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(en) grupo via libre: Against the precariousness of life, let us strengthen the workers' and popular struggle. Communiqué May 1, 2021 (ca, de, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 9 May 2021 09:21:53 +0300


Today May 1, a new international day for women workers is commemorated. We commemorate the great general strike for the 8 hours of work in the United States in 1886, the political and union activity of the anarchist activists Albert Parsons, George Engel, Adolph Fischer, August Spies and Louis Lingg, who would be converted by the repression of the authorities government in the Martyrs of Chicago, the vast campaign of solidarity with the libertarian labor activists promoted by women like Lucy Parsons and the world day of solidarity and protest that since the Labor and Socialist Congress of 1889 shakes the world.
In the midst of the socio-health crisis of COVID-19, the deep economic crisis and the new dynamics of popular mobilization that emerged after the national strike on April 28, we want to present some elements for reflection.

General situation of the working class

In Colombia, the working class is made up of some 24,787,801 people in 2018 according to DANE, between employed and unemployed. The majority of this population is subject to a very high rate of labor informality with 65% and more than 14 million people, who work without being included in social security for 2018. In itself there is a great job insecurity, which is expressed in temporary contracts that affect 60% of state wage earners and 55% of the private sector.

The country's workers are also highly indebted with 39% of their income going to this area according to the financial entities themselves. At the same time, they are submerged in highly unsafe working conditions, since about 524,000 accidents were registered in 2017, about 600 of them fatal, with an immense underreporting. It is also an impoverished class, because according to DANE for 2020, 63.8% of female workers, some 12.5 million people, earn a minimum monthly wage or less, and in total 88.6%, more than 17 million people, earn less than two minimum wages. For this same reason, in 2016 the participation of labor in national income was 30%, compared to 70% of capital.

The economic crisis generated by the public health crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, significantly worsened all these structural problems. Against the background of the drop of -6.8% of GDP in 2020, an unemployment rate of 15.9% was registered that same year, affecting about 3,700,000 people, with almost 1.5 million additional dismissals, a percentage that reached 18.2% in the large cities and was over 25% in various regions of the country.

At a time when monetary poverty reached 42.5% of the population and 21 million people in 2020 according to DANE, a fifth of households and 2.4 million went from having 3 to 2 meals a day. All this only reinforced and increased social inequality, in what was already one of the most inequitable countries in the world.

The working class has great diversity within it. Women stand out, earning less wages, more exposed to precarious work and unemployment, suffer dynamics of sexual harassment and concentrate the majority of unvalued and unpaid care work. This is also the situation of sex and gender dissident workers, faced with great employment discrimination and, in the case of the trans population, the practical impossibility of finding work. Likewise, the situation of working youth is critical, permanently faced with precarious jobs, high unemployment and an environment of closed opportunities. Black workers, too, face a racist culture, which gives them more precarious and risky jobs and lower pay.

Trade union movement news

Currently, there are few workers organized in a union, with 4.6% unionization and 1,028,764 members for 2018 according to the ENS. The country has experienced a decline in unionization dynamics since 1970, which accelerated from 1980-1990 with the industrial crisis, neoliberal reforms and the increase in anti-union violence, although in recent years the situation has deteriorated. braked and still partially reversed.

A central factor in this lack of protest organization by the working class is explained by the violence exercised against the trade union movement, especially by the paramilitaries and the State security forces, which led to the murder of more than 3,000 activists between 1984 and 2010 According to CINEP, in addition to 908 death threats and 151 disappearances, companions whose life and activity we claim today.

The country's trade union movement is organized into three large third-degree union centrals, the majority Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT) with classist and conciliatory elements with 577 thousand members for 2017, the medium General Labor Confederation (CGT) with a speech of social pact with about 200 thousand although she claims by strongly inflating her affiliations as the majority central and the small Confederation of Workers of Colombia (CTC) intermediate between the two previous ones, which was estimated at 50 thousand. In addition, 4 very small sector and regional organizations act as UTC, USTRACOL, CNT and CSPC that seek to project themselves as general centrals, as well as a large number of small independent company unions.

The majority of union organizations and affiliations focus first on the state's social services and secondly on the extractive sector of the economy. Among state workers where the degree of unionization is 42% according to the ENS, there is a large presence among primary and secondary educators grouped in the Colombian Federation of Education Workers (Fecode), with 270 thousand members, which makes the most important union in the country and with a unique situation of union unity. Thus, workers in technical education, public university and to a lesser extent private are also important. Other important items in the state are electricity, gas and water, as well as state agencies such as DIAN, state ministries, governorships and the fragmented public and private health sector. On the other hand, in the field of resource extraction, the trade union organization of energy mining workers stands out, such as those of oil or coal. The banana, oil palm or sugar cane industry is also relevant. In addition, there is also a presence in the textile food factories, secondary products, as well as some ports and transportation.

