[DEBATE] : Invitation to trade unions, peasant's, students' and popular organisations of all the world
lubna at mweb.co.za
Sat Apr 15 22:03:36 BST 2006
----- Original Message -----
From: Workers International Vanguard League
Sent: Saturday, April 15, 2006 12:42 PM
Subject: FW: Please send message of solidarity
Please send a delegate or at least a message of support to
CONLUTAS c/o fabinhobosco at yahoo.com.br
Invitation to trade unions, peasant's, students' and popular organisations of all the world
Sao Paulo, 7th December 2005
This is to invite you to the I National Congress of Workers (CONAT) summoned by the National Coordination of Struggles in Brazil (CONLUTAS) to be held in Sao Paulo on May 5th till 7th 2006.
The CONLUTAS is an organisation that groups trade unions, peasants' and popular organisations, students' federations in Brazil, who fight against the imperialist oppression in our country and in all Latin America, against the neoliberal plans of the lackey governments and in defence of the rights of the workers and the oppressed people.
Our organisation was born in 2004 in order to fight against the neoliberal reforms inspired by the IMF and the World Ban k and applied by the Lula administration who had just taken over thanks to an enormous support received from the toiling masses.
The CONLUTAS rejected the university reform and the trade union reform and called to fight against them for, under the baffling name of "changes" and a veil of propaganda constituted the implementation of imperialist plans for our country.
We firmly opposed the position of the United Workers' Central (CUT), who stood by the administration and betrayed the workers, age full support to these plans and finally became part of a ministr y in Lula's administration through the person of their former chairman and current Minister of Labour, Luiz Marinho.
CONLUTAS stands for full independence of workers' organisations from governments and from the State. CONLUTAS also upholds close collaboration and unity between trade unions, organisations of peasants, students, and native nations and of all the toiling masses of Latin America and the entire world to fight with independence for our rights, fight against the imperialist oppression and get democratically organised.
We can see the need for an exc hange of experiences because of battles respond to common causes and we challenge similar enemies. At the same time, we are aware of the fact that ours is only one of the experiences of organisation and struggle on this continent.
That is why the invitation that we are extending aims not only at being able to rely on your presence at and contribution to our Congress but also to achieve an integration and an international coordination of the organisations present at the events.
With fraternal greetings,
Jose Maria Almeida
National Coordination of CONLUTAS
An IWL Publication New Epoch N° 115
Brazil: First Conlutas Congress
The construction of an alternative of leadership
Summoned by the National Coordination of Struggles (Conlutas), the I National Congress of Workers (Conat) will be held between May 5th and May 7th in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It is an important step along the path the Brazilian working class and toiling masses in general are treading on their way to the re-organisation.
There is a new trade union and popular organisation of the Brazilian political scenario. Right in the middle of the Lula administration that can rely on the strongest left-wing parties in the country (such as PT, and PCdoB) and the direct participation of all the major unions (CUT) and popular movement (MST) and students (UNE), a new mass organisation is being born gathering trade unions and sectors of students' and peoples' movement: the National Coordination of Struggles (Conlutas)
A littl e bit of history
The end of the so-called "economic miracle" in the 1970s cause the revival of economic and political strikes against the dictatorship ruling in Brazil since 1964. As a result of this revival, the greatest tools of struggle in the history of the working class of this country were built: the PT, the CUT and even the MST.
In spite of the struggle of sectors of the left, the leadership managed to transform these organisations gradually into a tool for class conciliation. This process leapt forward in the 90s: the CUT was transformed into a bureaucratic apparatu s in the services of collaboration with the bourgeoisie and the PT became a party totally adapted to the bourgeois order. The peak of this project took place with the election of Lula for President (2002) that gave rise to great expectations among the workers. However, as soon as Lula began applying the imperialist policy, the norms of the IMF and the neoliberal reforms sponsored by the World Bank, the organisation built in the previous period rallied round the government and its policy. Thus they definitely forsook their role as instruments for struggle of the working class, put an end to an entire chapter of history, and became the direct support for a bourgeois administration of class collaboration. And acted as transmission belt for the proimperialist policy into the inside of workers movement.
