Archive for the ‘Mass resistance’ Category

Below is a statement released by the Prison Branch of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on April 16, Palestine Prisoners’ Day; this was also the day before the mass hunger strike began: 

Palestinian Prisoners’ Day is a day of challenge and confrontation, emphasizing the issue of prisoners

On the occasion of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day, we salute every prisoner, the heroes and heroines of the battles of will and steadfastness, to every flower and cub, to the sick prisoners, administrative detainees and imprisoned leaders, led by the imprisoned General Secretary, Comrade Ahmad Sa’adat, Marwan Barghouthi, Hassan Salameh, Wajdi Jawdat, Anas Jaradat, Bassam Kandaji and the long line of leaders who represent the national struggle and the prisoners’ cause.

On this occasion, we make a particular salute to the martyrs of the prisoners movement and to all of those engaged in confrontation and the struggle for victory. We are firmly committed to see each battle of confrontation with the Prison Service and its instruments of repression and intelligence agencies as a collective battle. Every action initiated by any faction is all of our battle.
We also congratulate the longest-serving woman prisoner, Lena Jarbouni, on this occasion of her freedom after 15 years in Israeli jails.

In this context, we affirm that we stand hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder in any struggle waged by the prisoners, and we consider the decision to engage in the battle of dignity and honor against the jailer, beginning on Monday, April 17, Palestinian Prisoners’ Day 2017, to be one which we support and which we are part of. This comes in two ways, both through the decisions and guidelines for the comrades to engage in the battle, and through approving a program of support for the strike in all prisons and among our comrades outside.

In this context of high appreciation and support for this battle and all the heroic prisoners who will engage in it, we affirm our continued struggle for (more…)

Thomas Suárez, State of Terror: How Terrorism Created Modern Israel, Olive Branch Press (2017); reviewed by Rob Such

Israel’s propaganda playbook attempts to reframe the Palestinian liberation struggle as a question of terror, not territory. Thanks to a dutiful media, this effort to portray Palestinians as terrorists has had significant traction among some demographics.

But how did terrorism originate in Palestine and what was its outcome, both historically and today?

Thomas Suárez sheds much new light on those questions in State of Terror: How Terrorism Created Modern Israel. He does this largely by mining previously neglected declassified documents from the British National Archives, covering the period of the British Mandate for Palestine (1920-1948).

Role of Zionist terrorism

Suárez’s principal thesis is that (more…)

Philippe Poutou

by Marisela Trevin
April 10, 2017

It was as if an unspoken, mutually protective code of silence had been established among the candidates leading the polls in this year’s French presidential debates. Despite their scandal-ridden campaigns, against the backdrop of the collapse of the traditional French party system, neither Fillon, of the right-wing party The Republicans, nor Le Pen, of the far-right National Front, had been asked to answer to the multiple accusations against them regarding the misappropriation of public funds.

Piercing the bubble

Unlike the first debate, in which only five of the eleven presidential candidates had participated, the second debate on April 4 featured all of the candidates, including the New Anti-Capitalist Party’s Philippe Poutou, who made it a point to pierce the French political establishment’s bubble before millions of viewers, while expressing the need for a radical change in French politics and society.

Protest against the French social democratic government’s attacks on workers and youth rights (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Fillon smiled rigidly, then affected outrage and threatened to sue as Poutou exposed his hypocrisy. “Fillon says he’s worried about the debt, but he thinks less about the matter when he’s dipping into the public treasury,” he quipped. “These guys tell us that we need austerity and then they misappropriate public funds.”

Marine Le Pen was rendered speechless when Poutou addressed her own scandals, which had been widely covered by the media, like those of Fillon, but for which she had not been held accountable in the debates until then. “Then we have Le Pen. (…) She takes money from the public treasury as well. Not here, but in Europe. She’s anti-European, so she doesn’t mind taking money from Europe. And what’s worse, the National Front, which claims to be against the system, doesn’t mind seeking protection from the system’s laws. So she’s refused to appear before the court when she was summoned by the police.” When Le Pen replied “So in this case, you’re in favor of the police,” Poutou retorted “When we get summoned by the police, we don’t have workers’ immunity.” The audience burst into applause.

