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New Zealand
Victory over zero-contract hours

24/05/2015: ‘Cotton On’ clothes retailer workers defeat attempt to remove rest and meal breaks

  New Zealand

Iraq/Syria
ISIS rout national armies at Ramadi and Palmyra

23/05/2015: United working class movement needed to sweep away sectarian militias and reactionary politicians

  Iraq, Syria

Britain
Labour leadership contest - appealing to big business

22/05/2015: The Labour leadership contest begs the question: what is the point of the Labour Party?

  Britain

Ireland North
Election marks growing rejection of sectarian status quo

21/05/2015: Opportunities to build new anti-sectarian political voice for working class and youth

  Ireland Republic

Spain
Is Podemos in crisis?

20/05/2015: Left and social movements in a state of flux, as key elections loom

  Spain

Britain
Build a movement to defeat Tories’ cuts savagery

20/05/2015: For massive union demonstrations, linked to a 24-hour general strike

  Britain

Ireland South
Vote ‘Yes’ to marriage equality!

19/05/2015: Referendum a product of long-waged campaign of struggle from below

  Ireland Republic

Greece
Subordination to Troika or rupture with austerity?

18/05/2015: The choices before the Greek working class

  Greece

North Cyprus
‘Moderate leftist’ wins presidential election on peace ticket

16/05/2015: Workers’ common front, north and south, can find solution to island’s division

  Cyprus

Chile
Huge demonstrations call for free education

15/05/2015: New chapter opens in country’s political and ‘moral’ crisis

  Chile

Australia
East-West toll road dispute concluded

15/05/2015: Local community direct action secures victory

  Australia

Ireland
Parliament suspended after PM tells Socialist MPs “where to go”

14/05/2015: Contemptuous remarks reflect government concerns over non-payment of water charges

  Ireland Republic

Britain
Organising against Tory austerity starts now

14/05/2015: Potential for industrial response to cuts but needs determined leadership and campaigning

  Britain

 Video
Joe Higgins TD questions former ECB president Jean Claude Trichet

13/05/2015: "When bankers and bondholders’ gambles crashed, their massive burden of private debt was placed onto the shoulders of the Irish people"

  Ireland Republic, Video

Sudan
Mass apathy towards elections

12/05/2015: Renewed struggle from below needed to put an end to Bashir’s rule

  Sudan

USA
Presidential candidate declares "political revolution" against billionaires

12/05/2015: Campaign needs to build independent political power

  US

Britain
Fight against "five more damned years" of Tory rule

12/05/2015: Labour leader’s ’responsible capitalism’ shows its bankruptcy

  Britain

China
“In a hard landing now”

11/05/2015: Stock market frenzy and fabricated GDP figures cannot hide the reality of an economy in deep trouble

  China

Scotland
Labour annihilated

11/05/2015: SNP sweeps to victory by posing as an anti-austerity alternative

  Scotland

Britain
With the votes of 24% of the electorate, Tories have no mandate for more savage cuts

11/05/2015: Labour’s failure puts centre stage the need for new mass anti-austerity force

  Britain

Poland
65,000 workers demonstrate against governments’ policies

07/05/2015: Plan of action for a general strike needed

  Poland

Ireland North
Socialist Party replies to leading Sinn Fein councillor’s attacks

06/05/2015: How to fight cuts, sectarianism and to build workers’ unity

  Ireland North

Britain
Russell Brand mistaken to sow illusions in Labour

06/05/2015: Russell Brand calls on people to elect a Labour government, saying Ed Miliband will ’listen’ and wants pressure from below

  Britain

May Day 2015
International workers’ day marked by marches and rallies

05/05/2015: Photo gallery of the CWI taking part in May Day event across the world

  May Day

Iceland
Fighting for better wages

05/05/2015: General strike called for 26 May

  Iceland

May Day 2015
Socialist plan or capitalist chaos

01/05/2015: What sort of new society are we struggling for?

  May Day

Nepal
Disaster in Nepal –amplified by capitalism

30/04/2015: Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the south Asian region has been further devastated by the recent earthquake.

  Nepal

US
Rage in Baltimore

29/04/2015: The aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death

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Book review
’No place to hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance state’

29/04/2015: What the 1% will do to defend their class interests

  Review, US

 May Day 2015
Resisting austerity, exploitation, wars and oppression

28/04/2015: 125 years since first May Day – Build a united workers’ movement for socialism!

