Judicial authorities have issued threats to imprison the workers and militants occupying the Cipla and Interfibra factories in the city Joinville (state of Santa Catarina, in the south of Brazil). We publish below the press release that was issued by the Factory Council of Cipla/Interfibra, for the information of all labour organisations, as well as workers and labour activists. (April 2005)
A Leader of Cipla/Interfibra Is Threatened with Imprisonment!
From the very moment they took control of the bankrupted and closed
factories to save their jobs, the workers of Cipla/Interfibra have been
faced with threats of all sorts – from the threat of having the closed
factories' machinery auctioned off to the highest bidder, thereby
destroying the industrial plant and the jobs of the workers, to the
threat of arrest and imprisonment of its leaders.
Now, at a time when the negotiations are under way with the Labor Courts over the social debts of the factories, the Factory Council has just been issued a threat by two agencies of the federal government, which, despite pledges over the past two years to help the workers, has done nothing to help.
The Ministry of the Economy and the Social Security Department are now demanding the payment of millions of reais [Brazil's currency] – a demand that was never made of the bosses when they administered the factories. The federal government is threatening to repossess machinery and a percentage of current sales income to pay off the back debt owed by the former owners. Failure to pay off the owners' back debts could result in heavy prison sentences for the leaders of the occupied factories. The federal courts are insisting that 30 million reais [or US$11 million] be paid as a first installment.
On March 29, seven officers of the Federal Court system showed up at the Cipla factory with a court order to seize 15% of the sales' income of the factory for the purpose of debt repayment. This would make it impossible for Cipla to continue operating. If this payment is not made to the government before the 5th of every month, Serge Goulart, financial and administrative coordinator of the occupied Cipla/Interfibra factories, could be thrown in jail.
On April 6, another judicial edict was issued to seize an additional 5% of the gross sales' income to pay the former owners' back debt. Failure to pay this sum also would result in the imprisonment of Serge Goulart.
The Factory Council has decided that it will not turn over to the federal government the sums that are demanded, as this would mean not being able to pay the wages of the factory workers.
The Factory Council also has decided that it will expand its campaign and mobilizations demanding that the Lula government nationalize the occupied plants.
On March 31, in downtown Joinville, at a rally called to organize the "National March for Agrarian Reform and the Nationalization of the Occupied Factories" – which will be held from April 18 to May 2 – the workers called on the federal government to provide an immediate solution to their demands, just as they denounced the threats of having 1000 jobs destroyed.
The workers are not responsible for these debts and for the non-payment of back taxes by the former bosses. That is why they will not pay the federal government the sums it is demanding.
Reiterating yet again their call for the nationalization of the factories, they have called for a face-to-face meeting between the workers' representatives and Mr. Luis Dulci, first secretary to the President of the Republic. The purpose of this meeting is to insist that President Lula and the Ministers of the Economy and of Social Affairs follow through on their public pledge to meet with the Cipla/Intefibra workers, at which time they will be asked to place of stay of execution on the proposed measures by the federal courts.
The workers call on all supporters to redouble the pressure on the administration through mass mobilizations, as well as resolutions and letters addressed to the Lula government demanding the nationalization of the occupied factories so that all jobs of the Cipla/Intefibra workers can be saved.
The Cipla/Intefibra Factory Council also wishes to inform the general public that "a commission of three state banks – BNDES, BESC and BRDE – mandated by the Lula government to study the viability of the Cipla and Interfibra plants, concluded its investigation with the following statement, 'the largest financial burden on these enterprises stems from the federal and state institutions (taxes, social charges, etc.) Given the extent of the liabilities (more than 500 million reais, or US$180 million) in relation to the productive capacities and sales opportunities, only one solution is possible to save the enterprises and their 1000 jobs: Our suggestion is that by decision of the federal government, the BNDES, in partnership with the BRDE, take responsibility for the entire amount of the companies' liabilities, hence taking control of the enterprises and permitting them to return to financial solvency'." (Letter from Superintendent of the BRDES to the President of the Republic, February 10, 2005)
As far as the Factory Council and the workers at Cipla/Interfibra are concerned, the only conclusion possible is, more than ever – that the federal government, the boss of these state banks, issue the order to nationalize both factories.
We call on all workers and labor rights activists to send union and/or organizational resolutions, individual statements, and/or telegrams to President Lula and to the General Secretariat of the Presidency, Luis Dulci, to demand:
- Nationalize the occupied Cipla/Interfibra factories;
- Put a halt immediately to all the judiciary measures that threaten with imprisonment Mr. Serge Goulart, coordinator of the Factory Council.
Please send your statements and resolutions by fax, regular mail or email to:
Presidency of the Republic
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva - President of the Republic
Palácio do Planalto - Praça dos Três Poderes
Brasília/ DF- CEP 70250-900
Fax : 011- 55 61 411 1073
Also please send your statements to the following Federal Court Judges:
Juiz Federal Titular: Dr. LEONARDO CASTANHO MENDES
Juiz Federal Substituto: Dr. OZIEL FRANCISCO DE SOUSA
Diretor de Secretaria: Bel. ROSAN LUIS DA SILVEIRA PERES
Address: Rua do Príncipe, 123 - - Centro, Brasilia
FAX: 011- 55 47 433-9079