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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #72 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from Bolivia, the UK, the USA, India, Latvia, Bangladesh, South Africa, Greece and elsewhere.

Bolivians march in support of Leftist President Luis Arce and the MAS government in Bolivia, August 25. Over a million Bolivians showed their support.-- Image via Luis Arce on Twitter

August 20:

On August 20, left-wing organizations in Turkey formed the Union of Socialist Forces, a new electoral alliance. The alliance comprises the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), the Revolutionary Movement (Devrim Hareketi), the Left Party (Sol Party) and the Communist Movement of Turkey (TKH). In a press conference organized in Ankara last week, the Union of Socialist Forces launched its manifesto regarding the 2023 general elections. The press conference was attended by Ozan Yılmaz of TKP, Ercan Bölükbaşı of Devrim Hareketi, İsmail Hakkı Tombul of the Left Party and Umut Kuruç of TKH. The Union of Socialist Forces has resolved to end the conservative regime in Turkey led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his right-wing Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The major points in the political program of the Union of Socialist Forces include bringing an end to the rule of the Islamists of AKP and Erdoğan. The manifesto calls for the cessation of the privatization of key sectors and the nationalization of all health, education and social services. The Union of Socialist Forces seeks to put an end to the actions of the imperialist monopolies using a planned economy. The Union called for a withdrawal of Turkey from NATO and the guarantee of Turkish independence from imperialist powers and closure of foreign bases in Turkey.

The protection of secularism, women’s rights and rights for ethnic, religious and gender minorities is another point in the coalition’s program. Under the rule of the AKP-run government led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, religious conservatism has tightened its grip on all sectors of social and private life in the country. The working class, artists, writers, secularists, women, gender and ethnic minorities are under constant attack by the ruling class and religious fanatics.

August 22:

Bo Moeller, long time cadre of the Communist Party in Denmark (KPiD) who served as international secretary, has died following a cardiac arrest at the age of 68.

According to a communique issued by the KPiD (Kommunistisk Parti i Danmark), Moeller was a loyal, faithful, devoted and intelligent comrade.

Bo has been a organized communist for 50 years. First in the youth party, then the student organization and then again the party and participated in starting the Communist Forum in 1991 and later on our present party, KPiD.

The Kozhikode district conference of the Communist Party of India (CPI) began at Nallur near Feroke on Monday.

C. Mahendran, national executive committee member, CPI, opened a public meeting held as part of the meet. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Mahendran termed Prime Minister Narendra Modi a fascist. He claimed that only the Left parties had been resisting the fascist tendencies of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). “The CPI will be in the forefront of unifying all forces that can resist them,” he said.

A union representing Ontario education workers has set a strike vote, but says they wouldn’t be in a position to walk off the job until October at the earliest.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents 55,000 workers including maintenance staff, librarians and early childhood educators, will open voting from Sept. 23 to Oct. 2 on whether to set a strike mandate.

Laura Walton, the president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions, says holding a strike vote doesn’t necessarily mean that workers will withdraw services, but it’s part of the process to show the government they are prepared to fight for workers and public education.

August 23:

This Monday, during its press conference, the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) qualified as shameful the attacks maintained by the Vice President of the PSUV, Diosdado Cabello, against the Communist Party of Venezuela through the Venezuelan State media.

"You lash out against the Communist Party of Venezuela and against our General Secretary using your position of power and from your economic well-being, taking advantage of the State media, without allowing us a right to reply to your excessive and euphoric attack",said Carlos Lazo, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the PCV.

Lazo explained that Cabello's attacks against the communist militancy is due to the successful mobilizations that resulted in the full payment of the vacation and recreational bonus for education workers.

The General Industries Workers Union of South Africa are collaborating with South Africa's Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) and Congress to stage rallies and worker strikes across South African provinces on Wednesday, August 24.

The rallies will be aimed at protesting the rising costs of fuel and livelihood. In a statement last week, the coalition said that the living conditions of the country's working class and poor had become bankrupt, especially during the pandemic. The statement also pointed out that wealthy people in Sub-Saharan African had been able to grow their riches by 15%. Saftu also shared that the purpose of the planned shut down was to ensure that government agencies would make efforts to put South Africans first, and improve the standard of living for many who are struggling financially.

A Starbucks on Middle Sound Loop Road and Highway 17 has voted 16-10 in favor of unionizing.

The Wilmington store first decided to file as a legally unionized store in late May.

After a months-long battle, area employees of a national coffee franchise have become the first in the region to join Starbucks Workers United.

