Workers' Struggles

A powerful show of anger and opposition to the military coup launched at the beginning of February was evident on the streets of cities across Myanmar last Monday (February 22nd), as a general strike paralysed the country, from Myitkyina in the north, to Bhamo near the Chinese border, to Pyinmana in the centre.

On Wednesday, 24 February, 21 unions of the South African Federation of Trade Unions went on a general strike against deep and sustained cuts in the living standards of workers, and to fight for a radical change in the country’s economic policies. Frustration runs high amongst the working class over mass retrenchments, wage freezes and brutal austerity measures in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. 

A strike by refuse workers in Brazil against job losses and state repression has ended after 15 days with an important, partial victory. We publish below a report by our Brazilian comrades of Esquerda Marxista from yesterday (available here in Portuguese), giving a balance sheet of the strike. Additionally, we publish an earlier report (Portuguese here) giving some further background on these events.

On 30 January, big demonstrations against the Global Security Bill, the so-called Separatism Bill and for the reopening of cultural institutions took place in Paris, and all over France. These demonstrations were led by thousands of youth, who are increasingly radicalised given the seemingly endless pandemic (which means campuses are closed), and are determined to oppose the rotten Macron government.

Big protests broke out in Russia on 23 January in response to the arrest of oppositionist Alexei Navalny by Putin’s regime. While we have no illusions in liberals like Navalny, our Russian comrades intervened in these protests against political repression by Putin’s gangsters (which will hit working-class and socialist movements hardest), and raised a revolutionary Marxist banner.

A new, powerful mass movement has erupted in Tunisia. The explosion of anger is due to the economic crisis, which has degraded the lives of Tunisians to a life of poverty and suffering. Exactly 10 years after the 2011 revolution that toppled Ben Ali, none of the problems of the Tunisian masses have been solved.

The economic, social and political situation in Haiti continues to deteriorate. Anti-government protests continued in the last few months of the year. Faced with these repeated uprisings against his regime, Jovenel Moïse is using the police and gangs to massacre and terrorise the masses in the streets and in poor neighbourhoods. Note: this article was written in December 2020.

Ford announced last Monday the end of production of vehicles in Brazil. The decision led to immediate cessation of activities at the Camaçari (Bahia) and Taubaté (São Paulo) facilities, maintaining only the production of parts for stock, while the production of Troller jeeps will be maintained only until the last quarter of 2021 in Horizonte (Ceará). There are thousands of workers who will be newly unemployed in Brazil and Argentina, in addition to the thousands indirectly affected by the layoffs.

Discontent continues to simmer across Iran. Since the beginning of December, there have been at least 240 strikes and protests. The protests are spreading to ever-wider layers of society, including students, bazaaris, retirees, the unemployed, and workers from every sector.

The general strike of the winter of 1960-61 destroyed in practice all the myths of the ‘bourgeoisified’ working class in Belgium and in Europe. For five weeks, a total of 1 million workers made the bosses and their state tremble. In this article we look back at those dramatic events.