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(en) Portugal: Declaration of principles of AC-INTERPRO - Associação de Classe Interprofissional

Date Mon, 25 Sep 2006 15:04:41 +0300


AC-INTERPRO is a grassroots union, anti-authoritarian and anti-capitalist.
General Motivation
The conditions of the working classes have been worsening, with
unemployment reaching hundreds of thousands, and the loss of minimal
subsistence conditions for the weakest sectors in society, namely the
elderly, women, young people, the poor, the unemployed, immigrants.
Capital and its governments have achieved, for some time now, a
systematic policy aimed at the reduction of workers' and people's rights.
When a new government comes to power, labour laws, healthcare,
education, culture, justice, rents, and taxes all are "reformed" for the worse,
against the interests of the working classes.

Most often, the repression and exploitation of wage-workers goes further,
either in the privately-owned businesses at the hands of the bosses and their
managers or in the public sector at the hands of political- and
government-nominated managers.

Most often, one can see enterprises, once with a good financial situation,
closing their doors; one sees the bosses closing them down fraudulently,
throwing the workers into unemployment, then opening others but with
temporary contracts only, or else moving those industries to foreign
countries where labour costs are even cheaper.

The existing unionism is actually controlled by political parties either from
the right or left, the union managements have no class behaviour, in
solidarity with the workers, they sell themselves to the State and the bosses
in a variety of ways: at the bargaining table of "social negotiation" rounds
they give up workers' guarantees and rights, they maintain or increase the
wage gap negotiating wage increases on a percentage basis, and they accept
that enterprises can fire their personnel with government subsidies as
counterpart.

Strikes are just symbolic, always imposed from the top down, without any
desire to win; it is only a tool in the bureaucrat union bosses strategy to
remain in power, and sometimes to favour a party in an electoral campaign.

For these reasons we believe there is a total lack of union entities with class
principles and with a grassroots methodology of action and organisation.

The decision to build a grassroots union was long matured and resulted
from multiple living experiences and discussions between comrades
coming from diverse backgrounds, both in the labour aspect and militancy.
Precisely because we found ourselves on common ground, conscious that it
was impossible to perform serious and efficient action in workers' defence
and towards a profound change in society without this kind of organization,
we decided to put forward the proposal of founding the "Associação de
Classe Interprofissional".

Basically, we consider that the efficient defence of workers is impossible
without organisation. But only the kind of organisation of a union can have
the capacity for fighting for the short-term interests and rights of the worker
classes and not divert from the revolutionary concepts, namely that the
workers emancipation is the task of the workers themselves, and that there
will be no general improvement, even in the long run, as long as society is
divided in classes.

The two reasons why we organise ourselves in a union are, therefore: for
the daily defence of labour and social rights and in the long term, the
general struggle for the emancipation of our class, and all classes, for the
abolition of wage-slavery and of capitalist exploitation.
Analysis of the Portuguese context
In the decades of the 1st Republic, before the fascist coup (1926), there was
a workers' movement and unions independent of economic and political
power. Only with the 25th April 1974 were there again conditions to
organise workers in broad daylight. But civil society – unions,
associations, etc. – was assaulted by people from parties, mainly from
the Communist Party and its dissidences who took over control of them. In
subsequent years, the authoritarian and bureaucratic character of these
elements controlling the unions became even worse, rendering more
difficult and problematic the participation of anti-authoritarian and
anti-capitalist workers in them

Portugal’s entry into the EEC was soon followed by the entry of the two
union confederations (the UGT and CGTP) into the ETUC (European
Trade Union Confederation), and soon the union movement was largely
bought, in many fashions. In consequence of this, at the bargaining table in
the rounds of "social partnership" between the bosses, unions and
government, the result is always agreements to give more "flexibility" to
labour relationships.

The bureaucrats from the top are more cautious in safeguarding their own
statutes than the one from the workers they supposedly represent. The
government has such union bosses at hand to sign whatever retreat from
workers rights, contested only in a symbolic fashion, just to give internally
the illusion of a fighting union.

