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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Castillo inaugurated: Red Review #16 -- International Left and Labour News

The sixteenth edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from Peru, Cuba, the US, Canada, the UK and elsewhere.

Pedro Castillo greets Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza during his inauguration ceremony -- photo via twitter

July 24:

Momentum is growing among postal workers to reject a deal that would extend existing union contracts with Canada Post by two years. The two contracts cover Urban Ops, and Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMCs). That’s 50,000 Canada Post workers in total, and all members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

On Saturday, July 24, over 100 people gathered at President’s Way Lawn in Balboa Park to take a stand in support of Medicare for All and healthcare as a human right. M4A demonstrations took place in many other cities as well. The local march was organized by a coalition which included the Party for Socialism and Liberation San Diego, San Diego Democratic Socialists of America, the Green Party of San Diego, San Diego Socialist Alternative, Peace and Freedom San Diego and Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) San Diego.

July 25:

Approximately 900 Rio Tinto workers at the company's aluminum smelting facilities in Kitimat, British Columbia are on strike as of 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time today.

"This strike comes down to Rio Tinto's greed and lack of respect for our hard-working members at the Kitimat smelting facilities," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "Our union is fully prepared to defend our members' rights and protect good jobs in Kitimat now and in the future."

July 26:

The victory of leftist Pedro Castillo in Peru's Presidential election after weeks of far right candidate Keiko Fujimori delaying the result with baseless claims of voter fraud has provided inspiration for other leftist parties and movements.

On Sunday, Peru’s leftist President-elect Pedro Castillo announced that he will give up his lifetime salary as president and hold functions with his pay as an elementary school teacher in order to fight for equality in the Andean country.

On 26 July, after three months of negotiations, the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Albania (SPMSH), an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union, signed a collective labour agreement with management of the Elbasan Cement Factory.

The agreement considerably improves the working conditions and pay of all 560 cement workers at the factory in Elbasan district of Albania. The agreement is valid for two years.

The Communist Party of Swaziland says that the recent response of absolute monarch Mswati that “everything belongs to the king”, ruling out any rational engagement with people calling for democracy and freedom, disqualifies him from the political future of Swaziland.

“The monarchy and the feudal system must go,” said CPS leader Kenneth Kunene in response to Mswati’s comments and refusal to end the violence against pro-democracy activists.

July 27:

Bolivia’s Attorney General has revealed the conclusions of an independent investigation, carried out by a Spanish university, which looked into allegations of electoral fraud in 2019. The report found no basis at all for the allegations presented by the opposition as an excuse to launch the coup. The criminal probe into the supposed ‘fraud’ has now been closed as a result.

The KKE denounces the despicable joint statement supporting the criminal plans of US imperialism against Cuba, signed by 21 Foreign Ministers, including the Greek Foreign Minister, N. Dendias. The joint statement, co-signed by the US Secretary of State, as well as the Foreign Ministers of a bloc of reactionary governments, such as of Israel, Brazil, Austria, Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic states, etc., adopts all the provocative pretexts of the Biden administration’s intervention plan against the people and the government of Cuba.

Approximately 1,500 Bombardier workers and 700 De Havilland workers are on strike affecting both companies. The Downsview plant is the manufacturing site for Bombardier's Global series aircraft and De Havilland's Dash 8 turboprop aircraft.

Workers at Bell Media outlets across Canada have ratified collective agreements containing significant improvements after committing to coordinated bargaining across several Unifor locals.

“This shows what solidarity can do. Workers in different parts of the country, doing very different jobs, but united by similar workplace issues and a common employer came together and stuck together,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

July 28:

Leftist Pedro Castillo was sworn in as Peru’s fifth president in three years Wednesday on the 200th anniversary of the country’s independence, promising an end to corruption and a new constitution.

After fighting it in court and an international solidarity campaign, the outrageous electoral ban of the German Communist Party (DKP) by Germany’s Federal Election Committee has been overturned in the courts.

THE Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) reaffirmed its rejection of the continued foreign military presence and bases in the country today, welcoming the announcement of a withdrawal of US forces.

US President Joe Biden confirmed on Monday that 2,500 US combat troops would finally leave Iraq by the end of the year following a meeting with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Khadimi.

Ten opposition parties, at meeting on Tuesday, decided to move “joint adjournment notices in the Lok Sabha” as a part of a united strategy to counter the government on the Pegasus snooping row.

“We have now decided that there will be better coordination among all of us as the government doesn’t want to discuss the matter at all. We will now be giving joint adjournment notices in Lok Sabha,’’ said one of the leaders, who attended the meeting, requesting anonymity.

