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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #73 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from the DPRK, Greece, the USA, the UK, India, Portugal, China, Cuba and elsewhere.

Socialist Korea celebrates the 74th anniversary of the founding of the DPRK, Pyongyang, September 9 -- image via Twitter

September 2:

A federal labor official has rejected Amazon’s bid to overturn a union election in Staten Island, New York, that saw the formation of the first-ever union at the company earlier this year.

This April, workers at the JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island voted to unionize by a margin of 523 votes. The company filed a challenge to the win shortly after — which the company lost on Thursday when NLRB hearing officer Lisa Dunn, who was overseeing Amazon’s challenge, recommended that the objections be “rejected in their entirety,” according to NLRB spokesperson Kayla Blado.

Dunn found that the company did not meet the burden of proof of any of their allegations, and recommended to the board that Amazon Labor Union (ALU) be certified as the bargaining representative for the warehouses over 8,000 employees. The board will issue a formal ruling on Dunn’s decision, and though Amazon plans to appeal the recommendations, the formal decision typically follows a hearing officer’s recommendation.

A New York City agency overseeing workplace affairs said on Friday it sued Starbucks Corp because the coffee chain illegally fired a longtime barista and union organizer shortly after employees in his store voted to join a union.

The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection called the case on behalf of Austin Locke, a Starbucks employee for 5-3/4 years, the city's first for violating "just cause" protections under a 2017 law meant to protect fast-food workers.

The Fair Workweek Law prohibits fast-food employers from firing or laying off workers, or reducing their hours by more than 15%, without just cause or legitimate economic reasons.

September 4:

Senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader K K Shailaja refused to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award named after the late President of the Philippines. It was reportedly due to his alleged brutalities against the Communists that she declined the honour. However, in an interaction with the reporters, she said that she didn't want the award as she wasn't interested in receiving it in her individual capacity.

This past weekend the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) held its iconic Avante! festival under increasingly difficult circumstances. It was a resounding success.

The festival is an event filled with culture, music, art and Communist politics. This marks its 46th year.

September 5:

Employees at a local Starbucks voted to unionize, becoming the third location in the province to do so.

Employees at the Beaverbrook Starbucks, in Sherwood Park, Alta., have joined the United Steelworkers Union (USW) and are preparing to enter the collective bargaining process.

The USW is the largest private sector union in North America, representing various industries. They now represent all three unionized Starbucks locations in Alberta.

The decision by the 41 workers at Beaverbrook to join the USW is part of a growing movement in North America, and the lead organizer for the USW in Western Canada, Pedro Guerra, said over 300 Starbucks locations in the US have filed to unionize.

“The capacity of these young workers to organize was amazing,” said Guerra. “I think that young workers realize the union is the only way to protect themselves against the big corporation.”

September 6:

Journalists and media workers from private television stations in Greece will be on strike for 24 hours from 5:00 AM on 6th September to protest against a draft regulation that would undermine job security and make conditions more precarious for up to 40% of workers. The International and the European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) join their Greek affiliates (the Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers, the Journalists’ Union of Macedonia and Thrace Daily Newspapers, the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists’ Union and the Union of Magazine and Electronic Press Journalists) in calling on the government to withdraw the regulation, safeguard the rights of journalists and ensure decent working conditions.

At least 1,000 childcare centres across the country will close their doors on Wednesday to protest low wages and conditions in what unions say is the biggest industrial action early educators have taken.

The executive director of early education at the United Workers Union, Helen Gibbons, said an estimated 70,000 families would be affected on Early Childhood Educators’ Day. It is usually a celebration for childcare workers.

Gibbons said more than 1,000 centres registered with the union but she expected “many more” were planning to join the action and attend rallies.

September 7:

On Wednesday 7 September 2022, an armed police battalion violently crushed a peaceful protest action by students from the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT) in the capital city, Mbabane.

The police had camped at the university premises following the students’ resolution to protest over various demands, including the demands for face-to-face learning and disbursement of students’ allowances as part of the right to free education campaign.

Mswati, who rules Swaziland as an absolute monarch, in his desperation to cling to power, has vowed to violently crush all protests in the country.

September 8:

Brazilian workers at Mercedes-Benz (DTGGe.DE) have gone on strike after the Brazilian arm of the company announced plans to lay off 3,600 employees, their union said on Thursday.

