top of page
  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

General strikes in France & Britain: Red Review #84 -- International Left and Labour News

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

With news from France, Britain, Ecuador, India, Venezuela, Vietnam, Russia, Belgium and elsewhere.

Communists marching in the British general strike, February 1

January 29:

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Sunday repeated the need for international solidarity and the promotion of dialogue to resolve conflicts worldwide.

On his Twitter account, the president pointed out that “the solidarity that we have given and submitted as an inalienable value and principle of the Revolution could not be blocked, just as the peoples’ awareness cannot be blocked. Let us insist on the most difficult task: balancing the world.”

Díaz-Canel attached to his message a material published in the Granma newspaper on the final day of the V International Conference 'For the Balance of the World', held at the Havana Convention Palace, where he delivered the closing remarks.

January 31:

Following on the heels of a huge mobilization on January 19, an estimated 2.8 million French workers took to the streets again on January 31 to oppose President Emmanuel Macron's reactionary pension "reforms". Macron's push to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 while also raising the number of years of work it takes to qualify for a pension has galvanized French workers into mass action that has the government on the defensive.

On Tuesday, January 31, workers from non-profit sectors in Belgium demonstrated in capital Brussels to defend the futures of the care, culture, and welfare in the country. More than 20,000 people participated in the march, which was organized by trade unions such as the Union of Employees, Technicians, and Managers (SETCa), General Labor Federation of Belgium (FGTB/ABVV) affiliate General Union of Public Services (CGSP), and Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (CSC)’s affiliate CNE, along with organizations such as La santé en lutte and Medicine for the People (MPLP).

The participants in the march demanded an increase in wages, better staffing, and refinancing of the health and non-profit sectors. Activists from the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB), Communist Party of Belgium (PCB), and others also participated in the protest and extended their support and solidarity to workers.

United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk called on member states to suspend measures such as sanctions that undermine human rights and aggravate the economic crisis in Venezuela.

“It is clear that the sectorial sanctions imposed since August 2017 have exacerbated the economic crisis and hindered human rights,” Türk told reporters upon the conclusion of his visit to the Caribbean country.

Venezuela has been under a wide-reaching sanctions regime first imposed by former US President Donald Trump and largely kept in place by his successor Joe Biden. The unilateral coercive measures have been previously condemned by the UN Human Rights Council. UN Special Rapporteur Alena Douhan has also called for sanctions against Venezuela to be lifted due to their impact on the most fundamental human rights.

On January 31 the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and its member unions held a Solidarity Day with the people of Peru in struggle against the violent, US backed coup regime that overthrew President Pedro Castillo.

At least 60 people have been killed by the police or military in demonstrations and blockades resisting the coup.

February 1:

The day after millions of workers mobilized in France, Britain saw at least 500,000 workers hit the streets Wednesday, February 1 to protest pay, working conditions and attacks on the right to strike by the Conservative government in what was the largest strike in the country in a decade.

BRITAIN saw its biggest day of strike action in a decade yesterday, as half a million public-sector workers protested over pay and working conditions in “walkout Wednesday.”

Teachers, lecturers, civil servants and train drivers withdrew their labour nationwide, with many gathering for massive demonstrations in London, Cardiff, Brighton, Liverpool, Newcastle and elsewhere.

The TUC accused the Tory government’s “Cabinet of millionaires” of being unable to understand the impact of falling real-terms wages and double-digit inflation on struggling key workers.

The union body organised demonstrations in various locations as part of its “defend the right to strike day.”

Colombia has pledged to pay reparations to victims after the inter-American court of human rights (IACHR) concluded the state allowed the systematic extermination of the leftwing Patriotic Union (UP) party in the 1980s and 90s.

The UP was a political party created out of a peace process with the Revolutionary Armed Forces (Farc) guerrillas in 1985 but 6,000 of its members were wiped out by rightwing paramilitaries, narcos and the Colombian military.

The eradication of the movement prompted the Farc to retake arms, perpetuating Colombia’s deadly conflict, which spanned six decades, killing 450,000 people and displacing 8 million. (Most Farc fighters eventually laid down their weapons after a new peace process in 2016.)

