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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #103 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from Switzerland, Cuba, Greece, Poland, Zambia, India, Canada and elsewhere.

A scene from one of the Feminist Strike marches in Switzerland, June 14. Over 300,000 people took part in marches nationwide.

June 14:

Big rallies and numerous events were held on the hot summer day in Basel, Bern, Zurich, Lucerne, St Gallen, Lausanne and Geneva. The Swiss Trade Union Federation said over 300,000 people took part across the country.

The gender pay gap was one of the key demands at this year’s women's strike, officially rebranded as Feminist Strike, along with a protest of other forms of discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

The Swiss Trade Union Federation says women took home 43% less income than men on average last year. Some of this discrepancy can be explained by more women working part-time hours and taking on lower-paid jobs such as cleaning.

But women also earn 18% less than men for doing comparable jobs, making Switzerland one of the worst countries in Europe for unequal pay.

Chinese President Xi Jinping met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and announced the establishment of a “strategic partnership” between the two countries on Wednesday, June 14.

President Xi hosted Abbas at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Abbas also met Chinese premier Li Qiang during his three-day state visit.

This was the fifth official visit of Abbas to China. This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of formal relations between China and Palestine.

During their meeting, Xi reiterated China’s firm support for the Palestinian right to self-determination and for the demand of establishment of an independent Palestinian state according to the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“The historical injustice done to the Palestinian people should not be left unattended indefinitely, the legitimate rights and interest of a nation are not up for trade, and the demand to establish an independent state shall not be denied,” Xi had stated in his earlier meeting with Abbas during the first Arab-China summit held in Riyadh in December last year.

The President of the Republic of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, in his capacity as President Pro Tempore of the G-77 + China Group, convened a Summit of Heads of State and Government under the theme "Current Development Challenges: Role of Science, Technology and Innovation", on 15 and 16 September 2023, in Havana.

According to a message posted this morning on his Twitter account, the Head of State said that "the occasion should serve to strengthen our unity and decide on collective and practical actions to effectively face contemporary challenges".

With the warm welcome that they deserve and that we are enthusiastic to lavish on them, he said, we will be receiving in Havana all the leaders of the Group of 77 and China. "Every minute counts in the search for solutions to the pressing problems of our peoples," he said.

June 15:

Outraged by the death of a woman due to pregnancy-related complications, women’s rights groups and other progressive sections in Poland have intensified protests demanding the repeal of a draconian law that effectively bans abortions. On June 14 and 15, numerous demonstrations were organized by the National Women’s Strike (Strajk Kobiet) in cities such as Gdansk, Krakow, Lublin, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw, and Bialystok.

On May 24, a 33-year-old woman, identified as Dorota Lalik, died due to pregnancy-related complications at John Paul II Hospital at Nowy Targ in southern Poland. Her husband alleged that nobody from the hospital had told them that her life was in a critical condition. Later, Poland’s patients’ rights ombudsman, Bartłomiej Chmielowiec, also slammed the hospital for not telling the patient and her relatives that her life could have been saved through an abortion.

In the demonstrations, women in Poland raised their voice against “murder and torture in maternity wards, against forcing women to carry unwanted pregnancies and to give birth, against the ban on abortion, against the criminal rule of the Law and Justice (PiS) party and the cynicism of doctors.” Leftist political party Razem also strongly attacked against the ban on abortions in the country imposed by the Constitutional Court under the instigation of the incumbent conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party and the Catholic Church.

Amazon delivery drivers and dispatchers took to the picket lines last night (June 15) staging their first-ever strike in the United States. The workers are demanding an end to Amazon’s unfair labour practices and urging the e-commerce giant to engage in negotiations with the Teamsters, addressing concerns over low pay and dangerous working conditions.

“The Teamsters’ strike by Amazon delivery drivers in the U.S. is a courageous stand against the unfair labor practices that have plagued the company for far too long,” said Mathias Bolton, Head of Commerce Sector for UNI Global Union. “These workers are the backbone of Amazon’s operation, and their demands for fair treatment and safe working conditions are absolutely justified. We commend their bravery and solidarity in holding Amazon accountable for its actions. It is high time for Amazon to engage in meaningful dialogue with the Teamsters Union and address the legitimate concerns raised by these essential workers.”

On the afternoon of June 15th trade unions and mass organizations, workers and the youth, expressed their anger and indignation over the new crime in the Mediterranean, this time off the coast of Pylos, staging a protest outside the Greek parliament followed by a march to the EU offices in Athens.

This new shipwreck is part of the ongoing crime that has been taking place in the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea over the past few years; a crime bearing the stamp of the imperialists and their governments, the EU and NATO, who make interventions, slaughter peoples, loot countries and create an army of uprooted people.

“The working class, our trade unions must condemn the policy that is responsible for the hundreds of deaths but also all the parties that voted, supported and implemented this anti-labour and anti-immigration policy”, stated Nikos Mavrokefalos, member of the Secretariat of the All Workers’ Militant Front (PAME), outside the EU offices, calling for an intensification of the struggle every day “to overthrow them”.

