Venezuela: Workers Rally to Demand ‘Revolutionary Exit from Crisis’

The public sector in Venezuela has been mobilizing for revised wages and labor rights.

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Workers demonstrated on Thursday for improved salaries and labor rights in front of the ANC. (JCV)
Workers demonstrated on Thursday for improved salaries and labor rights in front of the ANC. (JCV)
By Ricardo Vaz
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Pays de Gex, France, November 15, 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan leftist trade unions rallied outside the country’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC) Thursday to demand “a revolutionary exit from the crisis.”

The National Front for Struggle of the Working Class (FNLCT) made the call for a mobilization alongside campesino and popular movements from Caracas and nearby states. Workers from public utility companies, such as the Caracas Metro, who have been active in the streets in recent weeks, were also present.

Vladimira Moreno, from the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), told press that demonstrators had chosen to rally before the ANC as this is the most powerful body in Venezuela. She issued a dire warning that the achievements of the Bolivarian Revolution, such as rights to food, education and healthcare, are being rolled back.

“There has been a tremendous deterioration of public services,” Moreno stressed. She also lamented that the increase in workers’ purchasing power, buoyed by the August economic measures and monetary reconversion, has been largely eaten away by hyperinflation, which has surpassed 800,000% in the past 12 months, according to the opposition-controlled National Assembly.

Additionally, the Communist spokesperson accused the Ministry of Labor of “unilaterally” abandoning collective bargaining agreements and other hard-won rights of the working class.

“There is a lot of sabotage from inside the institutions, but there is also inefficiency,” Moreno continued. “That is why we [the PCV] have called for the management to be evaluated,” she emphasized, citing electricity and garbage collection problems in Caracas as examples. She concluded by saying that the people feel “helpless” when they see no action from the government as food prices skyrocket.

Today’s demonstration was agreed upon after a trade union meeting called by the FNLCT on November 8. In a letter containing the conclusions of the meeting, the organizations called for a reversal of “the anti-worker salary policies and the submissive economic policy” and for a “revolutionary exit from the crisis.”

The union grouping, which is closely affiliated to the PCV, also put forward a number of actions to be undertaken in the coming weeks, among them, an open letter to President Maduro and ANC President Diosdado Cabello, an occupation of the Ministry of Labor and a national march to Miraflores Palace.

The letter also called for workers to hold assemblies and meetings throughout the country, and protest the unconstitutionality of the measures revoking collective bargaining agreements.

Thursday’s demonstration comes on the heels of several other protests this week by Venezuelan public sector workers demanding better working conditions and labor rights.

On Tuesday, workers from state television Venezolana de Television (VTV) held a rally outside the station’s headquarters to demand decent wages, the payment of the first month of the Christmas bonus, and the restoration of the collective bargaining agreement.

Union representatives and workers had reportedly met with station president Freddy Nanez to address these issues, but opted to take to the streets in protest of management’s a lack of response.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan public sector teachers gathered in front of the Ministry of Education, also demanding respect for collective bargaining agreements and salary raises and warning of a national strike. The teachers reportedly wanted to meet with Minister Aristobulo Isturiz but were barred by police.

The Venezuelan government announced a series of economic reforms in late August as part of an effort to tackle the country’s ongoing economic crisis. These included a monetary reconversion, an exchange rate devaluation, overhauled exchange controls, pegging the currency to the Petro cryptocurrency, and a 3,000% minimum wage increase. Other measures, such as price agreements with private businesspeople and hikes in transportation fares, soon followed.

Nevertheless, workers and trade unions across the Venezuelan public sector have voiced their discontent in recent weeks. The main complaints are centered around the ever decreasing purchasing power of current wages and the rollback of labor rights such as collective bargaining. While in some cases the Ministry of Labor has reached agreements with the workers and introduced new salary tables, the struggle goes on in several public institutions.

Edited by Lucas Koerner from Caracas.

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