Postal and telecommunications workers say Hands Off Venezuela!

Hands Off Venezuela was represented at the official Latin America fringe meeting at the annual conference of the Communication Workers' Union in Bornemouth.

cwu07audience.jpgOn Sunday the 3rd of June Hands off Venezuela attended the CWU conference in Bournmouth. That same evening the CWU executive organised their first ‘Latin America' fringe meeting. The meeting was chaired and organised by Jane Loftus (now elected president of the union) and was introduced by the union's general secretary Billy Hayes, as an indication of the importance the union gives to international solidarity work.

There were speakers representing the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign, Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Justice For Colombia, VICUK and the Hands Off Venezuela Campaign.

 CWU general secretary Billy Hayes

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign brought a Cuban doctor, Carlos Dupuy, who had been part of the Cuban medical relief operation in Kashmir. He explained how after the hurricane Katrina hit the United States, the first countries to offer help were Cuba and Venezuela. Carlos himself volunteered to be part of this medical relief team and was ready in a Havana airport, ready to leave at a moment's notice. The United States administration never accepted the offer for help, and finally the contingent was sent to Kashmir.

Jorge Martín, who spoke for the Hands Off Venezuela campaign, answered the question from a member of the audience about "what is socialism of the 21st century and how is this relevant to workers in Venezuela and abroad". He explained some of the gains the workers have already made during the Bolivarian revolution (the plan to reduce the working week to 36 hours, the highest minimum wage in Latin America, the announcement of the re-nationalisation of privatised utilities, the setting up of the National Workers' Union, the experiences of workers' control and management, amongst others). Telecommunication workers in audience were particularly pleased to hear about the re-nationalisation of CANTV. Jorge also explained some of the challenges that are still to be tackled for the revolution to be victorious and how Chávez and the revolutionary movement were attempting to deal with those.

cwu071.jpgThe intervention was a resounding success with the CWU members present displaying a keenness to support the processes in Venezuela. In closing the meeting Jorge replied to the question of how CWU members can help the Bolivarian revolution. He said that the CWU as such has already affiliated to Hands Off Venezuela and that it was now the turn to  make sure individual branches and regions of the union also affiliated to the campaign and invited speakers to their meetings. He also added that in the last instance the best way to defend the Bolivarian revolution was to "prepare the conditions for revolution here" which was received by an enthusiastic applause.  

As well as the fringe meeting we managed to gather 4 pages of signatures in support of the CIPLA workers and raised a considerable amount of money through merchandise sales. The CWU membership was very responsive to the HoV stall and there were many questions on the RCTV licence renewal and bias in the bourgeois press. Generally there was an air of solidarity and support for the workers of Venezuela. cwu07hamish.jpg

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