“The deadly shipwreck was not an accident but a crime that had been waiting to happen”, stressed Giannis Anagnostou, president of the Athens Builders’ Trade Union. “War, interventions of all kinds, the disintegration of countries by savage exploitation and looting, authoritarian regimes, the instigation of civil conflicts and the destruction of the environment cause the uprooting of those millions of people”, he stated, highlighting the causes of uprooting, refugees, shipwrecks and the unaccountable action of inhuman traffickers. “Let all those who have put their signature on the bloodshed of peoples —the officials of NATO, of the EU, of all Greek governments over the years— shed crocodile tears over the tragedy. (...) The involvement of the country in imperialist plans, interventions and war bears the signature of all governments. None of them disputes the commitments of the country to NATO; there are common in the agenda of New Democracy, SYRIZA and PASOK (...) Wars are fought for the profits of business groups, the control of the wealth producing resources, the energy transport routes, the spheres of influence. ‘It is either their profits or our lives’ is the dilemma that arises and permeates every aspect of developments. In conditions of capitalist barbarity, this slogan binds all workers and people together, regardless of colour, race, religion and ethnic origin”, he stressed, pointing to those responsible for the bloodshed of the peoples.

Similar mass protests of the trade unions took place in Thessaloniki and dozens of other cities all over Greece.

Declaration of the Central Committee of the Party of Labour of Austria (PdA), Vienna, 15 June 2023

The Austrian federal government has decided to participate in the NATO military training and advisory mission in Iraq (NMI). Ten members of the Austrian Armed Forces are to be sent to serve on the ground under NATO high command.

The Party of Labour of Austria (PdA) is clearly and explicitly opposed to this deployment. To integrate Austrian soldiers into a NATO military operation is yet another disregard of the constitutional law on neutrality.

The NATO mission in Iraq serves the imperialist and geopolitical interests and plans of the USA and the most powerful NATO states to exercise power and control in the region, to gain access to resources and transport routes, and to expand war policy capacities within the framework of imperialist competition. NATO is the most aggressive and dangerous military alliance in the world, responsible for numerous interventions and war crimes contrary to international law.

The PdA rejects the adventurous and irresponsible way in which the Austrian government and the Austrian Armed Forces are participating in NATO plans and dragging the Austrian population into another dangerous conflict.

The Party of Labour of Austria therefore demands:

- No Austrian participation in the NATO mission in Iraq!

- No Austrian soldiers under NATO command!

- For Austria's withdrawal from the NATO "Partnership for Peace"!

- For an active Austrian policy of neutrality and peace!

June 16:

The Socialist Party (SP) of Zambia is once again the target of persecution by the ruling United Party for National Development (UPND). On June 15, SP President and journalist, Dr. Fred M’membe issued an alert via his social media accounts that the Party had been “reliably informed” that the Police “in collaboration with UPND cadres drafted into the State House security” intended to “abduct” him.

M’membe further accused President Hakainde Hichilema, together with the Deputy Inspector General of Police of the State House, Mr. Fanwell Siandenge, of handling issues of law enforcement in a “gestapo style,” adding that the SP had been informed that Siandenge was “working in cohorts with known UPND cadres in State House security”.

On June 16, M’membe stated that a warrant of arrest had been issued against him. However, he emphasized that no prior police callout had been issued.

Under normal procedure, a callout notice gives an individual an opportunity to go to a police station to respond to the allegations made against them, Akende Chundama, the spokesperson of the SP chairperson explained to Peoples Dispatch. An arrest warrant is issued when the individual ignores the notice.

“What they want is to use this warrant to abduct me,” M’membe warned in a post.

UPS Teamsters have voted by an overwhelming 97 percent to authorize a strike, giving the union maximum leverage to win demands at the bargaining table.

The powerful vote allows the UPS Teamsters National Negotiating Committee to call a strike should UPS fail to come to terms on a strong new contract by July 31, when the union’s current National Master Agreement expires. The Teamsters represent more than 340,000 UPS package delivery drivers and warehouse logistics workers nationwide.

“This vote shows that hundreds of thousands of Teamsters are united and determined to get the best contract in our history at UPS. If this multibillion-dollar corporation fails to deliver on the contract that our hardworking members deserve, UPS will be striking itself,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “The strongest leverage our members have is their labor and they are prepared to withhold it to ensure UPS acts accordingly.”

June 17:

Hundreds of employees from Casino du Lac-Leamy were out picketing in Gatineau on Saturday for the third straight day.

The strikers say their wages have remained unchanged, despite the rising cost of living and what they call "extraordinary" profits at Loto-Québec and its casinos over the past year.

"We really need a better salary to survive. We are looking for something close to the increased cost of living. We're just sickened. It's enough. We just want our fair share," Colin Valiquette, president of the Syndicat des travailleuses et des travailleurs de Resto-Casino de Hull, said in a French-language interview.

