Caracas, April 28, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Over a hundred workers and trade unionists marched on the Venezuelan National Assembly this Tuesday, demanding that the legislative body take action following the firing of 466 workers at General Motors Venezuela (GMV) without justification last week.
On April 20, 466 of 3,300 workers at GMV’s assembly plant in Valencia, Carabobo state, were unceremoniously dismissed via telephone, in clear violation of Venezuela’s Organic Law of Work and Workers (LOTTT), which explicitly prohibits mass firings.
The violation of the country’s labour law was rejected by organizations such as the National Front for Working Class Struggle, the Cruz Villegas Front and the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), which swiftly moved to organise yesterday’s march.
After delivering a formal petition to the Ministry of the Social Work Process, the workers marched to the National Assembly, where they chanted slogans and distributed flyers until being received by a commission of parliamentarians, who agreed to hear their demands.
While GMV cites a lack of government-subsidized dollars needed to upgrade infrastructure, the workers maintain that the firing is politically motivated.
“The issue is political, because the company blames the government for the firing when the inspection report shows that [GMV] has received preferential dollars and has even re-modelled the plant,” explains Adan Tortolero, secretary general of the Sintra General Union of GMV workers.
According to the workers, 328 of those fired are members of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) a fact which they claim further evidences GMV’s political motive.
“They fired us because we support the [Bolivarian] process,” Tortolero told Venezuelanalysis.
The union leader further noted that that this is not the first time the auto company has conspired against the Bolivarian Revolution, recalling that GMV was the “first firm that closed its doors during the national strike of 2002,” which sought to overthrow the government of then president Hugo Chavez.
In their march against the arbitrary firings, the workers were also joined by employees from other firms, including the subcontracted sanitary workers of Chacao and Sucre.
The continued practice of subcontracting employees was another main theme at the march, where workers came together to demand that companies cease the outsourcing of employment contracts. The practice was also explicitly outlawed by the April 2012 Law for Work and Workers.
Despite the prohibition of the practice, businesses and public and private institutions were granted a grace period of three years in order to update their employment procedures in line with the legislation. This period of transition is set to expire on May 7th.
For Juan Arias, a telecommunications technician at the State Electrical Corporation, subcontracting continues to be a reality for some Venezuelan workers, leading to the creation of a sub strata of workers who are often denied their legal rights to job security and benefits.
“This May 7, 2015 marks three years since the LOTTT was approved to eliminate subcontracting, but there still exists a group of subcontracted workers who don’t receive the benefits that the law grants them as workers.”
“One of the successes of the Bolivarian Revolution was the approval of this law, which helps workers defend themselves against the bosses, whether private sector or the state, and if we as workers unite in order to enforce this law, it would be great example for the workers of the world,” the technician told Venezuelanalysis.
The Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), one of the main organizers of the march, is currently leading a campaign against subcontracting and demanding that the government move to “accelerate the inspection process which can help to solve the problem”.
In a press conference on Tuesday, the PCV’s Secretary General, Oscar Figuera, remarked that the march was also to “demand that, by the 7th of May, there is not a single subcontracted worker in Venezuela”.