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latest news

 Solidarity
#JobstownNotGuilty international day of action a huge success

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

  Solidarity

Russia/Belarus
A week-end of mass protests

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

  Russia

Hong Kong
Creeping “coup” by Chinese dictatorship

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

  Hong Kong

Britain
Terror attack at Westminster

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

  Britain

Italy
Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis

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

  Italy

Spain
Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March

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

  Spain

Scotland
Second referendum on independence?

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

  Scotland

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

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

  Brazil

South Africa
Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia

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

  South Africa

Netherlands
Election result a colossal defeat for austerity government

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

  Netherlands

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

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

  Yemen

Hong Kong
Protest against LSG Sky Chefs dismissal of union chairman

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

  Hong Kong

Ireland North
Snap election raises sectarian temperature    

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

  Ireland North

Quebec
Counter protest against far-right

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

  Quebec

 International Women's Day
Speech by Kshama Sawant

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

  Women

 International Women’s Day
Millions join marches and take action

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

  Women

 Hong Kong
Women’s march against sexism and racism

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

  Women

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

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

  Women

Pakistan
Political spectacle of the ruling class

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

  Pakistan

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

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

  Women

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

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

  Britain

Egypt
Price hikes hit workers and middle classes

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

  Egypt

Hong Kong’s sham election

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

  Hong Kong

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

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

  US

Sweden
“Who could believe it?"

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

  Sweden

Britain/Ireland
Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty

23/02/2017: Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

  Ireland Republic

Ireland
A web of intrigue sparks government crisis

22/02/2017: Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

  Ireland Republic

February revolution 1917
What lessons for today?

21/02/2017: 23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

  Russian Revolution

 Yemen
International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers

20/02/2017: Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

  Solidarity, Yemen

Netherlands
Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections

18/02/2017: Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

  Netherlands

South Africa

Union leadership attacks workers

www.socialistworld.net, 12/07/2003
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

The entire labour movement should be outraged by the draconian actions of the National Office Bearers (NOBs) of the Chemical Paper, Printing Wood and Allied Workers Union.

First published in the April-May edition of Izwi La Basebenzi (Voice of the workers), the newspaper of the Democratic Socialist Movement, affiliated section of the CWI in South Africa.

The suspension of the Wits Regional Office Bearers (ROBs) and National Executive Committee (NEC) delegates over the call by the Wits Regional Shop Stewards Council (RSSC) for a Workers Referendum on the Tripartite Alliance and the 2004 elections, is a serious attack on union democracy. This political suppression -- the occupation of the offices and the imposition of what workers rightly call a “Bush” regime on the region, the changing of office locks, the forcible eviction of the regional deputy chairperson from the office, the collaboration with the bosses to intimidate them for marching and suspending their subs, and posting of security at the offices -- undermine a cornerstone Cosatu’s foundations: worker control.

The NOBs are saying workers cannot, in fact are not allowed to think for themselves. This could split Ceppawu and will ripple throughout Cosatu, threatening possibly its very existence in the future.

Without even discussing with the Wits Region the Cosatu May Central Executive Committee has worsened the situation by taking a position, repeating the Ceppawu NOBs’ blatant lies that the suspensions were “for failing to respect the decisions of the union arrived at through a democratic process. They argue that “Cosatu is a home for all political and ideological tendencies...”, except apparently, the Anti-Privatisation Porum. The claim that “Ceppawu is coming under attack from the Anti-Privatisation Campaign”(sic) is false and hypocritical. The crisis in Ceppawu has been brewing long before the APF, which correctly answered the call for solidarity action from the workers themselves, was born.

The CEC’s argument that “once a decision is taken in the constitutional structures, all, particularly those elected into positions of leadership, must defend these even though they may not be in agreement.” (Cosatu Weekly 30/05/03) has nothing to do with democratic centralism, which presupposes the participation of the membership in a democratic process, not the imposition of a decision from the top. The CEC made no effort to “hear the other side” – a basic principle of natural justice. This is not democratic but bureaucratic centralism – the leadership determines the ‘line’ and the membership obeys without question.

