People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 19

May 12, 2013


Central Workers’ Union, Argentina Holds Congress


Amanulla Khan


THE Central de Trabajadores la Argentina (CTA), a trade union centre of Argentina with over one million members, held its congress at Buenos Aires on April 11-12, 2013. The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) was invited to attend this event and AIIEA president Amanulla Khan attended on behalf of the CITU.  Representatives from more than 30 countries across the globe attended this congress as fraternal delegates. Trade union representatives from most of the countries in Latin America were also present.


The congress evoked unprecedented enthusiasm and energy and the existing office bearers of the CTA were unanimously re-elected. An important aspect of the congress was the rich tributes paid to Hugo Chavez for his massive contribution to improving the life of the working class and the poor not only in Venezuela but in the entire Latin America.


The congress, attended by nearly 1000 delegates from all parts of Argentina, discussed the problems the working class is facing in Argentina. The attempts to subvert the trade unions, and more importantly the right to collective bargaining, dominated the discussion. The congress took note of the developing unity of trade unions in Argentina, which helped in the organisation of a very successful national strike in November 2012. The congress decided to work to further cement this unity. 


As a part of this Congress, the CTA organised the Second International Conference on Development and also hosted the regional coordinators meeting of the Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR).




The Second International Conference on Development was held on April 11-12, 2013, with around 51 trade union leaders from 30 countries across the globe participating in it. Amanulla Khan represented India at the conference.


The theme of the conference was "Workers' Political Vision: Power Initiatives for the Necessary World." This theme was chosen with the understanding that the working class is experiencing a double crisis today. The crisis within the national boundaries is affecting the workers, their organisations and their working conditions as a result of the advancement of interests of capital. Secondly, the external crisis is due to the development model being imposed throughout the world, which is constantly pillaging natural resources and undermining the ability of the workers and societies to use and profit from common goods. This second crisis is defined as the common crisis. But this dual crisis is in essence one single crisis, triggered by the advancement of the most savage form of capitalism the world has ever experienced. In this context it becomes necessary for workers to find common ground to fight neo-liberalism.


There was lively and informative debate on the subject.  Each country had its own experience of struggle. Neo-liberalism has brutalised the life and living standards of the working class across the globe. The working class of Europe is in the centre of a storm.  The crisis of capitalism has hit Europe and its working class most severely. It was reported that the European working class is waging a heroic struggle to resist the attack on the living standards in the name of austerity measures. There was also an opinion that the European working class is fighting a defensive battle and there is a need to reorient the struggle from resistance to advancement. The discussions made it amply clear that inequalities have increased everywhere across the globe, with perhaps the sole exception of Latin America. The number of the rich has grown while millions more have been pushed into poverty. The unemployment situation is worst all over the globe today. More than 28 million people have been without jobs since the beginning of the crisis.


Trade union leaders from Latin America pointed out that due to the struggles of the working class, the attacks of neo-liberalism in this region have been blunted to an extent. But Latin America could not remain totally immune from the global crisis of capitalism. It was pointed out that there is going on a fierce struggle between the contending classes on issues relating to the framing of economic policies. There was a clear understanding that the gains made cannot be allowed to be taken back and that the working class must defend them resolutely. There was a clear desire that greater unity of trade unions should be developed to force the working class agenda on to the centrestage of politics in Latin America. There was an understanding that working class should work for greater economic cooperation and integration among the nations in Latin America.


Intervening in the debate, Amanulla Khan said the experiences of India with neo-liberalism were the same as with the rest of the world.  Despite the claims by the Indian ruling classes that India is the second fastest growing economy in the world, the country has seen big increases in inequalities and poverty. The rights of working class are under savage attacks. An overwhelming majority of workers are denied even the basic rights; social security still remains a dream. The Indian working class is unitedly fighting the offensive of neo-liberalism. The two-day nationwide strike on  February 20-21 this year, joined by nearly 150 million workers, has sent signals to the government that neo-liberal policies have to be reversed and that the fruits of economic development should reach all citizens. Khan pointed out that different experiments are taking place in the world to find an alternative to neo-liberalism and that the Indian working class is excitedly looking at the experiments in Latin America. Each working class contingent’s struggle can learn from that of the others and there can be greater understanding on what is common in all these struggles. He pointed out that defence of democracy, reclaiming the nation-state and attitude towards imperialism are some common threads of all struggles. He said that the working class movement cannot be one of only resistance; it should also have the objective of social transformation.


The conference concluded with the understanding that international cooperation of working class is necessary to connect the local struggles in workplaces and individual territories to global struggles. For this, the working class must closely work together. The working class has to reinvent resistance and also strive to build an alternative model of development in favour of the poor and the dispossessed.


The conference was a great experience and helped the participants understand the struggles taking place against neo-liberalism across the globe.




The CTA was also the host to the SIGTUR (Southern Initiative on Globalisation and Trade Union Rights) coordinators meet. This meeting was held on April 8-9, 2013. The regional coordinators from Australia, South Africa, South Korea, Malaysia, Brazil, Argentina and India participated in this meeting. The CITU from India was represented by Amanulla Khan.


This meeting reviewed the progress the SIGTUR made since the Sao Paulo conference in 2010. An exhaustive discussion was held on the role of the regional coordinators. The meeting took note of the massive struggles that took place in India and Argentina. It congratulated the working class of India and Argentina for the glorious strike actions. The meeting also discussed the situation in Palestine and decided to support the struggle of the Palestinian people for a homeland. 


A proposal was placed by Robert Lambert, coordinator, for organising a futures commission in South Africa in cooperation with COSATU and Chris Hani Institute of Developmental Studies.  There was a debate on the subjects and the resource persons and, finally, it was decided that further consultations are required to organise such programmes in June 2013. It was also decided to organise the next conference of SIGTUR at Australia in December 2013.


The speaker of the House of Representatives of Argentina, Sr Julian Andres Dominquez, invited the SIGTUR delegation to the parliament and hosted a tea party, while the international conference was held at Buenos Aires Legislature Hall. The leader of the house came to greet the participants. This reflects the increasing influence of the trade unions in Latin America.