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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #113 -- International Left and Labour Report

With reports from Honduras, Greece, Cuba, Haiti. Libya, Zimbabwe, France, the USA and elsewhere.

Hondurans rally in support of Leftist President Xiomara Castro, August 29 -- image via Twitter

August 23:

Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Republic, was in South Africa to attend the BRICS conference and on the first day there, August 23, visited Freedom Park to pay tribute to the Cuban internationalists who died fighting for Africa who are honoured there.

He also gave a powerful, moving tour-de-force speech which we have translated here from the Spanish in full:

A Kenyan assessment mission arrived in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince on August 20 to evaluate the security situation in the Caribbean country. The 10-member Kenyan mission met with senior officials of the de facto Haitian government, and the visit concluded on August 23. The plan to intervene has been condemned by progressive organizations and rights groups such as the Haitian Democratic Committee, Amnesty International, the Frantz Fanon Foundation, and the Kenyan Revolutionary Socialist League.

August 24:

Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa has been reelected to serve a second term following the general elections held on August 23-24. The leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) secured 52.6 percent of the votes, according to the official results released by the Zimbabwe Election Commission late on August 26.

Mnangagwa’s main contender, Nelson Chamisa from the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), secured 44 percent of the vote. ZANU-PF also secured 136 out of the 209 seats in Parliament, falling short of a two-thirds majority.

The International Relations Section of the CC of the KKE issued a statement on the persecution of communists in Ukraine, which reads as follows:

“The KKE condemns the ongoing undemocratic persecution against Ukrainian communists by the reactionary Zelenskiy regime, that has outlawed dozens of Ukrainian political parties and is particularly eager to persecute communists.

In this way, in addition to the persecution against the Kononovich brothers, cadres of the youth of the Communist Party of Ukraine, a trial against Georgi Buiko, Secretary of the CC of the Communist Party of Ukraine, head of the Anti-Fascist Committee of Ukraine and former MP began on 15/8/23, while the security authorities announced that they were also bringing a prosecution against Pyotr Simonenko, First Secretary of the CC of the Communist Party of Ukraine.

At the same time, the reactionary authorities of Ukraine, who are leading the way in the vindication and glorification of Ukrainian fascists and collaborators of Hitler during World War II, express the political forces that prevailed after the counter-revolution was completed and capitalism was restored (1989-1991) and are linked to the constitutional aberration (in 2014), while they are helped and supported by the USA, NATO and the EU, in the context of the imperialist confrontation and war waged in the country after the invasion of capitalist Russia. It is a war confrontation that has massacred the peoples of Ukraine and Russia for the interests of the monopolies!

It is the same reactionary authorities that have targeted KKE members, including the deputy speaker of the Greek parliament and communist MP, G. Lamproulis, for expressing solidarity with the people of Donbass and with the people of Ukraine in general.

The New Democracy government, together with the other Euro-Atlantic parties (SYRIZA, PASOK, etc.) has huge responsibilities for our country's involvement in the imperialist war, the transformation of Greece into a NATO "stronghold", as well as for the operation to "whitewash" the Ukrainian Nazis and the reactionary authorities of this country, that persecute communists and every opposition voice.

We demand:

- Hands off the communists of Ukraine!

- Greece must be disengaged from the imperialist war!

- Close all US and NATO bases!”

The KKE delegation headed by the General Secretary of the CC of the KKE, Dimitris Koutsoumbas, pays a visit to Western Thrace, where blazes have been raging for six days, causing deaths and unimaginable destruction.

Dimitris Koutsoumbas was initially informed by the Deputy Fire Chief, head of the Fire Service coordination for the forest fire in the specific area and talked with the firefighters about the situation at the fire fronts. Right after, he met with the Regional Governor of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, as well as with the Vice Regional Governor of Evros. After their meeting, he made the following statement:

“Today we are in Alexandroupolis so as to be informed directly, in person, about the situation and at the same time to express our solidarity with the population of the region for the great disasters; to demand, to struggle all together, so that compensations are given to the citizens after the fire has been extinguished, as it destroyed people’s property, caused the death of fellow human beings and a great destruction of the environment, the natural wealth of the region”.