  CWI, May Day

Italy
Migrant disasters - the human cost of budget cuts

27/04/2015: From Mare Nostrum to Triton

  Italy

Latin America
A new turn?

25/04/2015: Historic handshake between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, turmoil in Venezuela, and stalled reforms in Bolivia – as well as crises in Brazil – symbolise a new turn in Latin America and the Caribbean

  Latin America

Greece

48-hour general strike sees biggest workers’ protests in decades

www.socialistworld.net, 21/10/2011
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

All out occupations and strikes! Kick out the Pasok cuts government! For a revolutionary government of the workers and poor!

Andreas Payiatsos, Xekinima (CWI Greece), Athens

Greece was paralysed on Wednesday and Thursday this week by a 48 hour general strike called by the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) and the public sector Civil Servants’ Confederation (ADEDY). Up to half a million workers and youth took to the streets of Athens on Wednesday and around 100,000 on Thursday. Wednesday’s demo was the largest union demonstration in Greece since the fall of the military dictatorship in 1974 and with the exception of a popular uprising in 1965, the largest since the end of World War II!

Workers readily took strike action and to the streets to oppose yet another vicious austerity cuts bill which sees further pay cuts for public sector employees, another tax hike, yet more cuts to pensions, mass layoffs in the public sector and a disbandment of Collective Agreements in the private sector. Tens of thousands public sector workers will have their current jobs “suspended”, over the next few months, with huge pay cuts, and will fully lose their jobs one year later. More layoffs in the public sector will follow in 2012 and 2013 – the ‘Troikans’ demand that a total of 250,000 jobs to go in the public sector out of a total of 650,000 (including about 200,000 in the army, the police, the judiciary and the church). All this is supposed to tackle the national debt crisis, but it is bringing precisely the opposite results: the deep recession, causing a fall in GDP of nearly 15% in three years, has raised both the budget deficits and the national debt. But the only ‘remedy’ Troikans impose is yet more cuts, while accusing Greek workers, now the poorest in the euro zone, of “living beyond their means”!

A complete national shut down

The general strike action enjoyed overwhelming support in every sector, public and private. It was a complete national shut down, involving the widest social layers. Even those sections of the population normally considered ‘conservative’, like court judges, street kiosk owners, taxi drivers and track drivers, took action.

The magnificent strike action followed weeks of escalating “rolling” industrial action by many sections of the workforce. Most government ministry buildings have been in occupation since the beginning of the month, including the key departments, like finance and justice. The government has tried to break a bitter strike, and occupation of the landfills, by refuse workers. This is nearly 3 weeks long, causing mountains of garbage to accumulate in the streets of Athens. Government attempts to break the strike, deploying private trucks, completely failed. The Pasok administration now threatens the strikers, who continue their strike, with military coercion! Bus drivers, doctors and other health workers, teachers, sailors, and many other sectors, have been on repeated strike action over the last few weeks.

The mood on the streets of Athens and other cities and towns this week was angry and explosive. Most workers feel that after several draconian austerity packages and steeply declining living standards they have “nothing to lose” by taking all out industrial action. The so-called “shock therapy” has failed to put Greece’s finances on a “sustainable” path. It has only produced an unprecedented recession at huge human and social cost. Unemployment and bankruptcies increase, tax revenue falls and recession deepens. The official rate of unemployment, already announced for this month at 16.5% according to the OAED (the official government employment bureau). But everyone knows that the real unemployment level is already around 25%. Up to 60% of unemployed young workers refuse to register as they see no point in doing so! This picture does not take into consideration the ‘underemployment’ levels which are at similar figures to unemployment figures. Poverty figures and drug addiction and suicide rates have all risen sharply. Many people suffer from poor health and illnesses because they cannot afford to pay for medical costs and because of deep cuts to the public health services – 50% of hospital beds face the Troikan axe! Children are going to school complaining to teachers they are hungry. The teachers’ union reported cases of children fainting in the class rooms due to malnutrition.

