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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #64 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from China, Swaziland, the United States, Ecuador, Cyprus, Ukraine and elsewhere.

Scene from a concert in Beijing in celebration of the 101st anniversary of the Communist Party of China, July 1, 2022

June 26:

Labour’ leadership has doubled down on its opposition to workers fighting over pay. Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy insisted on Sunday a “serious party of government” wouldn’t support airport workers’ strikes against a pay cut.

British Airways workers have voted to strike to reverse a 10 percent pay cut imposed during the pandemic. But, when asked by the BBC if he supported the strikes, Lammy replied, “No, I don’t. It’s a no. It’s a categorical no.”

Two large rallies were held in Europe this past weekend protesting, imperialism, war, NATO and the Bavarian G7 meeting.

June 27:

Another Nassau County Starbucks coffee shop will hold a union vote. Employees at the Wantagh Avenue store at the Willow Woods Shoppes in Wantagh look to join their Starbucks colleagues in Westbury and Massapequa with a union shop.

"I want this for my partners and I because we put so much of ourselves into this company. It’s time we had the assurance that Starbucks will do the same. No one should have to worry if they are scheduled for enough hours this week to pay their rent," Wantagh worker Sam Tamborello said. "No one should come into work, hoping there’s enough people on the floor to do their job properly. This is a guarantee that Starbucks will provide us with what we need to be successful in our stores and in our lives."

Hundreds of teachers, students, activists, and civil society groups rallied in the Indian capital of Delhi on Monday, June 27, to demand the release of prominent activist Teesta Setalvad. The protest action held at Jantar Mantar condemned her detention as a “pre-planned conspiracy” and an attempt to “silence” other activists.

Deng Xiaogang, vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs

Hong Tianyun, deputy administrator of the National Rural Revitalization Administration

Zeng Yande, chief agronomist of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) and director general of the Department of Development and Planning of MARA

June 28:

Li Qiang was elected as secretary of the Communist Party of China Shanghai Committee on Tuesday.

The votes were cast for him by members at the first plenary session of the 12th CPC Shanghai Committee, which was elected by the 12th CPC Shanghai Congress on Monday.

Meanwhile, Gong Zheng and Zhuge Yujie were elected as deputy secretaries of the CPC Shanghai Committee.

The government of Bolivian President Luis Arce on Tuesday, June 28, rejected the recent statements made by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro wherein he claimed that former de-facto Bolivian President Jeanine Áñez was innocent and offered her political asylum. The Bolivian government described Bolsonaro’s statements as “absolutely impudent” and “inappropriate interference in internal affairs.”

Bolivian Foreign Minister Rogelio Mayta held a press conference in capital La Paz to respond to the Brazilian President and clarified that Bolivia would never allow interference in the decisions that sovereignly relate to its justice system.

“We regret the unfortunate statements by the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, which are absolutely impertinent, constitute an inappropriate interference in internal affairs, do not respect the forms of relations between States, and do not coincide with the good neighbor relations and mutual respect between Brazil and Bolivia. Under no circumstances we will accept interference in decisions that sovereignly correspond to the Bolivian justice system and the constitutionality of the Plurinational State of Bolivia,” said Mayta.

This ninth edition of the Index (available at ranks 148 countries by their respect for workers’ rights. As a comprehensive review of workers’ rights in law, it is the only database of its kind. Cases of violations and national ratings can be viewed by country and region.

In the early hours of Tuesday morning (28 June 2022), a battalion of close to 200 police officers invaded Mbikwakhe area in Matsapha where a majority of CPS members who attend the University of Swaziland and Gwamile Voctim reside.

The tinkhundla regime's puppet police were deployed to ransack activists’ houses and the CPS members were not spared from this barbaric act.

The mission, disguised as a community raid as tensions run high as the country gears up to commemorate the June/July massacre, was conveniently only targeted at houses rented by CPS members who study at the aforementioned institutions of higher education.

The comrades also use their house to coordinate CPS activities around the area which have been warmly welcomed by the community and masses.

The police spent more than four (4) hours ransacking the two houses in question and stole equipment, property and food belonging to the comrades who had left the houses for lessons. In addition to the packs of food, the police also stole seven (7) laptops, clothes and other personal belongings of the comrades. It is worth noting that only the two houses were searched in the whole area making it clear that the motive was to crash the CPS and its plans to mobilise a popular commemoration of the heinous massacre of the regime in 2021.

