More than 200 people, including delegates and guests, founded the Working Class Confederation last November 20th in Paraguay (WCC), “a classist, democratic and pro-fighting organization which struggles for the working class rights and interests, for the peasantry rights and other popular areas of our country”, said the new president of the new organization, Julio López.
“We believe that it is time we made a qualitative leap and consider the need to build up this new fighting tool to be consolidated as the leadership of a workers’ sector, aiming to be at head of the unions, the social movement and the grassroots movement in Paraguay”, said Lopez.
The founding congress of the new organization was held in the premises of the Ministry of Finance Workers Association, located in Lambaré and for almost ten hours, the 190 accredited delegates from 21 unions of public sector, seven of the private sector, three rural organizations and two grassroots organizations, discussed the form and character of the new organization.
“The delegates voted unanimously for a line of work based on the coordination and unification of the struggles to face the government’s neoliberal economic plans”, said Lopez, who is also Secretary General of the Catholic University Union of Asuncion.
Who will join the WCC
Under the statute approved in Congress, it may join the WCC: unions and federations, organizations of poor peasants, indigenous people, grassroots movement organizations, organizations for the children, organizations for teenagers, young workers organizations, all those organizations that fight against discrimination and oppression, as well as those who choose to participate in the working class struggles, without distinction of ideas, activism and political opinion, sex, race, religion or nationality.
“The Confederation will continue the work developed by the Labor Coordinating Bureau aiming at advancing the process of reorganizing the labor movement, raising the banners of absolute respect for the principles of solidarity with those who struggle, for the class independence, for trade union autonomy, for the workers’ democracy and for proletarian internationalism”, said Lopez.
Class Independence: The WCC bases its existence and guides its actions under the class independence principle, which means it is, and shall be politically and ideologically independent of the exploiters and oppressors. WCC expresses itself through the promotion and defense, solely and exclusively, of the urban and peasant workers’ rights against capitalist exploitation. This class independence means that the Central will be politically, economically, financially and administratively independent of the state, of the government, of the capitalists and of the political parties that serve the employers interests, as the Central regards them as being contrary to the workers’ rights, interests and projects.
Autonomy: The WCC is and will be an autonomous organization, that is, ruled and governed by its own statutes and constituted bodies of leadership and of legitimate decision. It does not accept or tolerate any dependence chipping its sovereignty from political parties, from the State and church or other outside entities. The WCC entities and bodies are the ones who will decide before it, that is to say, with sovereignty, its policies, programs and actions. This autonomy and sovereignty does not mean that it is apolitical. The WCC shall take a position on political developments in society and does not restrict, in any way, the ideas, the views and partisan activism of its components.
Unity and Class Solidarity in the struggle and for the Struggle: Unity enshrines a principle because it is vital for the struggles of both defense and rights conquest for the working class. It is not simply the unit for getting people together or for the defense of spurious and illegitimate interests outside the working class, but as a means to fight successfully and accordingly to the interests and rights of the working class.
This scenario postulates the principle of Active Solidarity with the demands and struggles of the several workers branches as well as with oppressed and discriminated groups. This solidarity is expressed in the support and backing of the struggles against attacks and violations of labor and unions rights, against impunity given to those who violate labor laws and judicial decisions. This Active Solidarity also supports the fight of all working sectors that struggle against all forms of exploitation, oppression and discrimination and struggle for a better quality of life.
Workers Democracy: The WCC will be governed by a wide and deep working democracy and will promote its principles in all unions and organizations taking part of the Confederation. WCC will disregard centralized and bureaucratic model, typical of societies and organizations that support exploitation and oppression. It is necessary to take decisions upon the most comprehensive and participatory discussions on the grassroots, for which WCC will adopt tools to ensure internal democracy and respect for diversity for the purpose of mobilizing the broadest sectors of the working class, generating sense of belonging, enthusiasm and prevent bureaucratic processes with all its dire consequences.
Workers Internationalism: The struggle of the working class takes place at the national and international level because it faces a global system of exploitation and oppression, under the rule of Capital and the bourgeois plans and projects. In fact, WCC is in line with the struggles of the workers of Latin America and the whole world which, in their respective countries, resist the capitalist policies, reject the attacks of imperialism and seek a better quality of life, a life with dignity.
Therefore, the WCC will promote and participate in international solidarity campaigns, will join the working class networks and organizations on an international level.
The highest level of leadership is the National Leading Council (NLC), composed of representatives of each of the member organizations, who in turn elect a National Executive Committee (NEC), which will run the Confederation on a daily basis. The NLC is subordinate to the Congress decisions.
