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Australia: Film -- `Alyawarr walk-off protest vs Northern Territory intervention'

Alyawarr walk-off protest vs Northern Territory intervention from Actively Radical TV on Vimeo.

By Actively Radical TV

August 25, 2010 -- In July 2009, the Alyawarr people in the township of Ampilatwatja, approximately 350 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs, in Central Australia, walked out of the government "proscribed area" and into the desert to set up a protest camp.

This protest action was in defiance of the Northern Territory Intervention Act 2007, brought in under the conservative Coalition government of then-prime minister John Howard. The intervention was and continued under the Australia Labor Party governments of prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. The Alyawarr community and others are calling for the intervention to be abolished and reinstatment of the Racial Discrimiation Act, which was suspended in order to bring in the racist Northern Territory Intervention Act.

South Africa: Public sector strike highlights post-apartheid’s contradictions

By Patrick Bond

August 22, 2010 -- The two major civil service unions on strike against the South African government have vowed to intensify pressure in coming days, in a struggle pitting more than a million members of the middle and lower ranks of society against a confident government leadership fresh from hosting the World Cup.

Along with many smaller public sector unions, educators from the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and nurses from the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) continued picketing schools, clinics and hospitals, leading to widespread shutdowns starting on August 18. Skeleton teams of doctors and military personnel were compelled to send non-emergency cases home.

In several confrontations with police at town centres, clinics and schools late last week, workers were shot with rubber bullets and water cannon. On August 21, the courts enjoined workers to return to jobs considered “emergency services”. In dozens of hospitals and clinics, military health workers took over.

Pakistan: Labour Relief Campaign launches appeal for millions affected by floods

Appeal from the Labour Relief Campaign, Pakistan

[Readers can also donate via the Australian trade unions' aid agency APHEDA at http://www.apheda.org.au/news/1281331224_14992.html.]

August 7, 2010 -- More than 12 million people are suffering from floods in Pakistan. Please donate to the Labour Relief Campaign to help people of Pakistan facing the worst-ever floods in its history. Torrential rains have unleashed flash floods in different parts of the country in the last three weeks. Levies have broken, leaving the people exposed to flood water.

More than 650,000 houses have collapsed, mainly in villages. Thousands of hectares of crops have been destroyed due to flood water. Livestock, household goods, clothes, shoes and other items have been destroyed. Residents of villages are without drinkable water, food, shelter and in need of clothes.

Australian socialists: `Vote Socialist & Greens, put Abbott's conservatives last'


Sam Watson, Socialist Alliance Senate candidate for Queensland. Longstanding leader of the Aboriginal community of Brisbane, campaigner against Black deaths in custody and for Indigenous rights.

On July 24, 2010, Australia's leading socialist newspaper Green Left Weekly spoke to Peter Boyle, national convener of the Socialist Alliance, about the political climate of the 2010 federal election, to be held on August 21.

* * *

Many progressive people are feeling depressed about the federal election. How do you see it?

The Australian Labor Party and the conservative Liberal Party-National Party Coalition are in a “race to the bottom”, as Socialist Alliance lead Queensland Senate candidate and Murri [Indigenous] community leader Sam Watson aptly put it.

Report reveals International Trade Union Confederation's pro-Israel bias

Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip queue at a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Qalqiliya as they attempt to reach their jobs in Israel. Photo by Khaleel Reash/MaanImages.

By Sarah Irving

July 23, 2010 -- The Electronic Intifada -- Every June, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) releases its Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights. According to a press release that accompanied the 2010 publication (which reports on events in 2009), "the Middle East remains among the regions of the world where union rights are least protected". The report describes repression meted out to Palestinian workers and trade unionists by both the Israeli authorities and the Palestinian factions. But the ITUC's omissions and brevity both disguise the complexity of life for Palestinian workers, and reveal some of the international union confederation's own biases.

South Korea: Ssangyong trade unionist's appeal

Han Sang Kyun.

By Australia Asia Workers Links

August 3, 2010 -- On February 13, 2010, Han Sang Kyun, the chairman of the Ssangyong Motor Company Union, was sentenced to four years in prison. Australia Asia Workers Links is campaigning for his release.

Venezuela: The labour movement and socialist struggle today

Pedro Eusse, national secretary of the Communist Party of Venezuela.

