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Britain/Ireland
Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty

23/02/2017: Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

  Ireland Republic

Ireland
A web of intrigue sparks government crisis

22/02/2017: Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

  Ireland Republic

February revolution 1917
What lessons for today?

21/02/2017: 23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

  Russian Revolution

 Yemen
International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers

20/02/2017: Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

  Solidarity, Yemen

Netherlands
Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections

18/02/2017: Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

  Netherlands

Britain
Council cuts can be fought - and they must be

16/02/2017: Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels

  Aceh

Spain
Pablo Iglesias wins clear victory in Podemos congress

15/02/2017: Time to build the class struggle on the streets

  Spain

US
A socialist strategy to defeat Trump

14/02/2017: Escalate the resistance toward shutdowns on March 8 and May 1!

  US

Scotland
Greens back SNP government austerity budget

13/02/2017: TUSC council elections candidates put forward 100% anti-austerity programme

  Scotland

India
Upheaval in Tamil Nadu

09/02/2017: Corruption, nepotism, and other crimes of ruling party exposed

  India

Britain
Universal basic income demand gains ground

08/02/2017: What approach should socialists take?

  Britain

Yemen
Workers protest at parliament against TOTAL and G4S

07/02/2017: Security workers demand wages and arrest of colleagues’ killers

  Yemen

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria – Towards unification

06/02/2017: Joint declaration of the CWI’s IEC and Izquierda Revolucionaria’s IEC

  Spain

France
After Sarkozy, Juppé and Valls, now Fillon is on the way out

06/02/2017: Space opening up to left of Socialist Party

  France

Romania
Biggest street protests since 1989

04/02/2017: What position should the left take?

  Romania

Syria
Is an end to the war in sight?

03/02/2017: New movements for change will need to arm themselves with the lessons of the Syrian tragedy

  Syria

Quebec
Terrorist Attack in Québec City

01/02/2017: Counter terrorism and hate with solidarity

  Quebec

 CWI
9th Latin American school a success

31/01/2017: Over 200 participate in Sao Paolo CWI continental gathering

  CWI

Sri Lanka
The year 2017

31/01/2017: Between oppression and struggle

  Sri Lanka

Canada
Where are Trudeau’s ‘Sunny Ways’?

31/01/2017: Battles of Indigenous peoples, youth, workers will test Liberal government

  Canada

US
Airport protests help block Trump travel ban

30/01/2017: Defend immigrant communities

  US

Russian Revolution Centenary
January 1917 - On the eve of revolution

29/01/2017: War, hunger, hated Tsarist regime: class tensions reach breaking point

  Russian Revolution

China
CWI member Hu Xufang forced to flee

28/01/2017: Xu and his family are victims of China’s deepening police crackdown

  China

Afghanistan
The limits of US power

28/01/2017: Imperialism’s 15-year adventure a bloody catastrophe for millions

  Afghanistan

US
Build 100 days of resistance to Trump’s agenda!

27/01/2017: Establishment deeply divided as mass resistance explodes

  US

Russia
Duma legislates to decriminalise domestic violence

26/01/2017: For unified struggle for women’s rights and against capitalism

  Russia

Tamil Nadu
Mass protests against state repression

26/01/2017: Support the right to assemble and protest - release those arrested immediately!

  India

Millions on women's marches around the world

25/01/2017: Reports from mass women's marches against Trump

  US

Bangladesh
Hartal protest against power plant

25/01/2017: Follows mass strike of garment workers in December

  Bangladesh

Côte d’Ivoire
Social revolts shake Ouattara regime

24/01/2017: Public sector strike and soldiers’ mutiny expose reality behind “economic growth”

  Ivory Coast

Taiwan
US foreign policy under Trump

24/01/2017: Island risks being pawn in his game

  Taiwan

US
CWI joins protests around the world against Trump

23/01/2017: Photo gallery selection of CWI actions during weekend of mass protests

  US

US
Kshama Sawant responds to Trump inauguration speech

23/01/2017: Socialist council member speaks

  US

South Africa

Powerful general strike against bosses

www.socialistworld.net, 28/06/2005
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Militant action needed to stop "jobs holocaust"

Weizmann Hamilton, Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM - CWI), Johannesburg

In a magnificent show of force, 100, 000 workers brought central Johannesburg to a complete standstill, on Monday 27 June, in answer to the Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (Cosatu) general strike call. In Cape Town, the square where workers traditionally gather for protests and rallies could not contain the estimated 60,000 workers who turned out. Thirty thousand workers demonstrated in the small town of Klerksdorp. Cosatu estimates that 2 million workers went on strike, with 500,000 demonstrators marching in 20 town and cities across the country.

