Monday 21 April 2008

Venezuela: Steel nationalisation marks 'new revolution within revolution'

by Fred Fuentes
from Green Left Weekly
19 April 2008

Denouncing the "coloniser attitude" and "barbarous exploitation" of workers by the management of the Sidor steel company, Venezuelan Vice President Ramon Carrizalez announced at 1.30am on April 9 that President Hugo Chavez had decided to nationalise the company.

"This is a government that protects workers and will never take the side of a transnational company", said Carrizalez.

The decision of the Chavez government to nationalise Sidor has begun the process of returning to state hands one of the most important steel factories of Latin America, located in the heartland of Venezuela's industrial belt in Guayana.

Sidor was privatised in 1997, one year before Chavez was elected. The major share-holder has been an Argentinean-controlled conglomerate Techint. Since privatisation, the workforce has been slashed from around 15,000 to just over 5000 and the company has used contract labour in violation of a government decree banning the practice.

The move to re-nationalise Sidor came after more than a year of intense struggle by the Sidor workers, together with the people of Guayana, against not just Sidor management but also the policies of the local "Chavista" governor, Fransisco Rangel Gomez, and the labour minister Jose Ramon Rivero — both of whom have been accused of anti-worker actions.

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