Donate to Links
Click on Links masthead to clear previous query from search box
- Another side from Revolutionary Activism
2 days 11 hours ago
- 'It was a real revolution': An interview with Vasyl Cherepanyn
2 days 12 hours ago
- Thank you for the exerpts
2 days 22 hours ago
- Eclectic Avenue
5 days 14 hours ago
- Mike Gonzalez
1 week 1 day ago
- Gulf states and sectarianism
1 week 1 day ago
1 week 3 days ago
- Gonzalez's picture ignores actual developments
1 week 3 days ago
- Wishful thinking
1 week 5 days ago
- Another breach in ANC-led alliance?
2 weeks 2 days ago
By Terry Bell
March 6, 2014 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Despite media claims to the contrary there is no move by the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) to start a political party. What the union plans to organise is a series of “socialist consultative conferences” in the nine provinces of South Africa— and this is in line with a 21-year-old Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) decision that has apparently never been rescinded.
The jargon used at the NUMSA press conference at which general secretary Irvin Jim referred to the establishment of a united front or movement that may in future contest elections was the probably cause of media confusion. Neither a movement nor the more formal united front is a political party in the traditional sense. Both are groupings of individuals and organisations that share broadly common aims.
Statement by nine COSATU affiliates campaigning for the reinstatement of Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi as general secretary
February 15, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The outcome of the special central executive council (CEC) of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) that was shunned by those affiliates who had formally called for a Special National Congress has confirmed our worst fears.
The current leadership faction that currently controls the boardroom manipulated the quorum, the agenda and the discussion to reach outcomes that have nothing to do with protecting the rights of workers or their organisations. It is clear that this faction is prepared to sacrifice COSATU and turn it into a toothless giant in order to please its political masters. We cannot and will not allow this to happen without a determined struggle and we believe that we have the support of the majority of COSATU workers.
Irvin Jim, NUMSA general secretary.
Presentation by Irvin Jim, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) at the Cape Town Press Club
February 11, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- I speak to you today with a powerful and united mandate from 341,150 metalworkers. They made their views extremely clear in our workers’ parliament in December 2013 – the parliament we called the NUMSA Special National Congress. In that parliament there was vigorous debate. Every delegate knew that they would have to account to their constituency. We are justifiably proud of our democratic heritage. We know that what we decided has the backing of our members. We don’t have to change decisions after the congress has spoken, as some do, even though there are those who would urge us to “come to our senses” and take NUMSA in another direction from the decisions of that Congress.
Exclusive excerpt from John Tully's 'Silvertown: The Lost Story of a Strike that ... Helped Launch the Modern Labor Movement'
February 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following is an excerpt from John Tully's new book, Silvertown: The Lost Story of a Strike that Shook London and Helped Launch the Modern Labor Movement, published by Monthly Review Press. It is posted with the kind permission of Monthly Review Press. Readers of Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal are urged to order a copy HERE. You can download the excerpt HERE (PDF), or read it on screen below.
* * *
“This is a revolt against oppression: a protest against the brute force which keeps a huge population down in the depths of the most dire degradation, for the benefit of a knot of profit-hunters … this is a strike of the poor against the rich.”—William Morris, 1889
January 29, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This press conference has been called to explain why the nine Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) affiliated unions have taken the unprecedented step of coming together in an attempt to rescue and regenerate COSATU.
Our main and overriding purpose is to work openly towards freeing COSATU from its current state of organisational and political paralysis, for it to become once again a vibrant, independent, progressive worker-controlled federation. The working class at this critical time demands nothing less!
What crisis in COSATU?
We hold the view that COSATU is in deep crisis, and denying the scale and extent of the crisis makes matters worse. A review of what COSATU was supposed to implement following its 2012 congress reveals an organisation unable to move forward on any significant area, and especially in relation to economic and social matters. Meanwhile millions of our people continue to face unemployment, poverty and worsening inequality.
Chicago Teachers Union members during their strike against Democratic Party mayor Rahm Emanuel's assault on public schools.
By Marilena Marchetti
January 14, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- The Chicago Teachers Union wants to shake up the city and state political establishment. In a sweeping majority vote, representatives of the union's 23,000 members passed a resolution to launch an independent political organisation (IPO). The goal of the initiative is to unite progressive groups, non-profit organisations and trade unions around political campaigns that have the potential to sustain social movements and activism, rather than empowering Democratic Party candidates who have turned their back on teachers and public education.
The resolution concludes:
RESOLVED that the Chicago Teachers Union, along with key allies in the progressive labour movement and among progressive community organisations will launch an independent political organisation (IPO) that is capable of leading strong electoral and legislative campaigns to benefit working families, our active and retired members, and our communities, and be it further
Striking garment worker shows spent cartridges from police and military shootings the Veng Sreng Street in Phnom Penh on January 3. Photo by Malay Tim, President Cambodian Youth Network.
* * *
Chrek Sophea, former garment worker and interim coordinator of the Worker’s Information Centre (WIC), a women garment workers' base association in Phnom Penh, interviewed by Peter Boyle
Railway workers' three-week strike against privatisation garnered wide support—and government repression. Photo by DDanzi Ilbo.
