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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #87: -- International Left and Labour News

With news from Italy, Germany, the USA, Finland, Tunisia, the DPRK and elsewhere. There is also a section with statements from Communist parties related to the first anniversary of the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

Communist youth march against war in Italy, February 25, 2023

February 20:

Six Cambria hotel workers went on strike yesterday morning, February 20, in Morrisville, North Carolina. Workers rallied among a crowd of 50 in front of the hotel, joined by fellow members of the Union of Southern Service Workers, as well as supporters. The workers, all of whom are Black, are demanding an end to racist verbal abuse, safer working conditions, and the immediate reinstatement of two workers who were unjustly fired last week.

“We feel like we’re discriminated [against] here. Sometimes we get referred to as ‘boy’ or ‘brother’ instead of our names,” said striking hotel worker Christopher Daughterty.

Workers also accuse management of racial discrimination in their decision to abruptly fire two Black women. Bobbie Fuller, one of the fired workers, said, “When they fired us, they fired the only two black women with power in the hotel.”

A judge-led public inquiry has found that an undercover police unit that infiltrated leftwing political groups caused “outrage and pain” to the public and acted in a sexist and racist way.

The inquiry ruled that the Scotland Yard unit was not justified in intruding deeply into the private lives of campaigners, including their sexual relationships, and suggested it should have been disbanded early in its existence.

The inquiry found that the managers of the unit frequently approved reports that contained “many examples” of racism and sexism.

Workers at a Starbucks in Valparaiso voted to make the coffee shop on LaPorte Avenue the second unionized Starbucks in Indiana, in a bid to preserve their benefits and secure better pay and working conditions.

Hourly workers at the Starbucks at 2310 LaPorte Ave. asked the National Labor Relations Board for union representation and then held a vote. Workers voted 16-5 to form a union, organizer Reagan Skaggs said.

"It's fantastic," she said. "We've been working on this for more than a year. We had partners come in and go over everything before we filed to make sure we had more than 70%. We had well over 70%."

February 21:

On 21/2/23, thousands of young people responded to the call of the Attica Region Organization of the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE), which held a rally and march at the US Embassy in Athens on the occasion of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s visit. They demanded that Greece’s participation in the imperialist war in Ukraine be stopped and that the country be disengaged from the dangerous plans of the US and NATO. A similar mass mobilization took place in Thessaloniki.

Today, 21 February, is the 175th anniversary of a landmark moment for humanity. On that day in 1848, the Manifesto of the Communist Party appeared. The Communist Manifesto was written by Karl Marx and Friedrich on behalf of the Communist League, a transnational party formed to build a better future for all workers.

It set out in simple but forceful terms the materialist conception of history, or dialectical materialism, i.e. that human history was driven by a class struggle between the haves and the have-nots, between master and servant, between exploiter and exploited.

In that struggle, it pointed out, the state acts as the tool of the ruling class, and that the only way to establish freedom was for the wage-earning workers, the proletariat, to take control of it and use its power to abolish economic and other forms of oppression.

February 22:

The Communist Party of Finland (SKP) announced its 64 candidates and released its manifesto for the parliamentary elections in the country scheduled for April 2. In the backdrop of the ongoing imperialist wars and conflicts, the SKP has raised the call of “Money for prosperity, not for arms!’ as its motto in the election campaign. The current government in power in Finland is a coalition of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), the Center Party, the Green League, the Left Alliance, and the Swedish People Party, and is headed by Sanna Marin. The right-wing Finns Party and the National Coalition are the major opposition parties in the 200-seat parliament.

According to a SKP press release on February 22, the party is contesting 11 out of the 13 multi-member constituencies in the country. In its election manifesto, the SKP called for a fundamental change in the direction of policy to deal with the financial crisis in public services, the energy and environmental crises, war, and democratic deficit.

The elections are taking place against the backdrop of continuing war in Ukraine, which has led to political ramifications in Finland and surrounding regions. In April last year, Finland and Sweden announced their willingness to join NATO, reversing their traditional policy of neutrality. The SKP has been protesting Finland’s bid for NATO membership, and has also denounced the increase in defense spending.

February 23:

There have been many health problems for which Cuban science and the human and intellectual potential of the scientists, has found an effective and sovereign response in order to protect and improve the quality of life of the population.

This humanist premise is confirmed time and time again. The latest instance is the recent announcement of the project to create a vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), led by the National Center for Scientific Research (CNIC in Spanish), together with other entities of the BioCubaFarma business group.

‘Peace and social progress in Europe are intimately linked. War is an additional reason used by the ruling classes to impose austerity policies and sacrifices on workers, who have always payed the highest prices,’ the former presidential candidate warned in a statement.

In this sense, he urged the French government to choose the field of peace and to rediscover an independent and constructive diplomacy, which stops systematically aligning itself with NATO and the United States.

