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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #101 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from France, Nigeria, Swaziland, Kenya, Kosovo, Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Malaysia, Mauritius, Colombia, Portugal, Romania and elsewhere.

There are also a number of solidarity statements with India in the wake of the devastating train crash there.

300,000 workers march in Paris June 6 in opposition to French president Macron's attacks on pensions -- Image via Twitter

May 28:

The elections of Sunday, May 28th have opened up a new scenario, but they leave us with two very clear headlines: high abstention and the rise of the right and the far-right.

The high abstention rate of 55% is very worrying, especially because it signifies a demobilization of the left and also of the sovereignism, especially the independentism.

The message is clear for the left and for sovereignism: We must listen.

The rise of the extreme right has led VOX to increase from 3 to 154 councillors in 75 municipalities, with more than 150,000 votes, just as Albiol's lepenist experiment in Badalona sweeps with a supermajority.

But the Catalan extreme right is also on the rise, with the return of Josep Anglada (a well-known fascist in Catalonia) to Vic and the victory of an Islamophobic and pro-independence candidate in Ripoll. Fascism is fascism, whatever flag it wears.

If we look at Spain as a whole, where municipal and regional elections have been held in 11 communities, the result is clear: a conservative wave has swept the map.

Despite the poor results, the Catalan reality is complex and plural, and is expressed in different ways.

We value the results obtained by our candidates in places such as L'Hospitalet, Cornellà, Mollet, Les Franqueses and Montornès, as a result of intense militant work. As well as an increase in our number of councillors in Catalonia as a whole.

In the Catalan case, moreover, we see once again how the Socialist Party is acting as a party of order, with a clear commitment to the rhetoric of security, typical of the right and the far-right.

In Catalonia, it is the Socialist Party who’s capitalizing the conservative wave of the rest of Spain.

Left-wing sovereignism must recover quickly in the face of the multiple threats posed by the general elections called for July 23rd.

The stakes are not only against the right and the extreme right, but also against the consolidation of the two-party system and the regime.

May 29:

A successful union drive among workers of B.C.’s largest housing contractor promises to improve the safety of residents and workers at its facilities.

More than 500 Atira Women’s Resource Society workers officially joined B.C. General Employees’ Union May 29. The society operates 2,969 units of housing for women, children, and all gender individuals in the Lower Mainland

It comes weeks after an independent audit into the society was released and the former CEO Janice Abbot resigned. Atira has been making provincial headlines for months – even years – over safety concerns.

May 31:

Wisconsin, USA: Workers at State Street Starbucks win unionization election The State Street Starbucks union organizers voted by a margin of 20 to two Thursday in favor of having Workers United represent them in the collective bargaining process.

Collective bargaining is a five-step process where parties debate and vote on contract proposals after a store votes to unionize, according to One Starbucks.

To win the vote, the store needed a majority of eligible partners who voted. The vote was held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the U.S. Federal Court by the Capitol. All eligible partners who worked at Starbucks before May 5 could vote in the election and the vote was certified by the National Labor Relations Board.

June 1:

Dear comrades,

The New Communist Party of Yugoslavia calls on all communist and anti-imperialist organizations to show solidarity with the Serbian people in Kosovo, which are experiencing violence by its police forces, as well as the NATO occupation forces in the region.

The clashes in the north of the province started on Friday when the government of the so-called "Republic of Kosovo" tried to take over town halls of the three municipalities with the Serbian majority population. The new mayors of the towns in the north were elected in illegitimate elections, boycotted by the Serbian community. The Serbian people, gathered to defend their town halls from the pro-imperialist Kosovo authorities, were met with severe violence. The strongest conflicts happened on Monday when the local police were aided by KFOR - the official NATO forces responsible for the occupation of the province. Over 50 people were injured on both sides.

The occupation of Kosovo and Metohija, as well as the recent violence, are the fault of the USA and its NATO allies. Therefore, we call on you to show international support for the people of occupied Kosovo by organizing demonstrations against violence, occupation, and the so-called "independence" of Kosovo. Since the Kosovo prime minister visited the US embassy right before the violence began, it is clear that he got permission from its imperialist masters. Therefore, the preferred locations for the protests are, if possible, the US embassies in your country.

The New communist party of Yugoslavia thanks all organizations who are expressing solidarity with the Serbian people of Kosovo, the victims of US imperialism. At this moment, it is of utmost importance to show international solidarity and the anti-imperialist struggle.