The Ceppawu NOBs arrogant decision to conduct an investigation into a decision taken by the Wits Region is in reality a political witchhunt against any workers who dare to challenge them. They are refusing to meet the RSSC – the most representative body in the Region-- so they can divide workers. The Ceppawu NOBs and Cosatu CEC are in fact saying that the ROBs should have disregarded the mandate of the members that elected them. This is the substitution of worker control with a bureaucratic dictatorship.

The CEC decision will aggravate the Ceppawu, and similar crises simmering below the surface in other affiliates. Already 10 000 Ceppawu Wits Region members have suspended union subscription payments The Ceppawu NOBs, emboldened by the CEC’s backing, have called an emergency NEC for June 12th. The NEC will likely decide on further action probably against comrade John Appolis, the Regional Secretary, making him a scapegoat. They hope this will intimidate workers and break their unity. Comrade Appolis’ sin is that he happens to be the APF chairperson.

The crisis is at root political

The Cosatu leadership is hiding behind principles of organisational discipline to deflect attention from the real issue raised by the Ceppawu workers – the political crisis in the Tripartite Alliance. It is no accident that the October 2002 two-day anti-privatisation general strike brought matters to a head.

Comrades John Appolis and regional deputy chairperson, Vuyani Tayika pointed out during an interview with the DSM, that many Ceppawu workers had refused to participate in the October general strike. Johnson & Johnson workers said they opposed privatisation, but were no longer prepared to blindly follow leaders using them to let off steam because of pressure from below. They felt that the Cosatu leadership, paralysed by loyalty to the ANC – the Alliance leader, had no intention of carrying the fight to the end.

Lessons of the October Nnti-Privatisation General Strike

Unlike the Cosatu leadership, workers have learned the lessons of the October 2002 anti-privatisation general strike.

President Mbeki accused Cosatu of being under “ultra left” influence, of attempting to impose a “socialist agenda” on the ANC and of failing to understand that the ANC was never socialist. In a contemptuous dismissal of the general strike, the working class and Cosatu, the government, added insult to injury by announcing plans for listing Telkom the day after the strike.

Like a bolt of lighting after a thunderstorm, the October 2002 general strike illuminated the political landscape, burning lessons into the consciousness of the working class. Things that had been evident for some time became blindingly clear. Mbeki, as president of the ANC and the country, used the events to make clear once and for all that the ANC:

  • is irreversibly committed to Gear and privatisation
  • is a party of capitalism for which the interests of big business takes precedence over those that voted it into office – the working class
  • as the leader of the Tripartite Alliance it regards anything other than unquestioning obedience from Cosatu as disloyal
  • expects the Cosatu leadership to control workers by preventing strikes not encouraging them

Conscious of the growing alienation of the masses and recognising, with three general strikes in as many years during his presidency, that the awakening of the working class poses the biggest threat to the political authority of his government, Mbeki deliberately raised the temperature around the general strike. In words and deeds, Mbeki drew a line in the sand of class struggle. He dared the Cosatu leadership to step across. Instead of getting off their knees the COSATU leadership are creeping on their bellies.

We are beyond the point where replies such as Madisha’s that workers are “ultra-hungry” will restore confidence in their leadership. For the masses it is action that counts. Unlike Mbeki, the Cosatu leadership did not put deeds behind their words. Whilst sharply denouncing privatisation, Gear and Mbeli’s labeling, they continue to plead pathetically that the Alliance’s end would be a disaster for the working class.

Whereas the 2000 and 2001 general strikes were well supported, last year’s received patchy support. Despite denials by the Cosatu and SACP leaders, workers understood the strike was political and directed against the government as were the two previous general strikes in 2000 and 2001. This is why posters of former Cosatu general secretary and Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa were torn down and burnt. More significantly, workers have begun to draw the conclusion that the Cosatu leadership is part of the problem.

