Tuesday, June 5, 2012


ON May 21, protest demonstrators belonging to various mass organisations, including many women activists, were lathicharged by the Haryana police near the residence of the state’s chief minister, Bhupender Singh Hooda, in Rohtak. Led by Dr Jagmati Sangwan, an AIDWA leader and other office bearers of various unions, they wanted to submit a memorandum to the CM’s camp office which was shifted to the CM’s residence recently. The lathi blows injured some of the women and other protesters, compelling the agitating persons to stage a sit-in on the spot and thus to a road block. CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat too joined the protest and asked the senior police officers to take action against those policemen responsible for this unprovoked lathi charge. The officiating SP, Dhankhar, expressed apology and assured action against the erring cops.

The scandal and the irregularities related to exploitation and torture of poor and helpless children and women by “Apna Ghar” and “Suparna ka Angan” are well known by now. This has shocked all the sensitive and justice loving democratic sections of the society. In order to express their anger against such criminal acts and practices, a huge state level procession was organised on May 21 under the aegis of “Jan Sangathan Manch” at the local Chottu Ram Park, in which hundreds of women, men and children from all over the state participated and registered their strong protest. They included participants from the All India Democratic Women’s Association, Centre of Indian Trade Unions, Kisan Sabha, Democratic Youth, Students Federation of India and several other organisations.

They were addressed, among others, by Ms Brinda Karat, a former MP and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, who strongly criticised the Haryana government for showing utter insensitivity towards  the alleged crimes against those who most needed the protection in government aided shelter homes. She stated that though some NGOs were doing better social work, many were indulging in making money by corrupt means. She wondered how a woman charged with grave criminal offences was still not dropped from government committees and the awards conferred upon her had not been taken back.

CPI(M) state secretary Inderjit Singh also condemned the use of police force in order to prevent the peaceful protesters from approaching the CM’s camp office.

Later the ADC gave in writing that the administration was recommending the withdrawal of awards given to Mrs Yashwanti and her removal from government panels as demanded by the protestors. Following this assurance, the latter ended the dharna and the traffic was restored.

The AIDWA-affiliated Janwadi Mahila Samiti’s unit in Rohtak has constantly been protesting against it through protest dharnas, processions, street-corner meetings and other means. Since May 14, it has been constantly striving to make the people aware about how public and government money is being misused in the name of social service. Not only this, the inhuman treatment meted out in shelter houses, that includes sexual exploitation and sale of girls/children, is a matter of grave concern. It is believed that some government officials have been constantly visiting these shelter houses. The Janwadi Mahila Samiti has many a time lodged protest against this state of affairs and met the administration officials. Recently, on May 8, 2012, an AIDWA delegation under the leadership of Jagmati Sangwan met the inspector general of police, Alok Mittal, and appraised him of irregularities in the “Apna Ghar.”

Later on, Brinda Karat and Jagmati Sangwan also addressed a protest meeting in Gohana, organised against the gang rape of a dalit girl student at Khanpur Mahila University. They also met the vice chancellor and demanded justice to the victim and adequate security for girl students.



Message from the Communist Party of Ukraine

DEAR Comrades,

On behalf of Central Committee of Communist Party of Ukraine we express you sincere wishes for all participants of the 20th congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

We wish all participants of the congress reach an agreed, mutual understanding and adopt decisions for further successful development of the inter-party cooperation.

Successes to all your undertakings, solidarity and all best wishes for all Indian communists for peace, wellness and prosperity.

--- Igon V Alekseyev, second secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine                        

Message from the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA)

TO the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), to your 20th party congress, to the members of your party, and to the working class of India:

The Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) sends its heartfelt greetings and best wishes to you on the occasion of your 20th party congress, assembled in the city of Kozhikode, in Kerala.

We are very much aware of the long history of struggle which has joined the working classes in our two countries, going back a century or more, to the historic Mumbai textile worker strikes in your country and the struggle for the 8 hour day that culminated in the Haymarket incident in ours. Our two parties also have a history of solidarity in struggle, from the founding of our party in 1919 and yours in 1925. For all these years, we have learned from each other’s experience, and supported each other’s struggles, and we are delighted that this tradition of solidarity and friendship continues in our own times. We have followed, also, the struggles of the Indian working class and masses, in which your party has played and continues to play such an important role. In particular, the massive strike last month, which saw such a splendid united front of all your trade union federations, is a beacon of hope for the working class worldwide. Here in the USA, we see many new advances in the trade union struggle, with a special focus on beating back the efforts by reactionary politicians to use the current national and world economic and financial crisis to break the backs of labour unions representing government workers especially. In the states of OhioWisconsinMichigan and others, an unprecedented level of working class mobilisation is thwarting such plans.

