Red Review #107 -- International Left and Labour News
With news from the USA, Swaziland, Cuba, the UK, Greece, the DPRK, Canada and elsewhere.
Actors and writers picket outside of Netflix HQ in New York, July 14 -- Image via Twitter
Six more protesters were killed and over 300 arrested on Wednesday, July 12, in a crackdown on a fresh round of country-wide protests in Kenya against the IMF-backed tax hikes that are worsening the already unfolding cost of living crisis.
At least six others were killed earlier on July 7, when the protests first broke out against the new taxes, introduced as part of President William Ruto’s Finance Act 2023, which has been praised by the US for the opportunities it opens up for its capital to operate in Kenya.
“More than a thousand were detained and held in Nairobi’s satellite police stations that day. They were released after 6 p.m. But 75 protesters were arrested and held for two nights in Nairobi’s Central Police Station, which is infamous for disappearing student activists,” said Booker Ngesa Omole, National Vice Chairperson and National Organizing Secretary of the Communist Party of Kenya (CPK).
37 CPK members, including its Chairperson, Kinuthia Ndung’u, were among the 75 arrested. “We went to the station to demand their release on July 8. But the police teargassed everyone, including the senior lawyers and ex-Chief Justice Willy Mutunga who was accompanying us,” Omole told Peoples Dispatch.
A resolution calling for penalties against Cuba and Cuban leaders pushed through the European Parliament on July 12 by conservative and far right MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) has drawn strong condemnations from both the Cuban National Assembly and the MEPs of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).
The resolution called Cuba "autocratic" and said that the country should be barred from participating in summits and events with the European Union (UN). It also calls for the release of those arrested during the brief riots in Cuba in July 2021 claiming they are being held "unjustly". Cuban authorities say that those arrested committed numerous crimes ranging from vandalism and destruction of property to violent assaults.
Ironically the resolution comes after Josep Borrell, the EU's top diplomat, visited Cuba in May and criticized the US for its 60-year economic ban and despite the opposition of every single EU government and the United Nations to the ongoing illegal sanctions against Cuba by the United States.
We republish the statements from both the Cuban National Assembly and the KKE MEPs in full.
In the middle of Amazon’s “Prime Day” promotional sales rush, sixty warehouse workers walked out for more than three hours at the company’s delivery station in Pontiac, Michigan — bringing the facility to the brink of a total shutdown.
A delivery station is the last warehouse an Amazon package passes through before it is loaded into a truck or van en route to the customer.
This year’s Prime Day shopping bonanza on July 11 and 12 set a record for the largest sales day in Amazon’s history. The crush of Prime Day puts even more pressure on workers to keep up with conveyor belts overflowing with boxes that can weigh as much as fifty pounds.
“We are demanding a safe work environment where we are not straining, pulling muscles from lifting heavy packages, or tripping over boxes falling off the conveyor belt,” said Alicia Ozier, one of the strikers at the delivery station.
Workers at San Juan, Puerto Rico’s Gladius Studios have successfully voted to unionize under The Animation Guild (TAG), IATSE Local 839. It marks the first time that TAG has organized outside of the continental United States.
After more than four weeks of fruitless talks between SAG-AFTRA and movie, television, Netflix, and streaming video producers forced the union to strike, starting July 13, SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said.
Such a strike marks the first time in 63 years that unions of both those crafts and writers for movies and theater are simultaneously pressing their demands on the picket lines.
The issues facing both SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America are almost identical: Pay that lost much of its value to inflation during the last several years, disappearing residuals, declining work time for each show—which also cuts pay—and the looming threat of artificial intelligence.
The South African Communist Party has released (July 13) a strong statement voicing their steadfast opposition to the militarist agenda of NATO and US imperialism:
The South African Communist Party (SACP) vehemently condemns the warmongering propaganda propagated by NATO and United States President Joe Biden following the recent NATO heads of state and governments meeting held in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 11 July 2023. Such actions pose a grave threat to global peace, justice, and the elimination of the uneven development caused by the exploitative capitalist system, said the SACP General Secretary Solly Mapaila.
"The Communist Party of Venezuela, this historic party, the first to be founded among the contemporary parties of the country, now approaching its 93rd anniversary, has been persecuted by the leadership of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (Psuv) and the government of President Nicolás Maduro," denounced the communist leader Yul Jabour this Monday.
