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(en) Anarkismo.net: Advancement of libertarians in the construction of an alternative union in Uruguay (ca) by Facundo Guillen (ca) [machine translation]

Date Thu, 14 Feb 2013 10:31:41 +0200


Interview with Gustavo Fernandez, Secretary General of the Union of Workers of Uruguay Market Model ---- On 30 November and 1 December (2012) was the XV Congress of the Uruguayan Federation of Trade and Services Employees (FUECYS) were carried forward jointly elections National Board, a body composed of 43 members. ---- For the first time in 82 years has the guild, libertarian activism gets one of the two places that obtained with the list 5, the current Association Spartacus. On this subject we talked to Gustavo Fernandez, Secretary General of the Union of Workers of Uruguay Mercado Modelo (SUFRUVU) Current member of the Spartacus Union (Listing 5), Secretary of the Libertarian Socialist Organization - Uruguay and member, now, the CDN of Fuecys.

CEL - What is the reality of workers in the Mercado Modelo and the trade and services sector in general?

Gustavo Fernandez (GF) - The Mercado Modelo is the largest trading center of the country hortifrutícola production. For his central character weighs decisively in everything that has to do with distribution, supply and prices conformation. However, workers (about 1500 according to recent records) are mostly black and working in deplorable conditions, without access to labor legislation, with long working hours and totally unsanitary conditions. To this we must add the existence naturalized subcontracting and outsourcing, the lack of mechanisms to regulate wages or service rates with general criteria for all branches and without labor contracts, which leads to the total uncertainty, insecurity and instability employment. What happens in the Mercado Modelo is, from the point of view of labor law and social security, in violation of the laws of the country and internationally.

Ours is one of the sectors of workers as rural laborers and waste sorters, in the midst S. XXI continue working under regimes beginning of S. XX, with employers such as the National Rural Development, Farmer Confederation of Uruguay, the House Fruit, CAMBADU and producer associations that are used to keep their workers without minimum working conditions or any social right. Before administering the Mercado Modelo frenteamplista no man's land was under the control of these sectors through a grant to work rigor of the mechanisms established in '37 by the regime of Terra. It is incomprehensible that since the 90s is under the direction of the Montevideo keeping the Frente Amplio (progressive coalition created in 1971) and informality still reigns.

The new municipal government projects involve reinstalling this market in Montevideo perimeter margins presenting it as a breakthrough that puts Uruguay at the height of the best markets in the continent. Workers wonder if it will be a breakthrough also for our employment status and quality of life. We affirm that if the transfer is not accompanied with access to social security and improvements in the employment situation in our industry far from a breakthrough is a huge step backward.

The new market is also promoted as part of a project to Montevideo territorial reorganization, I think it has a lot of logistical reorganization neoliberal policies, note that for funding this giant is handled by one hand the possibility of a loan IDB, which would subject this project to a product package borrowing conditions. Then there are lurking capitals of the European community to come exploring with great interest the investment outlay, which would no more turn to privatization or semi privatization of the country's largest market will be a great polo agrifood four times larger than the current, which will produce huge profits as always expected, the country will go liquid.

At the sector level can be said that trade and services have grown significantly in recent decades. This has been largely due to the rise in prices of raw material exports, creating what might be called, to use the terminology of the capital, some "leakage" to other areas of the economy. In recent years, widespread deregulation, through the free zones and investment law of neoliberal net has opened a wide field for communications regarding (with special emphasis on call centers) and logistics. There was also a strong push for tourism. All however, within the framework of an economy primarily extractive and primarizada and a process of increasing transnationalization of capital.

With this, the commercial is being marked by the consolidation of supermarkets, which are advancing at a gallop monopolizing various sectors of the market chain. These multinationals enjoy exclusive tax breaks, in which the government plays a role of the first order. Here the various forms of outsourcing and job insecurity have become the norm. Usually all the trade and service sector is under flexible working systems very pronounced. This is one of the most affected by neoliberal policies and this generates is found mostly in forms of work where workers find it difficult, at the risk of being redundant, self-organizing.

CEL - What is the status of SUFRUVU?)

