Workers’ solidarity and the great democratic campaign for the Oil Workers of Las Heras

February 20, 2014

Take part in the February 27 national day of action for their acquittal

Workers’ solidarity and the great democratic campaign for the Oil Workers of Las Heras

February 20, 2014 | Internal Commission of RR Donnelley

In November 2012, we began to discuss at a factory assembly meeting the trial of the oil workers (“petroleros†) of Las Heras, the possibility that these workers would be condemned to life imprisonment, workers who have struggled against the tax hike and for full-time employment for subcontracted workers, workers who are now blamed for the death of police officer Sayago, and the way that the case took shape, with both the accused and witnesses exposed to torture. Comrades were surprised and angered, not only by the monstrous nature of these actions, but also by the media blackout and the lack of knowledge about what was happening. The resolution of this assembly was to both join and develop the campaign for the acquittal of the oil workers with concrete actions. So we started participating in the National Committee for the Acquittal of the Oil Workers of Las Heras with the mandate of the assembly. We initiated the “corte†[picket and roadblock] of Callao and Corrientes [a main intersection in the Buenos Aires city centre] on December 10, and had an hour-long stoppage on each shift at the factory on December 12, the day of the sentencing. We voted for a delegation of comrades to travel to Caleta Olivia to accompany those that have been charged. We held an assembly meeting on December 18 with a work stoppage that Ramón Cortés (one of the sentenced oil workers) was invited to. Afterwards we had an “asado†[barbeque] with the comrade, to which dozens of delegates and workers from different factories in the northern zone of Buenos Aires were invited to. As well as participating in the National Committee, we took part in the formation of the committee in the northern zone. On February 5 we initiated a picket and roadblock at the intersection of Callao and Corrientes at 8am, with the objective of promoting and strengthening the mobilisation and united rally in the Plaza de Mayo on the same day.

These actions of workers’ solidarity that we promoted and spread from Donnelley, were extended to other sectors of the workers’ movement, who have now taken on this campaign as their own. All of these actions were carried out in a united front not only with the vanguard of the workers’ movement, but also with students who are in solidarity with this cause, along with left-wing parties. Extremely important is the support provided by the deputies of the PTS in the FIT, such as Nicolas del Caño who made a significant financial contribution to the struggle of the oil workers and promoted a joint press conference with the CeProDH [Professional Human Rights Centre] and various human rights organisations at the National Congress. The result, along with the hard work of the CeProDH in gathering support for the petition for the acquittal of the oil workers, has won a democratic united front the likes of which has not been seen for many years, from human rights personalities such as Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, to the declarations from the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) of Hugo Moyano, the Argentine Workers’ Central Union (CTA) of Hugo Yasky, the CTA of Pablo Micheli, the Argentine University Federation (FUA) and deputies, journalists, student centres, unions and delegates from various industry sectors.

There was also the tour of Europe by Christian Castillo, provincial deputy of the PTS in the FIT, whose efforts went beyond borders to extend solidarity to an international level. This was achieved at the Argentine embassies of France, Germany, Spain, Uruguay and Chile where simultaneous demonstrations and rallies were held on February 5, the day that we presented the appeal.

All these actions, and the increase in the number of committees across the country, have achieved a huge leap in the campaign for the acquittal of the oil workers across the length and breadth of the country and have even reached an international level. But in the factory we continue discussing the scandalous nature of the media blackout that has been imposed on this case. That is why we have been arguing in the various coordinating committees that it is necessary to redouble our commitment. We are now preparing for the national day of struggle on February 27. For this we will hold a new general assembly meeting where we will vote on taking part in this decisive action, coordinated in unison with all those that will carry this out in different parts of the country.

While we carry out these measures of struggle and this great democratic campaign, we demand that the central union federations call a national stoppage for the acquittal of the oil workers of Las Heras.