Workers' Struggles

The Lebanese Revolution has resurged after a period of relative inactivity, with protesters declaring a “week of rage" amid a continuing economic and political crisis. The struggling Lebanese pound and capital controls on foreign cash have provoked a new wave of indignation that has sharpened the stances of both the demonstrators and the state. The last two days have seen hundreds injured and arrested.

The battle in France over Macron’s reactionary pension reform passed its 40th day on 13 January. A fourth interprofessional strike last Thursday and follow-up protests on the weekend brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets yet again, and further days of action have been declared up until 16 January.

The movement that has shaken Hong Kong to its foundations shows few signs of losing steam. It has entered 2020 with a mass protest of up to 1 million people on New Year’s day, proving that it has retained the support of the majority of the population despite all the storm and stress of the past six months.

The November protest movement in Iran was drowned in blood, but the fight isn’t over. Anger is ripe on the streets, and for the first time ever, a serious, organised attempt at protest is being led by nine organisations representing workers and the poor. We publish their joint statement and call to protest on 23 December (tomorrow). We do not know what will transpire, but this is an important development and a sign of where things are headed.

The "sardines" took to the squares of Emilia in big numbers, and in the wake of their success, became a national movement in a matter of days. The first mobilisation was triggered in the capital of Bologna on 14 November, due to the presence of Salvini, who is doing a rally tour of the region with an eye on the 26 January elections.

For the third consecutive week, French workers from dozens of professions (train drivers, teachers, doctors, nurses, firefighters, factory workers – even opera singers!) downed tools and hit the streets, alongside hundreds of thousands of supporters, to oppose the reactionary Macron regime. While the government has been downplaying the turnout, claiming only 600,000 took part, the protests were at least as big as on 5 December. The CGT union federation claims they were even bigger, citing a figure of 1,800,000 demonstrators, which would be hands down the biggest mobilisation since 1995.

Yesterday’s presidential election in Algeria was marked by a massive boycott campaign called for by the Hirak movement, which is now 43 weeks old. The boycott had been preceded by a four-day general strike and was particularly strong in the Kabylie region. Tens of thousands came onto the streets across the country defying a police ban on demonstrations. Whoever the generals decide will be the country’s president, they will not have any real legitimacy.

The speech delivered by Edouard Philippe (the Prime Minister) yesterday concluded over 18 months of “talks” and “consultations” with the leaders of the trade unions. Hundreds of hours of negotiation meetings culminated in this enlightening result: the government presented exactly the same reform that they would have put forward if none of the “talks” and “consultations” had taken place.

Yesterday’s interprofessional strike against Macron’s pension reform brought between 800,000 and 1,000,000 workers and youth onto the streets of France, according to the CGT. While this is a drop from the mobilisation last Thursday (which was possibly the biggest since 1995), the turnout was still high, with strong participation by transport workers, teachers, health workers and students.

On Monday 25 November, all ships stayed in port, the buses stood still and the airplanes were grounded at Helsinki-Vantaa International airport. Finnish trade unions went on strike in support of the postal workers, who had decided to fight back against an attempt to force them to accept a worse collective bargaining agreement. After two and a half weeks of strikes, the postal workers won a crucial victory for the entire Finnish workers’ movement – but more battles lie ahead.

Yesterday’s general strike against Macron’s pension reform saw a “convergence of struggles” from across French society. According to the CGT (the trade union federation at the head of the strike), 1.5 million people took part in the demonstrations, which would make this the biggest movement since the battle against Alain Juppé’s package of attacks in 1995. The spirit of the gilets jaunes can be felt on the streets, where (despite the limitations of their leadership) the workers are directing their fury, not just against the pension reform, but the government as a whole.

Two weeks have passed since the eruption of protests all over Iran after the regime introduced a surprise cut to fuel subsidies. Despite a heroic struggle by the people on the streets, the movement was crushed by the regime within five days. But this was far from a triumphant victory for a regime that is now weaker than ever before.

The situation in Colombia is advancing very rapidly after the national strike on 21 November. What was a one-day strike became a permanent and daily protest that is already a week old. The protest did not stop, despite the curfew and militarisation decreed in the capital Bogotá (and in Cali) by the reactionary Duque government. The death of the young Dilan Cruz, who was shot by a tear gas canister directly in the head by ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron) has shocked the country. In response, the National Strike Committee decided to call for a new national strike on 27 November and to include among its demands the dismantling of ESMAD.

Last weekend, amidst a wave of protests that has raged on for over half a year following the Extradition Bill introduced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Hong Kong held its regularly scheduled district council election. This typically low-interest, low-turnout affair was turned into an effective referendum on the Hong Kong masses’ opinion towards Beijing in light of recent events. It concluded with a landslide victory for the anti-Beijing bloc of politicians, with the highest turnout since Hong Kong’s return to China. But what is needed is a clear way forward based on class struggle politics.

Chile is experiencing another general strike, as part of the uprising against the regime that has been going on for almost 40 days already. The government continues to intensify the repression (denounced by international organisations) and even modifies legislation by granting itself more powers to use the army “in the protection of public buildings”, without decreeing the state of emergency, while trying to bamboozle the movement through “agreements” and promises of negotiation. The conditions for bringing Piñera down are present, but what is missing?

On 21 November, a powerful general strike paralysed Colombia. Originally called to reject a package of measures by the right-wing government of Ivan Duque, including a counter reform of the labour laws, a counter reform of pensions and massive cuts in education, it became the focal point for accumulated anger. The strike was the largest the country has seen since 1977 and there were mass demonstrations in every town and city. The government responded with repression and threats. This only served to escalate the situation.