As you know, the position of the Left in US labour unions was severely damaged in the period of anti-communist repression, loosely called “McCarthyism” that began after the end of the Second World War. It has taken a long time and a hard fight to reverse the damage, but today we see both of our major union federations plus independent unions taking strong, progressive positions on issues of international solidarity and war. Very much worth mention is the solidarity given by US unions to the struggle of independent, democratic and Left-led unions in Mexico against capital’s attempts to destroy them. This portends great things for working class solidarity worldwide in the future.

We also are gratified to see the movement in the United States that started as “Occupy Wall Street” and now has branched out into hundreds of cities and towns, identifying itself as a struggle of “the 99 percent against the one percent.” We have found that the many encampments of “occupy” are very open to messages of socialism and also of international solidarity with struggles in the rest of the world. We are strongly supportive of this movement, and proud to be involved in it along with other sections of the Left.

The year of 2012 in the United States is an election year. The president, a third of the 100 members of the Senate and all 435 members of the House of Representatives have to be elected, plus state and local officials in some regions. We consider the 2008 elections, in which Barack Obama was elected president and the Democrats took away numerous legislative seats from the Republicans, to have been a major advance, not least because of the importance of electing an African-American president in a country in which racism has always been used to divide the working class, suppress the Left and labour and maintain reactionary politicians in the saddle. At that time, the Republican Party Candidate, John McCain, had taken an extremely belligerent and militaristic attitude, swearing he would stay 100 years in Iraq for example. Although we have not been satisfied with Obama in everything, we note that the current crop of potential Republican Party presidential candidates are exceptionally and dangerously reactionary, and would represent a major step backward not only for us but for the world if any of them should be elected. So we are working hard to prevent this from happening. They would certainly go on the attack against the labour unions, as well as appointing judges who would be, to the say the least, unfriendly to the rights of working people.

Worldwide, the financial and economic crisis is threatening the very foundations of the capitalist system based on neo-liberalism, globalisation based on the drive for corporate profits, union busting, deregulation, privatisation, suppression of workers’ and the people’s right to organise as well as their wages and working conditions, the decimation of essential public services, and new wars and threats of war. Our science teaches us that the capitalist system is discredited and must and will be discarded. Only united action based on a people’s alternative can get rid of this rotten and dangerous system. Today, the workers and masses around the world are at the point of perceiving such an alternative within their reach.

The current upsurges of popular resistance, in our country, in yours and worldwide, is most heartening. Here we are actively engaged in the trade union movement, the anti-war movement and the movement against the offensive of monopoly capital and the right. We are active every day in the struggle to preserve the right to vote, to protect our health care system, to beat back efforts to destroy women’s reproductive choice and the rights of sexual minorities, the right to join a union and fight for better wages and working conditions and to defeat racial and religious bigotry and the persecution of immigrants. We also struggle for peace, for a nuclear free world, for the protection of the environment including by means of a transition toward clean and renewable sources of energy. We oppose foreign wars, including those carried out via NATO, and fight fort a new, peaceful and respectful relationship of our country with the nations of the world. We call for an end to the US aggression and blockade against Cuba, and for the full freedom of the Cuban Five.

Our task is made difficult by the hegemonic control of the US ruling class over the press and media. A recent ruling by the US Supreme Court, which declared corporations to be “persons” with the constitutional right of freedom of speech, has opened the floodgates of corrupt corporate financing of electoral candidates. We are therefore exploring methods of using new developments in online communication and social media to overcome these new and old obstacles.

The fight against racism and McCarthyism continues also. We recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birthday of our late African-American comrade and party chairman, Henry Winston, who was blinded in prison where he had been incarcerated for being a communist, and also for his fight against racism and for socialism. All his life he had struggled against the main dangers to humanity, which he identified as racism, economic exploitation and militarism.

We salute the fight of your party and its allies in India against class and caste oppression as being the same struggle as that of Henry Winston, Martin Luther King Jr and so many others worldwide.

We stand with you in solidarity in your struggle against the globalisation of exploitation, against war and against profiteering.

We hope your 20th party congress is an occasion of joy and triumph.

Long live socialism! 

Long live the Communist Party of India (Marxist)!
Message from the New Communist Party of Yugoslavia

ON behalf of the Central Committee of the New Communist Party of Yugoslavia express to you the most cordial revolutionary congratulations on the full success of the congress of your party.

