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sábado, mayo 14, 2005

Declarations from Worker Co-Management workshop of the Third International Encounter of Solidarity

I was planning to post these along with my notes from the conference. But it looks like I'm not gong to get those notes typed up anytime soon; I'm about 10% done and working on other projects at the moment.

So here are the declarations from the end of the event, here is the speech Chavez gave to kick it all off, and the middle (the actual conference) will come...at some point in the future.

The context: these are the declarations that came out of the Worker Co-Management workshop of the Third International Encounter of Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution. Basically, about 75 unionists and progressives from across the Americas spent two and a half days learning about the progress of worker co-management in Venezuela and elsewhere, and hearing and debating varying opinions on co-management, self-management, organized labor, and similar themes.

To wrap it all up, we divided up into small groups to discuss and amend a draft declaration on co-management which had come out of the past days' talks. After an hour or so, every group presented their conclusions to the whole, and all (I think) were incorporated into the final document. That is the first declaration below.

The English-language speakers present (North Americans from the U.S. and Canada) were asked by the organizers to create a separate statement expressing our opinions on the process of co-management in Venezuela. Now, you put ten people from widely varying political tendencies who just met two days ago together at a table, and ask them to come up with a unified declaration in an hour, you're not going to get a masterwork of incisive political analysis. But we did manage to come up with a statement that got across a few points everyone felt were important.

For some reason -- I'm still not quite sure how it happened -- I got picked by our group (or picked on?) to read the declaration. The translator for the event insisted that I should read it in English "for the impact", and he would read the translation. So we did. Here's a photo.

Afterwards, a reporter for a community radio station out in the plains country asked me if I would give a brief live interview, with a translator, but with no advance preparation or time to think about the questions. So somewhere in central Venezuela, a bunch of folks listened to me make some very hackneyed statements about international affairs and worker solidarity. Hmm, have to remember this next time I'm listening to a live radio interview.

Without further ado (wasn't that ado enough?) here are the two statements.

Conclusions from Roundtable No. 3 "The Role of Workers in the Management of Companies"

In view of the important contributions presented during roundtable No. 3, entitled "The Role of Workers in the Management of Companies", within the framework of the activities of the Third Global Encounter of Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, realised in the city of Valencia during April 14-15, 2005, the following proposals have been collected, which synthesis a general consensus:

1. The direct and democratic participation of workers in the management or co-management of production and distribution is an exceptional mechanism to guarantee and consolidate the Bolivarian Revolution. In order to implement this strategic policy, strong unity of the people and the working-class is required around the revolutionary program and direction of Commandante Chávez. This is how it will be possible to deepen the social, political and economic transformations that our country demands, and take us in the direction of socialism of the XXI century.

2. We view our co-management as Bolivarian, revolutionary and anti-capitalist:
BOLIVARIAN: Because it is a proposal of the Venezuelan revolution, adapted to our reality, culture, historical legacy and because it takes in the constitutional mandate which aims to "establish a democratic, participatory and protagonistic society".
REVOLUTIONARY: Because it aims to demolish the old structures and conceptions of power of the capitalist IV Republic and replace it with the new institutionalism and revolutionary conscience.
ANTI-CAPITALIST: Because it aims to demolish capitalist property relations and production and replace them with others where labour is privileged over capital. The principle that will guide workers management and comanagement must be: Power to the workers and the people!

3. In this sense, the process of workers management and co management is framed within the ten strategic objectives of the new stage in the Bolivarian Revolution, particularly:
- to advance in the conformation of the new social structure.
- to advance in the construction of the new democratic model of popular participation.
- to accelerate the construction of the new productive model, as a way towards the creation of the new economic system. In the current political conjuncture it is an urgency, in the face of the threat of imperialistic aggression.

4. Experiences up until now teach us that it is only possible to develop the knowledge of the running of companies by workers, when these belong to the state. The workers rejected any idea of turning workers of the co-managed or managed factories into small proprietors. It corresponds to those in the factories to exert their role as guarantors of the sovereignty of the people established in the constitution, so that the profits of these companies become part of the social funds which help reverse the poverty of wide sections of the Venezuelan population and not directed towards stimulating new business ventures.

5. The participation of the community is fundamental in all of the process of workers co-management and management and in the development of the alternative model, in order to obtain the means towards the transformation of the production model and end social exclusion.

