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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #45 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from Haiti, Cuba, Bolivia, the USA, Canada, Australia, France, the DPRK and elsewhere.

There is also a special section related to statements by Communist and Workers' parties about the intensifying war crisis in Ukraine.

Striking Haitian textile workers march, February 16. The workers are demanding living wages and better working conditions -- image via Twitter

February 14:

The Alberta Federation of Labour, Alberta’s largest worker advocacy organization, has joined a group of parents of students with disabilities in filing an application for a court injunction to stop the implementation of the order to remove the province-wide mask mandate in Alberta schools.

The application was filed late yesterday afternoon by lawyers from Roberts O’Kelly Law, on behalf of the AFL and the group of parents.

The application also challenges the de facto prohibition issued by Education Minster Adrianna La Grange that attempts to prevent school boards from reinstating or continuing their own mask mandates.

In Belgrade was held annual conference of the New communist party of Yugoslavia (NKPJ) - the highest decision-making body between two congresses of the Party.

A lot of important topics were on the agenda - elections in Serbia, questions about the work of the Party and preparations for the next Congress.

The conference analyzed the work of the Party in last two years.

The conference made important decisions about future work of the Party, her's staff strengthening and program goals.

The conference is closed with the "Internationale" and common belief that the work in the next period, domestically and internationally, will be ideologically, politically and organizationally at a higher level.

February 15:

Under incredibly difficult conditions of imperialist sanctions and encirclement the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) officially launched the building of a massive new housing drive in the capital Pyongyang this week.

The drive is centered around the call for 50,000 new apartments to be built in the city with the Hwasong area initiative to be the first development.

All housing in the DPRK is free.

The people of the DPRK, who are dynamically advancing toward a fresh victory along the bright path of our style socialism under the guidance of the great Workers' Party of Korea, are splendidly celebrating the Day of the Shining Star, the greatest auspicious national holiday, with high political enthusiasm and proud labor achievements.

On the occasion of the significant February holiday, all the civilians and servicepersons of the whole country are paying their highest tribute and eternal glory to Chairman Kim Jong Il. They are recollecting in humble reverence the noble life of the Chairman shining in the sacred path of the Juche revolution and the immortal revolutionary exploits he performed before the country and the people, the times and the history.

A national meeting to commemorate the 80th birth anniversary of Chairman Kim Jong Il took place in front of his statue in Samjiyon City, the holy land of revolution, on Feb. 15.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) today rejected a petition, filed by the former Añez regime, to investigate Evo Morales and other union leaders, claiming that the general strike against the coup in August 2020 constituted ‘crimes against humanity’.

Bolivia’s current drug control strategy has proven far more effective in combating drugs than anything seen before and it’s better for Bolivians.

Interior Minister Eduardo Del Castillo had that and more to say, during his morning press conference, in response to a right-wing campaign calling for the return of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to Bolivia.

Activists from Mexico’s Purepecha people used axes and sledgehammers Monday to knock down statues of their ancestors being forced to haul and work stones by a colonial-era Spanish priest.

The Purepechas have objected to the statues since they were erected in 1995 in the capital of western Michoacán state, Morelia, and have repeatedly called for them to be taken down.

The new government of President Xiomara Castro seemed prepared to hand over Juan Orlando for extradition because, according to several Libre Party lawmakers, the Honduran justice system, in its weakened state, would not be able to carry forward criminal proceedings. The country’s court system remains in the control of the former government’s Partido Nacional.

Crowds gathered outside Juan Orlando’s home beginning Monday evening in celebration of what they consider justice for the crimes of a narcodicatorship which began with the 2009 US and Canada-backed coup against leftist President Manuel Zelaya.

The State committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) will meet this weekend to discuss the party’s draft political resolution released a fortnight ago, ahead of the State conference in Ernakulam next month.

A senior party functionary told The Hindu that the meeting would also deliberate on strategies to counter the growing clout of the Popular Front of India (PFI) and its fronts, such as the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), among the Muslim community following the Hijab controversy in Karnataka.

Portugal's new Socialist government may not be sworn-in until March due to thousands of invalid election votes.

On Tuesday, the country's Constitutional Court voided around 80% of mail-in ballots that were cast by Portuguese citizens living abroad in Europe.

The court said that more than 157,000 votes were unaccompanied by an identity document and were therefore invalid.

The New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) took strike action on February 15, defying the Industrial Relations Commission’s order to cancel.

More than 5000 nurses and midwives from across the Sydney basin marched to NSW Parliament to hear speakers recount their stressful work days and the unsustainability of the public system even before the pandemic hit and made things worse. Rallies were organised in many regional centres across NSW.

