International unions

Free Yang Kyeung-soo!

On 3 July, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, South Korea’s national union federation, organised a rally of 8,000 workers in Seoul to demand measures to protect lives and save jobs in the Covid-19 pandemic. (South Korea has had a relatively good record on Covid, but a relative case surge since the middle of June.) Now KCTU President Yang Kyeung-soo has been arrested (2 September) for organising the rally, which the authorities are saying was in violation of Covid-control regulations. The KCTU was surrounded early in the morning and police in riot suppression gear smashed their way in...

Trumka weak on BLM, coup and more

Much of what Eric Lee writes for Solidarity is very good, such as last month’s article on the LGBTI movement’s struggle in Georgia, but his contributions on US politics sit very strangely on the pages of a revolutionary socialist publication. Lots of good articles for the price of a bit of rubbish every so often isn’t an awful deal, but it shouldn’t go unchallenged. In his obituary (Solidarity 603) for American union bureaucrat Richard Trumka, he laments that this death received less coverage in the British press than that of “Barry the barred owl”. Thankfully the Morning Star has answered Lee...

Can the Green Bans be emulated?

Uncharted waters: social responsibility in Australian trade unions , by Greg Mallory (2005) investigated the NSW BLF Green Bans. Until recently Greg had been President of the Brisbane Labour History Association for 17 years. Workers Liberty has previously reported on his research into Green Bans: see here and here. Janet Burstall asked Greg some new questions, to help uncover issues for eco-socialist trade unionists to take into account, in promoting workers' control as a means for tackling climate change. JB: The NSW BLF Green Bans must be the most quoted example around the world of workers...

The BBC, Barry the Owl and the death of a union leader

Last Friday (8 August), the BBC News website ran a story with this headline: “A beloved owl who became a well-known resident in New York’s Central Park has died.” The story went on to say that “Barry the barred owl was flying low in search of a meal when it collided with one of the park’s maintenance trucks on Friday morning.” On the previous evening, it was announced by the majority leader in the US Senate, Democrat Charles Schumer of New York, that Richard Trumka had suddenly passed away at the age of 72. Trumka was the president of the AFL-CIO, the main national trade union centre in the...

Iran: strikes spread

The strike by the workers of Iran’s oil and petrochemical industries has spread to various cities, despite 700 workers at the Tehran refinery being fired. On 23 June workers in many refineries and petrochemical industries joined the strikers who had already been on strike for two days. It is estimated that there are now around 20,000 oil and petrochemical workers on strike across 11 provinces, demanding higher wages, an increase in leave and holidays, better health and safety conditions. In response, however, the regime stepped up its repression against the workers. According to labour...

Truck kills picket in Italy

Adil Belakhdim, coordinator of the SI Cobas union in Novara, Lombardy, Italy, and a member of the union’s national coordinating body, has been killed. He was hit by a truck driven into a picket line during the national logistics strike on 18 June. SI Cobas says: “It was not an accident — Adil was killed in the name of profit.” It says that the “murder is in fact the culmination of an escalation of organized violence against SI Cobas, which has been ongoing for months and is now without limits”. It cites many other incidents in recent months, arguing that they are “part of a single design under...

Haft Tappeh workers push forward

Morad Shirin from the Iranian Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency responded to questions from Solidarity. Inflation, unemployment, and inequality remain high in Iran. There have been big working-class fightback in recent years. And now? In addition to the long-term dire economic situation, corruption, repression and sanctions, the incompetent and callous handling of the Covid pandemic has led to even more stark social inequalities. These have sparked off hundreds of struggles and protests by pensioners, teachers, medical staff, steel workers, oil workers and so on. (But the regime keeps...

Seven weeks on, Colombia's rising is still strong

Colombia’s trade unions began a general strike on 28 April, in response to a bill seeking to increase taxes on basic foodstuffs and essential services like water and electricity, and to other social policies threatening to widen inequality, including healthcare “reforms”. The tax and health plans have been dropped, and the finance minister of Colombia’s right-wing government has resigned, but the struggle has widened into what looks like a powerful social uprising involving many different popular constituencies. Colombia, whose population is not much smaller than the UK’s, is the world’s 16th...

Building our solidarity against their G7

Former Labour leader Gordon Brown cites a figure of $33 billion (£23 billion) urgently needed before the end of 2021 for vaccines, virus-testing, and PPE this year, and maybe the same in 2022. That’s just 0.08% of the yearly total revenues of the G7 rich countries who met in Cornwall on 11-13 June. “Instead”, as Brown says, “they offered up about $7 billion worth of vaccines”, some 870 million doses in place of the 11 billion needed this year. They could donate more doses now through the Covax scheme, and help to build new facilities to produce and roll out vaccines, but they don’t. US...

The strange case of Malcolm Bidali

Last summer, the international trade union movement was celebrating the news from Qatar. The country which is slated to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup had come under enormous pressure to respect the rights of workers, especially migrant workers, who were getting the country ready for such a high profile event. The headline on the website of the Brussels-based International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) could not have been more gushing: “A new dawn for migrant workers in Qatar”. The article went on to say that “new laws adopted today by the State of Qatar are a game changer in the protection...

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