Mérida, March 31st 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Thousands of Venezuelan workers took to the streets of Caracas on Thursday to demand immediate improvements in workplace democracy and to insist on the final passage of a radical new labor law that has been held up in the National Assembly since 2003. According to organizers from Venezuela’s National Workers’ Union (UNETE), the march was intended to reiterate the national union’s “critical support” for the government of Hugo Chávez and to push for greater consolidation of Chávez’s proposed “21st century socialism” on job sites nationwide.
“We want to deepen real worker control, advance in the efficiency and efficacy of the [publicly-owned] companies, and we want and end to impunity. All of these demands are an obvious part of the revolutionary project,” said UNETE National Coordinator Marcela Máspero.
Máspero spoke to UNETE’s insistence on the democratization unions, the planning of production and workplans by workers themselves, and an end to violence and repression against outspoken “revolutionary” workers.
“The working class is who has been called upon to construct socialism,” said Rosa Grimau, spokesperson for the Promotion Committee of the Socialist Workers’ Council within the National Assembly. “That’s why we ourselves must consolidate a force that makes proposals in line with elevating the quality of working conditions throughout the country,” she said.
Socialist Workers’ Councils are one of over 10,000 proposals that have been made in ongoing discussions for a new Organic Labor Law, under discussion since 2002.
Though Thursday’s march resembled a similar UNETE action organized on 9 November 2010, it differed from last year’s demonstration in that it included a brief standoff between demonstrators and police.
According to an article published in Aporrea.org, the organizer’s plans to march directly to the Venezuelan National Assembly were stalled for over an hour by a multi-layered ring of police forces, including officers from municipal and national forces as well as members of the Bolivarian National Guard.
After negotiating with police officials, marchers were allowed to continue on their scheduled route and submit their demands in writing to United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) deputy and Vice President of the National Assembly (AN) Aristóbulo Istúriz.
Istúriz committed himself to delivering the marchers’ demands directly to AN President Fernando Soto Rojas, though he insisted the next steps for advancing the proposed Organic Labor Law must be taken by the AN’s Permanent Commission for Social Development.
Last Friday, over 15,000 workers marched in the southern state of Bolívar with similar demands – calling for more socialism, denouncing imperialism’s assault on national sovereignties, and committing themselves to the consolidation of socialist unions in all of the primary industries (steel, iron, aluminum, and coal) present in the region.