[Marxism] Fwd: victory by BA metro workers (reformatted)

Stuart Lawrence 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 .

Pat Gallacher
Co-ordinating Committee for the Refoundation of the Fourth International


Triumph in the struggle of Metrovas


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 
workers movement.


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.

Rafael Santos

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