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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #76 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from Cuba, the United States, the DPRK, France, the UK, China and elsewhere.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez speaks at a rally in memory of the execution of Che, October 8, 2022 -- image via Twitter

October 4:

The New South Wales Coalition government’s bill imposing big fines on unions taking industrial action is being held up in the Legislative Council because Labor, the Greens and a number of cross-benchers oppose it.

The government has launched an industrial war on public sector workers campaigning for pay rises that match inflation.

October 5:

In an interesting anniversary on October 5, 1789, "thousands of women in Paris, angry over the high price and scarcity of bread, ransacked the city armoury for weapons and besieged the Palace of Versailles in a key turning point of the French revolution."

Over two centuries later another fall of discontent is happening around the world as the working class of many capitalist countries are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet due to inflation, rising interest rates and soaring utility bills.

Taking up their bosses’ dare—or maybe calling its bluff—members of Starbucks Workers United, the grassroots nationwide movement that has organized 244 Starbucks stores and counting, are starting to craft bargaining proposals.

The response came as two more stores, one in D.C., at 1429 P Street N.W., and another in Santa Maria, Calif., joined the ever-growing list of eateries that have gone union. The California vote was 14-4.

The galloping unionization movement at Starbucks is part of the mass movement of underpaid, exploited workers—adjunct professors, baristas, warehouse workers, port truckers, and retail workers—who have had it up to here with corporate control and greed and responded by unionizing in record numbers.

FOOD delivery couriers in the Italian city of Florence took 24-hours strike action on Wednesday [5 October] to demand better health & safety conditions, after the tragic death of the Glovo rider Sebastian Galassi, who died after a road accident while working on Saturday evening.

Galassi, 26, was involved in a crash with a Land Rover while travelling on a scooter and died from his injuries in hospital. An investigation is currently taking place into the cause of the accident.

The day after, Galassi’s family read an e-mail which had been sent to his address from Glovo, an automated message almost 24 hours after the fatal accident stating: “We are sorry to have to inform you that your account has been deactivated for non-compliance with the Terms and Conditions”. The family said that they were shocked and angered by the message, but Glovo had contacted them to apologise for it shortly after, saying it was “sent by mistake”, and offering to pay funeral costs.

Four unions, Cgil , Filcams Cgil, Filt Cgil and Nidil Cgil, announced the 24-hour strike following “another unacceptable death, in a sector where safety at work is still too often a right to be conquered, just as decent wages and rights are often a chimera, within a system that pushes productivity to the detriment of safeguards.”

The European Trade Union Confederation, the French trade unions and several trade union federations and confederations will join forces in Strasbourg today to protest about the cost-of-living crisis and call for decisive action from the EU and national governments.

A demonstration will take place outside the Parliament at 13.00 and will be followed by a meeting with MEPs inside the European Parliament at 17.15 in which trade union leaders and workers will set out:

The catastrophic consequences of huge price increases on working people and their families

Their demands for decisive action from the EU and national governments including increased wages and income support, a tax on profits and a cap on prices.

October 6:

Demonstrators congregated at Camberwell Green in south London on Wednesday and marched to Peckham in the latest of a series of actions protesting the plan to axe 16 London bus routes and 250 buses.

Previous protests took place on 3 August and 6 September and the RMT organised a massive rally about London transport cuts on 2 September.

On Wednesday Marina Ahmad, London Assembly member for Southwark, thanked the members of Unite the union for arranging the event. She said that 25 percent of the proposed cuts were to routes passing through Southwark.

Amazon has suspended at least 50 warehouse employees who refused to work their shifts following a trash compactor fire at one of its New York facilities, according to union organizers.

The company suspended the workers, with pay, on Tuesday, a day after the fire disrupted operations at the Staten Island warehouse that voted to unionize earlier this year.

Derrick Palmer, the vice president of the Amazon Labor Union, said day-shift workers were sent home with pay due to the fire, which began late afternoon Monday. But night-shift employees, who were just coming in for their shift were told to remain in a break area until management figured out the situation, he said.

Dozens of workers began to raise concerns about safety. Some were worried the air in the facility would be unsafe to breathe because of smoke from the fire. Eventually, roughly 100 workers held a sit-down protest at the facility's main office, demanding to be sent home with pay.

Workers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are officially on strike and approximately 40,000 people will be without a newspaper this morning.

Mailers and typographers who are members of the Communications Workers of America union say they've been working without a contract for more than four years and haven't had a raise in 16 years.

The workers are responsible for designing, printing, and distributing the paper, along with advertising sales and accounts.

October 7:

Tensions between Catalonia’s two main pro-independence parties boiled over on Friday night when the hardline Junts party abandoned the regional coalition government, leaving the region in the minority hands of the more moderate Catalan Republican Left (ERC).

The two parties, who formed a coalition after the regional election in February 2021, have profound and longstanding disagreements over the best way to achieve their shared aim of Catalan independence. The ERC wants a negotiated political solution, while Junts favours a more confrontational and unilateral approach to seceding from Spain.

Leftist Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is leading right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, with 49% of voter support against the incumbent’s 44%, ahead of an Oct. 30 runoff vote, according to a poll published on Friday.

The survey by pollster Datafolha was conducted Oct. 5-7, interviewing 2,884 people with a margin of error of 2 percentage points up or down. Datafolha was one of several polling firms criticized for underestimating support for Bolsonaro in the first-round vote on Oct. 2.

