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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Red Review #94 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from France, the USA, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Ireland, Canada, Cuba, Norway, the DPRK and elsewhere.


There is also a section related to the events in Sudan.

Vive la Commune!, French workers continue mass protests in France, April 13 -- image via Twitter


April 11:



The Chilean Chamber of Deputies, on Tuesday, April 11, approved a bill to gradually reduce the work week from 45 to 40 hours over the course of next five years. The lower house of the Congress endorsed this modification to the labor code with 127 votes in favor, 14 against, and three abstentions.


The bill had already been approved in the Senate. Last month, on March 21, the upper house of Congress had unanimously passed it. The president is expected to sign it into law in the coming days so that it can be published in the Official Gazette at the earliest and enter into force before or on May 1, the International Workers’ Day.


April 12:



President Lula arrived to the People’s Republic of China on Wednesday, April 12, for one of the most important state visits of his third presidential term. The diplomatic visit, which will take place on April 13 and 14, includes ministers and governors—a reflection of the size of the existing and future possibilities in the relationship between Brazil and the Asian power.


It is expected that over 20 agreements will be signed in Beijing, intensifying the already huge trade between the two countries. China has been Brazil’s biggest trading partner since 2009. Last year, the trade balance between them surpassed USD 150 billion, in addition to being the major source of investment in all Latin American countries.


April 13:




With statements from the Communist Party of Ireland and the Workers' Party of Ireland


US President Joe Biden spoke to Ireland's parliament Thursday, April 13 during his visit to the country and while he was predictably greeted warmly by its social democratic, centrist and right wing members not everyone was as pleased.


Four members of People Before Profit (PBP), plus Mick Barry of the Socialist Party boycotted his visit.



Four members of People Before Profit (PBP), plus a Socialist Party lawmaker, have said they will boycott Joe Biden's speech to the Irish parliament.


The left-wing group has strongly criticized the president's stance on major international issues and has spoken out against his record.





Kazakhstan is again shaken by events related to mass rallies and strikes, which also began in the oil-producing western region of the country. The reason for the protests was the mass arrest on Tuesday of a delegation of dismissed oil workers who went to Astana to seek the truth from officials of the Ministry of Energy.


It all started with the fact that in early April, several hundred workers of the BeraliMangistau Company contractor staged a round-the-clock sit-in protest in the city of Zhanaozen, Mangistau region, at the office of the state company Ozenmunaigas, which is part of the national corporation KazMunaiGas (an analogue of Gazprom). The fact is that they all lost their jobs at once after their private service company lost the tender for carrying out the necessary work.


In this regard, the dismissed workers demanded to include them all in the composition of the state company Ozenmunaigas, repeating the previous statements of the striking oil workers in 2021 and 2022 about the need to cancel the results of production optimization and privatization of auxiliary enterprises with the return of their teams back.


In fact, in practice, this means the demand for nationalization, since as a result of the "reforms" carried out over the past ten years by the Western management of quasi-state-owned companies, tens of thousands of workers ended up in numerous private LLP, losing in the social package and earnings.



Custodial and maintenance workers at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) represented by CUPE are starting their first-ever job action this morning after the university administration failed to address the rising cost of living and inequality in the pension plan during negotiations.


“This is historic. We’re people who usually quietly work away at keeping the university clean and operating smoothly. It takes a lot to get us riled up,” said Jason Vigilante, president of CUPE 233. “But we can’t be quiet when the employer unilaterally changes our pension plan and makes it so we’re paying a higher percentage than faculty.”


The two sides have been in negotiations since September, and CUPE has made it clear from the beginning that the pension dispute and a decent wage increase were issues that would lead to job action if left unresolved. The maintenance and custodial workers are seeking pension bargaining rights equivalent to those contained in the faculty association collective agreement.


“This is an issue of basic fairness, and the faculty association is on our side in this. What TMU is doing is wrong,” said Vigilante. “The resolution to all this is very simple. The administration already recognizes these rights in the faculty contract.”


April 14:





Rep. Jamaal Bowman and Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday published a letter signed by a dozen congressional colleagues and backed by dozens of advocacy groups urging the Biden administration to revisit the billions of dollars in mostly unconditional military aid the United States gives Israel each year in light of "the alarming actions of the new extreme right-wing Israeli government" against Palestinians.


The lawmakers' letter to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken expresses "deep concern" over the "rapidly escalating violence" perpetrated by Israeli occupation forces and settler-colonists against Palestinians.



Raised in Princeton, New Jersey, Robeson was among the first Black men in the country to play professional football. He became a trained lawyer, a 1930s movie star, a Shakespearean actor on the London stage and a singer with one of the most revered bass-baritone voices in American history.


In a ceremony this Friday, 125 years after his birth, he will be honored in Philadelphia with a street bearing his name.




Spontaneous protests broke out in France on April 14, Friday, after the country’s Constitutional Council ratified the increase in the retirement age from 62 to 64, the most controversial aspect of the pension reforms pushed by the Emmanuel Macron-led government. Macron signed the bill into law early on Saturday.


