Written by Marcos Margarido
Thursday, 16 January 2014 14:05
The demonstrations of June made history in our country and inserted in the context of the struggles worldwide against the effects of the world economic crisis. In the streets, the students and the people chanted: “The World Cup I give up, I want health and education.” They also raised many other slogans, but that was a milestone.
The CSP-Conlutas was present in this and many other struggles in 2013. In the mobilizations of workers, in the struggles against oppression, in urban and rural movements and the youth. It put its forces to call the unity in struggle with other union federations. The CSP-Conlutas was the head of organizing a march that brought together more than 25 thousand people to Brasilia and two national days of strikes against the government’s economic policy.
But the CSP-Conlutas is only one among seven trade unions federations and is not the major one. The CUT and Força Sindical are the main workers organizations in the country, but abandoned the fight for their rights since the Workers Party (PT) came to power in 2003 and they began to be politically and financially connected to the PT’s governments, receiving money and performing jobs, even as ministers.
The alternative we are building
The CSP-Conlutas was founded to restore the principles abandoned by the CUT and the UNE (National Union of Students): class independence against bosses and governments; autonomy from the parties; fight as the privileged way of action; democracy and control by the rank and file; class solidarity and internationalism; fight for the unity of the whole working class for the defence of their immediate interests and the construction of a socialist society.
Also to recover the program that the Brazilian left built in the struggles over the last 30 years: the struggle against imperialist domination embodied in the banner of the non-payment of the foreign and domestic public debt, against the oil field auctions; the fight against privatization and the re-nationalisation of privatized public enterprises and services, for a 100% state owned Petrobras; the struggle for the nationalisation of the financial system; the defence of social and labour rights, housing, living wage, land reform, public and quality health, education and transport; the fight against all forms of oppression; the struggle for autonomous and free trade unionism, the right to organizing the workplaces, etc.
Enhancing mechanisms of democracy and control by the rank and file is another key issue. So, the CSP-Conlutas’ leadership doesn’t organize in the traditional way, where a group of unionists is elected in Congress to lead during pre-defined periods. Rather, it is composed by all the affiliated organizations, which may send their representatives to the coordination’s meetings.
The Conlutas and the concept of trade unions center
On the other hand, we need to move forward from previous experiences, overcoming the high degree of fragmentation of the working class generated by the new forms that capitalism adopts in the process of exploitation, and in this way to facilitate the unity in struggle of all sectors of the working class in defence of their common interests.
So, the CSP-Conlutas wants to respond positively to the challenge of joining in the same fight not just unionised workers, who make the lesser part of them today, but the entire working class: the unemployed and the precarious, those who are organized in housing movements, in the struggle for land reform, in the women, blacks, GLBT movements and in social movements in general; as well as the youth. In short, all those who struggle against exploitation and oppression in the capitalist society.
This does not mean to slow down the working class character of this organization. Rather, its class character is strengthened, not only by the principles and programs adopted, but also by its vocation to gather inside it the entire working class and its allies, and not just part of it.
That’s why the CSP-Conlutas organizes national and rank and file trade unions, social movements for housing and land reform, the women’s movement “Mulheres em Luta”, the black movement “Quilombo Race and Class”, the GLBT caucus and the youth movement, mainly university students in the “ANEL”.
In 2014 the CSP-Conlutas will center its intervention in the fight against the criminalization of social movements, in defence of public health and education, transportation, housing and agrarian reform. Its membership will be at the side of those affected by the World Cup – the evicted people, those charged with the coercive Acts approved by the Congress, in facing the BRICS summit, in the street demonstrations during the World Cup, in calling unity in struggle with other trade unions federations and supporting the actions of the workers’ sectors in their contract campaigns as well as the actions of the movements against oppression, the peasants, students and housing struggles.
One of the major programmatic points of the CSP-Conlutas is internationalism. It’s clear from what is happening in the world nowadays the reasons why: A world economic crisis, whose aftermath won’t be favourable for the workers unless the unity of all Europeans workers, overcoming national borders, is achieved. Revolutions in the north of Africa and Middle East that need support from all over the world to defeat the alliance between governments, imperialism and counterrevolutionary organisations.
In Latin America is not different. While the economic crisis lands in our countries, with more strength since 2011, the Popular Front (Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia) and Nationalist (Maduro in Venezuela, Cristina Kirchner in Argentina) governments attack workers’ rights and wages.
That’s why CSP-Conlutas is in the vanguard in Brazil to build an international organisation which could give a unified response to all these attacks. In March 2013 it was held an international meeting, sponsored by Solidaires (France), CSP-Conlutas and CGT (Spanish State) in Paris with the participation of alternative trade unions from Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. It was approved a manifest for the last First of May and founded the “International Network of Solidarity and Struggle” open to all organizations that want to “mobilise resistance at the international level, in order to enact, through struggles, the needed social transformation,” combining “the protection of workers’ immediate interests, and a desire for meaningful social change” in order to “strengthen, broaden, and render more efficient, a combative, democratic, autonomous, alternative, feminist and internationalist trade union network,” as is said in the manifest.
All the CSP-Conlutas’ organisations follow the same path. For example, the Metalworkers Trade Union of São José dos Campos organized an international meeting of GM workers trade unions to fight back the attacks by the company in Colombia, Brazil, Europe and U.S. Or the students organized in the ANEL, who decided to be a brother-organisation of the Syrian Free Students Association in a congress (2013) where students delegations from many countries participated. The Women in Struggles Movement’s meeting, held also in 2013, learned the terror situation experimented by the Indian women, who are victims of brutal rapes every days, from a representative of an Indian women’s organization. And not only the Brazilian women; in that meeting there were a plenty of international delegations from Latin America and Europe, including an invited woman from Britain.
Of special interest is the exchange of knowledge between the CSP-Conlutas black organisation “Quilombo Race and Class” and English black organisations, mainly those that fight for reparation and against murder in custody. A Brazilian black woman, Tamiris, came to England to participate in the TUC’s black and minorities group fringe meeting in its congress and a number of other meetings in London. On the other hand, Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennet, from the British United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC), went to Brazil (Maranhão, São Paulo and Rio) to participate in the demonstrations held on the “Day of Black Consciousness” on the 20th November and other events.
These are a few examples to show the commitment of CSP-Conlutas to strengthen the internationalist ties among workers all over the world.