Red Review #92 -- International Left and Labour News
With news from Portugal, France, the USA, South Africa, Kenya, Zambia, Peru, the Philippines and elsewhere.
Thousands rally in Lisbon, Portugal April 1 to protest the housing crisis in the country -- image via Twitter
From March 17 to 19, 2023, the 25th Party Congress of the DKP took place in Gotha. About 175 delegates from almost all basic and district organizations of the party participated. The party congress received 50 greetings from sister parties as well as greetings from Germany, including from the Socialist German Workers’ Youth, the peace movement, and the East German Trustees of Associations.
The chairman of the DKP, Patrik Köbele, dealt in his speech with the analysis of imperialism, the changes in the international relations of forces and the aspirations of German imperialism, as well as with the tasks of the DKP in the social struggles and the peace movement. The paper can be found in German here: https://www.unsere-zeit.de/in-welcher-epoche-leben-wir-4778511 .
On the second day, the delegates dealt with an exchange of experiences about the work of the DKP in the fields of workplaces and trade unions, local affairs, and peace policy. In many contributions, delegates from basic and district organizations reported on concrete struggles in health care, public service, and postal services, as well as in local politics. During the exchange of experiences on peace policy, among other things, the difficulties of achieving a clear anti-NATO course in the peace movement were reported. It became clear in the debate that it is the task of communists to counter the attempts to split the peace movement. After the three blocks for the exchange of experiences, the delegates decided with a large majority on the motion “Heating, Bread, and Peace – Work in the class – Get into the factories and trade unions – Get into the neighborhoods – Get out on the streets!”, which had previously been concretized by many amendments from the party groups.
On the third day of the Party Congress, the delegates discussed the motion submitted by the Central Committee, “The People’s Republic of China, its struggle to build up a modern socialist country, and the change in the international balance of power”. There had also been numerous amendments to this from basic organizations. After a long and sometimes controversial discussion on the character and role of the People’s Republic of China, the motion, with the inclusion of many proposed amendments, was adopted by about 80 percent of the delegates as an intermediate stage of the discussion. The new central committee was assigned to develop and implement a conception for the further discussion about China, but also about the DKP’s conceptions of socialism.
Gunshots could be heard into the night in the Kenyan city of Kisumu on Monday, March 27, following a day of anti-government protests, which also saw scenes of chaos in the capital of Nairobi. Defying the recent ban on protests, thousands of people took to the streets in the second week of unrest against a growing cost of living crisis.
A young man was shot dead in Kisumu on Monday, the second death reported in the protests so far. The first was a 21-year-old university student who was killed after police fired live rounds in the city on March 20.
Monday’s demonstrations were part of the bi-weekly protests called for by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the current leader of the opposition Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Coalition, pushing for the resignation of incumbent President William Ruto. Odinga has challenged the outcome of the 2022 presidential election, which saw him lose narrowly to Ruto.
The leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today, March 28, issued a statement on the occasion of 54th anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA) tomorrow, March 29. The CPP exhorted the NPA’s commanders and Red fighters to “stir up and spread the flames of the people’s war for national freedom and democracy.”
The Central Committee of the CPP cited “intensified imperialist oppression against the Filipino people” and emphasized the need to “attain freedom from US control and domination and carry out land reform and national industrialization” which it said, “are the key steps to turn (the Filipino people’s) lives around.”
It denounced the neoliberal economic measures being carried out by the Marcos regime which cause the broad masses of the Filipino toiling people to suffer from “dispossession of their livelihood by real estate companies, plantation, mining companies, infrastructure, as well as land reclamation projects.”
The delegation from Honduras has paid visits to the Museum of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the Great Hall of the People and Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall in Beijing, days after the two countries officially established diplomatic ties.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang and his Honduran counterpart Eduardo Enrique Reina met in Beijing and signed the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Honduras on Sunday, recognizing Taiwan as an inalienable part of China's territory.
Xiomara Zelaya, president of the Honduras International Relations and Regional Integration Commission, also a delegation member, tweeted on Tuesday photos and videos of her and the Honduras Foreign Minister visiting the Museum of the Communist Party of China.
