Venezuela union leader Ruben Gonzalez jailed for strike

BBC News, 28 February 2011 //

A prominent trade union leader in Venezuela has been jailed for seven years over a strike in 2009 at the state iron ore mining company.

Ruben Gonzalez was convicted of crimes including unlawful assembly, incitement, and violating a government security zone.

Mr Gonzalez, a former supporter of President Hugo Chavez, has accused the government of criminalising protest in Venezuela.

His lawyers say they will appeal.

Workers gathered outside the court to support his case reacted with shock to the verdict.

The strike over unpaid wages in August 2009 paralysed operations at the state iron ore company Ferrominera Orinoco for two weeks.

There were also protests outside the state iron foundry in Ciudad Guyana.

Opposition parties and some human rights groups have accused President Chavez of denying workers in state-owned industries the right to strike.

Venezuelan workers march for increased participation and rights in their workplaces

[This article reports on several leftist unions that are impatient with the pace of economic and social transformation in Venezuela, and are trying to pressure the government to give workers greater control of their workplaces. They correctly state that the Venezuelan government represents “socialized capital” (state capitalism).  Several things must be added to this analysis in order to understand the nature of the Venezuelan state and economy: Venezuela is fully integrated into the imperialist world economy, regardless of whether its oil industry is nationalized; the government’s nationalizations of industry and land have been limited since they are aimed at creating a mixed state/private economic system; and perhaps most importantly, the important role that Chavez plays in promoting a purported “Bolivarian road to socialism” (in fact, a blend of nationalism and social democracy) and restricting the more radical people’s movements that brought him to power in the 1990s and have sustained his regime since then.–Frontlines ed]

In October 2009, Mitsubishi workers protest firings of 307 workers and the collusion of the Labour Ministry with the company. These protests followed a series of long strikes, factory occupations and the killings of two workers.

Venezuela Analysis, November 11,2010

Mérida–Thousands of Venezuelan workers took to the streets of Caracas on Tuesday, November 9th, demanding greater participation in their country’s nascent socialist economy. Carrying banners that read, “Neither Capital nor Bureaucrats – More Socialism and More Revolution,” thousands of workers, union representatives, members of leftist political parties and other popular organizations took their demands to the Ministry of Communes and Social Protection, the National Assembly and the offices of the Vice Presidency.

Venezuela’s National Workers’ Union (UNETE), the organizers of the demonstration, called for the immediate passing of a new and radical labor law, the resolution of pending collective labor contracts, and the empowerment of workers within their unions, especially at worksites that now belong to the network of recently nationalized industries.

A Revolutionary Labor Law

Marcela Maspero, UNETE’s National Coordinator, led demonstrators in their demands for a new and revolutionary labor law. This new law, according to Maspero, “is a vital tool for the Venezuelan working class to overcome longstanding and ongoing exploitation at the workplace.” Continue reading