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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Hands off Cuba!: Red Review #31 -- International Left and Labour News

The thirty-first edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from China, Canada, the United States, Portugal, Brazil and elsewhere. There are also global solidarity statements with Cuba.

Rally in solidarity with Cuba, Sheffield UK, November 14, 2021 -- photo via Cuba Solidarity on Twitter

November 9:

Portugal’s governing Socialist Party has introduced a new law making it illegal for companies to contact staff outside their contracted working hours, in one of a range of new measures to regulate home-working and recalibrate the work-life balance of citizens in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Businesses will also face fines for emailing staff outside their agreed shift times and be forced to pay household expenses incurred while their employees work from home, including internet and electricity bills.

Employers will be blocked from monitoring their workers’ productivity outside the office in the interests of safeguarding personal privacy and will be required to organise face-to-face meetings at least once every two months to tackle loneliness among their teams.

Staff with children will also be given the legal right to work from home until their sons or daughters turn eight, without having to secure approval from management.

Under the motto “For Popular Power, towards Socialism!” the XVI National Congress of the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) was held, with great success, between October 29th and November 2nd, in São Paulo. Organized under the difficult conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the fulfillment of all pertinent sanitary measures, the National Congress was the outcome of a long internal collective accumulation, with the presence of hundreds of delegates from all regions of the country, from Acre to Rio Grande do Sul, elected by State Congresses, after discussions in all Party cells all over the country. The Congress elected a new Central Committee, with more than 50% renewal, which reelected comrade Edmilson Costa as General Secretary.

As many as 3,000 Columbia graduate student workers are entering their first week on strike demanding fair pay and healthcare benefits. It is the second largest strike in the US right now, second to the nearly month-long strike at John Deere, which has 10,000 workers on the picket lines. The demands of the workers at Columbia echo those of graduate student workers at private and public universities across the country. The strike comes on the heels of a three-day strike at Harvard University and ahead of an anticipated strike of 19,000 student workers at the University of California.

The Ontario government is once again trying to overturn a landmark decision that would grant midwives — who have been living with a pay gap of over $100,000 — pay equity.

The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario originally found that midwives had faced long-standing gender discrimination and ordered the province to increase midwives’ wages by 20 per cent retroactive to 2011, and realign pay benchmarks in line with similar male-dominated professions.

November 10:

While major news networks and the Biden administration have labeled Nicaragua’s election a “sham”, North American delegations say their observations contradict the accusations.

Members of delegations from the United States and Canada who were first-hand witnesses of the election held a press conference in Managua, in which they characterized the process as efficient, transparent, with widespread turnout and participation of opposition parties.

165 international representatives from 27 countries were represented in delegations which traveled to 10 departments and two autonomous regions of Nicaragua on the day of the vote.

When the government of Pakistan’s Sindh province announced an increase in minimum wage for unskilled workers from PKR17,500 (US$103) to PKR25,000 (US$146) per month as of 1 July, the Employers Federation of Pakistan,among others, submitted a petition to court, accusing the Sindh government of trying to score political points.

In return, union leaders in the province, including IndustriALL affiliates NTUF and HBWWF, filed a petition for the implementation of the minimum wage at PKR25,000 per month.

After hearings in September, the Sindh High court announced on 15 October that it upheld the government of Sindh’s decision and that the minimum wage rate be kept PKR25,000 per month.

Never in its 50-year history has Starbucks relied on union workers to serve up frothy lattes at its U.S. cafes. But some baristas aim to change that.

Workers at three separate Starbucks stores in and around Buffalo, New York, are expected to begin voting by mail this week on whether they want to be represented by Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.

The National Labor Relations Board's regional office in Buffalo, which approved the vote last month, is scheduled to start mailing ballots Wednesday evening and count the votes on December 9.

A union-led court challenge to the New Brunswick government's back-to-work order for striking health-care employees will be heard Monday in Fredericton.

The government issued the emergency order last week, threatening fines up to $20,400 per day for health-care workers who refuse to return to their jobs.

The union representing workers at the Cargill meat-packing plant near High River, Alta., has issued a strike notice to the company.

If the changes workers are requesting are not made, meat-packing staff will hit the picket line Dec. 6, according to a notice addressed to Cargill's High River vice-president of labour, Tanya Teeter.