We highly appreciate that you have struggled against aggressive and dominative manoeuvres of imperialists, to defend world peace and develop socialism.

We are confident the work of the congress will be successful in mapping a way forward through the very challenging times confronting the people of the world, with threats mounting from a global capitalist economic crisis and increasingly reckless and aggressive US-led imperialism.

We are convinced that the friendly relations between us will be further developed, supporting each other in the international arena under the ideal of independence against imperialism, peace and friendship.

Hoping great success in your works!

Long live working class internationalism!

Militant greetings!

--- Batric Mijovic, first secretary of the NKPJ


AT the NATO summit in Chicago, President Barack Obama, warned his allies that “hard days are ahead” as the US prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan. Among the audience were the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and his Pakistani counterpart, Asaf Ali Zardari. Thousands of anti-war protestors had massed near the venue of the summit. Clashes were reported between the police and the demonstrators. The protests were led by US army veterans who had participated in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They symbolically gave up their military medals. The Americans are desperately trying to convince the NATO countries that have forces inAfghanistan to stay on till 2014, the year in which the US forces are to leave. The newly elected French president, Francois Hollande, however reiterated his commitment during the NATO meet --- that all French forces will be out of Afghanistan before the end of the year.  


The countdown to the American exit started with the unannounced midnight visit of President Barack Obama to Kabul in early May. The main purpose of the visit was to highlight Washington’s commitment to the deadline for withdrawal of troops in 2014. But this being an election year in the US, Obama also wanted to emphasise his “decisive” role in the elimination of the Al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden. The visit of the American president coincided with the first death anniversary of the Al Qaeda leader. President Obama, speaking to an American prime time television audience from the Bagram air base outside Kabul, said that he had made his surprise visit to usher in a new era in the relationship between the US and Afghanistan. He claimed that it would be a “future in which war ends, and a new chapter begins.” Obama in his address sought to assure the war weary American public that peace was dawning on Afghanistan after a decade of strife and violence.

The president who has made the killing of Osama, a campaign issue, reminded his domestic television audience that the operation to eliminate the al Qaeda leader was launched from a military base in Afghanistan. “The goal I set, to defeat Al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild ----is now within our reach,” the US president said. The president claimed that it was during his tenure that the Al Qaeda leadership was “devastated.” He said in his speech that 20 out of the 30 top Qaeda leaders were eliminated in the last three years. It was well known for some years now that the Qaeda had a very limited presence in Afghanistan, numbering less than a hundred. The remnants of the Qaeda were scattered in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other parts of the world.

As the “Osama tapes” released by the US in early May reveal, the Al Qaeda was a rudderless organisation after 9/11, desperately but unsuccessfully seeking to influence events in Afghanistan and the world.

The American President also revealed publicly for the first time that the US government had “started direct talks” with the Taliban to bring about a “negotiated peace.” Obama stressed on a “clear time line to wind down the war.” The Taliban has been demanding that the Americans spell out plans for the complete withdrawal of all American forces from the country. The American president spoke about the need for a “global consensus” on Afghanistan while describing Pakistan as an “equal partner” with “legitimate” interests inAfghanistan But the president’s emphasis on “global consensus” gave countries like India, Russia, China and Iran a political stake in the future of Afghanistan.

The Taliban had withdrawn from the preliminary talks with the US government earlier in the year. The events of desecration of the Koran and atrocities by American troops against Afghan civilians are some of the reasons being given by the Taliban for the breakdown of the nascent dialogue process. The Taliban had also rejected American conditions for full-fledged talks to begin. These included recognition of the Karzai government and agreeing to a ceasefire before the departure of American troops. The only demand the Taliban were willing to concede was that of snapping their tenuous links with the Al Qaeda.


Obama also claimed that the Afghan security forces were now ready to shoulder the responsibility for maintaining security. American and NATO forces will be relinquishing combat duty next year prior to their withdrawal from the country. At the same time, the American president talked of an “enduring partnership” with Afghanistan. Obama and the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, signed an agreement detailing the new partnership between the two countries after 2014. The US has pledged to help Afghanistan economically for a decade though no details of American financial commitment have been forthcoming. No concrete measures were announced to combat the drug menace in the war-torn country. Afghanistan is the biggest opium producer in the world. The Taliban, Afghan warlords and government officials have all gained in different ways from the receipts of the drugs trade. Neighbouring Tajikistan’s economy is now dependent on the transit of illegal drugs through its territory.

