Red Review #115 -- International Left and Labour Report
With reports from Greece, Cuba, India, Nigeria, the USA, Canada, the UK and elsewhere.
Thousands of strikers rally in Athens, Greece September 21 -- Image via the KKE
European Parliament passes resolution supporting Nordic/Equality model on prostitution (theleftchapter.com) In tremendous news for the fight against the neo-liberal drive to commercialize the sexual exploitation of women and girls (and boys and men) the European Parliament, as reported by El Pais, "urged member states to promote the so-called “Swedish model” (the Nordic/Equality model) to combat prostitution — which punishes the client and not the person, usually a woman, who solicits — while asking the European Commission to develop common guidelines to ensure the fundamental rights of prostitutes, who are usually among the most vulnerable people in society."
According to Prostitution Research & Education, which seeks to "abolish prostitution and provide real alternatives", 27 countries voted to approve the report.
The Summit of the Group of 77 (G77) and China kicked off in Havana, Cuba, on Friday, September 15, 2023.
The meeting, which ran through Saturday, had delegations from more than 100 countries and saw many speeches by world leaders and representatives of developing countries and countries of the Global South.
The summit led to joint resolutions on a number of issues. It also began with an exceptional speech by First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and President of the Republic of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.
The speech touches on a wide range of issues involved in the ongoing struggle against neo-colonialism and imperialism and the fight for global equality.
We have translated the speech in full from the Spanish.
In an advancement towards mutual cooperation, the governments of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have formed the Alliance of Sahel States (AES). The move was finalized with the signing of the Liptako-Gourma Charter, named after the tri-border region shared by the three countries, in Mali’s capital Bamako on September 16.
The formation of the AES comes at a critical time in the Sahel region of West Africa. Mali has witnessed a resurgence of attacks by ethnic Tuareg rebels in its northern region, alongside violence by other armed groups. An armed insurgency by Tuareg rebels over a decade ago led to France’s military intervention in Mali in 2013 under Operation Serval.
The president of the United Auto Workers condemned Ford and General Motors on Saturday after the companies said they plan to temporarily lay off thousands of nonstriking employees, blaming the union's walkouts at two plants in Michigan and Ohio.
Ford said in a statement Friday that it is laying off roughly 600 workers at its Michigan Assembly Plant, pointing to "knock-on effects" from the UAW's walkouts at the facility's final assembly and paint departments.
General Motors, meanwhile, said it expects 2,000 workers at its Fairfax Assembly plant in Kansas "to be idled as soon as next week," a decision the company called "a negative ripple effect" of the UAW's historic strike.
But UAW president Shawn Fain argued the layoffs are completely unnecessary—and an obvious attempt by Ford and General Motors to "put the squeeze on our members to settle for less."
Coming right on the heels of the triumphant hosting of the Group of 77 and China in Havana, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and President of the Republic of Cuba, Comrade Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, arrived in New York on Sunday morning to represent the formation before the UN as Cuba occupies the Pro tempore Presidency in 2023.
Among his first acts he went to Harlem to visit the Malcom X Memorial Center. He said of Malcolm on Twitter that he "remains a reference for his commitment to social justice and freedom and independence of peoples. I appreciate the warm welcome and the solidarity of that lovely New York community."
Staff at five universities in Scotland will take strike action this week in ongoing disputes over pay and working conditions, and pay deductions.
The strike action is part of UK wide action with universities across the country being hit by at least five days of strike action before the end of September. In Scotland, in addition to the five taking action this week, strike action is also planned next week.
The dispute centres on pay and working conditions. The Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA), the employers' negotiating body, has imposed a pay award for 2023/24 worth just 5% for most UCU members despite UCU members rejecting the offer. As well as a better pay offer, UCU is also demanding action on gig-economy employment practices in universities along with action on staff workloads and pay gaps. UCU branches at Stirling and Aberdeen are also taking action over those universities deducting punitive levels of pay from staff who took part in a marking and assessment boycott. Staff at Stirling university are currently in the middle of three weeks of strike action.
On Tuesday, September 19, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and President of the Republic of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez addressed the UN General Assembly on behalf of both Cuba and the Group of 77 (G77) and China. Cuba has just finished hosting the G77 Summit in Havana, September 15-16.
His address began by invoking the spirit of Che Guevara and went on to touch on issues around global equality and development, neo-colonialism and imperialism and the use by the US of cruel and destructive economic sanctions against Cuba and other countries.
Using the official Spanish text as well as the official UN English live translation we have transcribed this very important speech which we are republishing here in full.
Wednesday marked a historical moment which saw junior doctors and consultants in the BMA join forces and strike together in an escalation of their industrial action.
In London, over 1,000 staff including nurses, pathologists, cleaners, caterers, porters and those in other ancillary roles from Royal London Hospital also joined the picket lines as they continued their dispute over safe staffing levels and staff shortages, which have reached such a dangerous level that they risk the health of patients and threaten staff welfare.
Tony Warwick’s heart sank for a second as the first few ballots came in against unionization at the small-town Starbucks in Benton County where he works. But then Yes votes started rolling in one after another.
