top of page
  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #43 -- International Left and Labour News

The forty-third edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from Kenya, India, Portugal, Cuba, Turkey, Sudan, Mexico and elsewhere.

There is also a section related to the intensifying Starbucks union wave in the USA.

Kenyan rappers perform a song for the Communist Party of Kenya's 2022 election campaign

January 31:

The workers of the Farplas Automotive factory in Kocaeli Gebze Automotive Procurement Specialized Organized Industrial Zone locked themselves up in the factory for their union rights today (January 31).

While production stopped at the factory, the dismissed workers of the factory started protesting inside the factory. Shortly afterwards, the police stormed the Farplas factory, taking several workers, union representatives and the ones who were there in support into custody.

In a statement released by the United Metalworkers' Union later in the day, it has been announced the detained workers have been released: "Our friends who resisted for their union rights and were taken into custody have been released after their statements were taken."

MORE than 300 SunRice workers will strike across regional NSW and Victoria this week, calling on the company to ditch its proposal to erode worker conditions.

The United Workers Union has been negotiating a new workplace agreement with SunRice for the past eight months, but talks have come to a standstill.

February 1:

The anti-capitalist left has suffered a setback In Portugal after Socialist prime minister António Costa won an absolute majority in the Portuguese parliamentary elections on Sunday (January 30). While the majority victory was unexpected -- most commentators thought the Socialists would win the most seats but fall short of a majority -- the drubbing that the Communist Party electoral alliance and the Left Block took had been predicted by the polls.

The Communist-Green Unitary Democratic Coalition (CDU) alliance saw its vote fall from 6.3% in 2019's elections to 4.4% and lost half of its seats to end with 6. The Left Bloc had an even greater decline seeing its vote drop from 9.5% to 4.5% and its seat total declined from 19 to 5.

Both the CDU and Left Bloc had backed the Socialists in the minority parliament and had helped to push the government somewhat to the left.

The Central Committee of the PCP, meeting on February 1, 2022, analysed the results of the early elections for the Assembly of the Republic of January 30, 2022, and the resulting political framework; examined the national situation; evaluated aspects of the international situation; pointed out lines of action, political initiative and the strengthening of the Party, to respond to the demands that are placed.

Opposition parties termed the Union Budget 2022-23 as pro-rich, anti-working class and failing to generate new employment for the youth, while the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party said that the Budget is progressive.

Communist Party of India district secretary V. Kukyan in a statement said that instead of offering relaxations to the working class, farmers, income tax payers, the Union Finance Minister has reduced duties on diamond and gold. There is no mention about projects in the State, he said.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) district secretary K. Yadava Shetty said that the Budget has failed the common man who has been battered by the pandemic. Unless monies reach the hands of the working class and farmers, the pandemic crisis will not subside.

The indefinite strike called here by the employees of the Puducherry electricity department to voice protest against the privatisation of distribution and transmission of power began on Tuesday.

Employees of Puducherry, Karaikkal, Yanam, and Mahe are in protest and have stuck work in all offices, installations, and sub-stations of Puducherry electricity department.

February 2:

Auto workers at a General Motors plant in central Mexico delivered a landslide victory to an independent union in a vote held February 1-2. It's a major breakthrough for workers and labor activists seeking to break the vice grip of the employer-friendly unions that have long dominated Mexico’s labor movement.

Turnout among the plant’s 6,300 eligible voters was 88 percent. The independent union SINTTIA (the National Auto Workers Union) picked up 4,192 votes—78 percent of the vote. SINTTIA, which grew out of the successful campaign which ousted the previous corrupt union last year, promised to raise wages and fight for workers on the shop floor.

Party First Secretary and President of the Republi, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez recently described the Families Code as an inclusive text that recognizes all types of families that exist in Cuba, and the problems associated with their development.

The President has stated that the popular consultation and subsequent referendum are important political processes, since the Code is an emancipating Code that resolves problems at the social level. During the most recent Council of Ministers session, the President commented that to reduce the document to the single issue of egalitarian marriage is an oversimplification, and highlighted its breadth, comprehensiveness, modernity, strength and contribution to Cuban society.

With this vision, the popular consultation began yesterday throughout the country. In Las Tunas, Martha Rodríguez Martínez, president of the Provincial Electoral Council, urged citizens not to miss the moment, an expression of Cuban democracy, and to take advantage of the opportunity not only to contribute to the creation of a better Code, but to strengthen social dialogue, as well.

