International unions

RATP

French metro workers strike

Published on: Mon, 16/09/2019 - 13:57

This report on the Paris metro workers’ strike appeared in the newspaper of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) on 18 September and was translated from the French by Luke Neal.

A strike on RATP (the Paris metro) has got the the ball rolling in the fight against pension reforms in France. After 12 years of lethargy - at least on the surface - the strike has made a smashing comeback in Parisian transport: 100% of strikers on the metro, 60% on buses and in maintenance workshops. The capital was paralysed on Friday 13 September. Well dug, you old mole!

Two days earlier, the traffic forecasts announced by the management had had the effect of a bomb, triggering the media comedy: RATP agents would be privileged, retiring on average with 3700 euros!

“3700 euros? I earn 2000 euros by working staggered hours and public holidays with work periods of 6 days in a row!” corrects a striking driver interviewed during the rally in front of the company headquarters. “Retirement at age 50? A legend. Many leave at 58. Not to mention the stories of the reductions, ” confirms another.

The work regime is no longer so special, except for the lower starting age. Leaving early, but with what? Since the contribution period is the same as for all employees, the reduction works to penalise earlier retirement through a lower pension for the same contribution. The pension is calculated over the last 6 months – a ‘speciality’ that still concerns more than 5.5 million civil servants.

“Isn't it fair, the six-month calculation? But everyone should have the last six months!” “If they want to make a unique retirement, let them do it to those at the top: they can lower their own benefits. Working? Alright, but not to death!” These are the words of strikers, who had only one thing in mind on Friday 13: what further action should the movement take?

Strikers said: “It is up to the base to decide what to do next. I agree to be led, but the unions must not sign anything without consulting us.”

“In 2007 we felt betrayed by the unions. I am a CGT union member but I am still bitter. We want our decisions to be taken up. Anyway, we're going to converge [struggles]. In 1995, we were converging – that’s what made us strong. There's no secret, we can't fight off the pension reforms alone.”

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Hong Kong moves to student boycott

Published on: Thu, 05/09/2019 - 11:01
Author

Chen Ying

As Hong Kong citizens seek to recover from a horrific weekend of escalated police violence against tenacious protesters, 2 September marked the start of the academic year, with a two-week boycott of lectures declared by student unions in all major universities, widely supported by secondary students boycotting lessons in dozens of schools.

Organisers of the successful city-wide strike on 5 August are planning their next strike to link up with the students.

31 August is the fifth anniversary of the Chinese National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s decision to deny Hong Kong the right to

The Bolsheviks and international trade union work

Published on: Tue, 03/09/2019 - 08:43
Author

Paul Vernadsky

Review: Reiner Tosstorff, The Red International of Labour Unions (RILU) 1920-1937. Haymarket (2018)


In the aftermath of the 1917 Russian revolution, the Bolsheviks sought to advance the international socialist revolution through the formation of the Communist International (the Comintern). The first five years of the Comintern are replete with lessons for socialists, including crucial conceptions such as transitional demands, the united front and the workers’ government. One crucial sphere of the Comintern’s work concerned the trade unions, crystallised in the foundation of the Red

Losing the “climate election”

Published on: Wed, 05/06/2019 - 12:07
Author

Janet Burstall

The Australian Labor Party’s climate action platform for the May 2019 Federal Election was the most ambitious yet. Pre-election polls showed climate change was a high priority for voters.

The Liberal-National coalition was divided on climate action. Climate-change deniers controlled the party room, and had elected Scott Morrison as leader, an MP who had famously cradled a lump of coal in parliament to show his support for coal-fired power. Yet Labor lost the election.

Both major parties lost about 1% of their first-preference voters with minor parties, especially right-wing parties, picking

May Day arrests in Iran

Published on: Wed, 08/05/2019 - 13:34

Following a call by four independent labour organisations, Trade Union of the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company, Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Union, Coordination Committee for Establishing Labour Organisations and the Retirement Alliance, workers, teachers, students and pensioners demonstrated outside the Iranian regime’s "parliament" on May Day.

The regime’s response was to arrest a large number of demonstrators.

The Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign strongly condemns these arrests. We call on all trade unionists, socialists and other political activists to help us in defending the

Iran: free jailed worker activists!

