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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #44 -- International Left and Labour News

The forty-third edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from India, Greece, Canada, Bolivia, South Korea, Vietnam and elsewhere.

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

Communist e-rickshaw election rally in Uttarakhand State, India February 11 -- image via Twitter.

February 7:

Nicaragua’s Government of Reconciliation and National Unity has denounced the sending of Salvadoran Military Artillery Ships to the maritime spaces of Nicaragua in the Pacific Ocean, by the government of El Salvador.

These Salvadoran Military Vessels have made incursions less than 30 miles away from Nicaraguan coasts, in undisputed maritime spaces sovereign to Nicaragua.

According to foreign media reports, due to the failure to reach an agreement with the management on the salary in 2021, the national Samsung Electronics labor union filed an arbitration application with the National Labor Relations Commission of South Korea over the weekend. The union said that if the arbitration agreement could not be reached within 10 days, the Union would have the legal right to strike, which had never happened in Samsung's 53 year history. "Although the Union has held 15 rounds of negotiations with Samsung, the management unilaterally delayed the progress of the negotiations in a deceptive way," the union said Samsung Electronics Management said it would continue to negotiate with workers, but refused to accept the Union's request to increase the annual salary of 10 million won (about 53000 yuan) for each employee and pay a performance bonus equivalent to 25% of the group's operating profit.

Hundreds of residents of Kazakhstan’s restive town of Zhanaozen have rallied for several days to demand jobs after deadly anti-government protests that shook the country last month

The protesters gathered in front of the town’s administration on February 7, the sixth day of their rallies, saying that 2,500 men and women demand jobs in the local oil industry from the local and central government.

Zhanaozen Mayor Maqsat Ibagharov met with the protesters and offered to create a commission that will look into their demands.

But the protesters rejected the offer and demanded that Ibagharov, President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, and Manghystau Governor Nurlan Noghaev meet their demands "right away."

The South African Communist Party (SACP) condemns the military attack by the USA in the Atma area of Syria on Thursday, February 3 in the strongest terms.

The United States launched an attack through its so-called special forces in Syria, killing 13 people, six children and three women included. It called this a successful counterterrorism operation, yet none of them were associated with terrorist activities.

The SACP conveys its message of solidarity to the affected families of innocent people and the Syrian people. We strongly condemn the imperialist actions of the United States and its human rights violations in other countries.

“We will not yield to their intimidation, no worker shall stand alone, not a step back from the right to strike and the defence of our rights” is the message sent by the COSCO workers on strike from the Piraeus port.

“The strike is extremely successful. Very few workers have gone to work, who will soon join us”, announced the members of the administrative board of ENEDEP (Container Handling Workers’ Trade Union at the Piers of Piraeus).

The orgy of intimidation and repression failed and the workers are trying to safeguard their strike.

February 9:

The Party Central Committee’s Commission for Information and Education, in collaboration with its Theoretical Council and the National Political Publishing House, held a ceremony on February 9 to make debut a book named “Several theoretical and practical issues on socialism and the path toward socialism in Vietnam” by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

Speaking at the event, President of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics (HCMA) and Chairman of the Central Theoretical Council Nguyen Xuan Thang said that the book selects 29 articles and speeches by Trong since the preparation of documents of the 13th National Party Congress.

The First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) Central Committee and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, yesterday February 9, received the president of the Communist Party of Spain, José Luis Centella Gómez, at the Palace of the Revolution, with whom he shared a fraternal, amicable conversation.

THE government should be seeking to de-escalate tension on the Ukraine-Russia border, not engaging in the “rhetoric of war,” say Britain's Communists.

Addressing the Communist Party of Britain’s political committee last night, CP international secretary Kevan Nelson branded “absurd” the claims that Russia’s deployment of troops within its own borders poses a threat to world peace.

“The US already has 70,000 troops permanently stationed in Europe, now being reinforced by fighter jets from Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain; meanwhile Nato warships patrol the Black Sea,” he said.

Strike action that has affected the entire First Manchester bus service has ended after drivers accepted a vastly improved pay offer.

Nurses across New South Wales have overwhelmingly voted to walk off the job amid growing anger at staffing levels in the state’s hospitals, with more than 97% supporting a motion to hold the first statewide strike in almost a decade when NSW parliament resumes next Tuesday.

