Introduction:

A General Strike this Monday was a powerful reminder of the power of the working class to shut down the country. Buses, trains, the subway, flights, all were brought to a stop and transportation across the country was halted. The government declared that the strike was responsible for the loss of $28 billion in economic activity across the country. A value significantly greater than the wages of those who stopped work; demonstrating firmly who really produces value in society.

The strike called by the CGT (Argentina's largest labor confederation) leadership was essentially a passive strike which called upon workers to stay home without any major protest. Left-wing forces however led an effort to actively establish protests along major highways and at the city center. They confronted the police and succeeded in cutting off a number of highways and helping to ensure the effectiveness of the overall strike.

There are drastically different visions of the strike at stake between rank and file militants and the bureaucratic leaderships of the unions. The union leadership above all sees the strike as a negotiating tactic and one which it has been very reluctant to utilize. They wish to at most negotiate somewhat less drastic concessions than the ones which skyrocketing inflation have imposed on the working class. The general strike which took place Monday was supposed to happen much earlier, but was continually moved back or delayed. Only under mounting pressure from rank and file militants was the strike convoked.

The left and militant worker activists by contrast are fighting for the use of the strike as a tool to defeat the IMF and the reactionary austerity plans of Macri's government. The capacity of workers to almost totally shut down the country was demonstrated forcefully this Monday, workers have the ability to bring the Argentine economy to a halt and block the advance of the right.

The Saturday before the strike an important gathering of hundreds of left wing union militants and class struggle worker activists from across the country met in the suburbs of Lanus, at the outskirts of Buenos Aires. They voted the following resolutions which we have translated to English.

Resolutions of the National Plenary of Combative Unionism



1) The combative, class struggle and anti-bureaucratic unions and delegations assembled at the National Workers Plenary have decided upon a program and plan of action to confront the austerity of Macri and his pact with the IMF.

We are those who in conferences and assemblies in our unions and workplaces pushed for the general strike of Monday June 25th; we fought for it to have a mass character and for it to be continued through a new strike of 36 hours with a mobilization to the Plaza de Mayo [Main plaza in Buenos Aires in front of the Presidential Palace].

The CGT [Main Union Federation] was forced to take this measure because of growing pressure from the rank and file. However it takes this action with the goal of letting off steam, of allowing the popular discontent to evaporate. What is needed is a plan to fight for the defeat of the government: a united and continuous workers response which goes beyond the collaborationism of the CGT, the testimonial actions of the CTA, the politics of Moyano, the Kirchneristas of Corriente Federal and the group Espacio 21F, which are focused on the vote in 2019.

The Union Bureaucracy is beholden to capitalist political sectors which have voted for Macri's austerity measures, which have implemented the budget cuts and fee hikes at the municipal and provincial level, which today support the agreement with the IMF despite pretending varying levels of opposition.

We have no confidence in the oppositions of the capitalist political parties nor in the union bureaucracy. We are the combative and democratic opposition to the union bureaucracy built to serve capitalist political parties. The Plenary of Lanus and its resolutions are an important point of support to struggle for a new leadership for the workers movement.

2) We can already see the consequences of the deepening of austerity measures with the pact between Macri and the IMF: the accelerated devaluation of the peso which translates into a generalized price hike which strikes against the value of our salaries, the permanent fee hikes, the hundreds of new layoffs, a criminalization of workers protest which is ever more clear (as can be seen with the persecution of militants in the Subway, the Red Cross, INTI and the Hospital of Posadas) and in the increase of repression in all its forms: with detentions and with the political, judicial and media persecution of militants.

The effort to allow the Argentinian Military to engage in internal repression shows the fear of a new popular rebellion from a government which is debilitated and weakened by its own failures.

Argentina is a concentrated expression of the world capitalist crisis. The government of Macri is empowering this crisis through the contradictions of its own economic program based on the accumulation of foreign debt, the Financial Bicycle [term used for a speculative financial operation in which dollars are brought in, traded for pesos at high rates of interest, traded back into dollars and than withdrawn], and the robbery of our natural resources; in this way the government of Cambiemos has not done anything but advanced further along the path already started under the Kirchnerist government.

State workers have been systematically attacked. The thousands of layoffs made easy by years of increasingly precarious employment have been combined with the hollowing out of strategic areas for science, technology and energy. This is the case with INTI and also with the Rio Turbio mine. The same has happened with Healthcare and Public Education: budgetary suffocation is combined with reforms aimed to increase privatization as in the example of the CUS in Healthcare. We must nationalize the educational budget which must be 100% state-run.