Please inform us about your actions. The pictures and videos of the protest are also desirable.

Amazon on Friday fired Jennifer Bates, a warehouse worker and lead spokesperson of the unionization campaign in Bessemer, Alabama, without cause.

The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) described Bates as the "woman who lit the spark of the current rise of labor activism." Her termination comes as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continues to investigate RWDSU's claims that Amazon violated federal labor law in order to vanquish a union drive broadly supported by local residents.

According to RWDSU, the firing of Bates also comes amid a "monthslong worker's compensation nightmare. Bates continues to suffer from crippling injuries received while working at Amazon, which she spoke out about during the unionization effort, and for which has lengthy documentation." The union added that "Bates hit three years of service this May, an ominous number for Amazon workers whose pay scales top out after three years."

The strike of the workers, which was staged outside the Belsonica Company in Manesar for the last one month, concluded with an agreement on June 1.

On May 30, all the workers launched a strike, the workers who were in the company laid down their tools, while the suspended workers and union delegations staged a hunger strike outside.

On the call of hunger strike and hunger strike by the union, the relatives of the workers also came to participate in the dharna. After two days of sustained negotiations, the management finally consented to reinstate the 10 suspended workers; however, it relented in re instating the three worker leaders led by the union.

Over 2,500 workers of the National Textiles Corporation (NTC) in the city have stopped work from June 1 to protest the nonpayment of their salaries for the last eight months. The workers, including the ones at NTC office and mill employees, who are struggling to support their families and unable to buy groceries or pay bills on time, said they have not been given medical benefits, and that gratuities have been blocked since 2020.

June 2:

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) is set to launch a “Break the Chains” campaign to demand the release of political prisoners, including its Central Committee (CC) member Mvuselelo Mkhabela, whose bail hearing is scheduled for June 22.

The campaign will include protests and roadblocks in rural communities, starting with Mvuselelo’s small town of Hluti in the Hosea constituency in Shiselweni, the poorest region in rural Swaziland, where he had organized the communities against the monarchy. In the course of this work, Mvuselelo has been tortured thrice by the police in the last three months, and even shot once.

On February 7, the police broke into his house at 4 am and abducted him along with another CPS member Bongi Mamba. They had organized a successful demonstration and roadblock the previous day, demanding the release of political prisoners and agitating for the boycott of the “undemocratic” elections scheduled in August.

In the last few days, prestigious Cuban artists and intellectuals have been the targets of aggression, attacks, instigated and perpetrated by elements of the transnational extreme right wing, at events in certain European countries. The most recent examples have been the reprehensible attacks, with impunity, on the Buena Fe duo in certain settings in Spain and the shameful revocation of the distinguished writer Nancy Morejón’s appointment as Honorary Chair of the Paris Poetry Market in France.

Such manifestations of rabid hatred are not new. A few decades ago, the Cuban people and the world at large witnessed an appalling act of vandalism against the work - burned in the streets of Miami - of the respected artist Manuel Mendive and the attacks on people attending a major concert of the Van Van ensemble there, which was unaffected.

Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphatically condemns these fascist-style acts directed at exponents of our national culture.

It also denounces the severe pressures, attempts at intimidation and blackmail targeting empresarios, culture promoters, owners of establishments and foreign cultural agencies responsible for organizing our artists’ tours and events in these countries.

The World Federation of Trade Unions express its support and solidarity to the workers of Air Mauritius Ltd for the Air Mauritius Cabin Crew Association (AMCCA).

Air Mauritius Ltd administration has long been avoiding negotiating with the workers, with the excuse of section 72a of the Workers’ Rights Act, thereby allowing Air Mauritius Ltd. during Voluntary Administration to bypass any negotiations with unions through a regulation signed by the Minister of Labor.

The latest issue is a letter from management requesting Yogita Babboo occupying the post of President of AMCCA (on forced leave without pay actually) an explanation on an interview given on a radio in the capacity as President of AMCCA, as a mere employee.

The WFTU strongly condemns these acts that are being carried by the administration of Air Mauritius Ltd against trade unionists, which is a clear violation of trade unions democratic rights and freedoms, and an attack on the workers’ rights and their freedom.

AMCCA workers can always rely on the support and solidarity of the WFTU, in their struggle to defend their rights and freedoms.

June 3:

Activists from all walks of life joined together in a display of unity and solidarity on the one-year anniversary of Doug Ford’s election to the Premier’s office with a resounding call to action that ‘Enough is Enough.’

