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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #67 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from the USA, South Africa, Brazil, Italy, New Caledonia and elsewhere

Starbucks workers on strike in Buffalo, July 23 -- Image via Twitter

July 17:

The South African Communist Party (SACP) conveys its message of deepest condolences to the family of ANC Deputy Secretary General, Comrade Yasmin “Jessie” Duarte, who passed away in the early hours this morning, Sunday 17 July 2022.

The SACP also sends heartfelt condolences to the ANC, which she served diligently in various roles over the years, as well as the entire Alliance, the South African liberation movement and people at large.

Comrade Jessie, as she was fondly known, devoted her life to the South African struggle for liberation and social emancipation, the national democratic revolution. Spending her young life under the inspirational tutelage of some of our iconic liberation stalwarts such as Comrade Albertina Sisulu, Comrade Jessie went on to inspire more women in South Africa and across the African continent and beyond, to remain resolute in the struggle for women emancipation, along with the emancipation of all oppressed people. Her contribution to the movement thus goes back to the people’s struggles against apartheid, for a just, non-racial, and non-sexist society.

July 18:

Chen Xi, a senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC), held talks with Truong Thi Mai, head of the Organization Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), via video link on Monday.

Chen, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the CPC Central Committee’s Organization Department, said China is ready to work with Vietnam to give full play to the special advantages of inter-party exchanges, push for more fruitful exchanges and cooperation between the two parties in such areas as organization and cadres, and take concrete actions to expand the connotation of China-Vietnam comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.

Truong Thi Mai, also a member of the Political Bureau of the CPV Central Committee, said Vietnam is willing to strengthen inter-party exchanges with China and push forward bilateral relations and the socialist cause of both sides. She wished the 20th CPC National Congress a complete success.

“Let the children’s bright eyes conquer the cold darkness, shine across the tortured earth.”

The South African Communist Party (SACP) conveys its message of heartfelt condolences to the family of world renowned South African poet, author and struggle icon, Donato Francisco Mattera (30 November 1935 – 18 July 2022).

The SACP also sends its condolences to the entire liberation movement, his peers in the arts and culture sector, as well as to the people of South Africa at large.

Emergency department (ED) nurses at Blacktown and Westmead Hospitals walked out of work on the morning of July 18.

The New South Wales government’s refusal to address severe understaffing prompted the nursing staff to walk out at the end of their night shift. They were supported by nurses from Intensive Care Units (ICU), operating theatres, general wards and midwives.

NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) general secretary Brett Holmes said the key issues motivating the nurses were extended patient waiting times in overcrowded EDs and the lack of safe nurse-to-patient ratios.

July 19:

Army General Raúl Castro Ruz and the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, congratulated the people and government of Nicaragua on the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution.

Two more Cleveland-area Starbucks stores have voted unanimously to unionize. Workers at the Mayfield and Lee location in Cleveland Heights (8-0) and at the Clifton Boulevard location in Cleveland near the Lakewood border (10-0) have been voting by mail over the previous month. The National Labor Relations Board tallied the results Tuesday afternoon.

There are now three local Starbucks stores that have voted to unionize. The two new locations join the W. 6th location in Cleveland's Warehouse District downtown, whose baristas voted to unionize in May. In all three elections, the vote was unanimous.

July 20:

Working class sections in Italy have registered strong protest against the state-led persecution of trade unionists. On Wednesday, July 20, trade unions including Si Cobas, ADL and USB organized a national strike at logistics warehouses across Italy protesting the arrest of eight trade unionists. Aldo Milani, the national coordinator of SI Cobas, was among those arrested on July 19. Progressive political groups like Potere al Popolo (Power to the People), Communist Youth Front (FGC), Communist Refoundation Party (PRC), Young Communists (GC), Italian Communist Party (PCI), and others denounced the arrests and participated in the protest. Major mobilizations were organized in Milan, Turin, Rome, Naples, Bologna, Piacenza, Genoa, and other cities. Protesters have demanded the immediate release of the arrested trade unionists.

According to reports, on the morning of July 19, eight trade unionists were put under house arrest on the orders of the Piacenza Prosecutor’s Office. They are accused of organizing strikes and disrupting work at warehouses of multinational logistics companies. Earlier, trade unionists and workers were subjected to police repression for protesting against poor working conditions in logistics warehouses.

The MEPs of the KKE submitted a Question to the European Commission denouncing the persecution of trade unionists of USB and SI Cobas in Italy, who are demanding an improvement in their working conditions.

On the morning of 18 July 2022, on the order of the Piacenza prosecutor’s office and through house raids, the Italian police detained 4 elected trade unionists of USB and SI Cobas in the supply chain sectorand placed another 8 ones under house arrest and other preventive measures.

Furthermore, the prosecution has drawn up a 350-page indictment against the 8trade unionists and also against dozens of other workers and trade unionists, describing picketing, strikes, the protection of strikes, general assemblies, protests, “criminal activities”!

HarperCollins union members went on a one-day strike on Wednesday, with around 100 employees and additional supporters marching in front of the company’s corporate headquarters in Manhattan in the sticky heat for higher wages, better family leave benefits and a stronger commitment to diversity from the company.

Publishing has long offered meager wages to entry and midlevel employees, making it difficult to live in New York City, where the industry is based, without a second job or financial support from a spouse or family.