The Lanus Plenary and its resolutions aim to offer a response to these brutal attacks on the conditions of life of active and retired workers. We advance the intervention of the working class on a massive scale with its own methods: the assembly, the strike and mobilization.

The demand for an “Active Strike and a Plan of Struggle” aims to deepen the popular rebellion which was expressed in the December protests against retirement reform and in the massive mobilization of women for the legalization of abortion - a mobilization in which more than a million took to the streets for a right which has been fought for over decades.

The mobilization on the basis of the self-activity of workers in each business, school, university and neighborhood, with the support of other popular sectors as occurred with the Cacerolas [Popular protests in which people gather on the streets to make noise with cookware or through chanting] on the night of December 18th, is the only force capable of defeating Macri and the IMF.

3) After insisting upon a maximum salary increase of 15% which the teachers of Neuquen defeated with a historic strike of 43 days, the government now offers the CGT a 5% salary increase spread across two payments - one which requires agreement from businesses and which excludes millions of state employees. This new increase is a joke in the face of inflation which reaches 30% annually.

We demand that salary negotiations be re-opened with clauses including automatic adjustment. Following the example of the teachers of Neuquen: negotiating committees should be elected by the workers and with mandates from assemblies. We also demand an emergency increase in what is paid to the retired.

Many bosses have closed their plants - totally or partially - in order to dedicate themselves to importation while shielding themselves behind supposedly high labor costs (when Argentine salaries in dollar values have been going down). With this they apply pressure on the work day, on collective contracts and more broadly in favor of labor reform. We do not accept the trap of cutting salaries to avoid layoffs. Along the same lines, the raising of the retirement age blocks the entry of new young layers to the workplace and increases unemployment. The Plenary of Combative Unionism rejects this blackmail and proposes to nationalize under workers control any company which closes or lays off workers.

4) The rejection of the Labor Reform, the defense of collective contracts and of recuperated businesses under workers control, should be combined with other deeper measures such as the nationalization of privatized business to end the utility hikes, the state monopoly on external commerce to combat the closing of industries, the nationalization of banks to stop capital flight and, fundamentally, the non-payment of the external debt among other measures.

We stand for the political independence of workers and propose these measure as part of a workers solution to the crisis. One which is based on collective deliberation and which elaborates a program of industrialization and national development under workers leadership to guarantee work, wages, health, education and housing for all the Argentinian people.

We salute the struggle of the miners of Rio Turbio in defense of their jobs, the teachers strikes of Sutebas, Ademys and of Conadu, the strike and mobilizations of state workers and teachers in Chubut, the Metalworkers of Aluar, the occupation of the San Isidro Sugar Processing Plant by the sugar workers of Salta, the struggle of the Light and Force Union in Cordoba in defense of their contract, the strike and encampment of municipal workers in Rio Gallegos against the salary cap of Alicia Kirchner, the struggle of Inti, of Posadas, of the Subways, of Telam, of the Red Cross and many others. The plenary of Lanus is an instrument to help bring them active support and solidarity.

We are also part of the struggle of social organizations and piqueteros [A term which comes from the protests and pickets which emerged to demand employment by the unemployed] for genuine work, for the formal employment of all those in precarious employment, for the increase of social plans to the minimum salary and the expansion of this to all the unemployed.

We reject co-optation through “reconciliation negotiations” promoted by the government which have ended in complete frustration; we denounce that the social plans are utilized to push forward precarity in labor and structural poverty. We advance the United Front of all the organizations because austerity is devouring the very politics of assistance once promoted from power and from the IMF.

Program

1) For the reopening of salary negotiations without caps, for all state and private sector workers. For a living wage. For the doubling of the minimum living wage adjusted to inflation and the doubling of the minimum retirement plans. For the automatic adjustment of salaries according to inflation. For elected negotiating committees with mandates from assemblies of all workers from each union.

2) For the revocation of the reform and the rejection of the new provisional law, the readjustment of the bosses contributions which were reduced since 1993 by the government of Menem and Cavallo. 82% of the active salary for all retirees.

3) For the prohibition of all state and private layoffs. The reincorporation of all those fired. For the redistribution of available hours among all workers without affecting the salary. For the crisis to be paid by the capitalists and not the workers. For the occupation of and strikes in any company which goes bankrupt, closes or implements massive layoffs: expropriating them without indemnification under workers control. Support for the expropriation and workers management of Ceramica Neuqeun. For the unconditional defense of all businesses recuperated under workers control.

4) For the move to permanent employment for all those contracted and in precarious labor relations with the State. For the move to collective bargaining for all contracted and sub-contracted workers, following the collective agreement in place for the formal workers. For genuine work.

