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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Global Amazon protests: Red Review #33 -- International Left and Labour News

The thirty-third edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from Venezuela, the US, Canada, Vietnam, the global Amazon protests and elsewhere.

Garment workers protest against Amazon in Bangladesh, November 26 -- Image via Twitter

November 21:

The President of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel, extended his congratulations to Nicolas Maduro and the socialist and Chavist Great Patriotic Pole leftist electoral alliance for their resounding victory in the Venezuelan regional and municipal elections on November 21.

On Sunday, a photo went viral on social media: a European Union (EU) electoral observer watched from a terrace at thousands of Venezuelans who were walking together towards a polling station. This image summarized a powerful lesson for history: despite all the difficulties caused by the U.S. blockade against the Venezuelan people, "Chavismo swept the elections."

José Antonio Kast of the far-right Christian Social Front and Gabriel Boric of the left-wing Approve Dignity coalition won the first round of the presidential elections held in Chile on November 21. They will now face off in the run-off on December 19. According to the results released by the Chile’s Electoral Service (SERVEL), with 100% of the votes counted, Kast obtained 27.91% of the votes, while Boric closely followed him with 25.83% of the votes.

The Central Committee of the PCP, meeting on November 21, 2021, analysed the national situation and the necessary solutions for the country and pointed out measures for the Party's intervention, namely in the early elections for the Assembly of the Republic on January 30, 2022.

November 23:

There are reasons to celebrate life and work, dear brother, @ NicolásMaduro. Happy birthday to your beloved #Venezuela, who is winning all battles, the Cuban president wrote on his Twitter profile.

The day before, the National Electoral Council (CNE) ratified the triumph of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), in government, in the regional and municipal elections held on Sunday in that South American nation. In the elections, the PSUV and its allies from the Great Patriotic Pole won 20 of the 23 disputed governorships, as well as in the Capital District.

Workers have reported numerous captive audience meetings, one-on-one meetings, store shutdowns, closures, remodelings, and text messages – a mode of contact that was previously used only for emergencies. Dozens of corporate executives have flooded stores with the intent to deter workers from voting to unionize, workers say.

“The company has sent more managers here to Buffalo than workers voting in the first three elections. There’s no way it can be viewed as anything other than an attempt to spy on partners and intimidate them,” said Brian Murray, a Starbucks barista in Lancaster, New York.

In West Virginia, there is no more iconic fast food chain than Tudor’s Biscuit World, whose 70 locations in the state pump out a steady stream of homestyle cooking. A fiery band of workers at one Tudor’s location are now seeking to give the company something else that West Virginia is famous for: a union.

Despite the political successes of the ​“Fight For $15” movement, actual unionized fast food restaurants are rare. Burgerville workers in Portland, Oregon recently reached an agreement on a union contract after a years-long effort, and Starbucks workers in Buffalo and elsewhere have scheduled union elections at a number of stores. Now, 25 employees of a Tudor’s in tiny Elkview, West Virginia are joining them in the vanguard of fast food organizing by seeking to unionize with UFCW Local 400. Yesterday, they filed for a union election with the NLRB.

Container truck drivers at two large Metro Vancouver port trucking companies voted overwhelmingly to strike if necessary to achieve a fair agreement, says Unifor. A strike could affect almost 200 truckers servicing the Port of Vancouver and threaten overall port stability at a time when supply chain pressures are enormous.

November 24:

Prime Minister (PM) Phạm Minh Chính met the leaders of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and the Komeito Party on Wednesday, as part of his official visit to Japan.

In his meeting with JCP Chairman Shii Kazuo, PM Phạm Minh Chính informed Kazuo on the success of the Việt Nam Communist Party’s 13th National Congress, which defined the future roadmap and concrete measures for the country’s development, setting the goal of becoming a developing country of upper-middle-income by 2030, and a developed country of high income by 2045.

Francina Armengol, president of the Balearics and general secretary of PSOE in the Balearics, opened the party's 14th congress on Saturday with a clear message of preparing for a third term in office at the election in 2023.

Armengol was speaking to 270 party members at the meeting in Inca. The congress will approve the party's general manifesto for the coming years and the leadership of the party.

The strike of metalworkers in the province of Cádiz is being wildly repressed by the State Security Forces and Corps at the behest of the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska.