The contours of the future security relationship between the two countries have also been deliberately left vague. It has been widely speculated that the US will retain many of its military bases in Afghanistan after the bulk of its troops are withdrawn in 2014. The UShas been publicly demanding that its Special Forces remain in the country after 2014. The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, recently stated that Washington was not seeking permanent military bases “or a presence that is considered a threat to the neighbours.” At the same time she anticipated “that a small number of the forces would remain at the invitation of the Afghan government.”

The latest agreement, however, contains assurances that the US will not be building new military bases or use the current facilities it uses to launch attacks on Iran from inside Afghanistan. Washington has also promised to designate Afghanistan as “a major non-NATO ally.” This will commit Washington to defend Afghanistan if it faces aggression from a third country. Iran, Russia, China andPakistan have objected to the retention of American bases after 2014. Iran, which is being continuously threatened with war, is already ringed by the largest number of American military bases.

These and related issues are expected to be formally ironed out when a “Bilateral Security Agreement” between the US and Afghanistan is signed within a year. A Pentagon spokesman said that the Afghan authorities would not have a say in the conduct of the night raids. President Karzai has chosen to describe the new agreement with the US as one “marked by mutual respect.” But the “Enduring Strategic Partnership” agreement signed during the Obama visit allows the US Special Forces to continue with the hated “night raids” on private Afghan homes under nominal Afghan supervision. Karzai has been crying hoarse for the last several months, demanding the immediate end to the night raids. The Pentagon has been claiming that the raids have resulted in the elimination of several Taliban leaders and their supporters.

The Afghan government and human rights groups have said that most of the victims have been innocent civilians, among them women and children. Washington has also not given any indications that the drone attacks being launched from Afghanistan are going to stop any time soon. The Pakistani government has been loudly demanding the cessation of drone attacks inside its territory. The drone attacks in the country’s tribal areas have inflamed public opinion and have hampered Islamabad’s efforts to repair the strained ties with Washington.


The timing of the Obama visit was also dictated by the NATO summit held in Chicago on May 20. The main agenda of the summit is the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. Like in America, public opinion in these countries is overwhelmingly against the war in Afghanistan. Washington wants to use the NATO summit to make its recalcitrant allies remain cooperative and for continued financial commitment to the Karzai government after 2014. With a global economic downturn putting the western economies in a tailspin, there will be little incentive for sinking more money into the Afghan quagmire. During his brief Kabul visit, Obama had warned that if foreign forces left Afghanistan in a hurry, NATO would have to surrender many of its military gains.

As soon as the American president left for home after his hurried visit, Kabul was once again rocked by insurgent attacks. The Taliban said the attacks targeting security installations were a “message” to Obama. The latter has been claiming that the “tide has turned” against the Taliban insurgency. In recent months, however, the Taliban and their allies have shown that they have the capacity to strike sensitive targets in Kabul and other major cities at will; 138 American led NATO troops have been killed since the beginning of the year. Most experts predict that the US will not be able to secure the south and the east of Afghanistan before the scheduled departure date of 2014. Recent Taliban attacks have extended to the Tajik and Uzbek dominated areas which were relatively peaceful till now.

The 330,000 strong Afghan National Army (ANA) has shown that it is incapable of fighting on its own, despite the billions of dollars spend on its training and arming by the West and its allies. NATO provides 11 billion dollars a year to support the Afghan Army. A recent report said that most of the ANA soldiers are functionally illiterate. Besides, they have a propensity to defect to the opposition with their uniforms and arms. Some 20 per of all NATO troop casualties this year was at the hands of rogue ANA soldiers. After the Koran burning incident, undisciplined US soldiers have further fuelled Afghan anger by going on periodic rampages targeting innocent civilians and posing with the bodies of dead and dismembered insurgent fighters. The latest gruesome photos of US servicemen posing with Afghan human trophies were published in the Los Angeles Times in mid-April. The newspaper had chosen to publish the pictures despite heavy pressure from the Pentagon.

Despite the optimism expressed by President Obama about the future of Afghanistan during his latest hurried visit to the country, according to most observers of the region, is that the country is a less secure place than it was when the Americans first arrived in 2001. The US has spent more than 450 billion dollars so far on its military adventure in Afghanistan. The Afghan economy is almost completely dependent on military spending. About 70 per cent of Afghans survive on less than 2 dollars a day. According to aid agencies, more than 30,000 children are dying every year in the country due to the effects of malnutrition.