In a congressional recess, the National Leading Council (NLC) held a meeting to elect the NEC, which, in addition to Lopez, became composed by: Oscar Benitez (First Union of Finance Ministry Workers), as Vice President, Vicente Ruiz Diaz (Union of Workers of the Educational Center Itauguá), as Secretary General; Nilda Alvarado (Union of Civil Servants of the Army Administration), as Deputy Secretary General; Blanca Roa (Union of Forestry Technicians), as Secretary of Meeting Minutes and Rolando Maida (Union of Dockers) as Secretary of Finance.
Programme for action
The WCC Congress approved, by vote of the delegates, the programme that includes claims such as: wage adjustment to recover its purchasing power; for a vital and sliding scale of minimum wage in the private and public sector, that is, an automatic rise in wages in relation to the increase in price of consumer goods; the freezing of the family shopping basket price; the price control of most needed products; the right for full employment; the restitution of Acquired Rights of 6 hours’ working day for the State employees; the 6 hours’ working day for all workers; the demand that the government grants jobless benefits and the organization of the unemployed.
Restless opposition to labor flexibilization, respect for job stability, opposition to the privatization of public companies and natural resources; for the defense of social security based on a solidarity distribution system; opposition to social insurance privatization; for decent pensions. The WCC will also fight for a Nation General Budget to respond to the working class interests; for the non-payment of foreign debt; against the social struggles criminalization; against the “Terrorism Act”; against layoffs; against union persecution and for the freedom of organization.
Working Women’s Rights
The WCC programme includes a special topic in defense of the working women rights. It also demands equal pay for equal work. Equality in all occupations for women. Persistent fight against sexual harassment; stop with the submission of working women; rights of the pregnant women on the strict compliance with the laws that protect women during pregnancy; for the end of double workload; public restaurants, public laundries and nurseries in all districts and work places, legal equality for domestic work.
For the right to decent living conditions – For the right to decent housing
The vast majority of workers do not have a house to live in or the houses they live in are in poor conditions. There are thousands of families who do not have access to a real estate on which they can build their house. There are those who live in degraded neighborhoods because of the lack of spaces, because of poor public services, without basic urban infrastructure. WCC includes within its membership popular organizations – the Homeless and families living in the outskirts of towns.
Radical Land Reform
Land Reform is a national problem, not only for the rural areas. If performed, the Land Reform could solve great social problems, such as poverty, unemployment, decompression of the shantytowns, to lower the crime rate, as well as to stop the massive migration to cities, with settlement and consolidation of rural families in the countryside which would greatly improve their living standard.
Paraguay is among the highest land concentration countries in the world. According to the last agricultural census, 85% of agricultural lands are in the hands of 2.6% of the landowners. We are saying that 351 large landowners have 40% of all land in Paraguay. 366,000 hectares of small and medium farmers have disappeared, while the big landowners increased their land by 9 million hectares, i.e. increased concentration of land in the hands of a minority. About 20,000 small farms families lost their properties in the past 18 years and during that same period, some 32,000 small farmers lost their cattle properties.
The vast majority of peasants are fighting for access to land and property titling. The number one task is to engage, encourage and lead the conquest of the land, fighting for the confiscation of the large landowners’ properties without compensation.
Land is a right, a social good, it is a productive force the peasants need to produce; it is not a commodity. In this context and with this understanding about the land role, WCC will fight for the immediate recovery of public lands that were aimed at settlements and are illegally in the hands of business men and agribusiness, mostly Brazilian and transnational enterprises.
There are also lands in the hands of state financial institutions and the Army. For WCC it is necessary to fight for the recovery of all those lands, as well as those that were stolen from the State or poorly allocated by previous governments so that they can be forwarded to settlements. WCC will also fight for an agricultural insurance implementation to cover the costs caused by natural disasters.
Land Social ownership
WCC will encourage social ownership and collective land farming (community) and states that a real land reform must include three aspects: access to land; affordable sowing and trading conditions.
The Working Class Confederation (WCC) states that capitalist exploitation is the same in all countries, which are part of a single global economy dominated by a handful of rich countries. The Paraguayan workers struggle is part of the workers’ struggles around the world.
The WCC construction is inserted within the struggles of other unions in Latin America and in the world against neoliberal policies and imperialist aggressions and in their struggle for a dignified life.
“We are aware that international solidarity and workers’ unity around the world are necessary and our obligation is to turn it into reality. The task for freeing workers from exploitation is not limited to one country only, but must be developed in all countries of the world”, says the WCC program.
Therefore, the new organization will promote coordination and partnership with other unions and social organizations of other countries whose programmes and principles are in line with those advocated by the WCC in order to support solidarity campaigns and struggles on a continent level.
Finally, the Working Class Confederation is committed to fighting in defense of sovereignty, for a true Latin American integration and for the Second Independence of Paraguay and Latin America.