Update: Global Class Resistance

Zimbabwe, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Honduras, Mexico. Class struggle in all these countries, along the same worker-capitalist fault line. Each of course has its own particular contexts with its own contradictions, but nonetheless, how many working class people are seeing their situation as being bound up with that of the ethnicity in the next neighborhood over, let alone being conscious of their place in a global proletarian class, in a global division of labor?

The point at which solidarity can actually be expressed materially by workers in the US with workers elsewhere is still very far off. To see this manifest would require entire new layers of workers getting organized (largely immigrant, but retail, unwaged, and informal economic sectors too) with a radical perspective from the get-go by internationalist Marxists.

Those workers already organized by patriotic unions (afl-cia, change-to-win, etc) have a distorted perspective not only regarding the international proletariat, but also the scope of their own activity domestically. The link between internationalism and militancy is very strong. Militants would have to either revolutionize those unions from within or go through a process of building dual unionism to build an alternative with a revolutionary perspective.

Perhaps all workers should be seen as “new layers” and directly recruited by marxists to socialist organizations which can organize workplace, community, and political rebellion without a mediating front of some kind such as a union or community organization.

Marxists can go directly to the streets in working class communities and to workplaces (including campuses) and hand out flyers with news of workers fighting back, and fuse it with an analysis of the system in its particulars and generalities. Radicals can and should do this basic work to erode hegemonic apathy and narrow-mindedness. Influencing consciousness can prime the terrain for concrete organizing. That organizing can take different forms depending on the perspective of the Marxist, but it should be done.

Regardless of which approach any given Marxist chooses to take toward organizing the workers, news of international proletarian struggle can be used as an exposure for the US working class, showing them what is possible. By thinking about the conditions in other countries and analyzing the forces at play (class interests, contradictions within classes, the role of the state, the spectrum of political actors, etc) workers here “at home” can develop a richer picture of whats going on domestically. For the working class to become a class for itself it has to become conscious of itself and study itself.

Radicals of all persuasions should publicize these examples of global proletarian resistance as much as possible and agitate the working class in the US to consider how it might get organized to join the fight.


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Korea:
08/22/2009 – 21:52 — giraffe

인쇄용 페이지Send to friendPDF version
Interview with Loren Goldner. Mp3 download at http://www.archive.org/download/LorenGoldnerInterviewAboutSsangyongMotor…
This is a Mediahacker.org podcast – Itâs Saturday, August 8 2009. Yesterday the 77-day occupation of the Ssangyong automotive plant in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, by striking workers was broken by a final, violent police assault. I spoke with Loren Goldner on Friday about the situation, which received little attention in the US corporate and alternative press. He was speaking to me from New York City. This interview may be freely re-broadcast.

Interview with Korean Metal Workers Union member Jung Shik Hwa. Mp3 download at http://www.archive.org/download/KoreaSsangyongFactoryOccupation-Intervie…
Interview with Jung Sik Hwa, a 20-year member of the Korean Metalworkers Union. He belongs to a branch of the union neighboring the Ssangyong strikers, who occupied their automobile factory for 77 days in protest of layoffs. They were finally forced out by a violent police assault last week. More info at http://mediahacker.org.

Honduras : Repression and Violence Continue

Brussels, 18 August 2009 : The ITUC, together with TUCA, and the CUTH, CTH and CGT, its Honduran affiliates, have denounced the repression, forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and the use of firearms suffered by those taking part in peaceful demonstrations held to protest against the coup d’état and to demand the restitution of the constitutional president, Manuel Zelaya. The international trade union mission, led by the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA/ITUC) and the Global Union Federations (GUFs), which visited Honduras between 5 and 8 August, called for, among other demands, an international day of solidarity with the Honduran people on 11 August as well as supporting the initiatives of the Honduran trade union movement to promote the construction of a new socio-political environment and the formulation of policy proposals to create a new future for the country.
On 12 August, tens of thousands of Hondurans took part in the national protest march against the coup, covering over 120 kilometres. The march unfortunately met with brutal repression by the de facto government.
Several people trying to escape the police brutality during the march took refuge in the STIBYS trade union office in Tegucigalpa, which was surrounded by the police and military forces for over two hours until the international press intervened and the demonstrators managed to leave the building safely.
On the same day, after curfew, unknown assailants shot at the office of Vía Campesina of Honduras, an organisation led by campesino leader Rafael Alegría, in another clear attack against the social organisations and leaders heading the resistance against the coup d’état.
“These attacks are inadmissible. Social and trade union organisations have an important role to play in the reconstruction of this country. The reconstruction of Honduras depends on the immediate restitution of the constitutional president, Manuel Zelaya,” said Guy Ryder, general secretary of the ITUC.
Two crucial events are to take place in Honduras in the coming days : the visit of a mission from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and, shortly after, a mission of foreign ministers from the OAS and Secretary General Insulza, to promote the de facto government’s approval of the San José Agreement.
In a letter (in Spanich) to the Secretary of State for Public Security the ITUC called for respect for demonstrators’ rights, for the immediate, safe return of the almost 200 people who have been “disappeared”, the restoration of constitutional order and the achievement of national reconciliation.
The ITUC represents 170 million workers in 312 affiliated national organisations from 157 countries. http://www.youtube.com/ITUCCSI http://www.ituc-csi.org/spip.php?article4193&lang=fr

