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Put CIA torturers in the dock

21/12/2014: The role of state intelligence

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Massive general strike makes the government wobble

19/12/2014: Towards a second plan of action to get rid of this government and austerity!

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19/12/2014: Solidarity messages needed with “requisitioned” airline workers

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Third anniversary of Zhanaozen massacre marked

18/12/2014: Struggle to free political prisoners continues

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The end of one cycle and the beginning of another

17/12/2014: Document on Latin America, agreed by CWI International Executive Committee

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Kuomintang’s landslide election defeat redraws the political map

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A turbulent period in history

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Mass water charges protest on 10 December

15/12/2014: Dublin City centre came to a standstill as different marches made their way to the Dáil

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Political crisis and new elections

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 Video
Paul Murphy speaks at mass Dublin water charges protest

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All out on 10 December against water charges!

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30/11/2014: Forced evictions, poverty wages and repression is the reality for millions

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A turbulent period in history

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Right wing, populist UKIP wins second Parliament seat

26/11/2014: Labour’s pro-austerity ‘opposition’ no alternative

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Metalworkers’ union expelled from COSATU

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9 November “consultation” on independence

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19/11/2014: New rounds of repression answered by new wave of rage and protest

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Mid-term elections do not mean a turn to the right in society

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Socialist TD defends anti-water charges protests

18/11/2014: Ruth Coppinger, Socialist Party TD (MP) appears on ‘Prime Time’

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Vital lessons of Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’

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Water tax revolt continues in Ireland

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"New Hope" president faces intense pressures

16/11/2014: Initiative to build mass party of working class and rural poor urgently needed

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Competing ’elections’ deepen divisions

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SNP government announces £500 million cuts

14/11/2014: Majority of ‘Yes’ voters want end to austerity - anti-cuts candidates needed!

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Spain

Huge general strike as government enters deep crisis

www.socialistworld.net, 31/03/2012
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Continue and intensify with 48 hour general strike

Danny Byrne, CWI

It has taken less than 100 days for the Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy to go from being Europe’s arrogant newcomer, with his much-touted ’overall majority’, to being in the epicentre of the European crisis.Yesterday, it suffered the latest and most severe blow to it’s image of “stability” when well over 10 million workers joined a massive general strike against its policies. Such is the government’s spiral of crisis, that demonstrators who flooded the streets yesterday could be heard to chant “Mariano, at this rate you won’t reach the summer!”.

The scale and strength of the strike surpassed that of September 2010, in all respects. Union figures put participation at an average of 77% of salaried workers, or 85% when ’obligatory’ minimum services are deducted. The strategic sectors of the Spanish economy were paralysed from midnight onwards. Union figures indicate that stronghold sectors of industry, transport, and agriculture witnessed rates of 97%, 95%, and 95% (excluding agreed ’minimum services’ – explained below) participation respectively, giving an indication of the scale of the mobilisations. Despite the government and capitalist media’s attempts to paint the mobilisations as weak, the real figures recorded by authorities often exposed the truth. For example, the data recorded by the Spanish Electricity Network indicate that energy consumption on 29 March equalled that of a public holiday, pointing to the blacking out of the pillars of the capitalist economy by this magnificent workers’ action.

All of the Spanish state’s regions saw generalised stoppages. However, the strike was especially solid in the Northern, more industrialised regions. In the Basque country, the strike saw the nationalist unions, which there organise the majority of activists, striking on the same day as the main Spanish trade unions, CCOO and the UGT, unlike September 2010, when Basque unions had refused to join the Spanish unions’ call (as has also happened vice versa on various occasions, such as in June 2011). This new unity in struggle was reflected in a 95% solid strike. 90% are said to have taken action in Navarra and the key industrial / port region of Galicia, and 89% and 82% respectively in Asturias and Catalunya, home of second city, Barcelona and with an economy bigger than that of Portugal. In many sectors, participation was dramatically up on that of the 2010 strike. For example, in Andalucia, the strike was twice as solid among public sector workers, as even the right-wing press was forced to acknowledge.

