Position Socialist Workers Party of Croatia
Cooperation of Socialist Workers Party with trade unions to increase class consciousness of workers, especially the young ones
Process of disintegration of Yugoslavia and former republics becoming independent states was marked by growing nationalism and chauvinism. Independence has been gained, Croatia is internationally recognized state, member of UN and EU, it is contested or threatened by no one, but dominance of ‘’national’’ and ‘’nationalistic’’ has not stopped, on the contrary, it has been encouraged on purpose, in order to prevent any discourse on the class character of our society. Thanks to the dominance of national over thinking in terms of class, Croatian workers are not aware that they are social class. Development of class consciousness is the ultimate priority of SWP.
Two years ago we started the project of Workers Lexicon in which we explain expressions that workers encounter from the perspective of interest of working class. Our aim is not a contribution to the lexicography but encouraging workers to always think about everything from perspective of their own interests, to become aware of their class position. In this process cooperation with trade unions is especially important.
Unfortunately, the relationship with unions has been deteriorated. The process of Croatia becoming independent state was going along with process of reforming the Communist Party into the Social Democratic Party. Concerning their position regarding working class, Social Democratic Party is definitely not left-wing party. They were twice in power and both times changed the labour law to the detriment of workers, but they retained some elements of the left world view (anti-fascism, women’s rights), so wider public, including unions, perceive them as a left-wing party. That’s why trade unions say that the Left betrayed workers.
Cooperation with trade unions has also been difficult because the other left-wing parties do not participate in government, so they can’t make any positive effect. Since we are without any vote, we can not influence on passing any law or measure which could protect workers’ interests, so trade unions can’t see any benefit of cooperating with us. In such circumstances restoring and maintaining relationship with trade unions is a long-term and sensitive process.
Several months ago we organized a forum “Problem of Revolutionary Subject” to revitalize the fact that the working class is revolutionary subject of universal character. We invited a representative of trade union to this forum in order to hear his opinion. We didn’t hear what we wanted to. Workers don’t care who the Left or the Right is, as long as their interests are protected. In order to return them to the leftist ideas, we have to demonstrate that the Left is better than the Right in protection of workers’ rights.
Recently we organized a roundtable “Dialogue of the Left and the unions”. Trade union representatives bitterly talked about reforms of the Left in Croatia, Europe and world, during which “somehow workers have been forgotten”. Restoring the trust in the Left is of utmost importance, so we shall regularly observe trade unions’ actions, give them our support, promote them and participate in demonstrations and strikes that they organize. Recently we supported the workers of one shipyard in their struggle to save production and their jobs. Despite measures taken by their unions and local community, everything goes in direction of closing shipyard, continuing a disastrous trend of extinction of industrial production and transformation of Croatia into tourist destination where capital owners multiply their profits, workers cover services and citizens watch over the fence.
Young workers are special problem. SWP is strongly backing School Workers Union and their program of trade union education in high schools so that the students of final year could be informed about importance of unionization. Unionization is very important step in development of class consciousness, so we shall promote this idea at forum which we organize on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’ birth. The main topic of forum will be actuality and relevance of Marxism today and the fact that during education students acquire no knowledge about exploitative character of capitalism, opposed interests of labour and capital, necessity and possibilities of resistance all the way to the change of social system. The speakers at forum will be exclusively young people who found out who Karl Marx is through channels outside institutions because in Croatia it is not possible to learn this through institutions or mainstream media.
So, cooperation with unions, increasing of workers’ class consciousness and working with the young – these are the basic directions of Socialist Workers Party activities in the next period