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latest news

 Solidarity
#JobstownNotGuilty international day of action a huge success

28/03/2017: Over 30 protests around the world and 88 MPs/MEPs pledge support

  Solidarity

Russia/Belarus
A week-end of mass protests

27/03/2017: New spring of protest opens up, as 1,000s arrested

  Russia

Hong Kong
Creeping “coup” by Chinese dictatorship

27/03/2017: Defend the four Hong Kong legislators

  Hong Kong

Britain
Terror attack at Westminster

24/03/2017: Unite against terror, racism and war

  Britain

Italy
Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis

22/03/2017: Class struggle can build real left force

  Italy

Spain
Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March

21/03/2017: Over 100,000 take to the streets in SE demonstrations

  Spain

Scotland
Second referendum on independence?

18/03/2017: SNP fire the starting gun but offer no solutions to austerity

  Scotland

Brazil
National day of strikes and protests shows Temer can be beaten

17/03/2017: For a one-day general strike as the next step

  Brazil

South Africa
Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia

17/03/2017: Capitalist politicians use xenophobia to divert attention from failures of profit system

  South Africa

Netherlands
Election result a colossal defeat for austerity government

16/03/2017: Oppose Wilders and the ‘mainstream’ right – Build a mass workers’ party that struggles for socialism

  Netherlands

Yemen
Workers and their families left to starve by multi-billionaire companies

16/03/2017: International campaign needed to force companies to pay

  Yemen

Hong Kong
Protest against LSG Sky Chefs dismissal of union chairman

14/03/2017: Ng Chi-Fai sacked for organising union by multinational’s Hong Kong division – international solidarity needed

  Hong Kong

Ireland North
Snap election raises sectarian temperature    

14/03/2017: Workers need strong socialist alternative at ballot box and in unions

  Ireland North

Quebec
Counter protest against far-right

13/03/2017: Rise of Islamophobia and right-wing reaction poses new challenges to the left

  Quebec

 International Women's Day
Speech by Kshama Sawant

12/03/2017: Video of 8 March rally in Seattle

  Women

 International Women’s Day
Millions join marches and take action

10/03/2017: Socialists around the world demand an end to women’s oppression

  Women

 Hong Kong
Women’s march against sexism and racism

09/03/2017: International Women’s Day: “Solidarity with global mass protests and women’s strikes”

  Women

 Spain
Hundreds of thousands participate in International Women’s day student strike

08/03/2017: ‘Libres y Combativas’ and Sindicato de Estudiantes call strike against sexist violence and for working class women's rights

  Women

Pakistan
Political spectacle of the ruling class

08/03/2017: Most workers underemployed, 40% in poverty - situation demands new workers’ party

  Pakistan

 International Women’s Day 2017
A century on from the Russian Revolution

06/03/2017: Demonstrations world-wide swelled by anti-Trump anger

  Women

Britain
Massive demo shows battle to save the NHS can be won

06/03/2017: Up to 250,000 march in national protest, organised from below

  Britain

Egypt
Price hikes hit workers and middle classes

04/03/2017: Falling support for dictator Sisi portends growing opposition

  Egypt

Hong Kong’s sham election

03/03/2017: Pan-democrats sink to new low by supporting “lesser evil” John Tsang

  Hong Kong

US
Socialist response to Trump’s address to joint session of congress

02/03/2017: Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative councillor, speaks

  US

Sweden
“Who could believe it?"

24/02/2017: What is behind Trump's attack?

  Sweden

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

South Africa

Workers demand their share of economic boom in biggest strike wave since 1996

www.socialistworld.net, 11/08/2005
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Strike action shows workers are not prepared to see wealth polarization continue

Weizmann Hamilton, Johannesburg, Democratic Socialist Movement

In the biggest strike wave since 1996, workers are on the offensive demanding a share of the economic boom currently under way in SA. The South African Municipal Workers Union’s (Samwu) 100 000 members have built on their successful one- and three-day strikes earlier this month with an indefinite strike in support of a demand for a 9% wage increase.

This local government strike has been marked by violent clashes with police. Workers have used their now standard tactic of “cleaning the bins” -- littering the streets with the rubbish they are normally responsible for clearing. Angered by police intervention in the previous strikes, workers went on the rampage in Benoni and Germiston on the East Rand outside Johannesburg on Monday, overturning rubbish bins, ripping up traffic lights and attempting to storm the municipal building.

In the previous three-day strike the anger of the workers unfortunately led to the beating to death of a truck driver suspected of strike-breaking. 10 strikers were injured as police fired rubber bullets yesterday, two of them seriously.

Samwu’s indefinite strike coincides with the first national strike by mine workers since 1987, in support of a demand for a 12% wage increase, which has crippled the gold mining industry. 100 000 members of the National Union of Mineworkers in the gold mining sector downed tools at midnight on Sunday. The NUM is set to be joined by the 16 000-strong mainly white artisans unions, Solidarity, and the United Association of South Africa whose members have all voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action in ballots.