Contrast

The contrast could not be starker. On one hand, the political establishment’s rigid, highly-groomed candidates, stuck to their tired playbooks. On the other, a factory worker dressed in a (more…)

Last month, the Spanish parliament vote against a Royal Decree Law that sought to scrap the country’s port labour system. The decree put forward by the conservative Partido Popular (PP – People’s Party) government was voted down – 175 votes against, 142 in favor and 33 abstentions. Crucially, 32 of these abstentions came from the center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) party that helps to prop up the minority Partido Popular government. This vote is the first time in nearly four decades that a royal decree has been rejected by the Spanish parliament.  This victory shows that workers can win, even in situations of high unemployment, right-wing governments and economic crises.  In fact, these are the very situations in which workers most need to win.  In NZ, meanwhile, the working class continues to fail to defend itself. 

by Santiago Lupe

The simple threat of a strike was enough to ensure the overturning of the anti-worker Royal Decree Law drawn up by conservative leader Mariano Rajoy. The “no” vote was not just a blow for the current Partido Popular government but also for the EU Court of Justice and its threat of sanctions.

One of the most concentrated, unionized and coordinated sectors of the labor movement has flexed its “muscle”, which this time round was enough to stop the parties of the post-Franco regime from voting for the “national interest” as they have done in the past. The threat of a strike was not only to have economical consequences – an estimated potential loss of 50 million Euros a day – but also political consequences. The flexing of this political “muscle” raised the specter of a big labor dispute taking center stage in Spain, one that could potentially recreate the solidarity and militancy of the Spanish coal miners’ dispute of 2012 and direct this at all those who voted “yes”. This is a scenario that the social-democratic Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE – Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) fears as it enters its worst crisis in recent history.

Class struggle is way to win

If anything, what this demonstrates is that – despite all the skepticism about social mobilization and all the illusions in “storming heaven” through institutional means – determined class struggle is (more…)

The defeats inflicted on workers by the fourth Labour government and their pals atop the trade union movement, subsequently codified by the fourth National government, took a heavy toll on workers and unions here.  Over the several decades since, the working class has lost the ability, and even the inclination, to fight – with a few exceptions which have been most notable for being exceptions.

While workers here are more likely to cry than occupy – or fight back in any systematic way – when workplaces are shut down, austerity is imposed etc, the working class in the Third World is far more prepared to fight.  Anbd when they fight, they are serious.  They don’t just stand around on picket lines looking sheepish and uncomfortable – if they show up to their own picket lines at all; workers in the Third World show up prepared to fight.  They really fight the bosses, they break the law, they do battle with the state, and more.  And they do so in defiance of the state and the timid trade union leaderships.

Below is an article on the April 6 general strike in Argentina, where powerful waves of workers’struggle have been taking place for some time now.

The largest labor unions in Argentina called a general strike today, April 6, against President Macri’s economic policies. Workers around the country are protesting against the high inflation rates, austerity measures, layoffs and subcontracting. The transportation workers have completely stopped working, as have airline workers, canceling hundreds of flights in and out of Argentina. Schools are also closed, and this general strike comes after weeks of teacher mobilizations and strikes in Buenos Aires.

The streets of Buenos Aires are completely (more…)

A meeting of the Petrograd Soviet in 1917

This year marks the 100th anniversaries of the Russian revolutions of 1917.  The piece below is taken from the April 3-17 issue of the US Marxist workers’fortnightly, The Spark.

In April 1917, a little more than a month after the victory of the revolution in Petrograd and the abdication of Nicholas II, the workers organized themselves more and more independently from the Provisional Government, and they did so certainly against its wishes. Workers elected committees on the level of the workshops, the factories, the working class neighborhoods, and the cities. These were sites of debate where everyone could express themselves and learn, but these committees also made decisions that affirmed the power and consciousness of the working class.

