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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #3 -- International Left and Labour News

The third edition of our new weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from India, the United States, Russia and elsewhere. There is also an overview of the Port of Montreal strike and the Liberal strike-breaking law.

Port of Montreal workers rally - image via You Tube

April 25:

Gennady Zyuganov was unanimously re-elected chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation on Saturday during the party's 18th national congress.

About a dozen members of the Long Beach Communist Party USA chapter met at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Long Beach Boulevard on Sunday, April 25 to hand out information and protest recent policing actions.

The members came with signs calling to defund the police and gave literature about the policing practices of the Long Beach Police Department and the platform of Communist Party USA.

On April 25, 2021, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and President Xi Jinping exchanged congratulatory messages with General Secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee and Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith on the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Xi Jinping pointed out in his message that China and Laos are friendly socialist neighbors and an unbreakable community with a shared future. Since the two sides established diplomatic relationship 60 years ago, China and Laos have maintained mutual understanding and enjoyed sincere exchanges, with both sides sticking to the practice and promotion of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which has brought tangible benefits to the people of both countries, set up a model for inter-state relations, and made positive contributions to pushing ahead the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. After the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, China and Laos have stood together and worked hand in hand to fight the pandemic, vividly illustrating the spirit of a community with a shared future which features supporting each other through thick and thin.

April 26:

The Movement for a People's Party that grew out of the Bernie Sanders campaign and disillusion with the Democrats has previously registered as an official party in Colorado, California and Maine.

Now it has also registered in Oregon and picked up a new endorsement from Railroad Workers United.

Employees at Manitoba's Interfaith Immigration Centre (MIIC) — also known as Welcome Place — still don't have a labour agreement, and will be locked out on Tuesday. This would leave some Manitoba refugees without essential services.

This comes after months of collective bargaining between Welcome Place and CUPE, the union representing the employees. Welcome Place has come to an agreement on wages and other monetary issues raised during collective agreement bargaining, but have yet to agree on concessions the union says do not impact the organization's funding.

April 28:

Health care workers at McLaren Lapeer Region Hospital in Michigan have voted in favor of representation by Teamsters Local 332.

The 110 workers make up a technical unit, including workers critical to diagnosing COVID-19. The workers who joined the union include respiratory therapists, CT and ultrasound technologists and emergency room technicians, along with numerous other job classifications.

One day after locking out its workers, Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (MIIC) / Welcome Place is claiming that services continue, and the financial demands of its employees are responsible for their financial shortfall, even though the MIIC caused employees to have pay reductions of 12.5-27.5% over the last year. MIIC continues to demand workers accept concessions on issues that will not affect their bottom line, says the Regional Director of CUPE in Manitoba.

Since threatening to lock out workers a couple of weeks ago, CUPE has been working hard to address the outstanding issues, but the employer has refused to meaningfully adjust their demands. As a result, refugee workers have been forced out of their jobs over just a few issues, including cuts to workers’ rights and benefits.

Locked-out workers say they'll picket every day until they can reach an agreement.

Canada Post says it has been ordered to shut down an afternoon shift at its Gateway West facility in Mississauga due to a COVID-19 outbreak in its workplace.

Peel Public Health issued the order on Tuesday under Section 22 of Ontario's Health Protection and Promotion Act.

The Communist Party of Sri Lanka (CPSL) and the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) have decided to hold a joint May Day celebration online Matara District MP Weerasumana Weerasinghe said. The decision was taken by a joint May Day committee of the two parties due to the current COVID epidemic outbreak wave. The CPSL and the LSSP had jointly decided to hold the May Day celebrations at the Kirulupana grounds. It was later scheduled to be held at the Sri Lanka Communist Party office premises at Cotta Road, Borella, in accordance with COVID health regulations, the MP said.

After fighting union busting at a Lululemon supplier in the Philippines, eight union leaders unfairly dismissed in 2019 and 2020, have been reinstated and a collective agreement has been negotiated.

Information on the XII (XXII) Congress of Russian Communist Workers’ Party -CPSU

XII (XXII) Congress of RCWP – CPSU was held on April 24-25 in Gorki Leninskiye museum, Moscow region.

102 delegates from 47 regional party organizations took part in the work of the congress. There were also present more than 20 guests. Among the guests were comrades S.A. Alexandrov - the 1st Secretary of CPSU CC and comrade Y.N. Dobry – the Head of Workers’ Organizations Committee of the Lugansk People’s Republic. They greeted the Congress and wished the delegates all success. There were also a number of greeting messages from brotherly communist organizations. A new issue of theoretical magazine by RCWP “Soviet Union” (#29) was issued for the occasion.

April 30:

Leaders of Left Democratic Alliance and Workers Party of Bangladesh on Thursday at separate rallies in front of the National Press Club called on the government to give sufficient food and cash aid to the poor people during restrictions.

Workers Party, a partner of Awami League-led alliance called on the government to ensure the continuation of Covid vaccination during the restrictions.

May 1:

The USW today condemned ExxonMobil's decision to engage in an unfair labor practice lock out impacting more than 650 members of USW Local 13-243 in its Beaumont, Texas refinery and blending and packaging plant.