The Middle Sound Loop Starbucks, located at 7201 Market St., was approved by the National Labor Relations Board in a 16-10 vote Tuesday. It’s only the second unionized store in North Carolina; Starbucks United Boone formed in Blowing Rock in April.

Score one for AOC over Mayor Eric Adams.

The political far left emerged victorious Tuesday night in four high-profile state Senate primaries despite efforts by Hizzoner and his allies to counter its growing power in Democratic-dominated Albany.

“Today we really proved that socialism wins,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-endorsed Kirsten Gonzalez crowed after winning an open race to represent a district covering parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Her 58.14% to 31.51% victory over former City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley – with 99% of the vote counted – means one more democratic socialist in Albany alongside a trio of lefty incumbents who survived challenges from moderates.

Kristen González, a political newcomer backed by the Democratic Socialists of America and prominent lawmakers on the left including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, declared victory against Elizabeth Crowley in a state Senate race to represent a swath of western Queens and Brooklyn and a chunk of Manhattan’s East Side.

Her projected victory came even as she was outraised by hundreds of thousands of dollars by Crowley, a more moderate Democrat who is a cousin of the ex-head of the county’s Democratic party, former U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley — infamously defeated in 2018 by then-unknown Ocasio-Cortez.

At a packed Peruvian restaurant in Long Island City, González walked into a storm of applause from supporters, many clad in yellow campaign shirts.

Yesterday and today, unions in Visakhapatnam rallied against the country’s new labour laws. Union leaders submitted a memorandum to the district administration after the rally, raising concerns over the new labour codes which attempt to weaken workers’ rights while promoting companies’ interests.

August 24:

The Communist Party of Vietnam's Central Committee’s Commission for External Relations has extended its condolences to the French Communist Party after the death of its member and famed anti-imperialist militant Raymonde Dien on August 19 at the age of 93. They also extended condolences to her family. The Vietnamese news service VietnamPlus described her as "Vietnam’s great friend".

The World Federation of Trade Unions also issued a statement expressing their condolences as well.

Dien was most famous for her tremendously courageous act in February, 1950 when she lay down on rail tracks to stop a French rail military convoy with equipment and arms headed to Indochina to fight against Vietnamese independence.

Support and solidarity has been pouring in for workers of the Malamatina Winery in Thessaloniki, Greece, who have been protesting against the dismissal of several of their compatriots and demanding a collective agreement from the employer. On Wednesday, August 24, cadres from the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE) and the Federation of Greek Women (OGE), among others, visited the protesting workers at Thessaloniki and expressed their support. Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos, Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), also expressed his solidarity with the workers. Nikolaou-Alavanos has submitted a written petition to the European Commission seeking intervention to prevent the implementation of anti-worker policies in Greece and EU-dictated labor reforms. The All Workers Militant Front of Greece (PAME) had earlier also expressed solidarity with the workers at Malamatina.

The workers of the Malamatina Winery plant in Thessaloniki have been waging a militant strike for the last four weeks, demanding that the employer sign a collective labor agreement and reinstate 15 employees who were dismissed by the management. According to reports, the management has tried to intimidate the protesting workers with repression and court action, as well as with the arrest of their leaders.

The workers accuse the management of using the anti-worker labor law brought in by Labor Minister Kostis Hatzidakis of the conservative New Democracy (ND) government to subdue workers’ rights.

Together, let us build a powerful, socialist movement of the workers and poor

The SACP fully supports this National Day of Action and expresses its unwavering solidarity with the workers in bargaining processes, across the economy, in the private sector, as well as in the public sector.

We call on workers in the public and private sectors, on unionised workers across federations, on the non-unionised workers and workers in informal work, South Africans and other nationals.

Together, let us build a powerful, socialist movement of the workers and poor, to fight against exploitation in the workplace, at the tills, in the financial sector, and on all fronts.

August 25:

On Thursday, August 25, under the banner of ‘March in Defense of Democracy and Economic Reconstruction’, over one million Bolivians mobilized in support of the government of President Luis Arce and Vice President David Choquehuanca and its socialist economic policies.

Workers from diverse sectors, peasants, students, and members of various Indigenous organizations and social movements from all nine departments of the country arrived in capital La Paz to ratify their support for the national government of the ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party.

The call for the march was given by the Pact of Unity (PU), a national alliance of grassroots organizations, and the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB), the country’s trade union center, in the face of attempts by far-right opposition sectors and capitalists to destabilize the national government and the country’s economy.