In the country there is a high union fragmentation, being common that in companies and institutions with only a minority of unionized personnel there are 5 to 10 organizations, and even in extreme cases 30 or 40. Nationally qualified trade unions predominate, such as female teachers. or pilots, less present among the less qualified workers, as well as atomized unions by company. Fewer, though important for their weight, are second-tier industry unions.

Current struggles

In 2020, various workers' struggles were very important, such as the 91-day strike of the Cerrejón workers owned by Glencore, the largest open-pit coal mine in Latin America, which today threatens to fire 450 workers again. The conflicts of the health workers were also relevant, including strikes such as those at the Hospital de Valledupar or the hunger strikes of the traffic officers fired in several cities of the country, as well as conflicts of public library workers against dismissals or oil against the privatization of state companies, or of the workers of the online ordering platforms for job recognition.

In 2021 the protests of state teachers against the return to class without socio-sanitary conditions are key, as well as the mobilizations of February of this year, against the dismissals of teachers in departments of the south and north of the country. In January, there was the strike of Enel's electrical energy engineers, the strike of workers at the Amaga Hospital, as well as the protest of the workers of the Nueva Clinic in Bogotá; while in February there were mobilizations of the workers of the Antioquia Liquor Factory, marches of dismissed workers of EPS Ambuq in Cartagena, plantings of the Centelsa workers in Cali and the national blackout of Rappi workers.

In March, the national protest of the workers of the Civil Aeronautics and the airport sector, the health workers of Barranquilla not yet immunized, the miners of Minesa in Santander fired in March and the national day of protest of the ICBF workers continued , driven by many female heads of households. In April, the protest of the mining works of the Esmeralda Mining Service in Muzo took place against the suspension of contracts as well as of the Transmilenio conductors against the dismissals.

In this panorama of struggles against precariousness, layoffs and for better salary conditions, on the day of the national strike of April 28 called by the unions there was a significant presence of state education workers who were advancing a 48-hour strike, as well as well as state wage earners in the centers of all large cities, as well as women workers in the industrial zones of Fontibón in Bogotá, the industrial zone of Cali or the port in Cartagena, as well as, of course, important sectors of the working youth precarious that has sought to continue with the mobilization.

Anarchist perspectives

We think that the great weakness of the current trade union movement should lead us to raise the urgency of organizing the precarious majority of the working class in a union, as shown by the living example of the movements of subcontracted workers in sugar in 2008, in oil in 2009, or of the Pacific ports in 2019. The unity between temporary and permanent workers, precarious and stable, old and young, is decisive, as well as the fight for new stable jobs with social security.

In the midst of the panorama of strong bureaucratization and union fragmentation, we think that we must defend the construction of unitary unions in all sectors on the principles of classism, autonomy and direct democracy, a unitary form that shows effectiveness in the organization of state teachers. At the same time, we believe that we must overcome the atomization by companies, trades and sectors, and promote the construction of national industrial unions, where workers from different backgrounds and backgrounds meet on the basis of solidarity, federalism and active participation.

The bureaucratic structures, be they conciliatory or class-based, and their eternal leaderships, away from the concerns of the workers, must be criticized and overcome with practices and forms of direct democratic organization of the workers. Thus, promoting more direct bodies of representation in the manner of collective commissions of women workers in companies and local economic units, such as internal commissions in Argentina, while striving to build a new culture, new structures and new leaderships related to a program of deliberation, criticism and continuous grassroots action, where libertarian unionism has much to contribute.

Likewise, it is essential to criticize and replace the patriarchal policy of most organizations, as well as the promotion of a new feminist culture, which encourages the decisive participation of women throughout the life of the organization. The same effort fits for the organization of the working youth, more precarious and disorganized, or the black workers.

Finally, a libertarian union commitment should lead us to strengthen the autonomy of organizations, both in the face of government or business dependence and traditional party politics or union-parties, with their own compass and a time marked by struggles and not by electoral calendar. Likewise, the commitment is to develop a renewed classism that strengthens the working class, promotes its union, cooperative and territorial organization and is attentive at the same time to specific labor struggles, and to the mobilization against various oppressions and the demands of other sectors. social and popular.

Against the precariousness of life, let's strengthen the workers' and popular struggle!

Up those who fight!

Libertarian Group Via Libre

https://grupovialibre.org/2021/05/01/contra-la-precarizacion-de-la-vida-fortalezcamos-la-lucha-obrera-y-popular-comunicado-1-de-mayo-de-2021/
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