The Sindicato dos Metalurgicos do Grande ABC union said in a statement that workers would strike until Sept. 12 after the company said it would lay off 3,600 workers and outsource operations at its truck and bus chassis plant in Brazil's Sao Paulo state.

The MEPs of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) denounced the destruction of monuments of the great Anti-fascist Victory of the Peoples, which is taking place with the encouragement of the EU, by submitting a Question to the European Commission.

They note that “After the dissolution of the USSR, a plan of destruction and vandalism of monuments commemorating the Great Anti-fascist Victory of the Peoples is being implemented in several EU member states. These provocative actions have multiplied since the imperialist conflict in Ukraine.

The anti-communist and anti-Soviet campaign is also encouraged by the President of the European Commission, with her recent unacceptable statement on the so-called ‘day of remembrance of victims of totalitarian regimes’ which the EU is attempting to establish. In this way, the EU is attempting to make an unhistorical equation between the monster of fascism and socialism and to unfoundedly identify today’s capitalist Russia with the Soviet Union.

September 9:

The whole country, greeting the 74th founding anniversary of the glorious DPRK, is overflowing with the pride and self-esteem of the people who are demonstrating before the world the might of their socialist motherland dignified with independence and strong in self-reliance along with the century.

Tens of millions of the people who cherished the firm faith and will to carry forward with great eternal victories the brilliant history of the DPRK which has set a world-startling contemporary example of building a wealthy country with a powerful army by opening up a new era of building a socialist state centered on the popular masses and weathering the grim tempest of the revolution, are most meaningfully and grandly commemorating the day when the Juche-oriented great cause of nation-building was achieved.

The celebrations of the 74th founding anniversary of the DPRK were held with splendor at the foot of time-honored Mansu Hill in Pyongyang, where the statues of President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il , the pioneer and leaders of the cause of building a socialist country, stand solemnly, on Thursday evening.

Kim Jong Un, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and president of the State Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), met and congratulated labor innovators and persons of merits participating in the celebrations of the 74th founding anniversary of the DPRK on Thursday.

The hearts of all the participants were filled with strong emotions and joy of the highest honor of their lives of having a photo session on Mansu Hill where the statues of President Kim Il Sung and Chairman Kim Jong Il , the founder and builders of our dignified state, stand courteously.

The respected Comrade Kim Jong Un made a policy speech at the Seventh Session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on September 8.

Following is the full text of the policy speech:

The second-day sitting of the 7th Session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) took place at the Mansudae Assembly Hall on September 8.

Kim Jong Un, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and president of the State Affairs of the DPRK, attended the meeting to clarify an administrative policy of the government of the Republic.

In a press release and You Tube video on Tuesday, September 6 the Teamsters in the United State announced the creation of a new Amazon division in the union with the goal of "uniting Amazon employees, securing more workplace protections in the warehouse and logistics industry, and defending workers from the unchecked exploitation of one of the world’s most dangerous employers."

This comes after workers at the JFK8 Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, New York voted to unionize with the Amazon Labor Union in April. This was the first time an Amazon workplace in the United States had voted to unionize and came as a unionization wave has been sweeping across the country.

On 8/9, a delegation of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was once again at the side of the striking workers of “Malamatina”, a large wine production company in Thessaloniki, who continue their multi-day struggle. The delegation of the KKE conveyed the message that the KKE will continue to support their just struggle with all its might.

The strikers demand the revocation of 15 dismissals and the signing of a Collective Labour Agreement.

The cadres of the KKE held a discussion with the strikers and highlighted that their just struggle must be embraced and become a centre of coordination and solidarity at a local, sectoral, and national level.

On 8/9, a mass student rally took place in the centre of Athens, with the participation of students, professors, and university workers.

Through their struggle, the students denounced the intensification of repression in higher education institutions, which is aimed at serving the operation of universities as enterprises, and asserted their rights to studies and life.

Commenting on the developments, the Press Office of the CC of the KNE noted that “The government, like a thief in the night, is sneaking the University Police, which has been condemned by the majority of students, into campuses. Students and their associations have already opposed to that and immediately found themselves at the gates of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and the National Technical University of Athens, demanding that the University Police retreat immediately!

The € 50 million provided by the government for the establishment of University Police should be used to cover the real needs of the students. They should be used for mass recruitment of professors, student residences, modern infrastructure, and student care.