6. The process of workers management and co-management in state owned companies, within the framework of the present revolutionary process, is a fundamental step towards assuring the democratic participation of the sovereign in decision-making. That is to say, it is a political act that makes concrete the alliance between the people that must control the state of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the working-class, and not a corporative economic pact between a bosses state and a privileged caste of new state employees. We fight without truce against the threats of the internal counterrevolution, represented by bureaucratism, corruption and nepotism.

7. The process of workers management and co-management demand the existence of the organic organizations of the workers' trade unions, but these will have to adapt their structure, objectives and methods of work to the primary objective; to politically orient the workers in the key tasks of production and management of companies, reinforcing the bonds with the diverse popular organizations, in addition to the defense of their legitimate economic and social demands. In this sense the fundamental role of the UNT is vindicated, as a revolutionary union federation aiming to orient, accompany, give direction to and fortify this process.

8. In order to advance in the process of workers co-management and management, it is necessary to promulgate a law that develops the constitutional lineaments on the norms that must reign as much in the state companies as the private ones. We make available to parliamentary delegates the documents drafted by workers from the electrical sector and aluminum industry. In this sense, we state the important similarity of different expressions from the workers movement around the basic principle of production and distribution under workers management and co-management, all of which constitutes an important conceptual base for the elaboration of the necessary legislation, regulation and normalisation.

9. By virtue of the political importance already indicated, we ask that the National Government continue in its timetable of bringing state companies into this process, designing and systematizing them with the participation of the workers, and conforming a parity group between them and the Government. As well, just as in VENEPAL, to continue with the demands of workers from different companies from the private sector to initiate processes of workers co-management, particularly in the cases of Constructora Nacional de Válvulas (CNV), CANTV and others.

10. We ask of the National Government to publish all the contributions and to distribute all the materials presented by the national and international delegations, to obtain the widest possible distribution of the ideas and proposals that were debated here.

11. We agree to express our broadest possible solidarity with the fight of the workers in their tenacious fight to take over companies and put them into the hands of the workers, both in Argentina and Brazil, as well as with all other similar cases in this continent and in world. We give a special mention to the cases of CIPLA and INTERFIBRA in Brazil, and ask that the Government of President Lula take the necessary actions to stop the judicial persecution of a member of the Council of Recovered Companies, Serge Goulart.

12. The participants of roundtable No. 3 express our unanimous and absolute solidarity with the Cuban revolution and its people, and express our deep rejection of the resolution pushed by Yankee imperialism, in the United Nations Human Rights Commission. The participants of this roundtable extend our solidarity to the anti imperialist fight of all the people that suffer from imperialist aggression, particularly to the heroic Iraqi and Haitian peoples, who face the invasion of their territory by Yankee troops.

13. The participation of the workers in the management and co management of companies, within the framework of the Venezuelan revolutionary process, has as its main objective to elevate the consciousness of the workers and the people to assume its role as the fundamental factor in the process of production and distribution. Capitalist regulation of production and social distribution is antagonistic and uncontrollable. Co-management makes the democratic control of the working people possible, recovering decision-making powers, as much political as socio-economical, for the producer. It is the only way to unite immediate goals with strategic objectives. The only way that can leads us to a true equality. Enough of the counter position of formal equality and hierarchical inequality! These are practical steps to the socialization of the production and distribution! With workers co management, the objective and subjective conditions mature!


Valencia, 15 of April of 2005

Declaration from the English Speaking Guests at the Third Encounter of Solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution

We agree with the idea that without workers' co-management, there is no revolution. However, we believe that if workers' co-management is by itself, without dealing with the problems of poverty, unemployment and exclusion, there also can be no revolution. [alternative wording: Nevertheless, we think that workers co-management as an end in itself in the fight against poverty, unemployment and social exclusion, will not lead to a revolution.]

We felt inspired from listening to the debates of the last two days, because we saw what a discussion within a winning movement is like. We were impressed by the open and democratic atmosphere, the level of the debate and the respect given to all points of view that were expounded.

We endorse the idea whereby, as a means to expand workers co-management to include the private sector, new laws are adopted that anticipate transparency in production and financial operation; that is to say, to make the books of the company be made available to workers.

This Encounter has constituted a reaffirmation that the workers have the capacity and creativity to run their workplaces. Here, we have been witnesses to the increasing role of the union movement within the framework of the Bolivarian Revolution, in assuming the key social and political challenges of "Socialism in the twenty-first century", and in advancing the organizations in defense of the revolution in the workplace (the centers of production).

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