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Facing up to the WTO summit, the Peoples’ Summit

The CTERA, the trade union confederation and affiliate of Educational International in Argentina, raised its voice against the commodification and privatisation of education at the ‘Peoples’ Summit’, which took place in Buenos Aires.

Education workers rejected the plans for the commodification and privatisation of education during the 'Peoples’ Summit’ conference for a genuine agenda for workers. This summit takes place alongside the 11th World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial conference, which has been sharply criticised for the exclusion from this event of civil society participants.

The Confederación de Trabajadores de la Educación de la República Argentina (CTERA) General Secretary Sonia Alesso raised the need to work together against the commodification and privatisation of education at both regional and global levels. “In our country teachers must ensure that education is a social right and not a commodity. The government wants secondary education to terminate in the third year and then students become manipulable and vulnerable individuals,” she said. In Alesso’s words, the current struggle against privatisation consists in not allowing the closure of the teacher training institutions and in defending public education. “We must achieve unity: just as we said no to the Free Trade Area of the Americas, we must say no to the WTO so that people are free once and for all,” she concluded.

Big mobilisation

Other trade union organisations with a presence in the region joined together in parallel actions during the week, putting forward alternative collective solutions. ‘Toward a genuine development agenda for workers and the socially excluded’ is the slogan for action that will take place at the Metropolitan University for Education and Work (UMET) as part of the 11th the WTO Ministerial Meeting in Buenos Aires and the Peoples’ Summit.

The UMET hosted a seminar organised by the Central de Trabajadores de la Argentina-Workers  (CTA-Trades Union Confederation), the CTA-Independent workers, the General Confederation of Labour (GCT) and the Coordinadora de Centrales Sindicales del Cono Sur (CCSC-Trade Union Confederation for the Southern Cone), together with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The Secretary for International Relations of theCTA-Workers, Roberto Baradel, said: “At CTA, we hold a critical position with regard to the resolutions taken at the World Trade Organisation because afterwards they affect the daily lives of workers and people in general.”

He also referred to the activity that took in the UMET, with the participation of many speakers from the trade union confederations in Argentina, the region, and the world. “We plan a series of panel discussions about what the consequences will be for workers, for people in general and for the different areas that are key to the development of a society.”

In addition, Baradel repudiated the decision of the Mauricio Macri Government to deport the Norwegian activist, Petter Titland, in respect of the organisation Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and for Citizen s’ Action (ATTAC), and the British journalist based in Ecuador, Sally Burch, of the Latin American Information Agency. “We unhesitatingly reject the national government’s authoritarian and dictatorial position, which is an international scandal, as regards the deportation of activists and members of civil societies such as ATTAC of Norway, and the journalist from Ecuador, who has Ecuadorian and British nationality, and who has a news portal; and we also repudiate the rejection of the participation of 42 NGOs that are part of the civil society and that discuss with the WTO the resolutions taken.”

“We stand in solidarity with all those who have been deported. We reject that attitude of the Argentine government and we hope that all countries and all organisations will make a strong statement about this incomprehensible attitude of the national government,” said the CTA-Workers Secretary for International Relations and General Secretary of the Sindicato Unificado de Trabajadores de la Educación de Buenos Aires (SUTEBA-United Union of Education Workers in Buenos Aires).