In a press statement, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the PCV pointed out that the threats that were hanging over the Communist Party have materialized "through a group of mercenaries that have acted before the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) by filing a lawsuit."
Our parties consistently condemn the imperialist aggression and sanctions of the United States and its allies against Venezuela and express our firm solidarity with the Venezuelan people.
For months now, we have been following with great concern the process of escalating intervention in the internal affairs of the Communist Party of Venezuela; a process openly supported by cadres of your party as well. Dozens of parties have already taken a stand through joint statements and other initiatives, rejecting these actions.
With this open letter we demand that all actions to undermine and interfere in the internal affairs of the Communist Party of Venezuela, which are being promoted on a completely unsubstantiated basis, be stopped immediately.
We express our solidarity with the Communist Party of Venezuela and its struggles in defence of the interests and rights of the working class and the people of Venezuela.
Amazon workers will walk out at a second warehouse after GMB union today [Monday] announced the outcome of a strike ballot at the company's Rugeley fulfilment centre
More than 100 workers at the West Midlands site are now set to walk out after 86 per cent of those who voted backed the strike.
The news comes as GMB reached 1,000 members at the Coventry fulfilment centre after twenty two days of strike action in the dispute over pay and union rights.
GMB members will now plan strike dates at what will be only the second Amazon site in the UK where workers have taken industrial action.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who had been visiting Europe over the last several days, made speeches at both the Peoples' Summit and the III CELAC-EU ( Community of Latin American and Caribbean States-European Union) Summit in Brussels, Belgium. (July 17-18)
Volunteer groups of the KKE and KNE are fighting the dozens of disastrous wildfires that have broken out around the country together with firefighters and local residents. KKE MPs are also present in the fire-stricken areas.
The criminal policy of all governments over time has been demonstrated once again: on the one hand uncleared forests, non-existent forest roads and firebreaks, and fire hydrants that do not work. On the other hand, understaffing and underfunding of the Fire Brigade, which faces shortages of more than 4,500 firefighters.
In a statement on the disastrous fires, the GS of the CC of the KKE, Dimitris Koutsoumbas, noted the following:
“The forces of the KKE, its cadres, organizations and MPs, have been at the fire fronts from the first moment, fighting blazes together with the residents of East and West Attica, Loutraki, Boeotia, everywhere where large wildfires are raging, destroying homes, people’s property and forested areas.
The government and state apparatus must immediately do whatever is necessary to save lives, people’s property and natural wealth.
The KKE timely submitted Questions to the government, before the beginning of the fire season, as well as just a few days ago, asking for the emergency adoption of a series of necessary measures to strengthen the fire protection of our country. Despite the fact that we are almost in the middle of the fire season, the government is once again implementing the same failed and destructive planning for forests and the environment.”
"Jamie Driscoll's resignation from the Labour Party is an understandable reaction to Keir Starmer's betrayal of all the pledges he made to get elected as party leader after Jeremy Corbyn", Ruth Styles told the Communist Party's political committee on Monday evening (July 17).
'Starmer has dumped most of his policy pledges and launched a purge of the left after promising to promote party unity on a left-of-centre programme', she pointed out.
Mr Driscoll had been excluded from the process to select Labour's candidate for mayor of North East England, despite his widely praised record and popularity as the mayor of North Tyne.
His resignation from the Labour Party has come as Labour MPs are criticising Keir Starmer's u-turn decision to retain the two-child cap on child benefit should he win the next General Election.
Amazon has been accused of aggressively cracking down on unionisation efforts as increasing labour unrest at the corporate giant spreads across the UK.
Workers allege Amazon is employing anti-union tactics, saying the company has penalised a worker leading the union drive, hired 1,300 extra non-unionised workers to defeat a push for formal union recognition in Coventry, plastered warehouses with anti-union messages, told workers that they risk missing out on pay rises if they unionise, and threatened to close a warehouse in response to union organising at the site.
B.C. port workers say they will resume striking as soon as Saturday, after their Tuesday job action was ruled illegal and they were ordered back to work Wednesday morning.
Thousands of port workers across British Columbia are resuming strike activity after failing to ratify a tentative deal that was reached through federal mediation.
More than 7,400 workers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) had walked off the job from July 1 until July 13 over issues like port automation, outside contracting and the increasing cost of living.