THE new labour law that Hugo Chavez, president of Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, signed on International Labour Day (May 1, 2012) did not get the desired attention. This is nothing surprising as corporate media always tries to block all news about the empowerment of the working class. The law defines work as a social process, guarantees minimum wages, right to organise, strike and ensures equality in work place. Signing this law, Chavez stated: “The triumph of the people, of the workers, has never come about without a long process of resistance, of struggle, suffering even. This law, which I will have the honour of signing...is the product of a long process of struggle.”


Signalling the importance of this law, Fidel Castro wrote: “It satisfies me greatly to observe...the profound impact on the sister people of Venezuela of the Ley Orgánica del Trabajo (comprehensive labour law) promulgated by the Bolivarian leader and president of the republic, Hugo Chávez Frías. I have never seen anything like it within the political scenario of our hemisphere. I paid attention to the enormous crowds who gathered in the plazas and avenues of Caracas and, in particular, the spontaneous words of citizens interviewed. I have rarely seen, perhaps never, the degree of emotion and hope which they put into their statements. One could clearly see that the overwhelming majority of the population is constituted of humble workers. A veritable battle of ideas is being forcefully waged.”

The process of reforming the labour laws in Venezuela began in 2003. The consistent pressure exercised by the Venezuelan working class hastened this process and it gained momentum since last year. The entire concept of 'reforming labour law' and the process carried out in Venezuela is in contrast to what we witness in our country. (A brief summary of various articles, given at the end, distinctly bring out this contrast.) Numerous missions that were functioning in the country were used to collect input from a large cross-section of society. During the five-month consultation process with communal councils, trade unions, and political parties, the government received 19,000 proposals, 90 percent of them from workers.

According to many experts, this is the most important document issued by Chávez's government since the Bolivarian constitution of 1999. Just as the constitution was opposed by the oligarchy, the opposition is back again in arms against this labour law, which they rightly see as targeting their privileges. They were unable to digest the fact that Chavez announced a 32.5 percent increase in the monthly minimum wage, to be carried out in two phases. [The first phase took effect on May 1 with an increase from 1,548 bolivares ($360) to 1,780 bolivares ($413.90). On September, it will increase another 15 percent to 2,047 bolivares ($476).] True to their class interests, they are protesting against the law, which the majority of the people are supporting. According to International Consulting Services, an international polling agency, over 80 percent of Venezuelans hold a positive view of the law, compared to 13 percent who do not.

The law, many believe, will become one of the important agenda on which the presidential elections scheduled for this year would be fought. Foreign minister Nicolas Maduro called the labour law “an instrument for constructing the highest stage of socialism.” The government had already initiated an extensive discussion on this law among the people. A large number of copies are printed and distributed among the workers and other sections of the population, to be studied by them.


The law comprises nine chapters and 554 articles. Some trade union activists and defenders of labour rights consider this law as one of the most advanced and innovative labour laws in the world. The timing of the law, amidst the severe global economic crisis and the attacks on working class rights in the name of austerity, enhances its significance.

The law identifies its objective as to “protect work as a social deed” and to “protect workers’ rights, recognising workers as creators of socially produced wealth and as protagonists in education and work processes.”

Some of the most important and radical features in the law are as below.

1) House work is an economic activity that creates added value and produces wealth and well being. Housewives have the right to social security, in accordance with the law (Article 17).

2) The social process of work has, as its main objective, to overcome forms of capitalist exploitation, as well as to produce goods and services that guarantee our economic independence, satisfy human needs through the just distribution of wealth, and create material, social, and spiritual conditions that allow for the family to be the fundamental space for the integral development of people...social process of work should contribute to guaranteeing: independence and national sovereignty, economic sovereignty, human development for a dignified existence and economic growth that allows for the elevation of the standard of living of the population, food sovereignty and security, protection of the environment and the rational use of national resources (Article 25).

3) It defines outsourced labour as “fraud committed by employers in order to distort, deny, or create obstacles for the application of the labour law” (Article 47) and prohibits outsourced labour in Article 48, which means that the following is not permitted: contracting work entities for a public work, service, and so on that is permanent and directly related to the productive process of the hirer, hiring workers through intermediaries in order to avoid obligations to those being hired, creating work entities in order to avoid obligations, and so on.

4) Wages can’t be below the established national minimum wage, nor less than what other workers are paid for the same work, in the same establishment. It’s preferred that the work contract is in writing, where there is nothing in writing, the statements made by the worker are assumed to be true until proven otherwise (Articles 55-65).

