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CHINA “The Strike as an Efficient Means for Imposing Social Change” Ming Lam, head of international relations at the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), speaks out

2019-08-17

The current situation is the result of the government’s will not to respond to the demands of the population, and particularly not to withdraw the draft bill on extradition. From that point, the citizens called for the organisation of another general strike. Being the largest independent trade union confederation, the HKCTU has totally supported this call. On August 5th, we called on all our trade unions and all our members to organise the strike.  There have been 7 demonstrations: approximately 350,000 workers were on strike. 290,000 participated in the demonstrations.  The civil aviation union organised the strike. Over 200 flights were cancelled.  The social services union, the bus drivers’ union and the teachers’ union all called for the strike, as did the underground employees union. Seven of the nine Hong Kong underground lines were paralysed by the movement of the demonstrators, and also by the striking workers. Even the Hong Kong Disneyland union succeeded in disrupting service.  This is the first political strike in many years. Many rank-and-file workers were on strike, or stopped working. And that is an important success. It has put significant pressure on the government, which was forced to call a press conference in the afternoon. [...]

UNITED STATES Appeal to Free All Political Prisoners in Algeria

2019-08-17

(updated on August 8, 2019) For close to six months, across Algeria, millions of people have taken to the streets in weekly protest actions to express their deep aspiration for change, chanting: « System Clear Out! Popular Sovereignty! » And as the mobilizations increased in numbers, so, too, the repression intensified against political activists of all political backgrounds. In our initial appeal of June 3, 2019 to « free all political prisoners in Algeria » [see first list of U.S. endorsers below], we highlighted three victims of repression: • Kamel Eddine Fekhar, an activist in defense of the rights of the Mozabite (Berber) people in the northern Sahara region of Algeria. Fekhar died in detention on May 28 after more than 50 days of a hunger strike; • Hadj Ghermoul, an activist with the National Committee for the Defense of the Rights of the Unemployed who was the first person to hold up a sign in January that read, « No to the Fifth Mandate [of Bouteflika]! » He was released on July 20 after serving his full six-month prison sentence; and * Louisa Hanoune, the general secretary of the Workers Party (PT), who was imprisoned in connection with the case involving Saïd Bouteflika (the brother [...]

GREECE Elections: a pyrrhic victory for the right-wing New Democracy party

2019-07-13

Pensioners demonstrate in Athens against the decline of pensions. Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his right-wing New Democracy (ND) party will be able to be alone at the helm thanks to the advantage given to the party which made it first at the post at the first round of the general elections on July 7th. Indeed, ND reaps almost 40 % of the votes (and 158 deputies out of 300). The turnout stood at 58 %, lower than the one at the EU elections last May.  During his ten weeks’ campaigning, Mitsotakis multiplied electoral promises towards the “middle class” (a hackneyed phrase used to avoid mentioning social classes!): attracting more investments, stepping up privatisations, promoting entrepreneurship.  Numerous discussions sprouted everywhere in the recent weeks on the question: Should one vote for Tsipras to prevent Mitsotakis from winning?  The Tsipras government recently enacted several measures to ease the poverty of some layers of society: access to hospital care even for those who lack health insurance; lower contributions for self-employed people who, by the thousands, have been led to ruin; a promise to hire 5,000 teachers in the coming years; and a €50 raise of the minimum wage. But all those promises were conditioned [...]

The European Union-Mercosul free trade treaty: A threat to the environment and social rights

2019-07-13

The free trade treaty recently announced by the Mercosul governments (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay) and the European Union (EU) during the G20 meeting in Japan will have a disastrous impact on the industries of the southern cone, while it will increase the opportunities of offshoring Europe’s industries.  According to this treaty, which still has to be ratified within the next five to ten years by the parliaments of these South American countries and by those of EU member countries, those countries will become members of the EU-Mercosul bloc with import-tax exemptions. This concerns auto industries (today paying 35 % import taxes), spare parts (now paying between 14 % and 18 % taxes), industrial equipments (from 14 % to 20 %), chemicals (up to 18 %), textile industries (up to 15 %) and pharmaceuticals (14 %).  Besides, the European industries will introduce sophisticated agri-food products such as wine (today paying 27 %), chocolates (20 %), alcoholic drinks (20 % to 30 %), cheeses (28 %), biscuits (16 % to 18 %), tinned fish (55 %) and even soft drinks (20 % to 35 %) without tariffs and excise duties.  It will be the same with service industries: the doors will be [...]

EUROPE Issue n°1 of the Information Bulletin published by the “European Liaison Committee Against Privatisation, Deregulation and Precarious Work” has just been released

2019-07-07

Internationalist meeting in Strasbourg, May 11, 2019 Düsseldorf 11 June 2019  Dear comrades,  A month ago, on 11 May, we met in Strasbourg for an internationalist rally.  Today, we present the first issue of the Information Bulletin of the European Liaison Committee Against Privatisations, Deregulation and Precarious Labour.  We are thus implementing the decision taken during the Strasbourg rally. Here is a reminder of commitments that were made in Strasbourg:  1. To draft, in each country, an indictment against privatisations;  2. To circulate a bulletin under the responsibility of the German comrades – featuring information on workers and youth resistance in each country;  3. On this basis, to create the conditions that will enable us to hold – a few months on – a new European Workers Conference of workingclass and youth activists.  We have attached the resolution that was adopted by the rally to this information bulletin, and herewith begin the sequence of these bulletins with an overview, post-26 May, of the elections to the EU “Parliament” (see below).  As a contribution to the indictment against privatisations, you will also find an important report on the discussion taking place in Manchester and Liverpool, on the re-nationalisation of regional railways.  [...]

