Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary of the PCP, 15th Regional Meeting of PCP's Cadres in the Alentejo

“It is imperative to break the cycle of submission and subordination of the Country to the European Union"

“It is imperative to break the cycle of submission and subordination of the Country to the European Union

Our main goal for this 15th Meeting of PCP’s Cadres in the Alentejo was a debate and reflection on the Party and its reinforcement in various areas of its action and intervention in the territory by all four of our Regional Directions.

The debate held here revealed how important it is, in order to continue the struggle in defence of the workers and the population of the Alentejo, to have a stronger party, more active and intervening, able to carry out across this vast region this struggle with proposal and action in institutions, in companies, in the fields and workplaces, in the trade union movement and in the social and cultural organisations, there in every municipality and in every parish where it is necessary to face the problems and give them answer.

Here were brought our difficulties, namely in terms of party organisation, particularly at the level of leadership bodies of the municipalities, the parishes and in the cells of companies and workplaces, with effects in our capacity to intervene. Difficulties and shortcomings that we do not hide, but here it also revealed the potential to respond to them.

It was a good Meeting. The lines of work here defined are in the right direction and taking into account the reality and needs of our Organisation in the Alentejo. They correspond and meet the guidelines for strengthening our Party defined in the Central Committee resolution "More organization, more intervention, more influence - a stronger PCP".

Reinforcement of the Party with the completion of the action of contact with Party members, creating better conditions for greater, deeper and more intense action, involving more militants, creating new organisms and gaining more militants to assume more and new responsibilities.

Reinforcement of the Party that has to do with new members and their integration in the Party organisations for its rejuvenation. The rise of militancy in general, launching new cadres with concrete tasks and direction of the work.

Strengthening that has to do with that great and decisive question that is the urgent need to improve the Party organisation in farming companies, prioritizing and taking concrete steps to recruit and organise those with the largest concentration of workers, but also in industrial and mining companies, as was stressed here. Yes, we have a large petrochemical industrial complex, we have other important units, we have mining companies involving more than three thousand workers, but also large concentrations in the area of services and Local Government to which we need to pay attention.

It is there in the company, in the workplace that begins and ends the class conflict, it is there that bursts the energy for the struggle, you gain social awareness and appear new cadres for the broad united trade union movement and for the Party.

Party reinforcement that involves restructuring work with other layers, social sectors and specific areas of intervention in the field of culture and among intellectuals, and with redoubled attention to our work among the retirees and pensioners for the defence and improvement of their rights and living conditions.

Party reinforcement that involves structuring the organisation and improving its functioning also in local organisations, creating new nuclei. Reinforcement that involves the increase of the number of municipal and parish committees.

Party reinforcement that involves boosting the dissemination of party press and information and propaganda, materialising the campaign to promote the Avante! which began in February.
Party reinforcement that involves defending and strengthening its financial independence, which involves the regular payment and update of dues.

The reinforcement of the Party organisation is one of those demanding, difficult tasks, which does not appear on the stage or in the news, but it is the most fulfilling job, the one that ensures the Party that we have, the Party that we are.

Party reinforcement that already involves the preparation of the XX Congress of the PCP to be held in Almada on December 2, 3 and 4, under the slogan "PCP. With the Workers and the People. Democracy and Socialism."

One could say that the Congress is still a long way off. But with the PCP it is not so, those three days in December are the culmination of a great work of preparation, involvement and participation by the members and Party organisations!

We are already in the first stage of the preparation of the Congress where, until the end of May, we will make a collective discussion in the whole Party on the key issues that the Congress should address, on structural materials to integrate the Thesis-Draft Political Resolution which will be elaborated in the second phase until August. This will be followed, after September, with the third phase, the election of delegates who will represent the organisations in the Congress and the discussion with an open contribution to all militants on the Theses-Draft Political Resolution to be taken to the Congress, a document which will include the analysis and guidelines for future intervention.
We do not start from scratch! We have the Party Programme "An advanced democracy - the April values in the future of Portugal" and the Party Constitution that was improved in previous congresses, that the Central Committee considered answers the current needs, not justifying any change and we have all our unmatched heritage of action.

In this process the reflection and individual contributions are of utmost importance, in this great party collective that we are, in this Party that for its ideal and project, but also for its incomparable democratic functioning makes the difference in Portuguese society.

We will build successfully and with participation of the party collective our XX Congress, and at the same time we will have to respond to the day to day struggle.

Yes! Life demands from us that we do not shut down for the Congress, but we cannot place it in the background given the tasks at hand.

We have waged important combats in these last times at the political and social level.

We have also fought important electoral battles that helped strengthen CDU in Local Government and extend its influence significantly at the Regional level. We gave a decisive contribution, strictly in terms of the party, but also in terms of the mass struggle to contain the brutal offensive of the domestic and foreign troikas, zealously led and implemented by the PSD/CDS government. We contributed with our electoral reinforcement on October 4, and soon after, with our initiative and proposal for a political solution to put an end to a government preparing to continue its policy of exploitation and impoverishment.

