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lunes, julio 18, 2005

UNT letter regarding the ILO conference

This letter was circulated by the UNT after the 93rd International Labor Conference.

(reprinted from ILC International Newsletter No. 138, June 28, 2005)

Appeal from the UNT to Continue the Campaign In Defense of Genuine Trade Union Freedoms and the National Sovereignty of Venezuela
(translation by ILC International Newsletter)

We, leaders of the National Workers Union of Venezuela (UNT), address, once again, the unions and workers throughout the world.

First of all, we want to thank the 500 or more trade union leaders in 24 countries of the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia who signed the "Open Letter to the Workers' Group of the ILO" that we initiated in February of this year. This Open Letter helped to re-establish the truth about the situation of the Venezuelan labor movement and about the struggle of the workers and people of Venezuela.

The results of the discussion on Venezuela at the 93rd Annual Session of the ILO that just took place in Geneva make it necessary that we continue our campaign, particularly in light of the fact the Administrative Council of the ILO will be meeting this November.

Brothers and Sisters:

As we explained in the "Open Letter to the Workers' Group of the ILO," the bosses' organization in Venezuela, FEDECAMARAS, and the Federation of Workers of Venezuela (CTV), have filed complaints with the Commission on Trade Union Freedoms of the ILO accusing our country of violating trade union rights. In reality, these complaints are seeking to cover up the fact that these two organizations have taken part in actions that have nothing to do with ILO Convention 87, such as the coup d'etat against the government elected by the sovereign Venezuelan people as well as the sabotage of the oil industry (December 2002 - January 2003).

The meeting of the Administrative Council of the ILO that took place last March referred the decision concerning FEDECAMARAS' proposal to create a Commission of Inquiry on the Situation of Trade Union Rights in Venezuela to the meeting scheduled for November 2005, after the annual conference which renewed its composition.

Stop the Bosses' Offensive

Nonetheless, the attacks against Venezuela and the UNT continue. Particularly, the Commission on Norms of the ILO's annual conference, discussed the specific case of Venezuela in relation to ILO Convention 87. This offensive was led by Mr. Edward E. Potter, the delegate of the United States, spokesman for the Employers Group (bosses), and director of labor relations for Coca-Cola!
Yes, this is the director of the very same Coca-Cola company that has persecuted unionists in Colombia, India, and other countries and that has been accused of assassinating union organizers. This is the man who, in the name of the bosses, had the nerve to call for the condemnation of the Venezuela for violating trade union rights!
It is understandable that the bosses' representatives to the ILO deliberately try to equate the participation of leaders of the FEDECAMARAS and the CTV in a coup d'etat with normal "union activities." Their intent is not to defend democracy but to protect their class privileges!

The fact that the only person to defend the perspective of the General Secretary of the CTV in the Commission on Norms was the spokesperson of the bosses, Mr. Potter, shows the degree of degeneration that has taken place in the leadership of this organization which claims to represent the Venezuelan workers!
Unfortunately, in the resolution adopted by the Commission on Norms and submitted to the General Assembly - which, we, representatives of the UNT, observed - the following unacceptable paragraph was introduced at the behest of the Employers Group: "The Commission invites the [Venezuelan] Government to cease the restrictions on the freedom to travel imposed on the leaders of FEDECAMARAS, particularly Mr. Fernández and Mrs. Muñoz."

Albis Muñoz is the current president of FEDECAMARAS, and Carlos Fernandez was the former one. Both their cases are being reviewed by the Venezuelan legal system for actions that have nothing to do with trade union rights, but rather with the actions taken against the sovereignly adopted Constitution; namely, the coup d'etat in April 2002.

Of course, any citizen has the right to their own opinion concerning the judicial process against these two individuals. But in what capacity is the ILO qualified to "invite" the government of a sovereign nation state to "cease the restrictions on the freedom to travel" of these people?

Isn't asking the government to not follow the national laws of Venezuela an impossible demand to comply with, a demand that interferes with the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people and state?

In any case, we think this proposal contained in the resolution of the Commission on Norms is in contradiction with the ILO's mission of guarding democracy. We think it is in contradiction with the ILO's traditions of objective discussion concerning the application of the norms and conventions pertinent to trade union and labor rights.
The ILO cannot be the place for political manipulations that transform coup d'etats and lockouts into the "free exercise of trade union rights." Who will this serve?

To be sure, it will not benefit the workers and their organizations, who are the principal proponents of democracy. Democracy means the recognition of the existence of trade unions that are independent from the bosses and governments, so that we can defend our conquests and rights against the destructive offensive of capitalist globalization.

To accomplish this, we are again addressing ourselves to our class brothers and sisters throughout the world:
It is necessary to reaffirm and deepen the rejection of the proposal by FEDECAMARAS and the International Organization of Employers (IOE) to apply against Venezuela a Commission of Inquiry concerning the situation of trade union freedoms in our country.

As the 93rd Annual Session of the ILO has demonstrated, the bosses are continuing to pursue this objective at the meeting of the Administrative Council that will take place this November.
At the same time, we are renewing our invitation to unions throughout the world to attend the Congress of the UNT on July 28-30. At this congress, the workers will be able to directly find out the truth about the trade union situation in Venezuela!
Class and trade union greetings,

In Defense of the Sovereignty of the Venezuelan People!
In Defense of Genuine Trade Union Rights!
Geneva, June 16, 2005

Leaders of the UNT present at the 93rd Annual Session of the ILO:
Marcela Máspero, Orlando Chirino, Marco Tulio Diaz, Servando Carbone, Hugo Peña, Victor Mora, Angel Marcano, Marco Garcia y Anastasio Rodríguez.

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