Major Workers Conference in the North of Greater Buenos Aires
Lear and Donnelley are one struggle
On Saturday, August 16 in the Garin neighborhood in the North of Greater Buenos Aires, the Conference of Workers in Struggle was held. The event brought together the most combative sectors of the workers’ movement in Argentina. Along the Pan-American highway, across from the gates to the Donnelley printing plant, now under worker control, the shouts could be heard of “Families left in the streets, no more!” This conference takes place amidst increasing dismissals and layoffs, while at the same time, the government and the union bureaucracy have stepped up attacks against the Left and the most advanced workers. After a lineup of dozens of speakers, the workers voted on several important resolutions. Representatives from Lear, Donnelley, and EmFer led the conference, which despite being organized in only a few days, brought together 3,000 comrades. Among the speakers were representatives from many of the most important workers struggles today along with leaders of the Left and many historic workers’ movements.
A “minor detail” is that while the conference was taking place, the machines at Donnelley did not stop moving. The workers controlling the presses took turns producing and participating in debates of the conference.
Unity of the workers
Donnelley worker Martin Killing and Lear worker Ruben Matu were the first speakers. They were followed by Afredo Luque of EmFer and a long list of speakers, which turned the conference into a workers parliament. Also present were Marcelo Morales and Raul Godoy of the Zanon ceramic factory, whom the workers of Donnelley invited to speak.
Those who took to the stage spoke not just of their factories and workplaces but also of their unions and communities, while presenting concrete proposals on how to win these struggles. All of the speeches reflected the pride in participating in such an important day and the understanding that unity is critical to confronting our common enemies.
There were also representatives from dozens of shops and unions, including Kraft, PepsiCo, Stani and other food processing companies, Zanon and Cerámica Neuquén ceramic tile factories; Subway workers, Fate and other tire factories; printing companies like Morvillo, AGR and Worldcolor, teachers of the SUTEBA, Ademys and ATEN unions, workers from the Kromberg, Unilever, Frigorífico Rioplatense, Alicorp, and Procter & Gamble plants, bank workers, telephone workers, metal workers, truck drivers, and many, many more.
There was a large delegation from the South of Greater Buenos Aires, with workers from Calsa, Shell, Honda and Hospital Alende, who argued for the need to extend these debates to the factories of their neighborhoods.
The Left stands with the struggles
The PTS and its worker contingents were the strongest represented at the conference. Also participating were our comrades from the Partido Obrero, along with Carlos Chile y Daniel Jorajuría of the CTA Micheli faction, Luis Zamora, delegations from Izquierda Socialista, Opinión Socialista, Nuevo Mas, MST, CCC, CPT, and other Left currents. One of the most applauded speakers was Christian Castillo, member of the Buenos Aires provincial legislature from the PTS-FIT who was joined by national MP, Nicolás del Caño. In every struggle throughout the city, workers have seen the FIT as a clear political alternative. Those who led these strikes are among the 1.2 million people who voted for the FIT in the 2013 elections.
Other speakers were MP Nestor Pitrola (PO-FIT) and Edgardo Reinoso, a railroad worker and member of Izquierda Socialista (Socialist Left), Jose Montes, a historic shipyard leader and member of the PTS and Victoria Moyano, daughter of disappeared parents, recovered by her family after she was stolen by the military and raised by another family. Moyano was recently arrested during a caravan in support of laid off workers from the Lear corporation.
Jose Montes and Victoria Moyano have been working with Lear workers and its shop steward committee for years. During his speech Montes pointed out the long process of developing a workers vanguard, and how it is now being targeted by the government and the bosses while standing as a beacon for hundreds of workers around the country.
The Donnelley Women’s Committee spoke about their important role in the struggle at the Donnelley printing plant now and over the years. At the close of the conference, a group of worker’s sons and daughters joined the stage singing: “We are the little ones, we support the workers, so this world doesn’t have bosses anymore”.
Among the principal resolutions voted were a campaign for the expropriation and nationalization under worker control of Donnelley (in support of the bills presented by the FIT in the provincial legislature and in Congress), support for the reinstatement of all laid off workers at Lear and respect for the Shop Stewards Committee. Workers also called on the union federations to set a date for a national strike of 36 hours which would raise the demands of working people.
At the same time, the shop stewards of various factories agreed to create a Coordinating Committee in the north of Buenos Aires, to continue organizing workers in the factories in support of the struggles and also to have workers of Donnelley and Lear as main speakers in the upcoming demonstrations.