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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #108 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from Cuba, Swaziland, the UK, Peru, the USA, South Korea, Spain, India, Guatemala and elsewhere.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez speaks at a mass celebration in Cuba in honour of the 70th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada Barracks -- Image via the Communist Party of Cuba

July 17:

King Mswati’s police in Swaziland have charged 22-year-old Sambulo Shongwe, a member of the Central Committee (CC) of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS), with multiple counts of assault after arresting and torturing him twice this month. He was released on bail on July 17. Sambulo is also the National Political Educator of the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS).

Six heavily armed policemen first arrested Sambulo on July 11 from the dormitory of the University of Swaziland in the capital Mbabane, where he studies environmental science.

July 18:

Could Keir Starmer finally be going a bridge too far in his disgraceful attempts to purge the Labour Party of its left, repudiate the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and pander to the business classes and right-wing media? There are signs that may be the case.

On July 18 the party blocked leftist Mish Rahman, a vice-chairman of Momentum, from seeking to run for the party despite the fact that he is a member of Labour’s national executive committee, has the backing of several unions and is a prominent Muslim anti-racist activist.

This comes on the heels of the announcement by North Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll that he was not only quitting the party but would run for re-election as an independent socialist.

And that decision is, in fact, possibly the start of something new on the UK left.

July 19:

July 20:

As their strike at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette rolled into its 10th month, journalists in the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh and other striking news workers and supporters gathered Thursday evening for a picnic at Oakland’s Schenley Park.

As two fawns grazed in the grass around the Overlook Shelter and people munched burgers and hot dogs and grilled corn, union leaders gave updates on recent developments, such as the outpouring of support, including hundreds of thousands of dollars, the Pittsburgh strikers received at the recent convention of the guild’s parent union, the Communications Workers of America.

On 20 July 2023, the Korean Metal Workers' Union (KMWU) took another strong stand against trade union repression in Korea, calling for an end to the heavy-handed tactics employed by the government. The protest gained momentum as over 100,000 KMWU members from various industries participated in a nationwide strike in early July, demanding better labour rights and justice.

During the rallies, KMWU leaders presented several demands, including the reform of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Adjustment Act (TULRAA), starting with articles 2 and 3. They also demanded wage hikes for all workers, starting with an increase in the minimum wage. Additionally, the union called for the rejection of the proposed 69-hour work week, fearing its impact on worker wellbeing. Central demands included putting a stop to trade union repression by the government and the resignation of the Yoon Suk-Yeol regime.

July 21:

Cooks and cashiers walked off the job at a McDonald’s in Los Angeles on Friday, July 21, claiming the restaurant’s broken air conditioning system was forcing them to work in sweltering conditions amid Southern California’s relentless heat wave.

Conditions are especially bad in the kitchen area, workers said, because of more heat coming from the grill, fryers and ovens.

They staged a lunchtime rally outside the restaurant and said they don’t plan to return until management addresses the problem. They say the air conditioning system hasn’t worked properly for three years.

“It’s unbearable,” said Maria Rodriguez, who has been a cook at the 2838 Crenshaw Blvd. McDonald’s for 20 years. “Management doesn’t seem to care. They say the air conditioning is working, but you can feel how hot it is.”

The Palestinian Authority welcomed the Portuguese parliament's recognition of the Nakba, or catastrophe, which refers to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist militias to make way for the creation of Israel in 1948.

The Portuguese parliament passed the resolution on Friday, which showed support for Palestinian self-determination.

Deputies from the ruling Socialist Party (PS), Communist Party (PCP) and the Left Bloc (BE) voted in favour.

Representatives from the Social Democratic Party (PPD/PSD) and right-wing Chega Party (CH) voted against.

The resolution condemned Israel's expansionism in the West Bank and continued violation of international law, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Cuba is an example of justice and respect for the human being, which is why the imperialist insistence on blocking and attacking it, certified today Pambis Kiricisgeneral secretary World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) during their tours of the sights of this capital.

The leader of the international working class, who is in the largest of the Antilles on his first official visit to Latin America and the Caribbean, noticed significant differences in the concept of labor relations during the trip, so he offers an alternative to the capitalist mentality that puts profit over the worker.

July 22:

PROTESTS took place nationwide and internationally on Saturday to support volunteers with direct action group Palestine Action imprisoned over attacks on companies supplying weapons to Israel.

In England, protests were mounted in support of the Britain-based group in Manchester, Liverpool, London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Brighton.

Palestine supporters in France plastered streets with posters.

In Canada, protesters demonstrated outside Scotiabank in Vancouver, which invests in Israeli-owned arms firm Elbit Systems.

Six Palestine Action activists are currently detained in British jails.

On Saturday, July 22, thousands of Peruvians once again hit the streets of the capital Lima to demand the resignation of de-facto president Dina Boluarte, the closure of right-wing dominated Congress, new general elections, a constituent assembly to write a new constitution, justice for the victims of state repression during the protests between December 2022 and February 2023.

Saturday’s protest is part of renewed national efforts to intensify the struggle against the Boluarte government which began on July 19 with the “third takeover of Lima” mobilization. Dozens of delegations of Indigenous peoples, peasant communities, social organizations and trade unions have traveled to Peru’s capital, Lima, to participate in the protests which will continue across the country until July 28, Peruvian Independence Day.

Kenyan President William Ruto on Saturday met here with Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, with both sides pledging to deepen Belt and Road cooperation.