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Main characteristics of the Conlutas
As from that moment on, ever increasing sectors of the working class began to fight against the neoliberal plans of the Lula administration and also began to challenge Lula himself and so entered into collision with the officialist leaderships of the CUT, UNE and MST and this inaugurated a new cycle of re-organisation. A process of resistance began with sections of the workers and popular movements that searched Conlutas for organisation as far as it was standing as a new alternative of leadership for the struggle of the workers. A similar process occurred in the students' movement, round Conlut e taking Conlutas as a reference (See article The Surging of the Conlute). Brazil is going through a process of reorganisation similar to the one that had taken place in Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina in the mid nineties. Conlutas expresses a reorganisation concentrated on the construction of a new national organisation that may be transformed into an alternative for the struggles of the most diverse social sectors and become its highest expression. At present, Conlutas contains nearly 100 trade unions and another similar number of trade union oppositions.
The construction of an organisation aiming at joining several segments of social movements is a particular feature of this new process of re-organisation in Brazil. National organisations built in previous process es expressed specific social segments. The most varied urban inter-union articulations, countryside organisations and popular movements that ever emerged in Brazil have always been representatives of specific sectors.
This process of union reorganisation is expressed through the split-away of the trade unions from the CUT. It is not, therefore, a process going outside of the trade unions or against the trade unions. So far, trade unions are still the main tool for struggle of the urban working class, in spite of all the deterioration accumulated during the previous period, marked by the productive re-structuring and the new form of administration in the companies, by the ebb of class struggles, by the bureaucratisation of trade union organisms and by the conciliator y policy of most of the leaders.
A struggle of a combatant advance guard is underway for the recovery of the trade unions from the CUT and other collaborationist centrals thus repeating, in a way, what had happened when the CUT emerged for the first time. This is because of the weight and the tradition of trade unions in Brazil. Even since their creation, they have always been the predominant form of organisation of the working class and have always had a substantial weight.
The process of reorganisation in the countryside is becoming deeper and deeper since nu merous organisations emerged alongside the MST. Some of them are the result of splits inside the MST itself, others are more recent formation, more independent as the MTL, the most progressive sector of which is to be found in the Mining Triangle and in Goias. This process also occurs among the popular movement. Just see the presence of the CLMP in the Conlutas apart from other movements such as the occupation "Zumbi de Palmares" in Rio de Janeiro.
Heading for Congress
The construction of the Conlutas and the Conlute is the product of a tough battle inside the mass movement and, at the same time, it reflects a new process of reorganisation of the toiling masses and the students in Brazil, similar to what had already happened in other Latin American countries and the world in the mid nineties, when new organisations cropped up outside of the traditional centrals while others, already existing, recovered old vigour. For example: when the Coordination of Social Movemen ts (CMS) cropped up in Ecuador, when first the Central of Argentine Workers (CTA) and soon after that, the movement of the piqueteros* emerged in Argentina, when in Bolivia the Coordination of Waters of Cochabamba got together and similar things kept on happening elsewhere. That was a process of an enormous importance, forecasting great conflicts that were about to happen in these countries in the early XXI century, when these organisations achieved predominance and the Popular Assemblies were born and so was the Argentine Inter-Trade Union and other organisation recovered vigour, such as the Bolivian Workers' Central (COB) and the processes of 2003-2005.
Whose who are building the Conlutas are aware that we are part of that process and, at the same time of the deep objective unity that exists between the processes of struggle and organisation in different countries of Latin America. That is why we wish to invite all these organisations to attend and take part in the foundation Congress. The aim is not only to exchange and debate experiences but also that the Congress may ser the purpose of taking concrete steps of coordination and common action possible to be carried out. Below we reproduce the letter of invitation that, with this in mind, the National Coordination of Conlutas has issued.
The emerging of Conlutas
· The July 2003 National strike of public servants against the reform of social security marked the beginning of the split of the masses from their traditional organisations due to the fact that the CUT had betrayed the strike. Workers began splitting definitely away from the officialist leaders of the trade union and the toiling masses in general. Workers on strike disavowed the CUT prohibiting it from talking in their name when negotiating with the government. After the defeat of the strike, the process continued with the suspension of payments of financial contribution and with definite disaffiliation of trade unions from the CUT. This phenomenon soon spread on to other branches in a process of splitting of the most fighting sectors or the trade unions away from the CUT.
· The Struggle against the Trade Union and Labour Reform inaugurated the phase of the construction of alternative. The Proposal posed by the administration warned the trade union grassroots that there was danger of modifying the union structure existing in the country in order to build up even more the state and government control over the unions maintaining the trade union movement under the absolute tenet of the collaborationist centrals eliminating historic labour achievements and handcuffing workers with a prohibition of strikes.
