Workers Leading Autonomous Struggle

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Workers have been on STRIKE in Haiti, halting production across Port-au-Prince  at dozens of factories, for two days and counting in the capital city. The city is home to multiple factory specific regions, known as Industrial Parks where tens of thousands of workers in the garment industry are employed and brutally exploited. Leading their autonomous fight, with the current demands from 300 Gourdes a day (the current minimum which is roughly $4.28) to 800 Gourdes (this is from around $11.43) they confronted the police and the collaborationist union representatives (of the yellow pro-business unions not run by workers) on the STRIKE, and blocked the road to airport where they faced violent state repression.

Video of workers May 19, 2017, STRIKE DAY

Factories in Port-au-Prince “Industrial Parks” (areas which concentrate many  sweat shop factories  given tax breaks and other incentives to move their facilities there to exploit cheap labor) are managed by the National Society of Industrial Parks (SONAPI) under Haiti’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The Haitian state (and this is true in any country/state) works with capitalists but shuns (and represses) the workers to facilitate the economic future of the working class… for maximizing domination and exploitation of the workers. Industrial Parks are areas constructed with combined support of the Government of Haiti, the Inter-American Development Bank, the U.S. Government, factory manufacturers, and their representatives. With all their differences, the Capitalists are united in their exploitation of the workers. Workers have lined up in the thousands to work in these factories, wanting only to live and contribute to sustain a life above starvation. Yet, workers needs for basic services and demands which enable them to even survive, are systematically ignored by the government.  The working class is the the key to the future of Haiti, and they are the most repressed by the current ruling classes and their police forces, gangs, etc……..why?…..

PROFIT.

Parc Industriel Metropolitan, SONAPI Factories, Industrial Park, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

These Fortress-like protected industrial zones of factories look more akin to prisons than the hopeful opportunity for the future which is often preached by “Hope for Haiti”, and other such Capitalist thievery schemes. The struggle of the workers does not start or end with the 800 gourdes minimum wage increase. These workers struggles are part of an ever growing movement and the movement is for something more. It is a movement with dignity and vigor and hope for a life better of all workers and all of society. They fight for more than a destitute life with brutal jobs and working conditions, while always teetering on homelessness and hunger as the factory owners (who do no work), government, and representative bodies live in luxury. Sound familiar?…

 

HOW THEY DID IT

PRE-STRIKE: AGITATION TO MOBILIZE FOR THE STRIKE

The STRIKE is the culmination of months of organized action of many organizations. These organizations include autonomous workers unions (worker member, worker lead, by the workers for the workers with no professional staff), who are affiliated with the Haiti-wide autonomous workers mass movement known as Batay Ouvriye (Worker’s Fight). These unions represent and are composed of several workers throughout textile factories in Haiti:

– SOTA-BO in Port Au Prince,Haiti
– SOKOWA in Ouanaminthe, Haiti
– SOVAGH in Caracol. Haiti
– PLASIT–BO – which is a coalition of these autonomous and  independent unions

Batay Ouvriye has been in struggle for months leading up this. The Rapid Response Network has been reporting on their struggle for achieving demands for basic social services like electricity, higher minimum wage, and against a proposed 13% wage tax. Stay updated: receive autonomous workers struggle news and learn more, visit and follow Rapid Response Network.


On Thursday, May 18, 2017 the day before STRIKE is to begin, militant workers of the IL (Intermediate Level ) and the workers unions came out in front of SONAPI factory to agitate for organizing purposes and to mobilize the workers.  These militant workers got positive indication from this action of agitation that the workers were on-board and ready to STRIKE, it was clear the turn out of workers for May 19th would be a force.

The role of the Intermediate Level (IL) organization in the working class struggle is critical to understanding the struggle in Haiti and what workers internationally can learn from them, what they have come to teach us all on the world’s stage.  The IL shows us how workers can fight back and gain footing up against the immense expectations of production and the brutal tactics in their always transforming domination.

See them in action here in these two videos you will hear them chanting, singing and dancing to “we want 800.”

