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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Mass protests across the UK: Red Review #75 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from the UK, Brazil, Swaziland, South Africa, Cuba, China, Tunisia, the USA, Belgium, Sweden, India and elsewhere. There is also a special section related to statements by Communist and Worker parties in solidarity with protestors in Iran after the murder of Mahsa Amini.

Protesters flood the streets of Glasgow as part of a massive mobilization by unions and Left groups across the UK demonstrating over the growing cost of living crisis, October 1, 2022 -- Image via Twitter

September 24:

“We refuse to be told who our friends are,” opened People’s Forum co-executive director Manolo de los Santos at an event titled “People’s Summit: Democracy Beyond US Empire.” Convened by the International Peoples’ Assembly (IPA), organizers, intellectuals, diplomats, and working people gathered on the night of September 24 at the Riverside Church in Harlem, only a few miles from where the UN General Assembly (UNGA) was convening in Midtown Manhattan, to hear from Carlos Faria, Foreign Minister of Venezuela, and Bruno Rodriguez, Foreign Minister of Cuba.

The event, which was a follow-up to the People’s Summit for Democracy in Los Angeles in June, sought to bring voices of socialist countries directly into dialogue with US working people on the question of people’s democracy. The ministers were joined by historian and journalist Vijay Prashad, People’s Forum co-executive director Claudia de la Cruz, and socialist NYC Council member Kristin Richardson Jordan who also offered reflections on the reality of democracy in the United States.

The venue, Riverside Church, has historically been the site of speeches by leaders of poor and working class people, such as Fidel Castro, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel. In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a historic speech against the Vietnam War at Riverside. The broader area, Harlem, is a historic site of Black class struggle, bearing witness to the artistic and political movement of the Harlem Renaissance and home to figures such as Malcolm X and Paul Robeson.

September 25:

Hundreds of Tunisians marched on the streets of capital Tunis on Sunday, September 25, protesting against the rise in the prices of essential commodities in the country. Sporadic protests broke out in the evening in different parts of the city, as protesters criticized the failure of President Kais Saied’s government to address their economic hardships.

The protesters carried loaves of bread and shouted slogans such as “where is sugar?” and “we can’t support crazy price rise!” They demanded improvements in living conditions and “jobs, freedom, and national dignity!”

September 26:

The one rail union whose members rejected the proposed national contract between the nation’s big freight railroads and unions representing their 115,000 workers has negotiated a new and it says a better deal. And now those 4,900 members of Machinists District 19 will vote on it.

Their agreement, announced September 26, follows the basic plan all 13 rail unions worked out with the freight rail bosses earlier in September, after jawboning by Democratic pro-worker President Joe Biden and mediation by his Labor Secretary, Marty Walsh.

The differences are in the details added, District 19 says, to satisfy its members.

The Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) rejected the exclusion of the United Workers Central of Venezuela (CUTV), the National Union of Workers (UNETE) and the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions (CODESA) from a new meeting of the Tripartite Dialogue between the Government of Nicolás Maduro, employers and workers, sponsored by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Venezuela.

"It is a hypocritical dialogue that prevents the participation of trade union centers opposed to the anti-worker policies of the Government", affirmed Elena Linarez, member of the Political Bureau of the PCV during a press conference held this Monday.

September 28

After the destruction caused by Hurricane Ian in the province of Pinar del Rio, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro expressed his solidarity with the Cuban people and announced the immediate delivery of aid to the Caribbean island.

Together, let’s build a powerful, socialist movement of the workers and poor to roll back the neoliberal macroeconomic framework

We bring you revolutionary greetings from the entire leadership and membership of the Communist Party.

First and foremost, we wish this 14th National Congress of COSATU a resounding success and COSATU to grow from strength to strength in both membership and influence in advancing and defending the interests of workers.

September 29:

After vetoing similar legislation last year and threatening to do so again last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed Assembly Bill 2183 into law, making it easier for farmworkers in the state to participate in union elections.

The Democratic governor's about-face on the measure represents a major victory for labor leaders. It follows a monthslong push by United Farm Workers of America (UFW) and the California Labor Federation (CLF) and comes in the wake of pressure from President Joe Biden and two high-ranking national Democrats with California ties—Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Spain’s Socialist-led coalition government said Thursday that residents whose wealth exceeds 3 million euros (US$2.9 million) will be subject to a new asset tax in 2023 and 2024.

Finance Minister Maria Jesus Montero described the temporary wealth tax, which she said will affect 23,000 people, or 0.1 % of taxpayers, as one of “solidarity.”

