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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

UN & CELAC: Red Review #24 -- International Left and Labour News

The twenty-fourth edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from Russia, Cuba, Tunisia, Ukraine, Turkey and elsewhere. There are also updates related to the speeches at the UN General Assembly and the events of the CELAC Summit.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel addressing the CELAC summit in Mexico

September 17:

Canada: Food retail members at Mid-Island Co-op secure gains

UFCW Local 1518 members working at Mid-Island Co-op have unanimously ratified a new union contract that brings wage gains, a signing bonus, and more.

The bargaining committee at Mid-Island Co-op, made up of activists Stefanie Droog and Karen Becia, performed an outstanding job in negotiations and worked tirelessly to ensure that members received the improvements and raises they deserve.

23,000 Leoni workers in Tunisia receive record wage increase

Workers at Leoni, one of Tunisia’s largest employers, will receive a retroactive wage increase of six per cent for 2020 and an 8.5 per cent increase for 2021. Unions in the country say the increase is the result of a mature and healthy social dialogue.

September 18:

Celac reiterated its rejection of the US unilateral coercive measures (+ Statement)

The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) reiterated its rejection of the unilateral coercive measures imposed by the United States government, in the Declaration document of the VI Summit of Heads of State and Government, held this Saturday 18 of September in Mexico.

Nabisco Strike Ends After Union Members Approve New Contract

A strike that started last month in Portland, Oregon and spread to other Nabisco bakeries and distribution centers across the United States ended Saturday after unionized workers voted "overwhelmingly" in favor of a new collective bargaining agreement.

Though some Portland employees opposed ratifying the four-year contract, calling for better terms, it ultimately garnered the necessary support from workers there and at facilities in Aurora, Colorado; Richmond, Virginia; Chicago, Illinois; and Norcross, Georgia.

September 19:

Russian Communist Party Says Won’t Recognize Moscow E-Voting Results

Russia’s Communist Party will not recognize electronic voting results which reversed its candidates’ strong leads in the country’s parliamentary elections held over the weekend, a party official said Monday.

Several Communist Party candidates who appeared set to win their races suddenly fell behind candidates from the ruling, pro-Kremlin party as soon as election officials started releasing e-voting results Monday.

Xi delivers video speech to CELAC 6th Summit

"China will continue to provide support to Latin American and Caribbean countries to the best of its capability, and help the regional countries overcome the pandemic at an early date and resume economic and social development"

September 20:

Communist Party Rallies in Moscow After Remote Vote Upsets

Members of Russia’s Communist Party gathered in the pouring rain in central Moscow on Monday evening after parliamentary election results showed their candidates seeing their initial strong leads reverse.

Several Communist Party candidates who appeared set to win their races during the Sept. 17-19 parliamentary and local polls suddenly fell behind candidates from the ruling, pro-Kremlin United Russia party as soon as election officials started releasing e-voting results.

Party leaders said they will not recognize the remote voting results and some senior members called for supporters to gather in Moscow’s central Pushkin Square.

Starmer risks Labour ‘civil war’ with plans to shake up leadership vote rules

Sir Keir Starmer looks set for a battle with Labour’s left-wing over plans to reform the way the party’s leader is elected.

Under the proposal, the one member, one vote (OMOV) system would be replaced with a return to the electoral college made up of the unions and affiliate organisations, MPs and party members.

Sir Keir has briefed the shadow cabinet on his plans and will set them out to trade union leaders on Wednesday ahead of the Labour conference which starts on Saturday.

September 21:

Australia Played a Key Role in Chile’s 1973 Coup. Chilean Exiles Are Demanding an Apology

Newly declassified files, released to Canberra academic and intelligence analyst Clinton Fernandes, detail how the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) requested assistance from the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) during the Allende administration in undermining the president’s authority and sabotaging Chile’s socialist project.

According to the files, ASIS set up a surveillance unit in Santiago, Chile, as part of the wider CIA campaign to discredit the Salvador Allende government. It’s estimated that, from 1970 to 1973, the United States poured $8 million into the smear campaign, funding the far-right El Mercurio newspaper to create a campaign of disinformation and fan preexisting social tensions in Chile.