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USA: Health Care Battles of Unions Against Democrats

Trumka to Congress: Want Workers’ Support? Back a Public Option

by Seth Michaels, Aug 20, 2009

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka appeared on CNBC this morning for a frank talk about health care, politics and the future of the country.
As described this week in Huffington Post, Trumka is laying out a fundamental proposition: When it comes time for millions of union members to mobilize, educate other union members and get out the vote, they’ll work on behalf of candidates who support real health care reform that provides quality, affordable health care to all and gives people the opportunity to choose a public health insurance plan alongside private options:

We finally said, look, this is the minimum. If you’re going to do something, do something that works. If you’re going to have health insurance reform, you must have a public option in it. if you don’t, don’t expect us to support you.

Trumka said that the union movement is going to put its time, resources and votes behind candidates who support the needs and priorities of working families. Union members have no obligation to support politicians who listen to insurance companies instead of the millions of families who need real health care reform.
Here’s what Trumka had to say:

What we said was, there had to be three or four elements in that plan in order for us to support them. If they didn’t support the plan with a public option in it, with an employer mandate and no taxation of benefits, that we would tell our members and let our members decide….The American people are demanding that you do something.

We’ll look at your entire voting record, of course, like we always do. We’ll put the facts out to our members. I think it will be hard for them to get support if they don’t support that.

Trumka says union members will step up and put their energy and votes behind candidates who want to fix what’s wrong with our system, not maintain a broken status quo:

Every 30 seconds an American declares bankruptcy because of medical bills. Millions of people don’t have health care. You have millions of small businesses and large businesses that are struggling because health care costs are out of sight. Insurance companies have a stranglehold on us. The only way to break that stranglehold on the health care industry is to have a public option.

The fight to reform the health care system and provide quality, affordable health care for everyone is at a critical point. Now is the time to make it clear: America’s workers are looking to elected officials for leadership and support, and how members of Congress vote on health care will be at the forefront when they go to the polls to vote.  http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/08/20/trumka-to-congress-want-workers-support-back-a-public-option/
Britain: Royal Mail strikes to paralyse postal services
Homes and businesses face postal delays from Saturday due to a fresh wave of strikes in a continuing row over jobs, pay and the modernisation of Royal Mail.

By Murray Wardrop
Published: 8:00AM BST 22 Aug 2009
A fresh wave of strikes threatens to paralyse postal services over the coming week