The capitalist class, the press and the media, including the South African Broadcasting Corporation television service - now increasingly acting openly as a propaganda channel of the African National Congress (ANC) government - hoped for a repeat of the poor turnout during the last general strike (against privatisation) in 2002. But they were rocked back on their heels by a solid demonstration of working class power and solidarity.

An unusual feature of the strike was the participation of the mine workers, who in the past have participated minimally in general strike action. This time, the mining industry was crippled, along with the clothing, textile and automotive and engineering sectors, whose workers are engaged in wage negotiations that may lead to strike action.

The general strike was called in protest at what the commercial television station E-TV described as a "jobs holocaust". Rising joblessness has now reached crisis levels. Over the last decade, 153,000 jobs have been lost in the mining industry, 195 000 in agriculture and 100,000 in clothing and textiles. The textile industry, "according to Cosatu, lost 17 000 jobs in the past year alone" (Mail and Guardian 24-30 June 2005). Thousands more face job losses in mining and manufacturing, as bosses force workers to pay the price for lower profits which they blame on the strength of the currency, the Rand. Production in the mining industry has plunged to the lowest levels since 1931. A quarter of the country’s manufacturing capacity has been shut down.

Deepening poverty

The increased job losses are deepening the poverty of most of the working class. Unemployment stands at between 6 and 8 million. The South African Reserve Bank puts the unemployed at 46.6% for males and 53.4% for females. An incredible 43% have been unemployed for over three years. As Cosatu General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, points out: "For every worker who loses his or her job, five to ten people suffer impoverishment and hunger. Mass unemployment means our communities are being torn apart by joblessness, poverty and despair" (Mail and Guardian, 24-30/06/05).

Seventy nine per cent rely on other persons for income support, including child support, disability grants and old age pensions. Such is the level of desperation that people are reported to be falsifying their HIV/Aids status by borrowing positive tests in the hope of qualifying for disability grants.

Capitalist commentators have been preoccupied with the so-called successes in the government’s economic policies. The institutions of world capitalism, the IMF, World Bank and the WTO, as well as the G8, are all very impressed with the way in which the SA economy is managed. Interest rates are the lowest in decades, inflation has been within the target range for twenty months, the budget deficit has been reduced, exchange controls have been all but dismantled, tariffs have been abolished and big business has been granted tax breaks amounting to a staggering R74 billion, over the past decade. The currency, the Rand, has recovered from around R14 to the US dollar, four years ago, to more then doubling to the current trading value of around R6.80.

With property prices skyrocketing, vehicle sales setting new records and the retail sector struggling to cope with demand for electronic goods, the economy is said to be booming. Growth is forecast to increase to an average of 4.3 %, this year, up from 3.7% in 2004. Business confidence shows continual increases and Moodys has become the second international agency to upgrade SA’s investment rating. Some economists are even predicting growth will reach 6% -- the rate at which it is claimed unemployment can be stabilised by absorbing to 400,000 who join the labour market every year.

But the "success" has been achieved through a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich. This boom is completely bypassing the working class. It is as if the rich inhabit a different country. While over half of South Africa’s 46 million people lack the basic necessities of life, "business has never had it so good", as economist, Iraj Abadian put it. The latest survey on directors’ fees, conducted by the Labour Research Service, reveals that the average fee earned by executive directors, excluding gains from share options, increased from an average of R2.6 million in 2003 to R3.7 million, last year. This amounts to a 38 percent increase. In 2003, it took a worker earning the average minimum wage 111 years to earn what the average director earns in one year. With the huge increase in executive directors’ fees last year, it takes that same worker 150 years to earn the average annual fee of a director.

As the June edition of Cosatu’s, The Shop Steward, points out: "The share of workers earning under R1,000 a month has remained virtually constant even in the formal sector, at about 25%, that is … one worker in four earns under R1,000 a month. Even in the unions, half of our members get less than (the University of SA’s poverty datum line) R2,500 a month. Low pay is reflected in the declining share of wages and salaries in the national income. In 1994, workers got 51% of the national income; in 2004, their share had fallen to 46%."