Ruto asked Wang, also director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, to convey his cordial greetings to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Noting that Kenya-China relations have been developing smoothly since the establishment of diplomatic ties 60 years ago, Ruto said strengthening friendly cooperation with China has become a consensus shared by all sectors in the country.

July 23:

The Spanish elections have thrown up a hung parliament but the biggest story of Sunday’s polls was the blow to the far-right wing party Vox. A campaign marked by exclusionary rhetoric and attacks of the marginalized sections failed to gain traction as Vox won only 33 seats in the 350-seat Congress of Deputies, 33 lesser than the last election in 2019.

It was not a great result for the opposition conservative People’s Party (PP) of Alberto Núñez Feijoo. The PP emerged as the single largest party with with 136 seats (+47) and 33.1% votes but fell well short of the simple majority of 176 seats. Feijoo will struggle to cobble together a coalition as many potential partners do not want to be associated with Vox.

Meanwhile, defying predictions, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) led by incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez managed to hold its constituencies and secured 122 seats (2+) with 31.7% votes. The Sumar platform—comprising the partners of the PSOE-led coalition government like Podemos and United Left (IU)—won 31 seats.

A delegation of the Communist Party of China (CPC), led by Liu Jianchao, head of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, visited Madagascar from Thursday to Saturday.

During the visit, Liu met with President of Madagascar Andry Rajoelina, President of the Senate Herimanana Razafimahefa, President of the National Assembly Christine Razanamahasoa, Foreign Minister Yvette Sylla, and Pierre Holder Ramaholimasy, national coordinator of the IRD. He also held talks with representatives of local Chinese companies and Chinese communities.

The two sides agreed to strengthen exchanges between political parties and legislatures, enhance people-to-people exchanges, increase mutual learning on state governance, closely synergize development strategies and promote Belt and Road cooperation, so as to jointly step forward toward modernization and bring China-Madagascar relations to a new level.

July 24:

Hundreds of Guatemalans demonstrated Monday to protest interference by courts and prosecutors against a progressive candidate's participation in August’s second-round presidential election.

The government’s actions against Bernardo Arévalo have included suspending his Seed Movement party and raiding the country’s election tribunal offices after it certified first-round election results that put Arévalo into the Aug. 20 runoff against conservative former first lady Sandra Torres.

Top leaders of leftist parties of the 14-party alliance went to China on Monday at the invitation of Communist Party of China (CPC).

They left Dhaka this afternoon in a Southern Airlines flight for Kunming city of China, said a press release.

Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal President Hasanul Haq Inu, MP, Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon, MP, Samyabadi Dal General Secretary Dilip Barua, Workers Party General Secretary Fazle Hossain Badsha, MP, and Lutfun Nesa Khan, MP, were in the delegation.

They will return home on July 30.

Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers picketed Tuesday at more than 40 facilities across the state, including 17 in the Bay Area, claiming unsafe staffing levels.

The union colation representing more than 85,000 frontline workers is negotiating a new contract with the company. The current deal is set to expire on Sept. 30, after which a strike is possible.

Workers say there has been a health care staffing crisis at Kaiser for years, exacerbated by the pandemic with many departments constantly short-staffed. They say this makes it difficult to provide quality care, leading to long wait times, mistaken diagnoses and neglect.

Radiographers, who perform vital scans on patients, begin a 48-hour strike at 08:00 on Tuesday in parts of England.

Staff at 37 NHS trusts are staging walkouts over pay.

Hospital Employees’ Union (HEU) members who work at seven long-term care homes across British Columbia voted 98 per cent in favour of strike action, delivering a strong strike mandate to back their bargaining demands for a new contract with Good Samaritan Canada.

“This strong vote for strike action by over 1,100 HEU members who work for Good Samaritan Canada sends a clear message that seniors’ care workers demand job security, respect, and fair compensation,” says HEU Secretary-Business Manager Meena Brisard.

July 25:

Yolanda Diaz, Spain's deputy prime minister and the leader of far-left party Sumar, assured Spanish citizens on Tuesday that a progressive government would be in power for another term in the country.

"The voters have spoken and said they don't want a government with Popular Party and Vox. There's no doubt we'll have a progressive government in Spain," she told Spanish broadcaster La Sexta.

Spain's left-wing bloc defied expectations during Sunday's national election. While the conservative Popular Party came in first place, it fell short of winning the majority needed to easily form a government, even with its allies, the far-right party Vox.

Despite heavy rains Sri Lankan unions held a protest in Colombo, on 25 July, against the proposed anti-worker labour law amendments and domestic debt restructuring plan which involves using the hard-earned provident fund amounts of workers and implementing anti-worker labour law amendments.

The government’s decision to introduce the domestic debt restructuring plan, part of the “bailout” package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which involves using the hard-earned provident fund of workers, comes at a time when working people of the country are already living under terrible conditions due to extremely high inflation and currency devaluation, which has led to a significant decline in their real income.

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) in Tripura held a massive protest rally on July 25, demanding the resignation of Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh.

They also urged the central government to take necessary steps to restore peace in the conflict-torn state.

Speaking on the issue, CITU state General Secretary Shankar Prasad Datta said that the world knows the heinous crime is being committed in Manipur in the last 85 days.

“Our central government and Prime Minister kept mum. The Chief Minister of Manipur is unable to control the conflict between the Meiteis and Kukis communities. Women are being tortured severely and this crime is being ashamed by the people of our country and world so today on behalf of CITU throughout the country we are demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister and also demanding the attempt to be taken by the central government to maintain peace in the state”, said Datta.

July 26:

With statements from the Communist parties of Turkey, Greece, Australia and Mexico and from the Party of Labour of Austria.


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