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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

General Strike!: Red Review #80 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Canada, the UK, Honduras, Chile, Portugal, Greece, Belgium, France and elsewhere. There is also a section related to the 22nd International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties.

Demonstrators during the Belgian general strike on November 9 -- Image via Twitter

November 1:

Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro met in Venezuela’s capital Caracas today on November 1, two months after formally re-establishing diplomatic relations and a month after resuming trade between the two neighboring countries.

At around 2:30 pm local time, President Maduro reported via Twitter that he received his Colombian counterpart in the Miraflores presidential palace.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro held their first bilateral meeting in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, on Tuesday November 1, two months after formally restoring diplomatic relations. Relations had been broken in February 2019.

Following the meeting, Petro and Maduro signed a joint declaration to further consolidate bilateral relations and mutual cooperation between the two neighboring nations.

On Tuesday, November 1, President Arce warned that the conservative opposition is seeking to repeat the 2019 coup d’état by fomenting violence in the general strike in Santa Cruz. Under the circumstances, he called on the country’s armed forces to safeguard the stability of the country and defend the constitution.

“Today, Bolivia is once again threatened by those who, unable to contribute to democracy, use confrontation and violence, endangering democratic coexistence among Bolivians. They are only making it clear that only the People have an authentic democratic conviction because they know that they are the majority. The loyalty of the Armed Forces lies with the people, who have expressed their will to live together in peace and democracy. It is their obligation to defend the legally constituted government,” said President Arce during the inauguration ceremony of the new military commanders.

Federal labor officials have filed a new and sweeping complaint against Starbucks alleging that the coffee chain retaliated against union workers by shuttering a popular location in Ithaca, New York, among other charges.

A regional director for the National Labor Relations Board found merit in the union’s claim that the June store closure was meant to dissuade workers from organizing. In the complaint filed at the board on Tuesday, the director said Starbucks’ actions were illegal and asked that the company be ordered to reopen the location.

November 3:

For the 30th year in a row the United Nations overwhelmingly voted to call for an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo, imposed by the USA against Cuba.

The vote was a staggering 185 in favour with only the United States and Israel voting against. There were 2 abstentions, Ukraine and Brazil.

On November 3, for the 30th year in a row the United Nations overwhelmingly voted to call for an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo, imposed by the USA against Cuba.

The vote was a staggering 185 in favour with only the United States and Israel voting against. There were 2 abstentions, Ukraine and Brazil.

Prior to the vote, Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, gave a powerful speech outlining the devastating, cruel toll the blockade has taken on the people of this brave, socialist nation over the decades.

We have translated it from the Spanish and present it here in full:

On Wednesday November 3, Chilean President Gabriel Boric reported that he would soon present to Congress a bill to reform the country’s current private pension system. President Boric said that the bill aims to create a new social security fund to guarantee better pensions and put an end to the seven existing Pension Fund Administrators (AFPs), created under the US-backed dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).

“Today we present a reform, which has been awaited and postponed for more than 15 years, which creates a mixed system that will guarantee better pensions for all, the current system is in crisis and the amounts are not enough for people to sustain a decent life in their old age,” said Boric on national television.

The president criticized the fact that “in Chile, 72% of pensions are below the minimum wage and that one in four retirees receives an amount that is below the poverty line.” He pointed out that “this occurs at the same time when the AFPs receive tremendous profits, even though the results and profitability of the funds are negative.”

On Thursday, November 3, Spanish workers under the leadership of trade unions organized a massive mobilization in Madrid, demanding an increase in wages at par with the soaring inflation. The mobilization was called by unions including the Workers’ Commissions (CCOO) and the General Union of Workers (UGT). More than 50,000 people participated in the protest stating that “This crisis is not paid for by the working class, salary or conflict!” Members of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) and Communist Youth Union of Spain (UJCE) also participated in the march and expressed their support and solidarity with the workers.

November 6:

The secretary general of the Communist Party of Portugal (PCP), Jerónimo de Sousa, announced this Sunday that he is stepping down from his seat and the post of secretary general of the PCP, which he had held for 18 years.

November 7:

SOCIALIST Labour MPs are reluctant to criticise Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership for fear of being “purged” from the party, members of the Socialist Campaign Group alleged today.