July 21:

The name of the former president, who will seek his third term, was made official by the federation formed by the Workers’ Party (PT), the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) and the Green Party (PV). Former President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva is now officially the Workers’ Party candidate, as well as the candidate of the federation named “Brazil of Hope”, which combines the three parties. The slate formed with former governor Geraldo Alckmin of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) as vice-president was approved at the conventions held by the federation on Thursday, July 21.

The events took place in sequence in a hotel in central São Paulo. In the absence of Lula, who is fulfilling pre-campaign agendas in Pernambuco, the conventions had no political actions or public speeches.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) denounces the decision by the South African Reserve Bank’s five-member Monetary Policy Committee to increase the country’s already high interest rate compared to many countries. On Thursday, 21 July 2022 the Reserve Bank increased the repurchase rate by 75 basis point. This raised the repurchase rate from 4,75 per cent to 5,5 per cent, compared to Australia (1,35 per cent), Britain (1,25 per cent), Denmark (–0,45), Japan (–0,1 per cent), the United States (1,75 per cent), Norway (1,25 per cent) and many other countries. The highest repurchase rate hike by the Reserve Bank in 20 years, since 2002 when the repo rate was hiked by 100 basis points, brings the prime rate to 9 per cent.

It is said the sky-rocketing interest rate hike in 20 years underlines the Reserve Bank’s determination “to tame rampant inflation and also signalling an acceleration in the pace of interest rate hikes” (Business Day, 21 July 2022: “Reserve Bank signals sharper rate hikes ahead as it confronts inflation”). This anti-people conservative monetary policy direction will negatively affect the national imperative to achieve inclusive economic growth by raising the cost of borrowing and capital.

Ryanair cabin crew are again striking on Thursday, calling for the company to provide better conditions that they claim should already be in place due to previous court rulings.

As of 7 pm, no flights connecting with Catalan airports have been called off, the Unión Sindical Obrera (USO) trade union said.

Further cancellations and delays are expected in Catalonia as industrial action over ongoing disputes is set to take place every day until July 28, except for weekend days.

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) has sent a message of condolences to the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) Central Committee over the death of José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, one of the founders of the PCC.

Cabrera was also former member of the Politburo, former Secretary and former head of the Commission for External Affairs of the PCC Central Committee.

José Ramón Balaguer Cabrer was an important member of Cuba’s oldest surviving generation of leaders, who played important roles in the revolution of the country. He passed away on July 15 aged 90.

Barista CiCi Church works at the Perryville Road Starbucks location, in Rockford. While she says her job allows her to give joy to people, with something as simple as a cup of coffee, there are also parts about it she wished to change.

“Some of us have worked here for over fifteen years,” said Church. “We don’t really feel like our voices are being heard, when there are changes being made.”

But as of Thursday, Church finally feels their voices are heard, loud and clear. Workers from her store on Perryville Road, voted yes to unionize, winning their election 16-2. This adds them to the list of the more than 100 Starbucks locations across the nation to form a union.

July 22:

In a remarkable milestone, the 200th Starbucks location voted to unionize on July 22. The store in Cleveland joins an amazing union wave in the company which did not have a single unionized shop in the United States before the first victory in Buffalo last December.

In just a few months Starbuck workers have built an inspiring movement and have done so despite the relentless opposition and union busting tactics of Starbucks management.

There were numerous reactions to this achievement:

In a statement, the International Relations Section of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) denounces the attack of Venezuelan police authorities against a workers' demonstration in Caracas and expresses its solidarity with the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) and the country's popular-labour movement.

The International and European Trade Union Confederations are condemning new anti-union laws in Ukraine that strip workers of collective bargaining rights and open the path to confiscation of trade union property.

The two union federations wrote to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky this week calling on him not to sign several bills which have been passed the country’s parliament.

Draft Law 5371 legalizes zero-hours contracts and removes collective bargaining rights from employees of small and medium-sized enterprises, saying employers may negotiate individual contracts with such workers—who comprise 70% of the Ukrainian workforce.

Another law concerning the disposition of what had been public property in the Soviet period says all such property should revert to the Ukrainian state, which economic development committee chair Dmytro Natalukha has openly said should involve the state confiscation of trade union property.

July 25:

Some 4,500-6,000 creators of TV commercials, now in an independent association, plan to join the Theatrical and Stage Employees, IATSE announced.

The exact number is vague because they’re part of the “gig economy,” IATSE said. But they want to join the larger union in order to improve working conditions.

The creators are members of the Stand With Production movement, which includes production assistants, line producers, production supervisors, and assistant production supervisors. They toil for the Association of Independent Commercial Producers, which estimates it employs 85% of commercials’ creators.

Unite has confirmed that its Glasgow subway members have voted for strike action with the first Rangers home game (6 August) of the season against Kilmarnock set to be hit by the walk-out.

Unite members voted by 99 per cent for strike action on a 83 per cent turnout. The 24-hour strike action is scheduled to take place on the following days:

Workers affiliated with the Soenc Nickel union are striking at Prony Resources’ South Factory as of July 25. The union launched the action to protest working conditions and alleged company plans to use foreign labor. The duration of the action is unclear. It is unclear if the action has impacted output at the plant, but production delays are possible if workers continue to strike in the coming days. Reports indicate that employees are meeting with company officials.


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