Below is a translation of a leaflet Batay Ouvriye has been distributing to workers in Haiti leading up to the current STRIKE.  We can see clearly, the call to workers and the demands is more advanced than a mass level organization, as seen with trade union demands.


BATAY OUVRIYE LEAFLET #5

Enough is enough! The Government and the bourgeoisie want to bury us alive!

How far are we going to let them take us ? Where is our country going ? We must rise up against the gas price heist of the Jovenel/Lafontant government  with the complicity of several yellow unions. Let’s organize to stand up against maneuvers of the capitalists to keep workers’ wages down in these times. We can’t survive on 300/400gourdes ($4.29/$5.71) they are promoting.  We demand 800 gourdes ($11.43) with social benefits.  They used to provide 75 gourdes ($1.07) for food. However, today, you can’t eat if you don’t have 100 gourdes ($1.43). The production quota in the factories is killing us. It’s too high and should be lowered considerably. With gas price hikes, high food prices, taxes without social services, the GOVERNMENT AND BOURGEOISIE DECLARED WAR ON THE PEOPLE’S CAMP. Let’s organize to give them their money’s worth. Let’s fight against the high cost of living. Already, our lives are like climbing a mountain cliff backwards in the country. In addition, they want us to pay high taxes while there are no longterm social services nor programs to help us in our miseries. Teachers and public sector workers are not getting paid ; corruption and squander are rampant at the state level. It’s painful !

In this bad situation, there is no other way but to STRUGGLE, struggle for a REAL GENERAL UPRISING.  The crisis is deepening each day while workers and laborers are trying hard under the weight of this crisis. To meet this challenge, we must engage in a big struggle. This struggle is no small feat, true. However, we must engage in it ! WE HAVE NO CHOICE. If we resign ourselves, this will be in the interest of the bourgeoisie and the government. Pass the word around, we must build a long range mobilization. This government and the local and international bourgeoisie are not playing with us in the popular masses. They come to squeeze us dry. This is the task of the government and the PHTK parliamentarians and their allies at the helm of  the state. So, this is to give the dominant classes all the advantages such as the 3/8 law that will eliminate our gain on overtime and the night shift. We, the workers and laborers, the combative people, should pump up our muscles to give a response that will let them know we will not settle for this. Let’s build our forces to give them their money’s worth. We are mobilizing and are not backing up nor softening up.

Down with poverty wages ! Down with exploitation ! Down with the high cost of living !

LONG LIVE OUR ORGANIZATION AND INDEPENDENT STRUGGLES IN ALL OUR WORKPLACES AND NEIGHBORHOODS ! LONG LIVE POPULAR DEMOCRATIC STRUGGLES OF THE PEOPLE’S CAMP UNDER THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP OF THE WORKING CLASS !


 

STRIKE: DAY ONE

On May 19, 2017 several thousands of workers STRIKE from several factories across Port-au-Prince, in and outside SONAPI and Carrefour Industrial Parks, in response to the continued broken agreements by the factory owners and government representatives and horrible conditions. Workers have been in struggle for their basic rights with demands for months: please see here, as reported by RRN.

 

 

Workers carrying SOTA-BO banner march while chanting, singing, drumming and dancing taking their demands and power into the street.

Two contingents of thousands of workers from SONAPI and Carrefour converge in the street in full swell of singing, dancing, drumming, reminiscent more of unity and hopeful strength as a united force than of workers being “violently forced” into the street beaten by protesters, as falsely-reported on Twitter by @JacquelineCharles, Caribbean correspondent of the Miami Herald, parroting Association of Industries of Haiti (ADIH – The Organization of the Factory Owners):

Miami Herald correspondent tweets false report about the will of the workers movement

 

STRIKE DAY ONE: Workers in Port-au-Prince on May 19, 2017 x

The two united contingents of marching workers swell to a remarkable strong body marching up to the Haitian presidential palace. As they passed the parliament the workers chanted, “we voted for you but you defend the bourgeoisie,” condemning deputies and senators. The workers also chanted messages to the police, with condemnation, “we never see police come to a factory to protect us against exploitation.“

 

MEDIA FALSE REPORTS, DENY WORKERS AUTONOMOUS STRUGGLE

While workers marched together in swell, and chanted and danced their demands and conditions on May 19, 2017, Georges B. Sassine, President of the Association of Industries of Haiti (ADIH) speaking in the combined interest of the factory owners, called for state repression against the autonomous workers casting doubts the STRIKE of the workers are voluntary. The bourgeois (Capitalist) media in Haiti reports one sided, a far cry from “objective” journalism or any attempt at neutrality on the events. Newspapers like Le Nouvelliste act as a mouthpiece only for the factory owners via ADIH, with not a single comment or statement from the organized workers reported.

