Tag Archives: Teachers’ Strike

Reformism A Trap to Maintain Bosses’ Power

MEXICO — In recent years, many very militant movements have arisen, producing problems for the ruling class. These include the mass struggle of APPO and teachers in Oaxaca; the miners in Pasta de Conchos in the state of Coahuila; the peasants in San Salvador Atenco in the State of Mexico; as well as the very militant movements of the Ford workers, and the recent struggle among the taxi drivers who put the transportation bosses in check (including the local government).

All this demonstrates the immense potential of the working class. However, it also shows a lack of sufficient organization and above all the understanding that to truly liberate ourselves from the bosses’ yoke, we will have to struggle for a real communist revolution.

In these struggles we’ve fought for crumbs, even though workers made the whole cake. No sooner do we win small wage increases (reforms), they take them away by raising prices on basic products, speed-up, layoffs and even jailings and death. We need to take the means of production away from the bosses. We don’t need them because we’re the ones who produce everything. Yet the bosses live like kings without working.

If we fight under the bosses’ laws, we’ve already lost, since capitalism’s laws are designed to protect the interests of capital. When someone goes against the bosses’ interests, we’re repressed by the bosses’ police and sentenced in the bosses’ courts, accused of “terrorism,” drug trafficking or whatever other crime they can invent.

Government branches that supposedly “defend” workers’ interests — the Department of Labor, the Congress of Labor, human rights groups, etc. — are regulated by the capitalists’ government. We workers will always lose under the bosses’ laws; all our efforts get turned around.

Given the treadmill of reform, the working class needs to build a long-term struggle — participating in reform struggles but understanding that workers need to be politicized and consciously see the nature of the reform struggle, to understand how capitalism functions. We must primarily recognize that racism, nationalism, sexism and religion are ideological tools manufactured and used by the ruling class to keep dividing our class and subject us to the bosses’ interests.

Even if momentarily we win some crumbs from the bosses, as the taxi drivers here who formed a cooperative, sooner or later the bosses and their government will end up controlling the movement through their laws, or corrupting the leadership as has been the case in other movements.

It’s not that we distrust these workers, but it’s our obligation as a Party to warn about how
capitalism functions. Such analyses can prevent the capitalist system from co-opting us, from allying ourselves with one or another branch of the ruling class, which doesn’t help our class in any way.

As we participate in these class struggles, we workers must make our main priority building the Progressive Labor Party, with mass CHALLENGE networks, so that we can continue giving leadership to the international working class. Our goal is building a communist society that liberates us forever from all the misery of capitalism.

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FRANCE: Teachers’ Strike in 130 Cities Against Gov’t Cuts

PARIS, May 16 — Yesterday, according to the government’s understated figures, 860,000 public workers struck against job cuts and government policies dismantling public services, demonstrating in over 130 cities. It was particularly strong in education, with over half of junior and senior high school teachers and nearly two-thirds of primary school teachers on strike. Large contingents of high school students livened up the protests.

In Marseilles and five other cities, teachers’ general assemblies voted to renew their strike on May 19, in some cases over the opposition of the union leaders. They hope to spark a break with the ritual 24-hour protest strike.

Longer and more intense strikes are needed to force the government to back down from the 22,900 education job losses programmed in the 2008 budget. Indeed, President Nicolas Sarkozy’s reaction to yesterday’s walkout was to propose new strike-breaking laws to “protect” the “right to work.”

The government’s onslaught on public workers — which includes last year’s elimination of special retirement plans for mainly rail workers performing particularly hard jobs — is not driven solely by budget-balancing needs, after giving the rich tax breaks of 222 million euros ($350 million) in 2007 (to increase this year). Privatizing public services is also part of the bosses’ strategy to cut wages and benefits for ALL workers.

France’s 5,000,000 public workers cannot be laid off or fired for union activity as easily as private-sector workers. They form the core of the French trade union movement. About 15% of public workers belong to unions, as against 5% of private-sector workers.

Given that French bosses are competing with rivals worldwide, they need to smash the French labor movement in order to maximize profits. For instance, while from 1996 to 2007, labor costs in Germany fell 5%, they rose 20% in France. (Charlie Hebdo, 5/7/2008) Nevertheless, with inflation, real wages in France have fallen 4.2% in the private sector and 7.0% in the public sector since 1994. (Council on Employment, Income and Social Cohesion)

Furthermore, French bosses are participating in on-going wars to re-divide the world. The French expeditionary force in Afghanistan now numbers 3,200 soldiers, and France is suspected of having tried to overthrow Sudan’s government (Le Canard Enchaîné, 5/14/08). The bosses need a docile workforce on the home front.

