Chile: Union bureaucracy attempt to expel a workers’ leader defending shop workers exposed to covid-19

Union leader at the Jumbo company, Vilma Alvarez (on the left in photo)

Vilma Alvarez is a supporter of Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI Chile) and a leader of a trade union at the Jumbo supermarket company. The leadership of the union confederation Vilma belongs to, Co-ordinadora de Sindicatos del Comercio y Servicios Financieros, are proposing to censure her and to expel her from the leadership of the confederation. The reason they are taking this action is that Vilma called for a general strike in the retail sector, so workers can defend themselves during the covid-19 crisis.

Below is Vilma’s response to a vote of censorship by the Co-ordinadora de Sindicatos del Comercio y Servicios Financieros confederation executive against her and their calls for Vilma’s expulsion.

Dear fellow members of the Co-ordinadora de Sindicatos del Comercio y Servicios Financieros National Board, 

Last night I read in the WhatsApp group of the National Board a statement sent by the President of the confederation, Don Manuel Díaz, of the intention to expel me from the organization.

My only intention, as a union leader has always been the strong defence of the rights and life of workers. My behaviour does not violate any duty as a member of the Board.

As a leader, it is my duty to denounce the anti-worker laws and opinions emanated from governments and corrupt parliamentarians.

Proposing a general strike is my right to free speech and I cannot be censored for that.

Since the crisis exploded, two roads have become clear; one is the street struggle, and the general strike, and the other is making poor agreements with bosses and governments.

It is the first path I have defended, inside and out of the union confederacy, and that is a stance that the executive, led by Diaz, do not like.

It is unacceptable to be censored for having different opinions and proposals – yet these are the totally undemocratic and unconstitutional actions of the executive committee.

I have stated that I have every right to belong to a political organization but I will never use a trade union position for interests other than the defence of the rights and the lives of workers.

Mr. Manuel Diaz, acting in name of the Confederation, is a member of the Socialist Party (Chile), a party that is seriously questioned by all Chilean people.

It is public knowledge that if anyone has endangered the unity and permanence of the organization, it has been Don Manuel Diaz. He has been questioned for not abiding by the agreements made for workers in Walmart. He has also used his position to back Mrs. Bachelet [former Chilean Prime Minister] in exchange for who knows what benefits.

It is very clear that we are entering a new stage after the widespread social protests over the last months in Chile, and today amid a serious international economic and health crisis.

Old methods of unions dealing with crises no longer apply and it is the task of all honest leaders to make a turn, otherwise, we can go straight over a cliff.

The only unity is one that is made around a clear plan of struggle and demands, and for this, we need truly resolute and honest leaders.

Given all the above, I request that trade union partners and colleagues do not consider my censorship or expulsion as requested by the executive.

Vilma Alvarez

Jumbo Portal La Dehesa union President.

Director of the Coordinating Confederation of Trade, Financial and Brokering Services.

Please send urgent solidarity messages to;

Vilma Alvarez :

vilmalvarez@gmail.com

Vilma’s trade union at her supermarket workplace, ‘Jumbo’: sindicatojumboladehes@gmail.com

And please also send protests to the union confederation, Co-ordinadora de Sindicatos del Comercio y Servicios Financieros, where attempts are being made to try to expel Vilma

Presidencia@corordinadoradelcomercio.cl

 

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