. ambassador, the oligarchies in these
departments announced in advance a result of 80% in favor of
"autonomy" and declared that they wouldn´t submit to the national
results of the referendum. In other words, even if the "No" were to
win throughout Bolivia, they said they would push through with the
break-up of Bolivia if the "Yes" vote were approved in their specific
Faced with this exceptional situation, Morales (who himself convened
this referendum, which is a deadly trap for the nation and people of
Bolivia), has just called on the people to vote against the
And in addition to his declarations calling for a "No" vote on the
referendum, he has begun two new developments. In its article,
"Morales Launches a Bolivian Agrarian Revolution," Reuters writes:
"Bolivian President Evo Morales chose the city of Santa Cruz, the
base of powerful bourgeois opposition groups, to begin, on June 2, a
massive distribution of land, the axis of an ´agrarian revolution.´"
"This agrarian reform, even if it is still limited, comes after the
measures taken in November 2001 in Venezuela, when president Chavez
also initiated the expropriation of the big unused latifundias. After
the defeat of the dialogue with the big land-owners of the region,
Morales distributed the titles of 3.1 million hectares of land
belonging to the state to the landless peasants and the indigenous
"Several of the big landowners threatened to organize ´committees of
defense´ of the agricultural property in the face of possible
occupations. ´If the state does not defend us, we have the right to
look for the means to defend ourselves,´ declared the president of
the Agricultural Confederation of Bolivia (Cofeagro), Jose Cespedes,
who went on to announce the creation of committees of defense of the
big tracts of the East of Bolivia; he refused to specify whether
these groups would be armed or not."
Another measure announced in recent weeks by Morales was the "second
wave of nationalizations." After the hydrocarbons, this would affect
the mines, telecommunications, the post-office, and the forest
It is to smash these measures that the Bolivian oligarchies and the
U.S. government openly call for the break-up of Bolivia during the
referendum on autonomies. This is a policy which the U.S. government
implements throughout the whole world.
The map of "the future Montenegros" published in The Times of London
[see ILC Newsletter No. 187] could now be expanded to include the
Bolivian departments of Santa Cruz and Tarija.
The urgent slogan today in Bolivia is for a united front to defend
the unity and integrity of the Bolivian nation.
In an Open Letter addressed to President Morales (prior to his
declarations for the No), as well as to all the workers´ and peoples
organizations, La Chispa (the sympathizing section of the Fourth
International in Bolivia) calls for a common front, irrespective of
the past or present disagreements, without any condition, for a
"united, free, and sovereign Bolivia."
Excerpts from Open Letter
President Evo Morales and leaders of the workers´ and popular
You have the power and the duty to mobilize the whole nation for the
No vote and against any secessionist attempt on the part of the
The very existence of the Bolivian nation is at stake.
We, signers of this letter, declare our firm stance in this struggle
to defend the nation and its resources against imperialism.
The gas, oil, land, and all the natural resources belong to the
For the sovereignty and unity of the Bolivian nation against the autonomies!
June 16, 2006
More issues of ILC Newsletter in English