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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #39: International Left and Labour News

The thirty-ninth edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from the USA, South Africa, Kazakhstan, China, Canada the UK and elsewhere.

South African Communist Party militants place a memorial wreath at the grave of Communist leader Joe Slovo in Soweto, Jan. 6 -- Image via twitter

January 3:

Locations in Chicago, Tennessee and Colorado are joining those in Arizona, Boston and Seattle seeking to unionize after the first successful organizing of a US Starbucks happened in Buffalo last month.

January 4:

Despite two recent crackdowns against striking workers at the NagaWorld resort in Phnom Penh, hundreds continue their indefinite strike against arbitrary mass lay-offs. Dozens of strikers were either arrested or charged by the local police between New Year’s Eve and January 4.

According to reports, nine people were charged on Monday, January 3, with charges of “incitement to cause serious chaos to social security” by local authorities. Of these, three were charged in absentia and the other six had been taken into custody on Friday. The arrests were made in a late-night crackdown at the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld (LRSU) office, when nine people were detained by the police.

In an announcement on January 4, the activists of the Indigenous Wet’suwet’en tribe in British Columbia, Canada, have stated they are staging a “strategic retreat”. Water protectors who have been resisting the construction of the Coastal GasLink (CGL) pipeline and staging an occupation and blockade at the drillsite near Camp Coyote have retreated to evade arrests and another violent police crackdown.

Earlier this week, Wet’suwet’en chiefs and activists had been reporting a massive mobilization of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) near Coyote Camp, raising concerns of a fourth attack on the activists, as well as further arrests. “Before a large-scale mobilization by police, water protectors vanished into the woods, evading police violence and criminalization,” read the Gidimt’en Checkpoint’s statement.

Faculty and academic service officers at Concordia University of Edmonton beared blistering cold temperatures on Jan. 4 to kick off the first-ever post-secondary strike action in Alberta outside a mansion the employer purchased while they were negotiating a new contract.

The 82-member Concordia University of Edmonton Faculty Association (CUEFA) voted to go on strike on Dec. 1 with a mandate of 90% after negotiating with the employer since May.

CUEFA president Glynis Price, who works as a lab assistant and lecturer at Concordia, told the major issues at stake are workload, salary, disciplinary measures and intellectual property.

A leading rail workers’ union is warning of a national strike over job cuts.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) said rail workers faced losing their jobs this year just as the cost of living crisis spirals.

The union is calling for an extension to a no compulsory redundancy agreement to safeguard employment for those wishing to stay in the rail industry and warned that a national rail strike in 2022 was “very much on the cards”.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Our union has been crystal clear that any threat to use compulsory redundancies will be met with industrial action ballots.

January 5:

On Wednesday, workers at the Elmwood Starbucks location in Buffalo, New York, walked off the job to protest working conditions, citing the company’s failure to address COVID-related safety issues.

According to the union, workers are protesting because they have been forced to work through “unsafe working conditions,” facing health concerns and understaffing.

Elmwood organizer Michelle Eisen called the walkout a “necessary stand.”

This Wednesday, January 5, the Legislative Chamber of Venezuela’s National Assembly (AN) held the first ordinary session of this year, in which it carried out the election and swearing-in of its Board of Directors, in accordance with Article 194 of the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the AN’s Internal Regulation of Debates.

By parliamentary majority, the plenary re-elected deputy Jorge Rodríguez as president of the Legislative Power for the 2022-2023 term. Parliamentarian María Iris Varela Rangel was re-elected as first vice president, while the youngest deputy in parliament, Vanesa Montero, was elected as second vice president.

January 6:

An inquiry looms over South Africa’s largest and oldest dairy sector employer, Clover, as the ongoing strike by 5,000 of its workers entered into the 45th day on Thursday, January 6. In a protest against Clover’s retrenchment and restructuring plans affecting thousands of jobs, workers have downed tools since November 22.

South African unions assert that the retrenchments the company is due to carry out are in violation of the conditions imposed on Clover by the Competition Tribunal in September 2019, while approving its merger with Milco, 60% of which is owned by the Israeli Central Bottling Company (CBC).

The SA Communist Party (SACP) members braved the rain on Thursday to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the passing of struggle stalwart and former general secretary Joe Slovo at Avalon Cemetery in Soweto.

Today we gathered here, like we do every year, in memory of Joe Slovo, commander of Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), the joint ANC and SACP liberation army—the people’s army, leader of the SACP, the ANC, workers’ shop steward, a revolutionary, author, and thinker of note. Slovo joined the National Union of Distributive Workers as a young worker after he left school in 1941. A year later, in 1942, he joined the Communist Party. This was six years before the racist National Party came to power in a whites-only general election held in 1948. The National Party reinforced the system of racism on which the South African state was formed in 1910 as a British dominion of a colonial type.

China and Kenya pledged on Thursday that they would strengthen cooperation and coordination on COVID-19, economic recovery and regional and international affairs during Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to the African country.

China also vowed to continue its support for Kenya in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic, and the two countries signed a series of bilateral cooperation documents on Thursday.

A key Party meeting underlined on Thursday the need to uphold the Communist Party of China's overall leadership - particularly the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee - to realize China's modernization and rejuvenation.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, presided over the daylong meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and gave a speech.

Refugee rights groups have warned that the Nationality and Borders Bill proposed by the Boris Johnson-led government in the UK is likely to worsen the conditions of refugees and asylum seekers. On Wednesday January 5, various groups including Refugee Action, Care4Calais, Refugee Council, and Stand Up To Racism protested in front of Parliament while the House of Lords discussed the bill, demanding that the government instead provide a safe way for people to claim asylum.