Published on: Wed, 20/03/2019 - 11:06

Esmail Bakhshi, a leader of the workers at the big Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane complex in south west Iran, has been in jail since 20 January.

His family says he is ill and not getting medical care. They fear for his life.

Sepideh Gholian, an activist and journalist who supported the sugar cane workers in a long-running series of strikes demanding unpaid wages and workers’ control over the enterprise, has also been jailed since 20 January.

Bakhshi and Gholian were jailed previously on 18 November last year, and released on 12 (Bakhshi) and 18 (Gholian) December. Several other Haft Tappeh workers

Working as a CSA in São Paolo

Published on: Wed, 20/02/2019 - 21:35

JB, a worker-militant working on the railway in São Paolo, Brazil, recently visited London, and spoke to a number of radical workers' organisations including Tubeworker and the Angry Workers of the World. He is involved with the Invisíveis collective.

He wrote a document describing his experiences as a worker, and outlining his perspectives for struggle. They are not perspectives Tubeworker would entirely share, but we republish them here (with the author's permission) in the interests of making links between transport worker-militants internationally. The document was originally published in Portuguese by the Passa Palavra website.

The document is available here as a PDF.

Tubeworker also spoke to JB about his thoughts on the situation for workers' struggle in Brazil following the election of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. He told us:

"There's no doubt that we're in a very bad moment. There are widespread fears about what Bolsonaro's presidency might lead to, in terms of an increase in violence against workers, the left, and minority groups and so on, and these are fears that I share. There is a growing reactionary movement in society. Bolsonaro has talked semi-explicitly about armed struggle, and he will facilitate people getting guns more easily.

"I don't believe the institutions of the official left, the unions and the Workers' Party (PT), are part of the solution. They have been part of the administration of the state. Bolsonaro's working-class supporters are in part reacting to the institutionalisation of the left, and the fact that the left defends the system. They saw a vote for Bolsonaro as a way of creating a rupture with that system.

"Appeals to an abstract 'anti-fascism' won't help us. We have to get serious about practical organisation against the threat of fascism, including talking seriously about self-defence. We need to build a movement that can address the social grievances the Bolsonaro movement exploits. Not all of his supporters are convinced fascists, and working-class people who voted him could be reached by a genuinely revolutionary working-class movement that presents an independent alternative."

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The Yellow Vests: potentials and dangers

Published on: Wed, 20/02/2019 - 11:38
Author

Michael Elms

The Yellow Vests (Gilets Jaunes) movement, now fourteen weeks old, drew thousands of protestors onto the streets of France on 16 February. Although the latest demonstrations fell short of the estimated 50,000 who came out the week before, the movement shows little sign of stopping.

The general strike that some in the Yellow Vests movement called for 5 February failed to materialise, but France’s biggest trade union confederation, the CGT, did call a well-followed day of action among public sector workers. Alongside the Yellow Vest actions, ferment continues in colleges, with several

7,000 jailed in Iran

Published on: Wed, 30/01/2019 - 10:42
Author

Colin Foster

Esmail Bakhshi and Sepideh Gholian, are still in Iran’s jails but Ali Nejati has been allowed into hospital. Bakhshi is a leader of the Haft Tappeh sugar¬cane workers, in south¬west Iran; Nejati, a former leader of those sugar¬cane workers; Gholian, a social activist and supporter of the workers. All three are known to have been tortured in jail, and their jailing is part of a response by the Iranian government to action by the sugar¬cane workers, and by steelworkers in nearby Ahvaz, which has seen dozens jailed and then released since late last year.

Mohammad Khanijar, another Haft

General strike in India

Published on: Wed, 23/01/2019 - 11:55
Author

K R Shyam Sundar

These excerpts from an article by K R Shyam Sundar in the Mumbai Economic and Political Weekly (19 January) give information on the recent general strike in India.

The joint platform of Central Trade Unions comprising 10 unions conducted a general strike on 8 and 9 January 2019.

Since 1991, the CTUs have conducted 18 countrywide work stoppages and multiple forms of protests...
apart from concerted strikes at the industry level, like banks, insurance, etc, against the economic and labour
policies of the central government...

The macro protests have become frequent and also more inclusive. This

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