Further details on the role of ASIS in Chile during the Allende administration are not yet forthcoming, thanks to the secretive nature of the operation and the government’s resistance to releasing this information, even forty-eight years after foreign powers helped install the Pinochet regime.

Communist Party of Swaziland condemns military storming of student campus

THE Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) called for the establishment of people’s defence militia today after the country’s armed forces stormed a college campus and attacked striking students.

It said the attack, which left many requiring hospital treatment, was part of the regime’s “desperate attempt to cling to power.”

Soldiers entered the grounds of William Pitcher College in Manzini on Sunday, firing tea gas into students’ rooms and launching violent assaults that left many with broken limbs.

Top Thai union leader ‘targeted’ with jail for rail safety campaign

One of Thailand’s most prominent union leaders is facing three years in prison for his role in organising a railway safety campaign, in a case described as the biggest attack on organised labour in the country in decades.

Rights advocates say the case involving Sawit Kaewvarn, president of the State Railway Union of Thailand, will have a chilling effect on unions and threatens to further weaken workers’ rights in the country.

Belgian working class protests persecution of trade unionists, vows to defend right to strike

On September 21, Tuesday, hundreds of workers demonstrated at Place Saint-Lambert in Liège, Belgium, to express solidarity with the 17 trade unionists convicted by the Liège criminal court last year for obstructing traffic during a strike in 2015. The demonstrators stated that to strike is a right and the criminalization of social action will adversely affect fundamental freedoms and harm democracy. Trade unions like the General Labor Federation of Belgium (FGTB/ABVV), and the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB/PVDA) and Communist Party of Belgium (PCB/CPB), participated in the mobilization on Tuesday when the Liège court was considering the appeal of the prosecuted trade unionists.

Unions oppose regressive labour law reform in Ukraine

Ukrainian unions are planning a protest action on 7 October, World Day for Decent Work, against the current labour law reform, which risks undermining workers’ and trade union rights.

Among the proposed draft laws is draft law № 5371, which excludes workers of small and medium-sized companies from legal protection by setting a new "contractual regime for regulating labour relations", where all working conditions are determined by an employment contract instead of by labour law.

Dismissals would be at the employer’s discretion, as the employment contract would determine the grounds for dismissal instead of the current strict list of grounds provided by the labour code.

September 22:

Maduro Calls for End of US Blockade of Venezuela and Cuba in UN Speech

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called for the United States to lift its “criminal” blockade of Cuba and Venezuela in his address to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

Via a pre-recorded speech aired at the General Assembly Hall in New York on Wednesday, Maduro condemned the “fierce campaign” against Venezuela by the “elites that govern the United States.” He also expressed support for Cuba in its struggle against the US blockade.

Diaz-Canel rejects statements by U.S. President Joe Biden at United Nations

The President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, described defamatory comments by U.S. President Joe Biden during his speech to the United Nations as "unacceptable."

The U.S. president took a shot at Belarus, Burma, Syria, Cuba, and Venezuela, suggesting these countries are undemocratic and praising so-called human rights protesters.

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez responded by criticizing Washington's divisive strategy saying that Biden's words lacked the moral authority to promote initiatives in favor of peace, human dignity and development in the world.

September 23:

Changing the paradigm: Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez speaks at the UN (

The full text of the Cuban President's tour-de-force speech to the United Nations, September 23, that touches on global inequality, wasteful military spending, climate change, the US blockade of Cuba, the Cuban medical brigades, international solidarity and the need for a new global economic order.

Bangladesh’s dangerous shipbreaking yards claim two more lives

In just a week, two more workers have been killed and three have been injured due to the deplorable lack of safety in Chittagong’s shipbreaking yards. IndustriALL affiliates BMF and BMCGTWF have repeatedly brought up the issue of health and safety with both Bangladesh’s government and the ship owners, but to no avail.

The safety crisis at Bangladesh’s shipbreaking yards continue. The fatal accidents that have taken place during a week in September shows the terrifying results of not addressing dangerous working conditions.

U.S. Communists denounce violent deportations of Haitian refugees

The Communist Party USA is adding its voice to the widespread denunciation of the U.S. Border Patrol’s violent attacks on Haitian refugees at the border and the Biden administration’s mass deportations.

