Tale of two workers or workers’ tale

Farooque Chowdhury

Countercurrents | March 10, 2023

What are workers? Are they human beings? Do they have only a bundle of muscles but, no brains? How do they feel and how do they think? Do they think at all? What do they face in their life – in factories, in foundries and other shops, in assembly lines, in unions?

Workers’ answers to the questions above differ from the response the workers’ masters present. The factor that draws the delineating line is, in short, class position, which is often blurred while discussing issues of life and work, be it related to workplace or economic program, politics or social initiatives, charity, cooperative, ideology or culture.

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International Working Women’s Day 2023 – Statement of the Working Women Committee, adopted by the WFTU 2023 Precedential Council Meeting

WFTU Women demand Equity and Equality – Say no to wars

Now is the time for the spark to ignite again. Just like in the 19th century, when women workers rose up against the exploitation of early industrial capitalism, now again the time has come to take up the cudgels against the most barbaric system that boils in the cauldrons of neoliberalism.  Imperialism sacrifices the lives of the workers of the world for the sake of profit. Women workers are enslaved and subjugated within the working class which is already marginalized to the point of deprivation.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the gender gap even further as the 100-year estimation needed to close the gender gap has now been reevaluated to 136 years. Gender wage disparity has widened. Women’s work participation rate has plummeted. Capitalist economies shamelessly use the pandemic to deny and snatch away the rights of the workers.

Capitalism, in its greed for more economic and political power, has reached its highest form, that of imperialism. Imperialist rivalries have caused wars driving millions into destitution. Trade wars for economic hegemony spell further doom for the working people. Misery abounds in the world.  Poverty, terrorism, racism, refugee crisis, war – all at once – sharply affect women and women workers.   

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U.S.: Non-Compete Agreement Leaves Workers Homeless and Jobless

Luis Feliz Leon

Labor Notes | February 02, 2023

Kevin and Larisa Borowske were fired and evicted by property management company FirstService Residential in Minnesota, they suspect because they were organizing against wage theft and for a union. Since the company required them to sign non-compete clauses, they believe they are restricted from doing similar work. Photo: SEIU local 26.

Kevin Borowske is still mulling it over after being fired last week—and evicted as of February 28. Was he a scientist with the proprietary recipe for a cleaning solution? Was he the holder of a confidential blueprint concealing the secret rooms in the condo?

Otherwise, he’s at a loss as to why the property management company FirstService Residential had him sign a non-compete agreement when he was hired as a caretaker—a job that blends janitorial and light housekeeping services—at a high-rise building in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

A non-compete agreement bars the worker from taking a similar job with another company for a period of time. You might assume that such agreements would mainly be used to keep workers with proprietary information from being poached by a firm’s competitors. But now all kinds of employers require workers to sign them—so many that the Federal Trade Commission is considering outlawing the practice.

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Massive Strikes Hit France: More Than One Million People Join 200 Protest Marches

Countercurrents | January 20, 2023

A massive strike has hit France on Thursday. Workers and other earners joined hands in protesting pension reform. Trade union sources said the number of people joining more than 200 protest marches was 2 million. Police had to use tear gas to contain the protesters in Paris.

Teachers, railway workers and public sector employees abandoned joined the protest marches to oppose a planned increase in the retirement age

Citing France’s interior ministry, media reports said:

About 1.12 million people took part in protests across France.

Of the about 1.12 million people who joined the protests, 80,000 were in Paris alone, BFMTV said.

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Union Organizing Surged in 2022: Let’s Push for a Radical Labor Movement in 2023

More workers are forming independent unions, untethered from the AFL-CIO and other established labor groups.

Michael D. Yates

Truthout | December 29, 2022

Chris Smalls, a leader of the Amazon Labor Union, leads a march of Starbucks and Amazon workers and their allies to the homes of their CEOs to protest union busting on Labor Day, September 5, 2022, in New York City, New York.

The year 2022 saw a significant increase in working-class unrest in the United States. Millions of workers quit their jobs in 2021, and this trend has continued in 2022. Most moved on to different employment, while others continued their education or retired. Recently, many Twitter employees quit in response to the severe force reduction and intensification of work effort engineered by new owner Elon Musk. For those working, there has been a wave of what the media has dubbed “quiet quitting,” but which is really an old-fashioned labor strategy known as “working to rule,” or doing no more than what you have been ordered or contractually required to do. Those working from home have shown a reluctance to return to the office, an indication that, despite the problems of laboring where you live, offices are seen as worse.

Union organizing is on the rise, reflecting both the widespread disgust with workplace conditions and the now evidently positive public view of labor unions. The purchasing power of wages has stagnated for decades in the United States, while labor’s productivity has risen considerably. Unfortunately, the latter is partly the result of employer-initiated speed-ups, meaning that fewer workers must take up the slack created by a smaller workforce — again, management-created. According to Gallup, 71 percent of Americans now approve of unions, the highest favorable rating since 1965. This may help explain the surge in union recognition efforts. Between October 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 (fiscal year 2022), union certification petitions at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were up 58 percent over the previous year. No doubt there were other such efforts, those that simply petitioned employers to bargain with a union or where workers struck to win bargaining rights. Because employers regularly violate the law by committing unfair labor practices (ULPs) such as firing union supporters, the NLRB has faced a heavy caseload of ULPs, which rose 16 percent over the same period.