Answering the call made by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), community, labour and housing activists took to the streets to send a message of defiance and resilience that could not be ignored. When it comes to rising costs, affordability, low-wages and a healthcare system in crisis, indeed ‘Enough is Enough.’

The ambitious call to action galvanized the support of Ontarians across the province to stand-up and have their voices heard as the housing, healthcare and affordability crisis intensifies in communities large and small. From Hamilton to North Bay over 10,000 activists came out to have their voices heard from a Premier’s office that seems intent on ignoring the growing problem.

The World Federation of Trade Unions on behalf of its more than 105 million workers in 133 countries expresses its sincere condolences and unconditional solidarity with the working class of India that mourns more than 280 people who lost their lives in a three-way crash involving two passenger trains and a freight train in eastern Odisha state on Friday.

Train accidents are fairly common in India, where much of the railway equipment is out of date. These “accidents” prove once more the responsibilities of the government of India for the deterioration of the mass transport system.

The demand of WFTU for safe, cheap and reliable transportation for all workers has to be applied in every country. We call the government of India to take all the necessary measures to support the victims and their families.

June 4:

We mobilize against the criminal blockade suffered by the brotherly Cuban people, said Lautaro Carmona, secretary general of the Communist Party of Chile (PCCh) during the ceremony for the 111th anniversary of that organization.

At the ceremony, held in Santiago de Chile, the political leader said that his group is part of anti-imperialist solidarity, and in that sense expressed full support for Cuba and its revolutionary process.

Before historical leaders of the CCP, members of the diplomatic corps accredited in Chile, representatives of social organizations and the Government, Carmona defended the right to self-determination and sovereignty of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.

June 5:

Since Monday, June 3, the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has followed through with its threat to shut down port operations in Nigeria.

The reason behind the shutdown is the poor remuneration of its members in the Shipping Branch.

Since the beginning of the week, shippers and agents have arrived at the port to find the offices of Maersk, Five Star Logistics, and other service providers affected by the shutdown.

The union is protesting against the Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN), the parent body of all shipping lines in Nigeria, for disregarding directives from the Federal Government and failing to improve workers' welfare over the past six years.

Mexican telecom Telmex, a subsidiary of America Movil, has reached a deal with a workers' union that proposes a 5.6% pay rise, the country's labor ministry said on Monday, after extended negotiations.

The pay hike would apply to workers and retirees earning less than 1,185.06 Mexican pesos ($67.90) a day, the ministry said in a statement, while those earning above this would receive a fixed daily increase of 66.36 pesos.

Some 30,000 current and retired workers will now vote on the deal, it added.

June 6:

For the 14th time since French President Emmanuel Macron announced his attacks on the pensions and retirement age of French workers hundreds off thousands mobilized in Paris and across the country in protest. The demonstrations and strikes called by coordinated national unions and left wing parties and groups saw 900,000 hit the streets nationwide with 300,000 marching in Paris alone according to the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT).

There were over 250 rallies. As many as 50,000 came out in Marseille and Toulouse with smaller cities like Rennes or Grenoble seeing as many as 10,000.

As one of the protest actions 200 workers occupied the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games in Saint-Denis with a slogan: "No retirement, no Olympics!

Statement of the Press Office of the CC of the KKE on the developments in Kosovo

Unacceptable reinforcement of NATO’s presence - Greek forces must withdraw immediately

Nowadays, there is a sharpening conflict of imperialist interests in various regions of the world, including the Balkans, where the situation formed by Euro-Atlantic intervention, NATO bombings and the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s remains a festering wound.

Today, almost 30 years later, we are witnessing the escalating tension in Serbia–Kosovo relations, which is fraught with dangerous developments for the peoples and is a continuation of the general border changes in the Balkans and the creation of the protectorate of Kosovo.

The ongoing imperialist war in Ukraine, as well as the promotion of the so-called “Euro-Atlantic integration” in the Western Balkans, which expresses the competition of the bourgeois classes and the confrontation of the USA, NATO and the EU with Russia and China for the expansion of each side’s interests in the Balkan region, are factors that are building up the tension.

Both the Kosovo authorities, who have violated their obligations, and the Serbian authorities, who have been following the path of negotiations with the Euro-Atlantic imperialists, are responsible for the further aggravation of the situation.

