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South Africa: 'Sorting fact from fiction at Marikana' -- Terry Bell on the massacre of mineworkers

For more coverage of South Africa, click HERE.

August 27, 2012 -- Terry Bell is a widely respected labour reporter and activist based in Cape Town, South Africa. His "Inside  labour" columns in Amandla! magazine and on his blog, Terry Bell Writes, are essential reading for those interested in developments in South Africa's labour movement. Below, with Terry Bell's permission, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal posts some of his recent columns dealing with Marikana massacre and the background to it.

* * *

By Terry Bell

August 23, 2012 -- Terry Bell Writes --  The deaths at Lonmin amount to the bloodiest tragedy of the post-apartheid era. As a result, the blame game is in full swing and is likely to continue in the weeks ahead.

Aotearoa/New Zealand: Call for international solidarity with Burger King workers

By Joe Carolan

August 24, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Workers employed by the Burger King fast-food chain, organised by the Unite Union in Aotearoa/New Zealand, are suffering a sustained union-busting campaign, and are now fighting back.

Burger King workers are the lowest-paid fast food workers in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Most are on the minimum wage, even some who have worked there for 15 years. Managers on salary are forced to work extra hours, and sometimes work for less than the minimum wage per hour. Many workers in Burger King are migrant workers, mostly from the Indian subcontinent. They face a bonded labour system. They are terrified of speaking out about mistreatment in case the company revokes their visa sponsorship .

Now the company has tried to bust their union, and is seeking an injunction stopping them from speaking to the media and conducting teach-ins in the community. Unite has taken the company to the Employment Authority, detailing the company's illegal anti-union activities, in a battle that is now shaping up to be the McLibel case of the South Pacific.

Unite union appeals to workers in other countries to organise pickets outside Burger King outlets in all the great cities of the world in solidarity with our fight.

Our fight is for the low-paid precarious workers.

South Africa: The massacre of our illusions … and the seeds of something new

By Leonard Gentle, director of the International Labour Research and Information Group (South Africa)

August 23, 2012 -- ILRIG -- The story of Marikana has so far been painted shallowly as an inter-union spat. In the first few days after the August16 police killing of  34 striking mineworkers, employed by the Lonmin mining corporation, and the shock and horror of watching people being massacred on TV, there have correctly been howls of anger and grief. Of course no one wants to take responsibility because to do so would be to acknowledge blame.

Some pundits have even gone the way of warning at anyone “pointing figures” or “stoking anger”. That buffoon, African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema, stepped forward as if scripted, and promptly lent credibility to those warnings. So South African President Jacob Zuma’s setting up of an inquiry and his call for a week of mourning for the deceased and their families could come across as “statesmanlike”.

Barry Sheppard: Wisconsin recall defeat caused by wrong strategy

Protesters occupy Wisconsin's Capitol building in Madison to support the rights of public sector workers, February 17 last year.
By Barry Sheppard

June 17, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- In a much-watched election on June 5, Republican Scott Walker handily defeated Democrat Tom Barrett in a recall election for governor of Wisconsin. Walker is on the right wing of the Republican Party and Barrett on the right wing of the Democrats. Walker was first elected in late 2010. When he took office early last year, Walker launched a drive to smash public worker unions. In response, there were huge mobilisations.

Bahrain: Democracy activists call for trade union solidarity

May 15, 2012 -- GreenLeftTV -- Bahrain democracy activist Zainab Abdulnabi, representing the Australia Bahraini Youth Movement, delivered an impassioned speech at the end of Sydney's May Day march on May 6, 2012. She reported that the heads of the nurses' and teachers' trade unions in Bahrain have been jailed for 15 years simply for supporting democracy protests. Three thousand workers have been dismissed from their jobs for participating in protests. She urged trade unions, especially education and health unions, to extend solidarity to the movement for democracy in Bahrain, and called on the Australian government to apply political pressure on the US and UK to stop arming the repressive Bahrain regime.

One million climate jobs now! The video

May 4, 2012 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group  is organising a Climate Jobs Caravan in England and Scotland in May 2012.

Based on the Million Climate Jobs report, produced with the assistance of Public and Commercial Services Union, the University and College Union, the Communication Workers Union and the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, the caravan will highlight how creating climate jobs can help tackle the twin crises of the ecomony and climate change.

This inspiring video sets out the caravan’s message. The full 33-minute version, along with eight other videos about the struggle for justice, can be purchased on a DVD from Reel News.

You can read the One Million Climate Jobs pamphlet HERE.

Peter Camejo: Against sectarianism -- the evolution of the Socialist Workers Party, 1978-1983

AGAINST SECTARIANISM

The Evolution of the Socialist Workers Party 1978-1983

by Pedro (Peter) Camejo

During the years 1978-1983, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) of the United States has been making sharp shifts in its policies, political positions, methods of work and internal norms. These shifts reflect an effort by the leadership of the SWP to develop an orientation in the post anti-Vietnam war movement period. Some important steps forward have been taken by the SWP. Two important shifts, which reflect fundamentally positive steps, have been the decision to colonize industry and to recognize the revolutionary proletarian character of the Cuban Communist Party, the FSLN in Nicaragua, the FMLN in El Salvador and the New Jewel Movement in Grenada.