The WFTU, representing 105 million workers on 5 continents, joins its voice with the workers of tea gardens in their rightful strike for better wages and working conditions. The tea pickers work for long hours under difficult conditions yet they are not able to provide food for their families on a daily basis. They were categorized by the UN as one of the most marginalized groups in the country with their limited access to facilities and education

The tea pickers of 150 tea farms all across the country decided to take to the streets for demands to be heard, as the farm owners and the government are turning a deaf ear to their demands, so the strike was a necessity.

The WFTU expresses its solidarity with the struggle of the tea pickers in their strike and supports their rightful demands to improve their living conditions. we demand the government of Bangladesh take serious measures for dignified wages and working conditions for tea pickers.

The half-day hartal called by the Left Democratic Alliance (LDA) demanding a reduction in commodity prices, including that of fuel, electricity, and public transport fares, for Thursday was observed in the capital like elsewhere in the country without any violence.

Left-wing sections in Latvia have condemned the government’s drive to demolish Soviet era monuments in the country. Under the order of the right-wing government, the Monument to the Liberators of Riga at the Victory Park in the national capital was demolished on August 25, despite opposition from leftist and anti-fascist sections. The Latvian Socialist Party (LSP) and the Social Democratic Party – Harmony denounced the demolition and warned that such actions by the government will lead to polarization and destruction of the civil society.

The decision of the authorities of Latvia and of the city of Riga to demolish the entire complex of the anti-fascist monument, which was located in the centre of the Latvian capital and was dedicated to the liberation of Riga from the fascist occupiers, is another step towards the rewriting of history. It took place in a country where anti-communist persecution is practiced and which has already moved on to vindicate the Nazi collaborators, the Nazi “legions”, who are now officially marching every year.

This campaign, which has the “seal” of the EU and its governments and is “served up” with the contrived notion of “fighting totalitarianism” and the unhistorical equation of communism and fascism, targets the consciences of the younger generation. It wants to erase the heroic contribution of the Soviet people and the Red Army to the crushing of the fascist monster, which was the spawn of capitalism.

The new intensity this operation is taking on utilizes the imperialist war in Ukraine between the Euro-Atlantic forces and Russia and tries to identify the unacceptable Russian invasion of Ukraine and the behaviour of capitalist Russia that emerged from the counter-revolution, with the Soviet Union and the glorious anti-fascist Victory.

The KKE denounces the Latvian authorities for the demolition of the anti-fascist monument and expresses its solidarity with those who are struggling to prevent anti-communism and anti-Sovietism.

Unified workers at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Lansing, Michigan, voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to form a union with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, making it the first of the restaurant chain’s 3,000 locations to organize.

In addition to the security of a powerful Teamster contract, workers are forming a union to improve their work schedules, increase wages, and gain the respect from management that they’ve rightfully earned.

“Today’s victory is an amazing moment for our team that has worked so hard and spent many months organizing,” said Samantha Smith, 18, a crew member at Chipotle who has worked at the Lansing-area restaurant for more than two years. “We set out to show that our generation can make substantial change in this world and improve our working conditions by taking action collectively. What this vote shows is that workers are going to keep taking the fight to big corporations like Chipotle and demand the working conditions we deserve.”

The Canadian Merchant Service Guild (CMSG) said Thursday that its members will refuse work on all 30 Seaspan tugboats in B.C. as negotiations over a collective agreement reach an impasse.

Seaspan is a shipbuilding and marine services company based in Vancouver, with shipyards and dry dock facilities in North Vancouver and Victoria.

The CMSG represents tugboat captains and engineers across the country, with tugboat operators used to escort and berth vessels such as ferries and assist with towing barges.

August 26:

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced that his country will help rebuild the infrastructure damaged by the fire in the Supertanker Base in Matanzas and urged the highest-authorities of the Venezuelan Oil Ministry to reach the Cuban side to start coordination.

"Get in touch with the Cuban oil and energy authorities to initiate the design for the reconstruction of the Supertanker yard in Matanzas," the president oriented Tareck El Aissami, Venezuelan Oil Minister, and Asdrubal Chavez, president of the state-owned PDVSA.

"Cuba knows that it can count on our scientific, technical, engineering and workforce's support," Maduro ratified. After ruling out the possibility that Cuba will be alone under any circumstances, he assured that Cuba will always have "the support of the peoples of the world and of the sensitive, brave and humanist governments."

The National Labor Relations Board has filed a new complaint against Starbucks, accusing the coffee giant of illegally withholding wage raises and benefits from thousands of workers involved in union efforts. The complaint seeks full back pay for the workers and would require CEO Howard Schultz to record a video admitting his company’s illegal actions. Starbucks faces dozens of other unfair labor practice charges over its massive retaliation campaign against union organizers. Workers at more than 230 Starbucks stores have voted to join Starbucks Workers United since last December.