Coventry council’s failure to address the low pay of its refuse collection drivers is set to lead to an escalation in strike action, after Unite, the UK’s leading union, announced a total of 19 new strike dates in the increasingly bitter bin dispute.

The 70 drivers are currently in the second day of a 48 hour walkout that began yesterday (5 January). The strike began after Coventry council informed Unite that it would not make an improved offer and that an offer which had previously been rejected by workers was no longer on the table, at last minute talks held on Tuesday 4 January.

No end is in sight to a sanitation workers’ strike in its third week after members of Teamsters Local 542 Thursday rejected the latest offer from waste-management company Republic Services.

Ricardo Gonzalez, a striking Republic Services employee, says union workers ultimately are fighting for a better way of life with the recent trash strike. (FOX 5 photo)

More than 250 union workers walked off the job last month to strike for higher wages, better benefits and improved safety conditions. But as negotiations with Republic have yet to bear fruit, workers returned to the picket lines this week while residents and some elected officials are growing restless about the trash piling up in San Diego County communities.

It looks like the Coalition of Progressive Electors and OneCity Vancouver will face a new rival on the left in the 2022 Vancouver election.

The Democratic Socialists of Vancouver website reveals that it will hold a "platform launch event" online for "Vancouver For All" on January 15.

"Vancouver For All is a grassroots, participatory platform, initiated by the DSOV, for the municipal election taking place in October 2022," the Democratic Socialists of Vancouver declare. "Help us put the needs of the many over the greed of a few."

January 7:

As the uprising in Kazakhstan is being met with intense violence and repression the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan, Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the Communist Workers' Party of Russia (RCWP) and the Communist Party of Mexico have issued statements in solidarity with protestors.

All of these statements call for international solidarity with the uprising, the release of all political prisoners and demonstrators, an end to the country's anti-union and anti-worker laws and the legalization of the banned Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan and the Communist Party of Kazakhstan.

The Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan statement provides much background about the uprising and is reproduced here (translated from the Russian) in full. After that statement are the statements of the KKE and Mexican party and an excerpt from the RCWP.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has decided to take steps to strengthen the party from the grass-root level even as it started focusing on evolving modalities for building up an alternative to the BJP-led Central Government in the run up to the next elections.

The CPI (M) central committee, which met here on Friday to finalise the draft political resolution ahead of the party’s national congress at Kannur in Kerala in April, expressed concern over the ‘aggressive manner’ in which the BJP was trying to take forward its Hindutva agenda for the last few years. Issues like Citizenship (Amendment) Act aimed at dividing people on communal lines were being brought forward.

At the same time, the BJP government hastened the implementation of neo liberal policies as could be seen from privatisation of public sector companies and initiatives like national monetisation pipeline for further diluting the existing policies in favour of corporates. The party feels that there is widespread opposition to the policies adopted by the BJP government as could be seen from the agitations launched by various sections, including farmers.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel arrived here on Friday to chair the Assembly of the Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) in Camagüey province.

September 8:

The Party School of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee (National Academy of Governance) on Saturday held a graduation ceremony for the 2021 autumn semester.

Chen Xi, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and president of the school, presented certificates to graduates.

Nine representatives made speeches at the ceremony, saying that over the semester, their understanding of the major achievements and historical experience of the Party over the past century has deepened, and their political understanding and ability to lead improved.

On behalf of the 1,117 trainees, they pledged to foster the right view on performance evaluation, work hard and press for solid progress to welcome the Party's 20th National Congress with outstanding achievements.

The Cargill meat-processing plant located near High River, Alta. is facing at least 45 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the union that represents its workers.

Tom Hesse, UFCW Local 401 president, said it's likely that the actual cases at the plant far outpace that number, given word he's received of high absentee rates and the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant.

Huge protests are continuing to shake Sudan through the mass movement demanding civilian rule and democracy led by the Resistance Committees. Despite increasing repression and the regular killing of protesters by the security forces, tens of thousands are still joining demonstrations opposing the military coup. Alongside the protests in the streets, important struggles have developed in some workplaces, and activists are starting to make links between the fight for economic dignity and the battle for democracy and political freedom.

September 9:

KCR hosted lunch for CPI (M) national general secretary Sitaram Yechuri, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, former Tripura chief minister Manik Sircar, CPI (M) politburo members Ramachandran Pillai, Balakrishnan and others at his Pragathi Bhavan residence.

Later, he held a separate meeting with senior CPI leaders including its national general secretary D Raja, CPI parliamentary party leader and Kerala MP Binay Viswam, Kerala revenue minister Rajan, Telangana CPI general secretary Chada Venkat Reddy and state secretaries Palla Venkat Reddy and Kunamneni Sambasiva Rao.

The CPI (M) leaders were in Hyderabad to attend the three-day meeting of the party’s central committee, while the CPI leaders were there to participate in the All India Youth Federation meetings.

An official release from the chief minister’s office said the national leaders of the Left parties had made a courtesy call to the chief minister and they discussed with KCR various issues including the national political scenario and the development of Telangana.

A book of extracts from Chinese President Xi Jinping's discourses on upholding and improving Party and state oversight systems has been published.

The book includes 371 discourses extracted from over 130 reports, speeches, explanations, and instructions by Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, between November 2012 and November 2021. Some of them are being published for the first time.

The book was published by the Central Party Literature Press and the China Fangzheng Publishing House.


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