The XV Congress of the PTS was held from July 8 – 10 with about 300 elected representives from across the country participating. They represented 2,500 militants who organize 2,800 co-workers in factories, workplaces, universities, and high schools, in addition to another 2,000 relatives and friends who collaborate with us and participate in PTS rallies, campaigns, etc.
The representatives elected by our militants are from the province of Buenos Aires – with new chapters in dozens of cities and municipalities – the city of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, Córdoba, Mendoza, Neuquén, Río Negro, La Pampa, Tucumán, Jujuy, Salta, Catamarca, San Luis, San Juan, Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Chubut, Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego, reflecting the party’s growth nationwide.
The congress included the participation of international guests from some of PTS’s affiliate groups, including those in Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico and the U.S. The honorary chair was awarded to the youth and workers of France fighting against labor flexibilization and to the millions of African Americans protesting racist violence in the heart of U.S. imperialism.
Worker-leaders José Montes and Raúl Godoy introduced the representatives who would chair the conference throughout the three days. These representatives were comrades who have played a leading role in combative unionism and in the youth and women’s movements. Franco Villalba (representative of the Alicorp factory), Alejandro Vilca (garbage collectors of Jujuy), Sandro Zalazar (MadyGraf occupied factory), Bárbara Acevedo (representative from Hospital Garrahan), Laura Magnaghi (representative from Hospital Alende), Daniela (teacher from Salta), Leila Schwindt (University of La Plata), Mica (high school student in La Matanza), Fernando Rosso (Director of La Izquierda Diario news outlet) and Myriam Bregman (national legislator representing the PTS-FIT).
The representatives issued five central resolutions that we have summarized here to be shared widely among our readers and on which we will elaborate in the following pages.
For an active national strike for the cancelation of the rate hike
The congress’s first resoltuion declared the need for mass struggle. Nicolás del Caño stated that “the only way to confront the rate hike taking place is through the mass mobilization of the workers and poor, which is already happening in many parts of the country. The trade unions and student unions must break the truce [with employers], end the stagnation and organize a major national strike with mobilizations in every city and province to put an end to the rate hike. If the court ends up upholding the hike, it will become a “subservient court” like the one under Menem’s administration.”
National legislator Myriam Bregman stated that “we have to reject and repudiate the blackmail and extortion of Macri’s government, which threatens us with more inflation and hardships if its rate hike is not approved. The Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores [Left and Workers’ Front] presented a bill for the immediate suspension of the rate hikes across all utilities and public transportation which is being applied by national, provincial and municipal governments, until a thorough investigation is conducted on the allocation of over 500 billion pesos provided by the state to utilities over the past decade and that were not used for investment, leaving the services in disastrous conditions.”
The PTS maintains that unions cannot overlook the enormous reductions in real wages caused by the rate hikes, and proposes that the CGT and CTA union federations, starting with the combative unions, announce an active national strike for their cancelation, so that the working class can be the backbone of the popular protests of millions against this theft perpetrated against the people.
2. A Massive National Rally of the Left Front
The PTS proposes that the Frente de Izquierda call a massive rally at a soccer stadium to demonstrate that we are a national force and an alternative to Macri’s government and the FPV [Kirchnerist] opposition.
The Left Front has emerged as force that is independent of capitalist parties. A million and a half voters have declared their support. The FPV’s cooperation with the right-wing Macri government, and his governors, deputies and senators, by carrying out or voting for new austerity laws, shows that our call to cast a blank ballot in the runoff between the two variations of austerity parties was correct.
The PTS put forward over 1,500 workers-candidates in the most recent elections, which expresses a new political force. We cannot wait until the 2017 elections — we must act in the national political arena in the midst of this crisis.
Our congress’s resolution is to propose to all our comrades of Frente de Izquierda the announcement of a massive national rally at a stadium with seating for tens of thousands of people, to support the ongoing struggles taking place from Jujuy to Tierra del Fuego.
A massive rally of the FIT open to combative and anti-bureaucratic organizations of the workers’, women’s and youth movements to demonstrate we are a political force in the national arena. A rally that would be an open forum for thousands who struggle in their unions and in the streets, in schools and in workplaces that would position itself as a political alternative to Macri’s government and the false Peronist opposition.
No partial differences with our comrades of the PO 9Workers’ Party) and the IS (Socialist Left) must prevent our front of class independence from expressing a united voice that would resonate throughout the country and attract thousands seeking an alternative: Let the capitalists endure the austerity.
