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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #70 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from Brazil, Cuba, the US, the UK, Norway, Australia, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and elsewhere.

Protestors march in defense of constitutional democracy, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, August 11, 2022 -- Image via Twitter

August 8:

Sri Lankan trade union leader Joseph Stalin has been released on bail a week after he was arrested for leading an anti-government protest.

The general secretary of the Sri Lanka Teachers Union was one of the organizers of a large demonstration on May 28 calling for the government to resign over the country’s deep economic crisis.

Stalin is the most senior trade unionist to be arrested since former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe assumed the presidency last month. The new president’s predecessor, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, had been forced to flee the country after mass demonstrations swept the streets of the capital Colombo.

In the first press conference to local media after being sworn in as president, Gustavo Petro confirmed the official resumption of negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN), the largest guerrilla group active in the country. “We want to revitalize the protocols and in the coming weeks it will be announced whether we will maintain the dialogues in Cuba. It doesn’t depend only on us, but on who wants to negotiate,” the head of state said on Monday August 8.

Members of the Delhi State Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Union on Monday staged a protest outside the Lieutenant Governor's office here, demanding reinstatement of their terminated staff.

Around 100-150 workers, including the terminated staff, gathered at the Raj Niwas Marg here and raised slogans against the L-G and the Delhi government, union members said.

August 9:

Politburo member and permanent member of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV)’s Central Committee Vo Van Thuong received Hun Manet, member of the Standing Committee of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) Central Committee and Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, in Hanoi on August 9.

Hun Manet, who is also Commander of the Royal Cambodian Army, expressed his delight that the two countries are celebrating the 55th anniversary of their diplomatic ties with various events, including a ceremony held in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the historical journey made by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to overthrow Pol Pot’s genocidal regime (June 20, 1977 – 2022).

Cambodia will forever maintain and nurture its friendship with Vietnam and strengthen the bilateral partnership to develop amidst the complex global situation, the Cambodian official said.

On the occasion of the disastrous fire at the oil facility in Matanzas, the International Relations Section of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) sent a solidarity message to the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).

North Korea's ruling Workers' Party (WPK) sent a formal message to the Communist Party of China denouncing US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan last week as a "shameless provocation", Pyongyang's state media reported Wednesday. In the "solidarity letter" sent to the party's central committee the previous day, the WPK also called the US House of Representatives trip a "serious infringement" of Beijing's sovereignty, according to Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

August 10:

The National Secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF, in Spanish) Fabien Roussel expressed his strong support for firefighters in Cuba who are currently facing a large-scale mortal fire in Matanzas city and for the victims.

Workers have held unofficial strikes at several industrial sites across the UK including Ineos’s Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland in a dispute over pay.

A number of workers employed by a third party rather than Ineos itself blocked a road outside the site for several hours on Wednesday morning. The route is usually used by tankers arriving at and leaving the refinery.

Workers are staging unofficial walkouts across the UK as soaring inflation and pay disputes trigger a wave of “wildcat” strikes that threatens to cause major economic disruption.

Thousands of employees at factories around the country joined unofficial picket lines yesterday, with more action expected in the coming days.

The National Federation of Postal Employees (NFPE) has claimed that a majority (60%) of the 4.5 lakh employees of the Postal Department in the country are on strike on Wednesday, August 10, to protest against what they allege are attempts by the Union government to privatise and corporatise certain sections of the department.

The strike is reportedly the result of failed talks between a number of federations representing postal workers – who have come together under the banner of the Postal Joint Council of Action (PJCA) – and the Union government’s Ministry of Communications Department of Posts (DoP) with regards to the ‘corporatisation’ plan.

In its first contested election in almost 10 years, Canada's largest private-sector union has elected Lana Payne as the new national president of Unifor.

She is the first woman to hold the position.

"We have to consider that economic policy should be working for workers, and not just for a few corporations in this country," said Payne after being elected.

August 11:

A delegation of the Colombian government, headed by Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva Durán, visited Cuba on Thursday, August 11, and was received by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez in the capital Havana. The purpose of the visit was to establish contact with the leadership of the National Liberation Army (ELN), the largest leftist guerrilla group active in Colombia, in order to advance towards peace negotiations.

On Thursday August 11, tens of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets in defense of free elections and against political violence and to launch the “Letter to Brazilians in defense of the Democratic State of Law”. The actions organized by the “Out Bolsonaro” campaign, a coalition of diverse people’s movements, trade unions, and civil society organizations, have estimated that actions were organized in at least 49 cities, including almost all the capitals of the country.