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India: Workers of Bhagwati Products and Zydus Wellness protest illegal retrenchment

Harsh Thakor

Countercurrents | January 08, 2023

Workers of Bhagwati Products based in Sidkul Pant Nagar and Zydus Wellness located in Sitarganj, Uttarakhand launched a rally and demonstrated at the district collectorate under the leadership of Shramik United Morcha Udham Singh Nagar with regard to resumption of work and other problems. On the conclusion of the rally, the workers of both the companies submitted a 6-point collective memorandum to SDM Rudrapur in the absence of the District Magistrate.

Apart from this, on December 27, the workers of Micromax celebrated black day by tying black ribbon outside the labour office Rudrapur Udham Singh Nagar on completion of four years of struggle due to illegal retrenchment by the management.

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United we are stronger in the anti-imperialist struggle

The 22nd International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties presented a plan of action to develop until the next event.

Granma | November 11, 2022

Communist and workers’ parties, and their related social organizations, agreed in Havana to achieve a better articulation and strengthening of international anti-imperialist organizations. Photo: Juvenal Balán

The international meeting, which ran for three days in Havana and gathered 145 delegates from 78 parties of communist and workers’ affiliation from 60 countries, took place in crucial moments for the world, when humanity is debating between the war promoted by the centers of world capitalism and the aspiration for peace and development to which our peoples have the right.

The meeting generated a space for reflection, exchange, unity and collaboration; for agreement on common positions and actions; and for international solidarity with the cause of the workers’ struggle, with the Cuban Revolution and the peoples facing imperialist and fascist aggression.

Plan of Action of the 22nd International Meeting of Communist

and Workers’ Parties, Havana, Cuba

The 22nd International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties

held on October 27-29, 2022 in Havana, Cuba defined the following main guidelines and actions to be developed ahead of the next Meeting:

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India: Report of Struggle of Punjab’s Fight-for-Land Movement by ZPSC and Agricultural Labourers

Harsh Thakor

Countercurrents | December 14, 2022

Ei Muhurte Kichhu Bhavna  of West Bengal activists have been closely studying the  movement of dalit agricultural workers f Punjab in relation to the agrarian revolutionary movement of Punjab  and integration with movement of landed farmers. It just presented a report on its experiences and reflected their interpretation.

The organisation in Punjab that is fighting for land for the landless, and all agricultural labourers’ unions together called for a Protest demonstration at Sangrur, the home of the Chief Minister of Punjab, on November 30, 2022. Previously the CM gave an appointment to meet the landless and labourers on September 13 — thousands and thousands went there — but the CM could not find time — for 3 days the police blocked all road to CM’s residence and kept thousands sitting on the road. So, they had to return. This was the reason for Nov 30 programme. A few delegates of this journal Ei Muhurte Kichu Bhavna (and Workers Peasants Unity) were fortunate to be to be present there. They were grateful to  Zpsc for providing hospitality for a couple of nights. Also, they held discussions with comrades of leaders of Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union nad Pendu Mazdoor Union., and some other labourers’ organisations and successfully obtained knowledge from them, owing gratitude to all of them.

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U.S.: College workers ride the national wave of union organizing

Mark Gruenberg

People’s World | December 14, 2022

Graduate student workers at Boston University are only a few of the many college workers across the country riding a tsunami wave of unionization sweeping across the country. | BU Graduate Workers United

NEW YORK and BOSTON —Exploited college workers—part-time faculty at New York’s New School and grad student workers at Boston University—are using unionization to achieve, or seek, gains on the job. Next month, grad student workers at Yale may join them.

All three groups—the 2,600 part-timers at the New School and 1,400 at the allied Parsons School of Design, the 3,200 grad student workers at Boston University and the 4,000 teaching assistants at most departments at Yale—are part of the growing movement of exploited, underpaid and overworked college workers nationwide.

Like colleagues in other occupations, at other universities and at other firms, including warehouse workers, retail workers, Amazon workers, Starbucks baristas and port truckers—the three campus groups are youthful, fed up with corporate and capitalist exploitation of their labor and respond by one of two ways: Unionizing, or leaving for other jobs.

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‘Ministers must act now to fix broken Britain’

Morning Star | December 14, 2022

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham speaks to her members on a picket line at one of the entrances to the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk, Britain’s biggest and busiest container port, after backing industrial action by 9-1 in a dispute over pay. Picture date: Wednesday August 24, 2022.

MINISTERS must act now on pay, trade union leaders warned yesterday as latest official figures showed that wage increases are continuing to be outstripped by inflation rises.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that regular wages, excluding bonuses, rose by 6.1 per cent in the three months to October — a record level outside of the pandemic.

But the ONS found that wages continued to be outstripped by rising prices, falling by 3.9 per cent after consumer prices index (CPI) inflation is taken into account.

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