Some left-wing candidates have been blocked from standing as Labour candidates at the next election amid reports of a clampdown on supporters of ex-leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was thrown out of the parliamentary party in 2020.

Socialist Campaign Group members told the Telegraph newspaper that they were reluctant to go public with their concerns over Sir Keir’s leadership for fear of suffering the same fate.

One spoke of a “huge purge,” saying: “It’s an awful, awful atmosphere. Starmer says the party is united, but I’ve never known the party more disunited.

The Honduran army and national police converged on a Garífuna community in Punta Gorda — on the island of Roatán — on November 7, and violently evicted residents. Police arrested six community members, and at least 55 people were injured.

Punta Gorda is home to the first Garífuna community in Honduras, which was founded in 1797, after the British exiled them from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Colombia and Venezuela have resumed commercial flights after over two years of suspension, marking further improvement in the bilateral and trade relations between the two neighboring countries.

On Monday, November 7, an inaugural flight by the private Turpial Airlines took off from the Simón Bolívar International Airport near the Venezuelan capital Caracas to the El Dorado International Airport in Colombian capital Bogotá with around 50 passengers on board.

Likewise, on Wednesday November 9, a flight by the Colombian government-owned airline Satena departed from the El Dorado airport, bound for the Simón Bolívar airport, marking the mutual reactivation of commercial air transport operations. This flight also had 50 passengers traveling, including Colombian Transport Minister William Reyes.

Communist Party of India national council secretary Amarjeet Kaur said that the Great October Socialist Revolution that gave birth to the first socialist state in the world in 1917 in Russia remains even today as the guiding force all over the world behind all the forces that are fighting to get liberated from all kinds of exploitation. She was addressing a gathering of party comrades in party’s national headquarters, Ajoy Bhavan, on November 7, 2022, marking the 105th anniversary of Great October Socialist Revolution.

The programme was conducted by party national council secretary Pallab Sengupta.

On the 105th anniversary of the Great Socialist October Revolution the Communist Party of Poland salutes this great breakthrough and one of the key moments in the human history.

The October Revolution was an unprecedented victory of socialism over forces of the bourgeois state and imperialism. The slogan of Bolsheviks „Peace, land and bread” announced the end of the bloody war, land for peasants and bread for the starving population. It was a sign of the new world built by the workers', peasants' and soldiers' councils under the guidance of the revolutionary party and its leader V.I. Lenin.

November 8:

Over 70,000 university staff at 150 universities will strike for three days later this month over attacks on pay, working conditions and pensions. The National Union of Students (NUS) has backed the strikes, which will be the biggest ever to hit UK universities and could impact 2.5 million students.

UCU said disruption can be avoided if employers act fast and make improved offers. If they don't, strike action will escalate in the New Year alongside a marking and assessment boycott.

November 9:

On November 9 both Greece and Belgium saw general strikes as ten-of-thousands of workers, students and allies marched to protest the soaring cost of living.

Workers responsible for delivery of Samsung mobiles win union recognition

Unite has secured trade union rights for 120 workers at Yusen Logistics in Wellingborough.

The campaign began in January this year and in the space of a few months the union’s membership grew from almost no members to 90 per cent membership.

Tens of thousands of nurses in the United Kingdom will go on strike for the first time demanding better pay as the cost of living soars.

Nurses at most of the state-run National Health Service (NHS) employers across the country have voted for the action, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said on Wednesday.

November 10:

The US Parole Commission granted parole to US political prisoner Mutulu Shakur in October, who is now 72 after spending over 36 years behind bars. The decision was made public on November 10. Shakur is set to be released on December 16. Shakur is currently incarcerated at a federal medical center in Lexington, Kentucky due to his multiple health issues. The decision comes after decades of pressure from activists and the discovery by prison doctors that Shakur had only months to live.

After a hard-fought struggle, dockers in Liverpool have won an industrial pay dispute against port operator Mersey Docks and Harbour Company Limited (MDHC).

Seven weeks ago, the Liverpool dockers downed tools and took to the picket line when their employer MDHC, which is owned by the UK’s second largest stevedore Peel Ports Group, refused to accept the workers’ claim for a pay increase in line with inflation – despite Peel making over £140 million in profit in the previous year.

