The Economist reports:
HIS government espouses “21st-century socialism” and claims to stand for the working class. Yet Hugo Chávez, Venezuela’s president, has never been a fan of his country’s trade unions. He portrays them as corrupt vestiges of a capitalist past and of the previous political order. Ever since he was first elected, in 1998, he has sought ways to bring them to heel. Having first tried and failed to take over the main trade-union confederation, he encouraged a pro-government rival. Now he wants to bypass the unions altogether, by establishing in their place “workers’ councils” that amount to branches of the ruling Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
A bill in the government-controlled National Assembly would eliminate collective bargaining and give powers in labour matters to the new councils. “The government’s policy is the total elimination of the union movement,” says Orlando Chirino, a former chavista who is one of the architects of the Labour Solidarity Movement, a new group which embraces unions from both sides of the country’s political divide and which defends union autonomy.
If this is surprising, you’re looking at Hugo Chavez the wrong way. Chavez is a totalitarian. He wants all power to rest with the government, under his control. Whatever he might feign to the people, his mission is not to serve the working class; his mission is to amass power for himself. Labor unions represent a power base distinct from his own, so he must destroy them.