International unions

Drop charges against Hong Kong rebels!

On 16 February, the trial started of seven democracy leaders in Hong Kong. Two others pleaded guilty. They are accused of organising an unauthorised assembly on 18 August 2019, when the Civil Front called a rally of 1.7 million people. Among the accused are Hong Kong trade union leader Lee Cheuk Yan, General Secretary of the HKCTU (Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions); other left wing activists such as Leung Kwok Hung (“Long Hair”); and “pan-democratic” veterans such as the 82 year old Martin Lee. The charges, unconnected with the new National Security Law (NSL) and relying instead on old...

Karen Lewis lit the spark

Karen Lewis, leader of the 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike, died of cancer on 7 February 2021. An obituary in Labor Notes here describes her role in building a rank-and-file caucus in the Chicago Teachers’ Union and then leading the CTU.

Hong Kong faces wave of trials

On 16 February, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions general secretary Lee Cheuk-yan went into court for his trial for alleged “unauthorised assembly” on 18 August 2019. He said: “Let’s uphold the fundamental rights, freedoms and democracy. As 2021 is the year of the Ox, I wish everyone to be as strong as an ox and persistence for democracy… “It should be the police, the Department of Justice and the Hong Kong government to be put on trial, because they deprived us of the right to assembly and demonstration, which is protected constitutionally”. The 18 August 2019 protest, against police...

Demands for DVLA (John Moloney's column)

PCS held an emergency meeting with senior managers from the Department for Transport on Friday 29 January, to discuss the situation at the DVLA [Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency] complex in Swansea. Thousands of workers are still being compelled to come into the workplace even though the safety measures are totally inadequate. We’ve demanded a massive reduction in the number of staff working in the offices; we want that brought down to the bare minimum. The union will meet the department again on 2 February and we’ll put their response to a virtual members’ meeting the following day. If...

Clampdown forces Hong Kong union to disband

On 15 January 2021, the Hong Kong Civil Service Bureau (CSB), undoubtedly acting under the instruction of Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her Chinese Communist Party masters, issued a circular to all government departments All 180,000 workers in these departments will be required to take an oath of loyalty to the government and its “basic law”. If they take that oath and are later seen to be acting “disloyally”, they can face immediate disciplinary action. Monitoring of their activities might also feed into their prosecution under the National Security Law. Many civil service workers, including...

Mass arrests in Hong Kong

Prominent trade union leaders were amongst the 53 activists arrested in Hong Kong on the early morning of Wednesday 6 January 2021. Carol Ng, the chair of the HKCTU and Winnie Yu, chair of the most vibrant new health workers' union, the HAEA, were amongst them.

General strike in India

On 26 November many tens of millions of workers took part in a general strike against India’s far-right government. Indian unions gave a figure of 250 million. Alongside its fascistic Hindu-chauvinist and anti-migrant policies, which it has intensified during the pandemic, Narenda Modi’s regime has consistently pursued an aggressively neoliberal, anti-working class economic and social agenda. The strike, also backed by a mass farmers’ mobilisation, was for the withdrawal of Modi’s anti-worker changes to labour law, expansion of social provision, the restoration of subsidies and price...

US unionists pass historic general strike vote

This report from Daniel Randall as Assistant Chair of the Bakerloo branch of the RMT rail union is taken, with thanks, from RMT London Calling, the website of RMT London Transport Region.. Three activists from the RMT Bakerloo branch attended, via Zoom, the Saturday 21 November convention of the Vermont State Labour Council (AFL-CIO) as observers. The convention was attended by nearly 100 delegates and guests, from local union branches and campaign groups, as well as a number of elected city councillors. As a state-wide federation, the rough equivalent to the Vermont AFL-CIO in the British...

French teachers strike

School teachers in France struck on 10 November to demand better virus controls in schools. Their demands included: • Rota systems, with students in school half-time, to allow half-size classes • More staff, again to facilitate smaller classes • Better ventilation and cleaning • Free masks. (Masks are compulsory in French schools). Unions report a 45% turnout for the strike from junior high schools and 20% from primary. In some areas students blockaded senior high schools in the days before the strike as an act of solidarity. On 5 November, the government tried to deflect the strike by...

US workers plan for Trump coup

Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants, has been vocal about workers' action to block a Trump coup Last week we interviewed David Van Deusen, President of Vermont State Labor Council (AFL-CIO), about their plans for strikes if Donald Trump attempts to steal the election. On 30 October, the Labor Council reported on a discussion organised by the new Labor Action to Defend Democracy coalition: “Vermont AFL-CIO was pleased to be on a zoom call with 99 key labour leaders from around the US tonight in order to discuss our role in the defense of democracy should there be a...

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