[Marxism] Fwd: victory by BA metro workers (reformatted)
stuartlawrence at earthlink.net
Sun Mar 6 09:12:04 MST 2005
From: "Michael Sims" <mjsbpmagen-mxmail at yahoo.fr>
> Here you go, something to warm the cockles of the hearts of all activists!
> -------- Original Message --------
> Date: Sun, 6 Mar 2005 15:12:23 +0000 (GMT)
> Subject: [UK Left Network] victory by BA metro workers
> Comrades may be interested to know that metro workers in Buenos Aires have
> just won a pay dispute hands-down, winning rises of around 35%-44%. I am
> posting this article on the dispute, further material on this dispute and
> other aspects of political struggles in Argentina is available, in English,
> at the website of the Partido Obrero:
> http://www.po.org.ar .
Co-ordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International
STRONG POLITICAL REPERCUSIONS
Triumph in the struggle of Metrovas
DECISIVE, THE INDEFINITE STRIKE
The strike of the Metrovas workers, that caused a commotion in the city, ended
in a resounding triumph. Not only because of the amount of the increase in
wages (see box), but also because of the political repercussions for the whole
Class-conscious methods prevailed. The assemblies of workers of each one of
the five subway lines voted all the steps to be taken during the conflict.
They voted an indefinite strike. It was an active strike: workers set up
picket lines in the stations at the end of each line and the trains, manned by
supervisors, weren't allowed to leave the station. The methods of the
piqueteros movement were contagious in the struggle of the employed workers.
The government's policy of wearing down the strike failed
The government committed itself to a policy of wearing down [the strike]. 'It
operated' in each phase to introduce a wedge and to divide the shop stewards
committee. Thus it achieved a discontinuity in the struggle initiated in
December (during the holiday season), putting the negotiations on stand by for
over a month, until January 18 (during vacations). In January it attempted to
extend the negotiations until March. But from below come the demand of not
accepting any more delays. The bosses had had more than a month 'to think'.
Workers voted in the beginning not to obey more 'obligatory conciliations'
(arbitration). When the steps of the partial strike turned into a total
strike and it was starting to become an indefinite strike, workers assemblies
and shop steward committee rejected a proposal to stop strike action for 24
hours in order to open a path towards negotiations with the pretext of
'relaxing' the tensions with 'public opinion'.
Palacios and the Moyanoist bureaucracy
UTA's bureaucracy neither initiated the strike nor moved a finger in its
support. It used the union's official status to participate in all the
ministerial meetings, waiting to be able "to put a stick in the spokes".
Moyano asked workers not to be excessive in their demands. Because of the
deepening of the working struggle
(indefinite general strike), the government and the bosses had to yield.
Sympathy with the strike was growing among the working class population. The
adhesions of solidarity multiplied and developed a climate of salary agitation
in the workers movement. A high level political operation was planned to stop
the strike. On Wednesday night, on TV, the bureaucracy said the strike had
ended. The workers assemblies, on the other hand, had demanded that UTA
(Argentine transport workers union) launch a strike in support of Metrovias.
Palacios closed the conflict because he was afraid the bus drivers of the UTA
could become "infected". Palacios's signature, behind the backs of the shop
stewards committee, was energetically repudiated by workers assemblies of all
the subway lines and workshops. Workers decided to maintain the general strike
until their delegates were officially notified of the bosses offers, and took
the affidavits down to the end of the line stations. When the reduction of the
labor day to 6 hours was imposed, the bureaucracy signed, behind the backs of
the workers and their shop stewards, the obligation of one hour of overtime to
be paid at 50 percent. The refusal of the assemblies and the continuation of
the fight buried this maneuver. The same thing happened when the Palacios
bureaucracy signed the acceptance of the ticket vending machines, that were to
replace the workers in ticket sales. The assemblies and the strike obliged to
those contracts to be torn up. With that experience, the workers assemblies
shouted down the representatives of the bureaucracy and voted to maintain the
strike. In the first "affidavit" (a sheet of paper) brought down by the
bureaucracy in the early morning hours of Thursday, the payment of the daily
wages unpaid during the strike did not figure, neither was it made retroactive
to January 1. The assemblies demanded at the top of their lungs that these
gains had to be included. In the final affidavit approved on Thursday
afternoon by the assemblies, these demands had been included. The bosses had
presented a clause of 'social peace' for two years. Also the introduction of
76 vending machines. Both offers were flatly rejected. Instead of 'social
peace', the affidavit allows for the reopening of demands for wages in the
event of an increase in the cost of living. "For Palacios to watch on TV", was
the defiant chant of the workers in the assemblies that decided to stop the
strike, almost 24 hours later. Palacios failed in his objective of
neutralizing the shop stewards committee.
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