Barcelona, 29 March

Marches of unprecedented size as determination to fight hardens

The massive character of the strike was not only expressed in the desolation of work-stations around the country, but also by the astonishing occupation of the streets by hundreds of thousands of workers, students and the unemployed. These demonstrations were full of life and an exercise in the building of confidence for those who participated, differing strikingly from the tranquility, or even “passivity” which some claimed had come to characterise union mobilisations. Morning demonstrations in some cities saw unprecedented attendances, with 100,000 in Sevilla among the 400,000 who filled the avenidas of Andalucia. Then, as evening approached breath-taking attendances were registered as demos began throughout the country. Unions claim that 900,000 marched in Madrid, and 800,000 in Barcelona, along with a quarter of a million in Valencia. The CCOO union figures put the total number of demonstrators throughout the state at an unprecedented 4 million, to which must be added the 100,000 who marched in the Basque country’s 4 capital cities, in separate ELA/LAB Basque union marches.

These figures, when compard to those of 29 September 2010, when unions reported 1.5 million attending marches, give a picture of how the situation, and importantly, the outlook of the mass of people, has changed. In 2010, as anger built against the austerity and attacks being imposed supposedly to “escape the crisis” by the then “socialist” PSOE government, there was nonetheless a certain hope among many workers that the situation would be temporary, and that “small sacrifices” then would give way to economic growth and a “return to normality”. The development and deepening of the crisis has smashed such hopes for wide swathes of society. In fact, since the arrival of the PP in government, as a “safe pair of hands” to stabilise the situation and win the favour of the markets, the Spanish economy is even closer to the precipice. Spanish debt bonds and risk premiums are being kept just about under control wholly thanks to the emergency intervention of the European Central Bank, with European officials openly advising the Spanish government to resort to Europe’s bailout mechanisms. These developments have hardened the understanding that the situation will only worsen on this basis and that a fight is necessary.

The 18 months between “29S” and “29M” also saw other key changes, most importantly the emergence of the movement of the indignados’ movement which shook society. The indignados put the idea of a militant and massive fightback back onto the agenda after the de-mobilisation which followed 29S, with the signing of a series of sellout attacks, including the raising of the retirement age, by union leaders. The impact of this movement was also reflected in massive turnouts by young people on the general strike demos. Sometimes amassed in “critical blocks”, many young indignados nonetheless seized the opportunity to unite in struggle with the organised working class, the only force with the power to force the way onto a new political path. Big layers of youth and indignados (15M) activists have come to the conclusion that despite the crimes of its leaders, the working class movement and trade unions are key weapons in the struggle against austerity and capitalism.

Repression and anti-union laws

The strike was also marked by an increase in state repression, with 176 arrests and 116 injuries (including at least one youth currently being held in intensive care) reported throughout the day. In Sevilla, a ’Tuscan’ bus terminal picket was charged by police on horseback in shocking scenes reminiscent of the Franco era, and live rounds of ’non-lethal’ bullets were fired on picketers in the Basque country. Barcelona saw some violent scenes, which featured the use of teargas and repeated charges by riot police. These incidents, although limited to small and isolated groups of protestors (and with a clear role played by provocateurs) not surprisingly grabbed media headlines.

Alongside this open repression, the state and bosses used age old anti-trade union ’minimum services’ legislation to try to break the back of the strike in many sectors. This law, which aims to impose the provision of minimum services, often sees employers and local authorities demanding that striking workers maintain over 50% of services, almost completely negating the impact of a strike! In a sign of both the radicalisation of the union movement, and the heightened arrogance of the PP government, this strike saw failure to agree minimum services in 8 out of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions. We stand for the organised breaking of this and other anti-trade union laws with whatever necessary minimum services decided upon by workers and trade unions democratically, not dictated by bosses or the capitalist state.

Continuation and intensification – name the date of a 48 hour strike!

The success of the strike was a result of struggle by the rank and file of the unions, and the youth in struggle, whose clamour for a general strike pushed the leaders into action. However, as Socialismo Revolucionario has explained consistently, one day of strike action will not be enough. Even before taking office, Rajoy was heard to say that the labour reform he was planning would “cost him a general strike”. Although a massive blow to his government and power, this general strike was thus, in a sense, already factored into his austerity plans. The question now is, how can the pressure go on to escalate the action and build a struggle of a sustained and determined character, which could put the government’s power to force through its brutality into question.