ANC now a conscious party of capitalism

The Cosatu leadership blames mysterious, unidentified forces for the ANC government stance, pledging to continue to fight for its soul. They have abandoned the programme of rolling mass action for meaningless forums such as the one Restructuring of State Assets, the Millennium Labour Council, Ekhuruleni Summit and the Growth and Development Summit. Like a drowning man clutching at straws, the Cosatu leadership complain, as they undoubtedly will after the GDS, that agreements are not respected because the “ANC lacks capacity.”

Yet Mbeki’s statement that the ANC was never a socialist organisation is the bitter truth. The ANC’s policies are consistent with its historic mission: to create a rich black capitalist class. This was always its aim even during its most radical days of the Freedom Charter. Nor does it help to imagine that the differences between Mandela and Mbeki are fundamental. Tata will not rescue the situation. Such differences as there are have much more to do with style than programmatic substance. Gear, was adopted under the Mandela presidency. By declaring privatisation as the ANC’s “fundamental policy”, he effectively buried the Freedom Charter.

As long ago as 1956, Mandela made it clear that the Freedom Charter was not a blueprint for socialism. Instead its implementation would “.. open up fresh fields for the development of a prosperous non-European bourgeois class.” (“In Our Lifetime”, published in Liberation, (June 1956). The Mbeki government’s Black Economic Empowerment programme is fulfilling this aim. This has required the preservation of capitalism and therefore the continued oppression and exploitation of the working class. This is why the cautious, even suspicious toenadering between the ANC and Big Business has transformed into mutual admiration. The interests of the working class and the capitalist class are incompatible and irreconcilable. This is the underlying basis for the repeated conflict between Cosatu and the ANC government

Capitalism with a human face an illusion

Instead of accepting this, the Cosatu leadership itself denounces “ultra-leftism” for not recognising the reality of the present “balance of forces”. This mechanical and undialectical reasoning.only leads to capitulation to capitalism and Cosatu’s own involvement in privatisation as Mbeki so scornfully reminded them. The point, however, as Marx said in a different context, is to change the balance of forces by subordinating (not excluding) negotiations to mass actions, exposing the fact that capitalism is incapable of satisfying the basic need of the masses; to raise the consciousness of the working class, and to actively campaign for the socialist transformation of society. The Cosatu leaders tactic of “engagement” creates the illusion that capital can be “disciplined”.. This approach inevitably leads to accepting, as Vavi repeated at the Growth and Development Summit, that workers employed on public works programmes would accept lower wages and conditions. This creates a two-tier labour market undermining decades-old gains.

The SACP’s claim that the ANC is “social democratic” ignores the fact that worker rights in the far more developed social democracies in Europe are under attack unleashing a strike wave of millions. Millions in the Third World – in India, Peru and Zimbabwe -- are resisting neo-liberalism. SA capitalism is not of a special type capable of satisfying the needs of the masses

The SACP has no intention of being an alternative to the ANC. Comrade Blade Ndzimande has made the astonishing statement that not only is the ANC not neo-liberal, it could even be converted to socialism! These preposterous positions have split the SACP down the middle at a leadership level. In open defiance of the SACP Central Committee’s decisions to support the general strike, central committee members, Ronnie Kasrils and Jeff Radebe took out full-page newspaper advertisements denouncing the strike. No action has been taken against them because supporting and denouncing party decisions are both in line with official SACP policy! Like in a circus, it all depends on which hat you wear.

The Wits Region of Ceppawu is merely the advance guard of wider layers of workers drawing the same conclusion: that unless Cosatu is taken out of the Alliance, it will not be able to play the role it was created for – to defend and advance the interests of the working class. This is what has driven the Ceppawu Wits Region, to take matters into their own hands.

Cosatu facing implosion

It is perfectly clear that the Ceppawu leadership is prepared to in effect expel 10 000 members and break up the union rather than allow workers to engage in a democratic debate and draw their own conclusions. The Ceppawu NOB’s and Cosatu CEC leadership’s position is that workers are allowed to review the Alliance as much as they like provided they end up supporting the ANC.

