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lunes, enero 31, 2005

Political Fault Lines in Venezuelan Labor

Jonah Gindin's article from last Thursday lays out the current state of the UNT, the newly forming national labor federation: Political Fault Lines in Venezuelan Labor.

Seems that a major question in Venezuelan labor today is whether it is possible for labor movements and federations to come out from under the shadow of political parties, where they have traditionally resided. Gindin writes:

One debate in particular has characterized divisions within the UNT since its inception: how to balance support for Chávez with the autonomy from government that has historically eluded Venezuelan unions? . . .the most visible debates have generally been reduced to dichotomies personified by the two most prominent candidates for the UNT Presidency: Ramón Machuca and Orlando Chirinos.

The ‘Chavista unionism’ current is represented by the Bolivarian Workers Force (FBT), a pre-UNT federation of pro-Chávez unions. . . . (O)f the seven most visible coordinators of the UNT (of a total of twenty), four come from the FBT.

The ‘autonomous unionism’ group is led by Ramon Machuca. The remaining 3 of the 7 UNT coordinators mentioned above are perceived to be sympathetic to Machuca. . . .

What has complicated this debate is that both sides ostensibly support union autonomy. Yet the FBT is widely reported (including by FBT sources) to have close relations to the Ministry of Labor. . . . The Machuca wing, on the other hand, has been accused of having its own links to government through Franklin Rondón, president of one of the largest public-sector unions. It is here that the debate seeps into a broader, less easily definable one on democracy. Given the current correlation of forces, goes one argument, we must firmly establish a new confederation to replace the CTV, even if that slightly curtails the new body’s democratic nature. The opposing position argues that for the new confederation to succeed in making a comprehensive break with the old unionism, the emphasis must be entirely on building democratic foundations.

UNT will be holding elections sometime in the next few months, as will the established and rival union federation, CTV. We'll see what happens...

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