We call on students, on young men and women, to struggle to put up a wall against the government’s repressive and authoritarian plans.”

A coalition of workers at an Amazon warehouse in Moreno Valley announced Friday a push to join the Amazon Labor Union, which mounted the first successful unionization effort at any Amazon warehouse in the United States.

Leading the effort is Nannette Plascencia, a worker in the Amazon fulfillment center ONT8 who created the coalition United 4 Change ONT8 during the pandemic to advocate for better wages and safer conditions.

September 10:

A massive response to the government and employers was given by workers, self-employed, farmers, women, and young people at the rally organized in Thessaloniki on 10 September by the All Workers Militant Front (PAME), trade unions, and mass organizations in the context of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

The mass rally highlighted the need for an escalation of the struggle of workers and the other popular strata, including the organization of a strike in the coming period, against the escalation of the attack on the income and life of the people; for wage increases, for cheap electricity and fuel for the people, for life and work with rights; against the anti-labour measures, against the policy that condemns them to poverty, wars, and crises. The popular response to the misleading announcements of the Prime Minister from the TIF, where he provided new assurances of prosperity for capital while offering peanuts to the working people and the youth, was heard loudly.

September 11:

The queen’s death is being used as a political weapon to suppress a growing strike wave. On Thursday it was immediately seized on by the trade union bureaucracy to call off two national strikes, including a 48-hour strike of 115,000 postal workers already underway.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) called off that strike and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union called off two days of action due to take place on September 15 and 17.

September 12:

Employees for one of the most popular coffee chains around the world are gradually unionizing and the movement recently expanded in the Texas Hill Country. On Monday, September 12, a New Braunfels Starbucks voted 10-4 to be represented by the Starbucks Workers United union, according to a news release.

Approximately 15,000 private sector nurses in the US state of Minnesota have launched a three-day strike as they push for higher pay and better staffing in a healthcare system that has been stretched to its limits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nurses walked off the job on Monday in seven healthcare systems in Minneapolis and Duluth, mounting picket lines, chanting slogans and holding signs bearing messages such as “Patients Before Profits”.

Fifty million people were living in modern slavery in 2021, according to the latest Global Estimates of Modern Slavery . Of these people, 28 million were in forced labour and 22 million were trapped in forced marriage.

The number of people in modern slavery has risen significantly in the last five years. 10 million more people were in modern slavery in 2021 compared to 2016 global estimates. Women and children remain disproportionately vulnerable.

Modern slavery occurs in almost every country in the world, and cuts across ethnic, cultural and religious lines. More than half (52 per cent) of all forced labour and a quarter of all forced marriages can be found in upper-middle income or high-income countries.

September 13:

The 87th edition of the Fête de l’Humanité, organized by the French communist newspaper L’Humanité (sometimes stylized l’Humanité), was held in the department of Essonne from September 11-13. Major political discussions, concerts, cultural events, and other festivities were a part of the event which was attended by over 40,000 people.

Politicians including French Communist Party (PCF) leader Fabien Roussel, La France Insoumise (LFI) leader Jean-luc Mélenchon, Director of L’Humanité Fabien Gay, Secretary General of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT) Philippe Martinez, lawyer Stella Assange (wife of Julian Assange), and other leaders of the constituent parties of the left-wing coalition New Ecologic and Social People’s Union (NUPES), participated in the celebrations.

Fête de l’Humanité has declared solidarity and the search for diplomatic solutions as some of the central themes of its 2022 celebration. During the event, discussions were held on various subjects, including left politics in France, the policies of Emmanuel Macron, the rise of the far-right, environmental issues, the cost of living crisis, solidarity with Palestine, workers’ rights, sports, privatization, imperialism, health care, and abortion rights.

Among the country’s left-wing mayors, the order was not a popular one. “This request seems incredible to me,” saidYann Galut is the Socialist Party Mayor of Bourges. “I respect the sorrow of our English friends but I will not put up the French flag [at half mast] over the municipal buildings of the city.”

“We are a republican country. Why should I pay tribute to a foreign monarch?”Galut told France3 TV later.

September 14:

In a statement issued today, the Press Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) bids farewell to the iconic Greek actress Irene Pappas who died at the age of 96 in Athens.

