April 24 to 27 in California, USA. During this last week, the First International Congress of Platform Workers was held in California, USA. There were 4 days full of debates, actions of struggle and great conclusions to advance in the coordination and international organization of this new sector of workers.
It was a historic Congress, a founding event for platform workers in the world that for the first time organized an international meeting by and for the workers themselves. In California we find colleagues from 17 countries on 3 continents, the international activism of this new sector of the working class that is platform work. We met in California to discuss, organize and plan how to continue and grow our fight for labor rights and our unions around the world.
The Congress was organized at the headquarters of the California Gig Workers Union and SEIU 721, who received us with enormous class fraternity. The comrades made enormous efforts together with SiTraRepa in the joint coordination and realization of this First Congress.
Together with them, expressions of the new unionism in the US participated: delegations from the Amazon Labor Union, the Starbucks Workers Union, McDonald’s workers, Amazon Flex, Peet’s Coffee
A SiTraRepA delegation traveled from Argentina together with other American organizations from Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia and Paraguay. From Europe, compañeras and compañeros who are organized in Italy, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden and Spain participated. And from Asia, the participation from the Philippines stood out, together with Nepal, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
A Congress full of debate and action
The debates were organized around 4 panels covering the various issues involving platform workers around the world. The first dealt with working conditions, which are the same all over the world. In the second, he realized the new wave of grassroots unionism that is sweeping the planet, in platform work and in other sectors as well, where the participation of representatives of the Amazon Labor Union and Starbucks Workers United stood out. In the third panel, the different legal regulations that exist and those that are being debated about the sector were addressed, and in the last one, how to strengthen the international organization of workers by platform.
For their part, the actions of struggle marked the development of the Congress, showed the sector with strength fighting in the streets and had enormous impact. First of all, on Monday the 24th, a large motorcade took place outside the California Courthouse building to support the California Gig Workers Union’s appeal to the Supreme Court against the scandalous Proposition 22, which is patently unconstitutional and of a clear and very reactionary anti-union content.
The following day, we developed an important action of international solidarity, demonstrating at the Argentine Consulate with the delegations of the world supporting the demand for recognition of SiTraRepA.
Lastly, Thursday began with an action at the San Francisco airport in the parking lot where drivers wait to work, which was highly attended by workers.
Finally, the closing action of the Congress was an impressive caravan that blocked the streets in front of the Uber headquarters, the emblematic company of this precariousness model, where we held a press conference in which we expressed our main demands and it was closed with A lot of strength for the colleague Emilse Icandri from SiTraRepA, for the International Coordination.
Finally, the important assembly of workers of the Congress took several resolutions of great importance. In the first place, a declaration of principles was drawn up that denounces all the main problems of the workers by platform in the world and the path of struggle that this international organization proposes to face them.
In turn, an action plan was voted that will consist of several international days of struggle, coordinated and simultaneous in all countries, which will be held throughout the year to show the strength of this movement of workers throughout the world. world.
And finally, we vote to give continuity to the construction generated in this Congress, keeping it permanently organized, with an International Coordination and holding a next meeting for 2024 that will surely be much larger and with the participation of more international delegations.
At the end of this Congress there are already some first conclusions. In the first place, that the companies that work by platform, be it Pedidos Ya or Rappi in Argentina, Uber, Lyft, Deliveroo, Just Eat or many others around the world, work in the same way. Its business model is based on three principles: the denial of the employment relationship, from which the complete lack of rights for workers can be deduced, and finally the enormous anti-union efforts of these companies. Today they are the spearhead of the advance of 21st century capitalism that attacks the rights won by workers in the last 200 years.
This meeting starts from a very high floor of debate, much higher than previous events on work by application, where it was only debated whether we are workers or self-employed as the companies propose, or if we had to go behind the parliamentarians begging for some regulation that recognizes some right. On this occasion, we talked about our challenges and how we organize ourselves to conquer our claims.
The debate went far beyond mere union limits, but rather incorporated a set of extraordinary class definitions, very clear, such as the identity of platform workers as workers, that there is no mutual benefit with the companies, and that the The only way to achieve our rights is by strengthening our unions, organizations and international coordination, with grassroots work and struggle in the streets.
It was a true school of immense wealth, with a fraternal, deep exchange full of teachings between fellow activists and organizers of the sector from 17 countries. The meeting left a floor for debate, a work agenda and immense enthusiasm to build this international coordination that is full of future.
The perspective of work is immense, it is about the meeting of activists from around the world who fight against the most advanced of the capitalist attacks in this XXI century against the conquests of the working class, with a perspective that goes beyond the union, that It is not only demanding but also has an internationalist, classist projection and even anti-capitalist elements.
It is evident that in the US there is a process of recomposition of the working class of enormous wealth that may be historic, and that gathers historical class traditions of that country from decades ago. This Congress connected directly with that process, which has different expressions in the world, but today one of its capitals is undoubtedly in the United States. It also came to light that a more complex political debate is being processed in that country, in relation to to a perspective of class independence.
A very symptomatic brief anecdote in this regard: the trip to San Francisco was made with an airline that is almost 100% unionized. There, before taking off, the plane workers greeted the Congress participants, expressed their support for the action against Uber, the demand for unionization and the rejection of anti-union practices.
The perspectives that this Congress opens up are extraordinary. We have come out of a week full of debates, organization, action and enthusiasm, which projects a huge international work agenda, sustained from grassroots union work to strengthen the organization throughout the world, with the aim of imposing our claims against these companies that are the spearhead of 21st century capitalism against labor rights and unionization.
From SiTraRepA we are tremendously proud of having worked to get this Congress up and full of enthusiasm for all the work that lies ahead. The fighting prospect is immense. With the organization and the fight from the grassroots, we are going to build a huge global movement that goes for all the rights of workers on platforms. This fight is international, that is why, as we said in this Congress:
Platform workers around the world, unite!