In the end, baristas at Prosser’s lone Starbucks voted 21 to 6 on Tuesday to join the national Workers United union — a rare occurrence in Eastern Washington since organizing started at the coffee giant’s franchises nearly two years ago.
“Maybe it will inspire some rural communities, not just in Washington, Oregon and California but on the East Coast,” said Warwick, 22, the morning after the vote. “The goal is to get more stores to stand up.”
The Starbucks in Prosser, a town of 6,000 about 30 miles west of the Tri-Cities, will become the 27th location in the company’s home state to vote to join the union, but just the third in Eastern Washington.
YouTube Music contract workers went on strike on Wednesday morning because of Google's refusal to bargain with the union representing the workers. Google, YouTube’s parent company, claims that because the workers are employed through a third-party contractor it has no obligation to meet them at the table, according to an email from a law firm representing Google seen by Motherboard.
Against the backdrop of a soaring cost-of-living crisis in Nigeria, students at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) held another protest this week to demand the withdrawal of a major hike in mandatory fees for both new and already enrolled students in undergraduate courses.
Several public universities across Nigeria have increased fees by 100 percent to 300 percent. At UNILAG, it is even worse. While the charges vary across courses, students at UNILAG have alleged that the new rates would amount to a hike as high as over 600 percent at that specific university.
While previous tuition fees had ranged from around Naira 26,000 ($33.1) to 76,000 ($96.8) per year, the new hikes would see the highest fees go up to Naira 240,250 ($306.2). For medical students, the fee was raised from Naira 19,000 ($24.2) to 190,250 ($242.4).
Amazon workers across the country are demanding real wage increases after the company announced pay rates this week that fall well below the industry standard set by the Teamsters at UPS.
“We got this raise because workers have been organizing for what we deserve, but clearly Amazon can do much better,” said Rex Evans, an Amazon worker at KSBD, the company’s air hub facility in San Bernardino, Calif., where he is a member of the Inland Empire Amazon Workers United organizing committee. “While Amazon executives make millions, we still have to choose between paying our bills and buying food. Amazon is clearly scared of worker power, and we are going to keep fighting to be paid fairly and treated with respect.”
Amazon’s wage announcement comes after a summer of shopfloor actions, petitions, rallies, picket lines, and unfair labor practice strikes by workers at the company, including Amazon drivers who joined Teamsters Local 396 in Los Angeles in April.
“Amazon workers across the country are organizing for the good jobs we deserve. Amazon won’t buy us off with peanuts,” said Tom Culver, a driver at Amazon’s DAX8 delivery station in Palmdale, Calif., where workers have been on strike over unfair labor practices since June 24. “When you hear $440 million in pay increases, it might sound like a lot, but we can do the math. That’s just 0.09 percent of Amazon’s total revenue and it only works out to 75 cents per hour for drivers. Amazon drivers are constantly surveilled and pestered by bosses to rush through our deliveries regardless of high package counts, extreme weather, and aggressive dogs. We know what we are really worth.”
Thousands of health and social care workers in Northern Ireland have begun a 48-hour strike as part of a pay dispute.
The industrial action which began at midnight - involves some nurses, ambulance and hospital support staff.
Unifor members at Local 114 have overwhelmingly voted in favour of job action after failing to reach a deal with their employer, Pacific Western Transportation (PWT), a contractor of BC Transit.
“Unifor is committed to fighting vigorously for our transit members working in Comox, B.C.” said Unifor Western Regional Director Gavin McGarrigle. “The wage gap for contracted transit companies is unacceptable. If our members are going to be doing the same work and driving the same equipment, they should be making the same wages as transit workers in other parts of the province.”
The Local 114 members are seeking a similar compensation package as similar-sized transit operations workers on Vancouver Island and elsewhere in the province. The company offer did not close that gap.
United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain announced Friday that the union is expanding its strikes to every General Motors and Stellantis parts distribution facility in the U.S., a significant escalation that comes as the companies continue to reject workers' demands for major contract improvements.
"We will shut down parts distribution until those two companies come to their senses and come to the table with a serious offer," Fain said in a video update. "The plants that are already on strike will remain on strike."
Workers at the newly targeted facilities walked off the job at noon ET.
MORE than 300 journalists employed at regional newspapers owned by publisher National World walked out for 24 hours today on the second of three one-day strikes over pay and job losses.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said messages of support had flooded in from journalists across the UK and overseas, including Australia.
Journalists are taking action against the imposition of a 4.5 per cent pay rise.
One message from journalists at the Press Association news agency said: “It is shameful that some National World staff have to take on second jobs or consider leaving the business because they cannot afford to stay in their roles.”
The first votes held by the common front of major public sector unions indicate unequivocal support for a walkout.
Over 90 per cent of votes registered so far support a strike, as reported by La Presse Canadienne.
The common front of major unions and labour federations is organizing a protest in Montreal Saturday starting at Parc Jeanne-Mance at 1 p.m. The crowd will then head toward the Quartier des spectacles in the city's downtown.
The four major unions — the CSQ, the CSN, the APTS and the FTQ — are requesting a mandated unlimited general strike, which would be preceded by isolated or grouped days of striking.
The votes concern the health, social services and education sectors which have all been affected by staffing shortages.