Along with these positive steps, however, there has been a hardening of increasingly sectarian positions which threaten to undermine the positive aspects of the two points mentioned above. This document is a review of the increasingly sectarian positions developed by the SWP in the last five years. Why this is happening is beyond the scope of this document, although it is clearly related to the years of isolation from the broader workers' movement. The development of hardened sectarian political views has occurred quite frequently in groups which have developed within the world Trotskyist current. While the causes of the sectarianism of the SWP are undoubtedly related to these broader questions, this document takes up each political question at its face value, independent of broader judgments.

South African metalworkers: 'Workers must lead the transition to a green economy'


Frank Hammer interviews Cedric Gina, president of the 287,000-member National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA), about the need for workers to lead the transition to a green economy and the creation of green jobs. NUMSA advocates public ownership to achieve the necessary changes required to combat global warming. The interview, broadcast on the Real News Network on February 12, 2012, followed a NUMSA-sponsored conference on fighting climate change. More details on the conference can be found on Frank Hammer's Converge2Convert website.

COSATU general strike shakes South Africa

By Ashley Fataar, Cape Town

March 12, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- March 7 saw South Africa’s largest protest in several years when more than 200,000 workers took to the streets in 32 towns and cities across the country. More than 1.5 million workers stopped work.

The strike – called by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) to protest against the growing role of labour brokers and the introduction of road tolls -- was prompted by worsening poverty and working conditions in South Africa. There has been a steady decline in the wage share of national income, down from 56% in 1996 to less than 47% today.

International Women’s Day: the struggle for equality continues

By Socialist Alliance (Australia)

March 8, 2012 -- This International Women’s Day falls at a time when the environmental and economic crises of global capitalism are making life even harder for most women and the communities they live and work in. Capitalism’s crisis is hitting hard in the US and across Europe. It is particularly dire in Greece where school teachers and other essential service workers are being thrown out of work or being forced to take pay cuts of between 40-50%. Working-class women are being hit especially hard. The European-wide austerity drive of the 1% is designed to get the 99% to pay for their greed. However, as the huge protests by workers, students and the unemployed in Greece and across Europe reveal, the 99% is not giving in without a fight.

These mobilisations represent the continuity between the struggles of today and those of the early 20th century – struggles that gave rise to International Women’s Day 101 years ago.

Mike Marqusee on Occupy in 2012: 'Mass action has returned'

Occupy the London Stock Exchange.

By Mike Marqusee

January 23, 2012 -- Red Pepper (February-March 2012) via Mikemarqusee.com -- 2011 has been hailed in the media as a year of “protest” in the abstract, but it’s been more challenging and concrete than that. In defiance of received political wisdom, mass action in the streets returned with undeniable impact. Contests over space and the public domain became vehicles for the assertion of radical alternatives, which thereby forced their way into a discussion long restricted to a narrow consensus.

In Europe and North America, this democratic insurgency sought to free democracy itself from the straitjacket imposed by neoliberalism, which has deepened the historic tendency of capitalism to confine “politics” to the non-economic realm. Raising the banner of the 99%, the Occupy movement (with associated developments) broke through 30 years of neoliberal ideological hegemony to make the system itself – and the interests that drive it – the subject of debate. As a result, perceptions of the possible have been redefined. Horizons broadened. We do not have to be slaves of the financial sector, sacrificial victims to appease angry fiscal gods. Whatever else, this systemic challenge means the struggles of the coming years will be fought out on different terrain.

Demands

Tunisia: Left gains in trade union election

By Nizar Amami

January 12, 2012 -- International Viewpoint -- The 22nd congress of Tunisia’s UGTT trade union federation (Union Générale des Travailleurs Tunisiens, General Union of Tunisian Workers) was held December 25-28, 2011. A large part of it was devoted to the election of a new national leadership. The new executive bureau (EB) is clearly better than the old one. It is based on real activists involved in struggles, who are not corrupt.

An alternative list had been constituted around those close to the federation’s former deputy leader. It includes some self-styled independents, of whom some were in reality close to the Islamists currently in power (about 10% of congress participants were estimated to be linked to the Islamists).

The overwhelming majority of members of the new EB belong historically to the trade union left, and this is a victory for that left. Half of those elected are not, or are no longer, members of a party. This is for example the case with the new general secretary. He was part of the minority on the old EB and belongs to the democratic and left movement. He was a member of the Communist Party 20 years ago.

Nigeria: The state versus the people -- 10 million join general strike, protests; Unions condemn state killings

By Baba Aye

January 13, 2012 -- Socialist Workers Bulletin -- Nigeria's federal government declared war on Nigerians on new year's day, with its 120% hike in the petrol price. With heads held high, the people gallantly rose across the country in stiff resistance, immediately. The resistance snowballed into a general strike and series of escalating mass protests of historic proportions, with more than 10 million Nigerians demonstrating in more than 50 cities and towns within the country and no less than a dozen cities across Africa, Europe and the Americas.

