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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Ceasefire Now! Red Review #117 -- International Left and Labour Report

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

With reports from Argentina, Canada, the USA, Cyprus, Iceland, Cuba, Kenya and elsewhere and with a very large section of news and solidarity statements from around the world related to the ongoing horrific attacks on Gaza and the Palestinian people by Israel.

Thousands rally in solidarity with Palestine in downtown Toronto, Saturday, October 28 - image via The Left Chapter

October 18:

Between October 14th and 18th, 2023, five hundred members and leaders of social movements, political parties, and trade unions from more than one hundred and thirty organisations and seventy-five countries gathered in Johannesburg (South Africa) to chart out an exit from the catastrophes of capitalism. The Dilemmas of Humanity International Conference is part of a broad process that has included regional conferences and 260 participating organisations from 51 countries. From this space we proclaim the urgent need to overcome the distress of our present to build socialism now.

October 22:

The 23rd International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties (IMCWP) was held October 20-22 in Izmir, Turkey. It was hosted by the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP).

In addition to the many contributions of individual parties which can be found at Solidnet on The Left Chapter we posted about the Communist Party of Cuba at the IMCWP as well as posting the IMCWP statement in solidarity with Palestine at Solidarity with Gaza & Palestine! Red Review #116 -- International Left and Labour Report.

The parties assembled in Izmir have issued a comprehensive action plan for the international communist movement in the coming year.

Argentina will head to runoff presidential elections after the Unión Por la Patria (Union for the Homeland) candidate, Sergio Massa, the current Minister of Economy, secured an unanticipated 37 percent of the votes on October 22, beating far-right candidate Javier Milei, who received only 30 percent.

The result represents a shift compared to the PASO, or primary election, that took place in August when Milei, from the Libertad Avanza (Liberty Advances), emerged as the frontrunner.

Milei held onto the 30 percent of votes he received during the PASO, while Patricia Bullrich, the candidate of the conservative Junto por el Cambio (Together for Change) coalition, came in third with 23 percent of the vote. These results mean that Argentinians will return to the polls once more in November to vote for their next president.

A few days before the October 22 elections in Argentina, almost 90 percent of the polls indicated that the winner would be Javier Milei, the “insane” candidate of the right—as described by Estela de Carlotto, president of the legendary human rights group Abuelas de Plaza Mayo (Grandmothers of Plaza Mayo). As it turned out, Sergio Massa (of the coalition Unión por la Patria - UP) prevailed over Milei by almost seven points. Massa and Milei will face off on November 19 in the run-off for the presidency of the country with South America’s second-largest economy.

On August 13, Milei prevailed over all the other candidates in Argentina’s primary. In the months between that election and the one in October, Massa—who is the Minister of the Economy in the current government—added three million votes to his tally.

October 24:

Tens of thousands of people participated in the Women’s Strike on October 24. Based on preliminary police estimates, it is believed that between 70,000 to 100,000 people gathered today.

The strike was organised as part of the National Women’s Holiday (Kvennafrídagurinn). First organised in 1975, about 90% of working women marched from their workplaces to Arnarhóll.

Grapevine joined the crowds at Arnarhóll and spoke to the people. Most of them were allowed to take paid time off work to join the strike, whereas women working in first responder industries, many of foreign origin, or those in low-paid jobs couldn’t participate. We caught up with the protesters and asked what the strike meant to them.

October 25:

Forty days into their nationwide Stand-Up Strike, the United Auto Workers (UAW) yesterday reached a tentative agreement with the first of the Big Three automakers. On Wednesday night, UAW President Shawn Fain and Vice President Chuck Browning announced that a deal had been reached with Ford — with Browning calling it ​“the most lucrative agreement per member” in several decades and Fain hailing it as ​“a historic agreement.”

“We won things nobody thought possible,” Fain said in a video message. ​“Since the strike began, Ford put 50% more on the table than when we walked out. This agreement sets us on a new path to make things right at Ford, at the Big Three and across the auto industry. Together, we are turning the tide for the working class in this country.”

The tentative agreement comes after the Stand-Up Strike expanded to include 6,800 workers at Stellantis’ Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in Michigan on Monday and then 5,000 workers at General Motors’ Arlington Assembly Plant in Texas on Tuesday.

“Ford knew what was coming for them on Wednesday if we didn’t get a deal. That was checkmate,” Fain said.

Ninety-five percent of teachers have shown their support for job sanctions in response to the Government of Saskatchewan’s refusal to bargain on a provincial collective agreement. After two days of voting on October 24 and 25, 90 percent of teachers cast a vote. If the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation Executive deems sanctions necessary between now and June 30, 2024, this vote provides support.

“I want to be very clear that an obstinate and out-of-touch government is forcing this situation down an unfortunate path,” said Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation President Samantha Becotte. “Teachers want to negotiate a fair deal at the bargaining table. We are hopeful that the conciliation process will be successful. But the results of this vote send a very clear message. We are united, we are prepared, and we are ready to fight for our colleagues, our students and the families who are struggling in underfunded and under-resourced public schools across Saskatchewan. I want our government to finally listen to what teachers are telling them with this vote: Enough is enough.”

