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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #109 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from Canada, the USA, Swaziland, the UK, the DPRK, India and elsewhere.

Metro grocery workers strike in Toronto, Canada July 29 demanding fair pay -- image via Unifor

July 26:

Arrest Killers of Subhash Munda

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) strongly condemns the cold blooded murder of Subhash Munda, member of the Jharkhand State Committee of the Party. He was shot dead at his office at Daladli Chowk, Ranchi on July 26.

34-year old Munda was a popular leader in Nagri area in Ranchi district, who was in the forefront of struggles to protect the rights of tribals and other poor and marginalized sections. This had pitted him against the vested interests and the land mafia, who wanted to grab land of the tribals.

It is owing to his popularity and appeal among the common people that the CPI(M) had put him as its candidate twice from Hatia Assembly Constituency and also in the recent by-election to the Mandar Assembly Constituency.

The Polit Bureau demands that an SIT be constituted to probe the assassination, identify the killers and bring them to book immediately.

Unifor is proud to announce that more than 700 workers from the Original Cakerie in London, Ont. will join the union following a successful organizing campaign.

“The best way to get respect and a voice at work is to organize,” said Unifor National President Lana Payne.

“A very warm welcome to our newest members from the Cakerie who have voted overwhelmingly to show they are ready to work collectively – through our union - for better working conditions and for a better world.”

July 27:

“We share a comradeship written in blood. Let us promote bilateral ties regardless of international circumstances,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping in a letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

According to People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Communist Party Politburo member Li Hongzhong visited North Korea in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Armistice Day of the Korean War, which North Korea considers as Victory Day. He met with Kim in Pyongyang and presented him with an official letter from President Xi Jinping.

“Seventy years ago, the Chinese communist and North Korean armies achieved a great victory by supporting North Korea against the U.S. and forged a comradeship written in blood. No matter how the international storm changes, safeguarding, consolidating, and developing relations between China and North Korea will always be a firm policy direction of the Chinese Communist Party and the government," said the letter.

North Korea’s Korea Central News Agency reported that Kim said, "North Korea’s party and people will cherish and praise the Chinese communist army’s achievement,” thanking the letter. Kim, along with Vice Chairman Ri, personally greeted the Chinese delegation of eight members. In the banquet preceded by the meeting, Kim Yo Jong, Deputy Department Director of the party and Kim’s sister, made a speech.

July 28:

In another chapter of the B.C. port strike, workers have now voted to reject a mediated contract offer, thereby possibly extending job action at some of Canada’s busiest ports.

In an announcement late Friday, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) president Rob Ashton said members have voted no to the contract and are calling on their employers to “come to the table and negotiate something that works” for its members and the industry.

From Hollywood writers and actors to the Teamsters, a wave of labor action is sweeping the country, and Atlanta is no stranger to this tide. Last Friday, July 28, several service sector workers rallied at a Burger King in Decatur to support employees there.

Backed by the Union of Southern Service Workers (USSW), organizers and workers marched on the fast-food location to raise awareness of workplace safety issues, primarily the soaring kitchen temperatures workers are forced to endure since the location’s air conditioning stopped working.

Led by a cadre of flag wavers and chanting marchers, the rally gathered behind Arnice Sykes, a Burger King employee and member of USSW. Sykes described the state of her workplace in stark but grim terms. She noted that sometimes the thermostat inside “will read 92-93 degrees” and she has to “go into the freezer in order to get cool.”

She made clear that she doesn’t just fight for herself; she organizes for a better workplace because “it benefits everybody else that works there.”

Friday 28 July 2023: The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) will hold its Annual Winter Political School for the year 2023 held under the theme Methods of Mass Mobilisation to Achieve Democracy Now.

The School will be convened from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 July 2023 in South Africa.

Delegates to the CPS Winter School will be drawn from CPS membership and democracy activists from Swaziland and exile. The School will also be attended by fraternal organisations, all scheduled to present messages to the School in line with the theme above.

