Argentina: After the massive mobilization of 14F: demanding a national strike and disputing the new leadership

Against the defection of the union leaderships, combative syndicalism stood against the austerity plan by mobilizing to Plaza de Mayo. Now, we discuss how to continue.

Raising the slogans “No to lay-offs and utilities hikes”, “active strike and plan of struggle”, the member organizations of the Plenary of Combative Syndicalism marched on February 14 to Plaza de Mayo. Overcoming the repressive attempts of the police of Macri and Larreta, we were thousands on the streets. Trade unions, classist organizations, combative social movements and the left, we demanded the end of the austerity measures that punish working people and raised our alternative workers program voted at the plenary of Lanus. Our labor union current ANCLA contributed with one of the two main columns of the march, with teachers, State, health, tire, telephone and airport workers, among others, along with the unemployed workers Teresa Vive Movement and a combative group of the youth of the MST-New Left.

It was a great national day of action against the austerity plan, with actions across the country with the main groups of the left participating. Once again, the MAC/PTS repeated their sectarian mistake and was absent.

We can stop Macri

The bureaucratic leaderships want to make us believe that there’s nothing we can do to stop the austerity plan. The leaders of the CGT as well as the different variants of the divided CTA are more worried about the PJ candidatures than the needs of working people. They propose that we march to the Lujan Cathedral, limiting themselves to minimum social demands with partial and isolated actions, or that we wait until the elections while the hunger is being suffered now. These are the same syndicalists who, last year, when the government was weaker and in its worst crisis, bet -along with the PJ- on assuring governability and allowing the government essential breathing space.

The government attacks workers to comply with the IMF. But we can defeat it. The teachers of Buenos Aires City, who defeated the attempt at closing nocturnal schools have shown this. As well as the anger of working people, that is impeding the advance of key reactionary reforms. We need a national plan of struggle to stop this austerity plan. The utilities hikes, lay-offs and factory shutdowns, the hunger wages, the record inflation and the repressive projects can be stopped. To achieve this, we must promote the greatest unity in action and demand action from the leaders that look to the other side. But at the same time, we must continue advancing with the unity of classism towards a new leadership and strongly advocate that there’s another way out, an alternative program for the corporations to pay for the crisis.

Turn everything upside down

It is clear that the government cannot achieve social consensus for its plan. Anger is widespread. But the leaders of the unions and the PJ, not only say that we cannot fight and mobilize to defeat it, they also want to make us believe that there’s no solution other than barely mitigating the austerity model. We say that there’s another way out: turning everything upside down and making the capitalists pay for the crisis. Let’s see.

  • Macri insists on constantly raising the public services rates. The PJ proposes maintaining rates by subsidizing the private companies. We plan on annulling the raises and nationalizing the companies with social control.
  • Macri lowers labor costs through lay-offs and suspensions. The PJ only proposes re-editing the “repro plans” without any real solution. We propose prohibiting firings and suspensions by law, opening up corporate accounting books and nationalizing the companies that do not comply under the workers control. As well a the 6 hour working day and a plan of public works to generate real jobs.
  • Macri lowers wages, pensions and social plans. The PJ, who vetoed the 82% law when they were in office, doesn’t say anything different. We propose automatically updating wages according to real inflation.
  • Macri beats records in the payment of the debt. The PJ only proposes a re-negotiation. We propose not paying it, breaking with the IMF and using those resources for jobs, wages, health and education.
  • Macri lowers taxes for the corporations and the PJ never taxed extraordinaire income and maintained regressive taxes on consumption. We propose a deep progressive tax reform: annulling the IVA (sales tax) and the tax on wages, and greater taxes on fortunes: those who have more should pay more.

Four challenges

The February 14 march marked a path to follow, it showed that we can win and proposed an alternative solution. In ANCLA and the MST, we believe it is essential to give continuity to four decisive tasks for activists and the classist left.

In first place, supporting the current conflicts and those upcoming. The workers’ struggles in defense of their workplaces are heroic, isolated by the leaders of their unions. Pilkington, Sport Tech, Interpack and others struggle in difficult conditions. FATE, which is beginning a fight against the crisis procedures of the bosses, a mechanism to relax work conditions. The fight for wages is also coming. The teachers have proposed not commencing classes; university workers start the year with a 72 hour strike; health workers are in a state of permanent assembly. Supporting these struggles and advocating the need to articulate the demands with an alternative plan is called for.

In second place, we must strengthen the demands for a national strike and a plan of struggle. We must not trust the union bureaucracy and prepare the strike in the rank-and-file, in each assembly, activist meeting and plenary of delegates.

In third place, there’s the possibility, while fighting for the greatest unity on the streets, to fight for a new leadership in the labor movement. This implies fortifying and developing the Plenary of Combative Syndicalism, opening it up to new sectors. Promoting anti-bureaucratic slates of unity, for example, in the upcoming elections in ATE. And working together in the struggles so the workers can win. These are important steps on the path of the new democratic leadership and for the struggle that we need.

In fourth place, we have the challenge of taking the unity we’re building in the unions to the political level. We must place the agreements of this coordination space at the service of the anti-capitalist left to achieve a strong political and electoral expression in every front of struggle.

Guillermo Pacagnini