"It's deeply disappointing that ExxonMobil would take such a drastic step and keep its dedicated workforce off the job when our only goal throughout this whole process has been to bargain a fair agreement," said USW Local 13-243 President Darrell Kyle.

Port of Montreal:

A general strike at the Port of Montreal is set to begin on Monday after the union representing dockworkers issued the required 72-hour notice to the Maritime Employers Association.

The federal government is preparing to rush through legislation in the event that dock workers at the Port of Montreal go ahead with a planned strike on Monday morning.

"I find it pitiful for the federal government to interfere when the strike hasn't even begun yet. By signalling their intention to table back-to-work legislation, they are siding with management."

Canada’s federal government announced that it plans to intervene to end the dockworkers' strike in Montreal. Saying that the strike has the potential to last for a long time and negatively impact the Canadian economy, the federal government filed a notice of its intent to intervene, which is different from August 2020 when the federal government declined to become involved in the long-running dispute between the union and the employment association representing the container terminal operators.

Since 2018, members of CUPE Local 375, representing 1,100 longshore workers at the Port of Montreal, have been without a contract. Continued bad faith bargaining on the part of the employer, the Maritime Employers Association (MEA), culminated in them announcing schedule changes that would see members working more per shift without any additional pay, and saw threats to job security provisions.

In response, Local 375 members voted 99 per cent in favour of strike action two weeks ago and walked off on Monday, April 26.

Today, on behalf of the 280,000 members of CUPE Ontario, we send a strong message of solidarity that wholeheartedly supports these workers and this important action.

Further, we unreservedly oppose the Federal government’s announcement that they would introduce back-to-work legislation to end the strike action.

Free and fair collective bargaining is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms for a reason. It’s a fundamental right which should not be superseded anytime an employer fails to get its way.

The simple fact is that these workers are engaged in a legal strike; and they have offered to withdraw their strike notice if the MEA stopped threating job security and changing their shifts. Their employer has refused to do so.

These CUPE members have shown incredible patience, going without a contract since 2018. Such stubborn negotiating practices by their employer – and now a Federal government intent on siding with that employer by legislating these workers back to work is unacceptable.

The Syndicat des débardeurs du port de Montréal (Montreal Longshore Workers’ Union) (CUPE 375) has announced that the Maritime Employers’ Association (MEA) left the bargaining table at 6 pm yesterday when the parties were in the midst of their work.

“This proves yet again that the employer is counting on special legislation and not negotiations to settle this dispute. While we were working with the parameters set out by the mediators, the MEA representatives left the table in the presence of the mediators,” said Michel Murray, union representative and negotiator for CUPE 375.

The House of Commons has approved legislation to put an end to a strike that has shut down one of Canada's busiest ports.

Conservatives joined forces with the minority Liberal government early Thursday morning to pass Bill C-29 by a vote of 255-61. Three Liberals, as well as Bloc Quebecois, NDP and Green MPs, voted against it.

The bill is aimed at quickly reopening the Port of Montreal, where the flow of millions of tonnes of goods came to halt after 1,150 dockworkers began a strike Monday morning.

Montreal dockworkers strike as federal government mulls back-to-work legislation

Federal government tables bill to end strike at Port of Montreal

It must still be passed by the Senate, which is scheduled to deal with the bill Friday.

Striking Port of Montreal workers may be facing a back-to-work order by the federal government early Thursday morning, but they refuse to go quietly.

"The union will contest the validity of this bill," said Michel Murray, a spokesperson for the chapter 375 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Calling the back-to-work order unconstitutional, he said the union has filed complaints with the International Labour Organization because Canada is a signatory on two international treaties regarding the right of workers to strike.

The House of Commons approved the bill early Thursday morning, with the Conservatives joining forces with the minority Liberal government. The Senate gave its approval Friday evening to the bill, which now awaits royal assent.

Michel Murray, of the Canadian Union of Public Employees’ chapter that represents the dockworkers, said the bill is an attack of the workers’ constitutional right to strike.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says it’s a shameful day for Canadians, as lawmakers in Ottawa rubber-stamped Bill C-29, a bill to make it illegal for dockworkers at the Port of Montreal to continue their five-day old strike.

CUPE believes Bill C-29 is unconstitutional, as it infringes fundamental rights protected by the Charter. CUPE is determined to defend these rights by challenging the bill in the courts.

“The Liberals haven’t just failed dockworkers in Montreal, they’ve failed all working people in Canada,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “Prime Minister Trudeau just sent a loud and clear message to every employer in the country: don’t bother bargaining in good faith with your workers, because if things get tough, we’ll be there to bail you out.”

Unions across the world are outraged to learn that Justin Trudeau’s Liberal minority government had teamed up with Canada’s Conservative opposition in the early hours of Thursday morning to progress legislation to rip away Montréal dockworkers’ right to strike.

“Justin Trudeau’s government has launched an assault on the human rights of their own citizens to withdraw their labour, in direct breach of Canada’s own constitution, its laws, and its international commitments,” said Paddy Crumlin, International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) president and Dockers’ Section chair.

“The Liberals in Ottawa have made a shameful choice by siding with one of the most virulent, aggressive, anti-worker employers in North America - the Maritime Employers Association – to remove workers’ right to strike. In doing so, they are setting fire to Canada’s human rights and labour rights record.”


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