workers freedom

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Monthly Archives: February 2014

International Day of Action in Solidarity with Santander workers

There will be another day of action next week in solidarity with CNT members fighting outsourcing and retaliation against union activity. Santander is a Spanish multinational which bought US-based Sovereign Bank in the depths of the recent recession, using the proceeds from dumping its speculative real estate holdings just before the Spanish real estate bubble collapsed. Fighting such predatory international concerns surely requires international action on our part.
Yesterday I received the following appeal from CNT Isban:
Thursday, 6 March: International Boycott of Banco Santander, Isban and Panel Systems.
http://informaticamadrid.cnt. es/articulo/26-02-2014/6-de- international boycott-Mar- counter-santander-bank-Isban and-panel-systems
Requested Actions:

Two weeks after forming the union section of the CNT-AIT, Santander-Isban dismissed our representative in Isban and subcontractor Panel Systems moved him away from coworkers, but failed to stop our struggle.
Since then they assign tasks that can not be done without providing training, have long periods without doing anything, accuse him of not being productive and violate their schedule,  … Our delegate has also been asked about the numerous flaws that have appeared in office bathrooms and hallways, hinting that he has something to do with what they call “wave of vandalism.”
They have also refused to allow him to work from home (the new worksite is far from his home, and from the facility he was hired to work at), while allowing others to do so, even after suffering a traffic accident “commuting” and without being required his presence in the office at all.
We hope that direct action against these operators serve to force Isban to reinstate our delegate to his original position and the potential spread of syndicalism as a tool for radical transformation of society.
Thank you all for your support … and tell with ours for whatever it takes!
Health and Anarchy!

Association Section on Isban
Union of Telecommunications and Information Services


A rough translation of their leaflet:


In August 2013, the union of the CNT-AIT in Isban publicly denounced the illegal workforce arrangements between Panel and Isban Systems, the computer services division of Santander group.

Isban responded by effectively dismissing the union delegate, who was transferred to Isban’s controlled subcontractor, Panel Systems, in order to isolate him from the workers and allow them to continue exploiting precarious workers through irregular working conditions. Since then, the union delegate has been bullied in an attempt to force his resignation and abandonment of the struggle for the rights of workers.

Federated revolutionary unions in the International Workers Association are responding to the attack, demanding the reinstatement of sacked delegate in Banco Santander Isban, where the multinational maintains its headquarters. The conflict has spread around the globe in 12 different languages.

Isban manages a network of subcontractor that it controls to provide cheap and precarious work for the bank Santander. It has more than 10,000 workers illegally provided by these companies, who may be dismissed at any time without compensation because they are not recognized as employees.

Panel Systems is one of dozens of companies that profit from the illegal assignment of workers to powerful ” customers” such as Isban while destroying stable employment.

Workers fear being left in the street if they protest poor conditions, facilitating acceptance of surrealist work schedules. mandatory overtime and travel – forced to accept whatever work schedule the company demands, at salaries below what is paid recognized employees for the same work.

There have been hundreds of illegal dismissals in the Santander group targeting the most vulnerable, with the complicity of the government and company unions. Meanwhile, the Santander Group’s net profit amounted to 4,370 million euros in 2013, almost double that in 2012.

Santander head Emilio Botin, Rodrigo Rato, Alfredo Saenz, Jose Maria Amusátegui and other senior bank staff have been previously reported, and sometimes convicted, for violating Spanish labor law. But the infamous “Botin doctrine” ignores Santander’s legal obligations and the rights of its workers.

Botin is infamous for his ongoing tax evasion, illegal purchase of banks, the collapse and subsequent rescue of Bankia, huge severance packages to senior management, the case of the Swiss accounts of the Botin family, sale of junk mortgages and bogus securities, evictions and property speculation, charging extortionate interest, shady deals with universities, participation in arms companies and financial management and profiteering from the terrible Spanish prison system. A long list of crimes unpunished to date.

We’re not going to shut up or resign. As long as exploitation and inequality persist we are going to stand up, together, relying on our solidarity as workers in our struggle for dignity and empowerment. Towards Social Revolution.



Repression in Venezuela

by Rafael Uzcategui   [from El Libertario newspaper]

February 21, 2014

On February 4th, 2014, students from the Universidad Nacional Experimental del Tachira (Experimental University of Táchira), located on an inland state of the country, protested due to the sexual assault of a  female classmate as a result of the current insecurity situation of the city. The protest was repressed, and several students were detained.

The next day, other universities around the country had their own protests requesting the release of these detainees, being at the same time repressed and some of them incarcerated. The wave of indignation had the context of the economic crisis, the shortage of first necessity items and the crisis of basics public services, as well as the beginning of the enforcement of an economic plan on behalf of the President Nicolas Maduro.

Two opposing politicians, Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado, tried to capitalize on the wave of discontent rallying for new protests under the slogan “The Way Out” and try to pressure for the resignation of president Maduro. Their message also reflected the rupture and divisions among opposing politicians and the desire to replace Henrique Capriles’ leadership, who publicly rejected the protests. The Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (Democratic Unity Table) coalition, didn’t support them either.

When the government suppressed the protests, it made them grow bigger and wider all over the country. On February 12th, 2014, people from 18 cities protested for the release of all of the detainees and in rejection of the government. In some cities, inland, particularly punished by scarcity and lack of proper public services, the protests were massive. In Caracas, three people were murdered during the protests. The government blames the protesters, but the biggest circulating newspaper in the country, Ultimas
Noticias (Latest News), who receives the biggest advertising budget from the government, reveals through photographs, that the murderers were police officers. In response, Nicolas Maduro stated on National television and radio broadcast that police enforcement had been “infiltrated by the right wing.”