It is once again demonstrated in practice that the USA, NATO and the EU bear enormous responsibility for the situation and that no one should attach importance to the security guarantees they are generously providing. The further reinforcement of NATO forces in Kosovo, under the pretext of the incidents, is unacceptable and in no way contributes to resolving the issue. The KKE condemns in the strongest terms the use of repressive mechanisms and violence against the demonstrators.

The policy of involvement in the imperialist plans pursued by the New Democracy government, together with PASOK and SYRIZA, poses major risks to our people. The struggle for disengagement from imperialist plans must be intensified, the Greek military forces must withdraw from the NATO force based in Kosovo and from any other imperialist mission.

The solution for the peoples of the Balkans does not lie in nationalism, the dismemberment of countries and the formation of foreign protectorates, as is the case of Kosovo and Bosnia. It lies in respect for borders, the rights of minorities and the joint class struggle against the bourgeoisie and all kinds of imperialist powers for the elimination of the causes that shed the peoples’ blood and are rooted in the profits of capital.

Communist Party of India

Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Dear comrades,

The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) expresses its sorrow for the deadly train accident of June 2nd, as well as its solidarity with the people of India.

Recently, our own people also experienced a similar deadly and premeditated railway crime, as a result of the anti-people's policy that sacrifices human lives on the altar of capitalist profit, since the required protection measures are a "cost" for the business groups.

These events, among others, demonstrate that capitalism and the bourgeois governments that administer it, in the dilemma of "their profits or our lives?" take sides with the profits of the monopolies. Hence, the people's struggle for the necessary protection measures and to reverse the causes that lead to similar situations is an only-way.

Please convey our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims.

To the leadership of Communist Party of India,

To the leadership of Communist Party of India (Marxist),

Dear comrades,

We are deeply saddened by the consequences of the terrible train accident in your country. We send our condolences to the families of the victims, to you and to all the people of India. We hope that the injured will be treated as soon as possible and that they will regain their health quickly.

How sad that the chain of negligence, which is a natural consequence of the capitalist system, continues to take the lives of our people all over the world. Yet another train accident, yet another lack of infrastructure investment, cuts in the funds allocated for the maintenance and repair of railways, insufficient number of personnel... As you have pointed out, the political culprits of this accident, which happened blatantly because all the warnings were ignored, are clear.

We extend our sincerest solidarity to all of you, especially your members who are working at the scene of the accident to help the injured, and we share the grief of the people of India.

Employees at the city of Portland just formed Oregon’s second-largest independent labor union in the state.

Professional employees of the city voted Tuesday, June 6, to unionize as the City of Portland Professional Workers (CPPW).

A recent election saw 306 of 385 eligible employees vote in favor of the effort, representing 54% of all eligible employees. Organizers say efforts have been in the making for the past four or five years, spurred in part by salaries that haven’t kept pace with inflation.

After a presidential pardon, jailed unionist Sento Chang has been released after nine months in Madagascar’s Antanimora prison, one of the worst prisons in the world according to Human Rights Watch. Sento was jailed for posting the outcome of union negotiations on social media. Unions from Madagascar participating at the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland, are challenging the sentencing and jailing, and calling upon the island nation’s government to stop repeatedly violating workers’ rights.

A decade-long organizing effort at AEON Co. Malaysia finally paid off when the company’s management team handed a letter of voluntary recognition to the president of the AEON Co. Workers’ Union in a ceremony at Kuala Lumpur in conjunction with UNICOME* Labour Forum on 6 June 2023.

The recognition letter was handed over by Dr. Kasuma Satria Bin Mat Jadi, Chief Human Resources Officer, to Sister Hamidah Binti Mohamad, President of AEON Co. Workers Union.

The ceremony was witnessed by Mr Seko Tsugutoshi, Deputy Managing Director of AEON Co. (M) Bhd and Datuk Mohamed Shafie BP Mammal, President of UNI Malaysian Liaison Council (UNI MLC), as well as members of the AEON Human Resources team and the AEON Co. Workers Union committee members.

Seko Tsugutoshi congratulated the union’s tireless efforts over the years and their well-deserved success in obtaining recognition from the company.

As an educational program assistant at Nelson Whynder Elementary School in North Preston, N.S., Lesley Fraser says there's no place she'd rather be than in the classroom working with students.

But on Tuesday, Fraser was part of a group of several hundred people that included members of CUPE Local 5047 who attended a rally in downtown Halifax's Grand Parade on the 28th day of a strike by school support staff and pre-primary workers.