The Communist Party of Sweden (SKP) has decided to appeal against the results of the 11th September general election, stressing out that the electoral system has been designed in such an unjust way that the results are more or less predetermined.

In a statement published in “Riktpunkt”, the SKP points out that the entire process of the elections was marked by irregularities and distortions. According to the communists, the legal system favors the big parliamentary parties distributing to them large amounts of funds thus favoring them over other, smaller parties.

September 30:

China's State Council on Friday held a reception at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. China's National Day falls on Oct. 1.

The reception was attended by the Communist Party of China (CPC) and state leaders Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji, Han Zheng and Wang Qishan, as well as nearly 500 guests from home and abroad.

On Friday, September 30, the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) launched weekly protests called ‘Fridays of Rage’ (Vendredis de la Colère) against the government’s failure to tackle the ongoing cost of living crisis. Protests were held on Friday in the cities of Kortrijk and La Louvière with the call to bring down the prices of food, energy, and other essentials. Along with activists of the PTB/PVDA, cadres of youth and student groups like COMAC and RedFox took part in the protests. The protesters also demanded that the government tax the energy multinational that they say is benefiting from the crisis. More protests have been scheduled for October 7 in Liege, Saint Nicolas, and Genk, in Gare du Nord and Ghent on October 14, and in Namur and Antwerp on October 21.

Working class sections in Belgium have been regularly organizing protests with the demand that the government tackle the ongoing cost of living crisis marked by soaring inflation in food and energy prices. The PTB/PVDA has demanded a reduction of VAT on energy from 21% to 6%. The party, along with trade unions, has also demanded an increase in wages and pensions, and to repeal the 1996 Wage Margin Act that works as an obstacle to negotiating a maximum average wage increase. Food and fuel prices are skyrocketing across Europe due to the energy crisis caused by the Russia-Ukraine war and profiteering by private energy producers and distributors like Engie-Electrabel.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) congratulates its ally, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) on its successful 14th National Congress held from Monday to Thursday, 26 to 29 September 2022 in Midrand, Johannesburg.

“On behalf of the SACP, I congratulate the newly elected COSATU National Office Bearers on their election, President Zingiswa Losi, First Deputy President Mike Shingange, Second Deputy President Duncan Luvuno, Treasurer Freda Oosthuysen, General Secretary Solly Phetoe and Deputy General Secretary Gerald Twala. I wish the COSATU National Office Bearers a resounding success in their term of office”, said Solly Mapaila, SACP General Secretary.

The SACP welcomes the resolutions adopted by the COSATU National Congress to intensify the struggle to defend the gains of the workers and fight for their common interests as a class.

A protest action called by the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) calling for Free Education and Jobs for All was violently crushed by police on Friday 30 September 2022 in Mbabane.

The police went on to abduct and detain students.

Comrade Kwanele Fakudze, a student waiting for his graduation at Gwamile Victim, is amongst those identified to be in police detention in Mbabane police station.

He was abducted in Mbabane government hospital by Mswati's police squad. Comrade Kwanele is a member of SNUS and also one of the Organisers of the CPS in the Party’s Youth and Students Commission.

His condition is not known at this time, very late in the night. We call for solidarity and his unconditional release.

October 1:

Hundreds of thousands people marched and rallied Saturday in over 50 towns and cities across the UK on a National Day of Action protesting the cost of living crisis in the largest wave of simultaneous protests seen in Britain for many years.

OVER 100,000 people took to the streets across Britain on Saturday, demonstrating against the cost-of-living crisis in what organisers have described as the biggest wave of co-ordinated protests to sweep the nation in years.

Rallies organised by the Enough is Enough campaign were held in over 50 towns and cities, including London, Glasgow, Brighton, Nottingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff and Aberdeen.

The protests, timed to coincide with a further jump in gas and electricity prices, came as tens of thousands of postal and rail workers walked out over poor pay and conditions.

On Saturday, October 1, massive mobilizations were witnessed in the UK against the Tory (Conservative Party) government for failing to tackle the ongoing cost of living crisis. According to reports, over 100,000 people participated in the protests called by the Enough is Enough campaign across the country. Protests were held in over 50 cities, including London, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff, Brighton, and Nottingham. On Sunday, trade unions and left-wing sections joined a protest demonstration called People’s Assembly Against Austerity outside the venue of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.

