International solidarity with sacked workers

CUTV PRESS – Through a communiqué, the Secretariat of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) expressed its solidarity with the workers who have been dismissed by the company Servicio Panamericano de Protección C.A. (Serpaproca), a company specialized in the protection and transport of valuables, affiliated to the US transnational group Brinks.

The wave of dismissals, which began in 2009, has affected a total of more than 400 workers, mainly in the states of Carabobo, Aragua, Lara, Bolivar, Sucre, Zulia, Distrito Capital, Merida and Apure. According to repeated complaints by those affected, these dismissals violate Venezuelan law, particularly the Organic Labor Law.

The claims of the dismissed workers were taken up and supported by the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Venezuela (CUTV), affiliated to the WFTU, an organization that groups more than 100 million workers worldwide. In its communiqué, the WFTU demanded «the immediate cessation of the massive layoffs and the anti-labor practices applied by Serpaproca», as well as «the unconditional reinstatement of all the dismissed workers».

The WFTU also called on the Government of Nicolás Maduro «to intervene promptly, imposing the constitutionally safeguarded rights of the workers and guaranteeing all labor and union rights and freedoms» that the company has been violating. For its part, the Militant Front of All Greek Workers (Pame), also affiliated to the WFTU, likewise expressed its solidarity with the workers of Serpaproca and with the CUTV «in their struggles for jobs with rights and against the attacks of the bosses.»

Labor conflicts and corruption in CVG

TRIBUNA POPULAR. The arrest by the National Anticorruption Police of the Vice Minister of Basic Industries and President of the Corporación Venezolana de Guayana (CVG) Pedro Maldonado, and of the President of the Siderúrgica del Orinoco (Sidor) Nestor Astudillo, brings back into the public arena the repeated denunciations presented for years by workers of Guayana region [east Venezuela] regarding the irregular handling and facts that have led to the collapse of the basic industries of the region and to the destruction of the income and rights of the workers.

Pending labor claims

The application since 2018 of memorandum 2792 of the Ministry of Labor meant for the Guyanese working class, as well as for the workers of the entire public administration of the country, the elimination of contractual labor benefits, a situation that worsened since March 2022 with the flattening of the salary tables through the instruction of the National Budget Office (Onapre).

In addition to this salary policy, there are other illegal measures such as the creation of the figure of «non-required» workers, a subterfuge used by the state employers to sack workers and cancel only 30% of their salary. The Government tried to disguise this indirect dismissal using as a pretext the Covid-19 pandemic, but the workers assure that the underlying reason is the inoperability of the various subsidiaries of CVG as a result of its dismantling. Currently, there are around 10,000 workers in this situation.

Unjustified dismissals have also been the order of the day during the last few years; even in those cases where reinstatement orders have been granted, the workers have not been reinstated to their jobs. Such is the case of 35 workers at Planta Casima. Pensioners and retirees have not escaped the anti-worker onslaught in the basic companies either; their meager income and the elimination of medical care has led them to speak of an «extermination plan» by the management.

Also in trouble are the class B shareholders of Sidor, who for more than a decade have not received any benefit from their shares in the company. Most of them are workers of retirement age, and they demand that the State buy their shares.

Five days of protest

The dizzying deterioration of the living conditions of the workers of the basic industries of Guayana, as well as the destruction of the industry and the policy of persecution and harassment against those workers who denounce irregularities or fight for their rights, was the backdrop of the massive protests that took place at the beginning of this year.

On January 9, around one thousand Sidor workers protested in demand of a living wage and the fulfillment of other contractual commitments.

Representatives of the company

Representatives of the state-owned company tried to neutralize the protest by offering an extraordinary bonus to the workers, but the demonstrations continued for five more days.

The government response was the arrest of 18 workers and the deployment of the Bolivarian National Guard to prevent the continuation of the conflict. The situation of harassment and persecution forced the workers to establish a dialogue with the authorities of CVG and with the Governor’s Office of the State of Bolivar, and then sign an agreement in which they agreed to suspend the protest in exchange for the release of the detained workers. Their wage and labor demands were not met.

As if that were not enough, the employers and the national government undertook a campaign to discredit the workers in struggle, who were described as «saboteurs» and even as «fascists» and «terrorists». On January 18, Sidor issued an internal communiqué informing that a bonus would be paid to those workers who did not take part in the protests. A few days later, the files of those who participated in the dialogue with the authorities were deactivated, preventing them from entering the company’s facilities.

A corrupt directive

Last March 30, seven high-ranking officials were arrested by the National Anticorruption Police together with Maldonado and Astudillo. So far, only the «CVG corruption scheme» has been officially mentioned, but no detailed information has been given about the accusations and the scope of the case.

Curiously, a few days before their arrest, the presidents of CVG and Sidor appeared publicly among those leading the mobilizations organized by the Government against corruption in the region. The question remains in the air: who then are the real saboteurs, enemies of the interests of the homeland, the workers in legitimate struggle for their rights or the managers of the State enterprises that have plundered the national treasury at will?

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