All the people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) are dynamically opening up a new phase of the comprehensive development of socialism and the building of the state anti-epidemic capability full of confidence and optimism about sure victory, successfully securing the favorable situation in the war against the malignant pandemic disease under the leadership of the great Party Central Committee.

In the course of putting an end to the severest pandemic-brought health crisis ever after the foundation of the country, the leadership and fighting efficiency of the Party and justice and scientific accuracy of the state anti-epidemic policy have been more clearly proved, the politico-ideological superiority of the Korean-style socialist system and the organizing ability and the might of unity peculiar to it fully displayed, and the people's trust in the Party Central Committee and their revolutionary faith and fighting will further deepened.

A national meeting of reviewing the emergency anti-epidemic work, convened by the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and the Cabinet of the DPRK, took place in the capital city of Pyongyang on Wednesday.

Kim Jong Un, general secretary of the WPK and president of the State Affairs of the DPRK, guided the meeting.

After walkouts and slowdown work at warehouses, protests continue to spread across the country

Bristol Amazon warehouse sees further worker protests over pathetic pay offer, GMB announces today (Thursday).

At the site, where management have erected new fencing around the perimeter in the last days, workers staged canteen sit ins.

The current 35p per hour offer from Amazon is worth just £10 per week for the average worker.

There are fears further strikes could plunge NSW trains services into chaos once again next month as the union and state government ramp up their conversations in the hope of reaching an agreement.

The T4 Eastern and Illawarra and South Coast lines did not run from 10am to 4pm on Wednesday amid industrial action from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU), resulting in crowded scenes at train stations and hefty delays for commuters.

An hourly service with limited stops ran on the T4, which services Sydney’s east and southern NSW, during that time period, while there were also replacement buses.

August 12:

On Thursday, August 12, the governments of Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro appointed ambassadors to each other’s countries, as part of an effort to reestablish bilateral and diplomatic relations between the neighboring countries, broken in February 2019.

During a public address on August 12, President Maduro announced that he had appointed former Foreign Minister Félix Plasencia as the next ambassador of the country to Colombia. He said that “the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry has requested the approval of the Colombian Foreign Ministry, and that Plasencia will soon be in Bogotá.”

The Communist Party of the Workers of Spain (PCTE) and the Collectives of Young Communists (CJC) strongly denounce the last attacks by the State of Israel against the Palestinian people, resulting in 24 dead people and more than 200 injured, among them several children.

We denounce these brutal attacks and condemn the policies of occupation and settling of the Israeli Government, lasting already for more than 70 years while the international community looks away.

We call on finishing urgently the current situation of Apartheid and Israeli occupation and to the recognition of the Palestinian State as an Independent State with the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as the implementation of a solution to the refugees' issue according to UN Resolution 194.

Workers at a Trader Joe’s in Minneapolis voted on Friday to unionize, adding a second unionized store to the more than 500 locations of the supermarket chain.

Employees at a Trader Joe’s in Massachusetts voted to unionize last month, part of a trend of recent union victories involving service workers at companies like Starbucks, Apple and Amazon.

The Minneapolis vote was 55 to 5, according to the National Labor Relations Board, which held the election.

The union representing more than 250,000 former and current McDonald’s workers has slapped the fast-food giant with a major federal court action, seeking compensation of up to $250m for alleged unpaid wages.

The move is the 16th federal court action lodged against McDonald’s by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA).

In its statement of claim, the union alleges McDonald’s “deliberately denied workers their legal entitlement to paid rest breaks”. It cites hundreds of alleged examples and claims thousands of young workers from across the country would be prepared to stand as witnesses.

August 13:

Governments, Cuban solidarity organizations and Communist parties are rallying in support of the socialist country after the Matanzas Supertanker Base disaster while also denouncing the US blockade.

There will be no ministers from the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation in Bihar’s Grand Alliance cabinet headed by chief minister Nitish Kumar, but the left outfit will provide “strong support” to the government, the party’s general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said on Saturday.