The protesters expressed solidarity with postal and rail workers who are on strike against poor pay and work conditions. Cadre of all major trade unions in the country, including the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), Communication Workers Union (CWU), and Junior Doctors movement, as well as political parties like the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and the Young Communist League (YCL-Britain) expressed solidarity with the protests and participated in the mobilizations.

Protesters joined picket lines and packed the centres of towns and cities up and down the country on Saturday. We bring you a flavour of how the day went.

More than 50,000 workers are taking part in a strike resulting in the worst rail disruption of the year so far.

Members of four unions are staging a 24-hour walkout in a long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions.

It means only 11% of usual train services are running, with large areas of the UK with no services at all.

Unions say there has been little progress in resolving disputes, while rail bosses want pay to be linked to modernisation.

Puducherry plunged into darkness for hours in a major power blackout on Saturday evening even as the indefinite strike by electricity workers against privatisation entered the fourth day and the situation threatened to snowball into a crisis for the NDA government in the Union Territory.

Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) congratulates the employees and engineering staffs of the Department of Electricity in Puducherry Union Territory who are on indefinite strike from 28th September onwards to resist the Central government’s recent move to privatize the distribution and retail sale of electricity in the Union Territory Region. The strike has been spearheaded by the Joint Action Committee of the Employees and Engineers of Department of Electricity of Puducherry consisting of all Trade Unions.

The Central Government has been trying to privatize all its utilities since long- especially in the Union Territory Regions of the Country. Accordingly, the Central Home Ministry tried its first attempt to privatize electricity distribution utility in Jammu and Kashmir where it got a great beating from united movements of electricity employees and engineers. In the same vein Home Ministry again announced its plan to hand over the Electricity Department of Chandigarh Administration to the private corporate. Here people from all walks of life joined with Union Territory Electricity Employees’ and Engineers’ struggles against such anti-people privatization move and ultimately it was put on hold.

Chinese are celebrating the 73rd birthday of the People's Republic of China on Saturday, which is also the first day of the week-long National Day holidays, with more than 200 thousand people gathering at Tian'anmen Square in Beijing for the national flag-raising ceremony beaming with excitement and pride.

The nation also has received multiple "gifts" ahead of her birthday, including the C919, China's first homegrown large jetliner, which obtained the type certificate on Friday, a milestone on its journey to market operation. In addition, China's space station lab module Wentian successfully completed in-orbit transposition at 12:44 pm Friday, and this is also the first time that there are Chinese Taikonauts sending birthday blessings to the motherland from space.

October 2:

Brazil’s presidential race will need to go to a October 30th second round after former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva fell short of the 50%+1 he needed to avoid a run-off with extremist incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazilians voted Sunday in a historic presidential election, with leftist front-runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who led in the pre-election polls, winning but still short of the 50% he needed to avoid a runoff election.

BRAZIL’S Communist Party leader Luciana Santos called on the left to “occupy the streets” to guarantee a Lula victory in the second round of presidential elections in four weeks.

Former president Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva came first in Sunday’s election more than six million votes ahead of incumbent Jair Bolsonaro — but fell shy of the 50 per cent needed to claim victory in round one.

“Brazil has shown that it wants to be happy again. Lula is the winner of the first round and we will also win in the second round,” Ms Santos said. The Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) and the Greens both joined forces with Lula’s Workers Party to back him for president.

The Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) made history this Sunday, October 2, by electing 6 candidates for state and federal office in the states of Pernambuco, Ceará, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, and two candidates in Rio Grande do Sul.

The MST launched 15 of its own candidacies for state and federal representatives in 12 Brazilian states. This took place in the same elections in which former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) superseded current President Jair Bolsonaro by five points.

This is the first time that the Movement is running candidates coordinated by the national direction of the MST, believing that it is not enough to merely change the presidency, but that it is also necessary to promote members of parliament who are committed to building a popular project for the country. Electing a diverse slate which represents the people of Brazil is as important as guaranteeing a basis for governability for a possible Lula government. As Lula did not win over 50% of the vote, he will need to run against Bolsonaro again in a second round.

Thousands of protestors converged on the Tory party conference in Birmingham as it opened on Sunday. The demonstration organised by the People’s Assembly was one of the most militant in Birmingham for some time. The large number of trade unions, campaigns, organisations and individuals there spoke with one voice: they are sick of the Tory attacks on working class people which have been accelerated by the Kwarteng budget that gives to the rich while ensuring the poor are much poorer.