The strikes in the gold mining industry and local government are taking place against the background of the biggest wave of industrial action in SA since 1996. These follow hot on the heels of relatively successful strikes at South African Airways and the supermarket giant Pick ‘n Pay, numerous smaller disputes, and may be followed by workers in the coal and platinum mines, South African Revenue Services, South African laboratory services and SAA pilots.

A feature of the strike wave is that workers have been driven into action not only by conditions in their specific industries, but by the sharp social polarisation in society as a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich has opened a chasm between the classes. Workers are determined to gate-crash the party of the capitalists and the new black elite and take their share.

In the mining industry for example, conditions appeared not to favour strike action. According to the Labour Research Service, above inflation increases have enabled wages in the gold mining industry to increase by 24% in real terms between 2000 and 2004. However, with the gold price determined in US dollars, the bosses argue that the strength of the currency has undermined profits, led to the lowest production levels since 1931 and forced them to sack over 7 000 workers in unprofitable mines in the last year alone with numbers employed down by a third over the past 5 years. Basing itself on the decline in the official inflation rate to 3,5%, and the difficulties in the industry, the Chamber of Mines, initially offered 2,5%.

The NUM dismissed this offer as a “spit in the face”. In response to the subsequently increased offer of 4,5%, Manktashe pointed out: “We are not negotiating inflation (but)… wage increases. We are looking at workers being able to survive.” (City Press 7/8/05)

Pick ‘n Pay’s Chief Executive Sean Summers expressed frustration over the South African Commercial and Allied Workers Union’s (Saccawu) lack of gratitude in rejecting their 7,9% or R310.00 (£25.00) a month. Summers argued that the offer was well above the inflation rate (of 3.5%), and higher than the average settlement in the industry. Summers further claimed that Pick ‘n Pay had never retrenched workers and was planning to open more stores.

But workers’ anger has been fueled as much by the wage offer as the bosses’ attitude which ranges from being patronising to open contempt. Despite the woes of the gold mining industry, the differential between worker’s average income and that of senior executive has now reached 1:242.

Responding to the Pick ‘n Pay offer, Saccawu general secretary, Bones Skulu pointed: “Pick ‘n Pay’s trading profit increased by 15,9% between 2003 and 2004 and (again) by 24,1% in 2004 and 2005. The CEO’s increase (of 19% on his annual remuneration of R12m (over £1m)) alone could pay 667 workers a month’s salary or one worker’s for almost 56 years based on an average of R3 415.73 (£292) per month. Worse still the CEO’s increase alone could pay an increase of [for] 5 700 workers based on the demand for R400.00 (£34) of 12% (Mail & Guardian 29/7-4/8/05).

Failure to deliver

Local government has become notorious for corruption, a dismal failure to deliver services and above all the inflated salaries paid to municipal managers. Since June last year protests over non-delivery of service have spread across the country on a monthly basis to 6 out of the 9 provinces, the latest of these in the oldest squatter camp in Cape Town, QQ, whose residents are reduced to the indignity of asking residents in nearby squatter camps and townships for the use of toilet facilities because they do not even have the primitive bucket system still used by over 200 000 people in the country.

The Durban municipal manager, for example, gets an annual package of R1m before bonuses -- twenty times that of the council’s lowest paid worker (Star 15/7/05). As Star labour columnist Terry Bell further points out: “This is the background against which the anger and the frustration of the workers should be judged. They are not demanding the overthrow of the system; all they want is 9% pay rise. This would put an extra R207.00 (£17) into the pockets of the lowest paid. That is roughly equal to what top managers are paid every 35 minutes.”

Anger explodes

The arrogance of the SAA management is reflected in the fact that throughout the six month of negotiations, they pleaded poverty and made a 6% offer on the basis of the previous year’s losses. When SAA CEO proudly announced that they had made R1billion (£85m) profit on July 6, workers’ anger exploded. Totally underestimating the determination of the workers, SAA CEO Khaya Ngqula, went on a weekend trip to a luxury resort with his family as the strike commenced.

Ngqula has come under severe criticism from the press for his handling of the strike and his notorious extravagance. Not for him the inconvenience of a seat on the airline he heads. His habits include chartered flights from his second home in the south of France to London where he puts up at the exclusive Dorchester Hotel. He uses a helicopter to travel from meetings between Johannesburg and Pretoria – a distance of no more than 60km!

Management was stunned when 75% of all flights were grounded as the strike held with public support, forcing them back to the negotiating table with an improved offer.