Up to 20,000 members of the Communication Workers Union are expected to take strike action over the coming week as the threat of a national walkout comes closer.
The union is planning to ballot all 130,000 postal members next month for a national strike in the increasingly bitter dispute, which will coincide with the Labour Party conference.
A week-long chain of 24-hour strikes across Britain beginning on Saturday is likely to delay deliveries by up to four days as drivers and depot workers take industrial action.
The co-ordinated move comes amid rising fears by staff over compulsory redundancies, office closures, pay freezes and claims of “daily bullying and harassment from managers” to meet unrealistic targets. CWU Deputy general secretary Dave Ward said: “Never before have postal workers experienced so many attacks from all sides. Whether it’s pay, job security, workload or dignity and respect at work, our members are facing a beating on all aspects of their working lives. “Pressure and stress are rising to breaking point. It won’t be long before services are dramatically affected. Our members do not want to lose money or disrupt services by taking further strike action. However, while Royal Mail refuses to acknowledge the serious issues facing its own employees we feel there is no alternative but to press ahead with a national strike ballot.”
Saturday’s strikes will see delivery offices close in Carrickfergus, Stockport, Boston, and Hadfield, as more than 400 staff walk out.The coming week will see thousands more take action across Britain, including staff in London, Birmingham, Coventry, Middlesbrough and the Isle of Wight.
The CWU has accused Royal Mail of reneging on a deal to negotiate how plans for modernisation, announced in 2007, would be implemented. Staff are also angry over pay freezes, which came as Royal Mail announced record profits, and over managers “piling extra and unrealistic workloads on them in order to meet impractical budget targets”, it said.
Royal Mail has pleaded for the CWU to call off the strikes, which could cost businesses millions of pounds. Meanwhile, Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, has refused to intervene in the row.
A Royal Mail spokesman said: “We again urge the union to call off its strikes and to join Royal Mail’s drive to complete the modernisation of the business as we tackle the intensifying competition from electronic media and the impact of the recession on mail volumes, now falling at around 10 per cent a year. The business climate is very tough but Royal Mail has a very clear, firm policy that everything we ask our people to do is reasonable and all of the changes we are making, which have already been implemented in many offices around the country, are in line with both the letter and the spirit of the 2007 agreement.”
Mr Ward added: “We will call off all strike action in return for meaningful negotiations on modernisation, pay and job security. As the recognised union this is the least Royal Mail should do. We are also encouraging the Government to honour its responsibility to the Royal Mail pension scheme by taking on the deficit and also addressing the ongoing problems of regulation which put Royal Mail in a disadvantaged position in the mail market.”
The strikes follows several walkouts this summer, which have affected London and various parts of the country. Wildcat strikes by postal workers in 2007 cost businesses in London an estimated pounds 304 million.
Business leaders have said that continuing strike action will “kick businesses when they are down” and deal a severe blow to the cash flow of thousands of companies. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/6068924/Royal-Mail-strikes-to-paralyse-postal-services.html
Nigeria:
PENGASSAN threatens strike action over expatriate quota
National News Aug 22, 2009

By Jimitota Onoyume
Port Harcourt – Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has threatened to call out its members in Rivers state on strike should the management of Remm/Siramex, an oil servicing company in Port Harcourt fail to address what it termed abuse of its expatriate  quota. Meanwhile, workers of the firm have shut down operations in the company over the same allegation
In separate chat with the Vanguard, zonal Industrial relations officer of PENGASSAN, Mr. Chika Onuegbu and the company’s chairman of the union, Mr. Owolabi Johnson said the management of the firm had continued to violate rules regulating the operations of expatriate staff in the country. They said the management was flooding the firm with expatriates that were not relevant to the operations of the place. According to them, some of the expatriates brought in come to learn the job from locals yet they are paid all kinds of allowances that outweigh what the locals get. “They come for non technical issues. The even come to learn and the Nigerians teach them yet they take all kinds of allowances”
Continuing, the workers said they were forced to embark on the protest when it became clear that management was not set to honour agreement reached with PENGASSAN on the expatriate issue. The workers also said the firm had failed to provide workers with life insurance which was part of agreements reached during the meeting with PENGASSAN. Meanwhile, when Vanguard met with the secretary of the firm, Mr. Albert Kemkpa for comments he declined, saying he is  also a staff of the organisation. http://www.vanguardngr.com/2009/08/22/pengassan-threatens-strike-action-over-expatriate-quota/
South Africa
S.African platinum firm, union hold strike talks