United States: Labor Notes Conference, Chicago, May 4-6, 2012

Labor Notes Conference 2012

Labor Notes conferences are the biggest gatherings of grassroots union activists, worker center leaders,

Anniversary of the 1937 US sit-down strike wave: Remembering another Occupy movement

Sit-in strikers at General Motors' Fisher No. 1 plant.

By Don Fitz

[See also With Babies & Banners, the classic 1977 documentary about the 1936-37 Flint sit-down strike, and the role of women in it.]

January 3, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The year 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of the great sit-down strike wave of 1937. It also begins the second year of the Occupy movement, which has more than a few similarities to the time when hundreds of thousands of Americans occupied their workplaces.

The first recorded sit-down strike in the US was actually in 1906 among General Electric workers of Schenectady, New York. When three organisers for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) were fired, 3000 of their fellow workers sat down and stopped production.

By the 1930s, the IWW was on the wane, but many of its organisers were active and workers across the US had seen its tactics first hand.

United States: 'With Babies & Banners' -- 75 years since the 44-day Flint sit-down strike

To view With Babies & Banners go to http://links.org.au/node/2681.

December 30, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Flint-based filmmaker Michael Moore has described the 1936 Flint sit-down strike as the "first Occupy" movement. Whether this is strictly accurate or not, the 1936-37 occupation/strike was a ground-breaking development in the US labour movement. To mark this anniversary, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal  is making available the classic 1977 documentary on the strike and the role of women in it, With Babies & Banners (via the link at the top of this article, or click here).

As Moore recounts, "On this day, December 30th, in 1936 -- 75 years ago today -- hundreds of workers at the General Motors (GM) factories in Flint, Michigan, took over the facilities and occupied them for 44 days. My uncle was one of them. The workers couldn't take the abuse from the corporation any longer. Their working conditions, the slave wages, no vacation, no health care, no overtime -- it was do as you're told or get tossed onto the curb.

United States: Occupy wake-up call caps remarkable year

Trade unionists join Occupy Wall Street.

[For more on the #Occupy movement, click here.]

By Jane Slaughter

December 30, 2011 -- Labor Notes -- It’s been an exhilarating year. Crowds of people finally moved into resistance after decades of misrule.

The year began with Egypt, moved quickly to the snowy streets of Wisconsin, and re-erupted in August with Verizon workers out on strike and longshore unionists in Washington state dumping scab grain onto railroad tracks.

What no one could have predicted was that a relatively small number of young people at Occupy Wall Street would touch off a wave of imitators across the country, from Detroit to Abilene.

November’s electoral victory in Ohio, where Governor John Kasich’s anti-union bill went down to sound defeat, capped off a remarkable year for US workers.

South Africa: One million climate jobs: A just transition to a low carbon economy to combat unemployment and climate change

December 28, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- South Africa's Million Climate Jobs Campaign has released a new booklet describing how the transformation of the economy to one that protects people and the environment, can confront two of South Africa’s biggest threats: climate change and unemployment. The Million Climate Jobs Campaign presents tangible solutions to the ecological and economic crises, and calls on the South African government to create jobs in combating climate change. Authentic, meaningful solutions to climate change offer vast opportunities for decent work in a new
low-carbon economy.

China: Workers' action and collective awakening -- the 2010 auto workers' strike wave

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

By Wang Kan*, translated by Ralf Ruckus

Sozial Geschichte Online #6 (2011), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- On May 17, 2010, a strike erupted at the Honda parts plant in Nanhai, a city located in the Chinese centre of the manufacturing industry in Guangdong province. More than 1800 workers participated, and the strike disrupted all of Honda’s spare parts production facilities in China and led to the paralysing of Honda’s car production in China. On May 28, the strike wave spread to a Hyundai carfactory and on May 29 to US-American Chrysler’s joint venture Jeep factory, both in Beijing. On June 18, Toyota’s second car plant in Tianjin had to close, due to a strike.

In July, the Chinese media were universally asked to restrict their coverage of the strikes, but the strikes in the auto industry still did not stop. Prior to July 22, at least two of Honda’s joint venture factories saw strikes. The organisers and most important participants of these strikes were migrant workers (nongmingong, peasant workers). During the strike wave they showed very strong collective consciousness and capacity for collective action.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa: COP17 and class struggle

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa convened its first International Seminar on Climate Change and Class Struggle on December 4, 2011.

By the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa

[The following statement was issued at the conclusion of the NUMSA central committee meeting (CC), held December 11-14, at Vincent Mabuyakhulu Conference Centre, Newtown, Johannesburg.]

December 14, 2011 -- Amidst the deepening crisis of climate change and in the context of the COP17 negotiations that were taking place in Durban, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa convened its first International Seminar on Climate Change and Class Struggle on December 4, 2011.

Climate change cannot be resolved separately from the resolution of the capitalist crisis. Capitalism is currently devouring its own children throughout the world. The crisis is a global class war. We need to link our struggles around climate change with global anti-capitalist struggles.

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