The large million workers would have strength enough to impose some
respect for their fundamental rights, even having not reached a new
revolutionary phase. If they are unable to achieve this minimum, this comes
from the permanent treason of their so-called representatives.

The loss of fighting capacity in the reformist unions, namely those from
ETUC (which groups most of the reformist confederations from Europe),
did not occur in Portugal alone, but happened also in other countries. The
truth is that, without the disguised connivance of a large part of the union
movement, the neo-liberal turn of the last 25 years would have been
impossible: this is a cause in the worsening of workers' conditions both in
Europe and throughout the world, as well as the blocking of possibilities for
social transformation.
What kind of a Union do we want?
We do not accept the pseudo-radical tendency that proclaims that any kind
of union, any kind of class association is from the start or soon becomes a
tame instrument of the system.

We think that without unions, authentic unions, controlled by the
membership only, we will be easy prey for capitalism and authoritarianism.
So, we want an union, but in a totally different fashion from the ones that
have been till now typical of thePortuguese reality.

We want a union that is always in the hands of ourselves; that cannot run
away from its members' control; a union where the management is
mandated to put decisions into practice and that has to answer for its good
implementation; a union where differences in workers' Professional
standards does not imply different treatment, where there are only
comrades, where a spirit of equality reigns; a union able to organise the
workers at the level of the workplace.

We believe that everything which is related to the general living and social
conditions of the workers is within the union’s domain. Therefore, the
following issues concern the union: pensions, social housing, consumers'
rights, the defence of the environment, gender equality, anti-racism, the
fight against xenophobia, the fight against all forms of authoritarianism, for
the defence of liberties and against the arbitrariness of the bosses and the
State.

Our union is not a political organisation, but it must have a political vision
and ought to analyse the policies that are enacted either at local level or
internationally.

It must be a totally independent actor, which is not equivalent to being
autistic or sectarian. This means only that we will make agreements that we
consider adequate, with whoever it may be, on the basis of the superior
interests of the worker classes.

Our union must be an authentic school, where self-learning is the norm
among our members. With values different from those that are dominant
and widespread in our society, where the adoration for power and money is
the rule, a society full of hypocrisy and selfishness which despises the
weakest and the unprotected.

It must be an important place to learn true solidarity, mutual support, the
spirit of assembly, grassroots democracy and self-management: these are
the basic principles of the society we strive for.

Our union belongs not only to waged persons but also to the unemployed,
to students, to people that are apart from the productive process, retired,
independent workers.

All the above-mentioned people belong to the worker class, all are welcome
in giving their share.
A union for struggle, self-managed by the workers
Those that share our vision, should join our Association. We must form,
whenever possible, workplace branches or geographic locals, to make our
union’s position known and to give voice to ourdemands, both in the
workplace and on the streets.

The exploiters and their thugs would have us believe there is a "crisis", but
who caused it, and who is benefiting from it? Not us! They use all kind of
pretexts to make exploitation easier, to obtain even greater profits.

We will put up for discussion and approve demands in the workplaces for
equal pay rises, for better working and living conditions, for prevention,
security and health measures in the workplace. This path is difficult but it is
the sole efficient way to have total or partial success for our demands.

In spite of the existing formal democracy and liberty of expression, the
workers have no power to decide about what they produce, how they
produce it and what for. In today's global society, economic democracy is
absent, as it always has been.

For a true social transformation that can bring an end, once and for all, to
the serious problems that affect workers, it is necessary that the workers
organise themselves and become real protagonists, through
self-management, cooperation and free federation, within the society where
they live.

It is our understanding that the workers have to fight for a new society
without owning the means of production, where there prevails solidarity,
self-management and direct democracy at all levels of decision making
within society.

"The workers' emancipation will be achieved by the workers themselves!"

Associação de Classe Interprofissional
acinterpro@gmail.com www.acinterpro.org
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