(GF) - Our union is organizing workers in the Mercado Modelo which are not directly employed by the Administrative Committee of the Mercado Modelo, perform tasks of loading and unloading, sorting of fruits and vegetables and are employed either posts , brokers, buyers (direct marketers or distributors) and related work tasks and / or affinity within the establishment. As in all sectors and weak precarious possibilities included in social security is very difficult to strengthen the union tool. Over the last decades the fight for labor rights here put you in a difficult situation, you were entitled to be part of something like a blacklist which could cost you loss then your job. These employers referring to are quite organized and passed the information when we undertake a claim via the Ministry of Labour. And this adds to the uniqueness of the sector, in that by not working general criteria or minimum award, makes workers compete with each other to improve their income, all that played an individualistic model side-although we resign-to any attempt to create a collective consciousness.

So under these conditions the struggle to organize the sector so that it becomes stronger against the employer is a huge challenge. Especially when there are ways to deduct the payroll because the absence of contract there is no paycheck. This works against our representation in FUECYS as many unlisted peers, or fall behind, and the FUECYS the Delegate is not according to the members but to contributors. Today the union has a membership of 20%, but we have set the stage for work on a membership drive and re affiliation, as a product of a period of intense union activity we are currently positioned in a favorable scenario to strengthen the union .

As for the social, have achieved in the last decade several achievements for workers: Duchère bathrooms and hot water, emergency phone, identity cards, deposit saving tools, local union training courses, among other things. It has been much emphasis on union formation. Also in this period forward in ensuring that workers make their claims against dismissal or against abuses that often make, and legal advice from lawyers group FUECYS and using for some labor laws that exist today have won many Arguments about. So we called some cameras to negotiate business and so we take the drawers an old bill discussed at length by the sectors involved pointing to regulate the industry, but it was never approved. We believe in our capacity as union strength and the strong support of our situation depends FUECYS have a noticeable shift to the future.

CEL - How many workers are there in the branch and the FUECYS few federal workers?

(GF) - The FUECYS has great potential organizational and movilizatorio as hundreds of federal unions a variety of branches that comprise trade and service sector. Affected workers to these branches, about 150 thousand throughout the country are mainly employees of supermarkets, shopping centers, Mc. Donalds food centers or the like, call centers, security, cleaning, shopping in general, employees of organizations, all kinds of outsourced services, and in regard to us all the service sector linked to marketing hortifrutícola the country.

As membership levels quantified FUECYS today about 26 thousand members, which although at the total universe of workers comprising the sector is less than 20% when compared to 10 years ago the members of the federation were 4000 will see only that there was an exponential growth is undoubtedly due to the opening of the wage councils and collective bargaining, which the union movement is eagerly took advantage. This thickening of unions in general and in particular to strengthen FUECYS than the current balance strategy lessons today from the wrongly prosecutes our opinion, depends on the insertion and gravitation in the processes of formation and deepening mobilization and critical sectors to fight the current leadership we are able to promote and develop. We needed a strategic perspective of strengthening grassroots organizations irrespective of class and not as a field to harvest votes and social support of the government. But for this critical sectors we need to strengthen our integration into and within the unions, and FUECYS PIT-CNT union in these tools we grouped as a class, which is where organized labor and not elsewhere.

CEL - How to see the SUFRUVU FUECYS and your relationship with it?

(GF) - It was hard to have representation in internal FUECYS, this will come back looking for years. The difficulties are due to not having a regular our quotes so you already had. But we have always positioned the union as part of the FUECYS and not as something apart, we believe that there should be any federation integrated autonomy but not a desvinculante autonomism. In fact our trump card is the support he can count from the Federation, otherwise we would be easy prey for these employers carrion you named above. The relationship was in fact part of the sector being given much firmer now organically, on equal terms as a subsidiary, and it was a fight he also learned to give, with effort and patience because it gave us nothing, we regularize our status as a subsidiary and part of Congress, not as observers but with full rights, as appropriate.

If we believe, as workers, our Federation has to have another strategy to fight the current, another program and another structure, we must get to work from instances Federation base to accumulate forces with a strategic view and modify correlation disputing the internal spaces of the tool driving. Our position is that only from the grassroots activism gains legitimacy on leadership positions in management bodies. If our colleagues we designate as delegates not esquivaremos the package, but we will be aware that this involves greater effort because it is not leaving the groundwork far laburar stop sheltering in a trade union that sometimes becomes lifelong immunity.