According to the deputy, under these arguments the communists defend, unlike others, the non-extension of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which will be a year old tomorrow.

Hundreds demonstrated their support for workers at the Institut Philippe-Pinel in Montreal. Workers there are experiencing intense issues in their workplace, and close to 154 employees have left their jobs in the past two years. This exodus has caused concern about staff, patient, and public safety.

The Institut currently has 840 unionized employees—but those on sick leave, leave without pay, and parental leave are deducted from the figure, meaning that there are about 685 current members.

CUPE 2960, which represents these workers, points to the shortage of specialized pacification and safety caseworkers (ISPS), who are responsible for emergency interventions in the institution. They have been steadily leaving to work in the provincial or federal penitentiary system and in police forces, where wages and working conditions are better.

February 25:

Protesters in Paris and Berlin capitals have rallied to demand peace in Ukraine, a day after the anniversary of Russia’s invasion.

Thousands of people protested in the Germany capital on Saturday to condemn the government’s supply of arms to Ukraine and call for peace talks to end the war.

On Saturday February 25, tens of thousands of people rallied at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin demanding that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz take an active role in encouraging negotiations to end the ongoing war in Ukraine. The mobilization with the slogan ‘Uprising for Peace’ was called for by Left party MP Sahra Wagenknecht, journalist Alice Schwarzer, retired Brigadier General Erich Vad, economist Jeffrey Sachs and others. It called for negotiations, diplomacy and peace, instead of the ongoing escalation of the war by delivering sophisticated arms and ammunition to Ukraine.

Sahra Wagenknecht MP and Alice Schwarzer also initiated a petition titled ‘Manifesto For Peace’ demanding the German Chancellor to “make a strong alliance for a ceasefire and peace negotiations at both the German and European levels.”

The anti-fascist groups who attended the rally in Berlin also protested the presence of far-right groups like the Alternative for Germany (AfD) in the rally.

A day prior, on February 24, anti-war groups including the Berlin Peace Coordination (FRIKO), German Communist Party (DKP), and others also rallied in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin calling for peace.

On Saturday, February 25, trade unions in Italy observed a nationwide maritime port strike demanding safety and security for port workers, increase in wages, and an end to the transfer of arms and ammunition for imperialist wars through Italian ports. On the call given by Unione Sindacale di Base (USB) and the Autonomous Collective of Port Workers (CALP), a demonstration was held at the port of Genoa titled ‘Guns Down, Wages Up!’ to protest against the complicity of the Italian government led by Giorgia Meloni in the war efforts in Ukraine and the transfer of arms through the port of Genoa. On the same day, anti-imperialist sections—including left-wing parties such as Potere al Popolo—hit the streets in major cities across the country denouncing the ongoing war in Ukraine and calling for ‘negotiations instead of escalation’.

The port workers of Genoa have been resisting the use of Italian ports to supply arms to imperialist conflicts in Ukraine and Yemen. Workers of the Pisa airport had earlier protested against arms delivery to Ukraine in the cover of humanitarian aid. Port workers are currently also agitated due to the death of workers in the ports of Trieste and Civitavecchia in Rome, and have been demanding that authorities ensure the safety of port workers. Workers are also demanding an increase in wages at par with inflation to cope with the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Schools teachers and their unions in Portugal have intensified mobilizations demanding an increase in wages and time-bound promotions at work. A mobilization in Lisbon on Saturday, February 25, was the latest of three major mobilizations called by teachers recently. The Union of All Education Professionals (STOP), the Independent Union of Teachers and Educators (SIPE), the National Federation of Teachers (Fenprof), and Federação Nacional da Educação (FNE), among others, are leading the protests and also observed a protest week in schools from February 13 to 17.

The teachers’ protest is taking place alongside general protests under the title Vida Justa, or ‘Fair Life’, by the Portuguese working class, as neighborhood groups demand wages that keep pace with the soaring Inflation. Teachers have currently also set up around 20 tents in front of Portugal’s parliament as part of the protests. Their strike is likely to continue on March 2 and 3 if the negotiations with the authorities do not move forward.

The Tunisian Workers’ Party has condemned President Kais Saied’s speech last week in which he blamed migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa for trying to change the country’s demographics. The party accused him of using racism and hatred to divert the people’s attention from his failures in the economic and political spheres, and asked him to apologize.

On Saturday, February 25, hundreds of Tunisians took to the streets in capital Tunis denouncing Saied’s racist comments. The African Union (AU) also condemned his speech in a statement issued on Friday.

Saied had made the controversial comments during his speech at the Tunisian National Security Council on February 21. He had said that “the undeclared goal of the successive waves of illegal immigration is to consider Tunisia a purely African country that has no affiliation to the Arab and Islamic nations.”

