Labour & Trade Union News

After the success in raising solidarity for Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution at the British trade union conferences, the next step of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign will be the intervention at the Trades Union Congress in Brighton. NATFHE will move a resolution in support of Venezuela and the progressive policies of the government of president Hugo Chávez, committing the TUC to work with solidarity campaigns and to build links with Venezuelan trade unionists. NATFHE President John Wilkin, who has just returned from a trip to Venezuela in which he has established important links with the trade union and Bolivarian movement will be moving the motion. Find below the full text of the resolution and the amendments moved by other unions.

orlando_chirino.jpgAt the same time, a leading member of Venezuela's largest union, the National Workers Union, UNT, will be present at the TUC, having been invited by the National Union of Journalists and by Hands Off Venezuela. Orlando Chirino, who is a National Coordinator of the UNT, will be speaking at a fringe meeting, giving a unique chance to TUC delegates and other British trade unionists to hear first hand about the experiences and challenges facing the Venezuelan revolution and labour movement. Orlando Chirino is currently a member of the oil workers' union SINUTRAPETROL, but has more than 30 years experience in the trade union movement, particularly in the struggles of the textile workers in Valencia and Maracay. He will be speaking at a fringe meeting at the TUC on Wednesday and at a joint meeting on Colombia and Venezuela in London on Thursday, 15th.

Date: Wednesday, 14th September, 5.30pm (straight
after end of conference).
Venue: The Quality Hotel (2 mins from conference
centre), Brighton
Chair: Jeremy Dear (General Sec NUJ)
Speakers: Orlando Chirino, National Coordinator of the UNT, John Wilkin (President NATFHE, just returned from Venezuela), John McDonnell
MP, Bob Crow (General Secretary RMT) , Ruth Winters (President FBU)

79 Venezuela

Congress congratulates and supports the Venezuelan Government for its utilisation of the country's wealth and resources for reforms to benefit working people, the poor and the landless.

Congress notes the results of the referendum last August in Venezuela that gave President Hugo Chávez an overwhelming victory and a strengthened democratic mandate.

Congress further notes that these results confirm that there is overwhelming support among working people and the poor for the social programme of the Chávez Government in relation to education, literacy, job training, healthcare, land reform and subsidised food.

However, Congress views with alarm the bellicose statements being made by the US Administration and its allies in Colombia and the oligarchy in Venezuela which pose a real threat to these reforms.

Congress deplores the attempts of the United States Administration to intervene in the internal life of Venezuela and agrees to raise these concerns with the British Government.

Congress agrees to support wider trade union initiatives to highlight the issue of Venezuela within the British labour movement, including the organisation of a trade union delegation to meet and build links with Venezuelan trade unionists.

Furthermore, Congress will build and work with trade union endorsed organisations in the UK working to provide solidarity to Venezuela.

NATFHE - The University and College Lecturers' Union


Add at end of paragraph 5: 'Congress expresses its solidarity with trade unionists in Venezuela and rejects any outside interference in their affairs.'

Association of University Teachers


Add new paragraph at end:

'Congress is concerned about the lack of media coverage of events in Venezuela and urges the General Council to establish relations with the Venezuelan National Union of Workers (UNT) to ensure that news of trade union issues, at least, is more widely reported.'

Transport Salaried Staffs' Association


Add new paragraphs at end:

'Congress notes the independent poll in July that showed over 70% support for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. It also notes the Venezuelan threat to suspend oil exports to the US if attacks on its government continue.

Congress resolves to support the Venezuelan people's efforts to preserve their democratically elected government.'

Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen


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Activists of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign, joining over 90 trade unionists, members of Chicago and Cincinnati Bolivarian Circles and Latin American Solidarity Center supporters, marched to demand suspension of AFL-CIO financial support for the NED during the first day of the trade union federation's national convention in Chicago Sunday. The occasion also marked the introduction of the US Trade Union Appeal for the HOV campaign, which collected 73 signatures from  trade unionists of  15 different unions.