The CPS holds its Winter School in the context of increased repression by the Mswati autocracy. The CPS aims to deepen the people’s consciousness, organise them into a more formidable force to wage, in unity, decisive resistance against the oppression and lead the country towards democracy.

The 2023 Winter School further deepens and broadens the “Democracy Now” campaign, launched by the Communist Party of Swaziland in 2019, by capacitating activists on the best methods of mass mobilisation. In this regard, activists will learn methods of the analysis of the concrete conditions of our struggle in the present moment, tactics in theory and practice, political and organisational work, and many other aspects of struggle crucial to our present conditions.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met the Chinese delegation which visited Pyongyang to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Korean War truce and vowed to develop the two countries’ relations to a “new high”, the North’s state media said on Saturday.

Mr Kim hosted a reception for the Chinese officials led by Communist Party Politburo member Li Hongzhong on Friday. The Chinese delegation was the first to visit North Korea since the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Reaffirmed at the talk was the stand of the parties and governments of the two countries to cope with the complicated international situation on their own initiative and steadily develop the friendship and comradely cooperation onto a new high stage,” the North’s KCNA news agency said.

HGV refuse lorry drivers employed by Coventry council have voted for strike action over proposed attacks on their terms and conditions, Unite, the UK’s leading union, said today (Friday).

More than 40 drivers are angry at the Labour council’s plans to end ‘task and finish’ and to possibly privatise the city’s refuse service. The plans are an attempt to drive down pay and conditions as it fights equal pay claims by GMB members.

Rather than address low and unequal pay in other areas by raising pay and conditions to the level won by refuse workers, the Labour-run council is attempting to deal with GMB legal claims by bringing conditions of refuse workers down. Unite members are determined to ensure that equalities and equal pay mean better conditions for more and more workers – not equal misery for all.

More than 1,000 Manchester Stagecoach drivers have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action, with strikes beginning in August, Unite, the UK’s leading union, announced today (Friday).

The drivers have responsibility for manoeuvring large vehicles all day through heavy traffic and care for the safety of thousands of passengers. They have rejected an offer of just four per cent from June 2023 with a further four per cent in December. With the current rate of inflation, RPI, standing at 10.7 per cent, this is a real terms pay cut.

Stagecoach’s latest financial report showed its adjusted profit before tax increased 98 per cent to £36.4 million in the six months to 29 October 2022. For the 2021/2022 financial year, Stagecoach reported revenues of almost £1.2 billion with adjusted profits of £72.7 million.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Stagecoach is bringing in massive profits and can well afford to give its drivers a reasonable pay increase. The company must put forward an offer that acknowledges rising living costs and the demands of what is a difficult and stressful job. Unite’s top priority is our members’ jobs, pay and conditions and Manchester’s Stagecoach drivers have the full backing of their union.”

July 29:

Toronto-area residents hoping to pick up groceries at Metro Inc. were greeted by closed doors and picket lines at many locations on Saturday as thousands of employees formally went on strike at 27 stores across the region.

Some 3,700 members of Unifor Local 414 walked off the job shortly after midnight, effectively shuttering operations at the stores where they work. Picket lines had gone up at affected locations by 8 a.m., while stores staffed by unimpacted workers continued to operate as usual.

President Xi Jinping has called for breaking new ground in China's high-quality development during an inspection tour in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, urged the province to write a new chapter in advancing Chinese modernization.

He said that it is imperative to apply the new development philosophy, forge a new pattern of development and promote common prosperity across the board and throughout economic and social development.

He urged more efforts to advance the transformation of the model, driving force, areas and quality of development to break new ground in the country's high-quality development.

More than 100 union members are on strike against Amcor in Des Moines. The union members are calling for better wages and benefits from the packaging manufacturer.

Teamsters Local 238 members went on strike Saturday, saying their payment has not kept pace with the company's growth.

Unionized employees of the company formerly known as CUNA Mutual held a rally outside of the state capitol Saturday.

The union and company, now known as TruStage, have been negotiating a new bargaining agreement. The company claims it has tried to negotiate in good faith, but workers say otherwise.

