Workers of the World: round-up

Submitted by Anon on 18 August, 2003 - 7:01

By Pablo Velasco

  • Brazilian left calls for a new party
  • Indonesian left starts election campaign
  • Anti-union laws in Argentina

Brazilian left calls for a new party

Heloisa Helena, the senator expelled from Brazil's Workers Party (PT) in December last year, has issued a call for the formation of a new party of the "Socialist and Democratic Left".

Helena, a founder member of the PT and one of its most prominent senators, was expelled from the party with three other MPs for voting against government cuts in public sector pensions.

The appeal, put out with other trade unionists and well known left wing intellectuals, calls for "an alternative mass party of struggle, against the neo-liberal model and the government which is applying it, in defence of the demands of the working class."

It says: "The party will be pluralistic, democratic and internationalist, free of any sectarian spirit, open to all who see themselves as from the left and identify with socialism and democracy."

Indonesian left starts election campaign

The People's Democratic Party (PRD) in Indonesia has elected a new leadership and launched its general election campaign, according to reports in the Australian Green Left Weekly (27 January).

Outgoing chairperson Harris Rusli Moti said, "When the party was first established in 1996, we fought the forces of the New Order (the regime of former President Suharto). When that regime fell, we were still consistent in carrying out the struggle against their leftovers and the current regime."

The PRD says parliamentary struggle is not the primary aim of the party. Harris argued that even if they were able to get elected to the national parliament, this must be understood as part of the fight to assist the extra-parliamentary struggle. "To try and get one or two legislative candidates into the parliament, not to just discuss the state budget and all sort of other things, but to mobilise people in a revolutionary way so that they have the courage to bring down this regime", he said.

The PRD says the main political parties have no answers to the key problems facing the Indonesian people: militarism, welfare provision, the struggle for women's rights and against corruption. But the PRD does not plan to boycott the elections, but instead stand candidates.

The new chair Yusuf Lakaseng argued that, "what is needed by the people is the establishment of a people's government. This government would be an alliance of all the mass organisations of the people's struggle that will include trade unions, farmers, students, artists, low-ranking soldiers and political parties along with individuals who are sincere in struggling for the interests of the people."

At the launch of the new leadership, the PRD also received support from the Aceh People's Association and the Papua Students Alliance.

Anti-union laws in Argentina

The Argentinian government is trying to impose new anti-union laws. The Kirchner government needs to tie down the working class in order to help Argentine capitalism recover its profitability in the aftermath of the crash two years.

The anti-union laws:

  • keep in place a three-month "trial period" for new workers, during which any worker can be sacked without notice or severance pay;
  • oblige workers taking direct action to provide minimum essential services;
  • prevent workers taking strike action for 30 days after a collective bargaining agreement is signed;
  • keep in place the "Crisis Prevention Procedure", which allows companies to set aside union contracts and labour legislation; and
  • reinforce the procedure for compulsory conciliation and arbitration.

The new laws would also strengthen the hand of Kirchner's Peronist allies in the trade union bureaucracy, allowing them to sign company-wide contracts on "questions relating to company organisation", over the heads of workers, and to sign "crisis agreements" in order to lower wages or authorise suspensions or dismissals.

Rank and file trade unionists, socialists and the unemployed movement are organising to oppose the new laws.

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