Below we publish an article and appeal for solidarity with workers in struggle at the MMC Mitsubishi plant in Anzoátegui state, along with a joint declaration of support for the workers, co-signed by various independent left organisations in Venezuela, including Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Venezuela)
On Thursday 4th June, a group of workers gathered at the “labour inspection office” “Alberto Lovera” in Barcelona, in Anzoátegui state, to protest against the continuing violation of their workers’ rights, and the aggression of the Japanese bosses of the Mitsubishi multinational - MMC.
16 months of struggle
The workers at MMC have been in struggle for 16 months against the bosses, who have sacked 254 workers, left 475 workers suffering from work related illnesses without any social security and the provocative act of dismissing 11 trade union leaders at the factory. This is in addition to the comrades who were murdered in January of last year, when the workers began their struggle to defend their elementary workers’ rights.
A march full of slogans and a fighting spirit
Against the background of a certain fragmentation of the workers’ movement nationally and a crisis of political leadership, as well as a strong political polarisation, the march of the MMC workers demonstrated the potential for working class and its revolutionary role as the driving force in the fight for socialism.
More than 200 workers were joined by other workers in struggle. For example workers at VIVEX, who have been in struggle for 18 months, and are currently self-managing their company without aid from the government. This is despite the fact that most of these workers “are PSUV members and defenders of the revolutionary process led by Chavez” - as one of their principal leaders put it.
The MCC workers are also relying on the support of the workers of MACUSA, an outsourcing company, which manufactures the seats used in the vehicles assembled at the MMC plant. Independent left organisations also gave their support and expressed their unconditional solidarity with the MMC workers’ struggle.
This is an important development, in that it represents one of the first practical expressions of the intent to build a united front between these organisations, in an attempt to unify struggles and strengthen the forces defending a revolutionary socialist programme, built by the poor, oppressed and all those exploited by capitalism (workers, peasants, organised communities, students etc.)
The mood of the workers was really combative and the slogans chanted by the them were very militant and politically class consciousness. “Workers’ control of MMC!”, “Reformists, bureaucrats, tremble!”, “the working class is prepared to give its life for the revolution”, and “we are workers, not delinquents!”, amongst others. These were chanted with particular force when the demonstration passed the regional authorities’ headquarters, executive and judicial. They also expressed the internationalism of the working class, when they raise slogans repudiating the recent aggression of the Israeli state against the humanitarian delegation to Gaza, in international waters.
It was a disciplined march, which sought to break with the polarisation and provocations, which can result in the criminalisation of protest. These comrades (who included an important group of women workers) marched to the headquarters of the justice tribunals, where they shouted slogans and denounced the state bureaucracy, challenged the bosses, demanding nationalisation under workers’ control and justice for the workers murdered in the fight for rights. They also demanded the provision of rights for sacked workers, for over one hour.
The day of protest ended, without an intimidatory police presence and with a surge in the confidence of the workers, who, under their own leadership and with clarity in their objectives, have moved beyond mere elemental demands.
Examples such as this should cause the revolutionary left and the revolutionary class sectors of the Venezuelan trade union movement to reflect, not only on how to show solidarity with these workers, but also on how this struggle can be taken to its ultimate consequences and become an example of the struggle for revolutionary democratic socialism.
Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Venezuela), along with the other left organisations and social struggles that we are trying to unify, re-affirms our unconditional solidarity with the workers of MMC, and we put ourselves at their disposal, to accompany them to the final victory.
(*) Left organisations: Liga de Trabajadores por Socialismo, Unidad Socialista de los Trabajadores, CSR Topo Obrero, Insurgencia Comunista, Opción Obrera, Socialismo Revolucionario y el ALEM.
For the reversal of all sackings at Mitsubishi!
For a break with bosses’ politics! The capitalists must pay for the crisis!
In response to the international crisis of capitalism, which has its implications for our country as well as in other parts of the world, the bosses want to make their crisis fall on the backs of workers and the people. Declining salaries, rising prices, the destruction of collective contracts, the shrinking of work-forces, the rise in precarious work, the elimination of rights and previous conquests and the violation of workers’ rights all form part of the capitalists’ plan, which is being applied in Venezuela also. The struggle at MMC Automotriz in Anzoátegui is one expression of this.
