• 22 abr 2019

    Open letter to trade unions, movements and political parties who are claimed by workers’ democracy

The reason for this letter concerns the repression that the members of the Revolutionary Worker Party (Partido Operário Revolucionário – POR) suffered from the ABC Metallurgical Union. At the Ford assembly on March 26th, a group of five bureaucracy’s lackeys[1] surrounded one of the militants who was distributing the Our Class Bulletin and tried to drag him behind the buses parked in the yard. One of the militants screamed so that our comrade wouldn’t be beaten. This description is important because it shows the repressive method used by the trade union bureaucracy in its assemblies. This method is to use violence, preferably far from the eyes of the workers and the whole assembly.

The Our Class Bulletins were wrested from our comrade’s hands, before they were able to sketch the slightest reaction. The lackey pushed and said, so as not to attract the attention of the assembly, “we do not need you here.” At the moment, from the top of the sound truck, the CUT representative, João Cayres, was speaking. José Quixabeira (Paraíba) then denounced the Our Class Bulletin as if it were a dangerous infiltrate in the movement against Ford’s closure. After the assembly, our comrades went to Rafael Marques and João Cayres and denounced the violence against the POR militant. They asked why the bulletins were wrested and why Our Class could not be distributed to the assembly. One of the lackeys present replied that we were not authorized to distribute. One comrade replied, “We do not need to ask anyone’s permission.” Rafael Marques said that nobody was prevented from distributing bulletins. But the fact is that a part of the bulletins was confiscated by the group of lackeys. The rest of Our Class was eventually distributed at Ford’s entry gate after the assembly.

There is a precedent, which also needs to be told. At the assembly on March 19th, there was the same repression of the Bulletin Our Class. On the same day, meetings of school representatives (Apeoesp) took place. A militant of the party made the denunciation at the teachers’ meetings and presented a motion in defense of freedom of expression and trade union democracy. In Lapa, the discussion was atrocious with the PT’s trade unionists, who said they could not vote on the motion because there was no evidence. It was clear that the POR had no reason to make such a complaint. And most importantly, the POR has a tradition of defending and practicing revolutionary morality. The plenary voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motion. At the meeting of Apeoesp State Council, on the 22nd, the POR filed the complaint. The union leadership asked if we had names of those who had practiced the repression. And said that they would check the problem and that they were in favor of the freedom to distribute the bulletin and show solidarity with Ford’s closure. Now, again, there was aggression. The union leadership can consult Rafael Marques and João Cayres, asking them the names of the aggressors.

It is important to be clear that Ford’s board of directors was well aware of the decision to wrest the Bulletin Our Class from the militant. However, Marques and Cayres turned into Democrats in our presence. The admission of the seriousness of the fact depends on the political and class point of view of who evaluates it. For our part, we understand that the use of violence against the distribution of the Bulletin Our Class is of antidemocratic

and counterrevolutionary character. This kind of violence belongs to the bourgeois state and to the private police of the capitalists. The bourgeoisie does not admit the existence of a combat syndicalism based on workers’ democracy. The anti-strike law is based on the prohibition, through state power, of the exercise of workers’ democracy. This same State has in its Constitution the formal right of expression. This right only applies to bourgeois institutions. The moment a trade union leadership violates the right of expression, it places itself as an agent of the state in the worker’s movement.

It seems incomprehensible that the PT leadership uses this method when it denounces the violation of bourgeois democracy itself in the face of the coup d’état, which overthrew the government of Dilma Rousseff and arrested Lula without showing concrete evidence of corruption. This apparent incoherence can be explained by the fact that the trade union bureaucracy in general, and in particular the PT, opposes workers’ democracy. It seems insignificant that a group of lackeys wrested the bulletins in an assembly. It happens that this punctual event is a symptom of the advance of the authoritarian tendencies of decomposing capitalism.

What is the fear of union leadership, if they themselves said in the assembly that the Bulletin Our Class was of a small group and that it only wanted to take advantage of the movement? The fear is that the Our Class Bulletin exposed and defended, within the movement against Ford’s closure, a response and a political line totally opposed to that of the union’s leadership. The repression was set against a proletarian position, completely coherent and legitimate in the defense of jobs and against the mutilation of the productive forces internal to the Country.

We know that the positions of the Bulletin Our Class could not be assumed by the workers of Ford, due to the extreme control exercised by the union bureaucracy. The leadership also has this same rating. The problem is that the Bulletin Our Class concretely put for Ford’s metallurgists and for the working class as a whole two opposing positions to face the closure of the factory. The workers could rebel against the leadership negotiations, which will inevitably lead to defeat. They did not rebel. And if they do not rebel, they will suffer the harsh consequences of dismissal and unemployment. More important, however, is that Ford’s defeat is a defeat for every working class. The Bulletin Our Class clearly outlined the two paths: that of predictable defeat and that of possible victory. The union leadership did not admit that its defeatist policy was contested. Therein lies the political content that led to the use of bureaucratic violence against the Bulletin Our Class.

This Open Letter aims not only to make our defense, but also the general defense of workers’ democracy. Its implication is wide. We live in the age of decaying capitalism, the decay of bourgeois democracy, the advance of barbarism, the recrudescence of the class struggle, and therefore the need of the bourgeoisie to stifle any manifestation and embryo of workers’ democracy. The democratic struggle is undoubtedly of great importance for the exploited to resist and advance the fight against all forms of bourgeois authoritarianism. One cannot ignore the commitment of the fascist and fascist currents to gain ground and become an alternative bourgeois force capable of responding to the structural crisis of capitalism with the methods of counterrevolutionary violence.

The coup d’état of 2016 and the election of Bolsonaro is part of the projection of authoritarian and fascistic tendencies everywhere. The cassation of Lula’s political rights was used precisely to prevent his candidacy from hampering the continuation of the coup. The application of discretionary methods is a visible symptom of the impasses of oligarchic democracy in Brazil. Impasse that has in its base the economic debacle of the Country and the potentiation of the social crisis. In this process, we witnessed the imposition of labor reform, and now we are facing pension reform. The Ford lock, as one can see, is not a bolt out of the blue. The working class is paying dearly for the PT policy of class reconciliation and the absence of independent organization of the state and the patronage.

The episode of violence against the Bulletin Our Class would have less transcendence, was otherwise the political situation. We recall that, at the 1998 Ford strike, the Our Class Bulletin was present. At the time, we also suffered the action of the union lackeys. The importance of the fact is that it marked the path that would take the automaker. Mass layoffs were made and numerous concessions obtained by the North American multinational. None of this has avoided the disaster that comes now. The bottom line of experience is that the workers’ movement finds itself weaker: disarmed by its methods of struggle, its collective organization, and its program. That weakness shows why Ford was able to announce the closure of one of its factories and simply face no resistance from ABC’s metallurgists, who held the glorious journey of the late 1970s and 1980s.

Labor democracy in the labor movement almost disappeared, and in particular the ABC metallurgical union was eliminated. Attacks against any attempt to form opposition have become a norm. It is expected that the authoritarian bureaucracy will use violence against the Bulletin Our Class, despite shouting for democracy in the face of the arbitrariness that led Lula to prison.

This Open Letter goes far beyond the legitimate defense of the Bulletin Our Class being distributed without the permission of anyone. It is a manifesto in defense of workers’ democracy! A manifesto against Ford’s closure! A manifesto in defense of jobs! A manifesto by the independent organization of the working class!


[1] In the Portuguese letter we used the word bate-pau, which means the bureaucracy’s employees that use gangster violent methods against the militants. “Lackey” is used in the lack of finding a term that suits better.