The Teamsters are condemning State Senator Blaise Ingoglia and other members of the Florida Legislature for their sponsorship of Senate Bill 256 (SB 256), legislation crafted to destroy public sector unions.
If passed, the bill would outlaw mutually negotiated agreements between employers and workers and mandate recertification elections forced upon workers by the government. Workers would be compelled to read anti-labor propaganda before joining a union under the legislation, which would also impact how union members pay dues.
“This isn’t just an attack on public sector union members, it’s an attack on all workers,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “Union members make more money than nonunion workers doing the exact same job. When unions are weaker, working people have less money in their pockets, and the whole country suffers.”
Police officers from Canada's Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested five land defenders, most of them Indigenous women, in a raid at a camp on unceded Wet'suwet'en territory on March 29.
Gidimt’en checkpoint spokesperson Sleydo’, also known as Molly Wickham, said RCMP officers in multiple vehicles assailed the checkpoint at around 10:30 am and immediately began arresting people. Among those arrested was Gidimt’en Chief Woos’ daughter.
Wet’suwet’en land defenders and Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have been engaged in intense struggles over several years against the Coastal GasLink pipeline being constructed across their territories to connect shale gas sources with two liquefaction and export facilities (LNG Canada and Cedar LNG) in Kitimat on the northwest coast.
On Wednesday 29/03, an event dedicated to the trade union movement in Cuba was organized by the Greek-Cuban Association of Friendship and Solidarity, commemorating the 64th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.
The event was attended by Giorgos Marinos, member of the PB of the CC of the KKE, while the All Workers’ Militant Front (PAME) was represented by Nikos Mavrokefalos, member of the Executive Secretariat.
The Ambassador of Cuba to Greece, Aramis Fuente Hernández, delivered a speech paying tribute to the working class and the trade union movement of Cuba for their work and role in the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTY) and the international labour movement.
Nikos Karandreas, president of the Greek-Cuban Association, spoke about the history of the Cuban labour movement, while Spiros Konstandas, president of the Attica Trade Union of Workers in Local Authorities, spoke about the course of the trade union movement in Cuba and its contribution to the Revolution.
The Party of Labour of Austria (PdA) sharply criticises the propaganda appearance of the Ukrainian president Zelensky in the Vienna parliament. The representative of a war party as well as of a reactionary, repressive regime is out of place in the democratic heart of a neutral country. What is needed is a policy of neutrality and peace instead of NATO war propaganda.
Against the backdrop of the Ukraine war, the Austrian federal government has lost all sense of reason and state policy responsibility. The Ukrainian presidentZelensky is allowed to speak to the Austrian National Council via video link and deliver his message of further armament and warmongering. One cannot and must not negate Russia's responsibility in the current war, but the US and NATO puppet Zelensky is anything but a dove of peace and a democrat.
"Zelensky is by no means the representative of a democratic regime", says PdA Chair Tibor Zenker. "This regime emerged from an anti-democratic coup in 2014 supported by neo-Nazis, it has been waging a war against its own population in the Donbass for just as long, and it suppresses trade unions as well as unpopular religious communities. After the start of the current war, Zelensky has banned the largest opposition parliamentary party, a dozen other parties and critical media. All this does not correspond to the alleged 'European values' of democracy, freedom and the rule of law. No, Zelensky represents a deeply reactionary, repressive, illiberal regime in the service of the oligarchy and Western imperialism."
Employees at a downtown Iowa City location have become the first in Iowa to start the process to form a union, part of a growing trend for Starbucks nationwide.
Starbucks Workers United shared a video this week from Iowa City Employees at the 228 S Clinton St. location announcing they had filed paperwork with the National Labor Relations Board. 31 employees signed the petition, including full and part-time workers and shift supervisors. If 70% of employees vote in favor to unionize, it would be the first Starbucks in Iowa to officially gain bargaining power.