3. Thousands of Correspondents for La Izquierda Diario
In a special resolution, the congress resolved to promote an extensive national network of thousands of worker, women and youth correspondents who will produce articles on the left news site about their experiences in workplaces, working class neighborhoods, schools and universities, and offer their opinions on the national and international political situation, the defense of democratic freedoms and all the grievances experienced by the oppressed classes. Our plan is to start with 2,000 articles by correspondents a month, in addition to the over 1,000 articles a month written by the members of the news site’s editorial department, re-organized in shifts to guarantee in-depth articles as well as minute-by-minute updates.
La Izquierda Diario is already an essential reference for the entire left and is used as a source by journalists and major traditional newspapers. The proposed leap forward is for La Izquierda Diario to become a medium with mass influence, to be a political instrument and collective organizer for the struggle for the demands of the working class and in defense of workers’ rights. For this purpose, a resolution was issued to intensify the use of social networks and demand that the national government grant a weekly time slot to broadcast the program La Izquierda Diario TV, which is currently broadcast on the Internet and hosted by Nicolás del Caño and Christian Castillo.
We seek to multiply by thousands the number of people working for LID – either in its digital or printed form – contributing articles and information, spreading news on social media or distributing the printed newspaper. If each of these thousands brings the paper to a few dozen people in their workplaces, schools or networks of friends, we would be reaching hundreds of thousands of people for the purpose of promoting resistance and strengthening the FIT with the power of the workers, women and youth.
4. Women’s Committees for the National Women’s Conference
The congress acknowledged the growing organization of hundreds of women workers and students in Pan y Rosas and in the PTS. With this renewed militant force, we voted in favor of inviting thousands of women all over the country to participate with us in the next National Women’s Conference that will take place in Rosario, on October 8 – 10.
We also voted in favor of starting to promote the conference right now in La Izquierda Diario, with articles that express the debates that will take place in October, that speak about the experiences of those who participated in previous conferences, the expectations of those who will do so for the first time, etc. and to debate – as we have been doing – the work of the Organizing Committee. What is discussed there? What steps have been taken?
Another resolution was to continue to promote and organize women’s committees in all the factories, schools, hospitals, and state agencies, in addition to establishing women’s committees in colleges and universities. Our goal is for tens of thousands of women to start organizing for their rights and demands.
And lastly, considering the inclusion of new generations of militants in our organization, we reaffirmed that the struggle against women’s oppression is not a “women’s issue” but affects all of us who embrace the struggle for the proletarian revolution and socialism, which is why we invited our male comrades – in all the party’s organizations – once again to debate, develop and carry out this policy.
5. Campaign in Defense of Recovered Factories
At the proposal of representatives Andrés Blanco (Zanon worker and Assistant Secretary of the Ceramic Workers’ Union of Neuquén) and Eduardo Ayala (worker at MadyGraf occupied factory, formerly Donnelley), one of the resolutions of PTS’s XV Congress was to launch a national campaign in defense of the recovered factories.
A few weeks ago, workers of different recovered factories in the country came to the city of Buenos Aires demanding answers from the national government for worker managed factories, which are experiencing many difficulties that are aggravated by utility rate hikes. The factories of Zanon (now15 years under worker management) and more recently, that of the company formerly known as Donnelley have shown the superiority of the democratic management of factories by their workers compared to the tyranny of bourgeois management that prevails under capitalism. Unnecessary positions – such as those of supervisors who are only there to make the workers feel the whip of the pace of capitalist exploitation in the workplace -are eliminated, and any privilege is challenged in workers’ assemblies. But, as we have always mantained, worker management cannot exist as an island in a sea governed by the free market, without investment in production. The demand for the cancellation of the rate hikes was essential, as well as the demand for credit, the payment of subsidies such as the Plan Trabajo Autogestionado [Self-Managed Work Plan], pending expropriations and the purchase of production by the state, among other points.
Ultimately, we are fighting for the direct worker management of these companies to be included in a public ownership plan in order to use their production to serve a social purpose within a public works plan (Zanon) or to provide materials for educating working class children (MadyGraf).
Within this framework, one of the main resolutions of the PTS Congress was to launch a national campaign in defense of recovered factories, demanding answers from the national government and provincial governments, placing the Frente de Izquierda’s legislative seats, and the national and international media network La Izquierda Diario and its militant power at the service of this campaign.
Translation by Marisela Trevin