Justice Thomas R. Lederer has issued his decision on a remedy to an Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruling in April 2016 that recognized the Ontario government violated the collective bargaining rights of educators when it imposed Bill 115 in the fall of 2012. The award of damages—$103,100,000—to the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is significant.

“ETFO welcomes today’s decision, but we recognize it does not replace the loss of ETFO members’ bargaining rights, nor the sick leave, gratuities, and salary ETFO members lost when the Ontario government imposed Bill 115,” says ETFO President Karen Brown. “We thank the court for recognizing that our members’ constitutional rights were violated by a government who unjustly forced contracts on them, froze their pay, and cut sick day provisions as part of an austerity push. Justice Lederer’s decision serves as a reminder to the government that they must never interfere with collective bargaining rights.”

Amazon workers at a second warehouse on New York’s Staten Island have filed a petition to form a union, according to a labor group behind the effort.

Workers at one of the company’s Staten Island facilities, which is known as LDJ5, are seeking to be represented by the Amazon Labor Union, a labor group made up of current and former Amazon employees. ALU on Wednesday electronically filed a petition to form a union with the National Labor Relations Board, said Chris Smalls, a former Amazon employee who is a leader of the group.

Capitalist growth, by definition, is anti-popular in any management formula, stressed Dimitris Koutsoumbas, the GS of the CC of the KKE, speaking in Parliament on 02/02/22, noting that ND and SYRIZA with their “development” laws compete over how they will distribute billions of euros to the few by crushing the people.

Speaking about the new “development” law, he highlighted that the mockery must end and that the tale of capitalist development is the same old story that does not convince anyone. He added that growth is here, but wages —average and minimum— remain stagnant because capitalist growth is based on the intensification of the exploitation of workers.

Dimitris Koutsoumbas noted that the striking similarity between the proposals of ND and SYRIZA is not accidental, stressing that they are based on the “green digital transition” promoted by the Biden administration and the EU aimed at the controlled destruction of capital and the promotion of “green investments” due to the over-accumulation of capital. He also noted that the parties supporting this strategy of the capital conceal that “green digital transition” will cost the people dearly by increasing the cost of energy, that the commerce and hospitality sectors will be concentrated in fewer business groups, and that the Recovery Fund is inextricably linked to inflation, high prices, and poverty.

February 3:

The President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, today visited the Kremlin and told President Vladimir Putin that his country wants to end “dependency” on the US and strengthen economic ties with Russia instead.

Fernández told Putin “Argentina, in particular, is experiencing a very special situation as a result of its indebtedness and the economic situation that I had to inherit. From the 1990s onwards, Argentina has always looked towards the United States. Now, the Argentinian economy depends a lot on the debt it has with the United States, with the IMF, and the role that the US has within the IMF.”

The Spanish parliament ratified by a single vote Thursday a landmark labor reform devised by the country’s Socialist-led coalition government, unlocking billions of euros (dollars) in European Union aid.

Nine smaller parties joined the Socialist party and its junior coalition partner Unidos Podemos (United We Can) to vote in favor of the law passed by the Cabinet at the end of December.

The cross-party support gave the bill a 175-174 victory over mostly conservative opposition parties.

A convoy of hundreds of pink-clad delivery bikers rode through Istanbul's pouring rain on Thursday to protest at their employer's headquarters for higher pay, after Turkey's annual inflation leapt to a 20-year high near 50%.

The couriers, who work for the country's largest food delivery company Yemeksepeti, blared horns and waved to supportive drivers as they drove their pink motorcycles in busy traffic.

February 4:

HUMAN rights organisations in Israel have condemned “vicious attacks” on Amnesty International following its declaration that Tel Aviv’s treatment of the Palestinians amounts to apartheid.

Fourteen organisations, including B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence and Combatants for Peace, issued a joint statement today calling on the Israeli government to “stop its oppressive and discriminatory practices and its dangerous game of defamation and disinformation.”

A court in the city of Manzini granted bail to Colani Maseko, the president of Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) on Friday, February 4. The student leader had been arrested on January 31 and charged with sedition.

His bail came a day after the SNUS marched to the Manzini regional police headquarters and held a demonstration on February 3. A cross section of Swaziland’s pro-democracy forces, including the banned political parties, trade unions, and youth organizations, attended the action.