"It is not just about us and it is not just about the money, it's about the care we give our students and it's very valuable," said Fraser, who makes $762 every two weeks when she's not on strike. "But I feel like [Premier] Tim Houston and all the other MLAs are not listening to us."

A strike by hundreds support workers at Capilano University has resulted in cancellation of classes at the North Vancouver and Sunshine Coast campuses, Tuesday.

MoveUp Local 378 members, who include those working in IT, some administration, and maintenance among others, began a full strike Tuesday morning, setting up pickets as of 7:30 a.m.

Members of the Capilano Faculty Association, which represents teaching staff, have refused to cross the picket lines. As a result, classes have been cancelled, according to Capilano University.

June 7:

Colombia’s trade unions will take to the streets on Wednesday, June 7, to declare support for the social reforms proposed by the government of Gustavo Petro. These reforms in health care, labor, and pensions are currently being discussed in the Congress and if passed, will radically transform access to the rights to health, dignified jobs, and dignified retirement.

The mobilizations will take place at a moment of crisis for the government, which is under heavy attack by right-wing forces.

The government came under scrutiny following a scandal involving the former chief of staff Laura Sarabia and the former ambassador to Venezuela Armando Benedetti. Claims of wiretaps, abuse of power have been leveled. The right-wing media has even allaged that the 2022 election campaign of Petro’s Historic Pact alliance was funded by drug trafficking groups. Former presidential candidates Rodolfo Hernández, Federico Gutiérrez, and Sergio Fajardo, among other opposition leaders, have fiercely attacked the Petro government and demanded the resignation of the head of state. President Petro and Vice-President Francia Márquez have decisively rejected these charges.

Jaysin Saxton, the Starbucks worker who exposed for the U.S. Senate and the world to see that company CEO Howard Schultz lied about not busting unions, will get his job back.

Saxton told the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists convention in New Orleans that the National Labor Relations Board ruled for him, deciding Starbucks illegally fired him from its Augusta, Ga., store last year because of his union advocacy. He’ll walk in the store door on June 7 to reclaim his post.

Once there, he declared during a series of panels on May 25 on organizing, the atmosphere in the store will be totally different “and Starbucks isn’t ready for it.”

“I can’t wait to get back.”

Portugal’s National Federation of Independent Public Administration Trade Unions (Fesinap) has called a national strike from midnight on Tuesday to midnight on Friday, to press for wage increases and the implementation of a meal subsidy of €9.60 per day.

According to the strike notice, the strike will take place over three days from 7 to 9 June, from midnight to midnight, and covers both workers with civil service status or employed under common labour law.

In a statement, Fesinap said that the strike was nationwide and covers “all public administration workers” – including workers from hospitals run as public business entities (EPEs).

Among the unions’ demands are salary upgrades to offset the rising cost of living, and the institution of a meal card for employees in public administration, through negotiation in a collective agreement, worth €9.60 a day.

“The government cannot continue to treat workers with ‘handouts’, when all careers need to be reviewed from top to bottom, starting with the indexation of salaries to the functions effectively carried out by workers and not by the category they hold,” argued the union in its statement.

Unionized healthcare workers in Romania initiated a Japanese strike on Wednesday, June 7, in public health and social assistance institutions. The strike will not interrupt normal activities. A rally will also be organized in Bucharest.

Strikers wear armbands or badges with the emblem of the union, the Sanitas Federation.

The Japanese strike will take place throughout the negotiation period until the union workers' demands are resolved. Sanitas representatives specify that if the negotiations fail, the National Council of the Federation will decide to continue striking according to an action calendar.

A left-leaning Labour MP claimed she faced "unacceptable obstacles" after losing a selection battle for a new seat in Wales.

Beth Winter said she would be "taking advice and soundings" on her next steps after Gerald Jones, a Labour frontbencher, was announced as the candidate for Merthyr Tydfil and Upper Cynon.

The controversy comes amid a row over the decision to block left-wing Labour mayor Jamie Driscoll from running for another role in the North East.

Momentum, the grassroots left-wing organisation that supports Labour, accused the party's leadership of "taking a sledgehammer to the democratic rights of local Labour members in order to purge socialists and instal [Keir Starmer] loyalists".

Mr Driscoll said he had not ruled out taking legal action against the party, with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and his counterpart in the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, claiming the move did not seem "democratic, transparent and fair".


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