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(en) Portugal: Report on Conference of European alternative syndicalism in Lisbon, 24/04/04 (pt,it)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 29 Apr 2004 16:30:12 +0200 (CEST)

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A meeting was held at the Centro de Estudos Libertários (the premises
of the anarchist newspaper "A Batalha") on Saturday 24th April,
attended by over 20 people of various sectors and ages. Each of the
speakers (Davide Rossi, Angel Bosqued, António Marruecos e Paulo
Ambrósio) gave a short presentation, each of which were followed by
debate. A presentation of FESAL-E (European Federation of Alternative
Syndicalism - Education Sector (1) was given by Davide Rossi (European
Coordinator of FESAL-E and member of the Italian grassroots union
Unicobas-l'AltrascuolA (2). Davide explained why the workers needed a
real, Europe-wide alternative to the class-collaboration syndicalism of
the ETUC (Euroepean Trade Union Confederation) if there is to be any
possibility of other trends (apart from those who support ETUC) being
able to express themselves, at European level too. It is impossible for
a democratic society in Europe to exist with only one union
confederation - such a situation is, instead, typical of totalitarian
regimes. The unions and union trends that have been participating in
these meetings of alternative syndicalism (the next will take place in
Milan in October) have grouped themselves around common guidelines, a
common analysis and a series of precise tasks for the various areas
involved (3). In the education sector, due to its importance for the
whole of society, the federative process has gone further and is based
on the 1998 and 2002 Granada Declarations (1).

At the meeting in Barcelona last October, it was decided that meetings
of European Alternative Syndicalism would be held annually, and in
September 2003 in Berlin, it was agreed to proceed with the
establishment of FESAL-E, during the Social Forum on Education (which
is totally independent of the European Social Forum, something which
enabled the direct participation of alternative union activists in all
the preparatory steps and in the proper content of its deliberations).

The FESAL-E does not accept the patronage of political parties and is
clearly anti-capitalist, denouncing the way in which both the political
and economic powers which dominate the EU try to impose upon us the
concept of education as a "service", turning it into something which
can be commercialized. It also rejects the corporatism of those
professional unions who are strictly concerned with obtaining certain
advantages for certain groups or members within their profession.

The FESAL-E is not only composed of unions and union confederations
within the Education sector, but also grassroots activists some of whom
work as a tendency within the bureaucratic unions, students' unions or
associations for the defence of public education, that link together
not only education workers but also students, parents and citizens who
are interested in being involved in this struggle.

Angel Bosqued, of the CGT-Spain (4) International Secretariat, gave an
outline of the fights against privatisation and the decrease in job
stability, and pointed out that there were many examples of successful
coordination outside the education field. As an example, he detailed
the Europe-wide struggle of rail workers in the fight to keep the rail
system public, to maintain the quality of their services and to fight
against the ongoing process of privatisation and its consequences, not
only for the rail workers themselves but also for the working
population at large. This sector has seen many strikes and
demonstrations initiated by the alternative unions.

António Marruecos, of the CGT's Education Federation and Granada Local,
explained the guidelines that emerged from the CGT's Education
Federation Congress held in Madrid last January (5). From those
conlusions he emphasised the importance of the creation of FESAL, a
process which it has been associated with from the start. He also
mentioned the example of the campains which the CGT has led for secular
public education, and the importance of State schools free from
religious or Church influence, a campain which is not restricted by any
means to the CGT alone, but rather which appeals to all those who seek
to defend secularity.

Paulo Ambrósio, of the Unemployed Teachers' Comission of the Portuguese
SPGL-FENPROF union, gave an account of the discrimination that many
teachers suffer from as a result of government policies which result in
many education workers spending long years in a precarious situation
with no job security, and explained how important it is that there be a
fighting spirit within the unions, that we do not submit to the
bureaucratic union management, if we are to obtain the right to
unemployment benefit for teachers (only three years ago) and concluded
by giving examples of repressive and intimidatory behaviour against
grassroots union activists (especially those with the greatest fighting
spirit), not only by the government or the bosses, but also by the
management of certain bureaucratic unions.

In the end, one had the idea that this Conference was very positive
because of the perspectives it opened and that a greater development of
the subject was needed so that the union members and activists who were
present and others who were not but who have been actively interested
in the project could take action. A new meeting was proposed for the
end of May (perhaps Saturday 29th).

After the debates, some of the participants met for a pleasant dinner
together in a convivial and fraternal atmosphere.

Manuel Baptista, for A-Infos and "A Batalha"

1. http://www.fesal.it/
2. http://www.cib-unicobas.it/
3. http://www.ainfos.ca/03/oct/ainfos00235.html
4. http://www.cgt.es/
5. http://www.ainfos.ca/pt/ainfos02225.html

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