Militant Unions Plan Fusion
Conlutas (National Coordination of Struggles) and Intersindical (Union Network), two militant union federations in Brazil, held a seminar on the 1st and 2nd November 2009 in Sao Paulo. They decided to call a joint Congress for June 2010 to form a new national union centre. They ended the seminar by singing the “International”.
The seminar was a culmination of 25 regional meetings called to address the necessity for a unified organization as a weapon to push forward the Workers’ and People’s struggles and to resolve any existing disagreements.
Some issues are still under dispute. The character and the way to elect the leadership of the new federation are the two main points of disagreements. Conlutas favors a federation that puts together not only unions and opposition currents inside unions, but peoples’ and students’ organizations and groups representing the oppressed (blacks, indigenous-Brazilians, women, LGBT). The representation in the Congress and in the leadership should be proportional to the strength of each affiliate grassroots organization. Intersindical believes that the new federation should be based primarily on unions and peoples’ organizations and the leadership be formed as an agreement among the founding members in a first moment.
This issues will be worked out by a joint committee and, if no agreement is reached, the joint Congress will have the final word.
A New Wave of Brazilian Unionism
The first Brazilian unions were formed by Italian and Spanish anarchists 100 years ago. They led the General Strike in Sao Paulo in 1917. In the 20’s, the communists had hegemony in the militant unions and keep it until the military coup in 1964. In the heat of the struggles against the dictatorship, a new unionism was formed and the CUT was founded in 1983 as militant and democratic which was based in the class struggle,. In the 90s, the CUT started a strong cooperation with the car industry known as the Car Makers’ Agreement, with the Banks (the so-called “conflictive partnership”), and it changed the democratic rules.
After Lula was elected in 2002, the CUT sided with the government against the federal public workers. The workers were striking against the reform of social security. Militant unionists in the left-wing of the CUT formed a Coordination called Conlutas that later split with the CUT. Conlutas turned into a democratic National Union Federation committed to class-struggle, rank-and-file and internationalist unionism. Intersindical was formed later by the left sector that remained in the CUT.
Besides being a significant alternative to the pro-government CUT and Forca Sindical union centers, the joint Federation will be one of strongest militant union centres in the world that will have more than 200 unions and one million workers. Foreign militant unionists are certainly welcomed in Brazil for the Congress organized for June.