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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Victory in Kerala: Red Review #4 -- International Left and Labour News

The fourth edition of our new weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from Canada, the United States, Russia and elsewhere. There is also an overview of the historic victory of the left in Kerala and the general strike uprising in Colombia.

K. K. Shailaja campaigns in Kerala, April 2021. Both Shailaja and the Left Democratic Front won historic victories in the state elections.

May 2:

Unifor National President Jerry Dias called the wage-cap law a “foolish piece of legislation” in a virtual press conference on Sunday, adding that the one per cent bump is “well below even the rate of inflation.”

“Enough is enough,”Dias said. “We can't keep telling people how essential they are how important (they are), and then pass legislation that takes these paramedics and puts them into a separate bucket than all the other paramedics in this province. That doesn't make any sense.”

The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has issued the following statement:

Assembly Elections: Big Defeat for the BJP

May 3:

“We consider the announcement of the withdrawal of the tax reform bill as a triumph of the millions of Colombians who have mobilized and of the majority support that the citizenship gave to the National Strike. This happens after six days of National Strike in which civilian, military and police authorities have daily curtailed the freedoms and democratic guarantees for the exercise of social protest, which has left dozens of people murdered, hundreds injured and detained.

However, this announcement does not deactivate the mobilization. The people in the streets are demanding much more than the withdrawal of the tax reform.”

Last night, a TTC bus operator was assaulted after asking four riders to wear masks while on a TTC vehicle. After the operator was assaulted and injured by these riders, TTC management refused to drive the operator to her work location. Instead, she had to wait 15 minutes for a bus that was driving back to the division.

It’s insulting that the TTC expects our members to drive packed buses, yet it can’t drive an operator who has just been assaulted back to their division due to COVID-19-related concerns.

The disturbing rise in assaults against transit workers throughout the pandemic is absolutely unacceptable and outrageous.

ATU Local 113 demands answers from the TTC. We are also demanding that the TTC and City of Toronto do more to protect transit workers against violent assaults. There needs to be more resources on the TTC system to ensure the safety of workers and riders. The TTC must enforce its mandatory masks policy for riders.

In addition to the enforcement of masks, the TTC can better protect workers by reimplementing rear-door boarding on buses, blocking the two seats behind bus operators, stopping cash payments and cease issuing paper transfers to bus riders immediately.

May 4:

The United Steelworkers union (USW) has reached a new collective agreement with Leeds and Grenville Interval House, ending a two-week strike.

The new agreement was ratified by the members of USW Local 8327 in an online vote on May 3.

The 20 workers, all women, are counsellors and frontline staff, providing services to both temporary residents and external clients trying to escape domestic violence.

Members of Unifor Local 114 working at Ocean Concrete in Victoria have been locked out of their workplace by an employer seeking concessions at the bargaining table, Unifor says.

"Shame on Ocean Concrete for locking out workers during a pandemic," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "Ocean Concrete has no excuse for these aggressive tactics."

The National Secretariat of the Communist Party of India issued the following statement today (on May 3, 2021) congratulating the people for rejecting BJP and its policies.

May 5:

After 25 years of what a union president described as an amicable relationship between outside workers and the Township of Wellesley, workers with the CUPE local 1542 have voted unanimously to authorize their union to take strike action.

CUPE local president Chris Roth says the vote last week came after the union and township couldn't agree on a new collective agreement. Roth says the union went into negotiations with a few proposals while "the township came to the table with a large number of proposals, asking to rewrite the collective agreement."

Campaigns by trade unions, civil society organizations and mine affected communities for the formalization of artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) are meant to end the deadly working conditions of the miners in Zimbabwe. In addition, formalization will introduce decent working conditions.

May 7:

Keir Starmer has attempted to blame today's election disaster on Jeremy Corbyn – but his leadership has hollowed out the party, refused to offer a vision for change and left many with little reason to vote Labour.

