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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Swaziland protests: Red Review #11 -- International Left and Labour News

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

The eleventh edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from Swaziland, the United States, Sweden, Luxembourg, Australia and elsewhere.

Pro-democracy protestors occupy a road in Swaziland June 26 -- photo via the Communist Party of Swaziland on Twitter

June 19:

Vermont State Labour Council has announced joining alliance of Labor for Palestine which stands against "Israeli apartheid," raising the number of American labour bodies which joined this alliance to 15.

The three-million-strong Canadian Labour Congress (CLC — the umbrella body for Canada’s unions) took a landmark decision at its Congress last week, as 4,000 delegates attending the virtual meeting voted for a new leadership after unions formed the Team Unite coalition to oust the current leadership.

Unions in the CLC have been unhappy with the leadership of Hassan Yussuff, who they say had grown too close to Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party and had failed to deliver on policies that would benefit working people.

June 21:

The political crisis erupted on Thursday when the Left Party, which has propped up the government in parliament, said it was ready to support a motion of no confidence against the prime minister, even if it meant mixing votes with those of the right-wing parties and the far-right Sweden Democrats.

The reason was a preliminary plan to reform rent controls, potentially freeing landlords to set rents for new apartments.

On the left, the proposal is considered at odds with the Swedish social model and a threat to tenants' rights.

Without doubt, the Left Party’s decision is fraught with risks. It has pushed the country into profound political uncertainty — and even brought forward the possibility of a coalition between the center-right and far-right. But while that is clearly regrettable, taking a stand on this issue was also a necessity for the Left Party. Its move offers a unique, if perilous, opportunity to preserve the Swedish housing model — and, more fundamentally, shift the public political debate away from immigration and towards social justice.

A coalition of unions is once again taking Premier Doug Ford to court, arguing his controversial new campaign finance law violates their constitutional rights, the Star has learned.

The move comes after Ford invoked the Charter of Rights’ “notwithstanding” clause last week to overturn a judge’s ruling that his legislation, which limited election spending by third-party groups, was unconstitutional.

Warrior Met, which emerged from the ruins of bankrupt Jim Walter Energy several years ago, is now profitable but forced the workers at its mines to walk. A lot of its profits came from the first, post-bankruptcy, contract it forced on workers, which included $6-per-hour pay cuts, to $22, among other givebacks.

At the time, company bosses promised the workers would be made whole once Warrior Met made money. Now it’s making money, and bosses don’t want to make the workers whole. That’s forced the UMWA members into the union’s first strike in Alabama in 40 years, after the old contract expired on April 1.

Workers with the local Steelworkers Union at the Come By Chance oil refinery have voted in favour of a new collective agreement.

It was a landslide victory for those in support, with 96 percent of voters in favour of the deal, which includes wage improvements and improvements in contract language.

Garage workers at Fredericton Toyota are in a months-long dispute with management to form a union.

The New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board is now holding hearings on a certification bid by garage workers and complaints filed by some employees alleging unfair labour practices at Fredericton Toyota.

The mobilization on Monday was part of a continuing protest by workers and trade unions against the Match supermarket chain owned by Belgian distribution group Delhaize, which had announced in May the decision to keep their stores open on all holidays. According to, workers at the Match supermarket chain have worked extensively during the COVID-19 crisis in precarious conditions, taking serious risks to keep the stores running to ensure availability of essential goods to the public. However, the management’s announcement of holiday work was spontaneously rejected by the employees and trade unions, who termed it exploitative and insensitive.

The protests against this move were organized by the Independent Luxembourg Trade Union Confederation (OGBL). The Communist Party of Luxembourg (KPL) and Dei Lenk (The Left) also participated in Monday’s protest and expressed their solidarity with the workers.

June 22:

India Walton scored a stunning upset in the Democratic mayoral primary in Buffalo, N.Y., putting her on track to become the city's first female executive and the country's most high-profile socialist mayor in decades.

About 850 members of nearly four dozen Brazilian Indigenous tribes are camped in Brasilia, just a short walk from Congress and rows of government buildings, to fight for Indigenous land rights currently under consideration in Brazil's courts and Congress.

In Brasilia, Indigenous representative Joenia Wapichana is fighting against a bill known as PL 490 that, if passed, would weaken Indigenous peoples’ land rights and open the door to extractive industries.

On Tuesday, police fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets against hundreds of Indigenous protesters as the Justice and Constitution committee was expected to vote on the legislation. An earlier vote on the bill was postponed last week, amid the protests.

June 23:

For the 29th year in a row the United Nations overwhelmingly voted to call for the "ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo, imposed by the USA against Cuba".

The vote was a staggering 184 in favour with only the United States and Israel voting against. There were 3 abstentions.

Within days of stepping down as Canadian Labour Congress president, Hassan Yussuff was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Venezuela has launched a bold call for unity among the left at the International Bicentennial Congress of the Peoples of the World, taking place this week in Caracas, June 21st to 24th.