The leaders of UGT and CCOO followed the strike announcing that they are giving bosses and government until 1 May to begin negotiations on the labour reform, or face the threat of “a hardening of the struggle”. If followed, such a plan puts off the prospect of a further general strike until the summer in reality, at which time the labour reform will have become law. This poses the immediate necessity of a sustained campaign of pressure, organised from below and with a possible extra impulse from those organised in ’alternative’ more combative union federations, such as those of the Basque country, whose calling of a strike on 29 March was key in the CCOO and UGT decision to choose the same date. Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain) intervened on picket lines and demos throughout the Spanish state with the slogan “name the date for a new 48 hour strike” at the forefront. We think that this slogan, which has been remarkably well received and distributed, encapsulates the necessity to both continue and escalate the struggle, and represents a modest but important contribution to the debates that are and will be taking place within the movement. The need for the struggle of the workers and youth in the ’peripheral’ or ’PIIGS’ countries, under the boot of the Troika, to achieve a coordinated expression with a united strike, also needs to be stressed.

As the experiences of Greece and Portugal have shown, the development of the struggle to defeat austerity policies can experience its ups and downs, if a confident sustained strategy of struggle and positive political alternative are not adopted. Ultimately, such a road can only be adopted on the basis of a mass movement, armed with democratic fighting unions and a democratically accountable leadership willing to fight until victory, but also armed with an alternative political policy. It is in the fight for such an alternative, including non payment of the ’public’ debt, and a struggle against the bleeding dry of the working people and unemployed, that the necessity of an ’indefinite strike’, which was raised by sections of the workers movement and the left in Spain around this strike, would emerge. Such a struggle needs to be prepared for and would pose the question of who runs society. The CWI in Spain is demanding a 48 hour general strike as the next stage in the struggle to escalate the movement against the government. An ’indefinite’ general strike immediately poses the question of the control and management of society and ultimately the question of the taking of political and economic power by the working class, establishing a democratic workers’ government to implement socialist policies in favour of the 99%. This in turn poses the urgent need for the building of a mass united left-wing political force based on the growing struggles of the majority, with the task of putting forward and popularising such an alternative, on a national and international scale, with the perspective of fighting for an alternative socialist confederation of free and democratic countries, to replace the capitalist EU.

The United Left party, IU, which only days before the strike achieved a significant breakthrough in regional elections in Andalucia and Asturias, with big gains depriving the PP of widely-expected victories, has a key potential role to play in this process. However, this potential can quickly be wasted if its leadership decides to re-adopt the strategy of coalition governments with PSOE, and the pacting of austerity policies. In a period of class battles like this one, a fighting democratic left force with a real base in the struggle, and clear anti-capitalist policies, advocating an alternative of public democratic ownership of the banks and key sectors of economy under democratic control, as a basis to begin to invest wealth and resources combating the misery of the crisis, could make huge strides forward, and challenge the hegemony of the capitalist parties. Those within and around IU, and the rest of the organised left who struggle for such an outcome will undoubtedly be strengthened by these results and this general strike.

The perspective for the next weeks is very open. The application of pressure from below and/or the announcement of new strikes from outside the majority unions could see a quick change in the discourse of the leadership and new action called. Whatever the case, the government has made its intention not to budge quite clear. And with the European and world vulture capitalists constantly at its shoulder, it will find it increasingly difficult to do so. This, along with the the brutal budget announced today which includes 27 billion in austerity measures, indicates that the the union leaders will not be able to decisively or lastingly postpone an escalation of the class struggle.



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NEWS

US: Put CIA torturers in the dock
21/12/2014, Dave Carr, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the CWI England & Wales):
The role of state intelligence

Belgium: Massive general strike makes the government wobble
19/12/2014, PSL/LSP (CWI in Belgium) reporter:
Towards a second plan of action to get rid of this government and austerity!

Portugal: Government attempts to forcefully break TAP strike
19/12/2014, Socialsmo Revolucionario (CWI in Portugal):
Solidarity messages needed with “requisitioned” airline workers

Kazakhstan: Third anniversary of Zhanaozen massacre marked
18/12/2014, Socialistworld.net:
Struggle to free political prisoners continues

Taiwan : Kuomintang’s landslide election defeat redraws the political map
17/12/2014, Vincent Kolo and CWI Taiwan reporters:
Taiwan’s ‘Sunflower Movement’ and democracy protests in Hong Kong fuel massive rejection of ruling party

Italy: Mass support for general strike expresses anger at PD government
15/12/2014, Chris Thomas, ControCorrente (CWI Italy):
New political voice vitally needed

Ireland: Mass water charges protest on 10 December
15/12/2014, Cillian Gillespie, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Dublin City centre came to a standstill as different marches made their way to the Dáil

Sweden: Political crisis and new elections
15/12/2014, From articles in Offensiv, weekly paper of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
Right-wing alliance relied on racist party to defeat budget

Greece: Government brings forward presidential election
12/12/2014, Slightly edited article from the current issue of Xekinima newspaper (CWI in Greece):
Kick out the austerity government and Troika! For a Syriza government with bold socialist policies!