June 18:

At a time when the invincibility and fortitude of our cause have been further demonstrated all over the world and the all-people struggle for ushering in a new upsurge in socialist construction is gaining momentum thanks to the scientific and strong guidance and practice by the ever-victorious Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee convened a plenary meeting to promote the perfect and substantial attainment of the grand goals of national prosperity.

The 8th Enlarged Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the WPK was held at the office building of the WPK Central Committee, the supreme general staff of the Korean revolution, from June 16 to 18, Juche 112 (2023) to arouse stronger enthusiasm of all the Party members and other people for the struggle to consolidate the precious victory and the dignity and position of our powerful state, which they achieved by boldly breaking through all difficulties under the leadership of the great Party Central Committee, with steady advance and continuous leaps.

The plenary meeting made an interim summing-up of this year's work for implementing the major policies to firmly preserve the interests and security environment of the country and bring about a fresh upswing in the overall development of Korean-style socialism in line with the goal for progress and strategic and tactical principles set forth at the 6th and 7th plenary meetings of the 8th Party Central Committee. It discussed and decided on the important policy issues to be addressed without fail and further spurred in the advance in the second half of the year.

An Armenian poet and communist fighter in World War II will enter the Pantheon mausoleum and join an elite group of France’s revered historical figures, French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday.

Known as being “pantheonised”, the rare tribute is reserved for those who have played an important role in the country’s history.

Missak Manouchian, who arrived in France in 1925 as a stateless refugee after fleeing violence, later joined the communist Resistance during World War II.

He led a small group of foreign Resistance fighters against the Nazi occupation, carrying out attacks on German forces and acts of sabotage in Nazi-occupied France in 1943.

June 19:

June 20:

Metro grocery workers unite in demand for fair pay, access to benefits, and stable work hours in a historic strike vote ahead of their first contract negotiations since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

“Metro must address low wages that have been further reduced by inflation and give workers their fair share of record company profits,” says Unifor National President, Lana Payne. “Grocery workers deserve good jobs, it’s that simple. And that’s exactly what this round of bargaining is all about. The overwhelming strike vote shows the unity and determination of grocery workers as we work toward a collective agreement that addresses key issues that impact workers and customers.”

Unifor Local 414 represents 3,700 grocery workers across 27 Metro stores in the Greater Toronto Area. The union begins collective agreement negotiations with Metro on June 26, 2023.

“At the bargaining table, we have three key priorities: fair pay for all workers; greater access to improved benefits; and more secure, stable work hours and full-time jobs,” says Gord Currie, President of Unifor Local 414. “What were once some of the best, family supporting jobs in Canada are now among the lowest paid in the country. You know it’s bad when a grocery worker can’t afford the food they’re stocking on Metro’s shelves.”

Unifor members at Metro remain committed to bargaining a fair collective agreement that reflects their invaluable contributions to the success of the company.

"The 100% strike vote is a clear message from dedicated Metro workers of their unwavering resolve to fight for fair wages, better working conditions, and to protect good jobs. Unifor stands with them every step of the way as they negotiate with one of Canada’s most profitable grocery giants," continues Payne.

June 21:

The International Relations Section of the CC of the KKE issued a statement on the strike of thousands of miners in Georgia, which reads as follows:

“The KKE expresses its solidarity with the thousands of striking miners in Georgia.

For almost two weeks now, 3.5 thousand miners in the city of Chiatura in Georgia have been on strike against the inhuman working conditions they experience, while demanding an increase in their wages.

Their strike has been faced with the intransigence of the employers and the indifference of the bourgeois government.

30 years after the overthrow of socialism and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, workers in Georgia are also experiencing all the impasses of the capitalist mode of production, including the deterioration of their working conditions, ‘accidents’ at the workplace, and impoverishment.

The KKE expresses its full solidarity with the striking workers in Georgia and demands that their just demands be met!”

The conflict in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces continues to escalate. The Workers Party of Ireland addressed a public rally in Belfast organised by the Sudanese community in Northern Ireland and the WPI expressed its solidarity with and support for the working class, the people of Sudan and our comrades in the Sudanese Communist Party in a situation where the people of Sudan are experiencing another intra-bourgeois armed conflict between competing bourgeois forces and armed groups backed by various foreign powers.

Comrade Gerry Grainger, International Secretary of the WPI, stated to the rally: “This conflict is not only about military power but also about the control of Sudan’s resources and mineral wealth. There is an increasing death toll and many people have been displaced and essential infrastructure has been destroyed.” The bloody developments in Sudan have also had a significant adverse impact on the situation in South Sudan.

Sudan is suffering the continuation and escalation of a senseless and bloody war which is part of the wider conflict in the region involving the various competing imperialist and monopoly interests. 25 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. The operations of storming residential homes and terrorizing their occupants by armed groups, as well as the use of public facilities such as hospitals as headquarters for their presence, constitute flagrant violations of the rights of defenceless citizens and of international law. These are barbaric and cowardly acts.


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