Pedro Eusse interviewed by Susan Spronk and Jeffery R. Webber

July 22, 2010 -- The Bullet -- In mid-June, 2010, we met with Pedro Eusse, national secretary of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) and part of the provisional executive committee of the labour confederation, Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (National Union of Workers, UNT). Revolutionary figures from times past stared down at us from the paintings hung on the walls in the office of the PCV in central Caracas. Refusing to be interrupted by the constantly ringing phone, Pedro spoke passionately for two hours about the centrality of organised workers in the revolutionary struggle and the need to unite the labour movement. He expressed his hopes for rebuilding the UNT at its third congress planned for fall 2010.

What was your political formation?

Pakistan: Losing lives to form trade unions

By Farooq Tariq

July 16, 2010 -- On July 6, while Mustansar Rindhawa was listening to a worker who had not been paid his wages by a textile boss, an unknown person with a Kalashnikov rifle entered the front room and fired. Mustansar tried to save his life by running to the next room.

I met Mustansar Rindhawa (32) briefly on June 19, 2010, in Faisalabad, less than a month before his murder. He was one of 30 participants in a trade union leadership training course at the Labour Qaumi Movement (LQM) office. The LQM is a community-based labour organisation established in 2004. It has become the main labour organisation in Faisalabad, and is now spreading to other cities.

I had been invited by the Labour Education Foundation, the organisation conducting the program, to speak on "globalisation and its impact on the working class in Pakistan". Mustansar Rindhawa and Hamid Shah were introduced to me as two newcomers to the movement. Both have been active in the small-scale industrial zone of Faisalabad.

Brazil: Left workers’ unity attempt fails

Delegate addresses the national congress of militant Brazilian trade union federation, Contulas.

By Raul Bassi

July 11, 2010 -- An attempt to forge greater unity among militant union sectors in Brazil has imploded. The Working Class Congress (Conclat) was held in Sao Paulo on June 5-6 to try and bring together various radical union currents. The key forces behind the congress were Conlutas and Intersindical, both formed in opposition to the main union confederation, the Unified Workers’ Confederation (CUT).

The CUT unites approximately 60 million formal or informal workers out of a total population of 200 million, making it the biggest workers confederation in the continent. The CUT has had a very close relationship with the governing Workers Party (PT), both during its period of ascendency as it emerged out of the militant workers' struggles of the 1970s, as well as during its transformation to what it is today.

Classic cartoon by Fred Wright: `How much do you pay your boss?'

Drawing on the American Labor movement -- Fred Wright (1907-1984) was one of the United States’s most renowned labour movement cartoonists. His career lasted from 1939 until his death in 1984. He is best known for his work as a staff cartoonist for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE). In addition to his cartoons illustrating the union’s newspaper, the UE News, he designed leaflets, strike placards and animated organising cartoons to contribute to the US labour movement. 

Wright sold his first cartoon to the National Maritime Union (NMU) publication, The Pilot, in 1939. He continued to draw cartoons for the US Army during World War II and was ultimately hired as a staff cartoonist for the UE in 1949. Throughout this time, his work was reprinted in labour and radical publications worldwide. In the spirit of the labour movement, his cartoons criticised the Taft-Hartley Act, McCarthyism, and other government post-war attacks on trade unions.

United States: Victory as protesters and union block Israeli ship unloading at Oakland Port


Video by Tom Vee TV. More video below.

[For more information about trade union solidarity with Palestine, click HERE.]

June 20, 2010 -- ANSWER -- In a historic action and unprecedented action today, more 800 worker and community activists blocked the gates of the Oakland docks in the early morning hours, prompting longshore workers to refuse to cross the picketlines where they were scheduled to unload an Israeli ship.

(Updated June 21) Support for Palestinian unions' call for international unions to ban Israeli trade and ships

Palestinian trade union movement calls on international dockworkers' unions to block loading/offloading Israeli ships until Israel complies fully with international law and ends its illegal siege of Gaza

By the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, Palestine

June 7, 2010 -- The Palestinian trade union movement, as a key constituent member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) calls on dockworkers' unions worldwide to block Israeli maritime trade in response to Israel’s massacre of humanitarian relief workers and activists aboard the Freedom Flotilla, until Israel complies with international law and ends its illegal blockade of Gaza.

`Intensify pressure!' -- (updated June 8) Call by Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee gains support

By the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)

Occupied Palestine, June 1, 2010 -- Palestinian civil society calls for intensifying boycott and sanctions as Israel massacres humanitarian relief workers and international solidarity activists.

