Vol. XLIII No. 26 June 30, 2019

ILO Supports Political Right-wingers, Opposes Hike in Workers’ Wage in Venezuela

J S Majumdar

THE International Labour Organization (ILO) became a part of the Modi government-appointed so-called expert committee deciding on the methodology of calculation and fixing national minimum wage in India. In the process, it conveniently ignored all existing tripartite forums and existing laws, including a Supreme Court judgement. 

It is the 15TH Indian Labour Conference (ILC) which decided on the method of calculation of minimum wages, which the Supreme Court approved giving it a legal foundation. It was implemented by the 7TH Central Pay Commission and tripartite Minimum Wage Advisory Boards constituted under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.

The expert committee submitted its report in January and the government published it on February 14, 2019 just before the 17TH General Election to Lok Sabha for obvious political purpose. The ILO got itself involved in the pre-election political campaign in favour of the ruling party in India.

But the same ILO instituted an enquiry committee on March 21, 2018, just prior to the May 20 presidential election in Venezuela, condemning the Maduro government on so-called allegations of failing to comply with ILO conventions on ‘freedom of association’, ‘tripartite consultation’ and for unilaterally ‘increasing workers minimum wages’. It was ILO’s involvement on pre-election political issue in favour of opponents of the Maduro government. 

ILO specifically mentioned about the complaint that “alleges attacks, harassment, aggression and a campaign to discredit the employers’ organisation – ‘Fedecamaras’ – its leaders and affiliates”, the ILO statement said. It also alleged a lack of consultation with Fedecamaras on laws and the adoption of “numerous increases to the minimum wage without consultation with employer and worker representatives”, reports Reuters.  

In response, Venezuela’s deputy labour minister Jose Ramon Rivero told the ILO that “we categorically express our disagreement to a commission of inquiry against our government” and “we regret that ‘Fedecamaras’ spokespeople are plotting, alongside an undemocratic wing of our country’s opposition to sabotage the municipal, regional and presidential elections on May 20.”

‘Fedecámaras’ (Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Production) is its main business association. It is in political odds with the Venezuelan regime since the days of former President Hugo Chavez. During a failed coup d’état against Chavez in April 2002, former Fedecámaras president Pedro Carmona assumed the role of the President of Venezuela for two days.

President Nicholas Maduro, a former bus driver who proudly says that he is a worker-president, was re-elected with 67.84 per cent of votes in the May 20 election despite ILO’s political intervention and setting up an enquiry commission, just before the election, on the allegations of ‘Fedecámaras’.

Within less than a year after election, rightwing conspirators attempted a coup d’état in Venezuela on January 23, 2019, when Juan Gerardo Guaidó, president of the Venezuelan national assembly (now defunct), proclaimed and designated himself “Acting President” of the Bolivarian Republic obviously with full support of ‘Fedecámaras’ and US-led world rightwing conspirators.  

Several trade union organisations and others of social movement in different parts of the world, including CITU and all Left-led trade unions in India, denounced the attempted coup and Guaidó proclaiming himself as the “Acting President” of Venezuela.