“In the nearly two years I’ve been with Starbucks, I’ve learned how much I value a workplace that is safe for employees, efficient for customers and fun for everyone,” said Molly Belvo, a partner and organizer at the Iowa City location, in a statement to the Corridor Business Journal. “Instead of prioritizing these essential company standards, those at the very top of this company are focused solely on making record profits. Unionizing will ensure these needs are met and create the best environment possible.”
The Brazilian government has opted not to ratify the final declaration of the so-called Democracy Summit, an event promoted by the United States for the third consecutive year, on Thursday, because of its focus on the war in Ukraine.
Brazil rejected the use of this event to attack Russia and recalled that it is up to the General Assembly and the UN Security Council to settle and address this issue.
Some opposition parties on Thursday presented a letter of protest at the U.S. embassy in Zambia against a visit by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.
The letter was presented ahead of Harris' visit, which coincides with the second so-called Summit for Democracy. The U.S. vice president is expected to arrive in Zambia on Friday after visiting Ghana and Tanzania.
On Thursday March 30, Peruvian legislators from the parliamentary benches of progressive Free Peru, Democratic Peru and Democratic Change-Together for Peru political parties presented in Congress a vacancy motion against the de-facto President Dina Boluarte for “permanent moral incapacity” to continue in office.
The left-wing legislators condemned Boluarte for unleashing brutal police and military repression against peaceful protesters during the past four months of protests against her government. The legislators pointed out that at least 49 protesters have been killed in these months at the hands of public security forces.
“Never in the history of Peru, has a government assassinated more than 40 people in demonstrations in such a short time. The excessive and disproportionate use of the Armed Forces and National Police deserves to have more than one person responsible, mainly, the President of the Republic, since according to the Political Constitution, they are the supreme head of the public order forces. Thus, Mrs. Dina Ercilia Boluarte Zegarra, current President of our country, must assume responsibility and answer for all these deaths,” the legislators stressed in the motion.
Vote for exiting from NATO, not for NATO enlargement!
Today the Parliament will vote on NATO enlargement. The general assembly of the Parliament will discuss the bill ratifying the protocol on Finland's accession to NATO.
This vote is illegitimate. Türkiye is in an election process. Parliament will change completely in a few weeks. It is unacceptable to bring the issue to the plenary session of the Parliament like a fire sale.
NATO's attempt to expand in Northern Europe with the accession of Sweden and Finland after the start of the Russia-Ukraine war is aimed at prolonging the war and perpetuating tensions in the region. The western imperialists, especially the US, do not want this war to end.
On the other hand, Erdoğan has used the agenda of NATO's expansion with the membership of Sweden and Finland as a domestic political material from the beginning. Sometimes he tried to play the veto card with the claim of a nationalist valour, sometimes he tried to curry favor with the imperialist centers by becoming a compliant partner. The result is always the same. Erdoğan's unprincipled foreign policy is once again throwing our country into the middle of imperialist calculations.
NATO is a terrorist organization. Since the day it was founded, it has intervened in the internal affairs of countries, openly or covertly. It has organized assassinations. It has staged coups. It has directed drug traffic. It has shed blood wherever working people come together for their rights and demand equality and freedom.
The brand-new leaders of the United Auto Workers are making ambitious demands but face stiff organizing challenges as they seek to jump-start the union, ahead of a momentous contract expiration this September at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis (formerly Chrysler).
At the union’s Detroit convention this week, hundreds of delegates–often local leaders–signaled they were less ready than the members to welcome the reform leadership. But there was unanimity that it’s time to finally recoup the divisive contract concessions granted in the 2007-2009 recession. Under those contracts the then-ailing automakers were allowed to hire new workers at close to half pay and no pension.
On the first day, new President Shawn Fain called for union members to fight for a decisive end to years of givebacks and retreat.
“We are here to come together for the war against our one and only true enemy — the multibillion-dollar corporations and employers who refuse to give our members their fair share,” Fain said. On unifying the membership he added, “I don’t give a damn who you voted for. We are going to come together. We’re going to stop taking scraps—we are going to fight.”