5) For the demands of the woman worker: equal salaries, extension of maternity and paternity leave, daycare rooms in workplaces, a Womans day, days off in cases of domestic violence. For the approval of the law of Complete Secular Education in the province of Buenos Aires (It is half approved) and its extension throughout the rest of the country. Legal, secure and free abortion. Separation of the Church and State.

6) Against the Labor Reform and the extension of the retirement age. For the defense of collective bargaining agreements. Against the flexibilization of labor agreements. For collective bargaining voted by general assemblies in each union.

7) For the definitive end of the Income Tax for the salaries from collective agreements. For the application of the Income Tax to the income of Judges, high public functionaries and private management positions.

8) Annulment of the utility and fee hikes. Open up the books of the privatized service companies and for their nationalization under workers control.

9)For the nationalization of the railways and the subway under the control of workers and users. Full nationalization, without indemnification, of the ports, hydrocarbons, mining and of all strategic resources under the control of workers.

Out with the intervention of Vidal [Governor of Buenos Aires] in the shipyard of Rio Santiago. For a special fund for its reactivation under workers control.

Complete nationalization of the education system. Down with anti-education laws!

No to the CUS. No to the hollowing out of the IOMA. Justice for the teacher Gabriela Ciuffarella (died shortly after the IOMA refused to provide her cancer medication).

10) For the state monopoly of external commerce under workers control, to distribute the profits and rent for the re-industrialization of the country.

11) For the nationalization of banks to end capital flight.

12) No to the payment of the external debt. Down with the Macri-IMF pact.

13) For a new combative and anti-bureaucratic leadership of the workers movement based on union democracy and the political independence of workers. For the repeal of the Law of Union Associations, a law which expands the dominion of the bureaucracy.

14) For the political independence of the workers. We support a complete workers solution to the crisis which ensures that the capitalists are those who pay, through an economic plan under the leadership of the workers.

Plan of Action

1) Push for the general strike of June 25th - called by the CGT with the CTA adhering - to have a mass character with organized actions, blockades and protests throughout the country. This should express the repudiation of the government, the IMF and the governor. We will put forward continuing the struggle through a new, active strike of 36 hours with a protest in the Plaza de Mayo.

2) Support the planned protests for June 26th at Pueyrredon Bridge on the anniversary of the assassination of Kostek and Santillan, as well as the federal protest for legalized abortion.

3) Organize a national day of struggle and mobilization for salaries and work on July 12th. Advance a mobilization plan which includes a new general strike of 36 hours for all the demands put forward by the Lanus Plenary.

4) Organize a protest at the Chubut governor’s office for the triumph of all the workers struggles in this province.

5) Organize a protest at the Council of the Minimum Wage (or the Ministry of Work) against increasing precarity in work. We will demand genuine, stable employment, the formalization of the workers co-operatives and show our support for the demands of social organizations. For the unity of the employed and unemployed. We support the national day of struggle of the unemployed on July 18th.

6) The organization of plenaries, forums and meetings at the provincial and regional level which use the model of this national plenary of combative unionism. These will push forward the resolutions and regional struggles and will also prepare a new national plenary towards the end of the year.

7) Launch a campaign to stop the start of classes throughout the country after the recess, as part of an action plan approved by rank and file assemblies of teachers. We will push at the National Education Congress for education to be in the service of social transformation and the working class.

8) We express solidarity with all the ongoing struggles in the country. We will promote a co-ordinating plan for actions which will unite them and empower them to be victorious.

9) Legal abortion now! No confidence in the Parliament. We will promote actions and campaigns in all workplaces to advance the mobilization of women and of all workers to win this right. We will promote actions and mobilizations nationwide to once again surround the Congress the day that the Senate will debate it. We will demand that the unions take up a nationwide strike this day. Everyone to the streets until abortion is legal! Separation of Church and State.

10) We repudiate all forms of political, judicial and police persecution which the government is unleashing to try and discipline the working class, the youth and women. We demand an end to the persecution and an end to the judicial processes against the militants from the December protests. For the judgment and punishment of the assassins of Rafael Nahuel and Santiago Maldonado. Freedom for Jones Hual. Down with the Security Protocol. No to the intervention of the Military in internal repression. Out with Bullrich! Freedom for Rodney Alvarez, a worker activist imprisoned for more than 7 years in Venezuela.

11) We will organize protests against the meeting of the G20 which will be on December 1st in Buenos Aires.

12) We will continue with the provisional co-ordination of combative unionism which organized the National Plenary of Lanus, adding new sectors which support the plan of action and the program.

Lanús, June 23, 2018