Le Nouvelliste reports that Sassine and ADIH sees importance of this industrial sector for stability and peace in Haiti. With the working class on the brink of homelessness and hunger, the everyday violence of exploitation is what poses the largest threat to peace and stability, not workers united in the streets exercising their right to protest and a legal strike. Why are they not keeping their agreements with workers for negotiations and meet the demands for basic rights so they can perform their duties at their jobs?

STRIKE: DAY TWO

The workers marched through Port-au-Prince.

STRIKE DAY TWO: May 20, 2017, Thousands of workers block road to Toussaint Louverture International Airport, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

On Saturday, May 20, 2017 workers took the street again. More workers from more factories left their job posts at SIPA and demanded to be let free from the factory walls, to join their fellow workers marching in the street, at time-mark 1:50 the gates are finally opened and the workers flood the street. They lead themselves to block the road to Toussaint Louverture International Airport, where they were quickly repressed by state violence of tear gas and acid water by CIMO (Haitian SWAT units) along with other police forces. These photos are just before the state-backed violent repression.

On Saturday, May 20, 2017 workers took the street again. More workers from more factories left their job posts at SIPA and demanded to be let free from the factory walls, to join their fellow workers marching in the street, at time-mark 1:50 the gates are finally opened and the workers flood the street. They lead themselves to block the road to Toussaint Louverture International Airport, where they were quickly repressed by state violence of tear gas and acid water by CIMO (Haitian SWAT units) along with other police forces. These photos are just before the state-backed violent repression.

Today, the primary demand is for 800 gourdes per day minimum wage, but they also are demanding social services, like food, transportation, and housing in order to cope with their conditions of teetering and even succumbing to hunger and homelessness. The workers have have absolutely nothing and every measure taken by the state has been against them, in the interest of others, on the workers backs.

WHAT IS TO COME

As of Sunday, May 21, 2017, the workers plan to continue their struggle for Monday, May 22, 2017. Depending on how the situation develops with the repressive forces, we await news from our comrades in struggle. They will not give up the fight anytime soon, they have come so far. With fists up, the working class faces a continued battle, in dignity but not without great sacrifice and risk. Stay tuned with our friend the Rapid Response Network for updates as this struggle unfolds, and for calls to action in extending our solidarity to the brave and determined workers.

rapidresponsenetwork.info

MEDIA REPORTING IN THE U.S.

On Sunday, May 21, 2017 the media in the United States joins with the interests of the factory owners in Haiti, parroting the false statements about the workers of ADIH and Le Nouvelliste. The Miami Herald, reported via @JacquelineCharles on her twitter account parroting the lies of ADIH that, “protestors violently forced way in & beat workers”.

Miami Herald correspondent tweets anti-worker lies

 

Workers Struggle shames the complicity of the media in Haiti and the United States, neither attempted accurate representation of the several thousands of workers willingly STRIKE and marching across Port-au-Prince. These media sources are bourgeois mouthpieces for the factory owners themselves, turning their backs on the Haitian  workers who are risking it all while facing violent repression facilitated by international business interests, sparked only from their dignity in the face of sharp pangs of hunger and precarious lives.

CALL TO ALL WORKERS!

We need autonomous working class organizations today! With inspiration from the working class in Haiti, we call to stand in solidarity with each other not suffocating with the collaborationist union ropes around our necks in our ever worsening brutal treatment and austerity workers are facing everywhere. Workers face the same conflict, from the United States to internationally and it is by the same class of people, who run networks of multinational corporations operating factories with sweatshop-like conditions.

