Workers' Struggles

“This land is your land, this city is your city! And no one has the right to decide its future, but you – the working people of Moscow!” This appeal from a Russian IMT activist was greeted with an explosion of applause at a recent rally in the Zyuzino district of Moscow.

The mass movement in Hong Kong has just won its key demand – the withdrawal of the hated extradition bill that would allow anyone the Beijing government suspects of criminality to be extradited to the mainland. But none of the other four demands, such as for an independent investigation into police brutality, have been won.

We publish the following report, originally written in July by an activist of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party from Northern Russia. It concerns an ongoing struggle against attempts to illegally construct a waste disposal site at Shiyes in Arkhangelsk Oblast, which would cause grave environmental damage and risk the health of local residents. This is an important development that has gained widespread support and sparked protests across the country.

Hong Kong’s earthshaking protest movement is entering its second month. Despite increasing pressure from Beijing and the Carrie Lam government, the movement still grows in militancy. It is graduating from bourgeois liberal methods towards the method of class struggle. In many ways, when Carrie Lam emerged from days of obscurity to respond to the general strike, she was right to say that the Hong Kong movement is heading towards a “path of no return.”

Hong Kong’s mass movement against the Chinese state’s attempt to control the territory has been spurred forward by the whip of counterrevolution. On Sunday 21 July, as protestors returned home from demonstrating, around 50 thugs dressed in all-white burst onto a subway train and indiscriminately attacked passengers with poles and other blunt objects. Although the attackers were anonymous and the assault appeared arbitrary, the message was received loud and clear – as was the intention: do not dare challenge the Hong Kong government and its masters in Beijing.

On Monday, the Chilean teacher's strike entered its fifth week. More than 70 percent of the teachers voted to reject the latest government offer and want to continue the national strike indefinitely. The strike has involved hundreds of thousands throughout the country, with particularly active participation in the regions. For her part, the education minister Marcela Cubillos has shown great arrogance, and only last week agreed to dialogue amidst controversy over police brutality. After large marches of tens of thousands in the past weeks marked a milestone in the teacher’s movement, the high point was the cacerolazo (banging on pots and pans as a political protest) of the patipelados

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On 20 June 2019, the flight attendants of Taiwan’s private commercial airline EVA Air went on strike. Under the leadership of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union, with over 2,300 workers joining the strike, this is already the largest private sector strike in Taiwan since the end of the KMT dictatorship’s martial law in 1987. The strike has thus far caused more than 700 flight cancellations.

In the last period, the Czech Republic seemed to be a relatively politically stable country in the eyes of the global ruling class; with sufficient economic growth, very low unemployment, and even rising wages. This relative stability, sustained mainly by strong German investments, propped up the support for oligarch prime minister and second-richest Czech, Andrej Babiš, and his Berlusconi-style party ANO 2011. But things have changed, and the masses are moving.

In Honduras, a mass movement is reaching insurrectionary proportions and threatens to bring down the illegitimate government of Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH). Protests against planned privatisation of public healthcare and education, which began at the end of May, have recently been escalating. The past week in Honduras has seen a significant broadening of the protest movement out from the health professionals’ and teachers’ trade unions to the wider public.

The general strike of 14 June saw the participation of important sectors of the working class that have a tradition of organisation, such as metallurgical workers, chemical workers, oil workers, bank employees, public servants, etc. But the strike could have been stronger, with even larger demonstrations, if the union leadership had actually mobilised their base.

The spark of 7 June has ignited the contradictions in Liberian society. The massive mobilisation of the masses last Friday was a slap in the face for the cynics who argued that the Liberian people would continue to blithely accept the rotten status quo without acting to change the course of history. But nothing is stagnant: everything is in constant flux and subject to change. So too is the consciousness of the Liberian masses.

Today, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers marched in militant defiance of the ‘extradition bill’ that would grant China the power to take anyone in Hong Kong into custody on the mainland. Only three days earlier, Sunday 9 June, saw what may be the biggest demonstration in Hong Kong’s history. According to organisers, one million marched through the city’s humid streets, meaning one-in-seven Hong Kongers demonstrated!

Strike action was taken by over 50,000 teachers throughout New Zealand on 29 May to demand a 16 percent pay increase and improved working conditions. Their strike is the result of a breakdown in pay talks between the New Zealand Educational Institute, the Post-Primary Teachers Association; and the government Ministry of Education.

The Sudanese Revolution has been an inspiration to workers, women and youth around the world. The women in particular have revealed tremendous revolutionary potential. All that was progressive in Sudanese society emerged to show the world that society can be changed. But there was also a darker side and this has now reared its ugly head in the most brutal manner possible. Why is this happening?

On 28 May, dockers working the port at the Gulf of Fos in Marseille refused to load the Saudi cargo ship, Bahri Tabük, which was intended to carry French arms to Saudi Arabia, whose regime is waging a barbaric war in Yemen.