A book by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on the Party's rule-based governance, has been published by the Central Party Literature Press.

The book, compiled by the Institute of the Party History and Literature of the CPC Central Committee, contains 400 sections of Xi's discourses on the Party's rule-based governance, which are selected from more than 180 reports, speeches, articles and instructions made by him from Nov 15, 2012 to June 17, 2022.

Some of them were published for the first time, a statement on the book's publication said on Friday.

October 8:

Trade unions and progressive political parties across Europe have intensified protests against the ongoing cost of living crisis and are demanding concrete measures from the governments. On Saturday, October 8, Czech trade unions like the Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (CMKOS), as well as opposition parties including the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM), marched in Prague to protest the government’s insensitivity in handling the crisis.

On the same day, a massive workers’ mobilization took place in Rome. It was called by the Italian General Confederation of labor (CGIL), demanding that the European Union (EU) resolve the issues being faced by workers and common people instead of escalating the Russia-Ukraine war. On October 7, cadres of the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) hit the streets in the cities of Liege and Limbourg as part of the ‘Fridays of Rage’ protests that are being organized by the party, calling on the government to lower energy prices and tax the excess profits of energy companies. The Greek working class has also intensified protests against the anti-labor policies of the conservative New Democracy (ND)-led government that have worsened the situation of workers amid the cost of living crisis.

A spokesman for the National Aviation Administration (NAA) of the DPRK issued the following press statement on October 8:

Recently, the 41st Session of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Assembly adopted the so-called "resolution" describing the DPRK's missile launch as violation of "UN Security Council resolution" and the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

The NAA of the DPRK categorically condemns and rejects this as a political provocation of the U.S. and its vassal forces aimed to infringe upon the sovereignty of the DPRK.

The missile test launch by the DPRK is a regular and planned self-defensive step for defending the country's security and the regional peace from the U.S. direct military threats that have lasted for more than half a century. The test launch was conducted with full consideration in advance into the safety of civil aircraft in international flights, so it didn't pose any threat and harm to the safety of not only civil aviation but also the neighboring countries and region.

October 9:

Long tailbacks of vehicles continued to grow outside French service stations on Sunday as petrol supply was hit by pay strikes at refineries run by the oil giants, TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil.

The leftwing CGT union is leading a refinery workers’ strike for better pay during the cost-of-living crisis, and for a share of companies’ high profits.

Workers at the French energy group TotalEnergies are seeking an immediate 10% pay rise after a surge in energy prices led to huge profits that allowed the company to pay out an estimated €8bn in dividends and an additional special dividend to investors.

Like other major oil companies, TotalEnergies has seen its profits soar as energy prices rose during the war in Ukraine, and government officials have been pressing the company to settle the standoff.

October 10:

Left-wing sections in Denmark are opposing inadequate funding and cuts to the health and welfare sector proposed in the budget agreements between the federal government and the regions and municipalities for the year 2023. The leftist Red-Green Alliance (Unity List) and the Danish Communist Party, among others, have protested the inadequate allocations proposed for regions and municipalities, especially in the healthcare sector. Leftists also denounced the extra allocations for the military at a time when the people of the county are reeling under a cost of living crisis and hospitals are facing a shortage of staff and resources.

As Denmark heads toward general elections on November 1, the Danish Nurses’ Organization has urged its members to put pressure on politicians to prioritize the problems of workers in the health sector and raise issues like underpaid jobs, overwork, wage gap, unfilled vacancies, and lack of funds and infrastructure. Last year, a nearly 100-day-long strike was organized by nurses across Denmark demanding a wage hike and an end to the wage gap.

DPRK gave the following answer to a question raised by KCNA Saturday:

At the moment the U.S. nuclear-powered carrier Ronald Reagan task force is being involved in the naval joint mobile drill against the DPRK in the open sea close to the East Sea of Korea, together with the naval warships of the puppet forces of south Korea.

The U.S. sent the nuclear-powered carrier task force to the waters off the Korean peninsula again in just a few days, an event of considerably huge negative splash to the regional situation.

This is a sort of military bluffing meant to issue the so-called warning to the righteous reaction shown by the Korean People's Army to the extremely provocative and threatening joint military drills of the U.S. and south Korea.

The armed forces of the DPRK are seriously approaching the extremely worrisome development of the present situation.

Excerpts from the speech given by Enrique Santiago, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain at the Fiesta PCE, October 1, 2022. An English translation of the speech was released by the party October 10:

Today more than ever, we live in an agitated world full of social and armed conflicts, a world that is every day moving away from the necessary creation of a new multilateral order, where collaboration between peoples prevails in order to build a model of human development that respects the limits of the planet and puts an end to the great scourges of humanity, such as social injustice, the exploitation of people, hunger, disease, the plundering of natural resources and the pollution of the planet, and the denial of fundamental rights.

Our planet and humanity have sufficient natural, scientific and technical resources for this, and only the greed of an insatiable system and the suicidal voracity of capitalism make it unfeasible. We reiterate that today the capitalist system, besides being tremendously unjust, exploiting human beings and predating resources, is suicidal in that it drives a development that is increasingly incompatible with the preservation of ecosystems, of life and, therefore, of the survival of humanity.


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