Victoria Square filled with people campaigning against war, for higher pay, against cuts and racism. RMT leader Michael Lynch brought roars of approval from the crowd when he talked about working class solidarity. Kevin Courtney of NEU spoke about his teacher members balloting for strike action. Birmingham activist Salma Yaqoob talked about the desperate poverty in Birmingham and the need to fight the Tories attacks on the health service and public sector.

The crowd was very diverse with many black and Asian people there, young and old, some veterans of many protests and some on their first demo. The march went through the city centre and then doubled back to the conference centre where it went through the police wall to demonstrate to delegates the strength of feeling there. A wall of sound made it clear that the demo was in town.

Conservancy workers across the district have planned to go on an indefinite strike from Sunday highlighting various grievances.

Thousands of conservancy workers belonging to 10 unions in the district, working in Coimbatore Corporation, municipalities, and panchayats, including the Government Hospital Sanitary Workers, have planned to go on an indefinite strike urging authorities to fulfil their 18-point demands.

October 3:

Ontario’s lowest-paid education workers are united in their fight for student success and good jobs.

In an historic strike vote, 45,433 out of 55,000 frontline CUPE education workers cast ballots, and 43,821 – an overwhelming 96.5% – voted “yes” to send a strong message to the Ford government:

Communist and Worker Party Solidarity Statements with the Iranian protestors:

Following the murder of Ms. Mahsa Amini by the mercenary thugs of the Supreme Leader’s regime, widespread popular protests have spread [like wildfire] across the cities of Iranian Kurdistan and throughout Iran.Reliable reports have been received indicating an intensification of protestsbythe people in the cities of Sanandaj, Mahabad, Oshnoye, Saqqez, Marivan, Bukan, Piranshahr, Kamyaran, Tehran, Isfahan, Rasht, Mashhad, Hamedan, Kermanshah, Tabriz, Shiraz, Qom, Kerman, Zanjan, Qazvin, Arak, Urmia, Gohardasht,amongst other locations in the country. In many cities of Iranian Kurdistan, shopkeepers and bazaar merchants have also ceased trading. These protests have also extended to university campuses, including Tehran University, Tarbiat Moalem, Allameh Tabatabai, Amir Kabir, and Kharazmi [universities]as well as the Medical Science Facultyat Tabriz University.

The leadership of the regime and its security organisations, who initially claimed that Mahsa Amini had not been murdered at the hands of the "Guidance Patrol" mercenaries, but had died due to a cardiac arrest [natural causes], have once again underlined- through days of brutal and bloody attacks upon the crowds of protesters, as well asa large number of arrests - that they[the ruling regime]are the main cause of repression, violence, and terror in our country. According to the reports, at least four compatriots have been killed and 75 protestors injured after the regime's security forces opened fire on them. The regime, afraid of the spread of these protests and following the trends of previous protests, has seriously disrupted all internet and mobile phone connections, and has effectively set up a state of martial law in many cities in Iranian Kurdistan.

By moving towards the organising of a general mass strike and coordinating popular protests around common core demands, the dictatorial, tyrannical, and corrupt regime as well as its repressive organs can be brought to their knees!

Dear Compatriots!

Following the heinous murder of MahsaAmini by the mercenaries of the "Guidance/Morality Patrol" of the Supreme ReligiousLeader’s [ theocratic ] regime, for the first time in recent years, the oppressed people of more than 80 cities of the country have embarked upon an unprecedented political, social, and economic protest movement in revulsion at this horrendous crime committed by the increasingly unpopular regime of the Islamic Republic - rising up and seriously challenging the continued repression of women's rights in our country and the enforcement of mandatory hijab. It is important to emphasise that the widespread public protests in 2018 (28 December 2017- 7 January) and November 2019 owed mainly to the increased economic pressures, including the sudden rise in petrol prices in [November] 2019.

Statement of the Tudeh Party of Iran:

A Passionate Salute to the Heroic Struggle of the Women, Youth, and Students of the country [Iran]!

Following the heinous murder of Mahsa Amini by the thugs of the theocratic regime's "morality police", our people - especially and above all women - have strongly condemned and protested against this violent and inhumane conduct of the Islamic Republic [of Iran]. The protests have not remained confined to [the issue of] Mahsa Amini's murder - and, within a short space of time, have quickly evolved to target the entire rule of the Islamist regime and its reactionary and anti-people nature, and has swept through 80 cities of the country. While these protests began under the name of Mahsa, the slogan "Women, Life, Freedom" has become the de-facto mantra of the struggle of the Iranian people both at home and abroad against the ruling dictatorship.

