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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #40: International Left and Labour News

The fortieth edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from the USA, China, Venezuela, India and elsewhere. The special Red Review solidarity edition about Kazakhstan, Sudan, Swaziland and Palestine is also featured.

Kroger workers on strike in the USA -- image via Twitter

A special Red Review solidarity edition with statements from Communist and Workers' parties regarding the uprising in Kazakhstan, and the situations in Sudan, Swaziland and Palestine.

Highlights include:

- KKE: Communists "must support workers’ struggles wherever they break out and contribute so that the ideas of Marxism–Leninism and the revolutionary prospect are grafted onto the development of the organized mass, popular, and labour movement."

- Palestinian People's Party appeals to all progressive , democratic forces and human rights organizations to express their solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

- Swaziland: The most immediate task of the democratic forces at this point is to organise the masses, not for a dialogue, but for total revolution, for a total takeover of power which must be placed at the hands of the people.

- At this critical stage of the struggle of our people aiming at defeating the military dictatorship and establishing the people’s power, the Sudanese Communist Party calls on all fraternal parties, democratic and progressive parties and organizations to continue their solidarity actions.

Staggering levels of inequality, unsafe working conditions, low wages, wage theft and union busting are just some aspects of the dystopian reality that workers in the US face. But, as 2022 dawns, they are fighting back in exciting and important ways.

January 9:

Algerian leftist opposition leader and prominent Hirak protest movement figure, Fethi Ghares, was sentenced to two years in prison and slapped with a fine of 200,000 Algerian Dinars ($1400) on Sunday January 9.

Ghares who is the head of the leftist Democratic and Social Movement party (MDS), was convicted and sentenced by the court of Bab El Oued in the Algerian capital, Algiers, on charges including “attack on the person of the President of the Republic”, “contempt of body”, “dissemination to the public of publications that may harm the national interest”, “dissemination of information which could undermine national unity ”and“ dissemination of information which could undermine public order ”. Ghares is expected to appeal the verdict against him.

January 10:

The re-election for the governorship of Barinas state was held peacefully this Sunday, January 9, in all the12 municipalities (Arismendi, Barinas, Bolívar, Ezequiel Zamora, Bishops, Pedraza, Rojas, Sosa, Alberto Arvelo Torrealba, Antonio José de Sucre, Cruz Paredes, and Andrés Eloy Blanco) of the state, with 961 polling stations at 543 voting centers throughout the state.

Although official results are yet to be announced, former foreign affairs minister and PSUV candidate for governor in the state, Jorge Arreaza, posted a tweet conceding his defeat.

“Dear Barinas,” wrote Arreaza on Twitter. “The information that we are receiving from our PSUV structures indicates that, although our votes increased, we have not been able to achieve our goal. I thank our heroic members from my heart. We will continue to protect the people of Barinas from wherever we are.”

Employees at the W. 6th Starbucks location in downtown Cleveland have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a union representation election. The Cleveland Starbucks would be the first Ohio store to unionize and follows similar efforts at locations across the country, including in Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Seattle and elsewhere.

In a letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson sent Monday morning, workers at the W. 6th store said that while they served at the forefront of the customer service industry during the pandemic, they haven't felt adequately cared for. With insufficient guidelines and safety measures, disillusionment and burnout are now commonplace.

January 11:

In major victories for American workers, a second Starbucks location in Buffalo has voted to unionize while the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the US has set the dates for a second union vote in Bessemer, Alabama.

Amazon promised workers in Chicago full-time roles with a hiring bonus, extra pay for working Thanksgiving, and paid bereavement leave. Every promise was broken.

So these courageous workers with Amazonians United Chicagoland led the first-ever walkouts coordinated across multiple Amazon warehouses.

Workers say they are tracked during bathroom breaks and have limited paid time off, but a worker-signed petition for increased wages and safe staffing was received and ignored by Amazon.

Students at several high schools in New York City coordinated a walkout from classes on Tuesday to call for remote learning as they protest what they say are unsafe learning conditions inside school buildings as COVID cases surged just as the spring semester began last week.

A campaign mounted by students and activists across some of New York’s best-known high schools – including Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant – led to a walkout shortly before noon on Tuesday.

While precise numbers were not immediately available, organizers estimated hundreds of students participated, with about 400 students walking out at Brooklyn Tech alone.

The leader of the Portuguese Communist Party is temporarily dropping out of campaigning for his country's Jan. 30 general election for an urgent heart procedure, the party announced Tuesday.

Jerónimo de Sousa, 74, requires a coronary angioplasty and stent insertion “which cannot be postponed until after the election,” the party said in a statement.

January 12:

More than 8,000 workers at nearly 80 King Soopers stores went on strike for better wages on Wednesday as negotiations stalled, but stores stayed open after the Kroger Co-owned (KR.N) Colorado chain hired temporary staff and promoted online ordering.

