Red Review #104 -- International Left and Labour News
With news from India, Greece, Ghana, Ireland, Guatemala, Honduras, Bangladesh, Cuba, China and elsewhere.
Remarkable photo of a Communist Party of India (Marxist) rally in Jemua of West Bardhaman district during the campaign appealing people to vote for Left in Panchayat elections, June 22 -- Image via Facebook
Thousands of supporters of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) rallied in Syntagma Square outside the Greek Parliament on June 21, 2023 ahead of the elections on June 25. In the elections on May 21 the KKE made significant gains and saw its seat count rise from 15 to 26 seats and its vote increased from 299,621 (5.3%) to 425,763 (7.23%).
The ruling right-wing New Democracy Party won the most seats in May but not a majority and a second election was called.
At the rally huge banners were raised saying HOPE – STRENGTH – KKE.
On June 22 the KKE released English language translations of excerpts from speeches at the rally by Dimitris Koutsoumbas, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the KKE and Kostadinka Kuneva, a candidate for the KKE in Athens.
Following several rounds of negotiations, Indian cement trade union federations, including the BWI-affiliated Indian National Cement Workers' Federation (INCWF) and the All India Cement Employees' Federation (AICEF), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Cement Manufacturers' Association (CMA) on 21 June, providing for a nationwide tripartite wage increase as well as increases in education, conveyance, periodical, and leave travel allowances. The increase is made up of INR 3,450 (effective 1 April 2022) and INR 2,300 (effective 1 April 2024), for a total of INR 5,750. The agreement also specifies an increase in variable dearness allowance and an increase in respective pay grades. Furthermore, arrears arising from this settlement for the period 1 April 2022-30 June 2023 must be paid by 31 July 2023. The memorandum, which covers the period from 1 April 2022 to 32 March 2026, was signed by all the parties and endorsed by the Central Chief Labour Commissioner of India's Ministry of Labour and Employment. The negotiations started after a September 2022 meeting at Chennai in theTamil Nadu State.
Contractual workers of the roadways department under the banner of Punjab Roadways/Punbus/PRTC Contact Workers’ Union organised a gate rally here on Thursday. They condemned the department for failing to fulfil their demands. The union submitted a memorandum of demands to the authorities concerned.
Addressing on the occasion, Lovepreet Singh, Kulwidner Singh Jauhal and Baljinder Singh, among others, said Transport Minister Laljit Singh Bhullar and the Secretary of the department had assured the union of accepting their demands soon, but the department did nothing regarding their demands. The leaders said as a result, the employees were forced to intensify their agitation.
On June 22, Ghanaian activists will take to the streets of Accra for the “Don’t Tax My Period” parade and placard march. Organized by the Women’s Wing of the Socialist Movement of Ghana (SMG) in collaboration with NGOs, Yebetumi and Obaasima, the action will draw attention to the pervasive yet often overlooked issue of period poverty. The mobilization takes place as anger builds over the heavy taxation of menstrual hygiene products.
Ghana is facing what is perhaps its worst economic crisis in a generation, as rising costs have exerted pressure on the majority of households in the country. This generalized crisis—which has made it difficult for people to afford even basic essential goods—has had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups, including women.
Despite the fact that about a quarter of the world’s population menstruates, 500 million people have been left without access to menstrual hygiene products. Period poverty thus refers to the struggle to afford menstrual products, and the “increased economic vulnerability” menstruating people face due to the “financial burden posed by menstrual supplies.”
On June 22 the New York City City Council voted unanimously to call for an end to the US blockade against Cuba.
Resolution 285-A, sponsored by Council Member Charles Barron, calls "upon the United States Congress and President to end the Cuban embargo and Cuban travel ban and to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list due to the unjust harm it causes to the Cuban people."
“It is critically important that the New York City Council joins with other City Councils, National and Local Organizations across this country in calling upon the United States President and Congress to end the cruel and inhumane Cuban economic embargo, travel ban and the insidious placement of Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism,” said Council Member Charles Barron. “It is time that our legislative body join with 185 countries from around the world who yearly at the United Nations General Assembly condemn the United States’ actions as violations of international human rights.”
Several activists with the National Network on Cuba, CODEPINK, and IFCO/Pastors for Peace were arrested on June 22 after trying to have a meeting with New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez in his office in Washington, DC. Activists were attempting to meet with Menendez to urge him to lift the US blockade against Cuba and take Cuba off the US’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list.
