Argentina: Strike and plan of struggle agenda to end with austerity. We must demand it and prepare it from below

Jan 23, 2019 | Latin America

The government started 2019 trying to recover political protagonism and advancing in applying the pending austerity plan that the IMF is demanding. Anger is growing because of the utilities hikes, massive lay-offs and inflation. We could stop them, but the union leaderships refuse to organize a plan of struggle. We must demand it and start organizing it from the rank-and-file.

2018 started with announces of hikes in utilities and transport. Also, the data on poverty was made public: 33.6%. A few days ago they announced the poverty rise: 47.6%. New lay-offs and destruction of job posts. The closing of factories, leaving hundreds of workers without a job. They want to flexibilize in each workplace in order to try and pass the labor reform, while the IMF advices the government to raise the age of retirement and lower the pensions. A brutal pack.

Without the complicity of the bureaucracy this wouldn’t happen

The generalized bad mood and anger on the streets are undeniable: no one supports these measures. There are heroic conflicts resisting lay-offs and closings. On Fridays there are “ruidazos” against the hikes. But there isn’t any organized protest in the near future. With phased active general strikes, mobilizations and roadblocks across the country we could stop Macri, the governors and the bosses. We cannot blame the workers. There’s a clear responsibility: the leaders of the unions that say it’s not possible, divide the struggles or are direct accomplices of the austerity measures.

Without the traitor leaders (and the PJ) looking away in 2018, the economic plan and the Cambiemos government could have been defeated. The CGT ended 2018 suspending a much needed strike in exchange for a $5000 bonus that less than half of registered workers received, and in parts. Moyano, the Federal Current and the 21F coalition, critical of the triumvirate, instead of mobilizing against the budget, took part of the religious procession to Lujan. and 2019 begins much like 2018 ended: Daer saying that the problem is political and must be resolved in the elections. Yasky stating that we must “avoid strikes in an electoral year” and then organizing isolated marches with torches without any continuity. None of the sectors of the CTA have made a truly alternative proposal and an plan of action. In the meantime, there are more lay-offs in the state and private companies are closing.

The tacit agreement of governability is clear: letting Macri and the IMF apply their austerity plan, and then claiming that the solution is voting the PJ.

We must demand and impose a real plan of struggle from the bases. Last year, the working-cless mobilization generated strikes that the bureaucracy didn’t want, which halted Macri’s austerity measures, generating a political crisis.

Unity against the austerity measures and in favor of an alternative way out

As we state here and and in every conflict the ANCLA and the MST take part of, we need greater unity of action to stop the austerity plan. Accordingly, we marched in an independent column with the Plenary of Combative Syndicalism the day of the torches and mobilized to the neighborhoods on Fridays. But this isn’t enough. We need an plan of action that does not only challenge the austerity measures but also raises an alternative program so the powerful pay for the crisis.

Stopping the bleeding letting of the external debt, prohibiting lay-offs, canceling the utilities hikes, nationalizing public services, increasing the social budget, a progressive tax reform, among other measures. Activists must reclaim and set up assemblies, activist meetings, plenaries to promote measures of struggle, demand a strike and plan of action for the current problems, but also to propose these and other working-class measures.

The other challenge: building a new leadership

In addition to fighting for the strike and the plan of struggle, demanding this from the old leadership, we must also work to get rid of it and to build a new leadership of the workers movement based on a democratic union model. In ANCLA (trade union organization of the MST) we’re working on this, and as members of the Plenary of Combative Syndicalism, we’re calling to an open meeting on Monday 28 at the SUTNA headquarters. We will organize a massive mobilization against lay-offs and utilities hikes, but also support the struggles, advancing in the coordination and fortifying this unity of classicist syndicalism.

César Latorre y Guillermo Pacagnini