The national day of protests carried forward by employed and unemployed workers - after their plenary session in the City of Pilar earlier in September, which included road blocks, mobilizations and rallies in twenty provinces and a Province of Buenos Aires’ Teacher’s Union (Suteba) strike of strong compliance executed by those sections who are “multi-coloured” [the alliance of combative teachers’ groups who lead many of the county Suteba committees] - was a success.
The coverage that the media gave to the roadblocks and the subsequent march -from the Industrial Union of Argentina’s building to Plaza de Mayo- was proof of this and, if we examine it more closely, of the importance of the regrouping that took place in the current context.
First, due to the convergence of unions and workplace committees:Tyre Workers’ Union, University Professors’ Union, Western Railway Union, City of Buenos Aires’ Teachers’ Union, Health Workers’ Union and the Suteba, with a substantial part of the Piquetero (jobless) Fight Front: Polo Obrero, MTR 12 de April, Cuba-MTR.
The rally in Plaza de Mayo, the main square in Buenos Aires, was also a sounding board of the struggles that the workers' movement is going through these days, against factory closures, for the reopening of wage discussions and the rebellion in the province of Chubut, which does not cease. Endorsements were sent by the Ansabo papermakers and the fired loggers from Egger Concordia.
The second aspect, the most important one, is that the day of protests was resolved after a broad debate, which pitted divergent positions and approaches regarding the direction that should be taken, against each other. Finally, the declaration that was approved and, with its nuances, the different speeches at the rally, charted a political perspective which is antagonistic to Peronism and the diverse manifestations of the union bureaucracy.
The basis of that delimitation is a program that combines the demand for wages, jobs, social assistance and other necessities, with substantive measures such as cutting ties with the IMF and the nationalization of the banking system.
That is to say, the mobilization on Tuesday was the expression of an independent political sector of the working class, which clashes with the strategic orientation of the bourgeoisie and the union bureaucracies, which prop the former up, in the times to come.
Alberto Fernandez’ [Presidential candidate and front-runner for the Peronism’s Frente de Todos] plea to leave the streets is placed on the same page as Justice Minister Germán Garavano qualifying the criminal charges against "Chiquito" Belliboni and Oscar Kuperman [leaders of the “Piquetero” movement who were protesting against the government’s austerity measures] under the concept of “sedition”, as well as Hebe de Bonafini’s [President of Madres de Plaza de Mayo association, one of Cristina Kirchner’s most loyal allies] request to imprison left leaders. The underbelly of this national unity across party lines around a social pact is to repress the combative sectors.
The CGT of the social pact
The national day of protests established a strong contrast with the meeting that was held the same day at the headquarters of UPCN [the Public Servants’ Union, led by the union bureaucracy], where the heads of the different union "families" began to seal a pact in order to reunify the CGT [largest union confederacy in Argentina] next year: a step which becomes necessary to give strong foundations to the social pact that the Fernández tandem want to put together.
The social pact will be an instrument in order to consolidate wage deterioration and move forward with the structural reforms that Macri was only able to outline. The modification of workers’ statutes, following the recipe claimed by Alberto Fernández as his own, used against the employees of Vaca Muerta oil field, has already taken a dozen oil workers’ lives.
The conclave was organized by Hugo Moyano and Héctor Daer following explicit directions by Alberto Fernández. Among others, Andrés Rodríguez (Public Servants), Gerardo Martínez (the construction workers’ union), José Luis Lingeri (Sanitary Works union), Antonio Caló (the metal workers’ union) participated; Roberto Fernández (bus drivers’ union), Omar Plaini (newsies union), Juan Pablo Brey (pilots’ union), Raúl Durdos (seamen union), Mario Manrique (mecanics’ union), and Armando Cavalieri (trade workers’ union): the crème de la crème of the Argentine union bureaucracy.
Some absentees, such as Sergio Sassia from the railway workers’ union and the leader of the taxi drivers’ union Omar Viviani, made their willingness to join known. The rural workers’ union, headed by Ramón Ayala, still involved with Cambiemos [current President Macri’s governing alliance], maintains a discreet dialogue with Hugo Moyano [former secretary general of the CGT and the undisputed leader of the union bureacracy] and will also surely have his place at the table.
Negotiation is a race against time. "Alberto takes office in December and August [referring to the primary election] is far behind us,'' they explained. It is clear that the backing of the social pact requires finalizing the complete reunification proposal without delay.
What was relayed is that progress is being made regarding "formats and deadlines" but, obviously, the critical points are not those, but others. Who the secretary general would be, naturally. Alberto Fernández’s movement, within which everyone is taking shelter, does not obliterate the internal squabbles and struggles for places of power between different factions. That bid is also expressed in another key negotiation: Alberto Fernández’ promising management of Social Security and returning Labor to a ministerial rank [it had been demoted to a secretarial post during Macri’s government].
One of the names that was overheard the most for the Labor Minister job is that of Claudio Moroni, who held, among other positions, a top job at the Superintendence of Health Services, during Carlos Menem’s tenure as President and then again during the Kirchner’s reign. He is also the person who is writing the fine print of the "price and salary agreement" - that is, the freezing of the wage discussions - that would be the cornerstone of the social pact.
We oppose the deliberation and independent action of the working class’ bases, in the face of the pacts and backroom squabbles of the bureaucracy, which vies to manipulate the labor movement.
For a new class conscious and combative leadership of the workers’ movement! Let's fight for a congress with democratically elected delegates from every union so as to vote on an action plan and a worker's program to find a way out of this crisis! Down with the social pact! The capitalists must pay for the crisis!