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latest news

Ireland
Massive ‘Yes’ to Marriage Equality referendum

28/05/2015: Growing opposition to conservative establishment

  Ireland Republic

Britain
The struggles to come

27/05/2015: No fundamental change to be expected from the Labour Party

  Britain

Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific workers to strike in August

26/05/2015: Protesting cabin crew at Hong Kong airport explained their grievances to Socialist Action reporters

  Hong Kong

Canada’s ‘carbo-state’

26/05/2015: Only a socialist alternative can challenge the carbo-capitalists’ grip on Canadian politics

  Canada, Environment

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

Bulgaria

Mass movement brings down government

www.socialistworld.net, 06/03/2013
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Electricity prices trigger revolt against system

Danny Byrne, CWI

25 February was the sixteenth day of mobilisations of a powerful mass movement in Bulgaria that already done away with one government. Only a few months ago, Bulgaria was being touted as an “island of stability” (in the words of President, Plevneliev) in an otherwise increasingly unstable region. Its leaders boast the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio (16%) in the EU, and a budget deficit which meets the European institutions’ “stability” requirements. But despite this rosy picture, beneath the figures lies the poorest nation in the EU. This is an important contrast, at a time when the capitalist class across Europe are bleeding workers, youth and unemployed dry in the name of deficit and debt reduction, with the promise of a brighter future on this basis. However, as Bulgaria shows, on the basis of capitalism, such a rosy economic position for capitalism is not translated into a better, more stable life for the majority.

The majority of Bulgarians live in misery, with an average income of €360 per month, and state pensions as low as €75, per month. Official figures show that 49% of the population are judged to be in immediate risk of poverty, with one fifth currently living below the poverty line. Over one million predominantly young people have fled the country out of a population of 7.2 million. The contradiction between this reality, and the decades of false promises of “progress” and “modernisation” since the collapse of Stalinism in 1989, especially following the country’s entry to the EU in 2007, is among the essential ingredients for the recent social explosion. The rapid development of this movement and the dramatic impact it has had, along with the far-reaching mass demands it has thrown up, shows how quickly and devastatingly such contradictions can be unravelled when the ‘levee breaks’.

Electricity prices trigger revolt

The trigger for the movement, as has been reported in the international media, was the soaring, unbearable prices for energy and electricity. Electricity monopolies, mostly Austrian and Czech multinationals, have taken advantage of legal loopholes to dramatically hike up electricity “network charges” in the last months. This is an intolerable burden for millions of workers, young people, and pensioners. It was around this issue that mass protests first developed at the beginning of February, initially demanding relief of energy prices, and in many cases, the re-nationalisation of the electricity monopolies. The first days of protest action saw the mass storming of the headquarters of energy companies. The Czech multinational, CEZ, was the main target and its offices were spontaneously attacked and set alight by angry crowds. Main roads were blocked off, paralysing traffic.

These protests, which also embraced wide sections of the middle class and small business-owners - the traditional base of the former ruling GERB party - shocked the Bulgarian establishment, and immediately put Prime Minister Borissov on the back foot. In response brutal police repression was combined with conciliatory gestures to try to abate the mass movement. Borissov dismissed the Finance Minister, Simeon Dankov, as a scapegoat and sacrificial offering to the masses on Monday 18 February. When protests continued with renewed force the following day, Borissov announced an offer to bring down energy prices by 8%, with immediate effect. However, by this time, the masses had different ideas, and continued with their movement, forcing the withdrawal of Borissov and his entire cabinet. A caretaker ‘technocrat’ government is now in power until new elections are called.

Riot police lay down shields in solidarity with protesters

However, even the government’s resignation has not stopped the tide of radicalisation and struggle. Protesters, correctly expecting nothing from a re-composed government of the discredited political elite, continued with their demonstrations and blockades in the days following the fall of the government. A massive national day of protest – under the slogan “Let us burn the monopolies” – was held on Sunday 24 Feburary, when tens of thousands took to the streets in cities across the country. In contrast to the violent police repression during previous protests, 24th February saw an unprecedented development when riot police lined up in front of protesters and laid down their shields in solidarity! Upon his cowardly resignation, Borissov pathetically tried to claim he was resigning to defend the people from police violence, claiming he could not bear to “see the police attack the people”. However, the actions of the riot police when faced with such a powerful movement, shows that even these state forces can be drawn towards it, creating important breaches in the capitalist state apparatus. The police have shown that the capitalist class will not so easily be able to rely on them for their dirty work in the future. These divisions in the state machine must be further widened by the mass movement, by supporting the right of police officers to to protest, unionise and strike.

Socialist demands to the fore

While protests in towns and cities throughout Bulgaria country regularly gathered many tens of thousands, the widespread social support for the movement was tangible. Opinion polls consistently showed between 85% and 92% in support. This ferment, along with the militant character of the protests, and refusal to be contented with the government’s puny peace offerings, attests to the general anger behind the movement, which stretches far beyond the issue of soaring energy prices. Slogans and demands on the demonstrations also to testify to this. Protesters began to put forward evermore far-reaching demands, policies and proposals that challenge the fundamental basis of the current suffering in the country; the decades of robbery and looting by capitalists and oligarchs, benefiting from the privatisation orgy which accompanied the collapse of the Stalinism and the state-controlled, nationalised economy.

The nationalisation of the energy and utility companies, in some cases extended to the key sectors of the economy, as a whole, are widely embraced demands of the movement. Protesters also call for those guilty of robbing the country’s resources to be tried and imprisoned. At the same time, powerful democratic demands have come to the fore; for a new national assembly, for the breaking of the monopoly of the main parties, for the right to recall deputies etc. These demands testifying to how mass consciousness is radicalised and pushed to the left under the impact of events. They arose in the heat of struggle despite the glaring absence of a strong left and workers’ political force. Such a socialist alternative could participate in the movement, helping to popularise socialist demands and policies and a broad socialist perspective, such as the call for the nationalisation of the banks and commanding heights of the economy under the democratic control and management of the working class.

Another key feature of the protests was the complete failure of mainstream opposition parties, all tied to the confines of the system, to have any significant impact. The leaders of Bulgaria’s main trade unions were also conspicuously absent from the leadership of the movement, although many union militants and the national students’ union played a role in organising protests. The movement must develop democratic structures, with local and workplace assemblies organised and democratically coordinated on a national level, to decide on a plan and programme for the movement. The development of a fighting democratic trade union movement, and of a mass, democratic political party of the workers and youth, which can give an expression to these demands, as part of a rounded-out programme for the socialist transformation of society, is an essential task. A strong mass movement armed with democratic, independent and fighting trade unions, and a mass political party with a clear understanding of the necessary programme to break from the misery of capitalism, could sweep away not only governments of Borissov’s ilk, but the system itself, which generates the contradictions and inequalities which provoked the movement. A socialist Bulgaria, based on a democratically planned economy, would send shockwaves throughout this devastated region, and beyond into Western Europe, where masses of workers and youth are searching for a way out of capitalist chaos and crisis.



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NEWS

Hong Kong: Cathay Pacific workers to strike in August
26/05/2015, Chinaworker.info:
Protesting cabin crew at Hong Kong airport explained their grievances to Socialist Action reporters

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

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Ireland: Massive ‘Yes’ to Marriage Equality referendum
28/05/2015, Conor Payne, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Growing opposition to conservative establishment

Britain: The struggles to come
27/05/2015, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI England and Wales) General Secretary:
No fundamental change to be expected from the Labour Party

Canada’s ‘carbo-state’
26/05/2015, Bill Hopwood, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada):
Only a socialist alternative can challenge the carbo-capitalists’ grip on Canadian politics

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!