I think unions in general have to be broad tools, control and organization of the class, but they must represent the interests of all workers who are assigned to this sector and not just that of a group determined by their political affiliation and / or ideological. In our union delegates are elected leaders or acquired by the trust, participation, commitment and because they are laburantes sector and notice that I work for 24 years in the market, if I know the fellow. We lost more than a good laburo several colleagues for being stuck in meetings because here not at trade union law, it is no man's land, and impunity reigns. And what happens happens in other unions, employers will try to neutralize or offer you individual improvements that do not move much. If we had wanted so many of us could have fit, but we are loading crates because the output is not individual but is fighting alongside our partners, seeking to improve the conditions of the whole sector.

CEL - Before you ask about FUECYS Congress, could you tell us about the Uruguayan labor movement and its relationship with the progressive government of the Frente Amplio?

(GF) - Very little remains of what was one of the origins union movement in our country and in the decades of the '60s-'70s. He missed that union militancy that the FORU built in the early twentieth century, and those who built the CNT in the '60s. Historical processes that identify us because both have marked a path, the People's Congress of '65 where a program is agreed imperialist and oligarchic, union unification of '66 where you get to an agreement before coup mechanisms are activated popular resistance and dealing all | | the workplace. Consequently the resistance against the coup which occupied the factories and workplaces showing great potential of the labor movement as class strength. The painful but resisted eviction leaving a toll of torture, imprisonment, disappearance and death of valuable comrades who today are still present in our struggle. All of a past that must be present in meat and momentum into the future.

Later under right-wing governments of the workers return to democracy as a social movement weakened support a brutal offensive of the ruling class that devotes several popular field and defeats inflicted by the dictatorship: dismantling of the productive sectors, the state's withdrawal of the Councils Salary given to the Sanguinetti government, loss of real wages, jobs, labor rights, unemployment, deterioration of living conditions, etc, ruling and a clear setback, both organizationally and ideologically. This decline has several causes because the offense is given at all levels preceded by the defeat that came out dictatorship and agreed to it, the defeat of the referendum against the law for revocation of '89, the collapse of Soviet socialism that raged in the minds of the left, and other issues that impacted heavily on our labor movement and popular.

It is a complex issue with many angles. First I must say that the FA as political expression managed to gain in the last decades much legitimacy in the labor movement, to the point that has taken a very close relationship between many unions and the ruling party. This grassroots legitimacy in the Broad Front won it as movement through a strong link with the mass organizations since its founding in 1971. With the defeat of brutal dictatorship, then it meant the collapse of the bureaucratic systems in the late 80s, the most militant of classism, who had an important participation in the labor movement, were being displaced by progressivism, and became in the 90s in the undisputed political expression of popular sectors. As belt while government social basis, our labor movement, is fertile ground for many union leaders make electoral race is used as a springboard to jump to a parliamentary seat of a government that raises the co-governance to iron interparty asperities and business sectors to erase forever the belief in class struggle.

Now, the popular legitimacy that won the FA as political opposition movement as the government has used for purposes that have little or nothing to do with the working people. We can say that the government is a government of the FA purely bourgeois, the service accumulation and reproduction of big business, especially related to the primary sectors of the economy. Moreover is devoted to smooth the way at all levels to transnational capital, eliminating barriers and granting benefits. But along with this, progressivism came to recover and strengthen bourgeois hegemony in Uruguayan society. For that you need from the passivity of the working class and soften what might be called "collateral damage" of capital expansion. The government gives, albeit from a welfarist logic, a number of social containment policies and promoted some labor laws. Perhaps most important is the collective bargaining law, which represented a major breakthrough for workers. Membership levels increased and new unions were formed in recent years. This thickening of the PIT-CNT, however, does not correspond to an increase in levels of consciousness, organization and struggle.

Then we have the FA, by how the government came and touched the tasks meet, has been committed to making some concessions to the workers. We could say that at first union movement's relationship with the government, except minority sectors that nevertheless remained in high class independence, was a very close political alliance between union leaders and government. In fact meant putting the working class in the service of a regressive bourgeois project that has been rising inequality as never before in our country. The sectors of classism itself must be critical, but mostly proactive, careful not do politics from a principled pose or opposition to the mass organizations. You can not ignore the fact that, unlike what happens in other countries, our labor movement into a single organization unit (PIT-CNT) was possible on the basis of an agreement between currents and trends that consecrated, combining different labor unions in one Convention, the trade union unity. It is one thing to defend the gains that labor force imposed on government policy and another to defend the government.