Today we are witnessing a new phase of the Country's political situation, but the combats in defence of the workers and our people are not only necessary, but as life requires from us to respond to new tasks and problems.

We have a lot of work ahead. To start with, the continuation of the struggle in defence, restoration and achievement of labour rights of the workers and the people.
This is an objective that we must proceed, with our own initiative at the level of institutions, but also working to stimulate the indispensable initiative, participation and struggle of the workers and popular masses against precariousness and unemployment, low wages and low pensions, and high levels of poverty.

In terms of institutions valuing and giving strength to our legislative initiatives in the Assembly of the Republic, with a set of proposals ranging from the creation of a National Plan to Combat Precarious Employment, combating deregulation of working hours, the replacement of the principle of more favourable treatment of the worker, the elimination of expiry of the collective agreements, the legislative initiative of institution of the 35 hour working week for all workers.

Proposals to promote job stability, fulfilling and enforcing the right to work and job security that are due and that fall under PCP’s national campaign "More rights, more future - not to precariousness" that we are developing across the Country.

In this battle to which we gave priority, is also the struggle for real wage and pension increases, not only just the immediate reposition of all wages, income and rights stolen in recent years, but also the immediate increase of the minimum wage to 600 euros and a especial increase of pensions by 10 euros to ensure that the unfreezing of pensions is joined by a trajectory of recovery of their real value.
And also for all these reasons that from here we express our solidarity to the National Week of Struggle from 16 to 20 May, decided by the CGTP and we appeal to the commitment of the workers to ensure its success!

We also have to battle for affirmation of CDU’s project and its validity and timeliness. A battle that at this stage means accountability to the people of the work done by elected members of CDU and a closer connection with their problems and their solution. A battle that affirms CDU’s distinctive project and its value, but which also confirms our unwavering decision of defence of regionalization against all fallacies that aim to consolidate existing decentralized structures of the State and not true bodies of regional power representative and elected by the populations, but also our determination to fight any attempt to take for granted the extinction of the parishes that the previous PSD/CDS government imposed.

And hence we will materialise a legislative initiative to hand back the parishes to the population.
We have the battle in defence of the development of the Alentejo, the valorisation of its resources, creation of jobs, the defence and improvement of public services.

Battles that will be materialised, sooner, if PCP has more power!

We are today, with the dismissal of the PSD/CDS government and the change of the composition of the Assembly of the Republic, where the parties that supported the previous government are now in the minority, in a better position to continue the struggle that we have been developing to demand a break with the right-wing policy and the implementation of measures favourable to the workers and our people.

With our initiative that led to the "Joint position between PS and PCP on a political solution" which has enabled taking some measures to reverse the path that has been followed by successive governments, particularly in the last four years.

We know that we are short of what is needed in response to the just demand of restoration of rights and improvement of living conditions of the workers and the people, and the options of the government are not part,, in our view, of the fundamental solution that the Country needs to address the serious problems it faces, but we do not underestimate or disdain the progress already achieved.
We know where we are! Fortunately we do not know where we would be if the PSD/CDS government could have continued its work of destruction of rights, destruction of lives!

We have a State Budget different from the Budgets of recent years which includes positive measures to the commitments made in the "joint position" of restoration of rights and incomes extorted in these years of SGP and troika, and a set of proposals in the field of taxes, support for long-term unemployed and measures of social protection, with the increase in child allowances, Solidarity Supplement for the elderly, but also in the areas of education and health, among others, to meet more immediate aspirations of the workers and populations .

That is why we see big national and transnational capital, and the political forces serving it in the European Union and here in Portugal, expressing their opposition and resisting any measure that can reverse the looting that they promoted on the income and rights of the workers and the people in recent years.

They do not accept the idea they had for granted that all they had cut in wages and rights, levelling from the bottom the living and work conditions, would be in force forever.

It was this horsing around the Budget with unacceptable pressures from the European Union, accompanied and boosted by PSD and CDS, demanding that everything should be as before and always demanding more and more so-called austerity measures, which are nothing but looting our people.

There is this shameless campaign of inevitable B plans from the European Union to the IMF that the former government parties applaud demanding the maintenance of the policy of cuts of wages and pensions, new measures to worsen labour legislation, of maintenance, and tax increases on labour and on consumption.

In these last days were had the manoeuvre and intrigue by PSD and CDS around National Reform Programme and the Stability Programme and are now trying a new war around a few decimal points of the deficit forecasts to justify new measures of exploitation and impoverishment .

Regarding the National Reform Programme and Stability Plan, both instruments of interference and control by the European Union on the Member States resulting from the mechanisms of the Budgetary Treaty, the so-called European Semester and economic governance, the intrigue and political chicanery raised by CDS under the pretext of PCP's refusal to approve a Draft Resolution on these said Programmes, is noteworthy.

Well known is PCP’s refusal and denouncement of these Programmes that are imposed by the European Union to implement a policy that all know and feel and, in recent years, led to the worsening of the crisis, rising unemployment and precariousness, cuts and reduction in wages, mass migration and the spread of poverty.