Thousands of public hospital nurses across NSW have walked off the job in protest, saying they are stretched too thin to give patients the care they deserve, especially in a pandemic.

Staff at about 150 of the state’s public hospitals were involved in staggered strikes on Tuesday, with a skeleton staff working to ensure patient safety.

Nurses want one nurse to every four patients on every shift and a pay increase above the state government’s prescribed public sector offer of 2.5 per cent.

In its presentation to the Parliamentary Health Portfolio Committee on Tuesday, 15 February 2022, the South African Communist Party (SACP) reiterated its call for South Africa to advance towards a National Health Insurance (NHI) to ensure access to quality healthcare for all and equality in healthcare. The SACP stressed that the NHI was an imperative and expressed its support for the NHI Bill with proposals for its improvement.

The NHI Bill marks a decisive break with the unequal and irrational “two-tiered” health system, a system that reflects the persisting and worsening income and wealth inequality in our society. The NHI seeks to ensure not only access to quality healthcare for all but also the redistribution of existing healthcare resources to build equality in healthcare.

February 16:

President Miguel Diaz-Canel is urging substantial cooperation to Haiti for reconstruction and to promote sustainable development for the country. He also pledged vaccines and continued medical cooperation in these remarks at the International Conference for the Financing of the Reconstruction of the Southern Peninsula of Haiti on Wednesday, February 16.

Statement by President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez at the International Conference for the Financing of the Reconstruction of the Southern Peninsula of Haiti. February 16, 2022.

“Your visit is very important to us, at such a difficult moment,” stated Communist Party of Cuba First Secretary and President of the Republic Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, yesterday, welcoming a delegation of the Party of the European Left (PIE), headed by its president, German Heinz Bierbaum, insisting, "It is a courageous act to visit Cuba at such a time," when hostile campaigns attacking the Revolution have been escalated.

"It is a pleasure to welcome you and hear from you about the experiences you have had during these days," added Diaz-Canel, who was accompanied by Party Political Bureau members Roberto Morales Ojeda, Secretary of Organization for the Central Committee, and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, as well as Angel Arzuaga Reyes, deputy head and coordinator of the Central Committee’s Department of International Relations.

Health workers and members of trade unions in the health and care sector in Slovenia, including the Trade Union of Health and Social Security and the Nurses’ Trade Union – Florence, organized a one-day strike on February 16. Physiotherapists, nurses, pharmacists, and auxiliary workers in publicly-owned health institutions all over the countries stopped their work as the government has betrayed its 2018 pledge to engage in negotiations for enhancing workers’ rights in healthcare.

February 17:

The former ministers of Evo Morales’ administration held a press conference in La Paz this Thursday to denounce a vicious smear campaign against the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) leader, maliciously linking him to illegal activities. A declaration signed by 35 former authorities stated that no formal accusation had been made against the former President during his 14 years in office.

“We declare that during the 14 year administration of our government, Evo Morales was never accused by competent bodies of such crimes, nor was former Vice President Álvaro García Linera nor his most important ministers: Luis Arce Catacora and David Choquehuanca. None of us former ministers were ever remotely accused of this type of crime. Several former ministers of various civil and military governments prior to ours were,” indicates the statement.

A senior publicity official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has called on Chinese journalists to tell China's stories better.

Huang Kunming, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at the Museum of the Communist Party of China on Thursday.

At a ceremony launching intensive media coverage of China's achievements, Huang asked media workers to better interpret the Party's theories in the new era based on extensive and in-depth reports, demonstrate China's landmark progress and achievements as well as Chinese people's vigorous spirit, and present a true, multi-dimensional and panoramic view of China.

As a guest on CNEWS ‘Thursday morning, Fabien Roussel, a communist candidate for the presidential election, called on France to stop importing American shale gas through the Engie group.

The tentative agreement comes less than a month after union members approved a new three-year contract with King Soopers. That ratification came after a 10-day strike by union members.

Highlights of the King Soopers agreement included wage increases in the first year of the contract, a higher company contribution to healthcare benefits, holiday and sick leave improvements, more full-time positions, a change to the vacation time policy and safety enhancements at stores..

More than 75 Unite members, comprising nearly the entirety of the factory’s workforce, are taking action for twelve days between February 17 and May 2.

The dispute is over GE Steam Power’s refusal to negotiate over flexible working payments and the expectation that workers will take on new roles without extra pay.

February 18:

French Communist Party candidate Fabien Roussel on Friday called for traditional homework to be abolished nationwide.

Unionization efforts wage on for Starbucks employees in Santa Cruz and across the U.S.