In recent times there is a tendency to break that alliance, although still in its infancy. As capitalist management issues (including international crisis) are taking away the government room to maneuver this begins to collide with the unions. Now things are not so clear as in the beginning of the Broad Front government. A growing opposition to the government line has been especially strong in shaping the state unions, they still have a very strong strategic weight. But the same thing is happening in private sectors. Rising inflation has tried to be mitigated by the government by cutting wage increases, which has earned him a tough matchup even sectors of the union bureaucracy that was unthinkable a few years ago that launched the slightest criticism of policies officers. One could cite several examples, showing a very exciting prospect for libertarian and revolutionary sectors in general. Do not forget that despite everything, Uruguayan workers have a tradition combative class and very long and very rich.

CEL - For all we know, this Congress was unprecedented. On the one hand because sesionó-as never before-with 850 congressmen and because on the other hand a new union current lists from a critical position to the current direction of the FUECYS. What is the current list of Association Spartacus and 5?

(GF) - This current had already been forming since the previous Congress FUECYS. It is made by independent labor frenteamplista base fellow reviewers, anarchists and Marxists, arises from left and that is why there is a basis of agreements 'wide' which comes from the discussion and synthesis expressed in the founding document of The Spartacus. I always hand made to a phrase that is very allusive Malatesta when understanding the politics of alliances: correctly held that "in general, we understand ourselves better, and have more interest in understanding with those who tread the same path even if they want to go to different site, rather than with those who say they want to go where we want to take a path away but ... ", and is irrelevant now because I know that for many anarchists to raise such alliances among which may workers included frenteamplista base, albeit a critical basis and makes questions from the same approach that we do, can shock them and so do not escape the fact that usually criticize sectarianism.

Overall we are pleased with the agreements reached in the current. To promote internal democracy, create conditions so that decisions are collective and participatory really fighting and making corporate decisions among a few, because so far what is given is the vertical in major decisions of the federation. We put the importance of the organization and the struggle to not encrypt all expectations on measures of dialogue or negotiation with employers and that our claims are surrounded by demonstrations and negotiate with strong positions. Reaffirm seeking partial improvements but with eye on social change. Great emphasis is placed on the base work as most important to break with the practice of domes; participation arises, renewal, finally, make a tool Federation organized to struggle from below. We understand that the current federation has paradoxically little federation and in fact functions as a single union, this method is effective for their branch to go to the round of wage councils united and strong as possible, but for a sector of the economy as heterogeneous as ours seems better than individual union or branch coordinators are federated. We believe that those who must negotiate wages councils are the representatives of the respective sectors, and if in any case we must reaffirm it occurs, and where this does not happen needs to be reversed. Then what is proposed is a deep restructuring Spartacus and a shift in strategy FUECYS.

To contact the Association Current Spartacus: espartacofuecys@gmail.com.

CEL - What did Congress balance?

(GF) - The balance could lead to long and accordingly suggests several forward prospects. In general terms regarding the platform passed by Congress towards the round of wage councils next year, Congress reaffirms old planteos and incorporates new ones to the area in search of better working conditions for workers and Trade Service and especially improve wages. In a country where the basket quantified above 40 thousand dollars seems insufficient what is asked, but I am assuming that the Federation has to move forward in the claim of the carve-up of the cake has grown in in recent years but that the bulk of the carries lots is because entrepreneurship has also widened the gap between the earnings of employers and workers' real wage has not kept pace with inflation and in the end we still low purchasing power in your pocket.

Also included are a number of claims on a number of rights that are critical for the sector worker. We believe that the actual mobilization capacity and independence of class that could develop in the federation will largely depend on the conquest of these claims so heartfelt.

On the other hand there is the struggle for nocturnal law as it has been proven that 10 years of night work equivalent to 15 years at normal hours of the day. Alongside this will be fought presenteeism premiums in the sector, age, race functional categories, and begin to introduce reduced working hours without loss of pay, claim that the patterns seen with horror the only reference it. Finally within the general claims that our federation claim is not opening supermarkets and other shopping centers on holidays nonworking which by law are five: January 1, May 1, July 18, August 25 and December 25, aiming to begin to observe Sunday as a day of rest and promote legal initiative proclaiming June 21 as "Labor Day Trade and Service". Join the platform and issues relating to gender equality, bullying, protection of maternity and breastfeeding, safety and occupational health.

