With the utmost indignation I have learned of the brutal occupation of the Cipla factory in Joinville (Brazil) by repressive state forces and the sacking of the workers' leaders. It is incredible that under a government headed by Lula we should witness actions of this type, which recall the bad old days of military rule in Brazil.
I had the honour to be present at the Pan-American Conference of Occupied Factories held last December in the Cipla factory, with the presence of over 1,000 workers. I could see for myself the tremendous fighting spirit of these workers, and also the marvellous way in which they ran the factory under workers' control. The installations were spotlessly clean and well run at every level. The workers administered the factory far more efficiently than any private capitalist enterprise, and they showed an obvious and justified pride in their achievements.
The only "crime" of the Cipla workers was to fight for the right to work and to earn a crust of bread for their families. The owners had brought the factory to the point of bankruptcy and ruin, making closure inevitable. The workers saved the factory and have kept it running under democratic control. Their fight was an inspiration to workers in the whole of Brazil and the rest of the Americas. They established model conditions for the workforce, including a 30-hour week, while continuing production with great efficiency.
This was intolerable to the bosses, who were determined to put an end to the occupation, which was acting as a focal point for militant workers. This is the only reason for what happened last week in Joinville. It is clear that the capitalist and their agents in the state want to make an example of the leaders of the occupation. They have not only been sacked, but are threatened with arrest and being put on trial. If the bosses get away with this, it will give a green light for attacks on other workers and peasants who are fighting for their rights in Brazil.
It is the elementary duty of all workers, trade unionists, socialists and progressive people to defend the victimised workers of Cipla and protest against this unjust and arbitrary act of repression. The Lula government was elected by the votes of millions of workers and poor peasants to represent their interests, not those of the bankers, capitalists and landowners. The workers of Brazil and of the whole the world do not expect Lula and his government to act in the same way as the anti-working class right-wing governments of the past!
I appeal to all workers to send letters of protest to the Brazilian embassies and consulates addressed to Lula and the government. The international labour movement must immediately put pressure on the Brazilian authorities to drop all charges against the Cipla workers and to reinstate them forthwith to their jobs and positions.
Send messages of support to the Cipla workers and express your solidarity by actions of protest. Let the workers of Brazil know that they are not alone. Let us raise our voice in condemnation of this monstrous injustice to workers who are fighting for their basic rights.
An attack against one is an attack against all!
Workers of the world, unite!
London, June 6, 2007
- Press statement by Rafael Prata, Communications advisor for Flasko, a company under workers’ control (June 4, 2007)
- What the CIPLA workers had achieved – a report from a Spanish comrade visiting the occupied factories in Brazil (June 1, 2007)
- Brazil: Federal Police invade occupied factory CIPLA (May 31, 2007)
- Historic meeting of workers of Latin America – Cipla workers vote for 30-hour week (December 11, 2007)
- Conference of Occupied Factories in Latin America (9 December 8, 2007)