FT-CI

Argentina

Terrabusi: A Momentous Working Class Battle

04/09/2009

The Kraft-Terrabusi workers’ struggle tensely continues. Since the 18th of August, when 160 workers were fired, the Kraft workers have started a struggle that’s included: permanent assemblies; blocking the Pan American highway three times; two organized marches to the Ministry of Labor; two festivals, one with over 1,000 people in attendance, as well as acts in front of the factory. Despite that the Ministry of Labors declared an Obligatory Conciliation, in hopes to keep the workers passive for 20 or 30days, the workers have been firm and continued to struggle. The company systematically violated their Conciliatory “obligations,” while the Ministry of Labor did nothing beyond intimidating the company with empty threats. That’s why the workers didn’t wait for the outcome of the negotiations that Rodolfo Daer had promised, they kept on fighting. In comparison with other struggles, where the Obligatory Conciliation was used as a means to keep the workers struggle from developing - like what happened in Fate, where they were able to keep the workers from marching and calling for assemblies- in this struggle they have maintained an important mobilization. The activists and the factory workers, both fired and not fired, have played an important role in maintaining solidarity with the fired workers.

After the march to the Ministry of Labor, last Wednesday, the union leaders decided that they would no longer participate in the struggle. From that moment on they tried to convince the workers to give up the fight. They even went as far as announcing that the union delegates shouldn’t vote in favor of any kind of support for the Kraft-Terrabusi struggle. After the march on Wednesday the 26th, organized by Daer, the workers stopped factory activates again and announced a state of “permanent assembly,” which always aggravates the company and now the union. After a few days of intense struggles, the workers decided to “rest” for a few days from utilizing their toughest measures, like the permanent assembly. This was a decision that some workers called a “truce,” so the workers would be able to recuperate their strength; they had planed to take up the struggle again on Tuesday at 6 in the morning. The company responded arrogantly. They put up very intimidating barbed wire fencing around the factory entrance, they reinforced security and fired activists in the middle of the Conciliation; the company management wasn’t the least bit worried that Ministry of Labor would stop them from going through with these illegal actions. The company takes advantage of every minute that the workers use to rest.

That’s why it was a good decision to establish a set date and time for the workers to take up the struggle after the “truce” had been called. On Tuesday at precisely 6 o’clock the workers stopped working. The leaders and security was once again pressured the workers; they took aggressive measures to try and break down the workers, but the workers didn’t allow them to win. On Wednesday September 2nd the workers, once again, blocked the Pan American highway and the Kraft-Terrabusi workers struggle returned to spotlight in the national the media. A group of workers and family members went to Congress to speak with members of the House and to gain support. On Thursday they participated in the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo march. There are many measures to take, whatever strengthens the force of the workers. That’s why it’s necessary for the assemblies to be big and that they discuss the necessary measures to be prepared for the next event, like how the night shift was able to organize 300 workers to meet and discuss the next steps. Now each shift is discussing what will be the best way to move forward. There are brothers and sisters who propose the necessity to organize better and form Workers Struggle Committees in each shift to organize a strike fund, the spread of the struggle and the different activities necessary for a struggle of this caliber, which is without a doubt the most important factory worker struggle in the preceding decades. The strike fund is very important because the company already said that they wouldn’t pay the fired workers wages. The North American management, with an unprecedented cynicism, accused the workers of not following through with their assigned tasks, in other words, for not remaining locked inside of a patio like the company wanted. The brothers and sisters from Zanon followed through with their promise and donated 2,000 pesos and in other places they are also raising money for the workers, which is necessary measure so that nobody abandons the struggle for economic reasons.

On the other hand we need to prepare for the crucial days ahead. Tuesday the 8th the Obligatory Conciliation will expire and nobody knows if the Ministry of Labor, who still hasn’t called for a hearing, will extend it or not. No matter what, the struggle has a clear objective: “Everyone in, not one brother or sister in the street” and we have to be organized in order to take the necessary and decisive measures if the company refuses to back down.

The PTS is putting all of its strength into making this struggle victorious, because we know what the objective of this attack is: to break down a wide spread activism that has won over the factory workers and the organization of factory delegates, which prohibits the company from making workers pay for the crisis. They want to keep this example, of an independent organization, from extending to the great concentration of workers in the Northern industrial area of Buenos Aires and throughout the rest of the country. They know that if it were to happen then it would generate a combative workers movement in the heart of the industry. This is why we must fight until the company’s attack is defeated.

PTS Zona Norte Branch

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