More than 50 people gathered at Ocean and Water streets on Friday to show support for picketing baristas in front of the city’s busiest Starbucks location. Unionization efforts for local Starbucks stores began in late January, while nationwide efforts began in late 2021.

As of Friday, 100 stores have joined the effort nationwide.

Workers at two Cleveland area Starbucks locations have announced their intent to unionize, riding an organized-labor wave at Starbucks stores nationwide which began in Buffalo, New York. In Cleveland, the downtown W. 6th location was the first to announce its unionization drive.

Friday, employees at both the Clifton Boulevard store near the Cleveland-Lakewood border and the Mayfield & Lee location in Cleveland Heights will file for union elections with the National Labor Relations Board.

It would be the first union in one of Amazon’s collection of grocery stores, which includes Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh, and Amazon Go.

The local union activity is part of a wider trend, as labor shortages continue during the pandemic.

Amazon drivers have been awarded an enforceable minimum rate of pay in the New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission, in what is believed to be a world first.

From 1 March, Amazon Flex drivers will receive a minimum rate of pay, starting at $27.83 an hour and increasing to $37.80 by 1 July 2025, after a successful bid by the Transport Workers Union to overhaul the award in the commission.

TWU national secretary Michael Kaine said the successful application would see pay rises of up to 45% for some drivers. The union said it was the first time rates had risen for owner drivers and contract couriers in 15 years.

February 20:

Textile workers returned to the streets today to demand a wage of 1,500 gourdes a day (less than 15 dollars), despite police repression in recent days of protest.

“One thousand 500 gourdes, one thousand 500 gourdes,” chanted the protesters on Industry boulevard and Jean Gilles Street, while recalling that since 2019 wages have not increased despite the fact that commodity prices soared in recent years, and especially after the increase in the cost of fuel last December.

This is the fourth day of protest by employees of the National Society of Industrial Parks, who threaten to extend the mobilisations and paralyse the factories until their demands are heard.

Ukraine statements:

The following statement was issued by the CPUSA Peace and Solidarity Commission.

For the last two months the Biden administration has been shouting, “The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!” in a bold attempt to stifle public anger against suffocating policies by government and private enterprise.

The Biden administration has dismissed Russia’s insistence that the NATO military alliance not include Ukraine. Daily warnings that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will invade Ukraine tomorrow, or before the Beijing Olympics, or during the Olympics, or after the Olympics should seem ludicrous, but the corporate media have gleefully regurgitated the assertions without question, expecting to shore up profits on war fever.

The U.S. and close ally Britain are sending weapons to Ukraine at taxpayer expense, while stating their own troops won’t fight a war against Russia. So should their desire for war come true, Ukrainians will be sacrificed in a bloodbath.

In the past weeks, the confrontation between USA–NATO–EU and Russia is sharpening, focusing on the developments in Ukraine. The verbal and diplomatic confrontation is accompanied by troops movements and major military drills by both sides as well as secret diplomacy.

During his speech in Parliament, Dimitris Koutsoumbas, GS of the CC of the KKE, decried the involvement of the Greek ND government in NATO–US imperialist plans with the encirclement of Russia with military bases and the deployment of sections of the Greek armed forces to missions abroad. He also criticized SYRIZA, which stated that it agrees with the deployment of Greek armed forces abroad if the missions are carried out by the international unions in which the country participates. “What does this mean? That, for example, Greek soldiers can be deployed to the Sahel region if the mission is carried out by the European Army. Or that Greek soldiers can be deployed to Ukraine if the mission is carried out by NATO. Besides, this is what you were doing when in government. Now you confess it while in opposition”, stressed the GS of the CC of the KKE.

Referring to the confrontation between the USA–NATO–EU and Russia focusing on the developments in Ukraine, he noted that “interests foreign to the people's interests” are in conflict and added that “Under these circumstances, where there is a serious risk of the generalization of an imperialist war, the orientation of the workers’–people’s struggle in our country is of particular importance. The people must strengthen their faith in the power of class struggle, of the conflict with the policy of involvement in military actions and the plans of the bourgeoisie to lure the workers into the trap of supporting Greece’s participation in an imperialist war, either in the name of “obligations to our allies” or the need to defend the “sovereignty” of Ukraine or “democracy” against “authoritarian Putin”.

The working class, the Greek people must reject the dilemma of having to choose between one or the other side of an imperialist conflict, even if it is camouflaged with the religious doctrine of Orthodoxy or with “anti-fascism”, which, in this case, is nothing but a smokescreen.

We must chart an independent line, away from bourgeois–imperialist plans and based on the interests of the working class and the other popular strata of the country, which have nothing to do with the interests of all the above.