In the face of this crisis, and the policies of the capitalists, the response of the workers of the world is beginning, with ever-greater force. Workers in Venezuela have not been too far behind, having been forced to confront the aggression of the multinational, MMV Autormotriz, with the complicity of the national government, principally through the Minister for work and social security (MINPPTRASS).
This bosses’ alliance continues it’s offensive with a clear objective: the destruction of the trade union organisation, SINGETRAM, and to inflict a strategic moral and material defeat on the workers of MMC Automotriz and their union, as well as the Venezuelan working class generally, in order to facilitate the capitalists’ plans to impose the weight of the crisis onto the shoulders of the workers.
This is the reason why the MINPPTRASS ministry, led by María Cristina Iglesias has not allowed the workers of MMC Automotriz to defend their labour and social rights, and their job security and safety.
The aggression of the bosses included the sacking of 11 union leaders, along with various delegates and rank-and-file members, who altogether made up around 200 workers, sacked with the complicity of the MINPPTRASS ministry, which accepted the company’s pre-requisites for the dismissal of the workers, approved measures attacking rights and conditions, through shady secretive procedures, outside of all legality, and above all, declaring the struggle of the workers for the rights as illegal, while making judgements favouring the bosses, delaying collective bargaining discussions, doing a great favour to the Japanese bosses of MMC Automotriz.
But the government’s attacks on workers go further than this. We all remember the date of 29 january 2009, when police in Anzoátegui state (where the state governor is Tarek William Saab) murdered 2 workers (one from MMC Automotriz and another from the car parts manufacturer, Macusa) during a factory occupation.
Added to this must be the Fact that the leadership of the Anzoátegui PSUV, the members of the national political bureau of the PSUV, the former deputy and minister for electrical energy, Ángel Rodríguez, the official and opposition media, and the “leaders” of the Fuerza Socialista Bolivariana de Trabajadores (“Chavista” trade union current), like Oswaldo Vera, Aristóbulo Istúriz, Carlos Itriago and Franklin Rondón all accused the workers of being violent criminals and saboteurs, and of acting against the “national interest”, in an attempt to criminalise justified workers’ protests.
We (the undersigned) are in no doubt. The Chavez government has signed various agreements with the Japanese capitalists, linked with requests for loans to Venezuelan banks. Part of these agreements was a guarantee of unhindered conditions for investment by Japanese capitalists in Venezuela, and agreements on securing Venezuelan oil supplies. However, these agreements also guaranteed Japanese capitalism the ability to exploit workers in Venezuela to the full. The super-exploitation of workers at MMC Automotriz is a result of parts of these agreements. For this reason, the government ignores the demands of the workers, as well as using all of its power against the SINGETRAM trade unionists, and other worker activists.
Against accusations of violence and criminality against these comrades, we say that the only “crime” they have committed is the defence of their rights, not having lay prostrate before the exploitation of this imperialist company. How is it possible that an imperialist company can count on the support of a government which Chavez calls “anti-imperialist”? How is it possible that they receive the support of the labour ministry for their violations against the workers? The real “criminal” has placed itself at the side of imperialist bosses, who exploit the labour of the workers and loot our natural resources!
We oppose the sacking of the trade union leaders and all other workers at MMC Automotriz. We reject the plans of the company to impose unbearable working speed, exorbitant production targets, hopeless working conditions and massive cuts in wages and personnel. We denounce the complicit attitude of the MINPPTRASS ministry and other governmental organisations, who have favoured the bosses, and we completely reject the government’s policy of privileging Japanese imperialism, at the expense of the workers of MMC Automotriz.
We also call on workers’, social and political organisations, as well as all class fighters who consider themselves revolutionary socialists and internationalists to unite in a national and international campaign for the reversal of these redundancies and the re-instatement of these comrades to work.
We offer all our support and commit ourselves to put all our capacities at the service of the MMC automotriz workers, to forward their struggle until victory and end the bosses’ and government’s offensive.
Victory to the MMC automotriz workers!
Reverse all redundancies!
For the immediate re-instatement of all sacked workers!
Sack MARÍA CRISTINA IGLESÍAS as labour minister!
For the dismissal of the labour Inspector of Barcelona!
Nationalisation of MMC without compensation, under workers’ control!
For a national and international campaign in defence of the MMC automotriz workers!
Sindicato del Aeropuerto de Maiquetia