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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #60 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from Mexico, the USA, Georgia, Tunisia, Brazil, Serbia, Slovenia, Bolivia, the Philippines and elsewhere.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a news conference, June 6. He announced he will be boycotting the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles and denounced the US blockade of Cuba -- Image via Twitter

May 30:

Communist Party of India(M) State secretary V. Srinivasa Rao and CPI district secretary Jaffer were arrested following their protests against the price rise, here at the District Collector’s office on Monday.

The World Federation of Trade Unions, on behalf of its 110 million members in 135 countries around the world, ratifies its solidarity with the workers and peoples of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua given the fact that they were denied their participation in the People’s Summit, as unilateral actions of exclusion of the US government to these countries, to participate in the IX Summit of the Americas to be held between June 6 and 10 in Los Angeles, California.

For the WFTU, the right of peoples to decide for themselves freely and democratically about their present and their future, without discrimination of any kind, is a fundamental principle, ratified in the recently concluded 18th Congress of our organization.

Once again we support any action of integration and unity of workers for a common good, which opposes the subversion of the economic, political and social system that each nation determines in a sovereign manner.

We continue together, for the satisfaction of our contemporary needs; against imperialist-capitalist barbarity!

Amid a fuel price hike and the erosion of real wages, Philippine unions are fighting for a living wage by filing petitions with the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Boards (RTWPBs).

Associated Labor Unions (ALU-TUCP) has filed petitions at twelve out of 17 RTWPB to demand an increase to the minimum wage, currently ranging from PHP724 (US$13.9) to PHP1007 (US$19.3).

May 31:

As part of their ongoing campaign against imperialist war, NATO and NATO expansion, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) militants on May 31 held a "symbolic blockade of a convoy of 17 NATO military vehicles from the UK returning from a NATO exercise in the Balkans, outside the port of Igoumenitsa."

France’s new left-wing bloc has made steady progress in the polls and is threatening President Emmanuel Macron’s presidential majority ahead of the upcoming legislative elections, a poll from Tuesday (31 May) shows. EURACTIV France reports.

Until a few weeks ago, the presidential majority, Ensemble!, comfortably dominated election forecasts.

However, the NUPES alliance of the main left-wing parties that rallied behind Jean-Luc Mélenchon ahead of the legislative elections has enjoyed positive momentum ever since its formation.

On Tuesday, May 31, the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), Tunisia’s largest trade union, announced a general strike on June 16 against the government’s proposals to withdraw crucial food and energy subsidies and freeze wages of public sector employees.

In a statement, the UGTT National Administrative Board demanded that the government led by President Kais Saied withdraw its circular number 20 issued on December 9 which restricts negotiations between the government and the trade unions.

The UGTT has over one million members. According to its statement, employees of all 159 public sector firms will participate in the strike on June 16.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva criticized the Biden Administration for delivering billions in military assistance to Ukraine at the expense of Americans. “It is not possible that President Biden, who never made a speech to give a dollar for those who are dying of hunger in Africa, announces $40 billion to help Ukraine buy weapons; it is not possible,” Lula said Thursday during an event in defense of national sovereignty in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Some 400 workers of Borjomi, Georgia’s Russian-owned mineral water giant, went on strike starting May 31 to demand the reinstatement of their 49 dismissed colleagues, the return of previous working conditions and 25% salary increase, among others.

The workers of the #1 and #2 bottling factories are also demanding the payment of delayed salaries, the open-end contracts, forming a collective agreement, the ending of “blackmailing and threatening” against outspoken workers, as well as prosecution of the company administration members allegedly involved in latter instances.

IDS Borjomi sacked 49 workers over failed remuneration negotiation earlier in May, a development following the indefinite suspension of production after its parent company got hit with international sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

June 1:

Two Russian lawmakers have been thrown out of the Communist Party after they called on President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine. Leonid Vasyukevich and Gennady Shulga were dropped from the party's faction in the regional parliament, Newsweek reported.

The Slovenian parliament has formally appointed the new, centre-left government of Prime Minister Robert Golob.

MPs voted 53-28 in favour of the Golob's new cabinet on Wednesday, which will replace a populist, right-wing former executive.

Golob's liberal-green Freedom Movement (GS) won the parliamentary elections in April, defeating right-wing Prime Minister Janez Jansa and his Slovenian Democratic Party. He has since formed an alliance with the Social Democrats (SD) and the Left, an eco-socialist party.

Some local Amazon workers walked out on the job on Wednesday morning at the facility in Bellmawr, Camden County.

Employees at Genwa Korean BBQ have achieved a historic first.

The workers have ratified their first contract under a newly established union, California Retail & Restaurant Workers Union, making it the first privately owned and operated Korean restaurant in the United States to successfully organize.

Baristas at an Everett Starbucks voted 13-1 to form a union on Wednesday, joining more than a hundred Starbucks stores that have unionized across the country since December.

Employees at the store at Broadway and 37th Street voted to join the Workers United labor union. Union representation gives the workers the right to bargain with the Seattle-based coffee chain over pay and benefits.

Employees at Pabst Theater Group (PTG) venues working in hospitality, box office and event staff have voted in favor of union representation in an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). They voted to be represented by the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization (MASH)

Peter Rickman, president of MASH, told Urban Milwaukee that 94% of the bargaining unit voted in favor of the union, calling it a “stunning victory.” Of the 38 ballots received by the NLRB, two were voided, and 34 of the 36 voted in favor.