· Luziania (Goias) National Union Encounter. March 2004 marked the beginning of a second phase: the struggle against the reform. A national struggle platform was voted and a national march in Brasilia was scheduled for the 16th of June.
· On the 19th of March, a new gathering in Brasilia voted the construction of the National Coordination of Struggles (Conlutas) as a national pole for struggles, alternative to the CUT. Sectors of left-wing unions, independent unions of federal civil servants and a sector of Federations attended but these later opted to withdraw.
· A similar process can be witnessed among the students. Sectors liked to the PSTU, regional left wing groups and an ample independent sector inaugurated a course of action of opposition against the government-sponsored University Reform. In May, a National Encounter was held in Rio de Janeiro attended by nearly 1500 students and passed a platform of struggles against the reform and the government and decided to build a National Coordination Of Students' Struggles (Conlute) as an alternative pole to the leadership of the UNE:
· Between 8 and 19 thousand people gathered at the 16th June National March in Brasilia and proved that it was possible to mobilise nationwide outside of the mainstream organizations. This inspired the advanc e guard with greater self-confidence and made them regard the possibility of the construction of an alternative project with more optimism.
· The national bank workers' strike started on September 14th 2004 and encouraged the construction of Trade Union Oppositions linked to Conlutas as an alternative to the officialist union leaders. During this strike, the longest ever in the history of th e sector, the National Movement of Bank Workers Opposition (MNOB) led the rebellion against the National Confederation of Bank Workers (CNB-CUT) and challenged the government, the bankers, the CUT and the trade union leaders. The partial victory achieved caused a qualitative leap in the experience of the bank workers with their officialist leaders and the MNOB emerged that much stronger in the entire country.
· In September 2004, Conlute held a National Plebiscite against the University Reform. Challenging the UNE, they managed to collect 56.127 students' votes and emerged firmly rooted in the state owned universities.
· In January 2005, Conlutas held its I National Encounter in Porto Alegre with 1500 activists from trade unions, young people's activists and popular activists taking part. A strategic discussion was held hinging round the need to become a real national organisation absorbing the different social movements (trade unions, popular, peasants and students). A new National Encounter was scheduled to organise a Foundation National Congress, a plan of mobilisations against the Trade Union and Labour Reforms and a new march to Brasilia. The plan was to combine with the struggle for the unification of campaign for salaries and the dispute at the election in important Trade Unions.
· Also the Conlute held a new National Encounter attended by about 1000 students. A decision was taken to hold a broad debate among the students' grassroots regarding the need to split away from UNE, to intensify the struggle against University Reform and to hold another National Encounter. Furthermore, the National Encounter of Coordination of Struggles of Popular Movements (CLMP) was held attended by urban homeless (MUST Sao Jose d os Campos - Sao Paulo and Recife) and the Popular Movement Dawning of Rio Grande do Sul. The CLMP was voted in.
· In the early 2005, the campaign against the Trade Union and Labour Reforms was intensified. The government, the leaders of the CUT and the collaborationist centrals start ed losing in the debate on the topic. National Front Against the Reform was constituted. Forca Sindical withdrew their support to the project and weakened the government's strategy to have the bill passes that year.
· Left-winger and/or linked to the Conlutas Trade Union Oppositions to the CUT st arted cropping up. The grassroots of important categories participated in the discussions on officialism and trade union leaderships, the split with the CUT and the need to build Conlutas as an alternative. In spite of the weight of the bureaucratic electoral machinery, oppositions achieved an average of 30% of votes and in some cases they even won. The process of splitting of the unions away from the CUT and the construction of the Conlutas express a broad process of splitting among the grassroots of the different categories. The project of the construction of the union oppositions for Conlutas has begun.
· The political crisis that involved the Lula administration and the National Congress in scandals and accusations of corruption broadened the split with the government and with the officialist leaders of unions, popular and students' organisations. A way to strengthen Conlutas became visible and a campaign against corruption, neoliberal reforms and economic policy applied by the Lula administration under the sponsorship of the IMF was launched. Demonstrations were organised in the main cities tending towards a national demonstration in Brasilia on August for 17th and the II National Encounter on August 18th in that same ci ty.
· About 12000 people marched on the 17th August while a rally in support of the government held the day before gather barely 5.000 people. This fact places the Conlutas on a new level in the dispute for the leadership of the toiling masses in Brazil. Even if it is still far from being as representative as the largest entities, this ra lly places Conlutas in the spotlights of the national stage and accelerates its power of attraction over the advance guard and the organised toiling masses.