June 29:

Vo Van Thuong, permanent member of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV)’s Central Committee, on June 29 held virtual talks with Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M), during which they discussed ways to boost bilateral relations.

Yechury spoke highly of Vietnam’s achievements under the leadership of the CPV, and its experience in building the organisation and political system and ensuring social equality.

June 29 marked one year since the brutal crackdown on Swaziland’s anti-monarchist uprising in 2021. The day was observed as a commemoration of the June/July massacre, during which the armed forces of King Mswati III indiscriminately shot and killed dozens of protestors agitating for democracy in the African continent’s last absolute monarchy.

“[On Wednesday] we saw the people of Swaziland making sure that they commemorate, by celebrating the lives of our fallen soldiers, those who died for our struggle,” stated Simphiwe Dlamini, the National Organizing Secretary of the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS). The CPS, which has been a leading force in the struggle for a democratic republic in the country, organized a series of actions including vigils. Public transport was shut down, with local news outlets reporting that businesses had also been shuttered in certain areas.

Today, 29 June 2022, the people of Swaziland commemorate the gruesome massacre spearheaded by the brutal tinkhundla regime on an unarmed population calling for democracy in their country.

From as early as April 2021, leading to 29 June 2021, hundreds of thousands of Swazis bravely took it upon themselves to demand a better and democratic Swaziland. Today marks an important day of reflection on the past year and look at how far we have come as a nation in the struggle for democracy.

In early 2021, the youth of Swaziland came out strongly and declared itself the last generation to be oppressed. Their practical struggles led to what is now known as the 2021 Swazi Uprising which started in May 2021.

June 30:

Representatives of Ecuador's indigenous movement signed Thursday a peace agreement with the government of Guillermo Lasso, after 18 days of a national strike, after reaching several agreements on priority issues to advance the dialogue process.

In an official ceremony held on Thursday, the family of the martyr of the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, buried his only known remains, a tooth, in the mausoleum built in his honor in Kinshasa city.

Progressive sections in the Republic of Cyprus have intensified their campaign to save the Akamas peninsula as the government plans to facilitate pro-corporate development in the ecologically sensitive region. On Thursday, June 30, Aristos Damianou, member of parliament (MP) from the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL), and Charalambos Theopemptou, MP from the Movement of Ecologists-Citzen’s Cooperation (KOSP), raised concerns in the Parliamentary Internal Affairs Committee regarding the government’s development plans for the Akamas peninsula. On June 18, activists from Save Akamas Platform, Cyprus Natural Coastline, KOSP, AKEL, United Democratic Youth Organization (EDON), and others marched in the city of Nicosia rejecting the government’s plan to revise the Akamas Local Plan to cater to private interests.

The Akamas peninsula is an ecological sensitive region located in north-west Cyprus. Half of the territory currently falls under the protected area category and includes some Sites of Community Importance as designated under the Natura 2000 network of the European Union (EU). The center-right government in Cyprus put forth its revised Akamas Local Plan in June in order to facilitate some developmental activities including construction of roads and buildings in three areas in the Akamas. The government claims that this will help the local communities and landowners. Progressive sections have rejected this plan and stated that it will lead to the destruction of the ecologically sensitive region.

More than 20,000 teachers marched from Hyde Park to New South Wales Parliament on June 30 to demand a pay rise and better teaching conditions.

The NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) and the Independent Education Association (IEU) NSW/ACT took strike action together for the first time since 1996. Rallies and meetings were also held around NSW and the ACT.

On June 30, over 330 e-commerce logistics workers in a Hudson’s Bay Company warehouse in Scarborough, Ontario, won their nine-day strike for wage increases, retro pay, and no concessions.

In battles they posted on Twitter, the strikers turned away trucks and scab buses trying to get into the warehouse all under the surveillance of HBC management.

Predominantly from new immigrant communities, the members of Unifor Local 40 courageously held a picket line 24 hours a day and defeated Canada’s oldest corporation.

The Rayzor Ranch Starbucks in Denton is the chain’s first North Texas store to unionize following a vote count Thursday.

In a 17-5 vote conducted Thursday afternoon by the National Labor Relations Board over Zoom, Starbucks employees voted to unionize under Workers United, the fifth-largest labor union in the U.S. The store’s staff was the first in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to announce its intentions to unionize in March. The NLRB held an election via mail-in ballot earlier this month, which ended June 23.