Menendez is a hardliner against socialist countries such as Cuba and Venezuela, and spearheads some of the most brutal sanctions efforts against these countries. He has come down hard on lawmakers from his own party for attempting to lift some sanctions. “Removing U.S. sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela will only betray our democratic values and further empower criminal dictators,” he stated in May in response to progressives urging Biden to ease the devastating measures that harm the people of these countries, resulting in mass migration.
Calla Walsh, co-chair of the NNOC, said as she was forced out of Menendez’s office in handcuffs, “[Menendez’s staff] didn’t want to have a conversation with us about how Menendez’s policy is killing the Cuban people. We need to end the blockade, take Cuba off the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, end US terrorism against Cuba!”
A strike by manganese miners in the central Georgian town of Chiatura has come to an end after 18 days, with the mining company agreeing to key demands from the workers.
On Saturday, mining firm Georgian Manganese agreed to reverse new ore quotas that miners had described as ‘inhuman’. They also agreed to honour their contractual obligation to increase salaries by 12%, in line with inflation.
The miners went on strike after the company announced that workers would have to mine up to 40% more ore over shorter shifts. Both miners and labour activists said such demands were impossible to meet and would effectively result in a pay cut for miners.
Continuing to build on the momentum of the May vote, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) increased its vote total again in the snap parliamentary elections held June 25.
The KKE's vote climbed from 7.23% in May to 7.69%. This is up from 5.3% in 2019. Unfortunately, due to the government altering the election's rules in a rather undemocratic fashion, despite this increase in vote the KKE's seat total fell from 26 to 20, which is still up significantly from 15 in 2019.
Having changed the rules to ensure a majority (the KKE has called the election "rigged"), the right-wing New Democracy government had its seat total increase by 12 versus May even though their vote declined by .23%. They now have their coveted majority to unleash a program of reactionary, anti-worker "reforms".
With statements from KKE General Secretary Dimitris Koutsoumbas and the Communist Party of Turkey.
In its statement, the Political Bureau of the CC of the KKE hails the thousands of people who strengthened the KKE with their votes and fought the battle for its electoral growth in the June elections.
The statement stresses, among other things, that the electoral reinforcement of the KKE is not circumstantial but an indicator of the rise of the prestige that the Party has gained among the working class and the entire people, by leading emblematic struggles and demonstrations.
It is assessed that a growing momentum of the Party’s electoral influence is expressed, yet within an ongoing negative political correlation of forces.
It is stressed that the 20 MPs of the KKE, 5 more than before, will be where they promised to be, i.e. at the forefront of the struggles against the problems faced by the workers and the people.
The PB of the CC of the KKE calls upon the people to join forces and act in concert with it. In opposition to disillusionment, fatalism and compromise fostered by SYRIZA and other forces, hope lies in the path of conflict with this policy, this system, the directions of the EU and the commitments to NATO. In the important political battles ahead, such as the municipal and regional elections in October 2023, a further rallying of workers’–people’s forces can be expressed through the ballot papers of “People’s Rallying” nationwide.
“Cuba is a sponsor of peace, not terrorism,” Calla Walsh, co-chair of the National Network on Cuba, told Peoples Dispatch in front of the White House Sunday. Solidarity organizations and left-wing groups converged in Washington DC on Sunday, June 25, to demand that US President Biden take Cuba off of the US’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. These organizations included the National Network on Cuba, the International People’s Assembly, IFCO/Pastors for Peace, the Peoples Forum, the Palestinian Youth Movement, the ANSWER Coalition, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Demonstrators first gathered at the José de San Martín Monument, a gift from Argentina to the US to honor the Latin American liberator. Organizers noted the significance of the monument to the ideals of democracy and liberty that the US prides itself on. Demonstrators then marched to the White House, passing the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) on the way.
Organizers also called for Biden to put an end to the 60-plus-year US blockade against Cuba, and an end to US sanctions against sovereign nations worldwide.
Kameron Hurt of the International People’s Assembly spoke to the crowd assembled in front of the White House, “When I look around this crowd, I see people’s power in its truest form. I see people’s power, because that’s what it’s gonna take to defeat this blockade. To defeat the sanctions. To defeat the sanctions on all countries. We mean against Cuba, we mean against the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, we mean against the people of Iran, the people of Venezuela, Syria, any people who face this empire.”