June 2:

On Thursday, June 2, anti-imperialist groups in Italy marched to the Coltano village in Pisa protesting the government’s plan to open a new military base. Thousands of people from various organizations, including Potere al Popolo, Communist Refoundation Party (PRC), Communist Youth Front (FGC), Si Cobas trade union, USB Union, Italian Communist Party (PCI), FGCI, OSA etc marched at the call of the ‘No Base Movement.’ In Italy, June 2 is also celebrated as Republic Day to commemorate the successful vote to abolish the monarchy in 1946. On the occasion, the participants resolved to fight authoritarianism and imperialism.

Workers of Fiat automotive company in Kragujevac, Serbia, organized a protest on Thursday, June 2, against layoffs announced by the management. The protest forced the management to suspend work at the factory for the first shift on Thursday. All the workers of the plant joined the protest which was called by a coordination of trade unions in response to the management’s decision to lay off around 1,541 workers after giving them a severance pay while the rest would be relocated to Fiat plants in other parts of Europe. Currently, the government interlocutors are holding talks with the Fiat management. The unions have announced that if there is no progress in the talks till June 7, they will go for more protests including strikes.

What a fiasco.

After a turbulent four years that was marred by incompetence, malice, arrogance and often incoherence, the reactionary, anti-worker Doug Ford government in Ontario easily won reelection last night (June 2) after a campaign whose main theme seems to have been deep voter ennui.

Only slightly more than 43% of those eligible voted, a staggeringly low number. The lowest in the history of the province and down by around 13 points from 2018. This is reflected in the fact that Ford won more seats this time around and yet the Progressive Conservative vote actually decreased by around 410,000.

An even more astounding collapse was in the NDP's vote. It declined by around 820,000 or 42% a truly remarkable setback. According to the Dispatches from the Limestone City blog -- from which, with permission, I am drawing many of these numbers -- "this is the biggest setback suffered by the Official Opposition in Ontario history."

Workers at Minneapolis-based Peace Coffee have voted to unionize.

In a Thursday announcement, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663 said that 17 Peace Coffee workers had voted “overwhelmingly” to unionize.

Peace Coffee workers announced their intent to join the union in April. The election was certified Thursday after ballots were sent out by mail.

June 3:

A local Starbucks location celebrated victory Friday, becoming the state's first unionized store.

KVUE first learned about the 45th Street and Lamar Boulevard location's attempts to unionize in March. The location had sent a letter to the CEO of Starbucks after another local store also announced its plans to attempt a union.

June 4:

Venezuela will hold an anti-NATO summit in the state of Táchira, on the border with Colombia, in parallel to the Western military bloc's event in Madrid, Spain. “Táchira will be the Latin American capital of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) counter-summit on June 28-29”, Venezuelan parliamentarian Julio Chávez told the Russian news agency Sputnik.

Post Office workers have gone on strike in a dispute over pay.

Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) walked out on Saturday. The strike will affect Crown post offices – larger branches often sited on high streets.

It is the second bout of industrial action since the dispute flared and the union is not ruling out further strikes.

The CWU said all 114 Crown post offices would close on Saturday, warning that the supply-chain strike means there will be no cash collections or deliveries to post offices on Monday.

June 5:

Workers and Communist Parties Greet the FRSO'S 9th Congress

June 6:

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced today that he will not be attending the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles due to the exclusion of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela by the United States.

He said “There can’t be a Summit of the Americas if not all countries of the American continent are taking part."

He also denounced the US blockade of Cuba saying it was a "tremendous violation of human rights."

On Monday, the Bolivian Attorney General's Office will request 15 years in prison for the coup-leader Jeanine Áñez. This will happen when the trial against her resumes after being paralyzed since April due to maneuvers carried out by her defense attorneys.

"The Prosecutor's Office will ask the Sentencing Court for a sentence of 15 years for Mrs. Jeanine Añez," Attorney General Juan Lanchipa said, adding that he is ready for the hearing that is expected to be installed at 2:00 p.m. local time in a court of La Paz.

Mozambique is among the African countries with which Vietnam prioritises promoting relations, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong affirmed on June 6.

The Vietnamese Party leader made the affirmation during his online talks with President of the Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO) and President of the Republic of Mozambique Filipe Jacinto Nyusi.

Trong said Vietnam consistently pursues its foreign policy of diversification and multilateralisation of relations, and attaches importance to cooperation and traditional friendship with African nations.

A compilation of discourses of Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on work concerning agriculture, rural areas and farmers has been published by the Central Party Literature Press.

The book, compiled by the Institute of Party History and Literature of the CPC Central Committee, contains 61 discourses on rural work from December 2012 to April 2022 by Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Some of the discourses were published for the first time, a statement on the book's publication said on Monday.

Almost two months to the day after landing a historic unionization victory, workers at the Collegetown Starbucks location in Ithaca may be out of a job by the end of the week. The nationwide coffee chain has confirmed its intentions to close the College Avenue location in a move its employees strongly believe is retaliation for their organizing push.

Workers voted April 8 in favor of unionization, one of three Starbucks stores in Ithaca to unionize on the same day. In one fell swoop, Ithaca became the first city in which all Starbucks stores unionized, making national headlines amid a wave of unionization at Starbucks all over the country.

But workers now think that attention rankled Starbucks leaders and has led to the decision to close Collegetown, which has been the most vocally angry of the three local locations to unionize. The workers’ objections culminated most visibly in a wildcat strike on April 19 over an overflowed grease trap in the store that hadn’t been fixed and was generating bad smells throughout the cafe.


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