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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Left wins in Colombia & France: Red Review #62 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from Colombia, France, Egypt, Ecuador, Malta, Indonesia, Zimbabwe and elsewhere.

Gustavo Petro's is the first win for a leftist in a presidential election in Colombia and his Vice-President Francia Márquez becomes the first Black woman to ever hold the post.

June 13:

A political meeting against the imperialist alliance of NATO was organized by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Sunday 13 June in Stockholm.

The event took place at the Greek Cultural House, with the major speaker being KKE MEP Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos.

The meeting was attended by the chairman of the Communist Party of Sweden (SKP) Andreas Sörensen who delivered a greeting message.

June 14:

The president of Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benítez, informed Tuesday that in his capacity as president pro tempore of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) he approved Bolivia’s full entry into the bloc.

“Paraguay has already approved the full entry of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to Mercosur, I hope that soon, in my capacity as president pro tempore of Mercosur, as I have been doing since the first day, as president of the Republic, I will continue working so that soon Bolivia will be a full member of Mercosur,” said the Paraguayan president in his speech during the anniversary commemoration for the cessation of hostilities between Bolivia and Paraguay in the Chaco War of 1932-1935.

On Tuesday 14/6, the MPs of the KKE demanded the withdrawal of the despicable legislative amendment concerning the sell-off of the large nickel processing enterprise of LARCO. During the debate in the Plenary Session of the Parliament, the KKE MPs conveyed the demands of the workers of LARCO, who, together with thousands of other workers, demonstrated outside the Parliament chanting “Hands off LARCO”.

The KKE requested a roll-call vote on the amendment. This initiative aimed on the one hand to upset the plans of the government to pass it on the sly and on the other hand to expose those who will vote for this shameful amendment to the people.

Communist Party industrial organiser Andy Bain has welcomed recent statements by trade union leaders who want to build a united mass movement against Tory government and big business policies.

'We face a growing cost of living crisis, one for which the ruling class has been preparing with new laws designed to divide us and restrict protest', he told the party's Political Committee on Tuesday evening (June 14).

'They are, however, divided on whether Johnson is a liability, on the Irish border question and on the balance between neoliberal and interventionist economics - but they will unite against workers who challenge them', he added.

June 15:

Egypt’s Justice Party (‘El-Adl’) announced on Tuesday that it will sponsor the ‘Second Workers’ Conference’ in Alexandria on Friday in preparation for the national dialogue that is scheduled for July.

The party’s statement pointed out that representatives from Egypt’s trade unions and six leftist political parties — the Dignity Party (‘El-Karama’), the Arab Nasserist Party, the Constitution Party (‘El-Destour’), the Justice Party, the Socialist Alliance, and the Egyptian Freedom Party — will attend the conference, which will be held at the headquarters of the Arab Nasserist Party.

Rights groups and a relative on Wednesday condemned the arrest and detention of a 69-year-old woman who has been campaigning against the construction of a major hydroelectric power plant on a protected mountain range.

Police accused Daisy Macapanpan of being a member of the banned communist party, but human rights groups said her arrest was the latest attack on activists in the Philippines, a country considered one of the world’s most dangerous places for land and environmental defenders.

Women’s rights groups and other progressive sections in Malta, under the platform ‘Voice for Choice’, have intensified their campaign against the ban on abortions in the country and are demanding an end to criminalization of the procedure. On Wednesday, June 15, under the leadership of various women’s right groups including the Women’s Rights Foundation, a demonstration was organized in front of the court house where a petition was submitted calling for the removal of the ban on abortions.

On behalf of 188 women, the Women Rights Foundation submitted a petition demanding the Health Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary for Equality and Reforms, and the State Advocate legalize abortion and decriminalize the procedure. Various groups including the Aditus Foundation, Doctors for Choice Malta, Integra Foundation, Graffiti Movement, Malta Humanist Association, Men Against Violence, Parents for Choice, and Young Progressive Beings, among others, expressed support and solidarity to the Maltese women’s fight to legalize abortions.

Currently, Malta remains the only county in European Union (EU) with a total ban on abortions. Malta has one of the strictest anti-abortion laws and makes the act a criminal offense. As a result, hundreds of women are forced to travel abroad to access abortions each year. Former independent Member of Parliament (MP) Marlene Farrugia pushed a proposal to legalize abortion in the last legislature but it was stalled.

Thousands protested against attempts by the Indonesian government to re-introduce the controversial omnibus Job Creation Act. Indonesia’s newly-founded Labour Party organized simultaneous protests in the national capital, Jakarta, and other locations across the country on Wednesday, June 15.

Thousands of workers and protesters congregated for a massive demonstration outside the House of Representatives Building in Jakarta. Major industrial hubs like Bandung, Makassar, Banjarmasin, Banda Aceh, Medan, Batam, Semarang, Surabaya, Ternate, and Ambon among others also witnessed massive demonstrations by labor movements.

The Labour Party was formed in November last year, as a culmination of nearly a year of combined struggle and mobilizations by major trade union confederations and progressive movements in the country against the omnibus law.

June 17:

Communists around the world have called for the redoubling of international solidarity efforts to free two young Ukrainian communists jailed by Kiev authorities in March. Mikhail and Aleksander Kononovich were hauled into custody by security forces soon after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Fears were raised that the pair—both prominent members of the Communist Party of Ukraine’s youth wing—could be executed.

Women from the five continents have traveled to Caracas to participate in the I Alexandra Kollontai International Feminist Brigade, which began Friday June 17 and will conclude on June 27. The aim of the brigade is to exchange experiences on women’s community organization and in building popular feminism.

There are 29 women from 20 countries, including Swaziland, South Africa, Lesotho, Ghana, Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Cuba, the United States, Palestine, Morocco, Romania, Turkey, and Iraq, who will tour five Venezuelan states getting to know communes and other popular organizations led by women.