Today the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the International Dockworkers Council (IDC) welcomed the Unite the Union dockers victory in Liverpool.

Ontario workers delivered a spectacular blow to Premier Doug Ford’s government this week. Just four days after ramming through unprecedented anti-worker legislation, Bill 28, Ford appeared in a hastily called press conference on Monday morning to announce its full repeal.

Ford claimed this was a good-faith gesture to kickstart negotiations with Ontario’s 55,000 education workers, who had entered their second day of an “illegal” strike.

But his actions the previous week had painted a very different picture: of a government hell-bent on stripping workers of their rights to strike and bargain.

The reality is that Ford and his government were spooked by the rapid (and unexpected) escalation of Ontario’s unions, including a plan to launch an indefinite general strike on November 14.

Ford’s stunning reversal wipes out his government’s ambitions to legislate away workers’ rights in the province. This could mark the beginning of a rank-and-file driven renewal of Ontario’s labor movement.

When the OSBCU strike started on Friday, November 4, thousands of labour activists across the province were filled with a sense of hope; something all too rare in the labour movement these days. Not only was a union finally defying back-to-work legislation, but they were being joined by other unions, tacitly defying both the bans on solidarity strikes and wildcat strikes. And then when Ford doubled down, union locals were informed to start preparing for escalating actions into last week; whispers abounded of a general strike. Polls suggested that upwards of 50 percent of the province supported some sort of escalating action by other unions, and that a large majority put the blame for the strike squarely on the provincial government. The unprecedented situation (which seems to be the word of the hour) seemed like it would provide opportunities for advancing the class struggle in both Ontario and the country as a whole.

Locals across the province spent the weekend preparing to wildcat. And then, unceremoniously, the union leadership balked. After Ford announced in a garbled and duplicitous manner that he would repeal Bill 28, CUPE leadership announced that as a show of “good faith” they would end their pickets after having received a written promise (without a timeline) from Ford. Dreams of a general strike evaporated in an instant. OSBCU members will now return to work without a contract, essentially in the same place they would have been before Bill 28 was tabled. The right to strike has been restored, so long as workers choose not to use it. What happened?

November 11:

On Friday, Venezuelan National Assembly President Jorge Rodriguez arrived in France to participate in the 5th Paris Forum for Peace that takes place at the Palacio de la Bolsa.

THOUSANDS of trade unionists have marched in Paris to demand wage increases to keep up with inflation.

Thursday’s demonstration in the French capital was a part of a nationwide day of walkouts and transport strikes by train drivers and other public-sector workers that caused serious disruption to commuters.

The action came amid a wave of discontent across Europe as workers struggle to make ends meet during the cost-of-living crisis.

Vietnamese Ambassador to India Nguyen Thanh Hai has met with General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI) Doraisamy Raja and presented a congratulatory letter from General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Nguyen Phu Trong to Raja on his re-election to this post at the recent 24th CPI Congress.

At the meeting in New Delhi on November 11, Raja appreciated the CPV leader’s greetings and highlighted the close-knit ties between the two parties throughout history.

Ontario's labour relations board says the provincial government has withdrawn its application to have a walkout by 55,000 education workers declared illegal.

The workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) walked off the job last Friday after the government passed legislation that imposed a contract and banned a strike.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) stands in solidarity with public service workers who embarked on strike action on Thursday 10 November 2022. The SACP congratulates the workers who seek unity in pursuit of common demands, including safeguarding collective bargaining.

The SACP vehemently disagrees with the manner in which the government is handling the public service negotiations. In particular, the government must refrain from undermining collective bargaining, including through the use of the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS). The government has not given the workers any say in deciding the content and direction of the MTBPS.

Instead of unilaterally implementing below inflation wage adjustments using the MTBPS, the government must engage in collective bargaining in good faith, to seek consensus with public service unions on an offer that the workers can accept. It is important to appreciate this against the background of the government having intransigently reneged from implementing the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council Resolution 1 of 2018. The government did NOT implement wage increases in the third year of the 2018 public service collective bargaining agreement.

