Letter from Serge Goulart (Coordinator of the Factory Council)
Back in April we published an article explaining that the judicial authorities had issued threats to imprison the workers and militants occupying the Cipla and Interfibra factories in Joinville (state of Santa Catarina, in the south of Brazil). The workers had occupied these plants as the only way of saving their jobs. They issued an appeal for international solidarity and we responded accordingly. We published their appeal and called on all our supporters to get emails, letters, faxes of protest sent to the Brazilian government, and also to organise pickets, where possible, outside the Brazilian embassies around the world.
In June the coordinator of the Factory Council, Serge Goulart, was facing the threat of imprisonment. We published an Urgent Letter to President Lula written by Serge Goulart, who had approached us requesting international solidarity.
Now at last this campaign has achieved at least a partial victory. In July the Factory Council managed to reach reached an agreement with the authorities that are in charge of collecting the debts of the former owners of the occupied factories. The agreement establishes a six-month period in which any threat of judicial closure of the factories as well as the threat of imprisonment against Serge Goulart is suspended.
We would like to thank all those who took part in this campaign, but we would stress the fact that a final victory has not yet been achieved. The workers have six months in which to step up the campaign and achieve an all-out victory. The bosses will not run away from this. So be prepared to take up this campaign again if the workers in Brazil need our help.
Serge Goulart recently wrote to us informing us of this new development. In it he wrote the following:
“I thank you for your letters and want to inform you about an important victory in our struggle against the closure of the factories and the threat of imprisonment…
“The international campaign organised by your international tendency was without a doubt a significant reinforcement of the campaign which made it possible for us to announce publicly on the 14th of July that we had reached an agreement with the Attorney General of the Treasury Department and the Attorney General of the Social Security who are supposedly in charge of collecting the debts of the former owners of the occupied factories. This agreement suspends for six months any threat of judicial closure of the factories as well as the threat of imprisonment against me as the coordinator of the council of occupied factories.
“Of course this is a partial and limited victory. Nevertheless it gives us a breathing space of six months during which we will intensify our pressure on the Lula government, demanding the nationalisation of the factories as the only solution that can preserve all the jobs in the long run.
“The international campaign waged by your tendency, with letters, resolutions, pickets in front of the embassies, etc., in different countries, had without doubt an important impact in making such an agreement possible. For everything you have done I thank you for your solidarity in the name of the thousands of workers and their families who depend on the continued functioning of these factories for their survival.
“We announced this partial victory during a public meeting with thousands of workers present in the centre of Joinville and in the presence of trade union speakers and Members of Parliament from many cities and workers’ organisations from all over Brazil as well as from the national executive of the CUT.
“I must also bring to your attention the fact that within six months this question will come up again if we do not succeed in imposing our demands before then. We will continue our struggle knowing we can count on your international solidarity.
Brazil, August 2005”