In a statement released Wednesday, the party slammed the “notoriously pro-Trump border control cops” who were photographed on horseback last weekend brandishing whips against Haitians seeking asylum in the U.S. The Communists’ statement is one among many from labor and civil rights leaders that also hammers Biden’s government for enforcing immigration policy left over from the Trump White House.

Road transportation workers begin indefinite national strike in Panama

On September 23, Panamanian road transportation workers began an indefinite national strike against transnational shipping corporations, Maersk Line and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), which seek to monopolize the logistics industry in the country. As a measure of protest, the workers blocked access to the Balboa and Colón Free Trade Zone ports. The strike was called for by the National Coordination of Containerized Cargo Transportation (CNTCC).

Students in Swaziland’s William Pitcher college boycott exams despite brutal crackdown

On Thursday, September 23, students of William Pitcher college in the city of Manzini, the economic hub of Swaziland, marched to the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare in capital Mbabane and delivered a petition. The students have been on strike and have boycotted the exams this week. Planning is underway to organize further agitations next week.

Union win for Turkish workers producing smart phones

When Salcomp Turkey, who produces smart phones for Chinese Xiaomi, the second largest smartphone maker in the world, fired 170 workers for joining a union, the union members took action. After six days, Salcomp agreed to reinstate all dismissed workers.

Canada: Food Basics workers warn customers of pre-Thanksgiving strike deadline

"More than 85% of our Food Basics members are in part-time positions, making barely above the minimum wage with no paid sick days," said Gord Currie, President of Unifor Local 414. "Despite the fact that these workers remained on the frontline throughout the pandemic, now Food Basics wants to eliminate the highest paid full-time jobs in these stores and offer the rest substandard wages."

September 24:

Xi Jinping Speaks with General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong on the Phone

Xi Jinping pointed out that China and Vietnam are socialist neighboring countries connected by shared mountains and rivers, and constitute a strategic community with a shared future. Under the complicated circumstances of overlapping changes and a global pandemic both unseen in a century, the two sides have many common interests and concerns. We must advance along the right track, enhance solidarity and cooperation, further promote socialist causes, effectively safeguard the fundamental interests of the two parties, two countries and two peoples, and make positive contributions to regional and global peace and development.

Africa Urges UN Member States To Fight Social Inequalities

During their speeches at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Thursday, African Presidents emphasized the need for the world to unite in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and social inequalities.

Cuba Ships First Batch of Abdala COVID-19 Vaccine to Vietnam

BioCubaFarma, the conglomerate of Cuban public enterprises in the biotechnological and pharmaceutical area, sent this Friday to Vietnam the first batch of Abdala anti-viral vaccines, designed by the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) in Havana.

Alberta Superstore Employees Vote Overwhelmingly In Favour of Striking | UFCW Local 401

97% of voting Alberta Superstore employees have endorsed strike action, sending Superstore a strong message about their last offer.

“Next week, we will go back to the bargaining table,” said UFCW Local 401 President Thomas Hesse. “We hope that the Company is ready to listen to their employees.”

The strike vote saw a strong turnout from Superstore union members across the province.

September 25:

Communists hold rally against ‘colossal’ vote fraud in Russia

Russia’s Com­munist Party on Saturday led a well-attended protest in central Moscow over what they called “colossal” fraud in parliamentary polls as police detained a number of activists.

It was the first sizable Moscow protest since this month’s controversial polls, and police did not break up the unsanctioned rally but played loud music in an effort to drown out the protesters.

What is needed is totally free public transport, says Belgian socialist leader

Belgium’s Socialist Party (PS) leader, Paul Magnette, has called for public transport to be made totally free as one way of tackling the climate crisis which, he said, required “shock measures”.

What is needed is “totally free public transport, including for the SNCB [national railway company],” Magnette said in Le Soir newspaper on Saturday. “That’s the next step.”

Sucre Lantic workers vote for an unlimited strike mandate

Sucre Lantic workers voted 98 per cent in favour on Saturday for an indefinite general strike mandate at a general assembly held in Montreal.

September 26:

Farmers plan road blockades in Bengaluru tomorrow

With several organisations extending their support to the Samyukt Kisan Morcha’s (SKM) call for a Bharat Bandh on Monday, to mark the first anniversary of the three ‘controversial’ farm laws getting Presidential assent, traffic in Bengaluru city is likely to take a hit.

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