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

The Union Budget 2023-24 comes at a time when the Indian economy slowed down before the pandemic struck, worsened during the 2 pandemic years and the post pandemic recovery is adversely impacted by the global economic slowdown moving towards a possible recession. Under these circumstances this budget should have addressed the central issues of increasing people’s purchasing power with job generation and boosting the growth of domestic demand.

This budget fails to meet this situation. On the contrary, it squeezes the government expenditures to reduce the fiscal deficit while giving further tax concession to the rich. This comes at a time when Oxfam report shows that the richest 1 per cent in India have cornered 40.5 per cent of the wealth generated in the last 2 years. It is, thus, a contractionary budget which will only aggravate the economic crisis.

February 2:

THE 80th anniversary of the Nazi surrender that ended the battle of Stalingrad was marked today by communists in Russia and elsewhere.

Though the city was renamed Volgograd in 1961, the name Stalingrad remains inextricably linked to the momentous battle that turned the tide of World War II.

The bitter fighting in Stalingrad lasted for five months, from August 1942 to February 1943, and was one of the bloodiest battles in history, with a staggering death toll of about two million.

Today, as communists in Russia commemorated the Nazis’ defeat, they also called for more to be done to remember the sacrifices made.

On February 2, communists and several anti-fascist groups across the world organized events to mark the 80th anniversary of the victory of the Soviet forces over German Nazis at the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II. Under the auspices of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), major commemorative events were held in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), Moscow, and other major cities of Russia.

The Battle of Stalingrad (August 23,1942-February 2, 1943) was among the bloodiest episodes of World War II, fought between the invading forces of Nazi Germany and the Red Army and partisans of the Soviet Union. In the historic battle, which resulted in the deaths of over two million people, the Soviet Army prevailed, forcing the Nazis to surrender. This marked the beginning of the Nazi retreat and defeat in World War II.

For this year’s commemoration of the victory at Stalingrad, Gennady Zyuganov from the CPRF leadership demanded that Russian President Vladimir Putin to return the heroic city to its true name—Stalingrad.

Nearly 14,000 people from two Nigerian communities are seeking justice in the high court in London against the fossil fuel giant Shell, claiming it is responsible for devastating pollution of their water sources and destruction of their way of life.

The individuals from the Niger delta area of Ogale, a farming community, lodged their claims last week, joining more than 2,000 people from the Bille area, a largely fishing community. In total 13,652 claims from individuals, and from churches and schools, are asking the oil giant to clean up the pollution which they say has devastated their communities. They are also asking for compensation for the resulting loss of their livelihoods. Their ability to farm and fish has been destroyed by the continuing oil spills from Shell operations, they claim.

February 3:

Since its founding in 1930, the Communist Party of Vietnam has taken a path to national independence and freedom and development.

The Party’s “Doi Moi” policy opened up an important era in socialism building in Vietnam, helping it escape economic crisis and become a developing country, with orientations towards industrialization and modernization.

February 4:

A FIFTH socialist mayoral candidate was shot dead on Saturday just before Ecuadoreans voted in local elections today.

Omar Menendez was running for mayor of Puerto Lopez for the Citizen Revolution party, formed of supporters of exiled former president Rafael Correa after his own PAIS alliance was subverted and stripped of its left-wing character by his successor Lenin Moreno.

Citizen Revolution condemned the killing and demanded authorities properly investigate.

Violence in Ecuador has soared over the last year. While under Mr Correa the country’s murder rate more than halved, it has rocketed since, with a 180 per cent rise in 2020-21 and even sharper increases last year.

February 5:

On Sunday, the Ecuadorian right-wing parties suffered a resounding defeat both in the subnational elections and in the referendum.

On Sunday, former President Rafael Correa celebrated the results achieved by his Citizen Revolution party in the subnational elections held in Ecuador.

"We achieved the impossible: we are the Citizen Revolution again! Until victory, always!" he said in a video where he appears playing the guitar and singing "It Changes, Everything Changes," (Cambia, Todo Cambia) an emblematic song of Latin American social struggles.

February 6:

IndustriALL’s affiliates in Bangladesh are demanding an increase in the minimum wage from BDT8,000 (US$75) to BDT23,000 (US$215) for garment workers, as the country sees roaring inflation, leaving workers struggling to make ends meet.


bottom of page