Revolution or War n°5

(February 2016)

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Workers’ struggles throughout the world

“The outpouring of anger and fighting spirit overflows into all countries, on all continents. But for all that they fail to fend off the attacks. Because the working class, for the most part, remains behind the slogans and demands of leftists and the unions - slogans and demands which constrain and limit the struggle within the framework of state and capitalist ideology. Because it has yet to take up the fight against the sabotage and corruption of its struggles, against the very forces responsible for setting them up. Because it can’t seem to pull itself up to the level of conscious political struggle; i.e. up to political confrontation against all forces of the bourgeois state apparatus, particularly against those which ‘impose themselves on the workers’ terrain’, the unions, official or ‘rank and file’, of the political Left and leftist forces, including those hiding behind the various and diverse apolitical and democratic mystifications.
However, in all of capitalism’s history, never has it found itself so weakened before the proletariat, in a situation so difficult ‘historically, ‘objectively’: since the crisis and perspective of generalized war arise at the same time. To the masses of workers and exploited, it will be more difficult than ever for capitalism to pass off its ideological mystifications, as promises of prosperity and peace fade more and more with each passing day. And despite the ‘black-out’, the outright censorship, of workers struggles and mobilizations, their fighting spirit is unfailing, unabated, enduring. How many massive demonstrations against the adoption of misery measures in all countries have been suppressed or ignored by the media? How many isolated struggles against layoffs or against wage cuts have been given the silent treatment? Illusions on our part?” (Editorial of Revolution or War #1).

USA: Not seen in a quarter century! Workers from large automobile factories voted overwhelmingly against the Fiat Chrysler-UAW agreement in September 2015 (see United Auto Workers Concessions in Talks with the Big Three It is only by fraud and manipulation that the UAW was able in November to accept at 51 % the collective agreement of 4 years.

Italy: November 25, workers of the regional bus company in Rome went on wildcat strike for three days because they had not been paid for two months. On January 8, in the Bormioli company near Parma, the riot police attacked and dismantled a kind of sit-in set up by warehouse workers. They fought against the agreement signed between the company and the main unions, the CGIL and the CISL. This agreement was worsening working conditions. This is yet another confirmation that at this stage of the profound crisis of capitalism, the bosses cannot tolerate any class resistance, even though unfortunately it only comes from small sectors. See the ICT article or in Italian

France: A series of postal strikes continued in several cities in November and December despite the state of emergency and media censorship. Postal workers are determined to fight against job cuts and labour exploitation. However because of union control, there is no unification and geographic extension of strikes.

Algeria: Strike and demonstrations of Rouiba auto workers. Wednesday, December 2, workers of SNVI (Société Nationale des Véhicules Industriels) are again out to protest the delay in the payment of salaries for October and November. The promises made to them by the former company officials have not yet materialized. No longer able to wait and to be heard, they closed the road between Rouiba to Régahïa. Immediately, the anti-riot police troops amassed in large numbers near the workers’ gathering place and intervened.

South Africa: Johannesburg. The garbage collectors on wildcat strike against the corruption of their management and for better working conditions were attacked with rubber bullets and stun grenades. There were 9 injured strikers.

Brazil: Students and teachers in São Paulo protested against Governor Alckmin’s attempts to ’reorganize’ the education system in São Paulo. ’Reorganization’ plans propose to close nearly 100 schools, most of them in working class neighbourhoods of the city. As of Tuesday, December 1st, 200 schools are occupied by students from São Paulo. Despite widespread public support, the students were attacked and arrested by the very brutal police force. This restructuring would mean that there would be, in some cases, more than a hundred students in each class. During the month of January, several protests ferociously repressed by the police took place to protest against the rising cost of public transport in São Paul, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte. Transport prices upset Brazilian workers struggling with double-digit inflation and a corruption scandal linked to the state oil company Petrobras and to the bosses of the building and public works (BTP), reflecting the corruption of the bourgeoisie and particularly its politicians of the Workers’ Party, a party praised by leftists and trade unionists in the last few years.

Switzerland: In November in Geneva. Strikes and demonstrations uniting private and public sector, civil servants, hospital workers and construction workers in a fight against the austerity measures.

India: Following an agreement between the union and the management of Maruti (Suzuki cars) for an increase in wages of permanent workers and excluding temporary workers, they have launched a wildcat strike on 26 September. More than 600 workers were on strike that day when 1000 police officers stationed in and around the factory started to beat and arrest about 100 of them. The workers said that the assembly lines operated ’stop-and-go’, so that only about half of the usual 1440 cars were assembled.

Belgium: A huge demonstration against austerity on 7 October. Some 80 000 people, according to police, 100,000 according to the trade unions which organized the march, marched through the center of the capital against the austerity measures. On November 23rd Strikes despite the weekend ’top anti-terror alert’ (that is to say, a state of siege). See text Faced with Terrorism and Imperialist War, the Workers on Strike in Belgium this Monday November 23rd Show the Only and Unique Answer: The Working Class Struggle!

Workers General Assembly in Belgium

Quebec, Canada:. During the fall, the public sector workers made several strikes divided by unions by regions, sectors and one day at a time for the renewal of their collective agreements and against the austerity measures. A demonstration of 100,000 people took place Montreal on 3 October. Also, 2400 Montreal municipal workers participated in a special general meeting on December 8, during the hours of work despite an order prohibiting them from attending to it. The reason: their anger at the Bill 15 imposing severe cuts in pensions, and against the ’fiscal pact’ between the Quebec government and municipalities.

Finland: In September, widespread anti-austerity strike in Finland closed ports and disrupted flights in the country. Teachers and daycare workers joined this struggle which is the largest labour movement for decades. Train drivers also stopped working to reach a mass demonstration on 18 September in Helsinki.

Cambodia: In December, an impromptu walkout triggered the worst labour unrest this year. Thirty thousand factory workers participated in a wildcat strike for a pay rise. Some unions have urged workers to return to work and negotiate their demands peacefully.

China: The number of strikes and incidents increased from 1,379 in 2014 to nearly 2,774 in 2015. The year 2016 will be even worse for the Chinese working class. Steel factories and coal mines, railways predict the firing of tens of thousands of workers. Even at the factory in Zhengzhou, the same one that assembles the iPhone 6s and which employs 200,000 people, layoffs are planned. Pay cuts, layoffs and salaries paid with delays of several months, this is what Chinese capitalism is doing to the working class.

Egypt: Late in December, 3000 workers began a strike in the largest aluminum company, while several hundred more workers have also launched a sit-in protest at the largest steel factory - Steel and Iron Company – in Helwan. This while other protests continued elsewhere - a strike at Shebin al-Kom Textiles Company and the Petrotrade company in Assiut City.

Iran: Over 2,000 people working in mines of Prefecture Kuhbanan (Kerman Province) went on strike on 2 January. The same day, miners of Azadshahr in Golestan also stopped work. The workers are demanding the payment of unpaid wages.

Netherlands: Dockers of the port of Rotterdam, the largest in Europe, began a strike on January 7 of 24 hours, the first in 13 years, claiming the assurance that no jobs will be lost following a process of automation of installations. In a country with high class collaboration, strikes are rare.

Tunisia: No change since five years after the fall of Ben Ali. The establishment of the democracy of the bourgeoisie has changed nothing. There are always thousands of unemployed. In January, they protested in the thousands in several cities against unemployment to the point that the democratic government introduced a curfew on Friday, January 22 in the whole country.

January 23rd, Normand