On Sunday, June 25, Guatemala held general elections with 22 candidates vying for the presidency of the country. As the counting of the votes proceeded, it became clear that a second round would take place since none of the candidates was polling near the required more than 50% threshold. In the early hours of Monday, after counting 90% of the votes, the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) announced that Sandra Torres of the center-right National Unity of Hope (UNE) party and Bernardo Arévalo of the center Semilla Movement party would advance to the next round.
According to the results released by the TSE, with 98.5% of the votes counted, Torres obtained 15.7% of the votes, while Arévalo secured 11.8% of the votes. They will now face off in the run-off on August 20. Arévalo’s victory came as a total surprise because until a week ago, he didn’t appear among the leading candidates in any of the opinion polls.
Following the top two candidates were Manuel Conde of the ruling far-right Vamos party with 7.8% of the votes, Armando Castillo of the right-wing Viva party with 7.2% of the votes, Edmond Mulet of the center-right Cabal party with 6.7% of the votes, and Zury Ríos of the far-right Valor Unionista party with 6.5% of the votes. The remaining 16 contestants secured less than 5% of the votes.
The election results were overshadowed by low turnout and high level of protest votes. Over 9.3 million Guatemalans were eligible to vote in the elections. According to the TSE, around 5.5 million citizens exercised their right to vote, and 1.3 million of them cast blank and null votes. Ahead of the elections, three candidates were disqualified from the ballot on dubious grounds, including Thelma Cabrera of the left-wing political party Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples (MLP), which drew criticism from various international organizations.
Many of the workers at the Starbucks location in downtown Cheyenne are unionizing, making it the first Starbucks in Wyoming to do so should an official vote succeed.
To show their solidarity, the workers went on strike Sunday morning.
A vote to unionize is expected to be held in the next several weeks.
The situation is likely to become volatile in Gazipur, Ashulia, Savar and Narayanganj industrial areas following the killing of readymade garment worker Shahidul Islam Shahid, also a trade union leader, on Sunday night in front of Prince Jacquard Sweater Ltd at Tongi in Gazipur.
Kalpona Akter, executive director of Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity, partnering with the largest US-based international worker rights organisation Solidarity Center, confirmed The Business Post that Shahid was their activist and also district president of Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation (BGIWF).
Two workers– Mustafa Kamal, 26, and Ahmed Sharif, 35 – were severely injured and admitted to Tairunnessa Memorial Medical College and Hospital in Gazipur, our district correspondent Raihanul Islam Akanda confirmed.
Workers’ leaders claimed that the attack was carried out at the behest of the Prince Jacquard authority, saying that it was a pre-planned murder because the leaders demanded payment of due wages.
After the incident, workers started staging protests across the RMG factory zones, and trade union leaders also announced protests on Tuesday demanding justice for Shahidul’s murder. To press home their demand, they will also gather in front of the National Press Club, Dhaka in the morning.
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Monday called on the new leadership of the Communist Youth League of China (CYLC) to earnestly shoulder their missions and tasks entrusted by the CPC in the new era.
Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks while meeting with the leading members of the newly-elected Central Committee of the CYLC.
Xi urged the CYLC to give full play to the country's youths so that they will be fully committed in advancing Chinese modernization.
Noting that the future of the cause of the Party and the nation rests on the younger generation, Xi expressed his hope that the CYLC Central Committee will better rally young people around the Party to continuously strive for building a stronger country and realizing national rejuvenation.
Statement Communist Party of Ireland
MONDAY 26th JUNE 2023:
The Government’s “Consultative Forum” rolls into Dublin today after its Cork and Galway sessions, meandering through the thoughts of aging generals, representatives of numerous think tanks financed by various foreign military intelligence agencies, and recipients of imperial honours.
The aim of the forum is to continue the process of attempting to condition tolerance among the Irish people for a sharp break with this state’s traditional position of neutrality. While actually joining NATO may be their long-term objective, what is clearly under fire, and most critically at stake, is the “triple lock” regarding the deployment of Irish military personnel overseas.
The removal of the triple lock would allow the Government to decide unilaterally which military operations it would back with logistical and military support.
Government wants to drop any reference to a UN mandate for such deployment and to disregard the United Nations completely—which is in line with US policy regarding Iraq, Afghanistan, and other catastrophic adventures. The Irish state is already working behind the scenes with NATO and backing deeper EU militarisation in the form of PESCO.