Regarding the current intervention as Spartacus had in Congress understand that was very positive and the achievements though few are of great importance. As Spartacus propose some things that were backed by many workers and conquer even support some of the other lists: that fall is ripe and if until now have not been put in question was because no one had dared to raise them previously by different stage machinery. Some things that we raised were referred to as non-current mixing with Congress election act itself, because it must be clear that the Congress has been to discuss first, not to vote without prior discussion, which is what happens now. We can not force partners to come to discuss, but we should promote and enable this to happen, which is won and define that the upcoming elections are made in the course of the 30 days of the Congress. Let's see if we can get more hereafter colleagues come to discuss the proposals because of course there were 850 congressmen in committees to discuss issues, but 850 votes when the counting. Took the proposition also define criteria for crystal reports FUECYS finances. In this connection, will be presented in later reports in time for discussion and analysis because we must be mandraque to grab a few minutes in a report to any accountant should take several hours or even days to analyze. It is essential to have clear criteria that lend themselves to gain the trust of colleagues / as they want to know where is your union dues. In addition to the organizational issue we revive the Bill to regularize workers Mercado Modelo.

It should be noted that Congress had an opening ceremony where he observed and attracted criticism after many congressmen-that spoke more representatives of the Ministry of Labour to workers. I think this can not be the mark of future Congresses. For example there are many conflicting guilds to be inviting to raise their concerns, of course it's OK to also have representatives of sister organizations in other countries, as there were, but lawmakers that if they want to send an attachment or a greeting but never monopolize peak of Congress, this clears elbow which then tries to write the speeches that the independence of the trade union movement is above all.

Congress finally decided to make a stop with mobilization between April and May 2013 to enter collective bargaining claims previously placing on public opinion, which we fully support. We see that we must work towards that instance that actually serve to reinforce the fight in defense of better working conditions, new achievements, and especially to enforce the activity of those who move with their work an important part of the economy .

CEL - What are the future prospects for the sector and what you think are the tasks of the stage?

(GF) - Well, the challenges are great. Today it takes work to make a qualitative leap in the organizational, pointing especially to strengthen the foundations of FUECYS and PIT-CNT, along with other popular forces (cooperative housing, student unions, neighborhood organizations, the struggle for land, human rights, etc..) an expression of unity and Real People Power for our people. Levels of membership in the trade union movement and in particular FUECYS, which undoubtedly are increasing, we have to translate into mobilization capacity in organized force and consent, in building mass organizations that advance conquests class improvement in the present, but also serve to move towards a social transformation process in the morning. For now since we have to strengthen our union workers Tool Market Model have to face the bosses, and securing it in the internal FUECYS to position ahead of the challenges our immediate future holds for us as an industry. Only if we strengthen the SUFRUVU, next to which is the FUECYS support, we will make the Mercado Modelo not remain "Precarious Labor Model" as we call it.

As we intend Spartacus union current reach the next Congress FUECYS more established and more rooted in the different sectors as a basis for further progress in our arguments and proposals to the Federation building. The idea is to present the list in May from a primarily political support and social, which will enable us to strengthen our presence as part of the leadership of the organization. We are at a stage where there are conditions for conversion suggests an association of our tool. Our industry poses a huge potential, and this requires a patient organized struggle. In short we aim to strengthen our union in the Mercado Modelo, consolidate current Spartacus as wide as it is moved to the new reference and consolidate FUECYS Libertarian Association, that while just being formed is a key piece in this gear.

We believe that in the current situation opens a great opportunity for libertarians to strengthen our participation in trade union organizations and the PIT-CNT, taking advantage of the growing discontent of the bases through the development of mechanisms of direct democracy and a job protest you stop the car to the employers and the government into fuel diputarle bureaucratic reformism. Thus, we framed a strategy to build the democratic forces to create the necessary conditions and progress in deepening the struggle towards a society without exploited or exploiters, not oppressed nor oppressors, which will only succeed with the Revolution . And after this goal we must fight every day, in the long road to regain popular identity, class consciousness and the will to fight. It is with this conviction and belief that we want to do our humble contribution.

By Facundo Guillen - Center for Libertarian Studies Argentina
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