The government’s neo-liberal policy, Gear, (Growth, Employment and Redistribution), has wreaked havoc on the living standards of the working class. Privatisation, commercialisation, casualisation, limits on public spending in health, education, housing, the deliberate sabotage of the Supreme Court order roll out of anti-retrovirals to treat HIV/Aids, the imposition of cost recovery for the delivery of basic services and rampant corruption, have provided the combustible material for the explosion of social unrest that has begun.

The government and the bosses had begun to believe that they had broken the back of working class resistance after the failure of the October 2002 general strike and the subsequent decline in the level of strikes. But at a subterranean level, working class anger has mounted. Since September last year, protests against the lack of service delivery have broken out. Beginning in the Free State province, in what the Sunday Independent described as the "November insurrection", these protests have now spread throughout the country, affecting 6 out of the 9 provinces. Township residents, emulating the methods of struggle of the 1980s, have blockaded highways with burning rubber tyres and emptied sanitation buckets on the lawns of council offices and the lawns of corrupt councillors. Student protests against unaffordable tuition fees, and financial exclusion from tertiary education institutions, are now becoming an annual event.

Tensions in the ANC

This week’s general strike occurred against the background of the outbreak of a virtual civil war in the African National Congress [ANC - the ruling party], following President Mbeki’s dismissal of the Deputy President Jacob Zuma, and his indictment under corruption charges. In Kwa Zulu Natal, 16 June commemorations of the Soweto Uprising [mass protests in 1976 against the former racist Apartheid state, initiated by Black youth in the townships, which were brutally attacked by the regime] were used to express opposition to Mbeki and to support Zuma. Mbeki’s ally, Premier S’bu Ndebele, was forced to leave the stadium under a hail of missiles. Similar scenes were witnessed in the province of Mpumalanga. At the 50th anniversary celebration of the Freedom Charter, in Kliptown, Soweto, the day before the general strike, the loudest applause was reserved for Zuma, while Mbeki had to put up with heckling and booing during his speech.

Despite the Cosatu and South African Communist Party leaderships rallying behind Zuma, these protests were much more an expression of opposition to Mbeki than support for Zuma. The Johannesburg march resounded with slogans and struggle songs, such as "Zuma for president", led by the leadership.

Regrettably, the opportunist position adopted by the Cosatu leadership on Zuma, was supplemented by reformist demands for the devaluation of the Rand, a "buy South Africa campaign" to compel clothing retailers to source 75 % of their products from SA suppliers, and the imposition of tariffs on cheap textile and clothing imports from China. The Cape Town march stopped outside several retail outlets and bosses were called out to sign a pledge to buy 75% of their products from local sources. Of course, the bosses have dismissed these demands, and so has the government in relation to the currency.

The Cosatu leadership was also at pains to insist that the strike was against the private sector and not the ANC. Yet, the date was brought forward to precede the ANC’s National General Council (the highest decision-making body between its 5-yearly conferences), which will be considering proposals to introduce a flexible labour market, by formalising separate conditions and wages for different groups of workers on 30 June. The proposals include removing the protection from unfair dismissal for all young workers starting work for the first time and for workers in companies employing less than 200. Proposals also include reviewing the automatic extension of collective agreements to all companies in a sector, even if they are not members of the bargaining council.

The adoption of the LRA was a step forward and still offers some limited rights. But only 30% of workers are covered by bargaining council agreements. Even then, 80% of all applications for exemption from collective agreements are granted. So, there is already a de facto two-tier labour market. Given that 90% of workers are employed in companies with 200 or less workers, the proposals in the ANC’s discussion document amount to an attempt to smash the LRA. They will destroy even these limited gains and return conditions to those that prevailed under Apartheid. The Financial Mail headlined their analysis of the ANC’s discussion document with the words: "The unsayable has been said". The right-wing white Democratic Alliance has pledged its full support for the proposals. A South African Chamber of Business spokesperson argued yesterday that SA should follow the US example, whose economic success he attributes to the power of the bosses to tell workers "You are fired!"

Yet, while chanting slogans in support of socialism, the government’s neo-liberal Gear policy was mentioned only once. In spite of the opportunity provided by the Freedom Charter celebrations, not one leader mentioned nationalisation - the heart of the charter.

Reformist policies

It is clear, however, that the leadership has no intention of raising these issues. In every decisive confrontation with the government - over privatisation, Gear, public sector pay and Zimbabwe, the Cosatu leadership has capitulated. It is this cowardice that has emboldened the bosses and the government. Many workers believe this paralysis is caused by the fact that many of Cosatu’s leaders are using their time in the unions as an apprenticeship for senior positions in government and in the corporate world. This is linked to, and rooted in, the ideological degeneration of the Cosatu leadership. They have lost all confidence in socialism and have been absorbed into the state apparatus. The SACP has only served to reinforce their reformism.

