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domingo, marzo 27, 2005

Interview with Marcela Maspero re ILO complaint

The following interview is from the ILC International Newsletter No. 122, March 15, 2005 (though I just got it it today, the e-newsletter is a little slow!) FYI, the ILO decided to suspend review of the complaint until November.

Interview with Marcela Maspero, national coordinator of the UNT

On the occasion of the meeting of the ILO Governing Body, that will be held March 8 through 24, 2005, we have asked Marcela Maspero, national coordinator of the UNT to provide us with the latest information on the complaint presented against the government of Venezuela by Fedecamaras (employers' association). The complaint will be reviewed on March 23.

Q: The ILO Governing Body will examine the complaint lodged by Fedecamaras on March 23. What is the UNT's position?

MM: Venezuela is living through the best times for trade union freedoms. Proof of this is the birth of the UNT.

During the process of change, for the very first time in the history of this country, over 1,000 trade unions have been created. The percentage of trade unionists has increased by 50% since 1999, rising from 12% to 18% of salaried workers.

We now have discussions on collective bargaining in the country's principal energy sectors such as oil and electricity as well as for employees and workers in public administration; in state-owned factories (iron and aluminum); in health care and education. The same goes for the private sector. All this contradicts the employers' affirmations that there are no trade union freedoms.

We also have the official mechanisms that allow the application of collective bargaining agreements in cases where the employers refuse to apply them.

You must understand that the ones who are presenting the complaint are the very ones who do not respect trade union freedoms in our country. For example, after the firing of 100,000 workers associated with the bosses' lockout, the Ministry of Labor ordered the re-hiring of 70% of the workers, which has been contested by the bosses. I ask you the following question: What is the social responsibility of the owners that form part of Fedecamaras who organized a lockout with a political objective that led to the firing of 100,000 workers?

Finally, I remind your readers, about the fact that in Venezuela there exists since 2003 a decree protecting against layoffs that is regularly violated by those who have lodged a complaint before the ILO in reference to the supposed anti-trade union practices of the government.

Q: What should be done from now until March 23?

MM: It is necessary to accelerate the international solidarity campaign with the UNT and Venezuela by the International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples. It is necessary to advise on the statements of position taken by trade union leaders and trade unions everywhere, to publish and distribute this information.

It is also important to ask the ILO to make these documents public, such as the memorandum of the UNT, the position adopted by the government, the complaint lodged by the employers that is still unknown, so that each one can form an opinion, with full knowledge of the case.

- Compiled by Luc Deley
ILC, Switzerland

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