Angry and explosive mood

There were revolutionary aspects to the situation in Greece this week. The Pasok government was completely isolated from the masses, including the middle classes, and suspended in mid air. The union leaders could easily have called for further determined action to finish off the government and to stop all cuts and other attacks. But instead workers were not given clear leadership or any call for more action. After a few hours, the hundreds of thousands demonstrating on the streets in Athens, on Wednesday, drifted home, particularly after clashes between anarchist groups or agent provocateurs and the riot police. The police took full advantage given to them by about 100 to 200 “anarchists” to suffocate tens of thousands of workers with chemical weapons thrown directly into the main body of the workers’ demonstration.

On the second day of the 48 hour general strike, around 100,000 took to the streets and surrounded the parliament. Members of the Greek communist party (KKE) decided for the first time in years to join the rest of the Left and the unions in a common demonstration. They decided to steward their own contingents in front of the Parliament but this was seen as a provocation by the anarchist groups and the result was violent clashes between anarchists and the KKE supporters. Around 70 people were wounded and a building worker died from a heart attack, initial reports claim. The violent clashes were broadcast on Greek television to show divisions on the Left and to try to discredit the strike.

Despite the general strike and huge protests, the draconian cuts were passed by Parliament. Around 15,000 policemen were mobilised to protect the “thieves and liars” inside the parliament from the rage of the Greek masses. The cuts were passed by 153 votes to 144, allowing Prime Minister George Papandreou’s government to cling to power, for the time being, at least. There were rumours all week that the government would fall. But it was understood by the Greek ruling class and the ruling elites across the EU that for Pasok to collapse would have been seen as a victory for the mass movement, encouraging more mass resistance to austerity measures in Greece and elsewhere.

What will happen next? The draconian cuts bill was passed but strikes, occupations and protests can continue. Many workers hope that some of the more militant union federations will continue with protest actions. But there is no clear lead from any of the union leaders or from the Left parties. Workers want to fight and have shown they will fight to the end, but they are not optimistic. All of the Left parties call for the “removal” of the government but it is largely empty rhetoric as they do not put forward any specific demands to concretely develop the mass struggle.

What slogans and demands?

In stark contrast, Xekinima (CWI in Greece) has been calling and campaigning for a continuation of indefinite occupations and strikes to remove the Pasok cuts-making government. These were the main slogans on three prominent Xekinima banners carried on the big demonstrations this week, on the front page headline of the party newspaper and carried on 20,000 leaflets distributed in the course of this week by Xekinima supporters.

Xekinima further explains that the overthrow of this government, the most hated since the end of the military regime in 1974, through mass struggle would represent a huge victory for the Greek working class. It would bring forward the prospect of a revolutionary government of workers and the poor, which is the only way out of the impasse and barbarism of capitalism.

Xekinima is, unfortunately, the only prominent force on the Left in Greece that makes clear proposals to the rest of the Left and to the workers’ movement, in general, about how to develop the struggles, to bring the government down and to stop cuts.

In fact, and, actually to our surprise, others on the Left publicly opposed Xekinima’s ideas to develop a clear plan of action for the struggle. For example, before this week’s general strike action, at an important co-ordinating meeting of union activists held on 16 October, representing about 200 local union branches, trade unionists supporting far left groups, but also Syriza (a broad left party), opposed Xekinima’s proposals to escalate the mass action in a concrete way. Xekinima trade unionists called for co-ordination to develop the different occupations and strikes, for rolling industrial action by sectors of the workforce every week, for repeated 48 hour general strikes every week and more, where possible, to build in the direction of all-out, indefinite strike action and occupations, with the common aim of bringing down the government. We also called for full democratic organization of the workers’ movement, based on elected rank and file committees leading the struggles.

Xekinima links these struggles to political demands, including refusal to pay the debt and nationalization of the banks under workers’ democratic control and management, to plan the economy for the benefit of the majority, instead of for huge profits for a handful of bankers and multinationals.

The representatives of the various left groups and parties at the afore mentioned co-ordinating meeting argued that given the anti-cuts mood of the working class there was “no need to take these [Xekinima’s] proposals”. In other words, they refused to discuss a programme of action that could develop the mass struggle, leaving the initiative in the hands of the Pasok-linked union bureaucracy. This refusal included the ultra left, who never tire talking about “revolution”. But when it comes to specific action, they have a sectarian approach and method and have no concept of demands, tactics or strategy.

Perspectives for struggle?

Feeling huge pressure from below, the leadership of the Pasok unions were compelled to organise general strikes but they see it as a way to “scare” the government to make a few concessions and not to bring it down. The union tops do not seriously intend to fully utilise the enormous power of the working class, displayed so clearly this week, to halt all cuts and to kick the government out of office.