The Sunday Times urged Mbeki to face down this tide of populism. Mbeki, his authority now openly challenged, is determined to oblige. His appointment of the new Deputy President, Phumzile-Mlambo Ngcuka, the wife of the former head of the National Prosecuting Authority, who is widely held responsible by Zuma’s supporters for his dismissal, will only inflame tensions in the ANC. Phumzile-Mlambo Ngcuka was embroiled in the so-called ‘Oilgate scandal’. This concerned payments to her brother by a company in the oil business. The new Deputy President indicated that she is cast in the Mbeki mould when she threatened to introduce legislation to criminalise "spreading alarm" following revelations by Earthlife Africa of radioactivity in the land around the Pelindaba nuclear power plant while she was Minister of Minerals and Energy.

The general strike is the first move to kick-start Cosatu’s rolling campaign of mass action, which will entail monthly protests until February, next year. The divisions in the ANC, and between it and the Tripartite Alliance in the South African Communist Party (SACP), will become unbridgeable. Just as the SACP leadership was unable to suppress the demands of the Young Communist League for a special congress to debate the SACP standing separately in the end-of-year local government elections, the Cosatu leadership will ultimately be compelled to confront the question of a split in the Alliance.

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM - CWI in South Africa), will campaign for the rank-and-file to organise to take Cosatu out of the Tripartite Alliance and to prepare for the establishment of a mass workers’ party, on a socialist programme.



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NEWS

Britain/Ireland: Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty
23/02/2017, Neil Cafferky, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

Ireland: A web of intrigue sparks government crisis
22/02/2017, By Cillian Gillespie, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

Yemen: International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers
20/02/2017, Socialistworld.net:
Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

Netherlands: Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections
18/02/2017, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam:
Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

Solidarity: French presidential candidate Mélenchon backs #JobstownNotGuilty campaign
17/02/2017, socialistworld.net :
Support the international solidarity campaign

Britain: Council cuts can be fought - and they must be
16/02/2017, Editorial comments from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) :
Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels

Spain: Pablo Iglesias wins clear victory in Podemos congress
15/02/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spain:
Time to build the class struggle on the streets

US: A socialist strategy to defeat Trump
14/02/2017, Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Council Woman and member of Socialist Alternative :
Escalate the resistance toward shutdowns on March 8 and May 1!

Greece: Athens’ bus cleaners win bulk of wages owed
14/02/2017, Eleni Mitsou (Xekinima - CWI Greece) and Apostolis Cassimere’s (Board Member of OASA - Athens Bus Workers’ Union):
The struggle continues!

Scotland: Greens back SNP government austerity budget
13/02/2017, Matt Dobson, Socialist Paty Scotland (CWI), Glasgow:
TUSC council elections candidates put forward 100% anti-austerity programme

Yemen: Workers protest at parliament against TOTAL and G4S
07/02/2017, Socialistworld.net:
Security workers demand wages and arrest of colleagues’ killers

Romania: Biggest street protests since 1989
04/02/2017, Mâna de Lucru (CWI supporters in Romania):
What position should the left take?

Quebec: Terrorist Attack in Québec City
01/02/2017, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Canada) :
Counter terrorism and hate with solidarity

CWI: 9th Latin American school a success
31/01/2017, socialistworld.net:
Over 200 participate in Sao Paolo CWI continental gathering

US: Airport protests help block Trump travel ban
30/01/2017, Socialist Alternative reporters, US :
Defend immigrant communities

China: CWI member Hu Xufang forced to flee
28/01/2017, chinaworker.info reporters :
Xu and his family are victims of China’s deepening police crackdown

Russia: Duma legislates to decriminalise domestic violence
26/01/2017, From Socialist Alternative (Russian CWI) website (socialist.news) :
For unified struggle for women’s rights and against capitalism

Tamil Nadu: Mass protests against state repression
26/01/2017, Isai Priya, from Tamil Solidarity website :
Support the right to assemble and protest - release those arrested immediately!