Even though the Council struck down certain provisions of the bill, it also rejected the first version of the Referendum of Shared Initiative (RIP) on the implementation of the reforms. The proposal for the referendum was submitted by the MPs from the left-wing New Ecologic and Social Peoples Union’s (NUPES) coalition. The Constitutional Council will decide on a second RIP on May 3.


The coordination of the trade unions, which includes the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), called for protests to continue until the ‘reforms’ are rolled back A fresh round of protests is scheduled for May 1


April 15:



Brazil’s leader said on Saturday that the United States should stop “encouraging war” in Ukraine. President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva sent the message as he ended his landmark visit to China and meeting with President Xi Jinping which heralded a “leap forward” in the relationship between the two nations.


Speaking to journalists before leaving China on Saturday, Lula said that Brazil’s relationship with the Asian giant is “going beyond” that phase of commodity exports. He said that he visited the headquarters of Chinese telecommunications company Huawei because he needed to promote “a digital revolution” in his South American nation.



After kicking off the electoral campaign in Hatay, the Greens and the Left Future Party (Green Left Party) made public visits in the Defne district of Hatay. The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Democratic Regions Party (DBP), Socialist Party of the Oppressed (ESP), Socialist Re-Establishment Party (SYKP) and Green Left Party candidates Kerem Nalbant and Semih Aksakal were part of the delegation that visited the city.


The delegation, who toured the streets and the tents in which earthquake victims live, handed out leaflets of the Green Left Party. Candidate Nalbant underlined the marginalization caused by the 20-year AKP rule among the peoples. Nalbant drew attention to the fact that the only way to get rid of the AKP government is for people to exercise their right to vote on 14 May.


A woman said: “You have been with us since the first day after the earthquake, we have not seen a single person from the state. We will not give our vote to anyone but you.” Another earthquake survivor said: "You are the closest party to the people."


April 16:



Cuba celebrated today the 62nd anniversary of the proclamation of the socialist character of its Revolution, with a political-cultural event led by President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

At the corner of 23rd and 12th, Havana, the place where the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro, made the declaration, Government and State officials, leaders of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), political and mass organizations members, and the population recalled the event that marked the ideological course of the project initiated on the island on January 1, 1959.



On Sunday 16 April, Norway’s main trade union confederation, LO, announced it had broken off talks with the employers’ organisation (NHO) over pay. The main trade union organisations are now out on a ‘general strike’. According to the leader of the LO, this is the first time since the second world war that the LO has called for such action.


The LO stated that for the last two years, workers have had to cope with rising living costs, which have outstripped salary increases. “This general strike puts the workers and workers’ struggle back on the agenda,” said the leader of the LO, Peggy Hessen Følsvik. She commented that the ‘old-fashioned’ class struggle is now in the limelight.


“LO demanded increased purchasing power for all its members and a boost for the low-paid,” she said in a statement. “[The employers’ representative] has chosen to reject our demands, and thus sends the country into a strike.”


Transport, hotel, and construction sectors are all hit by the strikes. More than 22,000 workers from the LO are taking part, alongside around 1,500 from a smaller union. If no solution is found during this week, the LO states, another 16,000 workers will join the strike, next Friday.


April 17:





FRENCH unions vowed today to intensify the fight against the rise in the state pension age from 62 to 64 after President Emmanuel Macron insisted on Monday that the change was needed to keep the system afloat as the population ages.


In many cities, opponents of the changes signed into law by Mr Macron on Saturday took to the streets to bang pots and pans during Mondays televised address to the nation over the crisis that has engulfed the country.


Many shouted: “Macron won’t listen to us? We won’t listen to him!”


In Paris, the gatherings quickly turned into spontaneous demonstrations in several neighbourhoods, with some people setting fire to trash cans as police attempted to disperse the crowd.




Monumental edifices symbolic of the development and future of socialism are springing up one after another along with the undying journey of the great Workers' Party of Korea for demonstrating the dignity and status of the country and people to the world and courageously ushering in a new era of overall state prosperity through its strong guidance.


A thriving street under socialism and a new street for the people which will provide the citizens in Pyongyang with more civilized life was built in the Hwasong area near the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the sacred temple of Juche, according to the long-term goal of building dwelling houses in Pyongyang set forth by the Party.


True to the noble intention of the Party Central Committee, which set it as the primary policy task to build the people's houses, soldier-builders and civilian-builders have successfully completed another modern city district in a matter of one year by displaying fervent enthusiasm for working miracles and the revolutionary spirit out of their glory and pride of opening up a new era of capital city construction.


April 18:



PEOPLE Before Profit has pledged to reinstate lost and privatised council services while simultaneously reducing the burden on ratepayers.


The all-Ireland socialist party, which on Tuesday launched its local government election manifesto, is running 15 candidates in three council areas – Belfast, Derry & Strabane and Causeway Coast & Glens.


Under the heading 'A Socialist Vision for Local Councils', the party proposes ending the outsourcing and privatisation of services, while challenging what the manifesto terms "the communal carve-up in council chambers".