More than 115,000 workers at Britain's Royal Mail began the first of four days of strike action on Friday in a pay dispute which the postal group said was likely to cause significant disruption for customers.

It is the latest in a spate of labour stoppages to hit Britain as workers demand higher wages in the face of a cost-of-living crisis, with energy bills soaring and inflation projected to exceed 13% later this year.

The inhumane repression of the Israeli state against the Palestinian people, who struggle against the long Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories, has led to the imprisonment of 4.550 Palestinian political prisoners including: 31 women, 175 minor children, while 700 of them are characterized as "administrative detainees” and are in prison without trial or charge.

The State of Israel, with the support of the USA, of the EU and, over the years, of the Greek governments, has been implementing a methodical cut of the rights of political prisoners, violating all kinds of provisions of so-called “humanitarian law” for many years.

Today, the lives of dozens of political prisoners, who have gone on hunger strike to protest the blatant violation of their rights, are at risk.

The KKE denounces the Israeli occupation and demands an end to the practice of political prisoners and persecution.

We call on the working class and our people to strengthen their solidarity with the multiform action of the Palestinian people against occupation and to demand from the Greek government as well to ask the immediate release of all political prisoners who are in Israeli jails.

August 27:

August 28:

More than 600 Labour councillors have declared their full backing for all rail, postal, dock and other workers on picket lines, as the party comes under continuing pressure over its stance on strikes.

Amid a wave of strikes over pay and increasing talk of coordinated industrial action this autumn, the councillors signed an open letter saying they offered “full solidarity and support” to the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers’ union (RMT), the Communication Workers Union (CWU), Unite and others.

LABOUR must “get a spine” and back working people, Unite’s Sharon Graham demanded today, as unions warned of a wave of national strikes this autumn amid the worsening cost-of-living crisis.

The union’s general secretary, who marked the first anniversary of her election as leader at the weekend, said the party needs to provide a strong message that it stands up for people seeking pay rises from profiteering bosses.

The call came after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was slammed for imposing a ban on his frontbenchers attending picket lines during Britain’s “summer of discontent,” with unions and Labour’s left accusing him of kowtowing to right-wing newspapers.

The UK's two largest trade unions, Unite and Unison, are seeking to co-ordinate strike action this autumn as they step up demands for better pay.

Both have submitted motions ahead of the Trade Union Congress next month calling for walkouts to be synchronised to have more impact.

There has been a rise of strikes this summer, with rail workers, barristers and rubbish collectors walking out.

After Kodiyeri Balakrishnan stepped down as the state secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Kerala due to major health issues, state Excise Minister MV Govindan, who is the Taliparamba MLA, took charge of the post on Sunday, August 28. “As Kodiyeri Balakrishnan is not able to continue as CPI(M) state secretary, MV Govindan was elected to the post by the state committee meeting held on Sunday,” a press note from the CPI(M) state secretariat said. Party General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, politburo members Prakash Karat, Pinarayi Vijayan, MA Baby and A Vijayaraghavan attended the state committee meeting, which was presided over by EP Jayarajan.

All kinds of activities, including loading and unloading of goods, at Bhomra Land Port of Satkhira halted on Sunday over workers’ demand to raise their wage.

The trouble started on Saturday after the clearing and forwarding agents refused to raise the charges for loading and unloading goods by workers.

The newly elected SACP Central Committee held its first plenary from Friday to Sunday, 26–28 August 2022, in Ekurhuleni, after the successful 15th Party National Congress held in mid-July 2022.

The First Plenary of the SACP 15th National Congress Central Committee occurred amid a cost-of-living crisis, characterised by high food, fuel, transport and electricity prices, coupled with persisting high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality. These reflect the capitalist system, which prioritises profits over the people and the environment.

May 29:

After a 15-day work abstention, tea workers resumed work for a daily wage of Tk 170 yesterday morning.

Majority of them expressed their dissatisfaction over the Tk 50 pay hike and said they resumed work as they had no alternative.

"My family and I ate rice once a day for the last 15 days. I even could not purchase medicine for my father. I have no option but to resume work," said Sukhia Ghatual, a worker in Moulvibazar's Sreemangal.

Train services ground to a near standstill around Amsterdam on Monday as the latest in a series of strikes by railway workers hit the Dutch capital, halting international services and affecting lines to and from the busy Schiphol international airport.


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