Achieving the goal of global security and world peace requires demilitarisation and massive cuts in military spending globally. Demilitarisation and peace are also an essential element of tackling climate change. Military spending needs to be redirected to social and economic development and to securing global economic justice. It is this inequality that lies at the heart of global instability.
The Communist Party of Ireland, and a wide range of democratic opinion, fully supports neutrality and will work with others towards further strengthening the triple lock.
We demand a protocol recognising Irish neutrality in the next EU treaty.
The Government, regardless of its composition, must return to a position of seeking global nuclear disarmament through the United Nations and other international bodies.
Enshrining neutrality in Bunreacht na hÉireann and inserting a protocol recognising Irish neutrality in all EU treaties is the only guarantor that would prevent the youth of Ireland dying on foreign battlefields defending the interests of global industrial and mining corporations
Today in Dublin the CPI carried out a number of actions to highlight our call for the defence of the triple lock and demanding the enshrinement of neutrality in the constitution. Our banner on the Halfpenny Bridge carries the slogan and demand promoted by James Connolly over a century ago, and a long-held position of the Irish labour movement: “We serve neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland,” or, in the world of today, “We serve neither London, Brussels nor Washington but the Irish working class.”
Revamped labour laws in British Columbia have led Canada's largest private-sector union to focus on the province as it aims to organize Amazon employees.
Last week, Unifor launched a drive to unionize Amazon staff at a news conference outside one of the U.S. corporation's fulfilment centres in New Westminster, B.C.
It's the latest union in Canada to make an organizing push, and if successful, the centre would be the first unionized Amazon workplace in the country.
"We have one of the best labour law regimes here," said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor's western regional director, in an interview after the event.
The National Secretariat of the Communist Party of India issued the following statement today (June 27, 2023) on US-India agreements:
During his recent state visit to US the Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi and President of US Joe Biden have issued joint declaration on June 22, 2023 to strengthen the India-U.S. Comprehensive Global and Strategic Partnership.
In continuation of the three important defence agreements with US namely the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016, Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) in 2018, and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) in 2020, the recent agreements between the two countries are to further enhance the defence cooperation to promote the strategic interests of USA.
Though there are deals about co-productions of many armaments in India which may strengthen our military capacities but allowing creation of logistics, maintenance and repairing for forward deployment of US Navy and Air forces by using our naval bases and military airports, it has definitely compromised our strategic autonomy. It will provoke other big powers to do the same in littoral and hinterland States of the Indian Ocean thus increasing arms race in Indian Ocean region.
The joint statement discusses all issues from war in Ukraine to the restoration of democracy in Myanmar but remains silent about the ongoing assaults by Israel on Palestinian people on daily basis. Unfortunately, here the supporter of Zionist Israel and the fundamentalist clan of Hindutva converge.
The CPI calls upon the Govt of India to follow independent foreign policy without being a band wagon of US imperialist power which wants India to be the best bet to implement their hegemonic policy in Asia-Pacific region.
Today, United Workers Union (UWU) members at a Dandenong medical and pharmaceutical distribution centre began strike action in pursuit of a pay increase to help keep up with the escalating cost-of-living.
Workers have been bargaining with the company, Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (API) since March in an effort to secure an agreement which contains a wage increase aligned with inflation and would prevent agency casual workers from getting paid significantly less than the permanent workforce of around 190 workers.
API is wholly owned by retail giant Wesfarmers and predominantly supplies Priceline and other pharmacy stores.
Wesfarmers recorded a profit of $2.35 billion last financial year, while the group’s chief executive Rob Scott pocketed $8 million in that same year.
UWU National Secretary Tim Kennedy said the company was swimming in cash and if Wesfarmers could afford to give their CEO a $1 million increase in wages year-on-year, they could afford to give logistics workers a $2.25-an-hour pay rise.
A garment union leader in Bangladesh and four garment union leaders in Honduras were killed over the weekend, murders the Solidarity Center and global union and human rights organizations are strongly condemning, and which they say highlight the need for employers and governments in every country to ensure workers can safely exercise their basic rights to form and join unions.
“The perpetrators of these horrific murders must be brought to justice,” says Solidarity Center Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau. “Assaults on workers and union leaders for trying to form unions and exercise their fundamental rights are increasing worldwide. These heinous actions highlight the growing attacks on democratic freedoms, and must be answered with strong measures to safeguard worker rights and all forms of democracy.”