Outside the police headquarters, protesters at the demonstration openly threatened to render the kingdom “ungovernable” until the release of Maseko and all other political prisoners of Africa’s last absolute monarchy. Students reiterated the call for the overthrow of King Mswati III to make way for multi-party elections.

This long-standing demand has led to several cycles of political upheavals in the small, landlocked southern African country, especially over the last year when, for the first time, anti-monarchist protests swept across the rural areas.

Economic expert and leading member of the Communist Party of Sudan, Sidgi Kaballo, spoke with Radio Dabanga on Sudan’s revolution, the economic collapse, and the impossibility of finding a sustainable solution in dialogue with the military coup putschists.

"Forestry workers at Canfor should be proud of the work done by their bargaining committee to set a pattern agreement with strong gains, particularly for mental health support," said Scott Doherty, Unifor Executive Assistant to the President and lead forestry negotiator. "This is a positive step forward for workers and sets the standard for other forestry agreements across the western region."

The four-year deal sees a first year lump sum of $5,000 followed by annual wage increases of 2.5%, 2.5% and 3%. There are improvements to the temporary and indefinite curtailment language, and an improved benefits package, including a substantial increase in the annual clinical psychologist benefit.

More than 300 bus drivers employed by First West Yorkshire in Bradford are ready to announce strike dates, unless the bosses up their ‘truly pathetic’ two-year pay deal, Unite the union warned today (Friday 4 February).

Unite said that strike dates could be announced soon after the workers voted for strike action by 77 per cent, following their rejection of a pay offer of 1.9 per cent from October 2021 and a further 1.8 per cent for the year from October 2022.

February 5:

The Twelfth Congress of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) will take place on 25-26 February 2022, the Party's Central Committee has announced.

The Congress was due to held on 10-13 February but it was rescheduled due to Coronavirus pandemic.

CPB President Mujahidul Islam Selim and General Secretary Comrade Mohammad Shah Alam called upon all party members and workers to make the Twelfth Congress a success on the rescheduled date.

The CPB was founded in 1971, the year of Bangladesh independence. It is a member of the Left Democratic Alliance alongside seven other parties and participates in the International Meeting of Communist and Workers' Parties (IMCWP).

Tube workers are to go on strike for two days next month over fears for jobs, pensions and working conditions, threatening widespread disruption across London.

The RMT union announced that its members on the tube would walk out on 1 and 3 March.

On Saturday, Uruguayan former union leader Fernando Pereira assumed the presidency of the left-wing Board Front (FA) party in the El Galpon Theater in Montevideo. In his inauguration speech, he urged the FA militants to improve their party’s internal communication structures and build policies to guarantee gender equality.

February 6:

China and Argentina on Sunday released a joint statement on deepening the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

The statement was issued after a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, who is on a visit to China from Friday to Sunday to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics and other activities.

Starbucks Union Drive:

Ever since a group of Starbucks workers in western New York moved to unionize last year, the world’s largest coffee chain has been locked in a fierce legal battle with the upstart union, Starbucks Workers United. But as more baristas across the country unite, a clear winner has already emerged in this potentially historic labor struggle.

Sarah Broad was 14 years old and just several months into her job at a McDonald’s in southwestern Canada when a customer berated her about cold fries, started swearing and threw a hamburger at her.

No matter how often she encountered that kind of cruelty there, or in jobs at Walmart or Starbucks over the next 12 years, callous managers expected her to just smile through the abuse and keep working.

But when the risk of COVID-19 made the daily outrages all the harder to bear, Broad realized that she needed to take control of her future. She and her fellow baristas at the Starbucks in Victoria, British Columbia, met for dinner one night and decided to join the growing ranks of young workers who are unionizing to build better lives and stronger communities.

Employees at a handful of Starbucks stores in Michigan are demanding that Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson recognize their union.

Starbucks workers in Rochester filed a petition to unionize on Monday, a first for the 50-year-old coffee retailer in the U.S. and the latest sign that the labor movement is stirring after decades of decline.

Workers from Buffalo, Rochester and Ithaca all announced their intentions to unionize on Monday, to join Starbucks Workers United and filed for union elections with the National Labor Relations Board, according to representatives from the Rochester & Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation. Locally, the two Rochester shop are the Mount Hope Avenue Starbucks and the Starbucks in the new Whole Foods plaza on Monroe Avenue in Brighton.

Starbucks employees at two more Philadelphia stores have filed petitions seeking to unionize on the heels of a pair last week.

bottom of page