Cosatu does not have a God-given right to exist. If the leadership continues to sacrifice the interests of workers on the altar of class collaboration, Cosatu will ultimately disintegrate. This would represent a serious setback for the working class for which the Cosatu leadership will be criminally responsible. The deep divisions in Cosatu are precisely around the Alliance. The Commission of Inquiry into Nehawu concluded that it is split into pro-ANC and pro-SACP factions. An independent audit found that 11 of Cosatu’s 19 affiliates are in such a serious financial crisis that they may not last the next four years.

For a Mass Workers Party on a Socialist Programme

The Ceppawu Wits region’s courageous stance has done the whole movement a service. Placed in an impossible situation by the leadership – either continued political imprisonment in the Alliance or class independence outside the union -- they may have no alternative but to break away. It is regrettable that they may have no choice but to accept this. This should be regarded as taking one step back in order to take two steps forward. They must reach out to fellow workers by establishing a campaign for the restoration of worker control, democracy and socialism in Cosatu. The establishment of left opposition committees throughout all affiliates should be initiated. The issues should be taken into working class communities. With the APF, plans to put up independent worker candidates in the 2005 local government elections should be made now.

Breaking away from the Alliance poses the question of an alternative. The DSM believes that the answer lies in the formation of a mass workers party on a socialist programme.



Europe

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NEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweden: “Who could believe it?"

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

Britain/Ireland: Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty
23/02/2017, Neil Cafferky, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

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

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


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

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

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

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

February revolution 1917: What lessons for today?
21/02/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales), printed in the Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party):
23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

India: Upheaval in Tamil Nadu
09/02/2017, Sajith Attepuram, New Socialist Alternative (NSA) (CWI India) :
Corruption, nepotism, and other crimes of ruling party exposed

Britain: Universal basic income demand gains ground
08/02/2017, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales) :
What approach should socialists take?

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria – Towards unification
06/02/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Joint declaration of the CWI’s IEC and Izquierda Revolucionaria’s IEC

France: After Sarkozy, Juppé and Valls, now Fillon is on the way out
06/02/2017, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI in France) :
Space opening up to left of Socialist Party

Syria: Is an end to the war in sight?
03/02/2017, Serge Jordan (CWI) :
New movements for change will need to arm themselves with the lessons of the Syrian tragedy

Sri Lanka: The year 2017
31/01/2017, Siritunga Jayasuriya, United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka) :
Between oppression and struggle

Canada: Where are Trudeau’s ‘Sunny Ways’?
31/01/2017, Tim Heffernan, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada), Toronto

:
Battles of Indigenous peoples, youth, workers will test Liberal government

Russian Revolution Centenary: January 1917 - On the eve of revolution
29/01/2017, Niall Mulholland, from 1917revolution.org :
War, hunger, hated Tsarist regime: class tensions reach breaking point

Afghanistan: The limits of US power
28/01/2017, Judy Beishon, from Socialism Today (February 2017 issue), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)<br />
<br />
:
Imperialism’s 15-year adventure a bloody catastrophe for millions

US: Build 100 days of resistance to Trump’s agenda!
27/01/2017, Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative, US :
Establishment deeply divided as mass resistance explodes

Millions on women's marches around the world
25/01/2017, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) and reports from US marches :
Reports from mass women's marches against Trump

China: New US President’s approach to China
21/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info :
Outbursts raise fears of confrontation

Ireland North: Snap elections called to Stormont Assembly
17/01/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Build a socialist alternative to the ‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount

Spain: What kind of Podemos do workers and youth need?
17/01/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spanish state, editorial :
Debate within leadership touches on fundamental issues for future of party

US: Trump prepares vicious attacks
05/01/2017, Philip Locker and Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative (US):
Mass resistance needed!

Russian Revolution centenary
02/01/2017, Editorial from Socialism Today, Dec/Jan 2017 edition:
Defending the legacy in a new era

2017:Upheaval and fightback will continue
01/01/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary :
Everything to play for in 2017

Britain's shifting political contours
22/12/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) from Socialism Today Dec/Jan 2017 edition :
Capitalist establishment in disarray

CWI International Executive Committee: European capitalism “battered by events”
16/12/2016, Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Report of discussion on Europe at CWI IEC meeting in November