The GS of the CC of the KKE also stressed: “These days the entire country is burning, human lives are being lost, property is being destroyed and the government has huge political responsibilities not only for not taking the necessary measures in the previous period but also because in these days, while Greece is burning, Mr Mitsotakis and his government are wasting public money that the Greek people pay with their sweat and sacrifices through heavy taxation, so as to send weapon systems to Zelenskiy, to the Nazis of Azov battalion; they are training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s, which means that there is a great waste of public money; theyare participating in NATO missions and using the port of Alexandroupolis as a base for military missions in the region at great cost. All the above do not mean development, but insecurity for the Greek people and especially for the people of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace.

So instead of wasting this money, they should give it to strengthen the Fire Brigade with firefighters, fire engines and water-bombing planes; to build proper infrastructure that protects against wildfires in the summer and against floods and snowfalls in the autumn and winter. The forestry service must be strengthened, the forestry agencies, which have been virtually abandoned, must be reestablished, and new staff must be recruited to the fire service and the forestry service. This is where the state money should go, this is where the funding should be allocated, this is where it should be given as compensation to the Greek people and especially to the people of Thrace, who are being seriously affected these days."

August 25:

Workers at the three largest (or “Big Three”) automakers in the United States have voted by a majority of 97 percent to authorize a potential strike of 144,000 autoworkers. The United Auto Workers (UAW) announced the nationwide voting results on August 25. In recent months, the UAW has kicked off a contract campaign to win worker demands in contract negotiations for autoworkers at the three largest car manufacturers: General Motors, Stellantis, and Ford. At these three companies, 144,000 UAW workers are employed and are covered by one contract. It is set to expire on September 14, after which workers will strike if the auto companies have not met their demands.

The union has held practice pickets at auto plants in Detroit, Michigan, and Louisville, Kentucky. Practice pickets are trade union actions in which workers “practice” for a strike by holding down a picket line prior to the start of their shifts. This tactic was employed successfully by Teamsters workers in their historic contract campaign at UPS.

A large number of people who participated in the massive popular rally on the 25th of August 2023 at Syntagma stressed that "enough is enough" with the criminal policy of the government that sacrifices human lives, property and forests’ natural wealth for the profits of the few.

People of all ages took part in the rally under the banners of their trade unions and associations and through their slogans they called for measures to protect the people’s lives and property, the environment and the remaining forests.

The demonstrators denounced the criminal policy that serves the dangerous cost-benefit logic, where the cost is considered to be the protection of people's lives and property, naming it responsible for the new disaster.

"Give money for fire engines and not for war planes" was the slogan chanted by the demonstrators, denouncing the government's political choice to give money for NATO armaments and not to allocate the necessary funds to the Fire Brigade, the Forestry Services and all state services that can contribute to the prevention and response to a wildfire or other natural phenomenon.

Also the slogans: "The people demand protection measures, we want to live in our country with dignity", and "Take measures against the forest fires - the state is responsible to give money", were chanted by the demonstrators who reiterated their decision not to be mere spectators but to oppose the policy that endangers human lives and to demand all they are entitled to in order to have safe living and working conditions.

They also shouted slogans such as: "Wildfires - floods - disasters", "our protection cannot be postponed", "Your development is crushing our lives, struggle and counterattack is our choice", "Floods, fires, disasters, human lives are not a cost", demanding measures to protect human life and the environment.

The General Secretary of the CC of the KKE, Dimitris Koutsoumbas, who was present at the rally, made the following statement to the media:

"We are here to shout loud and clear "Enough is enough!". We are not and we will not become mere spectators, passive spectators to this crime against human life, against the forests’ natural wealth, the environment, the property of our fellow human beings. Only the people can save the people, that's why we organize, we demand, we fight, we overthrow the responsible ones for this crime!"

Five hundred Auto Workers (UAW) from Local 862 held rallies in Louisville, Kentucky, August 24 and 25, part of a wave of practice pickets and rallies around the country.

Class struggle was on everyone’s lips. A variety of issues brought them to the picket, but the auto workers there were unanimous about turbocharged wealth inequality leaving workers behind.