5) If a worker is unjustly fired, they have ten days to go to the judge of Sentencing, Mediation, and Execution so the judge can order salary payment. The employer has three days to comply, and if he or she doesn’t, the judge can force compliance by confiscating property of the employer. If the employer still fails to comply, they can go to prison for six to fifteen months (Article 85-95).

6) Workplaces should distribute at least 15 percent of liquid benefits (net earnings after tax) obtained at the end of the financial year. For each worker that is also a minimum of one month’s wage and maximum of four months. Workers have the right to examine and verify the work place’s inventories and balances in order to check that they are being paid the correct amount (Articles 131-140).

7) Where there is an illegal or fraudulent closing of a workplace or an employer strike, the work minister can, at the request of the workers, order the occupation of the workplace and restart productive activity. Worker’s can request state technical help to reactivate the productive process (Articles 148-151).


8) Salaries, social provisions, and any other amount owed to the worker will have preference over any other debt owned by the employer, including mortgages and loans. Preventative confiscation of the employer’s property can be carried out in order to guarantee this (Article 151).

9) Working days per week can’t exceed five, and workers have a right to two days of rest. The working day can’t exceed eight hours per day or forty hours per week. A working night can’t exceed seven hours per shift or 35 hours per week. The same hour limits apply to a 'mixed' work week which combines night and day shifts (Article 173).

10) Work carried out in the home, by paid workers such as gardeners, cooks and babysitters, will be regulated by the new law (Articles 207-208).

11) The working day for workers from home is regulated by the law and workers must also enjoy two full days of rest as established in the law. They cannot be paid less than their counterparts who work in their employee’s shop or workplace and who carry out the same tasks. They should never be paid less than the minimum wage (Articles 209-217).

12) Agricultural workers will be entitled to paid holidays as defined in the law. Agricultural workers should work no more than 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day. They have the right to two days of rest per week. If the agricultural worker has personally cultivated a plot of land within the agricultural production unit, they will be entitled to stay there once the working relationship has ended. If they did not make use of that right, the employer will be obliged to pay the agricultural worker for the value of any produce which remains in the agricultural production unit and has been cultivated by the worker (Articles 229-238).

13) Young adults have the right to participate in the development of the nation. As the result, the state must provide for their education and inclusion into the social process of work as students, apprentices, interns, scholarship holders, and workers (Article 300).

14) Inventions, innovations and improvements are classed as products of the social process of labour, to satisfy the needs of the people through the just distribution of wealth...A worker will always maintain a moral right to their invention, which under no condition can be removed from them (Articles 320-329).

15) Employers are prohibited from soliciting medical reports or exams from female applicants to a job to determine whether they are pregnant or not (Article 332).

16) Maternity leave is granted for 6 weeks before and 20 weeks after giving birth, to be extended in case of illness, during which time the mother will receive full salary and benefits (Articles 333-338).


17) Workers have the right to be affiliated to trade unions without exception and free of discrimination. Trade union activity is also a right guaranteed by the state. Employers cannot fund trade unions, establish them, obstruct union activities or discriminate against workers based on their trade union affiliation. Employers have a legal obligation to put an end to anti-union activities within 72 hours of becoming aware of them. Failure to do so is punishable by law (Articles 353-430).

18) It defines a strike as a “collective suspension of work activity,” workers are allowed at the work place during a strike. Requirements for striking include: having presented the list of demands and that 120 hours have passed since presenting the list. Importantly, workers’ service time isn’t affected by strikes, and companies can’t hire workers or transfer workers from other places to carry out the work of the strikes (Articles 472-496).

19) An employer who doesn’t pay their worker on time, or enough, or in a prohibited place, will be fined a minimum of 30 to a maximum of 60 UT (tax units, that go on increasing with inflation, as of May 2012, 1 UT was worth 90 bolivars or US $21) (Article 523).

20) Certain cases warrant arrest (for 6-15 months) of an employer who refuses to obey an order to rehire a worker, violating the right to strike, obstructing the work of the administrative authorities, or illegally or unjustifiably closing a workplace (Article 523).

As we see from the above points, this law not only 'unleashed a battle of ideas' in Venezuela, but will further radicalise the working class. It also has the potential to become a weapon in the hands of all those who are fighting for the rights of the working class. How this battle will be waged and in which direction this battle will progress, depends on the strength of the working class and its political maturity.

It is these 'weapons of alternatives' which Venezuela supplies to the international working class movement that makes the ruling classes afraid. Tremble they may, but they cannot stop an idea whose time has come.