The industrial action – the largest by nurses across NSW since 2013 – will come just days after the resumption of non-urgent elective surgery, which had been paused to free up staff during the Omicron wave.

February 10:

The following is the official statement of Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa regarding the ongoing blockade by the Freedom Convoy protest at the United States-Canada border.

“The Teamsters Union denounces the ongoing Freedom Convoy protest at the Canadian border that continues to hurt workers and negatively impact our economy. The livelihood of working Americans and Canadians in the automotive, agricultural, and manufacturing sectors is threatened by this blockade.

“Our economy is growing under the Biden Administration, and this disruption in international trade threatens to derail the gains we have made. Our members are some of the hardest workers in the country and are being prevented from doing their jobs. The Teamsters call on the organizers of this action to end this protest and instead, engage in meaningful political discourse with the Canadian government to find a solution.”

February 11:

Two former Bolivian military generals have filed for an abbreviated procedure, which requires the accused to admit guilt, for charges they face for participating in the 2019 coup against the elected government of Evo Morales.

“There are two people, Jarjury and Terceros, who asked the Prosecutor’s Office to issue a sentence through the abbreviated procedure; this is an acknowledgment of responsibility and guilt”, said Bolivia’s Justice Minister Ivan Lima in a press conference yesterday.

Gonzalo Terceros, was the Commander of the Bolivian Air Force, and Palmiro Jarjury was the Commander of the Naval Forces.

We the undersigned trade union members declare our support for Dave Nellist in the Birmingham Erdington by-election.

A former Labour MP for Coventry South East for nine years, Dave is standing as a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate.

Dave was a workers' MP who only took a worker's wage and gave away over half the MP's salary to trade unionists and working class campaigners fighting to defend their livelihoods and communities. He was parliamentary spokesperson of the All-Britain Anti Poll Tax Federation and was expelled from Labour for refusing to pay the poll tax.

Sri Lanka’s president banned strikes in the health and electricity sectors on Saturday as trade union action that has crippled state-run hospitals entered its sixth day.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa invoked a 1979 law prohibiting stoppages in the two sectors, declaring all related work “essential public services,” his office said.

The tough regulations allow courts to hand down five-year jail terms and confiscate the assets of those refusing work.

The move followed health unions ignoring a court order on Thursday instructing them to suspend their strike pending a hearing of a petition against their action.

The Government’s efforts to contain the turmoil sparked by the rising cost of living have run into immediate trouble as unions press for significant pay increases in the private and public sectors.

Employers and Government are bracing themselves for a flurry of pay claims in the coming months as unions seek to boost wages in the face of rising inflation.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) said on Friday that it would advise private sector members to seek pay increases of up to 5.5 per cent, and indicated it would push for similar moves in the public sector once negotiations on a new pay deal begin, likely this summer.

A global trade union alliance has secured over 2,850 signatures on a petition urging the United Nations to update a database of companies believed to be linked to Israel's illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) found in February 2020 that there are "reasonable grounds to believe" that the 112 firms are implicated in "business activities and related issues that raise particular human rights violations concerns".

Canada’s unions have fought for generations for the right to protest. This is a cornerstone of our democratic system. But what we have witnessed on the streets of Canada’s capital over the past thirteen days is something different altogether. This is not a protest, it is an occupation by an angry mob trying to disguise itself as a peaceful protest.

We have seen an occupation of city streets and parks, disrupting workers, businesses and residents. Frontline workers, from retail to health workers, have been bullied and harassed. We have witnessed noise attacks keeping families up at all hours. We have seen right-wing extremists spreading messages filled with racism and intolerance, flying the Nazi and Confederate flags, alongside other symbols of violence and hate. We have seen organizers not only demand the end of all public health rules, but also call for the overthrow of our democratically elected government.

The leaders of this occupation include people who espoused Islamophobic, Anti-Semitic and racist hate on social media, organizers of the notorious far-right yellow vest protests, and people spreading extreme conspiracy theories and calls for violence. This is an attack on all of Canada and not just the people of Ottawa.

Canada’s unions stand together, unequivocally opposed to these vile and hateful messages and condemn the ongoing harassment and violence against the people of Ottawa.