At the Thursday picket, Local 862 member Aaron Webster said he’s grown tired of feeling squeezed, describing the contract fight as a fight between the rich and the poor.

Webster started working at the Kentucky Truck Plant in 2014 building Ford Super Duty Trucks, Ford Expeditions, and Lincoln Navigators. “As much as I may not want to strike, I believe it's necessary,” he said. He has been saving money and talking to his co-workers in the event Ford is one of the strike targets when the September 14 contract expiration deadline arrives.

August 26:

August 27:

Libya is experiencing political turmoil, with rare popular demonstrations in different parts of the country on August 27. This follows reports that the Tripoli-based Government of Nation Unity (GNU), one of Libya’s rival governments, is attempting to normalize relations with Israel.

Protesters in cities such as Al-Zawiya, Tajoura, and Tripoli blocked roads and burned the Israeli flag while shouting slogans against the GNU and Israel. Some of the protesters stormed the foreign ministry office in Tripoli.

The protesters expressed solidarity with Palestine and warned that if the government goes ahead with the so-called normalization, they will escalate protests and block the railways.

A large number of Libyans also took to social media to oppose the proposed rapprochement with Israel, calling it a “betrayal” of the Palestinian cause and wider Arab solidarity.

August 28:

After a lengthy legal battle at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Teamsters are celebrating a landmark victory with its decision in the case of Cemex Construction Materials Pacific, LLC (28-CA-230115). The labor board ordered Cemex to bargain with the Teamsters in a precedent-setting move, thereby ruling that all employers will now be required to bargain with a union if, during an election for representation, the employer commits labor law violations egregious enough to compromise the legitimacy of the results.

“This landmark decision by the NLRB will be a catalyst for workers who are standing up and demanding their worth – not just at Cemex, but at every other employer in the country,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien.

August 29:

French judicial authorities have decided to summon and prosecute several FNME-CGT trade union leaders and activists for collective action during the pension reform protests earlier this year. Together with industriAll Europe and EPSU, IndustriALL Global Union is taking a firm stand against the move to target union leaders exercising their rights and are joining the call for solidarity actions.

The decision to target union leaders, including FNME-CGT general secretary Sébastien Menesplier, follows on the mass industrial action against the French government’s pension reforms and the closure of pension funds for electricity and gas workers in France earlier this year.

Renaud Henri, general secretary of CGT’s energy workers in Marseilles, together with his colleagues Mathias and Jean-Philippe, are due to appear in court in September. In November, the leader of CGT energy workers in the Gironde region, Christophe Garcia and his colleague Alexandre, will be in court in Bordeaux.

August 30:

A tentative agreement has been reached between Unifor and Metro, following a month-long strike action by 3,700 frontline grocery store workers.

“Our union was able to negotiate this new tentative agreement due to the unwavering commitment of our Metro grocery members who were united in their goal to improve their wages and working conditions,” said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. “I commend the workers and the bargaining committee for their solidarity and also the customers who supported them during this difficult time.”

Unifor Local 414 members at 27 Metro stores across the GTA have been on strike since July 29, 2023. Details of the tentative agreement will not be released prior to being presented to members at ratification votes, which will take place in the coming days.

The Communist Party of Kenya demands that the Kenya Kwanza government rescind their proposal to send 1,000 police to Haiti, while calling on the Kenyan people to join the Haitian masses and popular progressive forces worldwide in opposing the intervention, continued occupation and neo-colonial governance of Haiti by the Core Group and the UN.

The Central Organizing Committee of the Communist Party of Kenya, expresses deep concern regarding the proposed deal between the USA and the Kenyan Government. It is with great displeasure and utmost frustration that we are forced to witness Kenya allowing itself to be recruited into the imperialist activities of the United States, the Core Group and United Nations. The reported plan of involving Kenyan police to carry out actions on behalf of the USA government in Haiti raises serious ethical and moral questions. In its efforts to endear itself to the systems of power that underpin Western hegemony, Kenya is providing legitimacy for a long-standing series of interventions into Haiti that seek to undermine the aspirations of the Haitian people.


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