On the 7 April the CWI section in Venezuela together with the union of the hospital workers of the Algodanal in Caracas, organised a successful meeting about the struggle of French students and workers against the draconian law proposed by the ruling class. This law would introduce the CPE, a contract which would allow young workers to be sacked in the first two years of their employment. Two days after the meeting the law was withdrawn as a result of the mass movement of French workers and youth
More than 100 workers attended the meeting, amongst them members of Sintrasalud, the trade union of hospital workers, two community radio stations, and representatives of workers in struggle such as those from Race, a pharmaceutical company. The latter took the floor to explain about their attempts to establish a trade union, their illegal sacking from the factory and their struggle for the union to be recognised and the leaders of the union to be readmitted to the workplace. The meeting also welcomed two community leaders from Petare, a borough of Caracas. Different people from the missions, anti-poverty projects supported by the government, attended the meeting as well
The introduction to the meeting by Karl Debbaut, for the CWI, highlighted the main aspects of the struggle of the French working class such as the defence of basic trade union rights and the struggle against neo-liberalism and the growing poverty. As Karl explained this is higher than what is generally assumed to be the case here in Latin America. These policies have their origins in the most advanced capitalist countries. He also pointed out the undemocratic nature of parliamentary politics in Western Europe. When official politicians insist on implementing a law 73% of the French population is against, one has to ask what kind of democracy we are talking about?
The audience was very interested in the introduction which was followed with a lively debate. Many questions were asked about how the ideas of socialism are understood in France and the other European countries. Other participants asked more details about the methods used in the struggle of the French students and workers and about the precise meaning of the law proposed by the French government.
The public meeting was without any doubt a new and special experience. Because in general many of us in Latin America have the vision that the European working class is privileged and that they do not struggle directly against capitalism. The meeting also stressed the need for an international struggle against capitalism and neo-liberalism.
We drew up a very positive balance sheet from this meeting between workers living in very different cultures but with so much in common that we cannot but learn from each other.