The President said the South African economy benefited from a clear and stable macroeconomic framework in 2021. However, it was in the third quarter of 2021 when unemployment in the country rose to its highest level in our democratic dispensation, since 1994. The lowest unemployment rate in terms of the official definition that excludes discouraged work-seekers was in 1995. However, that was a whopping 16.5%. Unemployment increased to crisis-high annual rates of above 20% starting in 1996, the year in which the government adopted the economic policy called Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR).

Since then, South Africa consistently failed to create employment to reduce the official unemployment rate to 20% and further down towards securing the right to work for all. Throughout, the bigger picture of unemployment represented by the expanded definition that includes discouraged work-seekers was consistently higher than the narrowly defined official unemployment level. When the expanded unemployment rate sky-rocketed to 46.6% in the third quarter of 2021, it affected a population of approximately 12.5 million active and discouraged unemployed work-seekers.

This is a disaster, a societal crisis and a hotbed of many of the social and political problems the country experienced. The immense majority of those affected are black, with Africans the overwhelmingly hardest hit. In terms of gender, at 51% unemployment rate for women is 8.2% higher than the unemployment rate for men at 42.8%. In terms of age categories, the youth is the most affected at 77.4% for those aged 15 to 24 and 55.3% for those aged 25 to 34.

February 12:

One of Mark Drakeford’s biggest trade union backers is to consider leaving the Labour party.

Rail union Aslef will debate a motion on disaffiliation from Labour after almost 120 years of membership at its conference in May, according to the Mirror.

With around 21,000 members, it is one of the smaller of the 11 unions affiliated to the party, but it has an outsized influence. Its general secretary, Mick Whelan, is chair of the Labour’s union liaison organisation. And in Wales, Aslef has been one of the closest allies of the First Minister.

CJ Logistics Courier Union members are urging for dialogue in front of the CJ Logistics headquarters in Jung-gu, Seoul on the morning of the 12th, the third day of the occupation, and are doing 108 times for a prompt resolution of the strike. yunhap news

On behalf of the more than 75,000 health care workers who we represent in Alberta, we want to express our profound concern about the provincial government’s recently announced plan to end the vaccine passport program, remove mask mandates in schools and begin treating COVID-19 as another seasonal illness like influenza. We believe these decisions are premature, reckless and irresponsible. We have no doubt they will lead to increased illness, disability and death. We also think they were clearly based on political considerations, rather than on science or the kind of concern for the public good that citizens should reasonably be able to expect from their governments.

Starbucks Union Wave:

On Tuesday, Starbucks fired several leaders of an organizing drive at a Memphis, Tennessee store, one of more than fifty locations nationwide that are unionizing. Starbucks Workers United says that the company fired seven workers, “virtually the entire union leadership after they spoke to the media.”

A Starbucks spokesman told the New York Times that the workers were fired for violating company safety and security policies, citing a photograph of a journalist inside a store apparently after hours, which the spokesman described as a violation of company policy. But workers allege that the terminations were retaliatory.

“Being fired for ‘policies’ that I have never heard of. Never been talked to about before. Never had a write up about and all of a sudden it’s an offense to get fired over!” said one of the workers who was fired on Tuesday morning. “This is an outrage! They are firing the entire committee!”

Less than 24 hours after they were fired amid a unionization effort at a Starbucks in Memphis, Tennessee, former employees of the giant coffee chain reiterated that they don't intend to back down.

The corporation is trying "to silence us and we won't be silenced," Beto Sanchez, Lakota McGlawn, Nikki Taylor, and Nabretta Hardin—all four members of the union organizing committee at the city's Poplar and Highland Starbucks location—told pro-worker media group More Perfect Union during an exclusive interview shared Wednesday.

New York-area Starbucks workers are planning to form a union amid the company firing seven employees who tried to form a union, The New York Times reported.

Employees from company locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island on Thursday filed a petition to form their union with the National Labor Relations Board and organized by Workers United.

In letters, the employees told Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson about the struggles to make a living during the COVID-19 pandemic, work conditions and years of deteriorating trust between the corporation and employees and expressed how a union will help them shape their workplace into a better place, according to the Times.

Workers at a San Antonio Starbucks filed with the National Labor Relations Board to unionize, becoming the coffee chain's first Texas store to join a growing nationwide organizing effort.


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