People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 01, 2004
to Strike Under Attack In Mexico Also
N S Arjun WSF-2004, Mumbai
THAT the savage attack on workers and the oppressed sections of population by neo-liberal globalisation knows no boundaries was apparent by the very huge presence of these sections in the WSF-2004 in Mumbai. However, the specificities of such attacks were vividly testified by a worker and trade union activist from Mexico in the presence of eminent economists and activists. The occasion was a seminar on globalisation, which was being addressed by Joseph Stiglitz, Prabhat Patnaik, Samir Amin and others.
Benedicto Martinez, in his testimony, stated that all unions in his country are seriously affected by globalisation policies. They have to negotiate with the managements under the constant threat of closures. Even the right to strike has been under attack. Whenever the unions serve a notice for strike, the government declares it illegal and if the union still went ahead the government immediately shuts down the factory. The managements were taking advantage of this situation and resorting to “technical shutdowns”, which extend to as long as six months. During this period the workers are paid only a meager part of their salaries. Though Mexico has signed the ILO conventions, none of them are being implemented.
After the US dictated Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) came into force, the lives of workers and the poor in Mexico deteriorated sharply. Thousands of units were shut down forcing workers into the already swelling unemployment ranks. Health sector is being privatised and insurance based alternative system being put in place. The government is under intense pressure to privatise key sectors of oil, power etc.
Benedicto ended his testimony on a positive note. Despite all these attacks workers were fighting back. They were building solidarity networks with other unions, which were genuinely fighting these policies. He saw an important role for WSF in this fight saying the solidairty of workers from other parts of the world, whom we get a chance to meet in WSF, gives us strength.
there was another worker from Columbia, Cicilia Lopez who testified about the
increasing repression of his government and ruling classes. Public protests are
being treated as criminal acts labour laws are being attacked. There was a
deadly policy of assassinations, by which they have so far killed over 4,000
workers/trade union activists in the last 10 years. Over 7,000 trade union
leaders have been jailed. Again he also stated that despite all this repression
the workers were continuing their resistance to globalisation.