A worker reports how the soviet was built and gained its influence in Saratov, a city 500 miles southwest of Moscow: “It’s been five days since the soviet of workers and soldiers deputies was organized here. But it seems like several years have passed here. Everything has changed. The masses are organized with a remarkable spirit of (more…)

Labour prime minister David Lange and pal Roger Douglas. The fourth Labour government launched the most vicious attack on workers and unions since the Depression. Union leaders put loyalty to the Labour Party ahead of the interests of the working class, as usual.

While trade union density remained similar until the Employment Contracts Act, industrial action by workers fell off dramatically under the fourth Labour government. That government viciously slashed jobs, conditions and wages and commodified large chunks of the old state sector. The union leaderships delivered up the working class to their Labour Party friends. Labour and their union pals destroyed working class resistance *before* National came in to put the icing on the cake for the capitalists.

In 2014 more blue-collar workers voted National than Labour, while large numbers of the poorest workers in the country abstained from voting.  In its ongoing attempts to present itself as ‘worker-friendly’ and trick workers into voting for it, however, the Labour Party leadership and its various mouthpieces in the union movement routinely lie to working class audiences about the record of Labour governments in relation to the trade unions and the working class in general.  They seem to rely on workers having short memories.

For instance, these creatures talk about the ‘new right’ reforms that slashed workers’ rights and living standards as if they began under National and the fourth Labour government never existed.  They also try to make out that National’s Employment Contracts Act was the only viciously anti-union legislation of that period.  Side-by-side with this, they either try to airbrush their own Labour Relations Act 1987 out of history or pretend that it was somehow helpful to unions and workers – they assume that no-one is going to dig out what that Act actually did.

As part of our ongoing From the Vaults series, we intend to run a number of pieces on the Labour Relations Act 1987.  These pieces are taken from an eight-page supplement and two-page additional insert that appeared  in the October 26, 1987 issue of the left-wing working class paper People’s Voice.  PV was published fortnightly by the now-defunct Communist Party of New Zealand.

While we at Redline would all have a number of disagreements with and criticisms of the CPNZ[1], it was the most significant force attempting to rally workers against the fourth Labour government and its repressive legislation such as the Labour Relations Act.  The CP did a solid job in this area and much of what it wrote on the decade from 1984-1993, in which both Labour and National waged full-scale class war against workers and unions, is well worth reading and studying today.  The CP was also the leading force in the trade unions taking on the ‘labour lieutenants of capital’, the bureaucrats who sabotaged workers’ resistance from their privileged positions atop unions and in cahoots with Labour.  While very few unions are still affiliated to Labour today, it remains the case that many union officials put the interests of this capitalist party ahead of the interests of workers.

The material below consists of the CPNZ’s synopsis of the 1987 Act and the main article in the supplement. 

Brief outline of the Act
  • The right of workers to organise themselves in unions with less than 1,000 members is abolished
  • Unions can compete for coverage of members of other unions which will allow employers to promote the cause of their ‘favourite’ unions
  • Second-tier wage bargaining is outlawed which takes away a traditional tactic for lifting wage levels
  • The national award system is undermined and unions are pushed in the direction of separate ‘house’ agreements which will undermine working class unity
  • Successful attempts by workers under an award to claim more from an employer than what the award says they can get will now allow the employer to scrap the award, which opens the way for back-door ‘voluntary’ unionism
  • A powerful Labour Court is established to enforce more repressive state control over trade unions
  • The right to strike over awards and agreements is restricted to within 60 days of their expiry date
  • Almost all other strikes are outlawed which severely undermines the legal right of the trade union movement to fight for the interests of its members
  • Workers in ‘essential industries’ can be ordered by the Labour Court to stop even a lawful strike
  • The Labour Court can impose vicious penalties against workers standing up against employers and the state
  • The employers are given free rein to take million-dollar law suits against unions and workers involved in strikes deemed by this Act to be ‘illegal’, which could completely bankrupt unions
  • Each employer is required to make detailed records of strikes available to Department of Labour officials which turns employers into willing spies for the state

(more…)