Repression against protesters not only uses police and military enforcement agencies, it incorporates the participation of militia groups to violently dissolve the protests. A member of PROVEA, a human rights NGO, was kidnapped, beaten and threatened with death by one of then on the west side of Caracas. President Maduro has publicly encouraged these groups, which he calls “colectivos” (collectives).

The Venezuelan government actually controls all of the TV stations, and has threatened with sanctions, radio stations and newspapers that transmit information about protests. Because of this, the privileged space for the distribution of information has been the social media networks, especially twitter. The use of personal technological devices has allowed the record keeping through videos and photographs of ample aggressions of the repression forces.

Human rights organizations report detainees all over the country (many of them already released), the number has surpassed 400, and they have suffered tortures, including reports of sexual assault, cruel treatment, inhumane and degrading. As this is being written 5 people have been murdered in the context of the protests.

In his speeches, Nicolas Maduro, stimulates the protesters that are against him to assume even more radical and violent positions. Without any criminal investigation, he automatically stated that each deceased person has been murdered by the same protesters, whom he disqualifies permanently with all of the possible adjectives.

However, this belligerence seems not to be shared by all the chavista movement, because a lot of it’s bases are waiting for what happens next, without any expressions of support. Maduro has only managed to rally public employees to the street protests he has done. In spite of the situation and due to the grave economic situation he faces, Nicolas Maduro continues to make economic adjustments, being the most recent, the increase of the tax unit.

The state apparatus reiterates repeatedly that it is facing a “coup,” that what happened in Venezuela on April 2002 will repeat itself. This version has managed to neutralize the international left wing, which hasn’t even expressed its concern about the abuses and deaths in the protests.

The protests are done in many parts around the country and are lacking in center and direction, having being called through social media networks. In the protesters themselves, there are many diverse opinions about opposing political parties, by which it is possible to find so many expressions of support and rejection at the same time.

In the case of Caracas they are starred specially by middle class sectors and college students. On the other hand, in other states, other popular sectors have joined the protests. In Caracas the majority of the petitions are political, freedom for the detainees and the resignations of the president, while in other cities social demands are incorporated, such as inflation, scarcity and lack of proper public services. Even though some protests have turned violent, and some protesters have used fire guns against police and militia groups, the majority of the protests, specially outside of Caracas, remain peaceful.

The Revolutionary Independent Venezuelan Left (anarchists, sectors that follow Trotsky, Marx, Lenin and Guevara) don’t have any incidence in this situation and we are simple spectators. Some of us are simply actively denouncing state repression and helping the victims of human rights violations.

Venezuela is a historically oil driven country, it possesses low levels of political culture amongst its population, explaining why the opposing protesters have the same “content” problem as the bases of support for the government. But while the international left wing continues to give its back, and support without any criticism the government’s version of “the coup,” it leave thousands of protesters to the mercy of the most conservative of opposition’s political parties, without any reference to anti-capitalists, revolutionaries and true social change that could influence them.

In this sense, the detention of Leopoldo Lopez, conservative opposition leader, tries to make his own figure the center of a dynamic movement, that up until this moment, that this is been written, had surpassed the political parties of the opposition and the government of Nicolas Maduro.

What will happen in the short term? I think nobody knows exactly, especially the protesters themselves. The events are developing minute after minute.

For more alternative information about Venezuela, we recommend: (in Spanish) (in Spanish) (in Spanish) (in Spanish, English & other languages)

The rule of law

In another great political victory for organized labor, voters approved a resolution requiring all workers at the Seattle-Tacoma airport to be paid at least $15 an hour. Labor Notes reports that a  judge has ruled that voters don’t have the right to tell the Port of Seattle (which runs the airport) what to do.

As workers scope out “Obamacare,” many are finding they have to falsify their income upward in order to qualify for subsidized care. Millions of workers otherwise don’t earn enough to qualify…

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering turning the entire country into a “Right-to-Work” (for less) zone, considering overturning a contract that requires Illinois home health care aides who choose not to join the union to refuse to pay representation fees. The state is siding with the union — since it won representation rights, turn-over has been slashed, costs have stabilized, and studies indicate the quality of care has improved.

In France, bossnappings continue. Some 200 Goodyear workers two two executives hostage Jan. 6 to protest a planned factory closing that would cost 1,173 jobs. A 2009 survey found nearly half of the public considers this an acceptable tactic when fighting lay-offs, and Bloomberg Business Week reports that it “usually pays off.” In this case, workers let the bosses go after a day, but continued to occupy the factory. They’re seeking a new owner, or at least a severance package generous enough to enable them to survive the search for a new exploiter.

Half a pension too much for bankers to stomach

Bankers and bondholders have said they will appeal a judge’s tentative decision to slash the pensions of Detroit’s retired and soon-to-retire public employees in half. The cuts should be much deeper, they insist, so that the shareholders and coupon clippers can get a higher pay-out. That workers will likely lose their homes, go hungry, and finish out their diminished lives in destitution under the proposed plan is of no concern to them. What are thousands of starving workers to parasites who need the proceeds of the labors of hundreds of workers to support them in the manner to which they have become accustomed?