Sat Aug 22, 2009 6:58am EDT
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 22 (Reuters) – The world’s No. 2 platinum producer, Impala Platinum, is due to start talks with South Africa’s miners’ union on Saturday to avert an indefinite strike planned for Monday. Impala Platinum (IMPJ.J) (Implats), which has been served with a 48-hour strike notice by the National Union of Mineworkers, said it hopes to avoid industrial action, but could not predict how long negotiations would last.
“The first contact will be this afternoon. Then we’ll have to wait and see,” Implats spokesman Bob Gilmour said. “These things can go on all night.”
South Africa produces four fifths of the world’s platinum and the strike for better pay at Implats could push up prices of the precious metal used in catalytic converters to remove pollutants from car exhausts, and in jewellery. Above-inflation pay settlements after strikes in other industries and sectors in South Africa, and threats of more stoppages have added to concerns of inflation pressures, although President Jacob Zuma has said the union action was nothing more than part of the normal pay negotiating process.
In 2008, Implats produced about 22 percent of all platinum mined in South Africa. Platinum XPT= rose to $1,249.50 an ounce on Friday from $1,236.50 an ounce. The white metal had also risen after the union told Reuters late on Wednesday of its plans to strike.
Implats and the NUM failed to agree on the wages, as well as the duration of the new pay deal. Any strike could hit output from Implats mines in South Africa, and hurt investor sentiment in a sector already hard hit by the financial crisis. The threat of strikes by the union has in some cases failed to materialise, after it has won pay increases from employers. The NUM said it would call off the strike if the parties reached a wage settlement.
“We will meet them and they have to meet our demands; if we agree then we will call off the strike,” NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said.
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssIndustryMaterialsUtilitiesNews/idUSLM6921320090822

New Caledonia rally to mark peaceful bid to free jailed unionists

Posted at 05:26 on 21 August, 2009 UTC
A spokesman for New Caledonia’s movement supporting the jailed USTKE unionists says this Saturday’s demonstration will be a way to show they always favoured peaceful processes. Christian Tein says the movement and the union are only making sure that the rules set in the Noumea Accord are applied in the same way to everyone in the territory. He says the anti-violence demonstration that gathered 26,000 people in Noumea on August the 12th was organised by the right-wing politicians in what he calls the white Noumea city.
Mr Tein says the outcome of the union leader Gerard Jodar’s appeal trial on August the 25th will decide whether the movement will take further action.

“When the heads of trade unions start being sent to prison, we believe it is becoming very serious. It means the situation is at risk of getting out of hand which is not good for the Caledonians in this country.”

Christian Tein of New Caledonia’s union movement

News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand
http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=48600

Korea:
08/22/2009 – 21:52 — giraffe

인쇄용 페이지Send to friendPDF version
Interview with Loren Goldner. Mp3 download at http://www.archive.org/download/LorenGoldnerInterviewAboutSsangyongMotor…
This is a Mediahacker.org podcast – Itâs Saturday, August 8 2009. Yesterday the 77-day occupation of the Ssangyong automotive plant in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, by striking workers was broken by a final, violent police assault. I spoke with Loren Goldner on Friday about the situation, which received little attention in the US corporate and alternative press. He was speaking to me from New York City. This interview may be freely re-broadcast. Interview with Korean Metal Workers Union member Jung Shik Hwa. Mp3 download at http://www.archive.org/download/KoreaSsangyongFactoryOccupation-Intervie…
Interview with Jung Sik Hwa, a 20-year member of the Korean Metalworkers Union. He belongs to a branch of the union neighboring the Ssangyong strikers, who occupied their automobile factory for 77 days in protest of layoffs. They were finally forced out by a violent police assault last week. More info at http://mediahacker.org.

Zimbabwe: Economic recovery compromised

Saturday 15 August 2009 / by Alice Chimora

Zimbabwe’s food security has eased with the formation of the inclusive government, which has relaxed import regulations although basic commodities remain unaffordable to many of the few employed people. According to Deon Theron, vice-president of Zimbabwe’s Commercial Farmers Union, sanity in the agricultural sector remains key to the recovery of the economy.

According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) Food Security Outlook, just released, food security has improved since last year when seven million people depended on food handouts. The United Nations estimates the number will go down to between two million and 2.4 million people during the 2009/10 period.

In February, the inclusive government formed by President Robert Mugabe and his former arch rivals introduced the use of multiple currencies to replace the inflation-battered Zimbabwe dollar. The monetary reforms, coupled with the relaxation of import duties on basic commodities and a better harvest have improved food security, the FEWSNET report said.

“Generally food security in Zimbabwe is expected to improve given the 2008/9 harvests and the continued favourable regulations on the importation of basic commodities, which have resulted in improved availability of food in local markets,” the network said.

FEWSNET said since the introduction of the multiple currencies, which stopped hyper inflation and the new import regulations had resulted in a marked improvement in stock levels at shops and forced prices down. “Between January and June 2009, some basic food items fell by between 30 percent and 60 per cent, but still prices remain between three and six times higher than the five-year average for June 2009,” the report said.

