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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Striketober: Red Review #27 -- International Left and Labour News

The twenty-seventh edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from the United States, the UK, Bolivia, Canada and elsewhere.

John Deere workers picketing after going on strike -- photo via twitter

October 11:

A workers’ union in British Columbia is bringing Uber to the Labour Relations Board over unfair labour practices.

The United Food & Commercial Workers Union UFCW 1518 is claiming that the company fired drivers who refused unsafe work.

After months of negotiations, CVS workers in Southern California have won a new contract with CVS Health that increases their pay and the affordability of their health care, makes their workplace safer, and improves their working conditions.

CVS Health, the fourth largest company in the United States, made a record $7 billion in profits in 2020. However, these profits did not trickle down to the workers. More Perfect Union spoke with CVS workers in Southern California who described being assaulted by anti-maskers, seeing fellow workers die from COVID, and making poverty wages.

October 12:

On October 12, Decolonization Day, thousands of Bolivians marched in different cities of the country in defense of the indigenous Wiphala flag, the democratic and cultural revolution, and in defense of President Luis Arce and the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) govt. These protests came a day after working class and popular sectors in Bolivia organized counter protests to a strike called by right-wing sectors against the MAS govt.

The military and police in Swaziland have been deployed all over the country as students’ protests continued on Tuesday. During the Monday protests, the security forces shot, arrested and tortured students who defended their right to education.

Over 80 schools across Swaziland have been indefinitely shut down since the protests intensified in the last three weeks.

Among other incidents, the police today invaded classrooms and assaulted students at John Wesley and Mater Dolorosa schools in Mbabane.

Mswati, who rules Swaziland as Africa's last absolute monarch, has been deploying his military and police forces to schools amidst political tumult intensified by students’ protests countrywide.

From the early hours of yesterday, October 12, the more than five thousand workers who are building the Refinery of Dos Bocas, in the state of Tabasco, began a protest against the employer ICA Flour, owned by Carlos Slim, a businessman consented to the current federal government headed by López Obrador.

It is the second mobilization of the workers so far this year, who do not stop demanding the fulfillment of their labor rights, especially the reduction of their working day, the payment of overtime and other basic rights.

Steven Estrada, a community organizer, U.S. Army veteran, and proud member of Long Beach’s working class, is running for the City Council seat in District 1. If elected, he would serve for a four-year term alongside eight others representing different council districts.

Roughly 400 Amazon and Google workers on Tuesday condemned their employers for contributing to the surveillance and dispossession of Palestinians by selling cloud services to the Israeli military and government and urged both companies to cut ties with the oppressive regime.

We are writing as Google and Amazon employees of conscience from diverse backgrounds. We believe that the technology we build should work to serve and uplift people everywhere, including all of our users. As workers who keep these companies running, we are morally obligated to speak out against violations of these core values. For this reason, we are compelled to call on the leaders of Amazon and Google to pull out of Project Nimbus and cut all ties with the Israeli military. So far, more than 90 workers at Google and more than 300 at Amazon have signed this letter internally. We are anonymous because we fear retaliation.

We have watched Google and Amazon aggressively pursue contracts with institutions like the US Department of Defense, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), and state and local police departments. These contracts are part of a disturbing pattern of militarization, lack of transparency and avoidance of oversight.

Continuing this pattern, our employers signed a contract called Project Nimbus to sell dangerous technology to the Israeli military and government. This contract was signed the same week that the Israeli military attacked Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – killing nearly 250 people, including more than 60 children. The technology our companies have contracted to build will make the systematic discrimination and displacement carried out by the Israeli military and government even crueler and deadlier for Palestinians.

October 13:

CUBAN authorities have banned a series of marches that were aimed at destabilising the country, claiming that the organisers are linked to groups financed by the US government.

It said that the demonstrations were set to be held in several provinces including Havana, Villa Clara and Las Tunas.

The actions, which were planned for November 15, were rejected as a threat to public order and a breach of the nation’s constitution.

On Wednesday, the Bolivian Prosecutor's Office definitively closed the case concerning the alleged "electoral fraud" in the 2019 elections won by former President Evo Morales.

AMAZON delivery drivers have launched legal action against the online retail giant over lost earnings and could be entitled to an average of £10,500 compensation for each year they have worked.

Currently, drivers making deliveries on behalf of Amazon through service partners are classified as self-employed and do not benefit from employees’ rights such as holiday pay, national minimum wage and an employment contract.

Law firm Leigh Day, representing the workers, believes that Amazon could owe at least 3,000 drivers a total of £140 million in compensation.

Unite, the UK’s leading union, has secured a ‘significant’ pay rise for more than 200 DHL lorry drivers employed at the Sainsbury’s regional distribution centre in Dartford.

The increase, worth 6.2 per cent, equates to at least £2,200 pound a year and comes after the drivers signalled their willingness to strike over pay during a consultative ballot held in August.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “By standing firm and rejecting DHL’s initial offer of just one per cent, Unite’s DHL members at Sainsbury’s Dartford distribution centre secured a pay deal that reflects their worth.