With a career spanning more than half a century, Pappas starred in over 70 films, including award-winning films as "The Guns of Navarone" and "Zorba the Greek".

September 15:

The article documents that, for the first time, life expectancy in Cuba exceeds that in the US by almost three years. It explores intertwined reasons behind this occurrence, including responses to Covid, health care systems, racism, poverty, misinformation campaigns, the embargo, international solidarity efforts, and resilience to climate change.

On Thursday 15/9/22, trade unions and mass organizations of Athens held a mass rally outside the Ministry of Finance, followed by a march in the main streets of the Greek capital, which ended at the Ministry of Interior.

The demonstrators demanded generous increases in wages and pensions, cheap electricity, fuel and food, abolition of taxes, price cuts and caps on basic consumer goods, and cancellation of debts.

Giannis Tasioulas, president of the Federation of Builders of Greece, called on all trade unions to organize a nationwide general strike. He said that “the nationwide general strike on 9 November is the response of the working class to the situation arising. Our response to the crumbs. The answer to all those who see the high and rising prices, our lives that they have brought to an impasse, as an imported problem.(...) The ‘wait-and-see’ approach and delusions that they will provide solutions to our problems are damaging. (...) Energy providers are getting rich on government subsidies, while every month the bill is getting more expensive for us. Wages remain stuck at 2007 levels”.

He concluded by making a call for a nationwide all-workers strike “to put forward our demands. We know the necessary solutions better than anyone else. We will not compromise, we are not fooled by those who supposedly offer solutions to our problems. We known them well. We know the results of their proposals. We know that our lives are constantly facing a dead-end. Hope lies in the struggle, in our strength. Only the people can save the people!”.

September 16:

Bolivia’s Economy Minister, Marcelo Montenegro, emphatically rejected the report, stating today; “They prescribe the old recipes from many decades ago where they call for reducing subsidies, lowering public spending, gradually eliminating the end of year bonus for workers. We are not going to accept these recommendations because we are a sovereign country, and we have a sovereign economic policy.”

The policies criticized by the IMF have helped Bolivia reduce poverty by over 50% since Evo Morales took office in 2006. It has also helped keep inflation at the lowest rate in Latin America. Meanwhile, when IMF policies were implemented in the early 2000s, over 60% of the country lived below the poverty line.

In a recent speech in Brazil, Bolivia’s President Luis Arce stated that the country’s impressive growth is due to rejecting IMF recommendations; “We are in better conditions because, since 2006, Bolivia doesn’t have a single agreement with the IMF. In 2020 with the de facto government, they tried to enter into a loan program with the IMF, which we stopped as soon as we entered government, we reversed that IMF loan because believe the best way to make economic policy is to have a sovereign monetary and economic policy without being submitted to any international organism.”

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) met in New Delhi on September 15-16. It has issued the following statement.

September 17:

As many as 3,000 people attended a cost-of-living protest in Cork City on Saturday, with many attendees stating that they face the shocking choice of 'heating or eating' this coming winter.

Protestors held signs with slogans such as 'Rent Control Now' as they chanted, 'the cost of living is rising, so are we..'

September 18:

WAVES of strike action are to sweep across Britain as tens of thousands of workers unleash their strength following 10 days of restraint in the period before the Queen’s funeral today.

More than 500 Liverpool dockers will be the first in action on Monday night as they strike for two weeks over pay.

BRITAIN’S ruling class and its new Downing Street administration are preparing a fresh offensive against people’s living standards and democratic rights, the Communist Party warned at the weekend.

CP industrial organiser Andy Bain told the party’s executive committee meeting at Ruskin House in Croydon, London that millions of people will find they have “bread and circuses” but without the bread.

Chinese President Xi Jinping just concluded his visit to Central Asia and attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit. As the much-anticipated, twice-in-a-decade national congress of the Communist Party of China is only less than one month away, this visit, naturally, has attracted much attention from international observers: what is the key message of Xi's first travel overseas since the pandemic began? What is China's solution to the challenges in this complex and uncertain world?

The International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), through the embassy of Peoples Republic of China in Pakistan, has donated food pack assistance to the flood-affected people of Balochistan through the mainstream political parties in Pakistan including national and regional level political parties.

Senior Chinese and Russian officials plan to hold a new round of consultations on security issues on September 19 in Beijing, according to an official statement issued today in this capital.


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