“Between April and June 2009, maize grain price dropped by 31 percent and maize flour went down by 15 per cent… This decline was attributed to both improved supply on the market and the good harvest… In the rural areas, again prices are even lower than those in urban areas, with grain selling at US$0.17/kg on average and between two times and three times less than urban prices.”

Meanwhile, Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) says Zimbabwe’s economy will not recover until the government puts a hold to continuing farm invasions. Deon Theron, vice-president of Zimbabwe’s Commercial Farmers Union, says that sanity in the agricultural sector remains key to the recovery of the economy. “There is need to try and put a stop to the continuing evictions because they are threatening the economic recovery of the country, there is no way the economy is going to improve without stability in the agricultural sector,” said Theron.

“This sector remains absolutely critical to attracting investor’s confidence. There is need to urgently find a way to solve the problems because if we don’t it is the economy which will continue to suffer.”http://en.afrik.com/article16043.html

http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=48600

Submitted by mark osborn on August 18, 2009 – 10:07am.

By Marie Trigona, from upsidedownworld.org
The workers at Argentina’s occupied ceramics factory, FASINPAT (Factory Without a Boss), won a major victory this week: the factory now definitively belongs to the people in legal terms. The provincial legislature voted in favor of expropriating the ceramics factory and handing it over to the workers cooperative to manage legally and indefinitely. Since 2001, the workers at Zanon have fought for legal recognition of worker control at Latin America’s largest ceramics factory which has created jobs, spearheaded community projects, supported social movements world-wide and shown the world that workers don’t need bosses.
“This is incredible, we are happy. The expropriation is an act of justice,” said Alejandro Lopez the General Secretary of the Ceramists Union, overwhelmed by the emotion of the victory. “We don’t forget the people who supported us in our hardest moments, or the 100,000 people who signed the petition supporting our bill.”
Hundreds of workers from the FASINPAT factory waited anxiously until the late hours of the night for the legislature’s decision. The expropriation law passed 26 votes in favor and 9 votes against the bill. Thousands of supporters from other workers’ organizations, human rights groups and social movements, along with entire families and students, joined the workers as they waited outside the provincial legislature in the capital city of Neuquén. Enduring the Patagonian winter weather, activists played drums and shouted: “here they are the workers of Zanon, workers without a boss.”
FASINPAT has operated under worker control since 2001 when Zanon’s owners decided to close its doors and fire the workers without paying months of back pay or severance pay. Leading up to the massive layoffs and plant’s closure, workers went on strike in 2000. The owner, Luis Zanon, with over 75 million dollars in debt to public and private creditors (including the World Bank for over 20 million dollars), fired en masse most of the workers and closed the factory in 2001-a bosses’ lockout. In October 2001, workers declared the plant under worker control. The workers subsequently camped outside the factory for four months, pamphleteering and partially blocking a highway leading to the capital city of Neuquén. While the workers were camping outside the factory, a court ruled that the employees could sell off remaining stock. After the stock ran out, on March 2, 2002, the workers’ assembly voted to start up production without a boss. Since the occupation, the workers renamed the factory FASINPAT (Factory without a Boss).
The workers set up a stage with a giant screen for the thousands of supporters to view the legislative vote. As the decision was read, workers embraced one another in tears in disbelief that after 8 years of struggle they finally won legal control of the factory. “This decision reflects an organized struggle that won the support all of society,” said Veronica Hullipan from the Confederation of Mapuche. She said that the network of Mapuche indigenous communities in the Patagonia have supported the Zanon workers’ struggle and said legal decision is a “political triumph of workers’ organization.”
Zanon workers reminded their supporters that the struggle of Zanon, was also the struggle of Carlos Fuentealba, a public school teacher from the province of Neuquén killed by a police officer during a peaceful protest in defense of public education. The Zanon workers have not only created jobs, but they have supported workers struggles locally, nationally and internationally. Workers from FASINPAT were present at the protest where Fuentealba was shot point blank in the head with a tear gas canister, in police repression ordered by the conservative ruling coalition of Neuquén MPN, which has ruled the Patagonian province since the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.
“This is an important chapter in the struggle of the Zanon workers, who have been fighting in the streets for more than 9 years. First they tried to evict us in order to auction off the factory, the workers’ struggle and the community pressured the government to expropriate the factory,” Raul Godoy, Zanon worker told the national news daily Página/12. Today, the plant exports ceramics to 25 countries.
ImageMany legislative representatives wanted to demand that the workers at the self-managed factory “guarantee a pact for social peace.” But for the workers, the pact for social peace is broken when businessmen fraudulently go bankrupt and throw hundreds of workers out into the street. “The capitalists are constantly declaring war with tariff increases, by privatizing public companies and with firings. Before this situation, the workers must defend themselves; and the workers at Zanon commit to defending ourselves, in the street, however we have to.”