The Sudanese Revolution entered a new stage after carrying out a powerful general strike, which paralysed the whole country on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. The organisers are demanding that the Transitional Military Council (TMC), which usurped power in April, cede power to a civilian-led government, which is to be installed.

From May to August of 1934, Minneapolis was rocked by a strike that would forever change the course of U.S. labour history. This was the strike of Teamsters Local 574, a union led by Trotskyists. Many of the best techniques used by organised labour today find their origins in the Minneapolis Strike, in particular the flying picket. However, the strike's greatest conquest was in laying the foundations for industrial unionism in North America, leading to the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in the following years. Above all, the Minneapolis Strike demonstrated the role played by the young forces of American Trotskyism in obtaining gains for workers.

The Saudi ship Bahri Yanbu, which was docked at the port of Genoa to load military equipment to be used in the Yemen conflict, has left Italy without its intended cargo. This represents a great victory for the Genoese dockers, who refused to load the ship, which will now head to Alexandria, Egypt. At the Genoa port, a banner is still waving: "Stop arms trafficking, war on war."

The massive, marvellous and militant demonstrations on 15 May all over Brazil struck a blow against the already unstable Bolsonaro government. Protests took place in over 200 cities across the country and more than 1.5 million young people and workers took to the streets.

15 May saw a tsunami of demonstrators come out against education cuts and counter-reforms to pensions in Brazil. More than 1.5 million hit the streets of over 200 cities across the country during the national education strike against the latest measures of the Bolsonaro government, which include a 30 percent cut to university budgets. Despite its bravado, the government is weak and divided. The slogan “Fora Bolsonaro” (Bolsonaro Out) resonated widely. Certainly, Brazil is not in the throes of fascism. Far from it. It is now time to prepare a general strike to bring this government down.

We publish here a second round of May Day reports, from Pakistan, Indonesia, El Salvador and Nigeria. In all these countries, the on-going capitalist crisis has led to great exploitation and injustice, and workers are engaged in struggles on several fronts for decent wages and living conditions. Many are drawing radical conclusions, and responded very well to our comrades’ message of revolutionary class struggle!

All over the world, socialists, trade unionists and progressive youth came out on 1 May in a show of force for solidarity and radical politics. We publish here a series of reports from comrades and supporters of the IMT, who intervened in May Day demonstrations and marches around the globe, proudly raising the banner of Marxism!

“From Saturday 27th of April, the ZNP (Teachers’ Union) suspends the national strike. It suspends it, but it does not end it! I shall add: Starting today, we are entering a new, much more important period.” With these words, Sławomir Broniarz, the leader of the ZNP, has bent to the pressures of bourgeois public opinion and put a lid on the cauldron of struggle that has been developing over the past three weeks. For this, the government representatives in the dispute, led by ex-PM Ewa Kopacz, thanked him warmly.

Jet Airways private airline services were suspended on Wednesday 17 April. The private airline was owned and run by Naresh Goyal from 1993, serving domestic and international destinations. In a fortnight’s time, it would have completed 26 years of service.

The Polish teachers’ strike, which started on 8 April, marks a fundamental change in the situation in Poland, once hailed as the success story for the transition to capitalism after the collapse of the Stalinist regime in 1989. The class struggle is back on the agenda. Now the greatest teachers’ strike in Polish history has entered its second week and is becoming the catalyst for the pent-up anger of youth and workers.

The spectre of a national strike of teachers has been looming over Poland for some time now. But despite the lukewarm attempts by the right-wing PiS government to alleviate the situation with half-hearted concessions, the strike date has been set for 8 April. This day will definitely go down as an important event in the history of the National Teachers’ Union (ZNP, formed in the course of the 1905 revolution), and perhaps of the Polish working class as a whole.

In modern-day Croatia, sectors such as the garment, shoe and leather industries are marked by hard labour for minimum wages, coupled with non-existent workers’ rights and constant pressures from management. The trade union for textiles, garments, leather and rubber (TOKG) is making sure that things get even worse. This article, originally published at Radnički Portal, describes five cases in which TOKG served as management’s right-hand, and was an ally in the destruction of companies, ramping up exploitation and undermining workers.

As strikes get underway throughout Algeria, the ruling class is yet again retreating in the face of the revolutionary masses. More and more top officials are calling for the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The revolutionary movement in Algeria is keeping up its momentum as the regime begins to crumble. Millions of people took to the streets again on Friday 22 March and a new general strike movement is developing, which could bring down the whole rotten regime.

Yesterday, millions of Algerians took to the streets for the fourth consecutive Friday to protest against the regime of Abdelaziz Bouteflika. According to initial accounts, the protests were even bigger than the record protests that shook the regime last Friday (8 March). Long accustomed to carrying out all of its crimes with impunity, the regime is now being forced to realise that the revolutionary masses are not going to give up easily.

Several organisations, including the Yugoslav IMT Marxist Organisation ‘Reds’, have mobilised together in a united front as the ‘Left Bloc’ for several weeks as part of mass protests in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Zrenjanin. The Bloc put forward social demands in the demonstrations, instead of the merely civil and democratic demands presented by the organisers from the opposition.

