In a meeting on Wednesday, February 14 with the retired workers of the IVSS (Instituto Venezolano de los Seguros Sociales – Venezuelan Institute of Social Security), in the Venezuela room of the Circulo Militar, the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez declared (quoting Marx) that “the workers cannot be turned into the slaves of work, into the slaves of capital. Capital must be subordinated to the workers.” Reflecting upon this Chavez ordered a review of the 8-hour day, as well as saying that the working day should be reduced to allow the workers time for education. “I ask for the full support of the working class and of the genuinely revolutionary trade unions… I call upon the working class to once and for all play its rightful role in this revolution.”

Once again the president reiterated his call to the workers to take concrete action through the trade unions. He had already done this in the past with a call to the workers using the slogan “factory closed, factory occupied”. However, the leaders of the various currents of the UNT did not know how to take advantage of this opportunity. Instead of focusing the debate on the question of organising the workers for the occupation of factories and enterprises and demanding their nationalisation under workers’ control, they focusing their attention on the question of the internal elections and the struggle around which current would control the leadership.

Chavez recently made another call in one his speeches on “Alo Presidente”. With these words he is telling the leadership of the workers’ movement that now is the time to act. The leaders of all the tendencies of the workers’ movement have a great responsibility.

From the point of view of the CMR this is perfectly possible. The leadership of the UNT must call a national meeting of all the sectors of the workers’ movement to discuss Socialism of the 21st Century and the role of the working class in the Bolivarian Revolution. A national day of factory occupations must be organised, and workers’ councils established, the soul of which will be the trade unions. These councils must be linked on a local, regional and national level, and must be coordinated with the peasant, youth, and communal councils.

These elements in Chavez’s speech add to the much talked-about wave of nationalisations of strategic companies in the country. The Bolivarian government, facing the intensification of the class struggle and the capitalist sabotage of the economy, and in an increasingly open debate about how to build the socialist state, has launched the nationalisation of the energy and telecommunications sector, which has woken up and animated the masses in creating enormous expectations, intensifying the struggle between reform and revolution.

It is certainly the time for the working class to play its role in the revolution. For the working class, these steps are seen as a step forward. The nationalisation of the energy and telecommunications sectors must be accompanied by the establishment of workers’ control in the nationalised industries, in order that the state bureaucracy cannot transform these progressive measures into their opposite.

These measures are a step forward for the revolution, but only a step. Now the revolution finds itself under the pressure of the imperialists who threaten to sabotage the economy through their lackeys, the Venezuelan capitalists. The only way to defend the conquests of the revolution is to rely on the workers.

In the same way and due to the shortage of some basic products and supplies caused by the capitalist clique, Chavez affirmed in the above cited speech that there is no justification for any shortages. Through decree he has regulated the process of commercialisation and called upon the communities and the workers to organise themselves to denounce those who create this type of situation in order that they can be nationalised. “If you dare not respect the sale of those regulated products you will be nationalised, even if I have to nationalise the whole set-up and put it in the hands of the communal councils,” explained the President.

Inevitably the bureaucrats and both the national and foreign capitalists will boycott the companies under workers’ control. However, the workers who control the nationalised companies, under cogestión, occupied, in struggle, etc. must work together in an organised way in order to influence the political and economic transformation of society.

To that end FRETECO must be an example to follow and be supported by the workers’ movement, which today President Chavez has asked to play its role. The board is set. The work of the revolutionaries is to intensify the political education of the workers as well as to set in motion a plan of united action to concentrate the forces of the revolution on the key points necessary to the unify the workers’ movement. We still need to facilitate in this way the meeting of the working class and its ideology. Patria socialismo o muerte venceremos! (Fatherland, socialism or death, we shall prevail!)