Workers at the plant have brought up health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, said a Nov. 5 release from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401.

Unifor Local 2300 secured a 36% wage increase over the life of their first collective agreement with a newly organized unit at Scarlet Security.

“We welcome the new members in Kitimat and congratulate them on the skilled negotiations for their first collective agreement,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

November 11:

Cathy Rojas, a socialist, received more votes in the Nov. 2 New York City mayoral election than any left candidate running for that office in 68 years.

As of Nov. 11, with only 78% of the mayoral vote reported, Rojas, candidate of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, was just shy of 25,000 votes. This places her third in the mayoral election behind Democratic candidate Eric Adams, the victor, and Republican candidate Curtis Silwa. Rojas received 2.5% of the overall vote, more than the other third party candidates combined.

Rojas described the response to her campaign as “proof that a current of resistance is also growing.” She said, “Our socialist platform resonated all across New York and now, more than ever, the “red scare” fog is finally lifting.”

The vilification of the People's Republic of China in the western press and media has reached whole new levels as the United States pushes a new Cold War. Their perspective, on the other hand, is seldom, if ever, shared.

In the interests of fairness and balance we are posting the full, unedited statement of Communiqué of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China that was adopted November 11, 2021

November 12:

Demonstrations have been announced to take place in Cuba on November 15. In the corporate-controlled media, including social media platforms, and among leading circles of both the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States, the demonstrations are being touted as a spontaneous protest against Cuban government policies. The fact that the Havana city administration has denied the protest leaders a permit is represented as a despotic, anti-people act.

In fact, the planned demonstrations are not spontaneous but a continuation of the decades-old policy of U.S. imperialism designed to destroy the achievements of the Cuban Revolution. The idea is to put even more economic pressure on Cuba so as to create even greater hardships for the Cuban people, and then to try to use those hardships to stir up discontent against the socialist government, with a goal of its overthrow and replacement with a client regime of U.S. imperialism and monopoly capital. This has been tried over and over again. It has indeed created problems for Cuba and the Cuban people, but it has not dislodged the Cuban government. And Cuba, as a sovereign independent nation, has every right to take action to stop this kind of outside interference.

Plenty of evidence has surfaced to indicate that the November 15th protests are being planned, funded, and directed by U.S.-based organizations, in many cases using various kinds of social media accounts.

The Communist Party of Greece denounces the new escalation of the aggressive imperialist actions against Cuba and its people and in particular the call for demonstrations with anti-communist and counterrevolutionary content on 15 November, aiming to overthrow the Cuban government. These are actions orchestrated and backed by the USA, together with the anti-Cuban mafia operating on its territory as well as counter-revolutionary forces in Cuba. In recent days, the Cuban government has released a plethora of evidence on how the persons leading the counter-revolutionary actions are linked with and directly guided by mechanisms in the USA in order to create conditions of destabilization and to attempt an escalation of imperialist attacks, even a coup against Cuba.

November 13:

A group of Inc workers in New York City's Staten Island have withdrawn a petition to hold a union election, marking a setback in a growing push by organized labor to bring the online retailer's staff into the fold.

The group, known as the Amazon Labor Union, which is not affiliated with a major U.S. union, filed its petition last month, joining union campaigns underway at Amazon facilities in Alabama and Canada.

United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7600 today announced that the union reached a tentative national and local agreement with Kaiser Permanente alongside the other 20 locals who together make up the Alliance of Health Care Unions.

"The past 20 months of the pandemic have been tough, and we made deep, personal sacrifices so we could keep helping our patients and our communities," said USW Local 7600 President Michael Barnett. "We've more than earned a fair contract that reflects our contributions to Kaiser Permanente's continuing success."

"Deere & Co. and union officials will put a third preliminary contract agreement to a vote in an attempt to end a strike that began four weeks ago.

The United Auto Workers said in a statement Friday night that the proposed contract with the agricultural machinery giant "includes modest modifications" to the latest rejected proposal ,which included immediate 10% raises."

November 14:

Tentative agreements have been reached between the New Brunswick government and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, according to statements made by both sides late Saturday.

“The provincial government has reached tentative collective agreements with the seven local bargaining units represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Parts I, II and III of the public service,” a media release from the government said.


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