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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

  US

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

Malaysia

Ruling government faces toughest elections ever

www.socialistworld.net, 18/02/2013
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Opposition victory possible for first time but workers and youth without genuine alternative

Ravi, CWI Malaysia

The government is soon expected to call Malaysia’s 13th general elections - considered to be the toughest general elections for them so far - either in March or April, following much speculation on the election date since 2011. The BN (government party) leadership under Najib Razak, desperate to improve its outcome, since the last general elections has been pressured to wait until the end of its five years term. The last general elections, called in 2008, were the worst for BN since independence from Britain in 1957. It lost its two-thirds majority as well as losing power in wealthy states, such as Selangor and Penang.

Early in January this year, 100,000 supporters of Pakatan Rakyat, the coalition of opposition parties, thronged to Kuala Lumpur to advocate a change of government in the coming general elections. The mood is very high among its supporters, which boosts further the confidence of Pakatan Rakyat, under the leadership of Anwar Ibrahim, to capture federal power for the first time.

‘Election Goodies’ versus Populist Agenda

Since the last two years, BN has been distributing many elections goodies in the name of welfare aids, probably the most attractive ever, to people from different races and backgrounds - rural, urban, young, old, women, student, workers and middle class - to win their support. Among them are cash hand-outs of RM500 per person with a household income lower than RM3000, and a RM 200 rebate for youths to buy ‘smartphones’. BN, with the domination of UMNO with its ‘promises fulfilled’ slogan has also been going all out to show that it has changed a lot since the last general elections by ‘reforming’ certain laws such as the notorious Internal Security Act, and introducing welfare programmes to reduce the people’s social and economic problems. But in reality, the public feels that their living standards have not changed much or are becoming worse with the prices of goods and services continuously going up, but real wages stagnating, though the government claims that inflation is still under control.

Although the democratic space has been widened to a certain extent - especially the right to protest - other rights like union or workers’ democratic rights and freedoms are very much controlled. Some reforms have also been made to the electoral systems that favoured the ruling government, after the pressure from the ‘Bersih’ movement. However, the opposition still has suspicions that fraud could still occur, since the Malaysian Election Commission is seen as ‘closer’ to government.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders with their populist agenda promise that they will be a better government with promises such as free education, cheaper cars and reduced petrol prices. They are also giving examples of their success in ruling some of the states since the last general elections, such as the reduction of corruption and improving transparency, and introduction of some welfare aid programmes.

Some people feel that certain government services have been improved in the states under Pakatan control in Selangor, Penang and Kedah since the last general elections. Nevertheless, the five years of Pakatan state governments have not solved fundamental social and economic problems such as wages, escalating housing prices, rights for workers, environmental issues etc, but rather concentrate on giving welfare aid to compete with the goodies given by the BN government. The programme and policies of Pakatan as well as their master plan in their ‘Orange Book’ shows that they are comfortable working within the framework of capitalism, rather than to challenge the profit oriented system to fulfil the fundamental needs of people.

‘Minimum Wage’ to gain working class votes

The BN government has also introduced a minimum wage for the first time to garner support from the working class. But the wage of RM800 in Borneo states and RM900 in Peninsular states that the government introduced in January are far below a real living wage at the present time. Even with that inadequate amount for workers, there have already been many manipulations in the minimum wage implementations by employers that want to retain their low wages policy. The government also succumbs to the pressure of employers to reduce the benefits for migrant workers. Wage exploitation by unscrupulous employers will continue, especially for unorganised, casual, outsourcing/contract and part-time workers for as long as the government’s law and policy implementations cater for the needs of free market capitalism.

Pakatan Rakyat promised that it could implement RM1100 as the minimum wage. Some unions, like the National Union of Bank Employees, have demanded that the minimum wage be set at RM1500 taking the inflations rate at present time into account, which the Pakatan rejected, saying that the ‘free market’ wouldn’t accept it. This revealed the true colour of Pakatan who use populist slogans, such as a ‘people oriented economy’ but are unwilling to confront the profit oriented system of capitalism to increase the living standards of workers and ordinary people.

‘Hung Parliament’ after elections ?

The vast majority of people are not convinced with both parties’ policies and programmes, and are still undecided on who they would vote for. Most of the urban middle class and young people support Pakatan, in the hope that they would improve democratic and social rights. In rural areas the BN still has upper hand with their ‘money, media and machinery’, though Pakatan has also improved its support here in recent times.

Although most analysts predicted that BN could win but with slim majority, some have not ruled out a possible first opposition victory. Some also predict that a ‘hung parliament’ could develop, without either BN or Pakatan with a clear majority. This could create prolonged instability in government.

The BN government has been using economic growth, at around 5%, to garner support and be elected again, but the growth has not been translated into real improvements in living standards for ordinary people, where the gap between the rich and poor is one of the worst in Southeast Asia. Since the world economic slowdown that started in 2008, BN government has pumped billions of ringgits (currency) to stimulate the domestic economy but with the prolonged uncertainties in the global economy, exports and FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) have not much improved. The return of a BN government for another term, alongside a continuing or worsening world economic crisis, would be a government of austerity cuts to counter the budget deficit and increasing debt. This could lead to social explosions that could destabilise the government, and create further political conflicts.

