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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #41 -- International Left and Labour News

The forty-first edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from France, India, the DPRK, China, the USA and elsewhere.

French leftist presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon at a rally in Strasbourg, Jan. 19 -- Image via Twitter

January 16:

At Sunday’s rally, Melenchon promised to guarantee jobs for everyone, raise the minimum wage, lower the retirement age to 60 and hike taxes on multinationals and rich households. His campaign platform calls for France to pull out of NATO, disobey EU rules, legalize cannabis, renationalize some businesses, block energy price rises, and spend more on fighting racial and other discrimination.

While other candidates are railing against migration, Melenchon said migrants are “welcome” in France, calling immigration the “No. 1 factor“ in human progress.

He also proudly called Russia a “partner,“ even as European governments are scrambling to find ways to avert a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine..

January 17:

Students at several schools across Manitoba walked out of their classrooms Monday morning to protest the lack of safety measures to protect them against COVID-19 as they return to in-person learning.

In Winnipeg, walkouts began at about 11:30 a.m. at Grant Park High School, Maples Collegiate, Gordon Bell High School, Collège Louis-Riel and Collège Béliveau. Some of the walkouts saw dozens of students participate, while other saw only a few, CBC News reporters observed.

Ava Byrne, a student at Kelvin High School and one of the organizers of the walkouts, says students want greater access to personal protective equipment and an option to go back to remote learning.

UFCW 1991-P members at Olymel Yamachiche pork processing facility recently ratified a new collective agreement that provides substantial wage increases for new hires, in addition to increasing shift premiums.

“Congratulations to the bargaining committee for their excellent work negotiating this new contract,” says UFCW 1991-P President Mario Maisonneuve. “This new agreement reinforces our commitment to defending the interests of food processing members and contributes to improved working conditions for workers across the sector.”

A national conference was held in central Da Nang city on January 17 to look into the continued promotion of judicial reform to serve the building and completion of a law-governed socialist state of Vietnam.

This is the second national conference held by the steering committee for drafting a strategy for building and completing a law-governed socialist state of Vietnam by 2030, with a vision to 2045. The first event took place last December.

The Left parties are expected to make an all-out effort to regain their lost political ground in Uttar Pradesh by pulling their weight in 70 to 100 constituencies where they have the ability to influence the poll results.

Elections are scheduled to be held for 403 assembly constituencies in Uttar Pradesh between February 10 to March 7. Almost all the Left parties, including the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the CPI(ML) Liberation, have started identifying the assembly seats they would contest, on the basis of their political presence and strength in those constituencies.

A large number of politicians, intellectuals and people’s organisations of Uttarakhand on Monday, January 17, got together to reject the politics of hatred, especially in light of the recent Dharm Sansad in Hardwar, in which a call was given to prepare for the massacre of a large population of minorities.

The protesters, who included prominent political leaders of the state such as Kashi Singh Airy, president of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal; Samar Bhandari of Communist Party of India; S.N. Sachan of Samajwadi Party; S.S. Sajwan of CPI(M); Indresh Maikhuri of CPI(ML) and Rakesh Pant of Trinamool Congress, had earlier given a joint call for protests against violence and hatemongering in Uttarakhand.

Ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has decided to put its weight behind the Samajwadi Party (SP).

CPI(M) chief Sitaram Yechury said that his party will support the Samajwadi Party in order to defeat the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state.

For the UP Assembly election, the Samajwadi Party has allied with Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), Janwadi Party (Socialist), Apna Dal (Krishna Patel), Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSP-L), and Mahan Dal.

Chinese top political advisor Wang Yang on Monday emphasized building consensus, drawing people's support, collecting wisdom, and gathering strength to realize the Chinese Dream.

Wang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the remarks at a conference for heads of united front work departments across China.

Noting that the united front is a "magic weapon" for the CPC in its battles against enemies and in governance, Wang said the united front plays a more significant role and faces more arduous tasks as the country embarks on the new journey.

Seven more pro-democracy protesters were shot dead in Khartoum city by the security forces on Monday, January 17. Tens of thousands took to streets in cities across Sudan in rejection of the de facto rule of military generals since the military coup on October 25, 2021. Most of the deaths were caused by bullets fired to the chest, abdomen, and pelvis.

More than a hundred others have been injured by bullets as well as by tear gas canisters and stun grenades fired directly at the bodies of the protesters in the three cities of Khartoum state – the capital Khartoum city, Khartoum North, and Omdurman.

The family of a delivery driver who died last month when a tornado collapsed the central Illinois Amazon facility where he worked filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday in Madison County.

The action on behalf of Austin McEwen, 26, claims that Amazon failed to warn employees of dangerous weather or provide safe shelter before a tornado slammed the Edwardsville facility Dec. 10, killing McEwen and five others.

It is believed to be the first legal action taken in response to the deaths. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation.

January 18:

A joint statement signed by 18 Communist and Workers' parties and initiated by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was issued January 18 a day after Greek trade unionists and leftists, supported by the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), demonstrated outside of the embassy of Kazakhstan in Athens.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday hailed the development of China-Vietnam relations in his congratulatory message to Vietnamese leaders on the 72nd anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, sent congratulations to General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong and Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc to celebrate the anniversary.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Tuesday stressed rigorous and unswerving efforts in further promoting full and strict Party governance.

Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, vowed to maintain a zero-tolerance stance on corruption while addressing the sixth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

January 19:

Progressive International recently asked for contributions so they can send a delegation to Havana next week to promote Cuba's effort to vaccinate the world against Covid-19.

But in an apparent genuflection to the illegal U.S. embargo against the island, Dutch multinational bank ING has blocked all donations supporting the trip, the group said Tuesday.

"This is scandalous," said Progressive International (PI) general coordinator David Adler.

On Wednesday morning, 19 January 2022, delegations of the KKE and KNE held a protest at the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Athens, expressing their solidarity with the fighting people of the Central Asian country, which was recently shaken by mass demonstrations.

“We denounce the bloody repression, the death toll, and the arrest of thousands of demonstrators”, stressed Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos, MEP of the KKE.

Russian lawmakers from the Communist Party (KPRF) have submitted to the State Duma for consideration a draft resolution that proposes sending a formal appeal to President Vladimir Putin “on the need to recognize the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.”

In a draft of the proposed appeal, the Commnuist Party lawmakers emphasize Russia’s involvement in the “peaceful settlement” of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as well as the country’s provision of “humanitarian aid” to the self-proclaimed republics since 2014. The authors of the draft appeal also claim that in recent years, “democratic bodies and governments with all the attributes of legitimate power have been built” in these breakaway regions.

The draft appeal goes on to urge Putin to “consider the issue of recognition by the Russian Federation of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic as autonomous, sovereign, and independent states.”

The Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) and its auxiliary structure today began a comprehensive evaluation of compliance with the agreements of the 8th Congress of the Party.

The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) convened its 6th Meeting of the 8th Central Committee at the office building of the Party Central Committee on January 19 to discuss and decide immediate work and important policy issues of the Party and the state.

Kim Jong Un, general secretary of the WPK, was present at the meeting.

Attending the meeting were members of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the C.C., WPK and members and alternate members of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee.

January 20:

Lucknow: The Communist Party of India (CPI) will field around 40 candidates for the assembly elections in the state and is likely to release the list on Thursday, even as the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has already named four candidates and may name one more for Rohaniya seat in Varanasi.

“We have shortlisted 40-45 candidates after due deliberations and will release the list on Thursday,” CPI state secretary Girish said, adding the party would field candidates in all the regions from east and west and from central UP to Bundelkhand.

CPM, the second most important among Left parties, will be contesting on 4-5 seats only and has already declared candidates for four seats. “We have named candidates for Salempur (Reserved) in Deoria, Chakiya (Reserved) in Chandauli, Korao (Reserved) in Allahabad and Marihan in Mirzapur,” CPIM leader Hira Lal Yadav said.

Roughly 60 hospitality and culinary staff at the ATCO Valemount Camp serving the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project have voted to unionize.

Members voted nearly 90 per cent in favour of joining UNITE HERE Local 40, a statement issued by the union on Thursday said. The vote was conducted in July 2021, but a legal challenge delayed the vote count until this year.

School students, parents, teachers, and university students massively and militantly demanded health protection measures and educational rights

On 20/1/22, a mass and militant rally was held in Athens. School students, parents, teachers, and university students united their voices demanding substantial health protection measures in schools and proper regard for bridging the huge education gaps and tackling the enormous school staff shortages.

School students, parents, teachers, and university students marched to the Parliament. Similar rallies were held in Thessaloniki, Larissa, and other major cities in Greece.

January 21

The Argentine union of maritime workers SOMU Friday staged a protest at the Buquebús terminal in the port of Buenos Aires to keep ships from sailing off to Uruguay in demand of a due wage increase of 23% agreed upon last year.

SOMU workers kept vehicles from boarding the Atlantic III bound for Colonia demanding that Argentine workers be paid the bonus and the 23% increase. “Buquebus's promise prior to the union elections was that they would begin to pay, and now they refuse,” a union representative told the Buenos Aires daily Ámbito.

Employees at Raven Software, a video game studio owned by Activision Blizzard, announced Friday they have formed a union – a milestone in a largely unorganized industry recently marred by labor complaints.

Several dozen employees of the Wisconsin studio, which is behind the massively popular Call of Duty series, voted in favor of the union. The news comes just days after Microsoft announced it would acquire Activision Blizzard for $70bn.

U.S. labor board prosecutors plan to formally accuse Inc. of illegally firing an activist who was trying to unionize its New York warehouses, unless the company first settles the case.

The fledgling Amazon Labor Union alleged in November that Amazon illegally fired one of its organizers, Daequan Smith. The National Labor Relations Board’s Brooklyn-based regional director found merit in those allegations and “will issue a complaint if the case does not settle,” agency spokesperson Kayla Blado said Friday. The complaint would allege an illegal retaliatory firing as well as other violations of the law, she said in an email.

January 23:

Georgian social workers have ended their strike after reaching an agreement with the Social Service Agency of the Ministry of Health to increase salaries and provide transportation.

Professional union Solidarity Network reported that social workers' salaries will increase by 40-60%, they will be provided with transportation, and their parental leaves will be fully paid.


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