February 26:

February 27:

Environmental campaigner Greta Thunberg and dozens of other activists have blocked entrances to Norway’s energy ministry, protesting against wind turbines built on land traditionally used by Indigenous Sami reindeer herders.

Thunberg, a vocal advocate for ending the world’s reliance on carbon-based power, said the transition to green energy could not come at the expense of Indigenous rights.

“Indigenous rights, human rights, must go hand-in-hand with climate protection and climate action. That can’t happen at the expense of some people. Then it is not climate justice,” Thunberg told the Reuters news agency while sitting outside the ministry’s main entrance with other demonstrators on Monday.

The 7th enlarged plenary meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) was convened at the office building of the WPK Central Committee on February 26.

The meeting will analyze and review the work for 2022, the first year of implementing the programme for the rural revolution in the new era, and decide on the immediate important tasks and the urgent tasks arising at the present stage of the national economic development and the practical ways for implementing them.

Kim Jong Un , general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, was present at the meeting.

Attending it were Kim Tok Hun and Jo Yong Won, members of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the C.C., WPK.

Present were members and alternate members of the WPK Central Committee, and officials of the Cabinet, ministries, national institutions and provincial, city and county level leadership bodies and officials in the agricultural field and relevant fields and units as observers.

The 7th enlarged plenary meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) continued on February 27 amid the expectation and interest of all the Party members and other people across the country.

Speeches on the first agenda item were made at the second-day sitting of the plenary meeting.

Secretaries of the Party Central Committee analyzed the shortcomings revealed by relevant sectors and units in the course of carrying into practice the Party's new rural development strategy and their causes and lessons, and proposed to the plenary meeting the measures to be taken.

Senior officials in various sectors made written speeches.

The respected General Secretary Kim Jong Un made an important conclusion on the first agenda item.

The majority of flights at Germany's Duesseldorf and Cologne Bonn regional airports were grounded by a 24-hour strike by the Verdi trade union on Monday, the airports said.

The Duesseldorf airport on Monday said only 89 flights of a planned 330 were taking place while 29 were diverted to other airports and seven were rescheduled for the next day.

Of Monday's usual 136 daily passenger flights scheduled for Cologne Bonn airport, only two were set to operate as scheduled.

It is the latest in a series of strikes and protests that have hit major European economies, including France, Britain and Spain, as higher food and energy prices knock incomes and living standards after the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine.

February 28:

The following is the communiqué issued by Communist Party of India General Secretary D Raja at the press conference on February 28 after the conclusion of the three-day National Council Meeting held at Puducherry on February 26, 27 and 28, 2023:

A meeting of the National Council of the Communist Party of India was held on 26, 27 and 28 February, 2023 at Puducherry.

The meeting was presided over jointly by Com. Vanaja, Member, National Executive, Com. Bant Singh Brar, Secretary, Punjab State Council and Com. A.M. Saleem, Secretary, Puducherry State Council of the Party.

Party General Secretary D. Raja placed the draft report on political, economic developments, proposals for future campaigns and on organizational tasks. In a strongly worded document the general secretary of the Party has exposed anti-people, anti-constitutional activities of the BJP government. The BJP government and Modi rule in his 9th year serious damage to the secular, democratic fabric of India caste based atrocities have increased and so also the discrimination with minorities. He also exposed the anti-federal nature of the government and severely criticized the union budget presented for the 2023-24. In the period of Amrit Kal BJP made its priorities clear by reducing allotment for all social sector programmes. Allotment for critical schemes like MGNREGS have been slashed significantly, issues like unemployment, price rise are not addressed at all. He also made it clear the CPI stands for peaceful resolution of Ukraine and Russia conflict and warns that interference by European countries and US through NATO will escalate the war. After deliberations, the following decisions have been taken.

Party to conduct nation wise padyatras in all the states from April 14 (Ambedkar Jayanti) to May 15th and to conduct a political campaign to defeat BJP and its misrule to protect the nation and the core values of the Constitution.

Timed to go to the toilet. Told off for leaning. Monitored for each package completed. As a worker at Amazon, I often feel that we aren’t being treated as people.

But for me, the moment I knew we needed to go on strike was when we were told we’d be getting a pay rise of just 50p extra an hour. We came into work one day and the managers were holding briefings – telling us that this was all we were going to get, and that we shouldn’t expect anything better. Just 50p extra, when we’re facing rising prices in every shop and energy bills going through the roof. The company describes the offer as “competitive pay”, pointing out that we get employee benefits on top of the hourly wage. Yet the company is making millions – if not billions – for the people at the top.

Everyone who I work with at the warehouse in Coventry is frustrated. Frustrated at bad pay, at the long hours we have to work just to make ends meet, and at sky-high profits that we don’t see any benefit from. The shifts are hard work, spent all on our feet, walking miles back and forth through large warehouses. All of that for just £10.50 an hour. That’s why about 400 workers at our warehouse are striking today.