Multinational corporations are capitalists with armies behind them, they roam the world for opportunities for ever cheaper cost of labor to maximize their profit margins. Workers across have common bond with each other. Stand together as an autonomous force outside collaboration to weaken the chains of death. When workers in one location, stand in solidarity with workers somewhere else, the corporations lose a corner to run to.

The solution to this is for all workers to organize in their interests and for the intermediate level organization to bring the level of working class internationalism into workers struggles.

Let us be very clear, the relationship between worker and capitalist is antagonistic inherent to capitalism. How much a worker is paid in wage directly corresponds to how much the capitalist keeps in their pockets. This relationship is intrinsic to capitalism, thus universal across all places internationally they setup shop “open for business” as they say.

They lie and tell us if wages raise, costs of goods will rise – pitting the worker against the consumer (her/himself). This is false redirection of the antagonism. Why doesn’t the multi-millions bonuses and executive salaries take a reduction? The relationship is NOT direct between the wage the worker receives and the price of a consumer good. The relationship IS direct between the wages the workers receive and the profit the capitalist extracts for their use and benefit.

Why does International Working Class Solidarity Matter?

Workers are an international class, just as the capitalists are who operate multinational corporations and use both bourgeois democracies and autocratic governments to exploit respective nation’s working class for all they can. They organize internationally, and so must we! All of production is now intertwined internationally. We can’t just save our jobs, we have to stand shoulder to shoulder with all workers in our common fight against the same enemy.

Thus, when workers lead their own struggle in one place, start organizing and fighting for their collective class interests, it places pressure on the same capitalists we face somewhere else and this pressure begins to exacerbate their vulnerable, unnatural and violent chain process of exploitation. When workers become stronger together, the owners of factories tend to move the facilities to other countries where the cost of labor inputs make it easier for them to exploit workers. This dynamic between owners and workers is clear, it is antagonistic and non reconcilable relationship.  This is why we see constantly churning of jobs sent to other countries. The chain process of production is a brutal economic war on workers internationally. The brutality of the economic wars in turn then becomes social wars as access to services and the most basic of democratic rights are denied or stripped.

The solution is in our hands: workers and laborers in organization here and internationally, and in solidarity to our class sisters and brothers in other lands. The stronger our organizations and fights are everywhere, the stronger our power is collectively. This strength gives the exploiters less escape routes and free passes to freely roam across borders and bodies of water we can’t travel across to benefit from cheaper cost of labor so they can line their own pockets while we peril. The brutality of this economic and social war, materializes in every day violence, ignored by oversight authorities from government to collaborationist unions. We need our own parallel autonomous organizations.

Collaborationist unions at best can be seen as opportunists. In the U.S. it is illegal to STRIKE with most “unions”, these are the collaborators. They facilitate the interests of the companies in our name, right on our back. At the negotiating tables while corporations make record profits annually, it is not “what can we workers gain,” it’s “what sacrifices can we make?” These organizations are NOT workers organizations, they long ago integrated into the belly of business-women and men who live off our sweat. Collaborationist unions are ineffective because they are not for us, since they are not of us!

Our following of the struggle in Haiti by militant workers organizing the intermediate level has renewed our struggle and need our own autonomous organizations to fight for our own interests as workers and laborers. Autonomous organization today! Join with us of Workers Struggle- Miami and we will bring the light to the backed in corner of darkness we have been painted into. Let’s take back our fight! We will reject opportunism and collaboration with our enemy and struggle to determine our fate!

SUPPORT THE WORKERS STRIKE FUND, via the RAPID RESPONSE NETWORK:




 

A Note on The Intermediate Level Organization


Workers struggle is an intermediate level organization attempting build autonomous organizations of workers and laborers for them and by them. We call for the unity of all workers and laborers on for our collective class interests. Our vision is to construct a combative, militant, mass movement of the working class and laborers. We have been divided by the Capitalist politicians and their yellow unions for too long. Yellow Unions are collaborationist business unions. They are run and controlled by professional staff, with Presidents and administrations which exist off the backs of the working class. They claim to be pro-worker. Yet, they constantly come around to persuade us to vote for this or another politician who ends up exploiting us like the one before and after. They try to convince us not to strike or they support one only for  limited time when we no longer follow their rules on it. They sell out the strike as the first claus in contracts with the bosses. They are on the side of the bosses and are opportunistic liars to the working class! We are not against the construction of unions for and by workers but we call for organization across job sites, across any line or border manufactured by the Capitalists to keep us running around fighting each other. We call for the autonomous organization of workers whether inside or outside unions. We are on the side of the workers, not those push their identity politics on us to divide us!