Perspectives for the unfolding situation in Greece and for workers’ movement need to be very conditional given how fluid and explosive the situation remains. New waves of fury from workers over the cuts can see more workplace occupations, local and sector strikes and actions by students and youth, particularly by school students. This volcanic mood can force union leaders to call new general strikes that can escalate.

But it is also the case that in the absence of resolute militant leadership from the unions and Left, there is a real danger that industrial action and occupations could start to fall away, the new cuts will start to take effect and many workers could become demoralised for a period.

The need to democratically co-ordinate the struggles from below, and to built an alternative mass, internationalist, Left force - determined to take the struggle to the end, fight against the capitalists’ assault and to link it to the need for a socialist society - is more demanding than ever.



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NEWS

New Zealand: Victory over zero-contract hours
24/05/2015, Joe Kelly, CWI NZ/Aotearoa:
‘Cotton On’ clothes retailer workers defeat attempt to remove rest and meal breaks

Britain: Labour leadership contest - appealing to big business
22/05/2015, Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The Labour leadership contest begs the question: what is the point of the Labour Party?

Britain: Build a movement to defeat Tories’ cuts savagery
20/05/2015, Editorial from The Socialist, weekly paper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
For massive union demonstrations, linked to a 24-hour general strike

Ireland South: Vote ‘Yes’ to marriage equality!
19/05/2015, From the Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) website:
Referendum a product of long-waged campaign of struggle from below

Greece: Subordination to Troika or rupture with austerity?
18/05/2015, Editorial from Xekinima (no. 410, 6-20 May 2015), fortnightly newspaper of CWI Greece:
The choices before the Greek working class

Pakistan: Jawad Ahmad speaking at May Day rally held by International Youth and Workers Movement
18/05/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Video of May Day Rally and concert in Lahore

North Cyprus: ‘Moderate leftist’ wins presidential election on peace ticket
16/05/2015, Athina Kariati, New Internationalist Left (CWI in Cyprus):
Workers’ common front, north and south, can find solution to island’s division

Chile: Huge demonstrations call for free education
15/05/2015, Patricio Guzman, Socialismo Revolcuionario (CWI in Chile):
New chapter opens in country’s political and ‘moral’ crisis

Australia: East-West toll road dispute concluded
15/05/2015, Socialist Party (CWI Australia) Reporters:
Local community direct action secures victory

Ireland: Parliament suspended after PM tells Socialist MPs “where to go”
14/05/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Contemptuous remarks reflect government concerns over non-payment of water charges

Britain: Organising against Tory austerity starts now
14/05/2015, John McInally, Public and Commercial Services Union national Vice-President (personal capacity), from the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) website:
Potential for industrial response to cuts but needs determined leadership and campaigning

Video: Joe Higgins TD questions former ECB president Jean Claude Trichet
13/05/2015, Socialistworld.net:
"When bankers and bondholders’ gambles crashed, their massive burden of private debt was placed onto the shoulders of the Irish people"

Sudan: Mass apathy towards elections
12/05/2015, Sudanese CWI supporter:
Renewed struggle from below needed to put an end to Bashir’s rule

Scotland: Labour annihilated
11/05/2015, :
SNP sweeps to victory by posing as an anti-austerity alternative

Britain: With the votes of 24% of the electorate, Tories have no mandate for more savage cuts
11/05/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Labour’s failure puts centre stage the need for new mass anti-austerity force

Poland: 65,000 workers demonstrate against governments’ policies
07/05/2015, Alternatywa Socjalistyczna (CWI Poland) Reporters:
Plan of action for a general strike needed

Britain: Russell Brand mistaken to sow illusions in Labour
06/05/2015, Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Russell Brand calls on people to elect a Labour government, saying Ed Miliband will ’listen’ and wants pressure from below

May Day 2015: International workers’ day marked by marches and rallies
05/05/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Photo gallery of the CWI taking part in May Day event across the world

Iceland: Fighting for better wages
05/05/2015, Per-Åke Westerlund, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
General strike called for 26 May

US: Rage in Baltimore
29/04/2015, Eljeer Hawkins, Socialist Alternative, New York:
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Book review: ’No place to hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance state’
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28/04/2015, Elizabeth Clarke, CWI:
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Ireland North: Health Minister forced to resign after making homophobic remarks
27/04/2015, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
LGBT and women’s rights campaigners boosted