They tried to confound everything and after much manoeuvring under the pretext of a hypothetical contradiction by the PCP, what became clear throughout this process was PCP’s coherence in reaffirming its position of rejection of these instruments for what they mean in terms of conditioning the sovereign options of the Country and falsehood of CDS’ purposes with its tricks of political illusionism.

The PCP not only reaffirmed its position of rejection of these instruments, as warned of the manoeuvres of using forecasts, options and guidelines of the Stability Programme and the National Reform Plan as pretexts for operations of new blackmail and pressure to revoke measures of restoration of rights and income meanwhile implemented, and resume the previous government's policy, and of which CDS’ initiative of a Draft Resolution is part.

The same CDS co-responsible in the previous government, which has its signature on the Pact of Aggression, which supports blindly the impositions, constraints, rules of EU’s grossly unfair treaties, which not only agreed, as was co- author in cutting wages, rights, retirement and pensions, increased tax burden, now comes with the air of an angel to propose the rejection of the Stability Programme which is a child of the European Semester and of the Budgetary Treaty that CDS subscribed. It lets the mask fall, because this resolution associated proposed that all misdeeds carried out during four years should be restored and enhanced. What else did they want! You will agree that our Party did well to defeat this intention by CDS!

The National Reform Plan and the Stability Programme submitted to the European Commission are the Government's responsibility. The PCP has not approved them. They are documents that only hold responsible those who prepared and presented them.

They are documents that contain a contradiction that will be revealed in the future, in trying to reconcile the acceptance of European Union’s highly restrictive constraints, conditionings and guidelines, particularly in financial terms, with the devolution of rights and income and growth.
In order to be able to continue the positive measures implemented in recent months, carrying them further, financial resources are needed to increase public investment to support domestic production, to valorise salaries and pensions, and that can and should be released, breaking with these constraints, including taking the option of renegotiation of the public debt and an alternative fiscal policy that taxes more adequately economic groups, big business and big money.

That is why we have stated that in PCP’s view the solution to national problems is not submission to the impositions of the European Union but refuse the path they want to impose on us to return to the policies of the previous PSD/CDS government.

To the PCP it is imperative to break the cycle of submission and subordination of the Country to the European Union, the directory of the great powers and the Euro with its list of impositions and its instruments of domination, as are the Budgetary Treaty, the Stability Pact, Economic Governance that have led the Country to a situation of disastrous weakness and backwardness.

Likewise it demands the necessary release of Portugal from the power of monopoly groups and landlords in the latifundiary zone, the resumption of public control of strategic sectors, notably banking, turning them into levers for the development of the Country.

Affirming a free and sovereign Portugal, a Country which controls its destiny, a people who builds its own future is a fight that increasingly requires stopping, with courage and determination.
Look at what has happened with the banks. Some with a lot of responsibility for the serious situation that was reached with the privatisation of banks now speak on the need to defend national independence.

Yes, we need to defend national independence, but it is not with more privatisation and the sale of the financial sector to foreign mega-banks, whatever their country of origin. It is not with passive acceptance of supervision and Bank Resolution unique in the European Union.

It is with the recovery of public control of commercial banks and other financial institutions, just as the PCP advocates.

Today we might ask - what did the Country gain from privatisation? Nothing! What did the small and medium-size entrepreneurs gain? Nothing, also because private banks in Portugal were never part of any solution, on the contrary, have always been part of the most serious problems of the Country.
Contrary to the thesis advanced by the heralds of right-wing policy that the privatisation of banks was a factor of modernization and development, what life confirmed was that privatisation allowed one of the largest transfers of public money into private hands. According to the ECB itself, the Portuguese State, in the 2008-2014 period, spent 19.5 thousand million euros (11.3% of GDP) to cover the excesses of Portuguese bankers, and to these we have to add the approximately 3,000 million meanwhile spent on the operation of handing Banif to Santander.

The events that took place in the national banks, bankruptcies of BPN, BPP, BES and Banif and their subsequent handing to foreign groups or as may happen with the Novo Banco if the underway selling process is not stopped, confirms very clearly PCP’s position and proposal. The banks are either public or not national! The problem and the dilemma are not to know or question whether the decision centres of banking will be transferred to Spain, Angola, France, Germany or Patagonia. The problem and the dilemma is whether they remain here or are transferred outside!

It is in this new political framework that we are living, acting, proposing struggling to serve the workers, the people and the country, honouring the commitments we made and, always and always, encouraging their participation in our collective life and their struggle at all times and under all circumstances, that has proved to be the determining and decisive factor for social and political transformation.

We know that the path we are to threading, and that was opened with the new situation, is not easy and is not without difficulties.

As we are fully aware that the solution to the Country's problems do not exempt, on the contrary, require the necessary rupture with the right-wing policy and the implementation of a patriotic and left-wing policy.

It is with the prospect of the statement of this alternative that we continue to work, engaged in the search for solutions and taking measures that correspond to the legitimate aspirations of the Portuguese workers and people for a better life.

It is by looking ahead and with confidence in this great and coherent Party that we will continue our combat.

This Party a carrier of hope that does not yield or rest to achieve a Portugal with a future!

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