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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #2 -- International Left and Labour News

The second edition of our new weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from Canada, Brazil, the United States, Portugal, and elsewhere. There is also an overview of the 8th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez and Raúl Castro at the 8th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba -- Photo via Twitter

April 17:

On the occasion of Palestinian Political Prisoners' Day in Israeli prisons (17/4), the Greek Communist Party expresses its solidarity with the struggling Palestinian people and thousands of political prisoners in Israeli prisons.

With the support of the United States, the European Union, NATO and other allied forces, for decades now Israel has occupied Palestinian and other territories, pursuing occupying force practices including the killing of unarmed people (even young children), the long-term detention of Palestinians without court order and other inhumane occupation practices.

Today, 4,400 Palestinian political detainees are still being held in Israeli prisons, including 140 children, 36 women, 11 deputies and 440 detainees without trial.

The Greek Communist Party calls on the Greek people and the people of the region to continue to actively express their multifaceted solidarity with the Palestinian people, and to condemn the crimes of Israeli occupation against the Palestinians.

April 18:

On April 18, President Battulga Khaltmaa issued a decree to dissolve the Mongolian People’s Party (MPP). The MPP currently holds a parliamentary supermajority and successfully amended the Constitution in 2019 to significantly check presidential powers. The presidential decree included specific accusations against Khurelsukh Ukhnaa, whom it is widely believed will be the MPP candidate for the imminent presidential elections. Battulga belongs to the Democratic Party, the main rival to the MPP.

The text appeared on Battulga’s presidential website, with an embedded YouTube video of Battulga presenting the order in front of the white yak-tail standards symbolizing state authority that stand in the heart of the Government Building on Sukhbaatar Square. The Governing Committee of the MPP held a meeting and responded with a video on Facebook Live, featuring eight MPP members, seven of whom are parliamentarians, and the secretary of the Governing Committee, standing in front of a staircase in what appears to be the MPP headquarters building adjacent to the Government Building and Sukhbaatar Square.

April 19:

The Communist Party of Swaziland held its 4th National Congress from 2-4 April 2021 in Mpumalanga, South Africa, under the theme “DECISIVE MOBILISATION FOR DEMOCRACY NOW”. The Congress was attended by delegates from all the structures of the organisation. The Congress also received solidarity messages of support from international revolutionary organisations.

April 20:

In Alabama, the labor union that failed in its months-long battle to organize an Amazon warehouse in the city of Bessemer has filed 23 complaints against the online retailer with the National Labor Relations Board. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union says Amazon unlawfully interfered with union efforts by threatening to cut workers’ pay, benefits and time off work, while creating an “impression of surveillance” by installing private mailboxes at the warehouse so it could monitor workers’ votes.

Janitors working at Uptown Shopping Centre have voted to strike following nearly a year of their employer, Everclean Facility Services, refusing to provide a living wage to this newly unionized group of workers. Uptown shopping centre is one of the largest properties in Victoria, including retail, office, and recreational facilities. A strike by Uptown janitors would leave this widely-used public space with no sanitation staff.

The workers voted to unionize with SEIU Local 2 in June 2020 and have been fighting for a fair first collective agreement ever since. Worker demands for a fair wage and paid sick days have been thus far met with employer intransigence.

Comrades, at the beginning of March the Communist Party of Mexico met in the VII Plenary Session of the Central Committee, where we adopted the new measures of the National Press and Communications Conference. Among other conclusions, we decided to recover the original title of El Machete (currently El Comunista) for the Central Organ (of Communications) of the Party, starting May 1, 2021 The historical newspaper was founded by David Álfaro Siqueiros, and was the Central Organ of the Mexican section of the International Communist .

April 21:

The union representing dockworkers at the Port of Montreal says it has offered to end its strike, but the Maritime Employers Association has refused to cancel its decision to reduce worker wage conditions.

April 22:

Brazil's Supreme Court on Thursday upheld last month's ruling by one of its chambers that former judge Sergio Moro was "biased" in convicting ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of corruption in 2017.

The four-year agreement covers the period of January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2024 and will see a 7.5 per cent wage increase over the life of the agreement. The agreement also contains a letter of understanding that the city and the union will establish a Pandemic Committee with representatives from both sides to work on issues that may arise in the event that a pandemic is declared. The agreement does not contain any reductions to the employee short term disability plan.

Two of the country's largest pulp and paper unions, Unifor and the Public and Private Workers of Canada (PPWC), have agreed to continue to work together in the next round of pulp and paper bargaining for members across Western Canada.

"There is strength in unity, and with both of our caucus's working jointly we will be ready to look after the best interests of our members," said Gary Fiege, PPWC President.

Drivers and helpers for Shred-it, Inc., in Trenton, N.J. have voted overwhelmingly, by a more than 3 to 1 margin, to join Teamsters Local 469 in Hazlet, N.J. The organizing victory was announced yesterday following a mail-in election for the unit of 32 workers.

Shred-it workers overcame an aggressive anti-union campaign by management throughout the organizing drive to secure union representation, seeking fair treatment and working conditions.

Many employers in New Brunswick, including universities, use anti-labour and anti-union techniques as a management strategy. One tactic is “contract flipping” for work such as cleaning services.

When a contract is flipped to a different service provider, the workers have to reapply for their jobs with the new service company. They might lose their job, or if they get the new job, they might need to change their union, or they could be left without a union and collective agreement to protect their rights as workers.

St. Thomas University flipped its contract for custodians in August 2020 to a new company. The custodians had been working for Aramark and were represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE Local 5083), with a collective agreement expiring in June 2021. Some of the custodians originally with Aramark were not re-hired by the new company. All the workers with the new company are now without a union.

Workers at a gold mine in rural Nova Scotia have voted to unionize, citing issues including work conditions, health and safety concerns, and wages and promotions.

The employees of Atlantic Gold, a subsidiary of Australian gold mining company StBarbara Ltd., joined the United Steelworkers union after receiving certification by the Nova Scotia Labour Board.

April 23:

The leading candidate in Peru’s presidential election will be expelling USAID within the first 100 days in office if elected, following in the footsteps of Bolivia.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which reports having a presence in over 100 countries, was expelled from Bolivia in 2013 for financing individuals and groups conspiring against democracy in Bolivia. President Evo Morales said there was no benefit to USAID’s presence—quite the contrary. The agency worked to eliminate campesino and indigenous organizations, while the majority of its operations were related to intelligence and social control.

April 24:

The Syndicat des débardeurs du port de Montréal will begin a general unlimited strike effective next Monday, April 26 at 7am, but indicated that it can be avoided.

“If the Maritime Employers’ Association (MEA) doesn’t want a strike, all it has to do is let up on its pressure tactics and the union will do likewise. No overtime strike. No weekend strike. It’s straightforward. We want to return to the bargaining table,” said Michel Murray, spokesman for CUPE local 375.

While the parties were still negotiating, the MEA announced on Thursday that it would make changes to the longshore workers’ schedules starting next Monday. This was the second time in a week that the MEA changed the longshore workers’ working conditions. These actions are worsening the conflict instead of resolving it.

8th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba in Review:

Solidarity Messages to the 8th Congress:


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