International unions

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...

Union battle over New York school re-opening

The USA currently has a much higher rate of infection than the UK, with a Covid-19 death rate about 120 times bigger (proportional to population) than the UK, and a proportion of tests showing positive about 10 times bigger. In most big cities in the USA, schools are restarting online-only. New York was the hardest-hit area early on, but now has a lower rate of infection than many areas in the USA: about three times as many confirmed infections and deaths per day as the UK, relative to population. New York City’s schools are due to reopen to students on 21 September, with workers going into...

Living income push in Australia

In Australia, between now and September, the income support schemes will end or be severely cut, along with the moratorium on eviction of tenants and banks’ deferral of mortgage repayments. Unemployment has already nearly trebled to 14.8%, and around 9.7% of the workforce want more hours. When the JobKeeper scheme [something like furlough] ends in September, more workers could get the sack. Repossessions and evictions are likely, along with a home price and construction slump. A workers’ program needs to take up the immediate issue of housing along the lines of “No evictions, no foreclosures...

Stand with Hong Kong!

Over mid-July, Hong Kong has been in a stand-off. The Chinese regime’s National Security Law (NSL) is now in force in Hong Kong. Its powers far exceed the Extradition Bill that was thrown out last autumn after street protests. Yet radicals in the democratic camp won the unofficial primaries in which over 600,000 Hong Kong people took part. Those who won say they will resist the NSL. So far, despite threats, the democratic candidates have not been arrested, nor have they been barred from standing in September’s elections. That was the background to the online rally of Labour Movement Solidarity...

Hong Kong: power for democracy

On 11-12 July, over 600,000 people in Hong Kong took part the election primaries of Power for Democracy, the election umbrella for the pro-democracy, anti-CCP forces. The primaries were to select candidates for the elections in September to the ruling Legislative Council (LegCo) of Hong Kong. The turnout was a morale boost after the National Security Law (NSL) was imposed on 30 June. There have always been tensions within the democracy movement between the “traditional” democrats and the movement that grew after 2014. The new movement, loosely referred to as “localist”, was overwhelmingly...

USA: the unions and the cops

Certain small US unions which are traditionally on the left, like the ILWU and the United Electrical Workers, have taken very strong positions — and in the case of the ILWU actually shut down the West coast ports. On the East coast the ILA docks union did nine minutes of silence, in agreement with employers. The Amalgamated Transit Union, which has a large black membership, has also taken a strong stance, and many of its locals have organised action, including refusing to cooperate with police. The national AFL-CIO has had a number of requests from affiliates to kick out the police unions that...

US dockers strike for Black Lives Matter

On 9 June, on the West Coast of the USA, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) stopped work for an eight minute, forty-six second moment of silence (the length of time the cop had his knee on Floyd’s neck). On 19 June the ILWU will organise another Black Lives Matter strike, for a full eight hours. They picked that day because “Juneteenth” is the date slavery was abolished in Texas at the end of the US Civil War, and now a major commemoration and celebration. To get round anti-union legislation, they are also striking as part of their ongoing fight against...

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