Conceived by worker-president Nicolás Maduro Moros, the Congress is a socialist and a worldwide initiative. It proposes the Anti-Imperialist Platform of the Working Class. The Bicentennial celebrates the victory of Simon Bolivar’s armies over the royal troops of Madrid in the territory that became Venezuela.

THE Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) is calling for a “nationwide mass uprising against the regime” after government forces opened fire on democracy protesters at the weekend.

On Saturday, 15 marches were held across the country, with petitions delivered to MPs demanding democracy in Africa’s last absolutist monarchy.

In Manzini district, the march was attacked by armed officers who fired live bullets at peaceful protesters, although no injuries were reported.

Workers at Rideau Transit Maintenance in Ottawa voted almost unanimously yesterday to join CUPE.

Rideau Transit Maintenance has a 30-year contract to maintain the Confederation Line, Ottawa’s new light rail transit system.

UFCW Canada Local 1006A members working at the Chapters-Indigo bookstore at the Square One shopping centre in Mississauga, Ontario have ratified their first collective agreement.

The members at the store voted to join the union last fall. Their first contract provides a number of important gains including annual raises, additional statutory holidays, increased paid sick days and more.

June 24:

The US International Brotherhood of Teamsters has passed a resolution at its virtual convention that states "that there is no clearer example of how America is failing the working class than Amazon" and commits to "building worker power at Amazon and helping those workers achieve a union contract" as a "top priority".

According to the resolution "Amazon is changing the nature of work in our country and touches many core Teamster industries and employers such as UPS, parcel delivery, freight, airline, food distribution and motion picture, and presents an existential threat to the standards we have set in these industries".

Today, Teamsters celebrated the announcement of a $3.4 million settlement agreement with Uber over alleged violations of the City's groundbreaking Gig Worker Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance.

Over 15,000 drivers will benefit from the largest settlement agreement in the history of the Seattle Office of Labor Standards.

On June 24, King Mswati III’s government in Swaziland imposed a ban on demonstrations, amidst an unprecedented country-wide wave of pro-democracy and anti-monarchy protests. For the first time, these protests are not limited to urban areas, but have also spread across rural Swaziland.

A call to defy the ban en masse and proceed with the protest marches as planned has been issued by the Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS). The party’s cadres are on the forefront of organizing their local communities to revolt against King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch on the continent.

School support staff in the Brandon School Division have voted 99% in favour of strike action.

“School support staff have been critical throughout the pandemic in helping our kids succeed,” says Jamie Rose, President of CUPE 737 representing support staff in the Brandon School Division. “This has been an incredibly challenging year for staff, yet the Division is still hanging on to the Pallister government’s unconstitutional wage mandate”.

School support staff have been without a new contract since 2018, as a result of Pallister’s unconstitutional interference in collective bargaining. Support staff are asking for wage increases in line with recently settled teachers’ contracts.

June 25:

Workers of Amazon warehouses and units across Germany went on a three-day strike from Monday, June 21, demanding better pay and work conditions. Workers of the Amazon centers in Werne, Leipzig, Rheinberg, Bad Hersfeld, Koblenz and Graben joined the three-day strike called by the United Services Trade Union (Ver.di). The strike began on this year’s Amazon ‘prime day’ of sales promotion. The protesting workers are also calling for binding collective bargaining agreements for retail and mail order workers.

Vietnamese and Chinese Party officials, scholars and experts gathered at an online symposium on June 25 to discuss the relationship of the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Communist Party of China in the past, present and future.

Members of the Chilean Communist Party who will participate in the drafting of the new constitution demanded the release of political prisoners of the 2019 popular uprising, in a statement published today.

Workers at the General Mills factory in Rooty Hill, a Sydney suburb, have been on a strike since June 4 after the company refused to accept demands for wage hike rates and proposed to make changes to work conditions in the factory. This is the first strike by workers at any General Mills facility in Australia in the past two decades.

From July 15 to 19, nearly 4000 delegates met online in the first ever “virtual” Canadian Labour Congress convention. With less than 15 hours of floor time in total, union leadership and delegates maneuvered in lightning-round debates to get their views across and secure their objectives.

Ironically, though, the most significant result of this convention was not in what happened – but in what did not happen.

Municipal employees in Nova Scotia's Richmond County are being asked to decide whether they want to join a union.

The Nova Scotia Labour Board conducted a vote Friday at the county office in Arichat at the request of the Nova Scotia Government and Employees Union.

June 26:

Huadong Hospital held a special ceremony to honor medics who have been Party members for more than 50 years on Saturday, ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China on July 1.

Some 80 elderly medical experts including 99-year-old Zhu Jin, the founder of the hospital's gynecology department, were honored. Huadong medics sang Party songs and played dramas to commemorate the Party's birth.


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