Workers are responding not just to the immediate problems in the workplace, but also to wider processes taking places in society – in particular the sharp class polarisation. What can only be described as an orgy of self-enrichment, previously the exclusive preserve of the white capitalist class, now involves the new black elite. The latter in particular flaunt their newly acquired wealth with arrogance and a sense of entitlement particularly when they denounce when working class communities demand decent wages and basic services.

According to the 2005 report by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Human Sciences Research Council and the UN Development Programme: “SA, despite being one of the 50 wealthiest nations in the world, is one of only a handful countries whose human development index (HDI) ranking has declined since 1995,…from 93 in 1992 to 115 in 2003….In 1997, ‘workerless households’ were home to about 5,8m. By 2002 this had grown to roughly 7,4m. There has also been a marked increase in the number of working poor (those who have jobs but earn less than US$2/day, from just over 900 000 in 1995 to 2m in 2003.” (Financial Mail 8/07/05).

According to Professor John Simpson of the Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing at the University of Cape Town, “… between 1998 and 2004 spending by upper income blacks (more than R154 000 –[£13 367]) a year, rocketed by 368% whereas spending by whites at the same income level grew a mere 16%....The past few years have brought into sharp focus the reality of two contrasting societies – one middle class with many getting richer and the other poor with many now poorer than ever … Last year the richest 20% of SA households were responsible for 65% of all household spend…the poorest 20% spent a mere 2%.”

The Labour Research Service’s 2005 Bargaining Indicator’s report reveals that “it will now take a worker earning the average minimum wage about 150 years to earn what the average director earns in one year compared with last year when it was 111 years” (Star Business Report 10/06/05).

The Sunday Times (17/07/05) in an article headlined “SA’s Wealth Explosion” report that according to the 2005 World Wealth Report “a total of 8 000 South Africans have become dollar millionaires in just 12 months… a rate matched only by Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. They are among the record 12 000 dollar millionaires created in the country over the past three years by the property boom, a strong rand and black economic empowerment.”

As mineworker, Anthony Mpeka, originally from Lesotho and who rises at 4.30am everyday, explained, he has worked in the mines for 20 years and is tired of earning peanuts at less than R3 000.00 (£265.00) a month (City Press 7/08/05).

New general strike

This strike wave is occurring as Cosatu is preparing for the second general strike on 29th August, following the success of the one on 27th June that kick-started its rolling campaign of mass action for jobs that is set to continue until February next year. Although precipitated by the wage negotiation season, there can be little doubt that the working class’ confidence was boosted by the success of the June 27 general strike. Organised workers’ attitudes have been hardened by the government’s determination to press ahead with labour market reforms despite the rejection of the proposals by the ANC’s June National General Council – the highest decision-making body in between conferences.

The bosses’ appetite for profits and wealth has grown with the eating of the last few years in particular and they are not yet satisfied. Relying on the World Bank “Doing business in 2005” survey, which awards South Africa a “difficulty of firing” index of 60 (compared to 50,6 for sub-Saharan Africa and 26,8 for the OECD), they continue to complain about the difficulty and cost of firing workers -- R14billion a year according to Andrew Levy and Associates-- (Financial Mail 1/7/05).

Their relentless pressure on the ANC leadership has now paid off with the circulation of a discussion document on labour market reforms, with the Financial Mail describing the ANC’s position in the words “the unthinkable has been said”. The proposals include removing the protection provided by the Labour Relations Act (LRA) against unfair dismissal not to apply to young workers starting work for the first time as well as for workers in all companies employing less than 200. This would mean that 90% of workers could be fired at will. It would amount to the smashing of the LRA.

These proposals amount to a declaration of war against the working class and will set the scene for explosive confrontations in the next period, introducing renewed tensions into the Tripartite Alliance of the ruling ANC, the South African Communist Party and Cosatu. The Cosatu and SACP leadership have vigorously denied the main item on the Sunday Independent 7th August, 2005 front page – that the United Democratic Front, the masses’ main political vehicle prior to the ANC’s unbanning, is to be re-launched later this month in the Western Cape as part of Cosatu’s rolling campaign of mass action. While it is unlikely that the leadership would initiate such a process, the very fact that it is under discussion is an indication of the growing class alienation being felt towards the ANC inside Cosatu.

As the Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI in South Africa) has argued, the advanced layers in the Cosatu rank-and file have drawn far-reaching conclusions about the class character of the ANC. They are being held prisoner in the Tripartite Alliance by a leadership that has drifted so far from the ideas of socialism that Cosatu was founded on, that they have not even dared to raise the demand for the nationalisation of the mines and the textile industry when the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Charter being celebrated this year provides them with the perfect opportunity to do so. The DSM will continue to campaign for the rank-and-file to take Cosatu out of the Tripartite Alliance and to establish a mass workers party on a socialist programme.