On 30 January, nurses and midwives across Ireland staged their first walkout in 20 years over the question of patient safety and pay. Of more than 40,000 nurses organised in the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), 95 percent voted in favour of strike action. They were joined by the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA).

The fightback against the capitalist crisis in education has now spread from West Virginia and Arizona to California. 30,000 teachers in Los Angeles, represented by UTLA, were recently on strike, and in Oakland, nearly 2,400 teachers represented by Oakland Education Association, who have been without a contract since 1 July 2017, are on the verge of strike action.

On 25 January, 48 “maquila” companies installed in Matamoros, Tamaulipas were hit by strikes. This is not a minor movement, we are talking about 45,000 striking workers. In the past several days, the workers revolted against their inert labour leaders and their bosses. The workers partially paralyzed some factories. Under pressure, several people went to work, but most refused. Massive, daily assemblies have been held in the public square.

The aggressive policies of the Austrian bourgeoisie and its government are increasingly forcing different sectors of society, including the working class, into the arena of struggle, while feeding a permanent atmosphere of racism and nationalist hysteria. After half a year of strikes, a mass demonstration and several huge protests, where do we stand now?

On 11 December 2018, the official Weibo account of the US Embassy in China published a blog post entitled “American University Marxist Students Show Solidarity for Unionization and Strikes” (美国大学生马克思主义社团声援工人组织工会和罢工). In it, the embassy referred to the activities of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) comrades in the Marxist Student Association (MSA) and their political work in Madison, Wisconsin.

Mexican workers from 45 "maquiladoras" (factories) in Matamoros, Tamaulipas have gone on strike, having received no information from trade union leaders linked to the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) concerning negotiations over annual salary increases. The workers demand an increase of 20 percent and a compensation bonus. On Sunday 13 January, 2,000 workers in Sonora called a strike because their employer, the Levolor company, did not respect the wage increase decreed by the federal government in its adjusted salaries and benefits.

On 8-9 January, around 200 million workers went on a two-day strike across India, bringing the country to a grinding halt. The strike was called by 10 central trade unions of India against the anti-labour policies of the Modi government. BMS, affiliated with RSS-BJP, was the only central trade union that was against the strike and tried to sabotage it. All others supported the strike and made huge efforts to make it successful.

朱梅雪是华航企业工会现任秘书长。在2018年的桃园市长选举内,他以无党籍的身分参选,挑战台湾两大政党:国民党和民进党。朱梅雪的选战需求工人阶级应独立于两大财团政党,并以工人阶级观点提出多项政策,也推广了“工人不投蓝绿党!”、“百万劳工站出来!”、“为自己投一票!”等口号。

朱梅雪是華航企業工會現任秘書長。在2018年的桃園市長選舉內,他以無黨籍的身分參選,挑戰台灣兩大政黨:國民黨和民進黨。朱梅雪的選戰需求工人階級應獨立於兩大財團政黨,並以工人階級觀點提出多項政策,也推廣了“工人不投藍綠黨!”、“百萬勞工站出來!”、“為自己投一票!”等口號。

A wave of protests is sweeping Iraq, with the latest taking place on 21 December in Basra. About 250 people gathered outside the temporary headquarters of the provincial council throughout the afternoon to protest against corruption, and demand jobs and better public services. A few weeks before, on the 6 December, 100 protesters were seen mimicking the recent French mass protest movement by wearing yellow high-visibility vests, when they gathered in front of the Basra’s council building and in Baghdad at Tahrir Square.

The movement of the yellow vests is a social earthquake of exceptional power. It represents a major turning point in the class struggle in France – and is a source of inspiration for workers around the world. It will have a profound and lasting impact on the political life of the country.

Image: Flickr, War on Want

Since the beginning of the crisis of 2008, anti-immigrant parties and movements have made headway in Europe and the United States. They have even managed to win over certain layers of the working class to their programme. This has led a section of the labour movement to adapt itself to these ideas, calling for stricter border controls, justifying its position with quotations from Marx. Such short-sighted policies have nothing to do with Marx or the traditions of the First, Second or Third International, as we shall demonstrate.

On Monday, 26 November 2018 Canada’s post-war social contract finally died, after a long period of ill health. At her bedside were two who were present at her birth, Oshawa auto workers and striking postal workers. Her passing was due to systematic abuse and abandonment by corporations and government. She is survived by a labour relations regime of naked class war. In lieu of flowers, bring picket signs and burn barrels.

Lithuania is being shaken by an unprecedented teachers strike, which has now entered its fourth week and is causing severe anxiety, distress and panic among the ruling class and its political representatives. Already, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has been forced to sack not only the hated Education Minister, Petrauskienė, but also two other Ministers: for Culture, and the Environment.

Almost one year since the most widespread mass protests in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, there is no sign that the mood of anger and resentment has gone away. While that movement died down due to repression and a lack of leadership or organisation, further protests – as well as strike after strike – have been taking place on a daily basis ever since.

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