International unions

200,000 in Rome against fascism

On 9 October thousands of right-wing anti-vaccine demonstrators protested in Rome, and fascists from the Forza Nuova party smashed their way into the offices of the CGIL, Italy’s biggest union federation. On 16 October, trade unionists and left-wingers responded by demonstrating in Rome to say “Mai più fascismi” (“Never again fascisms”). The organisers, Italy’s three biggest union federations, claimed 200,000, while the media said 50,000. Many report that demonstrators carried pro-vaccination slogans as well as anti-fascist and pro-union ones. The Italian labour movement’s fight against the...

South African metal strike grows

Many tens of thousands of metal and engineering workers in South Africa, members of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA), have been on indefinite strike over pay and conditions since 5 October. NUMSA is calling for an 8% wage rise for everyone in the first year of a deal, and inflation plus 2% in the following two years. Employers offered 4.4%, then inflation plus 0.5% and inflation plus 1%. Under pressure they have now added an offer of 6% for the lowest paid. Last year NUMSA agreed to no wage increase due to the impact of the pandemic on the industry. That helps...

Italy: complete the anti-fascist revolution

Of the three aggressor nations that made up the Axis during the Second World War, only one saw its population rise up and topple a dictatorship. While the populations of Germany and Japan remained largely supportive of the regimes right up to the surrender, the Italians ousted Mussolini in 1943, bringing an end to the fascist era. And in 1945, the former dictator was captured and killed by Italian partisans. Italians are rightly proud of this fact, but there’s another side to the story — one which we saw in action this last weekend, 9-10 October — and that’s the continuing presence of openly...

All-out metals strike in South Africa

Metal and engineering workers in South Africa, members of the left-wing National Union of Metal Workers (NUMSA), have been on indefinite strike over pay and conditions since 5 October. NUMSA is calling for an 8% wage rise for everyone in the first year of a deal, and inflation plus 2% in the following two years. Employers have offered 4.4%, then inflation plus 0.5% and inflation plus 1%. NUMSA is South Africa's biggest union, with over 300,000 members. The strike has already faced violence, including rubber bullets from the police and a striker killed by a car ploughing into a group of workers...

Fascists smash union office in Rome

Fascists stormed and wrecked the Rome headquarters of the CGIL, Italy’s biggest trade union federation, at an anti-vaccination demonstration on 9 October. The far right mobilised protests in multiple Italian cities to oppose the introduction of a health certificate or “green pass” to enter workplaces from 15 October (any worker who fails to produce the certificate can be suspended without pay, but not sacked). There were at least ten thousand on the streets in Rome. The attack on the CGIL building was led by activists from the neo-fascist Forza Nuova party, who used metal bars to smash their...

Hong Kong workers will rise again

The final conference of Hong Kong’s only independent trade union federation, the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), was on 3 October. At a press conference following the HKCTU’s decision to disband, a prepared statement was read out by Vice-Chair Leo Tang, who was himself imprisoned a year ago. The statement expressed its confidence “that the workers’ power of resistance will not therefore fade away. Contradictions bring opposition. Exploitations lead to struggles… One may block the river, but without a way to channel the water, the only result would be a deadlier flood.” On...

Is Fairphone fair for workers?

If you own a smartphone, you’re almost certainly contributing to several big problems in the world. These include a negative environmental impact, the production of mountains of e-waste as perfectly good phones are thrown away, and of course the exploitation of workers in the supply chains, from the mines in the Congo to assembly lines in China. A decade-old Dutch company, Fairphone, has set out to change all this by producing an “ethical” smartphone. Last week they announced their latest — and by far their best — model, the Fairphone 4. Thousands of people participated in the online launch...

Hong Kong: silence is not an option

When the question of trade unions in China would come up, some of us were fond of saying that there is an independent, democratic trade union movement in the country. It is called the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions. This is no longer true. In the last week, news has come out of a move by the HKCTU to disband. This is an enormous blow to the Chinese working class and to the international labour movement. It appears that the HKCTU is the latest victim of a Chinese government crackdown not only on the unions, but on all of civil society. The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, one of...

Beijing pushes HK revolt underground

Hong Kong’s Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) is being forced to disband in the face of a brutal offensive by the Chinese government. The HKCTU is the only body coordinating independent unions in Hong Kong. It has long supported universal suffrage against the rule of Hong Kong by the pro-CCP and tycoon-dominated Legislative Council and the Beijing-appointed Chief Executive. At its press conference on 13 September, the HKCTU announced that it was recommending disbandment to a general meeting of its affiliates on 3 October. Vice Chair Leo Tang, one of the three remaining Executive Committee...

TSSA and the Boilermakers

TSSA has announced plans to merge with another union, "The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers." Never heard of them? Possibly because they are based in the United States.

That's right, TSSA's leadership think the way to strengthen the union is to merge with workers on a different continent...

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