The UFCW Local 7 union said the strike started at 7:00 a.m. ET and would go on for three weeks. The workers on strike are employed at King Soopers stores in the Denver metropolitan area, Boulder, Parker and Broomfield cities of Colorado, among others.

An explosive new document obtained by More Perfect Union reveals that supermarket giant Kroger has long been aware that its workers can’t afford basic necessities and struggle to survive.

The internal presentation, titled “State of the Associate” and marked “confidential,” warned Kroger executives in 2018 that hundreds of thousands of employees live in poverty and rely on food stamps and other public aid as a result of the company’s low pay.

“Most employees are considered to be living in poverty and need State Aid as in food stamps, free school lunch, etc. just to get by,” one slide warned.

The following are edited excerpts from an interview with an official spokesperson of the Sudanese Communist Party, Dr. Fathi al-Fadl, published in January in the International (English-language) section of the Turkish e-zine Kaldıraç (The Lever). Al-Fadl discusses current preparations for launching a general strike.

A mass movement in spring 2019 in Sudan, located south of Egypt in northeast Africa, defeated the 30-year military dictatorship of Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, but was unable to permanently oust the military. (

In Oct. 25, 2021, the military carried out a coup, arresting the president and civilian members of the cabinet. A determined resistance has developed against this coup, with the SCP playing a vital role.

Thousands of drivers and transport sector workers in Lebanon organized a nationwide strike on Thursday, January 13, to protest rising fuel prices and the government’s failure to address their concerns. Transport workers, including taxi drivers, truck drivers and tanker drivers, brought the country to a standstill by blocking several major highways and barricading roads inside various cities and towns. Led by a number of public transportation and labor unions, the workers marked Thursday as a “day of rage” and started their protest actions at 5 am in the morning, scheduled to last for 12 hours.

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday that China would be donating a further 10 million Covid-19 vaccine doses over the course of 2022.

January 13:

Following a historic national strike and mobilizations by school teachers in France on Thursday, January 13, the government conducted talks with representatives of the unions and said they would address their demands. The educators’ wings of various unions such as Fédération Syndicale Unitaire (FSU), National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions (UNSA), General Confederation of Labor (CGT), Workers Force (FO), SGEN-CFDT, Snalc, SNE, Sud Education etc, organized major mobilizations on Thursday in Paris and a number of other cities protesting the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic by French authorities. The teachers were unhappy at the frequently changing rules instituted by the government and were demanding better safety measures for themselves and students.

On Thursday, at many places, school nurses, maintenance staff and parents joined the teachers in protest marches. Unions said that 75% of primary school teachers and 62% of middle and high school teachers joined the strike though official sources provided lower figures.

Following the mass mobilization, during the discussion between the teachers’ union representatives and the French Prime Minister Jean Castex, Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer and Health Minister Olivier Véran, the government agreed to soon distribute five million FFP2 masks to teachers, mainly among those who work with children too young to wear masks. The government also promised to immediately recruit 3,300 contractual staff to replace those who are absent due to illness. It was also agreed to postpone the coming week’s evaluation for first graders, and possibly the Baccalaureate exams scheduled for March. The government also announced that there will be frequent meetings with the unions in order to review the situation at the schools.

The technician workforce at Mercedes Benz Retail Group (MBRG) will strike for four days later this month in a pay dispute amid accusations that the bosses are adopting ‘divide and rule’ tactics over pay.

Unite the union said that its 185 members across nine sites had voted before Christmas by majorities of 80 to 100 per cent to hold strike action, after they faced a second year without a pay rise.

January 14:

The top disciplinary watchdog of the Communist Party of China (CPC), China's governing party, has recently published 10 cases of violations of the eight-point decision on improving Party conduct.

Five of the 10 identified violators were officials registered at and supervised by the CPC Central Committee and were mostly found to have either accepted gifts of money, played golf, or accepted dinner or tour invitations that may interfere with the performance of their official duties impartially, in breach of regulations.

The National Labor Relations Board on Friday ordered union elections at three Starbucks stores in the Buffalo area, where two other Starbucks stores voted to unionize late last year.

The victories for the union created the only two unionized Starbucks locations out of roughly 9,000 company-owned stores in the country. The union lost at a third store in the Buffalo area but has formally objected to the outcome there.

January 15:

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, has called for efforts to safeguard national political security, social stability and the peaceful life of the people.

Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the call in a recent instruction to the political and legal work.

During his annual report to the National Assembly, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro Moros stressed the active role and growth of the Public Powers and the Venezuelan people during the year 2021, despite all the efforts from the opposition to do away with the Bolivarian Revolution.

January 16:

Opposition CPI-M led Left Front on Sunday alleged that public meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 4 in Agartala led to surge Covid-19 in Tripura.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist Tripura state Secretary Jitendra Chaudhury said, “When the Central and state governments are aware about the Omicron, the new variant of Covid-19 creating havoc across the country. In this situation the PM's public rally has further aggravated the situation in Tripura.


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