By Li San
January 8, 2014 -- Labor Notes -- South Korea’s railway workers have ended a 22-day strike, the longest such stoppage in the country’s history. Though they didn’t win a clear victory, they succeeded in placing the issue of privatisation in public focus.
The government’s and management’s attack on the strike was ruthless to the point of recklessness, while the public’s solidarity and sympathy with the striking workers continued to rise.
And the full impact of the action has yet to ripple out. Amid rising political tensions, the country’s biggest union umbrella, the 700,000-strong Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), has called for a one-day general strike February 25.
Privatisation Plans Sparked Strike
About 15,000 unionists, or about 45 per cent of the workforce, of Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail) walked off the job December 9 to protest what they saw as a preliminary step to privatising rail service—a plan by management to spin off the most lucrative slice of its business.
January 5, 2014 -- Anticapitalist Initiative -- With new papers released by the National Archives about the British miners’ strike the Anticapitalist Initiative’s Chris Strafford caught up with Harry Paterson, author of the upcoming book Look Back in Anger: The Miners’ Strike in Nottinghamshire 30 years on, to discuss what we have learnt.
* * *
Chris Strafford: With the release of documents from the Cabinet Office and Prime Minister’s Office from 1984 detailing discussions and actions of the Thatcher government in the 1984-85 miners’ strike we have got some insight into how the attack on the miners was carried out. What were your initial thoughts once you had finished reading the documents?
North Carolinians mobilised against an anti-worker (and anti-woman, anti-civil rights) legislative assault by bringing thousands of protesters to the state capitol every week for “Moral Mondays”, with close to a thousand arrests. Photo by Ajamu Dillahunt.
By Jenny Brown
December 30, 2013 -- Labor Notes -- Lean meanness stalked workplaces. The political and economic outlook continued dismal. But the year was marked by workers trying new things and setting higher standards, for their employers, their unions, and—in the case of low-wage workers—their pay.
Unemployment ticked down slightly, but the jobs created paid worse than ever. Mainstream media reported with amazement that jobs that once paid the bills, from bank teller to university instructor, now require food stamps and Medicaid to supplement the wages of those who work every day.
California Walmart worker Anthony Goytia spoke for many when he said it’s no longer pay cheque to pay cheque for him and his co-workers, but payday loan to payday loan.
Delegates to NUMSA's special congress greet suspended COSATU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi (centre).
Declaration of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) Special National Congress, held in Boksburg, December 17-20, 2013. This document had been abridged.
This and other congress documents are available in full at http://www.numsa.org.za.
* * *
NUMSA’s Special National Congress convened from December 17 to December 20, 2013. It was attended by 1200 delegates representing 338,000 metalworkers from 50 Locals throughout the provinces of South Africa. NUMSA was proud to announce in the congress that it is the biggest union in the history of the African continent. In the last 17 months, since our 9th Congress in Durban, we have grown from 300,000 members to 338,000 members. We are ahead of schedule in our goal to organise 400,000 workers by the time of our 10th Congress in 2016.
2. The passing of Madiba
Mike Treen on the picket line. If trade unions take up the challenge, they could become “the voice for a boldly different economic model, one that provides solutions to the attacks on working people, on poor people, and the attacks on the Earth itself".
By Mike Treen, national director of the Unite union (New Zealand)
December 2, 2013 -- Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The continuing pretense that world governments will do anything about climate change was exposed once more at the latest round of climate negotiations held in Poland November 11-22. This was the 19th round of annual negotiations.
It is 21 years since the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Emissions are 60-70% higher than they were then. Global warming has proceeded at an accelerating pace. As a great article by economic historian Richard Smith notes:
Striking Honda workers, 2010.
By Ellen David Friedman
November 27, 2013 -- Labor Notes -- More than 30 years since China opened up to foreign investment, wildcat strikes surge month after month. They are driven by workers with no meaningful access to union representation, to a worker centre, to the media, to legal mechanisms, or to government intervention on their behalf. And yet workers in industries from electronics to health care continue to strike, impelled by low wages as low as US$2 an hour.
This raw resistance has generally gotten employers to give in to strikers’ economic demands. The typical wage is minimum wage, but overtime and the mandatory social insurances are often not properly paid, so workers’ demands are frequently just to get their legal due, which employers can easily meet.
Below are suspended general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions Zwelinzima Vavi's speaking notes for his address to the National Union of Metalworkers KwaZulu-Natal congress, on November 23 2013.
* * *
I am speaking strictly in my personal capacity and not in any way as a representative of anybody.
A. Very lazy, shallow and extremely misleading explanations of the bases and causes of the paralysing crisis in Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) suggest the following:
a. That the current general secretary of COSATU, Comrade Zwelinzima Vavi has fallen out with a pro Jacob Zuma leadership faction inside COSATU, and that he is himself is supported by an anti-Zuma faction. This is arguably the most publicly punted explanation for the crisis in COSATU by the media.
b. That both the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) national leaders are unhappy with Zwelinzima Vavi and his anti-government corruption crusade, oppositional stance and public criticism of the ANC.