ITALY How to Defeat the Proposed “Regionalisation” of the Country?

2019-07-07

The trade union centres CGIL-CISL and UIL called a nationwide protest in Reggio Calabria “to give a new impetus to the south”. The Italian “populist” government, an alliance between the far-right League and the Five Star Movement (M5S), has been using the 2001 reform of the Constitution to impose the division of the country into regions under the heading of a “differentiated autonomy”. The goal is to impose the regionalisation of education, healthcare, public services, national contracts [collective-bargaining agreements and statuses – Ed.N], fiscal system, infrastructures and so on … to enable regions to be the direct interlocutors of the European Union. In short, this would mean the shattering of the Republic in the name of “free and unbiased competitiveness”. Meanwhile, the government — which is outwardly vocal against the European Union — is getting ready to activate a new batch of budget cuts in healthcare and public services to comply with Brussels requirements.  In the education sector, mobilisations had started against the regionalisation project. All the trade unions had called to strike on May 17th … but they backed out after the signing on April 24th of an agreement that gives strictly no guarantees on anything. Besides, from the [...]

FRANCE Under the aegis of the struggle for the Workers International

2019-06-29

A rally was held by the POID (Independent and Democratic Workers Party) on the 15th of June in Paris. Dominique Ferré introduced the party’s internationalist struggle to the workers and young people present at the rally. Dear friends, dear comrades, I am convinced that all of us gathered here today – all of us who are fighting the Macron government’s capitalistic politics, all of us who fight for labour rights and democracy – all of us agree that our rally should send our salute to the general strike that yesterday assembled 45 million workers in Brazil, a general strike that unites all the trade union confederations of Brazil, for the withdrawal of the retirement pension reform and for an end to the budget cuts in public education. 45 million workers, united with their trade union confederations, said: Out with the retirement reform, Out with Bolsonaro, who was fraudulently elected, Out with the International Monetary Fund’s plans! I am equally convinced that we all agree for our rally to salute the astounding movement of hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers in Hong Kong who have been demonstrating for a week now against the antidemocratic law concocted by the bureaucrats of Beijing [...]

PAKISTAN All Pakistan Trade Union Federation « Release Ali Wazir, leader of PTM and member of Assembly, Immediately »

2019-06-23

Statement We, All Pakistan Trade Union Federation and its hundred thousands members, are against the act of ruling government of Tehreek-e-Insaaf, arresting the political leadership of different political parties and members of Parliament on the name of corruption and on the name of terrorism.  APTUF strongly condemned the arrest of leader of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement Ali Wazir belongs to North Waziristan, struggling to protect the rights of Pashtun. Ali Wazir was arrested and he is in Jail, he is a leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM).  We support the struggle led by PTM, a civil rights movement demanding security and rights for Pakistan’s Pashtun minority.  We APTUF asked government to immediately stop killing of Pashtun youth by the security forces, and support the call of PTM leaders said “We will launch a robust sit-in protest so that we can take major decisions because we can no longer tolerate these conditions on our soil.”  We strongly condemned the majority of the more than 70,000 plus civilians killed in this violence were Pashtuns, while more than 6 million members of the ethnic group have endured displacement since the onset of conflict in 2003  1. APTUF demand ruling government to immediately stop [...]

ALGERIA “For the Release of All the Political Prisoners”    Interview with Salah Dabouz, lawyer

2019-06-23

Salah Dabouz, the lawyer who defended Kamel Eddine Fekhar (who died in jail on 28 Mayafter over fifty days of hunger strike), spoke on 14 June, in Audin Square, before several hundred people who had come to attend an open-air rally against repression and for the release of those jailed for their opinions and for democratic freedoms. He was interviewed by Minbar El Oummel.  The international campaign goes onIn the Spanish State, many activists and organisation have backed the appeal by 51 labour activists of the United States“for the release of all the political prisoners in Algeria ». We cite notably the trade unions ELA-ESK-LAB-UGT of the Bilbao underground (Basque Country), le Bizkaia M15M collective, the eighth national assembly of Goldatu (the association of Basque prisoners and repressed during the Francoist dictatorship) and twenty political and trade union activists of all affiliations. Why have you contributed to the creation of a “network against repression, for the release of those jailed for their opinions and for democratic freedoms*”?  As you have noted, activist forces have dispersed rather than unite when it was necessary to unite in order to fight more effectively. I did indeed say at the rally for the release of [...]

HONG-KONG Two million take to the streets in Hong Kong

2019-06-23

On Sunday June 9th, one million people protested in Hong Kong against a draft bill that would authorise extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China. In 1997, Hong Kong, a former British colony after the 19th century opium war, became part of the People’s Republic of China, which it is historically part of, with the status of Special Administrative Region. On June 16 there were two million.Two Chinese working class activists share their thoughts. “We call on workers to stop work.” Ming Lam – HKCTU (Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions) – speaks out. If the bill is passed, it would make it possible for Hong Kong resident citizens to be judged in mainland China by tribunals directly submitted to the Beijing authorities. In mainland China, the judicial system is not independent. If extradition procedures were instituted, everyone would risk their human rights being violated.  People suspected of committing offenses in mainland China, but who are Hong Kong residents today, could be sent to mainland China. It is common knowledge that they would be denied due process of law. This is one of Hong Kong workers’ major worries. Not only are activists concerned, but all those who work there. One has [...]