Successful extension of the teachers’ strike movement would build the May 22nd national strike called by all the major unions to protest government plans to increase the number of work-years needed for a full retirement pension. Previous pension “reform” laws have already led to a 30% relative fall in pensions as against wages. Air France and rail-worker unions have joined the strike call.

While it’s necessary to fight against job cuts and for decent pensions, as long as capitalism exists so will the bosses’ drive to increase exploitation and launch imperialist wars.      That’s why workers here and worldwide must go beyond struggles to “reform” capitalism and organize for communist revolution to destroy capitalism. J

BULLETIN  May 19 — About 40,000 teachers and their supporters demonstrated in Paris yesterday. An inter-trade union federation meeting today proposed no action except to renew the call, initially launched by the French PTA, for a demonstration on May 24. It also ignores the high school students’ protest movement. In short, most of the union “leaders” are doing everything they can to alienate the teachers’ potential allies and keep the movement “manageable.”
In such a situation, communists put forward organizing the widest possible support for striking teachers, forging the links necessary to help develop the revolutionary potential of the working class.

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Oaxaca’s Mass Struggle Leads To PLP Growth

  Oaxaca, MEXICO, Feb. 15 — Today, 70 thousand teachers of Section 22 of the SNTE carried out a one day strike and mass marches to protest against the state government and Governor Ulises Ruiz. Teachers demanded that the jailed political prisoners be freed (teachers, students and workers arrested during the teachers strike of 2006), better working conditions, and that the schools taken over by the state and given to Section 59 (supporters of the fascist governor) be returned.

  The fight between Oaxaca’s working class and the government began when the teacher’s union demanding a better contract had confrontations with the police in which several of its members where beaten and another killed. This event unleashed years of Oaxaca’s workers’ pent up anger at the government that has done nothing to improve the massive poverty, racism against indigenous people, and unemployment in the area, and has instead used the police to savagely oppress students and workers who demand better conditions. A coalition of different community based and student organizations, as well as, the teachers’ union and political parties formed APPO (Asemblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca) to lead a struggle which took over major roads, schools, government buildings, and radio stations in Oaxaca. The struggle climaxed in the fall of last year when students and workers bravely fought several battles against the Mexican government’s federal police over control of Oaxaca. Eventually, the Mexican government prevailed over the APPO led forces taking Oaxaca back and imprisoning leaders of the struggle.

  Now, a little over a year later workers and students who participated in this struggle continue to fight. Teachers are fighting to change Sec. 22’s leadership whom they blame for having sold out during last year’s struggle. Many workers and students also blame APPO leaders for too closely allying themselves with mainstream political parties like Lopez Obrador’s PRD. More importantly, teachers, workers and students are talking about the movement’s strengths and weaknesses. What went wrong? Why did it fail?

  Overall, the struggle in Oaxaca has elevated the political consciousness of workers and students.  Members of PLP have participated in these struggles and in these discussions inside the teachers’ union and on university campuses.

  Recently, at a neighborhood committee led by teachers, a group of PLP’ers gave a political economy presentation explaining how the capitalist system is responsible for the exploitation and oppression of workers. They also pointed out that the movement was limited primarily by the reformist politics put forth by its leadership. One teacher agreed and stated that fundamental and permanent change would only come as a result of a revolution; but to take on the Mexican government we need communist ideas and, to defeat it, armed struggle for workers’ power. The PLP’ers introduced CHALLENGE/DESAFIO and argued that the most difficult part of the struggle is the one over ideas and developing a political understanding that enables workers to build a movement with a long term and revolutionary communist outlook. The discussion concluded with the committee agreeing to organize a study group based on CHALLENGE/DESAFIO and other PLP literature.

  As a result of PLPer’s participation in this movement, the Party has grown and strengthened. Many students and workers in Oaxaca know about PLP and respect its principled stance on the need for revolutionary communism. Now, as workers and students reflect on the lessons learned from the struggle, they are more open and willing to learn about PLP and its politics.

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Puerto Rico Teachers Defy Strike Ban

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO, January 29 — Over 500 teachers picketed the Caguas region of the Department of Education as more than 25,000 members of the Puerto Rican Federation of Teachers (FMPR) prepared to strike February 1 for higher wages, better working and school conditions and against the strike-breaking Law 45, which calls for firing of public workers who strike. The teachers are also fighting the bosses’ media and union hacks affiliated with the AFL-CIO who actually support Law 45 containing the strike-breaking clause. The government decertified the FMPR for violating this anti-strike law.
These militant teachers deserve the support of all teachers in the U.S. and internationally. It is a particularly important struggle for public workers in the U.S. who face the same kind of union-busting law.

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