GMB strikes at Amazon are set to escalate as members in Coventry announced six further days of walk outs as the union today [31 March] begins ballots at five new sites.
More than 560 workers at the Coventry warehouse will down tools on 16 – 18 and 21 – 23 of April, which will bring the total strike days at the site to 14.
FRENCH communists welcomed today’s election of Sophie Binet as the general secretary of the left-wing General Confederation of Labour (CGT).
She is the first woman to lead the left-wing union federation in its 128-year history.
Ms Binet, a former school supervisor and general secretary of the General Union of Engineers, Executives and Technicians who was responsible for equality issues on the CGT executive, was a surprise compromise candidate for the post.
On April 1, major rallies were staged across Portugal demanding policies to tackle the housing crisis. Rallies were held in the cities of Lisbon, Porto, Viseu, Aveiro, Coimbra, and Braga under the banner of the coalition “Home to Live In.” Activists from various groups including Habita, Stop Evictions, the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), and Left Bloc (BE) participated in the actions.
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa launched #MaisHabitação (More Housing) on March 31, a program to promote affordable rents, strengthen confidence in the rental market, and utilize already existing units for housing purposes. Yet, housing rights activists denounced the program as a Trojan Horse that will use the public budget to subsidize speculative incomes. Activists have demanded a ceiling on rents and property prices, more funds for social housing, increased wages and an end to evictions.
The Stop Evictions collective has said that over 20,000 people have taken part in mobilizations across the country, involving the participation of around 100 organizations. They also denounced police intimidation against demonstrators in Lisbon.
Starbucks fired Alexis Rizzo, the employee responsible for igniting the Starbucks Workers United union campaign, just days after the company’s former CEO Howard Schultz testified on Capitol Hill about the coffee chain’s alleged union-busting.
Rizzo worked as a shift supervisor at Starbucks for seven years and served as a union leader at the Genesee St. store in Buffalo, New York, which was one of the first two stores in the country to win its union campaign.
Starbucks Workers United announced Rizzo’s termination in a tweet Saturday and said in a corresponding GoFundMe page that “this is retaliation at its worst.”
“I’m absolutely heartbroken. It wasn’t just a job for me. It was like my family,” Rizzo told CNBC in an interview. “It was like losing everything. I’ve been there since I was 17 years old. It’s like my entire support system, and I think that they knew that.”
Spain's labour minister said on Sunday she would stand in a year-end general election as head of the far-left whose support Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will need to stay in office.
"Today I'm taking a step forward. I want to lead our country," Yolanda Diaz told a political rally in Madrid.
Opinion polls consistently show Diaz, a deputy prime minister in Sanchez's coalition government and lifelong member of the Communist party, is Spain's most popular politician.
The South African Communist Party (SACP) held its Annual Augmented Central Committee meeting over the weekend of 31 March to 2 April in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. The meeting included expanded representation from SACP provinces and districts, as well as from the Young Communist League of South Africa.
The Augmented Central Committee was convened to finalise the outstanding task of the Central Committee given by the resolution from the SACP 15th National Congress on State and Popular Power and Electoral Considerations.
The meeting was preceded by intensive and robust discussions by the provincial and district structures of the SACP over the last two weeks. Assessment of the developments in the country and the world was presented by the General Secretary, Comrade Solly Mapaila, followed by a Central Committee discussion paper titled State, Popular and Electoral Considerations: Contesting Elections, more effectively, with or without a Reconfigured Alliance.
South African Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Solly Mapaila said the country’s energy crisis should not be used to facilitate the privatisation of Eskom.
Mapaila was speaking in Johannesburg about the outcomes of the party’s plenary meeting that took place over the weekend.
The leader of the French Communists, Fabien Roussel, has refused to meet with Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne until her boss, President Emmanuel Macron, backs down on his plan to raise the retirement age of French workers.
Roussell, who is General Secretary of the French Communist Party (PCF), called for members of parliament to march on the Élysée Palace, Macron’s residence, to demand the scrapping of the pension reforms.
Borne has insisted she intends to press ahead with the unpopular changes, however, which raise the pension age from 62 to 64.