The World Federation of Trade Unions joins its voice and supports the workers of the State Health Services Organization in Cyprus, who are holding an 8-hour strike in state hospitals today, October 25.

The strike is following the refusal of the Organization, which is a semi-public organization, to agree on a collective agreement for the workers who have been hired since the day the Organization was founded. It is noted that despite the long period of time given since the announcement of the strike, there has been no substantial intervention by the Ministry of Health and the Government.

The State Health Services Organizations’ staff, of all professions, participate in the strike, gathering outside public hospitals.

The workers’ assemblies have decided to escalate the strike action in case the State Health Services Organization continues not to accept the conclusion of a collective agreement, similar to the existing agreements of the wider public sector.

WFTU’s affiliate, PEO, and other trade unions as well, declared in a statement that they stand in solidarity with the workers and will cooperate to vindicate their struggle.

October 27:

Tesla mechanics in Sweden walked off the job on Friday to protest against the electric carmaker's refusal to sign a collective wage agreement, the metalworkers union said.

The strike affects around Tesla's 130 mechanics at seven workshops across Sweden, IF Metall union spokesman Jesper Pettersson told AFP.

Pettersson said Tesla employees had "lower wages, don't have the same insurances, and have lower pensions" than other industry workers.

Negotiated sector-by-sector, collective agreements are the basis of the Swedish labour market model, covering almost 90 percent of all Swedish employees and guaranteeing standard wages and working conditions.

Unite, Scotland’s leading trade union, can confirm today (Friday 27 October) that its 500-strong Scottish Water membership will take 48 days of strike action over three months in a significant development in the escalating dispute.

The first round of strike action will begin at 00.01 hours on 10 November and end at 23.59 hours on 13 November with the last round starting at the same time on 26 January and ending on 29 January (see notes to editors). Every round of action begins on a Friday and ends on a Monday evening which represents four full days of action over twelve weeks.

The significant escalation in the pay and grading dispute follows Unite’s emphatic mandate for strike action by 89 per cent at Scottish Water. The trade union’s membership includes waste water operatives, water treatment and burst repair operatives, maintenance engineers, electricians and sewage tanker drivers.

The dispute centres on Unite accusing Scottish Water bosses of bypassing long-standing collective bargaining processes involving trade unions. This specifically relates to a new ‘reward system’ which Scottish Water bosses are trying to impose on the workforce which is also being tied to the 2023 pay offer.

The WFTU mission to the Middle East, led by the General Secretary, Pambis Kyritsis, was successfully completed today.

During the 5 days of the visit, the General Secretary held a series of meetings with trade unions and Organizations from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, political parties, and the political leadership of Syria. Furthermore, the delegation participated in solidarity activities with the struggling people of Palestine, organized by the class-oriented trade unions of the region.

The visit had been a very good opportunity to reiterate the long and cordial relations between the WFTU and Organizations of the region, and also to agree on a common action plan between them, with activities and initiatives in favour of the Arab peoples and the workers’ interests.

Workers at a Sherwood Park Starbucks are now unionized — union leaders say – a change that started with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Some of the things that folks at Starbucks said to us were important were a bit of control over their work and their workplace — particularly in terms of health and safety,” said Scott Lunny. Director of United Steelworkers Western Canada.

Union leaders who now represent these Starbucks employees say the front-line fast-food and hospitality workers were under enormous pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic — which is partially what led to it becoming the second location in Alberta to unionize.

In addition to seniority rights and a collective voice — employees will see a wage increase.

Vidéotron, a subsidiary of Québecor, announced Friday that it had ordered a lockout of its 214 unionized employees in Gatineau.

The decision comes after the workers, part of the FTQ-affiliated Syndicat canadien de la fonction publique, voted 74 per cent last week to reject a final contract offer from management.

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The lockout will go into effect 5 a.m. Monday, the company said.

The union hopes to resume talks with management. Subcontracting and keeping jobs in Quebec are at the heart of the dispute.

The company argues that it has no choice but to subcontract work because 350 jobs at its call centres remain unfilled despite recruitment efforts.

October 28:

The United Auto Workers has reached a tentative deal with Stellantis, the union announced on Saturday.

The news comes three days after the UAW announced a tentative agreement with Ford. The union has been on strike against the Big Three U.S. automakers since September 15 in its first ever work stoppage targeting all three companies at once. General Motors is now the only one of the three that has not agreed to a tentative deal.

"We've achieved what just weeks ago we were told was impossible," UAW President Shawn Fain said in a video posted on social media. "The power of the Stand-Up Strike cannot be understated."

Amazon drivers picketed an Amazon warehouse on Long Island today over the company’s unfair labor practices. The picket at the DYY9 warehouse is just the latest in a four-month strike by drivers from the company’s DAX8 delivery station in Palmdale, Calif that has spread to warehouses around the country.