Signatories unions included the Teamsters, Teamsters Black Caucus, Carpenters Union, Millwrights, AFSCME (government workers,) Machinists, United Auto Workers, IURE, IBEW (electricians,) SEIU, Bloomington Federation of Teachers, NAL-CBR, BLET, NWU/UAW, AFT (teachers,) and the Chicago NEA (teachers.) Also signing the appeal were members of the IWW, Mexico Solidarity Network, Wellstone Action, Nicaragua Solidarity, and the Circle Bolivariana Cincinnati.

The starting rally at Chicago's Navy Pier began with speeches by former San Francisco Plumbers Union president Fred Hirsch, a long-time Latin American solidarity supporter, and represenatives of Chicago's Latin American Solidarity Center, which organized the day's events. The rally at Navy Pier also featured a Latin activist/singer. The loud and boisterous rally gained the attention and ear of many passers-by, headed to the downtown beach and recreation spot on the hottest ever recorded day in the city.

The rally then formed a column and marched to the downtown Chicago Sheraton Hotel, where the AFL-CIO convention was being held. The marchers shouted slogans such as "CIA, NED - Hands off Venezuela!" and "CIA, NED - they're the same! The only difference is the name!" The marchers then rallied in a plaza next to the hotel, where speakers from the Columbia Action Network and the Cincinnati Bolivarian Circle took the stage. Although turnout for the rally was much lower than expected, the grievances and demands of the demonstrators came out loud and clear.

On assuming office, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney had pledged to put an end to the Meaneyite "cold warrior" policies of the past, where the AFL-CIO had actively financed and supported US foreign policy and CIA activities abroad. To this aim, the "Solidarity Center" was created, ostensibly to support workers rights to organize in Latin America, Asia and Africa. However while using the language of solidarity, the AFL-CIO's activities abroad speak more of imperialism. "Solidarity Center" has provided the National Endowment for Democracy (NED,) the de facto political arm of the CIA internationally, with huge amounts of money and 'activists' to provide labor-cover for its activities. "Solidarity Center," along with the NED have offices in cities around the world, including Caracas. The NED has spent over $900,000 to support the corrupt opposition in Venezuela since 2001. In 2002, the "Solidarity Center" sent at least $150,000 to coup plotter Carlos Ortega's CTV "union" in Venezuela. These policies run completely counter to the interests of American workers and their brothers and sisters around the world. Working people need real solidarity, not the NED-style "democracy" of the likes of Pedro Carmona, Augusto Pinochet and George W. Bush!

*Shut down "Solidarity House!"
*Defend the Venezuelan Revolution - for genuine Solidarity and Internationalism!

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The recent endorsement of Hands Off Venezuela by the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) will certainly open many doors for the campaign not just in Alberta, but across Canada.  The AFL is the umbrella organization for the Alberta labour movement and represents 31 different unions which account for over 125, 000 workers.  At the most recent AFL convention in May 2005, a resolution was passed that voiced support for the reforms of the Chavez government.  Young representatives of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign, from the New Democratic Youth of Alberta and the AFL Youth Committee further campaigned for the AFL to support HOV, resulting in an endorsement and donation not more than a week ago.

The campaign has been steadily gaining support in Alberta and the affiliations of the AFL and the Edmonton and District Labour Council have meant that HOV has reached many union locals that we were not previously in contact with.  We have already received a significant donation and affiliation from the Edmonton Ironworkers local 720 as a result of the AFL and EDLC’s support.  These affiliations and donations are making it possible for us to begin building a strong Canadian section of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign during this critical time for the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.

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On May 1, to coincide with the celebration of International Workers' day, the Hands Off Venezuela campaign launched an “Open Letter to US trade unionists”. The response to the appeal has been a great success. More than 1000 trade unionists have so far signed the Open Letter.

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After the success in raising solidarity for Venezuela´s Bolivarian Revolution at the British trade union conferences, the next step of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign will be the intervention at the Trades Union Congress in Brighton in September.

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