Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pro-Chavez Faction Wins Control of Oil Union of Venezuela, Anarchists Come in Second!

Mérida, October 2nd 2009 ( - Yesterday the United Federation of Venezuelan Oil Workers (FUTPV), which represents a majority of PDVSA workers, held its first leadership body elections. The platform supported by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Platform 7, won the elections with 54.27% of the vote.

Just a few hours after voting closed, the electoral commission of FUTPV released the results of its elections, which were held in 18 of Venezuela's 23 states. The election was a first for the federation, which represents 185 individual unions and was formed in April 2007 in collaboration with the management of Venezuela's state oil company, PDVSA, and the Labour Ministry as part of an attempt to unite the four main union federations in the industry.

The elections have been delayed a number of times as various currents lodged appeals disputing who is eligible to vote. The Labour Ministry appointed a provisional leadership, which included Wills Rangel, now leader of Platform 7.

Other key currents participating in the elections included Platform 1 headed up by ultra-left United Revolutionary Autonomous Classist Current (C-CURA) and Platform 9, largely made up of the provisional leadership, with supporters and opponents of the government.

Platform 7, which is named the Socialist Workers Vanguard (VOS), received 15,009 votes, or 54.27%. Platform 1 received 7,557 votes (27.32%), and Platform 9 received 2,698 votes (9.75%).

As a result, the new executive committee will be made up of six members of Platform 7, three from Platform 1 and one from Platform 9, including Will Rangel as the president. In the auditing committee, two principle members are from Platform 7, and one from Platform 1, and in the federation's disciplinary tribunal, three of the principle members are from Platform 7 and two from Platform 1.

36,692 petroleum industry workers were eligible to vote, and there was an abstention rate of 21.7% in the elections. The National Electoral Council (CNE) managed and monitored the electoral process, and told the press afterwards that it had been smooth, with the only inconvenience being when a few booth witnesses did not show up.

Rangel called the results "a triumph of all the workers and of their only leader ... which is [President Hugo] Chavez."

Chavez himself said the results meant that "it's the working class taking on the role of vanguard. I congratulate all the workers of PDVSA."

Servando Carbone, a National Union of Workers (UNT) coordinator, said the elections were a reflection of the strength of the revolutionary movement. Simon Castillo, also from the UNT, said the results reflected the organisation and participation of the union movement.

The lead-up to the FUTPV elections has been marked by controversy. Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez, who is also the head of PDVSA, said in July that the "revolution" had to win the elections before he would discuss the union's collective contract, which expired in January this year. Ramirez also accused some unionists of being from the opposition, and there have been rallies, protests, and counter protests, as well as faction against faction accusations.

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