Nine ballots were challenged during a private call between Starbucks, union representatives and lawyers prior to the tally, but the challenged ballots were not enough to affect the outcome.

July 1:

President Pedro Castillo on Thursday June 30 presented his irrevocable resignation from the Free Peru party, by which he was elected last year. “I respect the party and the bases built in the campaign. I reaffirm my commitment to continue working and promoting the changes contained in the Bicentennial program in a democratic country and together with all Peruvians,” the head of state wrote.

The resignation comes in response to a request from the political committee of the party, which accused Castillo of breaking with party unity in a statement published on Tuesday June 28. According to Vladimir Cerrón, president of Free Peru, the Peruvian president had been encouraging people to disaffiliate to fracture the party.

“We also highlight that the policies undertaken by his government are not in line with what was promised during the electoral campaign and even less with the party program, implementing a losing neoliberal program,” they state in a statement.

The trial of Mikhail and Aleksander Kononovich began in the Solomensky District Court of Kyiv on July 1st, without the physical presence of the defenders but via teleconference.

Under the pretext of false and groundless accusations, the two brothers, members of the Leninist Communist Youth Union of Ukraine were arrested on March 7th, 2022 and tortured in a Kiev detention center.

Since then, numerous Communist Parties and Youth organizations from all over the world, including the World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) have demanded their immediate release. The EU Parliament Group of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) has already submitted two written questions (first and second) to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs concerning the case of Kononovich brothers.

In their first speech to the courtroom, Mikhail and Aleksander talked about the fabricated nature of the accusations, expressed appreciation for the international solidarity and called EU Parliament's deputies and the media throughout Europe to attend the trial.

A symphony concert was held in Beijing on Friday night to celebrate the 101st anniversary of the CPC's founding, with about 500 people watching the performance in person.

A fresh wave of industrial action across British transport and services starts this weekend as bus workers in Merseyside went on strike, while other action is due on the rail network and threatened at airports and at post offices.

The strike by Stagecoach drivers and other bus workers from Monday comes as Arriva bus drivers in West Yorkshire agreed to suspend strikes after a month of action, and while talks continued to head off more national rail strikes.

About 370 Unite members at Stagecoach in Merseyside are due to strike for eight days in July, while a ballot of a further 1,800 Arriva bus staff across north-west England closes on Monday, in parallel disputes over pay.

Production workers at the long-running animated television shows The Simpsons, American Dad! and Family Guy have gained voluntary recognition from their parent company, 20th Television Animation, to join The Animation Guild.

According to a statement from the union, "the production workers won with 90% support across all three shows."

Workers said they are hoping to receive benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also to change the way production work is seen in the industry.

July 2:

The Venezuelan National Assembly approved legislation establishing “Special Economic Zones” (SEZ) in the Caribbean country.

The 35-article bill is the latest effort by the Maduro administration to attract foreign investment to drive economic recovery as the country remains targeted by wide-reaching US sanctions.

Following two parliamentary sessions, the new law was endorsed by the pro-government United Socialist Party (PSUV) legislative super majority, as well as right-wing opposition deputies, on Thursday.

Óscar Figuera, the lone deputy from the Venezuelan Communist Party (PCV), was the only lawmaker not to vote in favor of the SEZ Organic Law. Figuera claimed that the project represents a “threat” to Venezuela’s sovereignty by “creating areas under the control of transnational capital.”

A person using a flamethrower set fire Saturday to a Pan-African flag flying on a pole outside the headquarters of the Uhuru Movement, a Black international socialist group based in Florida.

Security video released by the group shows the driver of a white Honda sedan pulling up outside the group’s St Petersburg headquarters, removing a flamethrower from the trunk and shooting a tower of fire at the flag flying about 30ft (9 meters) above the ground.

The group said the man stopped when a worker inside the building yelled at him.

Roanoke Starbucks workers plan on celebrating Saturday afternoon after the baristas at the Bridges store unanimously voted to form a union.

Chuck Simpson, vice president of the Western VA Labor Federation, shared a statement saying that the Bridges’ Starbucks workers virtually decided in a 14-0 vote on Monday, June 27 to form a union, becoming the first store to unionize in Roanoke and southwest Virginia.

July 3:

China is ready to conduct in-depth exchanges of governance experience with Zimbabwe and provide more support for its economic and social development, senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi has said, vowing to strengthen cooperation with Zimbabwe in various fields.

Yang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks when meeting with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

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