The widespread popular protests in recent days are a clear culmination and display of more than 4 decades of people's anger, disgust, and hatred at the ruling criminal regime, - [a regime] whose anti-people, reactionary, and plundering policies have meant corruption, unemployment, high prices, repression, and severe poverty and deprivation in society, especially for women and young people. That is why the passionate and active presence of young people and university students in the protests and strikes of the current popular movement, despite severe repression by the mercenaries of the "Supreme Religious Leader", is expanding further and opening up new arenas of struggle.

In a statement about the murder of 22 year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini and the popular demonstrations in Iran, the Press Office of the CC of the KKE stresses the following:

"We denounce the Iranian regime for the brutal murder of 22 year-old Mahsa Amini by the morality police in the name of “indecent clothing”, as well as the repression against popular demonstrations. The repulsive crime is the tip of the iceberg of the blatant social discriminations experienced by women in education, family, and even their clothing, which are based on outdated and reactionary perceptions concerning women's position in society.

The hypocritical declarations and sanctions by EU, USA and NATO officials, who use such obscurantist practices against women in the context of inter-imperialist competition, do not consist a “protective shield” against multi-faceted violence for any woman like Amini. After all, these are the same forces that, at the same time, support regimes in other countries that apply the same practices against women.

The answer to obscurantism and regression at the expense of women's rights all over the world is to strengthen the front against the rotten “values” and the reactionary turn of capitalist society. Rage and indignation towards such heinous crimes can become a force of struggle to root out the social-class causes of woman's unequal position in capitalism and its cultural, religious cloak.

NCPN and CJB statement

The NCPN and CJB condemn the barbaric murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini by the Iranian 'morality police' and the repression of the demonstrations by the Iranian people. The reactionary Islamic regime in Iran uses the brutal repression and discrimination against women to perpetuate the exploitation of the population. We support the Iranian people's struggle against the regime.

The murder of MahsaAmini cannot be separated from the reprehensible, reactionary views about women reproduced by the capitalist system through religion. Globally, a dangerous trend is visible that is directed against the achievements of women, especially female workers. This shows that imperialism is a rotten system that only brings more misery, exploitation and rot.

The Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Britain unequivocally condemns the arrest in Tehran of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini by the theocratic regime’s ‘morality police’ on 14th September and her subsequent brutal treatment and murder while in their custody.

We also unreservedly condemn the response of the dictatorial regime and its police, military, and security apparatus to the massive demonstrations under the banner ‘Women, Life, Freedom’ that have taken place in Iran’s capital and more than 80 other towns and cities across the country. We demand a cessation of all harassment, intimidation and humiliation of women in Iran.

The vicious attempts to silence the voices of the thousands who have bravely come into the public arena and clear them from the streets has so far led to the deaths of more than fifty people, with hundreds injured and thousands arrested.

What began as an expression of outrage against the killing of Mahsa Amini, and the endemic medieval control and suppression of Iranian women in every aspect of their lives, has gathered strength and momentum to become what is now a political and social protest movement, unprecedented in recent times, demanding an end to the regime that has brought poverty and suffering for more than forty years.

The shocking murder of Mahsa Amini has provoked a legitimate wave of protest, which is currently being put down with extreme brutality by the theocratic regime in Tehran. Her murder is not an isolated case – it has served as a magnifying glass for the inhumane practices of this regime, which constantly denies women’s basic social rights.

In more than 80 cities, the revolt against this system has become manifest, as it has the regime's brutal response: more than 50 deaths have already been counted and hundreds remained injured. To curb popular anger, the Iranian regime has even shut down telecommunications and the Internet. But the protests continue and cannot simply be shut down.

The struggle against oppression and arbitrary murder by the state's repressive mechanisms in Iran clearly shows that states are not progressive merely because they position themselves against the U.S. and other imperialist states. Likewise, there is no need to trust the EU's indignation and two-faced statements in this regard - in Saudi Arabia, women are persecuted and oppressed for the same reasons, yet the country is considered a reliable ally of our "democratic" and "enlightened" governments.

The PdA stands on the side of the oppressed in Iran and those persecuted for reactionary, wholly anachronistic reasons. The PdA supports and stands in solidarity with the communists in Iran who are subjected to continuous repression and shares the slogans of the Tudeh Party about a coordinated struggle of the people against the ruling dictatorship and the extension and continuation of the struggle. The PdA also points out that the progress in the democratization of Iran can only be of a temporary nature - the working people and especially women can only be freed from the chains of oppression and exploitation under socialism.


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