Venezuela: Workers’ rights campaign – Stop the repression of Trade Union rights in the pharmaceutical company RACE

Stop the repression of Trade Union rights in the pharmaceutical company RACE

Workers’ rights campaign Venezuela

Appeal for international solidarity

The Executive Committee of the trade union Suprofrad, which organises the pharmaceutical workers in Caracas, Venezuela denounces the company RACE C.A for its refusal to recognise our trade union. We are the legitimate representatives of the workers on the shop floor and the way in which management is behaving means that the workers we represent are being denied their most elementary rights. The right of workers to organise in trade unions and to be represented by the trade union of their choice is fundamental and established in the Venezuelan Labour code and in the Venezuelan Constitution.

Our trade union Suprofrad has been legally registered and can count on the support of the majority of the workers in this workplace. Company management refuses to recognise the trade union and refuses to start collective wage negotiations or to respond in any way or form to the demands of the workers. What management has done is to put pressure, intimidate and even physically threaten workers who are supporting the trade union Suprofrad. These tactics have been supplemented by illegal redundancies of workers, especially those workers who are known to be members of our trade union. Workers who are on a 12 month contract have not had their contracts renewed after it became apparent that they were supporting Suprofrad.

A yellow trade union

The management of RACE have started to organise a yellow trade union named Unitrace. This trade union is lead by the lawyer Debora Espinoza who quite conveniently for the management of RACE is also the labour inspector for the capital district of Caracas. The management is now steaming ahead with its plans to legalise Unitrace as the legal representative of the workers in RACE. We have to warn and repeat that when management will be allowed to achieve its sinister objectives and Unitrace will be recognised as the sole representative of the workers there will be no stability in the factory nor will their be any just collective convention for the workers. The only agreements imposed will be those who favour the so-called "economic reality" of the factory.

Illegal contracts

We are also denouncing the way in which the company has forced workers to sign a monstrosity of a contract that is made up of incomprehensible phrases but which in reality does not contain any of the by law required elements detailed in decree 4248 of the ministry of Labour. This decree states that private companies which have commercial contracts with the state or any agency of the state have to comply with the labour law. This means they have an obligation to observe human, workers’ and trade union rights in their workplaces. On the basis of this decree we are petitioning the Venezuelan state to cancel the contract between the national oil company PDVSA and the pharmaceutical company RACE.

We have called upon the workers of RACE C.A to remain firm and defiant and not to believe in the false promises of the company. Our common goal is to arrive at a just and equitable collective agreement in which our labour will be valued honestly. Only in this way will we be able to obtain better social and economic conditions for our families. The situation for the workforce and for the sacked trade union members is critical. Our trade union Soprofard will, after consultation with the membership and in accordance with the Labour code of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela take industrial action to secure the rights of the workforce.

Letters of protest

We are calling on all the trade union organisations, national and international, to send letters of protest to the Ministry of Labour: and

Please send copies of your letter to , , , and

We are also asking for financial support for the strike fund of the Suprofard trade union. Two members of the executive committee of the trade union have been made redundant by RACE. Jhonny Coronil has been without any income for the last 6 months and Andry Key has been without income for the last year. They were sacked illegaly and we are demanding the immediate reintegration into the company.

We are aware that the situation which has developed in the RACE company is not unique in Venezuela. A lot of other workers are going through the same experience, for example the workers in the textile factory Sel-Fex. This is a call for unity. The workers have to unite all similar struggles just as the bosses and management are uniting in Venezuela to drive down the conditions and wages of the working class. With unity, organisation and awareness we will succeed.

The RACE company violates the labour code

Enough of abuses and disregard for our rights

Unity to fight for our labour rights

Special financial appeal to all readers of

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May 2006