Bangladesh: Hartal protest against power plant
25/01/2017, Pete Mason, Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales) :
Follows mass strike of garment workers in December

Côte d’Ivoire: Social revolts shake Ouattara regime
24/01/2017, Militant Côte d’Ivoire (CWI group in Côte d’Ivoire) :
Public sector strike and soldiers’ mutiny expose reality behind “economic growth”

Taiwan: US foreign policy under Trump
24/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Island risks being pawn in his game

US: CWI joins protests around the world against Trump
23/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
Photo gallery selection of CWI actions during weekend of mass protests

US: Kshama Sawant responds to Trump inauguration speech
23/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
Socialist council member speaks

Russian Revolution Centenary: New site celebrates and defends October socialist revolution
20/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
1917revolution.org brings rich lessons of 100 years ago to wide audience

Kazakhstan: Regime increases repression
20/01/2017, Andrei Prigor from Campaign Kazakhstan:
Citizens forced to register with police at all times

US: Global resistance against Trump’s inauguration
20/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
CWI organizes protests as millions prepare to fight Trump’s agenda

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

February revolution 1917: What lessons for today?
21/02/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales), printed in the Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party):
23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

India: Upheaval in Tamil Nadu
09/02/2017, Sajith Attepuram, New Socialist Alternative (NSA) (CWI India) :
Corruption, nepotism, and other crimes of ruling party exposed

Britain: Universal basic income demand gains ground
08/02/2017, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales) :
What approach should socialists take?

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria – Towards unification
06/02/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Joint declaration of the CWI’s IEC and Izquierda Revolucionaria’s IEC

France: After Sarkozy, Juppé and Valls, now Fillon is on the way out
06/02/2017, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI in France) :
Space opening up to left of Socialist Party

Syria: Is an end to the war in sight?
03/02/2017, Serge Jordan (CWI) :
New movements for change will need to arm themselves with the lessons of the Syrian tragedy

Sri Lanka: The year 2017
31/01/2017, Siritunga Jayasuriya, United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka) :
Between oppression and struggle

Canada: Where are Trudeau’s ‘Sunny Ways’?
31/01/2017, Tim Heffernan, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada), Toronto

:
Battles of Indigenous peoples, youth, workers will test Liberal government

Russian Revolution Centenary: January 1917 - On the eve of revolution
29/01/2017, Niall Mulholland, from 1917revolution.org :
War, hunger, hated Tsarist regime: class tensions reach breaking point

Afghanistan: The limits of US power
28/01/2017, Judy Beishon, from Socialism Today (February 2017 issue), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)<br />
<br />
:
Imperialism’s 15-year adventure a bloody catastrophe for millions

US: Build 100 days of resistance to Trump’s agenda!
27/01/2017, Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative, US :
Establishment deeply divided as mass resistance explodes

Millions on women's marches around the world
25/01/2017, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) and reports from US marches :
Reports from mass women's marches against Trump

China: New US President’s approach to China
21/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info :
Outbursts raise fears of confrontation

Ireland North: Snap elections called to Stormont Assembly
17/01/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Build a socialist alternative to the ‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount

Spain: What kind of Podemos do workers and youth need?
17/01/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spanish state, editorial :
Debate within leadership touches on fundamental issues for future of party

US: Trump prepares vicious attacks
05/01/2017, Philip Locker and Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative (US):
Mass resistance needed!

Russian Revolution centenary
02/01/2017, Editorial from Socialism Today, Dec/Jan 2017 edition:
Defending the legacy in a new era

2017:Upheaval and fightback will continue
01/01/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary :
Everything to play for in 2017

Britain's shifting political contours
22/12/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) from Socialism Today Dec/Jan 2017 edition :
Capitalist establishment in disarray

CWI International Executive Committee: European capitalism “battered by events”
16/12/2016, Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Report of discussion on Europe at CWI IEC meeting in November

CWI International Executive Committee: World shaken by seismic political events
14/12/2016, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Report of first session of the CWI International Executive Committee, discussing World Relations

World capitalism in deep crisis
08/12/2016, CWI :
Perspectives documents agreed by November CWI international meeting

Sudan: Three day nationwide strike shuts down the country, in unique defiance of Al-Bashir’s rule
30/11/2016, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Escalation of the struggle needed to overthrow repressive regime

US: Trump prepares attacks on working people,immigrants and women
27/11/2016, Tom Crean and Philip Locker, Socialist Alternative (USA):
We must prepare massive resistance!

Cuba: Fidel Castro, leader of 1959 revolution, dies at 90
26/11/2016, Tony Saunois, CWI :
Castro's life and the Cuban Revolution