Coming out of its 15th National Congress, the SACP declared to build a powerful, socialist movement of the workers and poor. The SACP urges the workers to be actively involved in building this revolutionary unity of the working-class broadly understood, including the unity of workers across union and federation affiliation in the public service and the economy at large.

November 12:

PROTESTS took place across Britain on Saturday as part of a global day of action for climate justice as world leaders continue their debates at the Cop27 climate conference at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

Calls for reparations for southern-hemisphere countries worst affected by climate change caused mainly by Western industrialised nations have so far been unsuccessful.

About 40 demonstrations took place in Britain, including a march by thousands of protesters through the streets of the Scottish capital Edinburgh.

The COP27 convention centre may be closed this Sunday, but after a demonstration inside the coference venue on Saturday, unions in Sharm El Sheikh are strategizing to “ensure that our voice is heard” and that the term Just Transition doesn’t get diluted in negotiations

Just Transition is crucial as the implementation of the Paris Agreement is negotiated. The term mustn’t be hijacked and Just Transition must be about workers’ rights, good jobs and social dialogue.

On Saturday the trade union delegation at COP27 joined the massive demonstration together with civil society organizations for the “global day of action for climate justice”.

November 13:

Paulo Raimundo was unanimously elected this Sunday as the new secretary general of the Communist Party of Portugal (PCP) with a view to a tough opposition to the Socialist Party government.

November 14:

On November 14, 48,000 academic workers at the University of California began the largest higher education strike in US history. Workers are picketing at all ten University of California campuses across the state. Workers voted to go on strike after months-long collective bargaining with the UC system. Their central demands are: fair compensation, support for working parents, environmentally sustainable commuting, job security, disability justice, and international academic worker rights.

The head of the largest private-sector union in Canada said Monday that Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem is waging a "class war" on working people and it's time to stop hiking interest rates.

"Rather than developing a tailored response intended to slow profits, stop profiteering, fix supply chain bottlenecks and help workers keep up, policy makers have taken to blaming workers instead — including the governor of the Bank of Canada, who has basically declared class war on working people in this country," said Unifor president Lana Payne.

22nd International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties in Havana, Cuba:

The 22nd International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties (IMCWP) was held October 27-29 in Havana, Cuba.

The IMCWP is an annual meeting of Communist and Workers' parties that began in 1998 at the imitative of the Communist Party of Greece. 145 representatives of 78 Communist and Workers' Parties from 60 countries attended in Havana.

A report on the opening of the meeting can be found at 22nd International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties begins in Havana.

Statements from the meeting can be found at Red Review #79 -- International Left and Labour News.

On November 3 the Final Declaration and Plan of Action of the 22nd IMCWP were released and we have translated them from the Spanish.

The 22nd International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties (IMCWP) was held October 27-29 in Havana, Cuba.

The IMCWP is an annual meeting of Communist and Workers' parties that began in 1998 at the initiative of the Communist Party of Greece. 145 representatives of 78 Communist and Workers' Parties from 60 countries attended in Havana.

On November 7 English language versions of some of the key statements from the assembled parties were released.

Here we share resolutions condemning the blockade of Cuba, on the imperialist war in Ukraine, and in solidarity with the people and Communist Party of Venezuela.

Dear comrades,

Brothers and sisters of struggle,

In times like the ones we are living in, challenging and disheartening for the vast majority of people, victims of multiple simultaneous crises caused by the declining capitalism that pushes the world towards barbarity, is very comforting to hold an event that convened us for three days in Havana to realistically address shared alternatives and hopes.

We are here dreaming and making, especially trying to make possible the impossible. That is to say, making what the enemies of socialism and thus the enemies of human progress said was impossible since the ideas of Marx, Engels and the Communist Manifesto appeared: mobilizing the exploited and terrifying the exploiters.

The certainty that a better world is possible has not been delivered as a handbook. It has been confirmed along the way towards the socialist construction and with each party we meet that has the shared ideals in the relentless struggle for human emancipation and social justice.

Our horizon continues to be socialist, even after the tragic disappearance of the socialist bloc in Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and despite the ferocious anti-communist campaigns that the powers of transnational capitalism have turned into a single thought dogma through powerful global media.


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