According to the legislation passed, the FASINPAT cooperative which employs 470 workers and exports ceramics to more than 25 countries, will remain under the control of the cooperative. The state would pay off 22 million pesos (around $7 million) to the creditors. One of the main creditors is the World Bank – which gave a loan of 20 million dollars to Luis Zanon for the construction of the plant, which he never paid back. The other major creditor is the Italian company SACMY that produces state of the art ceramics manufacturing machinery and is owed over $5 million. However, the workers have resisted the state pay-off, saying that courts have proven that the creditors participated in the fraudulent bankruptcy of the plant in 2001, because the credits went directly to the owner Luis Zanon and not investments into the factory. “If someone should pay, Luis Zanon should pay, who is being charged with tax evasion,” said Omar Villablanca from FASINPAT.
Victory, then an eviction
While the victory of FASINPAT brings hope to many of the 200 occupied factories currently operated under worker self-management in Argentina, many are still facing legal attacks. Early yesterday morning, just hours after the Zanon victory, a police operative evicted the factory Textil Quilmes, a thread factory occupied in the new wave of factory occupations in 2009. The four workers on night guard were evicted violently. The Buenos Aires provincial government is currently debating an expropriation bill for Textil Quilmes and several other new occupations in the Buenos Aires province. The textile workers are resisting the eviction at the factory’s doors, rallying support to re-enter the factory despite police presence. They also had temporary legal protection, following an expropriation bill that was approved unanimously by the lower house in the provincial legislature.
The workers occupied the plant on February 11, 2009. “We camped outside the plant to avoid the bosses’ liquidation of the machinery. And the workers decided to take a direct action, occupy and form a cooperative,” said Eduardo Santillán, a Quilmes textile worker. With the remaining cotton left in the plant, the workers immediately began to produce cotton thread. At the time of the firing, more than 80 worked at the plant. In a common practice for business owners who file bankruptcy despite an increased demand for their product, the owner Ruben Ballani of Febatex owed the workers months of unpaid salaries, unpaid vacation time and social security. The workers also reported that the owner would force his employees to work 12 hour shifts, a practice outlawed nearly 100 years ago.
Six months after the workers were fired and the union (Sindicato Textil – AOT) failed to intervene, the workers at Textil Quilmes started up production. They claim that the union, who turned their backs on the workers once they were fired, is now negotiating on behalf of the bosses.
The occupations in Argentina continue to rise as the global economic crisis hits the South American nation. The Arrufat chocolate factory, Disco de Oro empanada pastry manufacturer, Indugraf printing press, Febatex thread producer and Lidercar meat packing plant joined the ranks of the worker occupied factory movement from 2008 to 2009. Textil Quilmes has fought along with workers from other factories occupied since the onset of the global economic crisis to demand expropriation laws; none have a definitive legal future.
Many independent analysts expect the global recession to hit Argentina’s real economy. Unemployment rates have gone up and industry growth has halted, while the financial sector remains unaffected because it already took a major blow in 2001. Those who benefited from Argentina’s economic recovery of course are now those who are using this crisis as an excuse to downsize and lay-off workers with the promise of public bailout packages and government credits.
The phenomenon of worker occupations continues to grow as the world falls deeper into the current recession. Nearly 20 new factories in Argentina were occupied since 2008. This may be a sign that workers are confronting the current global financial crisis with lessons and tools from previous worker occupied factories post-2001 economic collapse and popular rebellion. Today, some 250 worker occupied enterprises are up and running, employing more than 13,000. Many of these sites have been producing under worker self-management since 2002, providing nearly a decade of lessons, experiments, strategies and mistakes to learn from.
Zanon and others from the occupied factory movement have proven that they are capable of doing what bosses aren’t interested in doing: creating jobs and work with dignity. This may be why government representatives, industry leaders and factory owners have remained silent and often times reacted with hostility on this issue; they are afraid of these sites multiplying and the example they have set.
At Zanon, workers constantly use the slogan: “Zanon es del pueblo” or Zanon belongs to the people. The workers have adopted the objective of producing not only to provide jobs and salaries for more than 470 people, but also to create new jobs, make donations in the community and to support other social movements. For many at the recuperated enterprises, the occupation of their workplace meant much more than safe-guarding their jobs, it also became part of a struggle for a world without exploitation. While the Zanon victory is a step in the right direction, many of the occupations are facing eviction orders. FASINPAT can now operate legally and focus their attention to producing ceramics in a faltering economy. The Zanon collective has expressed their continued commitment to defending workers’ rights and self-management, which means defending all worker occupations with slogan: “si nos tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos”: “if they mess with one of us, they mess with all of us.”
Marie Trigona is a writer, radio producer and filmmaker based in Argentina. She is currently writing a book on Worker Self-Management in Latin America forthcoming by AK Press. She can be reached at mtrigona(at)msn.com
http://www.nosweat.org.uk/story/2009/08/18/zanon-workers-win-major-legal-battle