The meeting was attended by Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham’s TR Baalu and Kanimozhi, Nationalist Congress Party’s Supriya Sule, Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant, Hasnain Masoodi of National Conference, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Ritesh Pandey, Kerala Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Revolutionary Socialist Party and Indian Union Muslim League.

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed—as part of the FY22 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) Appropriations bill—historic language by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Susan Wild (PA-07) regarding the role of the Organization of American States (OAS) in the 2019 Bolivian elections and subsequent human rights crisis.

Reps. Schakowsky and Wild have been among a group of U.S. representatives seeking answers to specific questions regarding the highly controversial statements and actions by the OAS Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) in Bolivia alleging fraud in the 2019 Bolivian elections. The EOM’s claims contributed to the forced ouster of Bolivia’s democratically elected president and the emergence of an unelected, military-backed regime responsible for mass human rights violations. Despite repeated congressional letters, OAS officials have failed to answer questions from members of Congress regarding the basis for the OAS’ claims in Bolivia.

As Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna took turns re-announcing funding that already existed and touting ‘good union jobs’ on an Edmonton Transit platform, transit workers took over the stage with a banner of the faces of over 1500 transit workers in the ATU with the emblazoned words: “STOP CONTRACTING OUT OUR WORK” on a 4x12 foot banner.

Members of Unifor Local 1403 at Canadian Kraft Paper in The Pas, Manitoba have ratified a new three-year collective agreement that will reverse the wage rollbacks agreed to in 2016 as part of a temporary arrangement to help save the mill.

July 29:

With Joe Biden not backing away from Donald Trump's increased sanctions against Cuba -- presumably in hopes of destabilizing the regime after some minor protests broke out on July 11 -- international solidarity shipments are arriving from sympathetic anti-imperialist countries.

In late May, student researchers from across the University of California (UC) system delivered over 10,000 signed union authorization cards to the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), representing a unit of 17,000 workers. If they win their union, the total number of union members in the United States would increase by 0.1 percent.

President Pedro Castillo has appointed Guido Bellido as Prime Minister, the second most powerful role in government. Bellido is a senior leader for the socialist Perú Libre party. The move is a first sign from the new President on the direction of his government.

Guido Bellido is the General Secretary for Perú Libre in the city of Cusco. He’s indigenous Quechua and an economist by profession. The party labels itself as Marxist-Leninist and presented Pedro Castillo as its presidential candidate, despite that Castillo was not a member of the party prior to the campaign.

Protests and road blockades are being held on roads and highways across Guatemala to demand the resignation of neoliberal President Alejandro Giammattei and his Attorney General, Consuelo Porras following the dismissal of the head of the Special Prosecutor Against Corruption, Juan Francisco Sandoval, now in exile.

A large number of opposition movements and parties, including indigenous, campesino and student organizations have organized at more than 60 meeting points in the capital and across the country, in what some are calling a ‘Plurinational strike’. Indigenous authorities issued a call on Thursday, urging the population to support mobilizations by taking to the streets to show rejection of the government and its corruption and flagrant mismanagement of the state.

The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that workers have ratified a first contract with Google contractor HCL America, Inc., covering about 65 employees who are based in Pittsburgh.

USW International President Tom Conway said that the three-year contract improves wages, job security and working conditions.

July 30:

The Labour group led by John McDonnell has issued a furious statement over the party’s banning of four left-wing groups. It also takes aim at Keir Starmer directly – saying he has brought the party “almost to its knees”.

THE South African Communist Party (SACP) reflected on a centenary of “unbroken struggle” today as it celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding.

At a hybrid conference, held virtually and in person, the party’s general secretary Blade Nzimande said it continues to support the African National Congress (ANC) administration led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, but that the ANC’s current problems extend beyond the “nine wasted years” of the Jacob Zuma administration.

The three-year agreements cover approximately 1,500 union members employed by Bombardier Aviation at the Downsview plant.

Grocery workers at Zero Waste Bulk in Waterloo, Ontario are the newest members of UFCW 175 & 633 after voting 100% in favour of joining the union.

Workers at Zero Waste Bulk decided to form a union to address issues surrounding wages, scheduling, transparency and to improve health and safety on the job.

July 31:

Peru’s newly appointed Prime Minister, Guido Bellido, has stated his commitment to fighting all forms of discrimination including misogyny, homophobia, racism, and others. The indigenous socialist leader within the Peru Libre party, has been the target of increasingly shrill attacks in the right-wing press.

In an official statement posted today, Bellido thanks President Pedro Castillo for entrusting him with this senior role, adding that, “As a Quechua and son of campesinos, I’ve experienced discrimination in the flesh and so I’ll work to eradicate it in all its forms. Together, we’ll beat racism, classism, machismo, and homophobia, that is still deeply rooted in society”.


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