Although an opposition win for the first time would give hope of a better government, this could diminish fast when the Pakatan government fails to significantly improve the social and economic interests of the people.

The ‘Arab Spring’ has been used by former Prime Minister, Mahathir, and others in BN to create fear among voters that the oppositions winning elections would create more instability. But, whoever come to power, if the social and economic needs of the people are not progressing or are worsening, an ‘Arab Spring’ type response from the people is inevitable.

Socialists and Trade Unions

PSM (Socialist Party) which was not formally part of Pakatan but has been friendly towards them has now publicly announced that there are willing to join Pakatan Rakyat coalitions. This decision has been made in order to regain the seats they won in the last elections under Pakatan banner and to avoid a clash with Pakatan Rakyat in the coming elections. Although social, economic and environmental issues that affected the people are highlighted in their programme as well as support for workers demands such as a minimum wage of RM1500, no alternative solutions are given to address issues other than the defeat of UMNO/BN. Their position is like an “Anything But UMNO/BN (ABU)” position! This shows that the PSM has further moved away from the socialists task to adopt a working class independent position and to build a party for working class and the oppressed as the alternative to the pro-capitalist parties.

In the last few years, attacks on workers’ rights and welfare have risen with the BN’s pro-capitalist policies. The pressure from workers has pushed some of the trade union leaders to call for protests. The protests from bank, railway, car and other workers in recent times raise confidence that the workers should unite to struggle for their rights. But the leadership of MTUC has not been building united struggles to defeat the pro-capitalist policies of governments but rather succumbing to either government or capitalist demands.

The workers that feel anger towards BN pro-capitalist policies will choose to vote for Pakatan as in the last general elections with no other alternatives on offer but the character of Pakatan, which supports the free market and capitalism also shows it will not solve the workers’ demands if it takes power. The position of Pakatan, to disagree even with the decent demands of a minimum wage of RM1500 shows that they will not confront the capitalists to further the interests of workers and ordinary people.

This shows that workers and ordinary people looking for a genuine change have no real alternative between Pakatan and BN. This underlines that, for a genuine change, the workers, trade unions and socialists have crucial task to initiate the building of a mass working class party with a programme and policies to enhance democratic rights and the social and economic needs of working class, young people and others oppressed under the capitalist system. Only in this way, a government for 99% that prioritises their needs and rights can be built as the alternative to government for the 1% that prioritises the profits of capitalists and their cronies. This will be the way forward towards building a democratic socialist society in Malaysia and Internationally.

Some of CWI Malaysia’s demands for the elections:

• Clean and impartial elections, including fair access to media and government facilities

• Democratic rights, including the right to assemble and to protest

• Students rights and freedoms to express views and get involved in politics

• Equal rights for women in workplaces and in society

• For sustainable environment and safe power, no to nuclear power

• Workers’ and Trade union rights, and for a fighting trade union leadership

• Need for a mass working class party as the alternative to pro-capitalist parties. This party should also support the struggles of young people and others oppressed under capitalism.

• International solidarity with the workers and oppressed

• For a socialist planned economy as the alternative to the free market economy to plan for the social and economic needs of people

• Socialism as the alternative to capitalism to build a just society to fulfill the needs and rights of everybody regardless of race and religion and for a sustainable environment.



Europe

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Pakistan: Jawad Ahmad speaking at May Day rally held by International Youth and Workers Movement, 18/05/2015

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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:
The aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death

Book review: ’No place to hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance state’
29/04/2015, Reviewed by Tony Saunois, CWI:
What the 1% will do to defend their class interests

Kazakhstan: Presidential ‘election’ - Nazarbayev’s overwhelming victory no surprise
28/04/2015, Elizabeth Clarke, CWI:
Workers need to build mass opposition

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):
From Mare Nostrum to Triton

Finland: Worst ever election result for traditional Left
24/04/2015, Jonas Brännberg and Juha Tapio for CWI in Finland:
Finns Party second biggest in parliament

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?

Nepal: Disaster in Nepal –amplified by capitalism
30/04/2015, TU Senan, CWI:
Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the south Asian region has been further devastated by the recent earthquake.

May Day 2015: Resisting austerity, exploitation, wars and oppression
28/04/2015, CWI:
125 years since first May Day – Build a united workers’ movement for socialism!

Latin America: A new turn?
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
24/04/2015, Robert Bechert, CWI:
In aftermath of disastrous Iraq occupation, Obama administration balancing between region’s forces

Tunisia: After the Bardo terrorist attack
18/04/2015, Serge Jordan:
New class battles loom

Yemen: Brutal onslaught on country’s poor
15/04/2015, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the CWI England & Wales):
For unity of workers and poor against imperialism and sectarianism

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:
New action plan against right wing government takes off

Ukraine: Conflict unresolved after ’Minsk-2’ agreement
18/03/2015, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
Only independent working-class mass movement can remove the region’s authoritarian rulers

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