June 18:

Apple Store workers in Maryland have voted to join a union, becoming the tech giant’s first retail employees to join a labour-force movement as part of a wider trend across US retail, service and tech industries.

Workers voted to unionise on a nearly two-to-one margin and the result, announced on Saturday by the National Labor Relations Board, provides a foothold for a budding movement among Apple retail employees who want a greater voice over wages and policies pertaining to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Employees of more than two dozen of Apple’s 270 US stores have expressed interest in unionizing in recent months, union leaders say.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), which represents about 750 Canadian National Railway Co. employees, says signal and communication workers have walked off the job across the country.

IBEW's Steve Martin confirmed in a text that workers are legally on strike as of 11 a.m. local time on Saturday.

The IBEW gave a 72-hour strike notice Wednesday morning.

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of London to demand action from the government on the cost of living crisis.

Workers marched to Parliament to call for better pay and conditions as part of the event organised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The union has called for a "decent pay rise for public sector workers" and a £15 minimum wage.

Hundreds of trade union organizations all over the country are preparing to meet in the National Congress of the All Workers’ Militant Front (PAME), which will take place on 18 and 19 June 2022 in Athens. It is a culmination of the effort to organize the workers’ struggle for their rights, against employers and their governments.

Trade unions, unionists, and workers have already responded to PAME’s call and more than 420 trade union organizations are preparing to participate in the works of the Congress. Among them there will be 20 Labour Centres, 16 Sectoral Federations of workers in the private and public sector, and hundreds of first-level trade unions from all sectors. These numbers reflect a new potential for the regroupment of the labour movement, utilizing the valuable asset of the experience drawn from the organized collective struggle, which will be also be a subject of discussion in the Congress.

June 19:

In an historic shift for Colombia and a win that will have reverberations across the Americas, leftist candidate Gustavo Petro of the Pacto Histórico por Colombia (PHxC) has won the presidency.

A former guerrilla fighter Petro took over 50% of the vote against business tycoon Rodolfo Hernández.

The win will almost certainly signal a dramatic shift in the foreign policy of Colombia, which has been a stalwart US ally, as well as hopefully a step towards ending the killings of Indigenous, environmental, leftist and labour activists in the country.

In a remarkable turn of events Jean-Luc Mélenchon, whose unexpectedly good showing in the first round of the French Presidential elections led to the formation of the leftist coalition NUPES (New Popular Ecological and Social Union), has led the new party to a result that looks like it will deny a parliamentary majority to President Emmanuel Macron.

Macron has pushed a right wing agenda that included attacks on French workers, seniors, immigrants, marginalized groups and others. The Macron government responded with extreme violence to the Yellow Vest revolts of 2018-2019.

After the runoff election between Macron and far right candidate Marine Le Pen it seemed that that was the struggle within France. NUPES, however, which has united Greens, Socialists, Communists and La France Insoumise, has led to a reassertion of the French left politically.

he national strike, called by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), continues this Sunday, in a context in which at least six sectors of the capital, Quito, remain closed due to protests and the Government ratifies its decision to maintain the state of emergency.

Protests continue despite the declaration of a state of emergency in Pichincha, Cotopaxi and Imbabura. In fact, the president of CONAIE, Leonidas Iza, ratified that "the strike continues at the national and territorial level and with an indefinite character, with a clear agenda of 10 issues" which have been presented to the Ecuadorian president, Guillermo Lasso.

THE historic Charlie King Junction, Fyzabad was turned into a “workers' parliament” on Labour Day as a "motion of no confidence" in the Prime Minister and his administration was moved by Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) leader Ancel Roget.

The motion was unanimously passed by thousands of workers whose cries of “Rowley must go! Rowley must go!” reverberated in the birthplace of the labour movement, as trade unions returned in their numbers for the first time in two years since the start of the covid19 pandemic to “deal” with Government and its four per cent wage offer.

Thousands of people took to the streets in different parts of Tunisia on Sunday, June 19, protesting the July 25 referendum proposed by President Kais Saied. Protesters carrying the national flag raised slogans against President Saied’s “coup” against the constitution and called for a boycott of the proposed national referendum.

The main protests were organized by the Ennahda party-led National Salvation Front (NSF) in capital Tunis and the Workers’ Party-led National Campaign in Nabeul city. The NSF led by the opposition Ennahda marched across Tunis city till the Habib Bourguiba avenue, TAP reported.

June 20:

An alliance of France’s leftwing and Green parties led by the hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon has rejected his calls to form a single parliamentary bloc less than 24 hours after it won the second largest number of seats in legislative elections.

The split came as the French president, Emmanuel Macron, held talks with members of his centre-right party over how to form a government after it unexpectedly lost its absolute majority in Sunday’s second-round vote.

It emerged on Monday evening that Macron has invited opposition party leaders including Mélenchon and Marine Le Pen for talks at the Élysée Palace.

On Monday, Zimbabwean government health workers went on strike, citing incapacitation to continue reporting for work.

Workers at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, which is the country's biggest referral center, marched to the offices of the Health Service Board within the hospital complex before gathering outside residential hostels for trainee nurses. They had resolved that the industrial action would continue until their demands for higher salaries were met.

The government is facing growing anger over its refusal to join last-ditch talks to avert the biggest rail strike for three decades, with millions of people facing a week of cancelled trains and union leaders saying industrial action could spread.

With 40,000 rail workers due to join three daylong walkouts this week, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, insisted it was not the government’s job to negotiate with the unions over pay, conditions, job cuts and safety.

But Jake Berry, a Conservative MP and former rail minister, was among those who said ministers should get around the table with Network Rail – which is government-owned – train operators and the unions.


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