"They're asking us to make huge compromises, despite the fact that they've been making record profits for years," TruStage worker Joel Bryhan said. "We're asking for like small things like, pay us a little bit more, because inflation is really high."

The National Labor Relations Board recently ordered the company to share information with the union. The company says it's complying, but the union says it hasn't received the information yet.

The head of the largest union for rail workers has accused the government of stopping an agreement to resolve the ongoing dispute about jobs, pay, and working conditions.

As a result of this disagreement, train passengers faced more disruption on Saturday as workers went on strike once again.

Thousands of staff from the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union walked out for the day, and passengers were told to check the latest information before travelling.

The strike has caused significant changes in services across the country - with trains starting later and finishing earlier than usual.

July 30:

RIVAL Palestinian leaders have agreed to form a committee on intra-Palestinian reconciliation.

Along with representatives from most Palestinian political groups, President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met for rare face-to-face talks in the Egyptian coastal city of el-Alamein on Sunday.

The move towards reconciliation between the groups aims to bridge the divide between the parallel governments of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Fatah, which runs the Palestinian Authority, which administers the Palestinian-run areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU) says Liquor Mart workers will be taking strike action on Sunday, marking the first weekend since contract negotiations began that employees have been off the job.

The union said all Winnipeg and Brandon workers will be off the job, and northern and rural employees will be back with limited duties.

"There has been no movement towards a fair and reasonable wage increase and the Corporation is continuing to use replacement workers at the Liquor Distribution Centre," MGEU said in a news release.

July 31:

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) told reporters on Monday, July 31, that his country will not participate in the upcoming conference on the war in Ukraine, scheduled to be held later this week in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as Russia has not been not invited.

AMLO said that “if there is acceptance from both Ukraine and Russia to look for solutions to achieve peace, we will participate,” adding that “we don’t want the Russia-Ukraine war to continue, it’s very irrational” and “the only thing which benefits from it is the war industry.”

According to reports, Saudi Arabia is set to hold the conference sponsored by Ukraine and its Western allies on August 5 and 6. The conference is aimed at gaining wider support for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s so-called peace plan presented last year in December during his visit to the US.

eBay is the latest company to be hit with unfair labor complaints as this year’s hot labor summer continues amid strikes, threats of strikes, and workers all over the country organizing for better working conditions. The complaints were filed on behalf of workers at TCGplayer, a company eBay acquired in 2022 that’s known for selling and authenticating trading cards from games like Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokémon, and Magic: The Gathering. The complaints allege that after workers at TCGplayer won their union election back in March, management of eBay and TCGplayer has refused to acknowledge the union and engaged in tactics designed to impede or delay workers’ ability to negotiate for a fair contract.

“My colleagues and I haven’t had a cost-of-living raise in 3 years. We are losing sick time and face constant changes at work that impact our ability to be successful,” said Briana Thomas, a member of the TCG Union-CWA and part of its organizing committee in a press release from the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

Striking Amazon delivery drivers and dispatchers from Palmdale, Calif., extended their picket line to a Bay Area warehouse (OAK5/OAK7) today, to demand the e-commerce giant stop its unfair labor practices. The growing strike will continue until Amazon reinstates the unlawfully terminated Palmdale employees, recognizes the Teamsters, respects the contract negotiated by the workers, and bargains with the Teamsters Union to address low pay and dangerous working conditions.

August 1:

Press Statement

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

Strongly Condemn Communal Violence

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) strongly condemns the communal conflagration in the Mewat region of Haryana, starting with Nuh and which has now spread to Gurugram, leading to the death of five persons and incidents of arson.

The state government by its acts of omission and commission is wholly responsible and complicit in the developments.

On the pretext of holding a Braj Mandal Yatra, the Hindutva forces - Bajrang Dal and Viswa Hindu Parishad unleashed a highly provocative campaign on social media. A notorious individual Monu Manesar named in the lynching of Nasir and Junaid gave an open call to his supporters to join the Yatra.

Not heeding the appeal of responsible citizens of Nuh, instead of taking action against him, the state government permitted the Yatra with neither preemptive action nor preparations to prevent untoward incidents.