Canada
Mexican consul tampered with migrant farm vote
Threatened Mayfair Farms workers with blacklisting before union decertification vote was held.
Winnipeg (17 Aug. 2009) – The Mexican consul visited migrant Mexican farm workers in Manitoba and threatened to blacklist them from ever coming to Canada again if they did not vote to decertify their union at Mayfair Farms in Portage La Prairie, says a spokesperson for group supporting the workers.
The vote to abandon the union, which they had previously chosen to join, was announced earlier this month.

Click to display full release

Jennifer deGroot, a member of a coalition supporting seasonal workers in Manitoba and a research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), outlines what happened in an article published by the Winnipeg Free Press on Friday.
“Recent media reports state that workers at Mayfair Farms in Portage La Prairie chose to decertify after the long struggle to unionize,” deGroot writes.
“What those reports don’t talk about is the threats that workers received when they expressed interest in unionizing. At least one strong union supporter was denied return to Mayfair Farms this year,” she reports.
“The day before the decertification vote the Mexican consul – which has a vested interest in keeping workers in Canada, as their remittances are a major source of national income – held a closed-door meeting with workers at Mayfair Farms. Early this summer the Mexican consul visited all farms with seasonal agricultural workers in Manitoba letting workers know that should they unionize they would be blacklisted. The lack of permanent status, the ever-present threat of being sent home, their isolation and their inability to communicate in either official language leave them among the most exploited of Canadian workers. Yet, they keep coming back.”
The full Winnipeg Free Press article is available at the links below.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has signed a formal protocol with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Canada) to support the union in its ongoing drive to organize long-exploited migrant farm workers in Canada.
NUPGE
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada’s largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
More information:

http://www.b92.net/eng/news/region-article.php?yyyy=2009&mm=08&dd=22&nav_id=61300

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2 responses to “Update: Global Class Resistance

  1. Vivid Visionary

    I liked the overall scope of this article.

    But I have on question: where is the appreciation of the imperialist dynamics at play here? Is it as simple as “organizing the workers”? Which workers to focus on? Why?

    How does the question of unions relate to sections of the US working class which materially benefit from the imperialist exploitation of the third world?

    Just some problematics.

  2. hammer and sickness

    “sections of the US working class which materially benefit from the imperialist exploitation of the third world”

    how does a UAW member benefit from a third world worker “taking” his job? you been drinking that bourgeois kool-aid again

    “How does the question of unions relate?”

    the unions are led by corrupt bureaucrats that make ceo salaries, give dues money to democrats, and actually believe that bosses and workers share a basic interest in profit. thus, they keep internationalist proletarian class consciousness suppressed, becoming an extension of the ruling class in material and ideological ways. they need to be swept aside with revolutionary upsurge from below.

    “Is it as simple as “organizing the workers”?”

    got vodka in that kool aid? you think organizing the workers is SIMPLE?? its the hardest task ever in human history. a wise man once said “workers of the world unite!”

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