The overall autonomous mass movement Workers Struggle is attempting to construct (we take example from Batay Ouvriye in Haiti), will be composed of autonomous mass level unions and other forms of organizations, as well as intermediate level workers organizations. Intermediate Level organizations are militants in organizations that are present within the mass movement connecting all the dots, linking the struggles, and pushing it forward. The intermediate level organizations are always present in the movement of working class fighting towards a goal to construct organizations and grow the movement. The intermediate level connects all these struggles from all over to unite them all against their common exploiters, it constantly pushes the workers to fight for more of what was stolen from their labor! We pay keen attention to these organizations for learning their path in gaining so much momentum in the workers movement.

The IL shows us how workers can fight back and gain footing up against the immense expectations of production and the brutal tactics in their always transforming domination. These organizations are autonomous organizations that exist amongst the working class within and parallel to all other worker’s and representative organizations. They are the organized expression of the advanced level of working class’s political consciousness. The IL militant workers are politically conscious and disciplined in their role. They know their fights are in unity with all workers around the world, they have a vision to unite all workers for their common interests, expose the opportunist and business unions, politicians, media, etc

How do workers build a movement in their collective interest?

The working class must organize and struggle beyond just the mass-level organizations like trade unions.  Mass-level organizations may fight for short-term, immediate demands, such as wage increase but with them along comes opportunism and collaborationist leadership. If the struggle is just limited to the union level, the political consciousness of the workers does not go beyond just bread and butter and these heroic struggles we are seeing in Haiti would not have come so far. They are typically either easily crushed and/or are pulled towards some politicians that come around talking shit to shut them up and keep them for fighting for their actual class interests…..sound familiar?…..

These mass level struggles do not advance the collective struggle even if they are able to negotiate for or win small incremental concessions at times. Fighting the opportunists, and all those who side with the bosses against the collective interests of the whole class and explaining the limitation of these struggles is key work of the intermediate level. We need to struggle against the opportunist and collaborationist bullshit lines of traitors which may sway some workers. Through organized efforts, the IL agitates to mobilize workers in their fight to take their fate into their collective hands.

Their contribution to advancing the interest of the working class is marked by their autonomous presence. This means the struggle is not being guided by or “represented” by outsiders with a line counter to the collective interest of the working class. Lines for example like fighting for just a $15 minimum wage in the US while we can barely survive on that. The IL exposes all those professional paid organizers and anybody pushing anything against the interests of the workers and laborers as a whole.  They are not contained by outsiders and construct organizations for and by the workers and laborers be it within or outside whatever various unions. The “representatives” of the business unions, are not worker organizations. They limit the struggle and even try to pacify the workers when the workers know more is needed, their leadership is often more for the comforts of the business/union interests themselves, not the workers.

Militant workers’ leadership in the intermediate level organizations want more than just the primary demand of the very moment – a raised wage for example – but it is these organizations and their contribution which recognizes the interest for the future of all the workers and laborers.

The intermediate level organizes beyond mass level demands for wages and improved conditions, but agitates to mobilize the workers attention against capitalists and the different structures coordinating exploitation and domination on the backs of workers.  These structures stand in silence to the everyday violence against the workers and break agreements made to the workers.

The intermediate level identifies the enemy as the coordinating capitalist players – including the government and its police, the collaborationist unions, and factory owners.  They agitate for organizing purposes, to mobilize the workers who join in marching and chanting shouting down the state, the electoral politicians, the police and their cold complicity in the brutal exploitation and domination suffered by the workers in the factories.

2017-05-24T05:33:02+00:00 May 22nd, 2017|Comments Off on Workers Leading Autonomous Struggle