In the eight days of strike, the State has not saved any resources in attempting to boycott the right of workers to strike. Rubber bullets and balls, tear gases, and military equipment —such as the sadly famous BMR tankettes— have been used in the charges against the legitimate struggle of workers.

Charges against workers and those who participate in the mobilization are following one after one, even ruthlessly blowing minors and elders, just like we have witnessed today, when a peaceful demonstration of thousands and thousands of people was attacked.

The Communist Party of the Workers of Spain (PCTE) makes the whole Spanish Government responsible for the ferocious repression against the legitimate struggle of metalworkers. We demand the immediate dismissal of the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, as the direct responsible of the dire events we have been witnessing since the beginning of the strike.

On Thursday, November 25, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro made a surprise visit to Havana, Cuba to participate in the inauguration of the Fidel Castro Ruz Center. The Center commemorates Castro’s legacy five years after his death. Fidel Castro led the revolution against Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship and triumphed in 1959, establishing a socialist republic in Cuba that is still going strong despite adversities.

President Maduro wrote on Twitter: “we attended the inauguration of the Fidel Castro Ruz Center in the heroic city of Havana… commemorating the fifth anniversary of the passing of our Commander Fidel.”

The Communist and Workers’ Parties participating in the International Communist Review would like to express our solidarity with the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) and the working class of Venezuela in response to the systematic attacks against their political and electoral rights, in the context of the process of local elections held in Venezuela on 21 November 2021.

We strongly condemn the government’s scheming used to exclude PCV candidates in violation of the electoral regulations and laws, the obstacles set by the National Electoral Council itself in order to hinder the replacement of candidates within the prescribed time, and the harsh media blockade imposed by various media outlets against the PCV.

It is reprehensible and revealing that the institutions of a country that you call “progressive” and “anti-imperialist” dedicate themselves to attacking the rights of the communists and the working class, while providing several guarantees to the right-wing candidates, who are responsible for supporting the illegal imperialist sanctions against the country and promoting coups. The shift of the Venezuelan government to neo-liberal reforms seems to reach the point of believing that the PCV is its new enemy.

After speeches and prayers, the group marched through the streets led by the grand-daughter of the man who founded the event in 1970.

Kisha James says she doesn't object to people gathering, eating turkey and giving thanks, but she doesn't want them to celebrate what she calls the Thanksgiving myth that the Pilgrims and Wampanoag got along.

Flying out of LAX today? There could be trouble getting a bite to eat, as food and concession workers at the airport are striking in Terminal 4 to call for more pandemic-related worker relief. The solidarity action is being done on the busiest travel day of the year in conjunction with Unite Here Local 11 union workers out of Phoenix’s airport, who have similarly been on strike since Monday. Expect picketing from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. roughly, as workers raise awareness of their ongoing labor dispute with airport foodservice company HMS Host.

Over 400 sanitation workers employed by Republic Services at facilities in Anaheim and Huntington Beach have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the company, should it be necessary. This step follows multiple contract bargaining sessions with the company since the workers’ contract expired in late September. Little progress has been made in addressing worker concerns, including excessive working hours and constant harassment on the job. These essential sanitation workers have worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that Orange County communities were kept clean and safe.

Kellogg’s is planning on permanently replacing its striking workers after the company failed to reach an agreement with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union on Tuesday.

About 1,400 union members at its cereal plants across the country have been on strike since Oct. 5 after their contracts expired the day before.

Cargill issued a lockout notice to workers at one of Canada’s largest meat-packing plants on Thursday, a day after unionized workers at the High River facility voted overwhelmingly against the company’s latest contract offer, putting them in a position to strike as early as Dec. 6.

Workers at Cargill’s High River, Alberta meatpacking facility have overwhelmingly rejected the company’s latest contract offer and management has escalated tensions by serving a lockout notice.

The Cargill plant was the site of the largest COVID outbreak in North America in April 2020, with 950 workers — almost half its workforce — testing positive for the virus. The outbreak led to the deaths of workers Benito Quesada, 51, and Hiep Bui, 67. A father of a worker, Armando Sallegue, 71, also died while visiting from the Philippines.

