Argentina

A program to make the capitalists pay for the crisis:

October 15, 2008

Originally published in Spanish on October 9th, 2008

WE PROPOSE TO DEBATE 7 MEASURES

After the ridiculous theory of Argentina’s “discoupling†in the face of the current global capitalist collapse, the government has now recognized that there will be “economic and social effects which we need to deal with†, as Cristina Kirchner recently stated.

The prospect of a global recession, the fall of the price of raw materials -especially the fall from almost 600 US dollars in the price of Soya at the time of Cobos’ “non-positive†vote to the current 345 USD - and the devaluation of almost 40% of the Brazilian Real in the last 2 months, have alarmed the ruling classes.

The “logic of the economic model†would imply a new devaluation to give them back “competitiveness†like that of Brazil, but they know that an abrupt fall in the buying power of wages and the shock factor of rising poverty would provoke popular resistance. As the President of the Central Bank Martín Redrado recently affirmed, “Are we ready for a fluctuation of 40% of the means of exhange as has happened in the last few days in other countries? Not yet.†Meanwhile, the so-called “Plan B†of cutting back the budget for health and education, raising tariffs and freezing wage negotiations, is being accompanied by mini-devaluations (the dollar has risen from 3.05 pesos at the end of the conflict with the countryside to 3.24 today), which is to say, robbery in quotas.

From the bosses of the Industrial Union of Argentina to Elisa Carrió, there has been a new cry to take advantage of the new prospect of capitalist crisis; “the problem has passed from being wages and inflation to employment†, claimed the leader of the Coalición Cívica. “The government needs to defend employment†, said Juan Lascurain of the UIA after railing against the government’s decision to cede to the CGT a “bond†of 500 pesos. “There hasn’t been anything concrete, there’s a long way to go before the new year†declared Hugo Moyano.

Facing the prospect of crisis, the bosses and their political representatives have decided to make workers resign themselves to the loss of their purchasing power in order to preserve their source of employment through an economic “slow down†, the first announcements of suspensions and wage cuts, and the “early holidays†which businesses are implementing in the workplace. And this is backed up by people like Cristiano Ratazzi, boss of FIAT, who at the same time shamelessly admit that “we had a great September†with “11% more growth than the same month last year†in the automobile industry. For their part, the leaders of the agricultural business class, who also demand a higher dollar, have just culminated with 6 days of protest for the reduction of retentions and a straight rise in the price of milk. Sectors of the left like the CCC-PCR and the MST of Vilma Ripoll give their support tot his reactionary programme, and have marched side by side with the oligarch Biolcatti of the Sociedad Rural and Mesa de Enlace in order to reinstall the countryside’s “green tent†in front of the Congress.

By contrast, the PTS calls upon the organizations of workers and students to fight for their own interests, completely independent of the agendas of the various sectors of employers. Not only must we not drop one of our key demands. The vital fight for wage increases, the end of precarious jobs that will be the first to suffer layoffs, and the increase of budgets for education and health, must be fought for under a program to provide working class, socialist answer to this crisis, as again, just as in ’89 and 2001, the capitalists will try to load the weight of this crisis on the backs of the workers.

We propose to debate 7 measures so that they pay for the crisis.

EMERGENCY WAGE RISE: 35% FOR ALL A SLIDING SCALE OF WAGES:

No to the freezing of parities and wage ceilings. For a minimum wage equivalent to the family shopping basket. Monthly automatic readjustment in line with actual inflation. Enough of garbage contracts and illegal work: equal work, equal pay. Repeal of Videla’s rural laborers law. 82% mobile pensions for retirees and pensioners. 1200 pesos monthly subsidy to all unemployed. For an INDEC which tells the truth to the people, led by its workers and technicians.

LET’S USE THE WEALTH OF THE COUNTRYSIDE FOR THE SERVICE OF THE WORKING CLASS

There is no possibility of any favorable way out of this crisis without the main source of national wealth being used for the benefit of the majority: for the expropriation of the landowners, starting with the 1,000 owners of 35 million hectares. For the expropriation of the large cereal businesses and their private ports that profit from the hunger of the people. Nationalization of foreign trade: make food accessible to all.

NOT ONE PESO TO THE BANKERS AND SPECULATORS: MONEY FOR EDUCATION, HEALTH AND HOUSING

The 2009 budget reaffirmed the government’s willingness to pay to the international moneylenders. In five years, Kirchner already paid 25 billion dollars to funding agencies, plus the 6700 million that will go to the Paris Club. This year they have spent 4 times more on repaying debt than on education, 8 times more than on health and 16 more than on housing. But the debt is a robbery: we should not pay for it.

RAILWAYS MANAGED BY WORKERS AND PASSENGERS

No increases in fares, no more travelling like cattle. Expel the asset strippers without paying a cent. Expropriation of the cargo rail networks currently in the hands of the big exporters. Stop deals like the Tren Bala (the high-speed “Bullet Train†paid for by a loan from a French multinational): for a new national railway network serving the needs of people.

PROHIBITION OF REDUNDANCIES AND SACKINGS. OCCUPATION AND WORKERS CONTROL OF ALL CLOSED COMPANIES

No to the suspensions and redundancies: redistribution and reduction of working hours without a wage cut. Given the "crisis prevention", the "restructuring" and mass layoffs that employers will demand in response to the crisis, 2001 left us a lesson in how to deal with the attacks that today lives on in Cerámica Zanon of Neuquen: occupation and operation of businesses by their own employees. For the definitive expropriation of Zanon and all occupied factories, and for workers’ cooperatives under management.

NATIONALIZE THE BANKS AND THE AFJP

We must respond to the process of capital flight and banking crises facing the world economy with measures that will prevent another confiscation as occured in 2001. We need to get workers savings out of the hands of the banks, deposited in the AFJP and used by the state for external debt payments. For a single State-controlled banking controlled by its employees, to centralize national savings to fund an economic plan that meets the needs of the masses.

NATIONLIZATION WITHOUT PAYMENT OF OIL, GAS, ELECTRIC ENERGY, FISHING AND MINING

Repsol and a handful of companies control the oil, plunder our natural resources depleting reserves, while 13 million have no access to natural gas. The electricity companies receive millions in subsidies and raise rates anyway. The multinational mining companies make millions destroying the environment and on top of this enjoy extraordinary tax advantages by: for an end to polluting exploiters. For the nationalization of all these key resources of the national economy without compensation and under direct administration of their workers.