Members affiliated to the CPI (M), CPI, VCK, MDMK and among other political outfits staged a demonstration near the District Collectorate in Ramanathapuram on Tuesday condemning the Governor R.N. Ravi.


The Governor is on a two-day visit to Ramanathapuram district and even as the officials were preparing to receive him, the political party cadres had assembled to show their protest.



Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yván Gil welcomed his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Caracas on Tuesday where the pair announced efforts to work on joint projects in oil production, agriculture, medicine, and space exploration.


“We are going to continue working to strengthen relations between the Russian Federation and Venezuela, two strategic partners," said Gil during a press conference.


Lavrov, for his part, said that Venezuela was among Russia’s “most reliable partners.”


The Russian foreign minister is currently on a multi-country tour in the region, having first visited Brazil. He is expected to later visit Nicaragua and Cuba.


April 19:



More than 155,000 federal public servants are on strike after the federal government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) failed to reach a deal before a Tuesday evening deadline.


The announcement came after two bargaining groups representing a significant part of the government workforce entered a legal strike position last week.


The national PSAC president announced at a Tuesday evening news conference the strike would begin at 12:01 a.m. ET Wednesday.


"We are still a ways apart, but we're staying at the table because we're still hopeful and our goal is still to get to a tentative agreement," said Chris Aylward.


"Our members are prepared to fight for a good, decent, fair collective agreement."


Sudan:



Sudanese Communists are calling for an “immediate” ceasefire as the civilian casualty count in the bitter struggle for power between Sudan’s army and a notorious paramilitary force hit almost 100 dead and around 600 wounded.


The fierce fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and other areas has dealt a new blow to hopes for a transition to democracy and raises fears of a wider conflict.


The clashes capped months of heightened tensions between the military, headed by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and its partner-turned-rival, the Rapid Support Forces group (RSF), led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.


Those tensions had delayed a deal with political parties to get the country back to its short-lived transition to democracy, which was derailed by an October 2021 military coup.


There were chaotic scenes in the Khartoum, with fighters firing from truck-mounted machine guns in densely-populated neighborhoods.



A Statement to the Sudanese People


The intense violent military clash between the generals of the Security Committee and their forces is exposing the masses of our people to danger and recklessness of the counter-revolutionary forces' ambitions and to more bloodshed.


This clash is a result of the deviation of the military and civil forces that assumed the leadership and rule of the country since the beginning of the revolution in April 2019.


The victims of the continuing violence and counter-violence are the people who have been striving for the continuation of the Revolution and achieving full democratic civil power. The way back to normal life begins with an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire, the departure of armies and militias from the cities and villages, and keeping them far from citizens’ gatherings in towns and rural areas.


What is happening now is a continuation of the struggle over power and the country's wealth, encouraged by some foreign powers, and being carried out by armed groups subservient to these foreign powers. These bloody clashes and their continuation is what our Party has been warning about, and they are spreading confusion and fear among citizens.


In this context, the Communist Party considers it necessary to expedite the dissolution of all militias, collecting the weapons deployed in cities and rural areas, and rebuilding a unified professional national army.


The Sudanese Communist Party calls for unity to demand an immediate ceasefire, the exit of armies and militias from cities, and to save the country from the bloody infighting among the generals.


The unity of our people, all the patriotic forces, the Forces for Radical Change and the Resistance Committees in support of the goals of the Revolution and restoring peace, security and stability is an urgent task. It is the only basis to end the current crisis, reclaim the Revolution and establish the power of the people.


Freedom, Peace, Justice and Civil State is the Choice of the People


In this context, the Communist Party calls upon our people to protect the neighbourhoods and residential areas.


The Sudanese Communist Party also calls upon the peoples of the world and the democratic and Communist forces to raise the banners of solidarity with the struggle of the Sudanese people and to restrain the forces hostile to the glorious December Revolution.


Central Committee


Sudanese Communist Party


15 April 2023



The KKE expresses its full solidarity with the working class, the people of Sudan and the Sudanese CP that are experiencing another intra-bourgeois armed conflict, in which foreign powers are involved, causing a new bloodshed.


The conflict between the bourgeois powers, local and foreign, is about the division of Sudan’s considerable mineral wealth, as well as its geopolitical position.


The bloody developments in Sudan are part of the wider conflict in the Sahel region, where both Euro-Atlantic monopoly interests and those of China and Russia are involved. Our country is also involved in the confrontation in the wider region, with the deployment of the Patriot artillery team in Saudi Arabia and with the “Strategic Partnership Agreement for Cooperation in Defence and Security” between Greece and France, which provides for Greece’s military assistance at the side of the imperialist plans of France and the EU in Africa.


The KKE stands in solidarity with the struggle of the Sudanese people for the conquest of their economic, social and democratic rights, and for the creation of conditions for them to become masters in their own land.


It calls upon the Greek government to take all necessary measures for the safe return of the Greeks who are stranded in Sudan and wish to be repatriated.


It demands the disengagement of Greece from imperialist plans, including those concerning the Sahel zone, and the return of all Greek military units from imperialist missions abroad.





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