International unions

Letters: Marsha de Cordova and the Equalities Act; On-the-spot strikes

My article last week referred to a tweeted comment by Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Marsha de Cordova, and her failure to respond to calls to apologise. It’s worth spelling out the detail. The Law Society had published some good guidance on how to support gender-transitioning employees. A transphobic response was published by a blog called “Roll on Friday”. It criticised the Law Society for saying transitioning employees should be able to use the toilet that they are comfortable using, saying that it meant abolishing “single sex spaces” and implying that it went against the Equality...

Howie Hawkins interview, part 2: "We need a left party that organises in the unions"

Howie Hawkins, a socialist running in the US presidential election on the ticket of the Green Party, spoke to Stephen Wood from Solidarity. Part 1 of this interview was in Solidarity 567. Workers’ Liberty backs Hawkins in the election. Bernie Sanders, during the Democratic primaries, was clear about his policies. But it looks like now he’s making almost no demands on Biden? Bernie Sanders is saying if we get Joe Biden in there, we can push him. But in the course of this campaign, he’s compromised on his signature issue, Medicare for All. He went on MSNBC and said: I’m willing to compromise to...

Why American unions back Biden

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is “lamentable”, “utterly useless”, a “creep” and a “shit”. Those are not the words of Donald Trump, but they are all used in an article in this newspaper last week. The author of that article, it seems, does not like Joe Biden. He prefers that American workers throw their support behind the little-known candidate of the Green Party, Howie Hawkins. American trade unionists have a rather different view of the former Vice President. They are throwing everything they have into ensuring a massive voter turnout and a convincing win for Biden – especially...

The labour movement and Nagorno-Karabakh

The recent outbreak of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan, seems like something out of another era. Turkey and Russia each support their own side. A century ago, the Tsar would have supported his Christian co-religionists in Armenia and the Sultan his Muslim brothers in Azerbaijan. Little has changed. The response of the labour movement to a conflict which has already cost over 300 lives and left thousands homeless has been muted, to put it diplomatically. The International Trade Union Confederation, whose members include national trade union centres like the...

Belarus workers press for strikes

Belarusian workers with a banner saying "Strike" in Russian Belarus’s dictator Lukashenko held his inauguration for a new term as president on 23 September, but protests continue. Universities had resumed and many students had joined demonstrations and sit-down protests held throughout the week. The weekend demonstrations were slightly smaller in Minsk on 26-27 September, but they continue to spread and grow outside the capital. The police response gets increasingly violent and threatening. In Grodno, shots were fired over the heads of demonstrators. Sub-machine guns were brandished by police...

US unions warn Trump: don't even think about it

A few days ago, the president of the AFL-CIO (the US’s national trade union centre) issued a powerful statement. The federation “categorically rejects all threats to the peaceful transition of power” said Richard Trumka, a former leader of the mine workers’ union. “The labour movement,” he said, “simply will not allow any breach of the US Constitution or other effort to deny the will of the people.” Trumka’s comments came in response to increasingly threatening noises being made by Donald Trump in which he threatened that regardless of the results of the election on 3 November, he would not be...

Ukraine miners' protest goes underground

Hundreds of mine workers have spent weeks underground in a desperate attempt to win concessions from their employers in Ukraine. The protests began on 3 September at the Oktyabrskaya mine, where 29 miners started the action. There was no response from management, so the strike began to spread. Within a few days, 214 miners at the Rodina mine, 90 miners at the Gvardeyskaya mine and 60 miners at the Ternovskaya mine joined the protest underground. By mid-September, nearly 400 workers at four mines belonging to the Kryvyi Rih Iron Ore Plant were participating in the protests. Above ground, the...

Belarus workers fight for democracy

Again on 19-20 September, mass demonstrations across Belarus demanded democracy. The last two Saturdays have seen tens of thousands of women in the capital, Minsk. They have faced police attacks, but the last two Sunday demonstrations have both attracted over 150,000. The women defended each other heroically — stopping state security arresting their comrades and pulling off the balaclavas behind which the security thugs hide their identity. One hero of the women's marches is 74 year old Nina Baginskaya. Escaping arrest on 12 September, she was eventually arrested at the 19 September...

Rank and file newsletter for Queensland MUA

'Special edition' newsletter on the Queensland MUA: This newsletter is written and published by concerned MUA R&F members 'Human Beings are many, but MEN are few' The above is a quote from the great Greek historian Herodotus referring to the heroic stand of the Spartan 300 at Thermopylae in 480 BC: Where despite being technically defeated the Greeks through their bravery and tenacity put in place the moral and military foundations to, in the end, defeat and drive from their homeland a far larger and stronger army in the Persians. Occasionally over the last few months I have interjected in the...

Victory in Korea: teachers' union wins seven year fight for recognition

Almost seven years ago — in October 2013 — the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU) came to LabourStart with a problem. The national government had given the union an ultimatum: either it would change its rules to prohibit dismissed or retired teachers from being members of the union, or the union would be deregistered. At issue were just nine teachers who, according to the government, were illegally members of the 60,000 member union. Facing the prospect of being outlawed, the union stood its ground. Working together with its national trade union centre, the militant Korean...

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