Cargill, which is responsible for 40 percent of Canada’s beef production, is being criminally investigated by the RCMP for negligence in Quesada’s death.

British Columbia is finally making paid sick days permanent, but the province’s labour unions say the BC NDP government’s new policy is “inadequate.”

November 26:

A coalition of groups that includes the Progressive International, UNI Global Union, Amazon Workers International, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and many others have organized strikes and protests against Amazon to be held around the world on the Black Friday (November 26 this year) shopping day.

The Canadian union of postal workers (CUPW) and the Warehouse Worker Centre (WWC) join Progressive International in a global movement with worker, tech, and climate justice organizations and advocacy groups collaborating across borders to #makeamazonpay on November 26th Prime Day.

An Amazon warehouse in western Sydney called the police to remove two union officials investigating allegations of workers’ cars being overpacked during its busy Black Friday sales period.

The Transport Workers’ Union sent three officials to Amazon Flex’s Bella Vista parcel pickup facility on Friday, with two of them tasked with going onsite to investigate reports of alleged dangerous overloading of vehicles. They believed workers were being pressured to accept the parcels to avoid disciplinary action or termination.

As the holiday shopping season ramps up on Black Friday, Unifor is launching the ‘Warehouse Workers Unite’ campaign to improve working conditions for workers in warehousing, distribution and logistics facilities across the country.

The municipal elections held in Tripura on November 25 comprising the Agartala municipal corporation and 19 other municipal bodies was converted into an outright farce by the ruling BJP.

Prior to the polling day, in Agartala and other towns, gangs of BJP men began visiting houses and threatening CPI(M) candidates, polling agents and local leaders warning them not to go out on polling day. Threats of physical violence and driving their families out of their houses were issued.

On polling day, in Agartala, Dharmanagar, Khowai, Belonia and Melaghar, there was extensive booth capturing by BJP goons and physical prevention of voters in many places. In Agartala town, polling agents of Left parties were beaten up and driven out of many booths. Most of the booths were captured at the start of the polling itself and people prevented from voting. Earlier, in seven municipalities, opposition candidates were prevented from filing nominations. As a result, after withdrawals, BJP candidates were elected unopposed.

All these brazen attacks on the electoral system, democracy and the right to vote have taken place despite the Supreme Court passing orders to ensure adequate deployment of Central police forces to secure the electoral process. The BJP state government has blatantly flouted all the directions issued by the Supreme Court. The police and Central police forces were made to be mute spectators to the rigging of the election.

Global union federations (GUFs) regional branches in Asia-Pacific have called for support of the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) waiver campaign to end the “vaccine apartheid” in the region.

The regional entities of Education International, Public Services International (PSI), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF Global), the Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI), the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) and UNI Global Union, acknowledged that public funding has paved the way for scientific developments to fight the coronavirus – “but now trade rules that protect corporate interests are threatening access to vital medicines and equipment, putting the lives of millions at risk”.

That is why many governments around the world – supported by unions and civil society – are calling for the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive intellectual property protection measures for COVID-19 vaccines, medicines and medical supplies.

November 27:

Leaders of various political parties from friendly nations have offered best wishes on the occasion of ongoing 10th National Congress of CPN UML at Sauraha, Chitwan, Saturday.

Some of the Foreign dignitaries offered best wishes by being present physically on the occasion while others did virtually. The closed session was chaired by UML Chair KP Sharma Oli and run by party General Secretary Ishwor Pokharel.

Those who were present physically on the occasion were Abdullah Al Kafi Chowdhury of the Communist Party of Bangladesh, Jogendra Sharma of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Pallab Sengupta of the Communist Party of India and Suos Yara of the Cambodian People’s Party.

Public school teachers and principals will strike on Tuesday December 7 over the Government’s failure to address unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries which are contributing to growing shortages of teachers.

Federation Council voted unanimously for the 24 hour stoppage at a meeting in Sydney today.

SCABS RUNNING PICKET LINES IS BAD ENOUGH. But airlifting scabs over picket lines is something else again. But that’s the the kind of bare knuckle battle the employer has forced on the workers at a toxic waste treatment site in Sarnia.

The 76 workers at the Clean Harbors site, all members of Unifor Local 914, went on strike November 22. They are lab workers, janitors, and loader and fill operators.


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