On Saturday, August 13, workers at a unionized Starbucks store in Santa Cruz will go on a three-day strike. Organizer Joe Thompson, a Starbucks shift supervisor who remains a member of the Starbucks Workers United union, says the stoppage is due to alleged unfair labor practices: Starbucks announced “unilateral changes to hours,” denied wage and benefit improvements based on union membership, and disturbed the union’s ability to distribute pro-union materials, Thompson says. Rallies will be held at noon Saturday outside of 745 Ocean Street Starbucks location, as the Ocean store is the only location participating in the strike. Starbucks workers have held strikes in at least 17 states, and two Santa Cruz locations became the first California shops to unionize in May.

Nearly 1,50,000 workers at more than 200 Bangladeshi tea plantations went on strike Saturday to demand a 150% rise to their dollar-a-day wages, which researchers say are among the lowest in the world.

Most tea workers in the overwhelmingly Muslim country are low-caste Hindus, the descendants of labourers brought to the plantations by colonial-era British planters.

August 14:

Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, attended the opening ceremony of the sixth Silk Road International Exposition, and the Investment and Trade Forum for Cooperation between East and West China in Xi'an, capital city of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, on Sunday.

Addressing the event, Yang, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, called for enhanced Belt and Road cooperation.

He noted that in the nine years since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed, significant achievements have been accomplished, and the initiative has become a popular global public good and a platform for international cooperation, exhibiting greater vitality and appeal.

Vietnam is considering building a high-speed railway that runs along the country's length with a possible price tag of up to $58.7 billion, the government said on Sunday.

The Southeast Asian country's transport ministry will next month submit a proposal to build the 1,545 km (960 miles) railway to the Politburo, the powerful decision-making body of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam, the government said in a news release.

Contractual employees of the state-owned Punjab Roadways and Pepsu Road Transport Corporation on Sunday went on a three-day strike, demanding regularisation of their jobs and leaving many commuters stranded as over 3,000 buses stayed off the roads.

The strike comes five days after private and mini-bus operators went on a day-long strike to press their demands, including a tax waiver for the COVID-19 pandemic period.

Bangladesh Mahila Parishad has expressed solidarity with tea workers' indefinite strike demanding a wage hike.

In a statement on Sunday (14 August), the human rights organisation said that the tea workers, most of whom are women, are living an inhumane life with a minimum wage of Tk120 in addition to various discrimination and deception.

The platform called upon the government's concerned departments and tea garden owners to readjust minimum wage taking current living costs into consideration.

August 15:

THOUSANDS of people marched in Manchester today to mark the anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre and heard calls for radical political change.

Trade unionists and campaigners gathered in Piccadilly Gardens to march with banners raised to St Peter’s Square, where a rally commemorated the horrific events of August 16 1819.

That day, tens of thousands of textile workers and their families walked to St Peter’s Field, where the square is now, from industrial communities in and around Manchester to meet peacefully and call for parliamentary reform.

Magistrates ordered cavalry to charge the 60,000-strong crowd, leaving 15 people dead and hundreds injured.

At today’s rally, which was organised by Oldham trades council and The Word newspaper, speakers addressed the cheering crowd from the Fire Brigade Union’s campaigning fire engine.

TRAIN drivers’ union Aslef is expected to hold formal talks with industry bosses this week after Saturday’s solid strike action crippled large parts of Britain’s network.

Steve Montgomery, chairman of the Rail Delivery Group, and Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan confirmed that the talks would go ahead following the 24-hour action.

Picket lines set up across Britain — including at Ashford, Hull, Liverpool, London and Manchester — amid disputes over jobs, pay and conditions.

Members of Aslef at nine train companies walked out on Saturday morning, leading to station closures, train cancellations and reduced services.

We tried everything we could to reach an agreement, but the employers have shown little willingness to negotiate, says Frode Alfheim, President of Industri Energi.

Therefore, the negotiations on the electrochemical settlement has resulted in a strike.

1 422 Industri Energi members have gone on strike from Monday morning 15th August (see the full strike statement at the bottom).

Our most important demand is to strengthen the negotiations in collective bargaining at the local level.

The BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) public service bargaining unit will begin targeted job action at select BC Liquor Distribution Branch wholesale and distribution centres at 3:30 pm today after issuing strike notice on Friday, August 12.

The British Columbia General Employees' Union (BCGEU) says Monday it will set up picket lines at four provincial liquor wholesale and distribution centres as it begins targeted job action.

The union, which represents about 33,000 public-service workers across B.C., issued strike notice Friday and is to be in a legal strike position by this afternoon.

It said picket lines will go up at 3:30 p.m. PT outside B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch centres in Delta, Richmond and Kamloops, as well as the wholesale customer centre in Victoria.


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