Italy: Migrant disasters - the human cost of budget cuts
27/04/2015, From web-site of ControCorrente (CWI in Italy):
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24/04/2015, Jonas Brännberg and Juha Tapio for CWI in Finland:
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Scotland: Labour face annihilation as millions seek an answer to austerity
23/04/2015, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI in Scotland):
The SNP, according to the polls, will win 53 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster MPs

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Iraq/Syria: ISIS rout national armies at Ramadi and Palmyra
23/05/2015, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
United working class movement needed to sweep away sectarian militias and reactionary politicians

Ireland North: Election marks growing rejection of sectarian status quo
21/05/2015, Daniel Waldron and Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast:
Opportunities to build new anti-sectarian political voice for working class and youth

Spain: Is Podemos in crisis?
20/05/2015, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Left and social movements in a state of flux, as key elections loom

USA: Presidential candidate declares "political revolution" against billionaires
12/05/2015, Philip Locker, Socialist Alternative, Seattle:
Campaign needs to build independent political power

Britain: Fight against "five more damned years" of Tory rule
12/05/2015, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party )CWI England & Wales) General Secretary:
Labour leader’s ’responsible capitalism’ shows its bankruptcy

China: “In a hard landing now”
11/05/2015, Dikang, chinaworker.info:
Stock market frenzy and fabricated GDP figures cannot hide the reality of an economy in deep trouble

Ireland North: Socialist Party replies to leading Sinn Fein councillor’s attacks
06/05/2015, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) Statement:
How to fight cuts, sectarianism and to build workers’ unity

May Day 2015: Socialist plan or capitalist chaos
01/05/2015, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party General Secretary, (CWI England & Wales):
What sort of new society are we struggling for?

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30/04/2015, TU Senan, CWI:
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28/04/2015, CWI:
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25/04/2015, Tony Saunois, article from May issue of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Historic handshake between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, turmoil in Venezuela, and stalled reforms in Bolivia – as well as crises in Brazil – symbolise a new turn in Latin America and the Caribbean

Iran: Proposed nuclear deal reflects transformed Middle East
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18/04/2015, Serge Jordan:
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15/04/2015, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the CWI England & Wales):
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Economy: What low oil prices cost the world economy
03/04/2015, Lynn Walsh, article from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The sudden plunge of oil and gas prices has underlined the volatility in the world capitalist economy

Israel: Netanyahu mobilises far right to win election
25/03/2015, Yasha Marmer, Socialist Struggle Movement, Israel-Palestine:
New coalition will face unresolved crises and bitter struggles

Italy: The instability of domestic capitalism
24/03/2015, Marco Veruggio, ControCorrente (CWI Italy):
Political vacuum pushes FIOM to take initiative

Greece: Varoufakis’ “erratic Marxism” is not the answer
23/03/2015, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Necessary to clarify ideas upon which successful struggles of European working class will be conducted

Belgium: No agreement reached between unions and government over austerity
20/03/2015, Eric Byl, LSP/PSL (Belgian section of the CWI), Brussels:
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Ukraine: Conflict unresolved after ’Minsk-2’ agreement
18/03/2015, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
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Greece: Syriza’s first months in power
07/03/2015, Andreas Payiatsos, from Xekinima (newspaper of the CWI Greece):
The working class and social movements must enter the struggle for their rights

Quebec: Towards a hot spring
02/03/2015, Deirdre and Bruno, Socialist Alternative (CWI Quebec):
Disrupt them like they disrupt us!

Greece showdown
26/02/2015, Article to be published in the March issue of Socialism Today (magazine of the Socialist Party, CWI in England and Wales):
Niall Mulholland interviewed NICOS ANASTASIADES, of Xekinima (CWI Greece), just as Syriza leaders agreed a four-month bail-out extension with the EU.

Libya: War-torn country becoming new hub for IS activities
25/02/2015, Serge Jordan (CWI):
Libyan people bearing the brunt of NATO’s fiasco

Europe: Eurozone time-bomb
25/02/2015, Lynn Walsh, article from Socialism Today (magazine of the Socialist Party of England and Wales):
Mired in recession, the eurozone is haunted by the spectre of stagnation