Europe

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Video: US Socialist Students build for student walkouts against Trump, 15/12/2016

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A socialist world is possible, the history of the cwi with new introduction by Peter Planning green growth, a contribution to the debate on enviromental sustainability

NEWS

Solidarity: #JobstownNotGuilty international day of action a huge success
28/03/2017, socialistworld.net :
Over 30 protests around the world and 88 MPs/MEPs pledge support

Russia/Belarus: A week-end of mass protests
27/03/2017, Socialist Alternative (CWI Russia) Reporters:
New spring of protest opens up, as 1,000s arrested

Hong Kong: Creeping “coup” by Chinese dictatorship
27/03/2017, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) :
Defend the four Hong Kong legislators

Britain: Terror attack at Westminster
24/03/2017, Judy Beishon, from the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) website :
Unite against terror, racism and war

Belarus: Protesters flood onto streets demanding scrapping of “law against parasites”
21/03/2017, Daniil Raskolnikov (translation of article from the Russian CWI site www.socialist.news):
President Lukashenko must go!

Spain: Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March
21/03/2017, Sindicato de Estudiantes (SE), Spanish Students' Union :
Over 100,000 take to the streets in SE demonstrations

Scotland: Second referendum on independence?
18/03/2017, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) :
SNP fire the starting gun but offer no solutions to austerity

South Africa: Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia
17/03/2017, Shaun Arendse, Workers and Socialist Party (CWI South Africa):
Capitalist politicians use xenophobia to divert attention from failures of profit system

International Women’s Day: March in Malaysia and week of activity in Belgium
16/03/2017, socialistworld.net :
Reports from Kuala Lumpur and Brussels

Netherlands: Election result a colossal defeat for austerity government
16/03/2017, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam:
Oppose Wilders and the ‘mainstream’ right – Build a mass workers’ party that struggles for socialism

Russian Revolution: March 1917 - After the fall of Czarism, what next for the revolution?
16/03/2017, socialistworld.net:
New article on 1917revolution.org

Hong Kong: Protest against LSG Sky Chefs dismissal of union chairman
14/03/2017, Sally Tang Mei-ching, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) :
Ng Chi-Fai sacked for organising union by multinational’s Hong Kong division – international solidarity needed

Quebec: Counter protest against far-right
13/03/2017, Michele Hehn, Alternative Socialiste (CWI in Quebec) :
Rise of Islamophobia and right-wing reaction poses new challenges to the left

International Women's Day: Speech by Kshama Sawant
12/03/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Video of 8 March rally in Seattle

International Women’s Day: Millions join marches and take action
10/03/2017, Clare Doyle, CWI:
Socialists around the world demand an end to women’s oppression

Hong Kong: Women’s march against sexism and racism
09/03/2017, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) reporters:
International Women’s Day: “Solidarity with global mass protests and women’s strikes”

Spain: Hundreds of thousands participate in International Women’s day student strike
08/03/2017, Sindicato de Estudiantes, students’ union in the Spanish state :
‘Libres y Combativas’ and Sindicato de Estudiantes call strike against sexist violence and for working class women's rights

Pakistan: Political spectacle of the ruling class
08/03/2017, Tariq Shahzad, National Organiser of IYWM (International Youth and Workers Movement) :
Most workers underemployed, 40% in poverty - situation demands new workers’ party

Britain: Massive demo shows battle to save the NHS can be won
06/03/2017, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) deputy general secretary :
Up to 250,000 march in national protest, organised from below

Egypt: Price hikes hit workers and middle classes
04/03/2017, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) :
Falling support for dictator Sisi portends growing opposition

Hong Kong’s sham election
03/03/2017, Dikang, Socialist Action:
Pan-democrats sink to new low by supporting “lesser evil” John Tsang

US: Socialist response to Trump’s address to joint session of congress
02/03/2017, socialistworld.net:
Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative councillor, speaks

Catalonia: Historic demonstration in Barcelona in support of refugees
25/02/2017, Esquerra Revolucionària :
'Volem acollir'

Sweden: “Who could believe it?"

24/02/2017, Per-Åke Westerlund, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
What is behind Trump's attack?

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!

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Italy: Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis
22/03/2017, Marco Veruggio, ControCorrrente, (CWI in Italy) :
Class struggle can build real left force

Brazil: National day of strikes and protests shows Temer can be beaten


17/03/2017, André Ferrari LSR (CWI in Brazil) :
For a one-day general strike as the next step

Yemen: Workers and their families left to starve by multi-billionaire companies
16/03/2017, Cedric Gerome, CWI :
International campaign needed to force companies to pay

Ireland North: Snap election raises sectarian temperature    
14/03/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Workers need strong socialist alternative at ballot box and in unions

International Women’s Day 2017: A century on from the Russian Revolution
06/03/2017, Clare Doyle, CWI :
Demonstrations world-wide swelled by anti-Trump anger

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