“Amazon pays us half as much as delivery drivers at other companies to do the same job. It’s not right. We will continue our unfair labor practice strike, and extend our picket line anywhere we have to, until Amazon respects our rights and pays the fair wage we deserve,” said Tom Culver, an Amazon driver from Palmdale.

More than 1,300 Unite members working for bus company Go North East will embark on all-out continuous strike action from Saturday (October 28) in a determined fight for fair pay and conditions.

Members overwhelmingly rejected the latest pay offer by 81 per cent on a turnout of 93 per cent.

Unite members are angry that they’re being paid up to 20 per cent less than their counterparts working for Go North West in Manchester, who do the exact same jobs working for the very same parent company.

Their pay is so low that many members are struggling to meet even a basic standard of living, as a shocking new Unite survey of Go North East members reveals.

October 29:

Kenyans will not access Posta Kenya services across the country from November 2 next week due to a strike which has been called by the Communication Workers union to protest the delay in payment of salaries.

According to the union, over 2,500 Posta Kenya employees have not been paid for the last five months adding to the struggle of an already high cost of living.

Communication Workers Union National Treasurer Joseph Rwanjau says all employees will down their tools from next week and all Post offices across the country remain closed until employees are paid all their dues.

Palestine/ Gaza:

As the Israeli attacks on the people of Gaza intensify with the aggression reportedly entering a "new phase", the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced on Sunday afternoon that the death toll in the Gaza Strip had risen to more than 8,000, including 3,195 children, and the number of injured exceeded 19,000 citizens, in addition to 1,650 missing, while the number killed in the West Bank reached 114, and the number of injured 1,950 wounded.

Thousands marched through the streets of Toronto again Saturday afternoon (October 28) after a rally in solidarity with Palestine at Nathan Phillips Square.

Organized by the group Toronto for Palestine it featured tremendously powerful and moving speeches by children talking about the deaths and suffering of children in Gaza which is being relentless bombarded by Israel. At least 3,000 children have been killed in the slaughter.

In one particularly moving moment one of the child speakers said to the children of Gaza "I wish I could share my toys and dreams with you." Other children spoke of how the children of Gaza should be at school or looking forward to the future instead of living in terror with their names written on their arms or legs so they can be identified if they they are killed.

As Gaza War Enters 'Second Stage,' Hundreds of Thousands March for Cease-Fire

The day after Israel unleashed its most intensive bombing campaign against Gaza since October 7, hundreds of thousands of protesters marched in cities around the world calling for a cease-fire and the protection of Palestinian lives.

An estimated half a million people attended the London march, which went from Embankment past U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's official residence at Downing Street to Westminster. Aerial footage showed streets and bridges thick with crowds.

Protests also took place in cities across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, including what +972 Magazine journalist Oren Ziv said was the first anti-war protest in Tel Aviv.

As Israel intensified a war that's already killed more than 7,300 Palestinians and displaced a majority of Gaza's residents, hundreds of Jewish American protesters and allies were arrested after taking over New York's Grand Central Station Friday evening for a sit-in demanding an immediate cease-fire.

Chanting slogans including "no more weapons, no more war, cease-fire's what we're fighting for" and "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," human rights defenders took over the station's Grand Concourse, while others hung banners reading "Never Again for Anyone" and "Palestinians Should Be Free" from the stairway to the East Balcony.

Thousands demonstrated in Tunis on October 21 as part of a national call for mobilization launched by the National Committee in Support of Resistance in Palestine. Demonstrators from different left organizations and parties mobilized to support Palestine in the face of Israeli aggression against Gaza. It is the second march organized by the Committee in Support of Resistance in ten days.

The march began from Human Rights Square or “Chokri Belaid Square” and raised slogans such as “the people want to criminalize normalization,” “the people want to liberate Palestine,” and “the French and Americans are partners in the aggression,” and carrying Palestinian flags.

The largest Muslim American civil rights group on Wednesday led condemnation of U.S. President Joe Biden for saying he had "no confidence" in Palestinian health officials' Gaza casualty reports—figures deemed reliable by United Nations agencies, human rights groups, and international and Israeli mainstream media.

Speaking at a Wednesday afternoon White House press conference, Biden—who earlier this month declared his "rock-solid and unwavering" commitment to Israel following a Hamas-led attack that killed more than 1,400 Israelis—said that "I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed."

The humanitarian group Oxfam International on Wednesday accused Israel of "using starvation as a weapon of war" in the besieged Gaza Strip, where hunger and thirst are growing rapidly as just a trickle of aid has been allowed to enter the territory amid the Israeli military's relentless bombing campaign.

Citing United Nations data, Oxfam said in a statement that just 2% of the food that would have been delivered to Gaza prior to Israel's latest assault has been able to enter the strip since October 9, when the Israeli government announced a total blockade of the strip.

International law prohibits the use of starvation as a method of warfare.


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