A few years ago, a conversation was leaked between a commander of the revolutionary guards, and a group of Basiji militiamen, discussing the Green Movement that shook Iran in 2009. In that conversation the commander said something along the lines of “these guys [referring to the people in the Green Movement] are just uptown pretty boys, there is nothing to be afraid of, but once the barefoot people of the poor and destitute areas come out, that is when we have to be afraid.” Well, that day has come.

The general strike on 12 November was a huge success that put the government against the ropes. Hundreds of thousands, possibly millions marched across the country: 300,000 in Santiago, 40,000 in Valparaíso, 100,000 in Concepcion. The strike was solid in health, education, the public sector, the ports and sections of the mining industry, and had a widespread following in other industrial sectors. It revealed the strength of the working class in a capitalist country, which is able to paralyse the economy. Almost a month after beginning, the Chilean uprising continues to advance and has not been stopped by repression (with thousands of wounded and detained, more than 200 losing eyes and

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A disastrous speech by President Michel Aoun, the killing of a protester and a burgeoning student uprising have revitalised the revolutionary struggle in Lebanon. Sensing the masses’ energy beginning to wane, the ruling class became overconfident, and seriously miscalculated with a series of provocations that only strengthened the people’s resolve.

The huge demonstration on 1 November marks a high point for the Algerian Hirak movement, which has been going on for an uninterrupted 37 weeks. The regime has decided to call for presidential elections on 12 December, which the masses have correctly rejected. The slogan of a general strike to stop the elections and force the ousting of the regime is gaining ground.

On Monday, 28 October, in the face of a massive movement of protestors from all backgrounds, Saad Hariri announced his resignation. This retreat of the government came after two million people – one third of the population – took part in huge protests across the country. Amidst calls for a general strike, people have blocked roads, and shut down banks and schools. Cutting across all the sectarianism that has dominated politics in Lebanon for decades, this movement has done more in two weeks than the corrupt politicians in Lebanon have done in years.

The elections last Sunday were to elect the president but, due to the conditions under which the whole process has been carried out, they were also a repeat of the 21 February 2016 constitutional referendum.

More than a million people demonstrated in Santiago de Chile on Friday 25 October, in what was called #LaMarchaMásGrandedeChile (Chile's largest march) – and certainly, it was, being larger than the NO campaign closing rally in 1988 that brought together a million people. The mobilisation on Friday was repeated in cities and communes throughout the country and took place one week after the

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The following is a translation of an article we received about the current insurrectional movement in Chile, which began with youth-led protests against a hike in public transport fares. From a widespread campaign of fare dodging, a mass movement has developed against the government, which was responded with brutal repression. 

The following is a letter, sent to us by a comrade of the International Marxist Tendency, who is visiting Beirut and is an eyewitness to the revolutionary events unfolding in Lebanon.

The EVA Air flight attendants strike, led by the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union (TFAU) ended on July 6th, 2019 after over two weeks of struggle. Management slightly relented on their previous hardline attitude as they reached an agreement with the union. From the perspective of the Taiwanese labour movement, this strike will not be the end, but merely an episode that shows the sign of times to come.

"Barcelona has seen more barricade fighting than any other city in the world", wrote Engels in 1873. Yesterday, Barcelona stood by this reputation. Various republican and democratic organisations called peaceful vigils across Catalonia to protest against the sentences faced by the political prisoners. In Barcelona, as well as in other localities, the demonstrators – including families, elderly people, and children – were attacked by Spanish and Catalan riot police, charging at them with truncheons, rubber bullets, and stun devices.

After twelve days of heroic struggle by the indigenous working-class masses of Ecuador, the first victory of the movement was achieved. At a negotiation between the indigenous representatives, the UN in Ecuador, the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference and government representatives, it was agreed to repeal Decree 883 (the IMF funded austerity package). The government has now promised to draw up a new decree, however it was not clarified what terms it would include. A commission has been set up to discuss the new decree this week.

What began as a protest against the IMF package imposed by President Lenin Moreno has become a national insurrection that poses the question of who rules the country. The enormous mass mobilisation has forced the government to flee the capital Quito and close the national assembly. It has also begun to open cracks within the armed forces. To move forward, the movement must raise the issue of power.

This is a translated editorial statement from Militan Indonesia, first published on 22 August 2019, at the beginning of a wave of mass demonstrations across Indonesia and Papua. Since then, reaction has reared its head. The Indonesian government deployed an additional 6,000 police and military personnel to Papua. The internet was blocked. A pro-Indonesian militia was mobilised to terrorise Papuan people. Dozens of Papuans have been killed, with hundreds being rounded up.

The latest editorial from Révolution (the French publication of the IMT) argues that Macron’s attempt to introduce a ‘universal pension scheme’ (in reality, a massive attack on pensions) must be resisted by organising a general strike. An upcoming, indefinite transport workers’ strike on 5 December presents a point of convergence for all the forces of the working class, which must be mobilised over the next two months to fight, not only to defeat this pension counter-reform, but for the end of Macron’s reactionary

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The mass movement to oust Haitian President Jovenel Moïse has intensified in recent weeks. Facing severe fuel and food shortages, and a totally inept and corrupt government, the masses have taken to the streets once again to force the president to resign and fight for a way out of the deepening economic and social crisis. Mass strikes and demonstrations have shut down the country for several weeks, with the movement intensifying this past weekend into a nationwide uprising against the Moïse government.

Nearly 50,000 members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union have gone out on strike at GM factories, warehouses, and engineering offices in the US. The strike began at midnight on Sunday, September 15, 2019. The Teamsters union, which represents car hauliers, said it would honour the UAW picket lines and would not deliver new cars to dealers until the strike has ended. This is the first strike at GM in 12 years. It is part of a growing wave of strikes and job actions which started with the West Virginia teachers’ strike in 2018.

“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.

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