The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) unambiguously condemns this organized attempt with the singular purpose of sharpening communal polarization with an eye on the coming elections.

China's Central Military Commission (CMC) has released a guideline on fully enhancing Party building while centering on the goals set for the centenary of the People's Liberation Army.

Stressing upholding absolute Party leadership over the people's armed forces, the guideline focused on the key tasks in building the military and laid out requirements for strengthening Party building in the military.

The system of ultimate responsibility resting with the CMC chairman should be implemented by higher standards and stricter requirements, the guideline read. It called for efforts to regularize and institutionalize political education.

Workers at Yellowstone National Park recently voted to unionize in a landslide vote, according to the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE). The organization hopes to improve working conditions, pay and general satisfaction within the first national park in the U.S.

The union is a local chapter of the NFFE, and it will represent workers like park rangers, fee collectors, first responders and others. Jaclyn McIlwain, one of the organizers of the effort, said issues like low pay, unmanageable workloads and high staff turnover are pervasive at Yellowstone.

“There's a culture that's somewhat dismissive of our concerns and our problems as employees and community members here,” she said. “These are not necessarily the dream jobs that so many people think they are.”

Workers helping people cope with the cost of living crisis walked out in Hull on Monday as their union said they were also struggling amid rising costs.

More than 60 workers at Citizens Advice Hull and East Riding began their strike over pay with the first of four planned days of walkouts. Workers at the picket line in Alfred Gelder Street told Hull Live the steady erosion of their salaries now means they struggle to afford the basics while trying to help those in need.

Parks, cemetery and public space maintenance workers in Solihull have started a week-long strike in a dispute about pay.

About 50 IDVerde contract workers announced strike action earlier this month following failed talks with Solihull Metropolitan District Council.

On Friday, the GMB Union said no more talks would be held and the strike would go ahead.

Strike action by water workers in a number of local authority areas is to proceed over the coming three days with the level of disruption caused likely to be exacerbated by the approaching bank holiday weekend.

Boil water notices are expected to be issued in areas where faults occur, with the strike action delaying repairs to problems that arise.

About 100 members of Unite trade union are involved in the dispute which relates to issues including the proposed transfer of staff from local authorities to Uisce Éireann and guarantees in relation to the terms and conditions of those who decide not to move.

August 2:

The National Secretariat of the Communist Party of India issued the following statement today (on August 2, 2023):

The National Secretariat of the Communist Party of India condemns the recent killings of passengers in Jaipur-Mumbai train which is being dubbed as mental derailment of the offender. This is over simplification of the fact and is aimed to derail the real picture. In the riots and arson in Haryana more than five people have lost their lives which include Imam and two home guards.

The failure of the police arresting a notorious murderer Monu Manesar for the past five months and his declaration to participate in the Brig Mandal Dharmik yatra ignited the situation in Nuh (Haryana) which is a hyper sensitive communal place. Further the cautions given by district intelligence chief towards communal clash eruption if the procession is allowed through Muslim localities were ignored. Subsequently the clashes took place.

Communal tensions which are a result of divisive politics pursued by ruling BJP is obviously responsible for these incidents and is a warning to all on the background of Manipur happenings as to what awaits in future if BJP rule is allowed to continue. CPI demands strict action against the perpetrators of violence and arson and proper compensation to the victims. CPI also appeals to all to maintain peace and harmony and preserve unity and composite culture of India.

The Party also appeals to all Indians that they should not fall prey to politics of hatred, fear and violence which is the main plank of BJP-RSS politics unleashed in the background of ensuing elections.

Around 70 Unite members employed by Glasgow Life at the Emirates Arena and City Parking are set to take strike action tomorrow (Thursday 3 August).

Unite members will walk out across both organisations at 7.30am to begin 48-hour strike action over the current local government pay offer.

There will be pickets held outside the Emirates Arena and Cadogan Square Car Park to coincide with the strike action. A rally involving both groups of workers is also being held at midday at the Donald Dewar statue on Buchanan Street.


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