More than five centuries have passed since colonization began and it still seems like yesterday. Bolivia, like many peoples of the South of Abya Yala, today America, thanks to the struggle of our grandparents and liberation leaders, declared itself an independent and sovereign territory two centuries ago. From that moment on, despite our difficulties, our people always knew how to defend the legacy of our liberators.

With much surprise, in the XXI century, we have learned of the European Parliament’s approval of a resolution in reference to Bolivia, which clearly shows that some sectors of Europe still retain their colonial and humiliating vision, against the free peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The 18th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation was held on April 24, 2021 in Moscow and attended by delegates from all CPRF regional, local and primary organizations.

The summary report to the Party Congress had been presented by the Chairman of the CPRF CC Gennady Zyuganov where he summed up the results of party activity for the reporting period and outlined the basic guidelines of the Party.

Around 2,000 workers at Rustavi Azot, a mineral fertilizer producer in Georgia, have won a substantial wage increase after a week-long strike.

With record voter turnout, inside workers for the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Ontario, represented by CUPE 1883 voted 90 per cent in favour of authorizing their union to take strike action if they cannot reach a deal that protects vital services from the series of cuts that they have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The union says that the vote does not mean that there will inevitably be a labour dispute, but it shows that the members are serious about negotiating a fair deal that protects frontline workers and vital public services from cuts.

Kerala Election:

The governing Left Democratic Front in Kerala, India has won an historic reelection on Saturday. The LDF, which is an alliance of left parties led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India, has won or leads in 95 seats of the Kerala Legislative Assembly's 140 seats.

K. K. Shailaja, the former school teacher who has served as Kerala's Minister of Health and Social Welfare during the pandemic, won her constituency the past weekend by the largest margin in the history of the Indian state's elections. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) minister -- who has won international acclaim for her handling of the health crisis and was even honoured by the United Nations -- won by 60,963 votes over her closest competitor. The previous highest margin of victory in a Kerala election had been 45,587.

“This shows that the people of Kerala have appreciated the performance of the … government and the way it tackled floods in the state, the COVID-19 pandemic, and remained committed to working for the people,”

Colombia General Strike:

Colombia's Working Group on Enforced Disappearances (MTDF) on Thursday informed that 471 people went missing from April 28 to May 5 during the social outbreak against President Ivan Duque.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will soon receive a communication from Bogotá on the crimes against humanity committed by the Ivan Duque regime against Colombian citizens since national strike mobilizations began on April 28th.

Senator Iván Cepeda Castro announced that he would be relaying the information alongside the organizations Defender la Libertad, Temblores, and La Coordinación Colombia-Europa-Estados Unidos, “informing the possible responsibility of President Duque, Uribe, Minister Molano, Gr. Zapateiro and Gr. Vargas in crimes against humanity committed during the strike.”

More than 900 arbitrary arrests have been registered during the repression by agents of the Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) and the Colombian Army against demonstrators who reject the neoliberal policies of President Ivan Duque, reported Plataforma Grita.

A new balance published this Thursday by the referred Platform specifies that, since the beginning of the National Strike, last April 28, until May 6, there have been 934 arbitrary detentions, 1,728 cases of police violence, and 234 victims of physical violence.

As concerns grow about the use of violence by Colombian national police against the ongoing national strike protests, questions are emerging about the possible use of Canadian made vehicles in human rights violations.

In a virtual meeting with Global Affairs Canada and the Embassy of Canada in Colombia yesterday, the Regional Corporation in Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS) called on Canadian officials to stop military exports to Colombia.

A teenager shot to death after kicking a police officer. A young man bleeding out on the street as protesters shout for help. Police officers firing on unarmed demonstrators. Helicopters swarming overhead, tanks rolling through neighborhoods, explosions echoing in the streets. A mother crying for her son.

“We are destroyed,” said Milena Meneses, 39, whose only son, Santiago, 19, was killed in a protest over the weekend.

Colombians demonstrating over the past week against the poverty and inequality that have worsened the lives of millions since the Covid-19 pandemic began have been met with a powerful crackdown by their government, which has responded to the protests with the same militarized police force it often uses against rebel fighters and organized crime.


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