· Held the following day, the II National Encounter gathered 1700 activists from the unions, peasants and of the popular organisations. The admittance of the Movement Land and Liberty (MTL) and t he FENAFISCO was announced publicly. There was an agreement to hold the National Congress at the turn of April-May with the target to build a new national organisation of struggle for the working class capable of gathering the diverse social sectors. A manifesto was passed and an agenda of rallies in the main capitals of the country against corruption, reforms and economic policy of the government. The rallies were important manifestations of the advance guard and helped the Conlutas to keep on being a magnet for entities from all over the country. This is how it began the phase of getting stronger while heading for its transformation into a new national organisation.
Interview with Ze Maria de Almeida
"The Congress may be a historic moment for the Brazilian working class"
On 18th August the II National Encounter of Conlutas (National Coordination of Struggles) happe ned. Apart from the debate on the national situation and the main campaigns that should be impelled in the nearest future, preparations for the forthcoming National Congress of Workers (Conat) to be held from May 5th to May 7th 2006 in Sao Paulo were discussed. What follows is the reproduction of an interview of Opinao Socialista to Ze Maria, member of the National Coordination and of the leadership of the Democratic Federation of Metallurgic workers in Minas Gerais.
Socialist Opinion: What are the mai n topics under discussion here in relation to the preparation of the Conat?
Ze Maria - We have just defined the criteria for the election of representatives, for some points were left incomplete at the August II Encounter. The criteria used for the representatives of the social movements and the youth will be the same as those used by trade unions. Each entity will have 5 representatives plus one more for every 500 grassroots represented or a fraction of 250. Oppositions will have 2 representatives plus one for every 500 or fraction of 250, but their base of representation will be the percentage of votes obtained in the previous ele ction applied to the total number of members of their milieu. The representatives will be elected in assemblies with a quorum of three times the number of representatives. Should there be no quorum, there will still be the possibility of choosing representatives but the number will be a third of those present at the assembly. You can find all the criteria on the Conlutas site. As for the dates, the assemblies for the election of representatives should be held between March 1st and April 16th while enrolments corresponding to a pre-accreditation begin on March 2nd and will go on till April 18th.
In your opinion, what should be the way to hold the discussion taking into account the agenda that goes from here till the day representatives are elected?
Ze Maria: The fundamental thing is that each trade union, each social movement and each organisation of young people should get their grassroots debate the issue. The more the decisions are based on the grassroots participation in the discussion the stronger and the more legitimate will the organisation we are building will be. That is even more so for the resolution of the foundation Congress for, obviously, it will deal with fundamental questions, such as programmes, principles and statues.. Once this debate is done, it will be impo rtant that the discussion can be socialised. Apart from discussion in the entities in each state or region, in the light of the reality of each one of them, it is important that meetings should be held to engulf all the entities that participate of the Conlutas. For that purpose, the Coordination will have to carry out a first systematisation of proposals to be placed under debate among the grassroots up to the end of November this year and make it available as aid for debate in regional activities.
What about the discussions? Have they started yet?
Ze Maria - The discussions are just beginning and everything is still very uneven. Some entities have already made a good headway while others have barely yet started. We shall see how to overcome this. A conscientious effort will be required here from all the leaders of the entities and state co-ordinations of the Conlutas. Apart from that, we must broaden the participation in the Conat by searching for entities that are not yet part of Conlutas so that they can join in the effort of building this alternative for the struggles of the Brazilian workers.
The Democratic Federation of Metallurgic Workers of Minas Gerais is preparing a draft of statutes as a contribution for the discussions. In your opinion, what are the main novelties of this proposal?
Ze Maria - Our idea is to build a new organisation, superior to the one that have existed so far. From this point of view, there are several novelties in the draft presented by the Federation. The first one i s that the new organisation should embrace all the segments of the working class. It is therefore expected to group - apart from trade unions - social and popular movements and also organisations of students and non-studying youths. The second one is that we are proposing a new structure for the leadership under a much stricter control of the grassroots entities of the Conlutas.. There will be no leadership elected at congress nor fixed mandate for leaders. The national Confederation of this new organisation will consist of representatives of all the entities and movements that are part of Conlutas, who will be entitled to keep up or change their representatives at every meeting. Congresses will be more prone to attend the political debate, the definition of the platform and plans of action.
Ze Maria - we might say that after this meeting we shall press forward very strongly towards the Conat. Now it is everybody's task to go to the Congress that can be a historic moment for the Brazilian working class.
* piqueteros - picketline men - organisation of the unemployed
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