War in Ukraine Anniversary Statements:

In contrast to the beating of the drums of war in the west on the first anniversary of the start of the war in Ukraine, the People's Republic of China released a twelve point plan to reach a political settlement and stop the ongoing violence.

We reprint it here in full.

No to the Imperialist War in Ukraine

For the strengthening of the class struggle against capitalism, for socialism and peace!

The Communist Party of Belgium opposes the ongoing inter-imperialist war in Ukraine. This war is the fruit of the contradictions between the Euro-Atlantic bloc powers (USA, NATO, EU, Belgium) and capitalist Russia on the other, which have intensified since the restoration of capitalism in Russia and the overthrow of socialism in the USSR. The two blocs pursue the same interests in Ukraine: the appropriation and control of the market of the metallurgical and agricultural sectors, raw materials (gas, oil, metals), transport and distribution networks, the exploitation of the workforce... with the help of sectors of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie. Until the early 2010s, Western and Russian capitalists blithely shared the Ukrainian market before contradictions emerged and became more and more sharpened when a part of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie wanted to link itself to the European/Western market.

The ongoing war on the backs of the peoples, mainly Ukrainian and Russian, therefore has nothing to do with demilitarization or denazification or national defense. To the false pretexts that served as justification for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which we have condemned and still condemn, our Western bourgeois governments have responded with intense war propaganda, united against Russia and each defending the interests of its own monopolies according to its place and power in the imperialist pyramid.

On the first anniversary of the outbreak of the proxy war between NATO and Russia, the chances of it escalating into a direct war between nuclear armed NATO and Russia increases as NATO continues to pour arms and tanks into Ukraine with the promise of more to come. Russia in turn has ended its participation in nuclear arms control with the US. The proximate cause of this situation has been the expansion of NATO and its project to constrict its imperial competitor, Russia, by establishing large bases of troops and mass destructive weapons along its western and southern borders.

One year ago the Communist Party of Ireland condemned the escalation of violence in the region since the US orchestrated coup of 2014, including the killing of 14,000 people in the Donbass by Ukrainian forces and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022, which has resulted in the death and displacement of countless civilians and we called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and a political solution within the UN-negotiated Minsk Agreements of 2014. Such a solution would encompass a demilitarised, neutral Ukraine, with all foreign forces and mercenaries removed and the dismantling of neo-fascist para-military groupings.

Today the need for a ceasefire and genuine negotiations is more urgent than ever. Hawkish elements within NATO oppose peace negotiations, preferring to risk nuclear armageddon in their quest to eliminate Russia as an imperial rival. The EU is actively involved in the war against Russia and it played a major role in bringing it about by its active involvement in the 2014 coup and its continued attempts to subsume Ukraine within its structures. The Irish political and media establishment, in an updated version of John Redmond’s slavish Woodenbridge speech urging Irish youth to their death to protect the “ civilisation” of the British Empire, vie with each other as they demand we abandon our tradition of neutrality and fight to defend “democracy”. The Irish government's strategy has been deeper intervention in Ukraine including supplying arms and now military training for Ukrainian forces in complete contravention of the triple lock on the deployment of Irish troops.

From the very first moment, the KKE has unwaveringly shown our people the real causes of the war. As noted in the Resolution of the Central Committee of the KKE on the imperialist war in Ukraine: “The people of Ukraine have been paying the price for the competition and interventions over the division of markets and spheres of influence between on the one hand the USA, NATO, and the EU and the strategy of ‘Euro-Atlantic enlargement’ and on the other hand the strategy of the capitalist Russian Federation for its own exploitative plans against the peoples, aiming to strengthen its own imperialist coalition (Eurasian Economic Union, Collective Security Treaty Organization) in the former USSR region.”

The KKE pointed out that “The Russian military intervention in essence marks the formal beginning of a war that has been prepared by a powder keg that has been storing up over time. The focus is set on the division of mineral wealth, energy, land, workforce, pipelines, commodity transport networks, geopolitical mainstays, and market shares.

Our Party rejected the pretexts used by the USA, NATO, the EU, including the Greek government, about ‘revisionism’, ‘democracy’, ‘freedom to choose allies’, etc., to support the reactionary government of Zelenskiy. It has shown that the trailblazers, who have made even certain formal provisions of international law into a dead letter, are the EU-NATO imperialists.

The KKE also rejected the pretexts of the Russian side, such as the invocation of anti-fascism, in order to promote the plans of its own monopolies in the region, taking advantage of the strong anti-fascist spirit of the Russians and of all peoples, who paid with millions of dead for the struggle against the fascist-Nazi German occupation and atrocity. (…) We do not forget that capitalist Russia itself, which is at the front line of anti-communism today, maintains friendly relations with far-right groups in many countries and that Russia’s leadership publicly praises the ideologists of Russian fascism”.


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