May 2015        

The Venezuelan working class reinforces its support for Maduro

Paul Dobson

With an investment of more than $1.2 billion and 2.2 million bolívars, President Maduro approved forty-six projects from the working class of the nationalised Venezuelan Guyana Corporation this month, as the Presidential Council of the Working Class was held in Venezuela’s industrial heartland.
     “We, the workers, want to make our total and unrestricted support for the first Chavista and working class President absolutely clear,” declared José Melendez of the Unified Union of Iron and Steel Workers.
     At the Council, President Maduro announced the creation of a political training programme for the iron, steel and aluminium workers, designating a presidential team to work alongside the University of the Workers, the Bolivarian University, and the Sucre and Ribas Missions.
     Maduro also called on the workers in heavy industries to prepare a law of the “socialist management of the basic industries of Guyana,” with “the concept of workers’ control as the central element,” and announced the creation of the Hugo Chávez Frías Aluminium and Briquette Complex.
     The National Executive also received the sum of 457.8 million bolívars from the nationalised industries as their end-of-year surpluses, with the Socialist Cement Corporation contributing 250 million, Orinoco Iron 100 million, Venezuelan Glassworks 60 million, Venezuelan Technological Industries 21 million, Orinoquia Telephones 15 million, Chery Cars 17 million, and Productive Venezuela Cars 3 million. These funds go to the Socialist Efficiency Account and are used to finance social missions. Maduro challenged them to double this amount next year.

Venezuelan workers on strike

The organised workers of the largest private company in Venezuela, Polar Group, have stepped up a strike that began on 23 March over Polar’s refusal to advance negotiations for a collective contract at the Turmero Beer Plant in the state of Aragua.
     The dispute arose when, after fifteen months, with only 18 of the 106 clauses of the contract agreed upon, the president of Polar, Lorenzo Mendoza, refused to continue in discussions that affected 620 workers.
     Following continued hard-heartedness from the oligarch, workers at other Polar plants have now begun striking in support, including the National Union of Beer, Soft Drinks and Wine Workers. “We have decided to launch a solidarity strike, in accordance with article 490 of the Organic Labour Law, and completely support our comrades,” explained Frank Quijada.
     Following the month-long strike the workers have repeatedly denounced violence from Polar against the striking workers, calling for the government to intervene and sanction the firm. “The firm have tried to coerce our struggle and have sent armed men to intimidate us. Nonetheless the workers maintain a peaceful strike . . .” stated Juan Rodriguez of the Central Region of the Polar Workers’ Union. “We are not afraid, but if anything happens to any of us then we hold the Polar Corporation responsible. Polar are trampling on and intimidating the workers . . . They are the violent ones . . . They are firing subcontracted workers so as to not give them fixed contracts. There are a large number of protests.”
     Eloy Ordaz, communist member of the regional legislative council, denounced Mendoza’s use of strike-breakers, while the Communist Party’s National Workers’ Secretary, Pedro Eusse, denounced “the aggressive campaign against revolutionary union leaders and shop stewards.”
     Polar controls 82 per cent of Venezuela’s beer market and more than 70 per cent of the flour market, as well as having an important stake in soft drinks, water, mayonnaise, margarine, and vegetable oil.

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