Melbourne protest against Work Choices, September 2007.
By Sue Bolton
November 16, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Over the years, I have heard many left-wing activists say that mass peaceful protests do not achieve anything. Rather, “militant actions” which “take it up to the ruling class” are more important.
But for smaller direct actions to have any real political significance, they have to be connected to a patient and democratic approach to building mass movements that can win reforms. Smaller direct actions that are not tied to this political aim are a posture.
In a period of relative political quiet, some on the left are being snookered into the false idea that demonstrations that insist on direct action and militancy are the only way to win reforms.
This is a failed strategy, because it rests on the notion that a tiny number of conscientious and outraged activists can frighten or shock the ruling class into delivering reforms or stopping cuts. This sort of idealism is dangerous, and ignores evidence of how social movements throughout history have grown and succeeded in their aims.
When I first arrived in Melbourne in 1993, I met a man at a tram stop who told me that Victorians supported then-premier Jeff Kennett because they had stopped protesting.
November 22, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialst Renewal -- The Scottish Left Review (issue 79) published this roundtable of the relationship of the trade unions and the British Labour Party.
* * *
Gregor Gall reviews Len McCluskey’s Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture and concludes that the Unite leader is perhaps too generous in identifying signs of real change in the Labour Party leader Ed Milliband’s Labour Party.
At the second annual Reid Foundation lecture, Len McCluskey, general secretary of the largest union in Britain, Unite, proclaimed that at the September 2013 British Labour Party conference Ed Miliband had delivered the most radical party conference speech for 30 years. The reason for this, McCluskey argued, was that Miliband had broken with neoliberal dogma of "New" Labour.
Document of the General Federation of Belgian Labour (Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique/Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond, FGTB/ABVV) in Charleroi and Sud-Hainaut, Belgium
[For background, see "Belgium: Class trade unionism seeks political expression".]
October 22, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- The Charleroi and Sud-Hainaut regional organisation is the second biggest of the FGTB in membership terms (102,000). It has just printed 10,000 copies of a pamphlet whose key passages are reproduced below.
1. Can trade unions get involved in politics?
By Terry Bell
October 25, 2013 -- Terry Bell Writes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- “South Africa has rather fallen off the radar”, the BBC journalist noted. This was similar to comments voiced by former anti-apartheid activists and by several one-time strugglista exiles, mainly in London, who never returned home to settle. Because, in the mainstream media of Europe, there is little mention of South Africa; and, after six weeks abroad, it was for me a useful reminder of how minor is our role in global political and economic affairs.
And the moral high ground bequeathed to the country and its post-apartheid government by the global struggle against apartheid has also all but evaporated, depositing a residue of concern and disillusionment among many of those who once saw South Africa as a global beacon of hope. “What on Earth is happening there?” was a common, and concerned query, expressed by those who seek out what news they can of the country.
Daniel Piron, the Charleroi regional secretary of the FGTB.
By Daniel Tanuro
October 17, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- In the social and political history of Belgium, May 1, 2012, could mark a milestone. On that day the leaders of the Charleroi regional branch of the socialist trade union General Federation of Belgian Labour (Fédération Générale du Travail de Belgique/Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond, FGTB/ABVV) — the second biggest in the country, with 102,000 members — publicly broke with the social-democratic party and called for a rallying of the left to the perspective of a new broad, anti-capitalist force to the left of the Parti Socialiste (PS) and the Greens. An unprecedented thunderbolt… and not without consequences.
May Day speeches in Belgium are generally unsurprising but like all rules, this has its exceptions. On May 1, 2012, in Charleroi, a big stone was thrown in the water by Daniel Piron, the regional secretary of the FGTB. Before stunned and furious social-democratic leaders, and in the presence of several hundred enthusiastic trade unionists, Piron denounced the austerity policies with which the PS has collaborated for 25 years without a break.
Bolivia: Workers to take over closed or abandoned firms; The working class and the political process
By Richard Fidler, La Paz, Bolivia
October 10, 2013 -- Life of the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission − On October 7, Bolivia's President Evo Morales issued a government decree that allows workers to establish “social enterprises” in businesses that are bankrupt, winding up, unjustifiably closed or abandoned. These enterprises, while private, will be operated by the workers and qualify for government assistance.
Morales issued Supreme Decree 1754 at a ceremony in the presidential palace marking the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the Confederación General de Trabajadores Fabriles de Bolivia (CGTFB – the General Confederation of Industrial Workers of Bolivia). Minister of Labour Daniel Santalla said the decree was issued pursuant to article 54 of Bolivia’s new constitution, which states that workers
in defense of their workplaces and protection of the social interest may, in accordance with the law, reactivate and reorganize firms that are undergoing bankrupty, creditor proceedings or liquidation, or closed or abandoned without justification, and may form communitarian or social enterprises. The state will contribute to the action of the workers.