Video: Paul Murphy speaks at mass Dublin water charges protest
11/12/2014, socialistworld.net:
For a new political movement to bring the "mob" to power

Greece: Violent clashes over prisoner hunger strike
09/12/2014, Xekinima Reporters:
Cruel and vengeful actions by the State and ruling elite

Video: All out on 10 December against water charges!
09/12/2014, socialistworld.net:
Paul Murphy and Ruth Coppinger speak in Irish parliament

US: An Uprising Against Police Violence
08/12/2014, Eljeer Hawkins, Socialist Alternative:
From Ferguson to Staten Island

Mexico: Anger grows over missing Mexican students
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Philippines: ‘Economic miracle’ – a neo-liberal nightmare for the masses
30/11/2014, By a CWI correspondent in Philippines:
Forced evictions, poverty wages and repression is the reality for millions

Britain: Right wing, populist UKIP wins second Parliament seat
26/11/2014, Editorial from The Socialist, weekly paper of the Socialist Party (England & Wales):
Labour’s pro-austerity ‘opposition’ no alternative

South Africa: Metalworkers’ union expelled from COSATU
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Catalonia: 9 November “consultation” on independence
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Another show of strength for independence - fight for a Socialist Catalonia

Greece: Workers’ victory at Diamant telesales company
21/11/2014, Xekinima Reporters:
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16/11/2014, Iyan, CWI Malaysia:
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CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Latin America: The end of one cycle and the beginning of another
17/12/2014, socialistworld.net:
Document on Latin America, agreed by CWI International Executive Committee

World Perspectives: A turbulent period in history
15/12/2014, CWI International Executive Committee:
Signs of revival of class struggle signposts the future

Sri Lanka: Presidential Election January 8, 2015
11/12/2014, Interview with Siritunga Jayasuriya, USP (CWI Sri Lanka):
Socialist candidate challenges all other forces

Australia: Major community victory stops Melbourne’s East-West Toll Road
08/12/2014, By Socialist Party (CWI Australia) reporters, Melbourne:
Socialist Party leads successful campaign against Toll Road and for investment in public transport

World Perspectives: A turbulent period in history
27/11/2014, International Secretariat of the CWI :
Signs of revival of class struggle signposts the future

Ireland: Lies and distortions against community protests, the AAA and the Socialist Party
21/11/2014, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) reporters:
Government and Water Charges completely undermined

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19/11/2014, Yasha Marmer, Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM):
New rounds of repression answered by new wave of rage and protest

Ukraine: Competing ’elections’ deepen divisions
15/11/2014, Rob Jones, CWI Moscow:
Working people need socialist alternative to warring oligarchs and outside powers

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10/11/2014, Ciaran Mulholland, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
In 1994, the IRA and Loyalist paramilitaries called ceasefires. Four years later the Good Friday agreement was declared to mark the end of the ‘Troubles’…

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04/11/2014, Kevin McLoughlin, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
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31/10/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
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23/10/2014, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Catalonia; ’Podemos’, and the left

Kazakhstan: Brutal repression in imperialism’s interests
20/10/2014, Mike Whale, Secretary of Campaign Kazakhstan (first published in October 2014 issue of Socialism Today):
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Is the US promoting a “colour revolution” in Hong Kong?
18/10/2014, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong):
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17/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
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Ireland: Byelection triumph marks turning point in anti-austerity struggle
14/10/2014, Eddie McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Paul Murphy wins parliamentary seat as 100,000 march against water charges

Middle East: US-led policy of air attacks on Islamic State lies in ruins
13/10/2014, Tony Saunois, CWI:
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Ireland: Paul Murphy elected to Irish parliament in stunning byelection victory
12/10/2014, socialistworld.net:
Anti-Austerity Alliance victory shocks political establishment, reflects mass revolt against water charges and austerity

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