A strike is keeping one in three Belgian Lidl stores closed. That’s around one hundred of the German chain’s 300 Belgian stores. Unions at the low-cost supermarket chain are taking industrial action in protest against work pressure after shopworkers unhappy with the work pressure walked out.

With over 1,400 Kellogg's workers on strike at four plants in the United States, calls for people to boycott Kellogg's products in solidarity with the strikers are growing.

October 14:

Over 10,000 John Deere production and warehouse workers are on strike across 14 facilities, making up the largest US private sector strike since 2019. Workers with the agriculture equipment maker in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa and Kansas walked off the job at midnight, just days after they voted by 90% to reject a tentative contract agreement.

Fifty members of Machinists Union Local 598 (District 54) who had been on a two week strike for a fair contract at Sulzer Pumps in Barboursville have voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new, improved collective bargaining agreement. Machining and foundry workers will return to work on the night of Sunday, Oct. 17.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro will propose to the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) the creation of a “Truth Commission” to clarify what really happened during the European colonial rule in the Americas.

This Thursday, Labor Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre took office as Norway’s prime minister. Already on election night a month ago, it was clear that the Conservative Party and its partners had lost their majority after eight years in power. In the days after the result, Labor announced talks with the Center Party (Senterpartiet, SP) and the Socialist Left Party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti, SV), in the hope of reviving their former coalition and forming a majority government. But this week Støre formed a minority administration, consisting only of Labor and the Center.

Disappointing hopes of a government of the Left, Støre’s negotiations with the Socialist Left Party quickly reached an impasse. It soon became clear that the Labor leader was neither willing to renegotiate last year’s tax-stimulus package for the oil industry — a measure originally implemented by the Conservatives — nor question the government system for handing out licenses for petroleum exploration.

Across New Brunswick, public sector workers in the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) have voted by an impressive 94 percent to strike against the Conservative provincial government of Blaine Higgs. The strike mandate was delivered by voting in ten CUPE locals representing 22,000 workers, nearly 80 percent of the union’s total membership in New Brunswick. The union has said it will not launch a strike before October 22.

The affected workers are from a wide range of jobs including court stenographers, teaching assistants and education support staff, tradespersons, licensed practical nurses and other healthcare and rehabilitation workers.

“It is an African principle that people should share in and have a right to the world’s resources. The idea that water could be privately owned is a white supremacist notion. Access to water should be a human right, not something held by white supremacist capitalism.

“When we say Black Lives Matter, that is not only a fight to end state-sanctioned violence and police brutality against Black people. It is also about any form of injustice against Black people and people of colour all over the world through capitalist policies such as privatisation of social services, including water. So, we must stand against privatization everywhere.”

October 15:

On Friday, Burkina Faso’s people remember the murder of revolutionary leader and socialist President Thomas Sankara (1983-1987), who defended respect for the environment, pan-Africanism, women’s rights, and the self-reliance of his country.

In a press release on the amendment of the “Greece–US defence agreement” and the statements of N. Dendias and A. Blinken, the Press Office of the CC of the KKE stresses the following:

“The so-called defence —but in reality extremely aggressive— agreement between Greece and the USA constitutes a dangerous development that further entangles our country in the US and NATO war plans in the wider region. Besides, the reference of the US Secretary of State to Greece's contribution to the war in Afghanistan foreshadows many new cases like Afghanistan, with the active participation of Greece.

This Agreement, which was extended for 5 years and then will remain in force indefinitely, turns the entire Greek territory into a vast US–NATO imperialist stronghold, providing for the enhancement of the existing military bases, the creation of new ones, the handover of military camps, infrastructure, and other facilities for the US military needs. These plans are part of the “NATO 2030” Strategy and the redeployment of numerous military forces to Eastern Europe, with regard to competition with Russia and China. The enhancement of Alexandroupolis as a reference point for the operations and exercises of the US army also serves this objective.

About 1,000 food delivery workers will walk off the job next week as part of a general strike called by one of the country's two umbrella labor organizations, union officials said Friday.

Delivery workers of South Korea's leading food delivery services, Baedal Minjok, Coupang Eats and Yogiyo, designated Wednesday next week as "No-delivery Day" and will take part in the general walkout called by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), official said.

They plan to call for the establishment of a cooperative for delivery workers and a raise in delivery fees. They also plan to call for the guarantee of their labor rights.

Platform workers that offer delivery, ride-hailing and other daily services here are currently unprotected by labor laws as they are classified as individual business owners or special workers.

October 16:

Tens of thousands of union members and other Italians gathered in Rome to stand up against rising fascism Saturday, a week after right-wing extremists forced their way into the headquarters of Italy's most powerful labor confederation while protesting a COVID-19 certification requirement for workplaces.

The head of the CGIL union confederation, Maurizio Landini, led the protest with other labor leaders under the slogan: "Never again fascism." Organizers put the crowd assembled in front of St. John Lateran basilica for the protest at 100,000-strong,

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