This is what the KKE has been doing, defending the interests of the Greek people and intensifying the struggle for the disengagement of Greece from NATO–EU imperialist plans, wars, and alliances, from the strategic alliance with the USA and France.

This is the line of conflict with those who lead the people to the slaughterhouse of war in the name of enhancing the interests of the bourgeoisie.”

The current events in Ukraine show that we are experiencing a reordering of imperialist alliances, a sharpening of their contradictions and an accelerated tendency towards imperialist war as a result of the dispute between the monopolies of the capitalist powers to obtain supremacy over their competitors. In the epoch of imperialism, the last phase of capitalism, inter-imperialist antagonisms carry with them long periods of economic and diplomatic tensions until they are consummated in military interventions and wars.

The situation around Ukraine has sharply deteriorated over the past weeks. A hail of accusations of an intention to occupy that country has been unloosed against Russia. The real cause of the crisis is that the American puppeteers of the Kiev leadership and Bandera bands are persistently trying to organize a slaughterhouse in Donbass. In pursuit of their geopolitical goals they are again prepared to stage bloodshed.

The West categorically refuses to see Ukrainian troops concentration on the border with the DPR and LPR. Practically all the combat-capable Ukrainian units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been deployed there: 125,000 soldiers and officers. Heavy artillery and armor are being moved there. Constant aerial reconnaissance is conducted. All the signs are that an offensive operation against the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics is being prepared.

The PCP condemns the escalation of confrontation promoted by the US and NATO against Russia. An escalation that, taking place at the military, economic and political levels, and being sustained by a fierce disinformation campaign, constitutes a serious threat to peace.

The aggressive action by the US and NATO has intensified over the last few weeks, with the deployment of more means and military contingents in Eastern Europe – including military support to Ukraine – accompanied by the threat of imposing new economic sanctions against Russia.

Particularly serious is the inclusion of Ukraine in imperialism’s aggressive strategy, implemented following the 2014 coup d'état, which was promoted by the US, NATO and the EU, resorting to fascist groups, and led to the imposition of a xenophobic and warmongering regime, whose violent action is responsible for the exacerbation of fractures and divisions and for the outbreak of war in that country.

Bearing in mind the events that have taken place since 2014, the PCP warns of the danger of provocative actions, encouraged by US and NATO support, against the Russian-speaking populations in Donbass and their rights and aspirations.

New Communist Party of Yugoslavia (NKPJ) is expressing concern regarding the tension of guns and military presence in Ukraine.

Government in Kiev is obligated to respect the free will of its citizens in order to secure peace and to end constant actions in the region of Donetsk and Lugansk by providing the local autonomy. The government needs to stop the provocations against the people of Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic and they also need to stop exiling communists, antifascists and true Ukrainian patriots that are oriented towards the brotherhood with Russian people.

Main offenders for this dangerous situation, that is threatening to bring the world into another World war, are principals of Kievan junta from the West, manly from the United States. Baiden’s administration sent guns and other “deadly equipment” in Ukraine in value of 200 million dollars and also has 8.500 American troops on standby, while the American diplomatic staff and their families are retreating from the country.

NKPJ condemns the influence of western imperialism in their attempt to fight against the Russian federation through people of Ukraine.

In recent weeks, the aggressive policy of NATO, the USA, and the German government against the Russian Federation has been intensified. More and more troops from NATO countries, including the Bundeswehr, are stationed in the immediate vicinity of the Russian border, in Poland, and in the Baltic countries, while Russia, in the view of NATO and the German government, is not allowed to station its troops in its own country. Due to this policy of the West, the danger of war in Europe is increasing considerably.

Western war propaganda and war policy is exacerbated by the fact that Russia is accused of planning a war against Ukraine. In fact, however, it is Ukraine that has been waging a war with Western support for nearly eight years against the Donbass, where people rose up in 2014 against a Western-backed coup by nationalist and pro-fascist forces. In this war, week after week, people in the Donbass’s People’s Republics are being injured and killed, and housing and infrastructure are being destroyed. One of the goals pursued by NATO and the USA in supporting this coup is continuing the military encirclement of Russia. This is being consistently pursued even today, despite all the offers made by the Russian Federation concerning negotiations on common security. Therefore, it is not surprising that Ukraine is supported by the EU and NATO, especially the German government, in its complete sabotage of the Minsk agreements, which provide for direct negotiations between Ukraine and the People’ s Republics of the Donbass on a political solution to the conflict. Contrary to what is often claimed by NATO and the German government, the Russian Federation is not a party to the conflict in these negotiations, but has the role of a guarantor state on the same level as Germany and France.


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