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) strongly condemns last night’s fatal attack by the Israeli navy on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip. The BNC conveys Palestinian civil society’s condolences to the families and friends of those killed by the Israeli assault and warmly salutes the principled solidarity and moral commitment of all those involved in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

In response, the BNC calls on international civil society to:

May Day 2010: `Workers will win!'

Graphic by Ashley Cecil.
 

Statements from left organisations around the world to mark international workers' day.

* * *

Joint May Day 2010 statement from Asia

Click here to endorse the joint May Day statement 

All over the world workers are organising ...

We are organising to demand a living wage. For health and safety at work. For compensation and  rehabilitation. For the  rights of migrant workers and refugees, for citizenship rights for migrant workers and their families. For the right to employment on equal terms. Workers are organising against deportations, against racism, against discrimination. Workers are organising against wars that are a disaster to millions of workers.

Canada: New openings for workers in Toronto

Participants at the Stewards' Assembly. Photo by John Maclennan.

By Herman Rosenfeld

March 2010 -- Relay (Socialist Project) -- In the context of an economic crisis where working people in Ontario, Canada, have suffered major setbacks, organised labour’s response has so far been disappointing. Apart from a few public sector strikes forced by employer concession demands, some longer-term strikes against concessions (such as the Vale-Inco struggle), a number of workplace occupations demanding severance pay and a few demonstrations calling for pension protection and Employment Insurance (EI) changes, there has been little resistance. This has forced activists in the trade union movement, and the left more widely, to confront the limits of our present organisational situation, and to begin to look for new ways to move forward.

Australia: Freedom fighter Chicka Dixon departs, his activist spirit lives on

Charles "Chicka" Dixon (top left with mouth covered) at the 1972 Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Canberra. Photo from http://indigenousrights.net.au.

By Peter Boyle, Sydney

March 31, 2010 -- Indigenous and trade union activist Chicka "The Fox" Dixon (1928-2010) was farewelled by more than a thousand people in a state funeral in Sydney Town Hall today. Chicka was from the Yuin people whose traditional lands stretch along the south coast of New South Wales, from the Shoalhaven down to the Victorian border.

Organised women are key to strike success: Learning from the 1985 British miners’ strike

The British coalminers’ strike of 1984-5, which ended 25 years ago on March 3, was a turning point in British politics. In this article, Terry Conway discusses the impact of Women Against Pit Closures and its legacy.

* * *

March 3, 2010 -- Socialist Resistance -- Since her election as prime minister in 1979, Margaret Thatcher had wasted little time in attacking working people in every way she could. The massive program of coal pit closures was critical for her government.

The strike was to be “the” central issue of British politics. The stakes were understood by the majority of members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), who saw that what was at stake was the loss of the thousands upon thousands of jobs and the devastation of entire communities in the many areas where the coal pit was the centre of local life.

Swaziland: `The people are getting angrier and angrier'; Swaziland Democracy Campaign to be launched

February 13, 2010 -- B.V. Dlamini, deputy secretary general of the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions, spoke to London Student's Ingrida Kerusauskaite about the way forward for Swaziland. London Student is Europe's largest independent student newspaper. This interview is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

What is the political situation in Swaziland? What does that mean to the citizens?

The country is ruled under a dictatorship, where there is no separation of power: the judiciary, legislative and executive powers are all invested in the king, to the extent that the government cannot properly advise the monarch. First they have to know what he wants to hear, and then they tell him what he wants to hear, not what he has to hear. The distribution of resources in the country is very uneven: 69 per cent of the population live under the poverty line, despite the fact that Swaziland is regarded as a middle-income country by the international financial institutions. There are also serious violations of human rights.

Swaziland has an international reputation of being an “ideal tourist destination”. What effect does that have on the country?

Australia: Trade union solidarity with NT Aboriginal struggle


Made with Slideshow Embed Tool. Trade union brigade offer practical solidarity to the Ampilatwatja community. Photos by Tim Gooden.

By Emma Murphy, Ampilatwatja, Northern Territory

February 12, 2010 -- From February 1-14, in a remote part of Australia's Northern Territory (NT), a group of trade unionists and Aboriginal rights activists from Victoria, New South Wales and the NT joined forces with the Alyawarr people from Ampilatwatja community to help make history.

Many people around Australia have already been inspired by the Alyawarr people’s walk-off. On July 14, 2009, following a great tradition from Aboriginal struggles of the past century, they walked off their community and set up a protest camp.

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