Workers' Struggles

Yesterday’s presidential election in Algeria was marked by a massive boycott campaign called for by the Hirak movement, which is now 43 weeks old. The boycott had been preceded by a four-day general strike and was particularly strong in the Kabylie region. Tens of thousands came onto the streets across the country defying a police ban on demonstrations. Whoever the generals decide will be the country’s president, they will not have any real legitimacy.

The speech delivered by Edouard Philippe (the Prime Minister) yesterday concluded over 18 months of “talks” and “consultations” with the leaders of the trade unions. Hundreds of hours of negotiation meetings culminated in this enlightening result: the government presented exactly the same reform that they would have put forward if none of the “talks” and “consultations” had taken place.

Yesterday’s interprofessional strike against Macron’s pension reform brought between 800,000 and 1,000,000 workers and youth onto the streets of France, according to the CGT. While this is a drop from the mobilisation last Thursday (which was possibly the biggest since 1995), the turnout was still high, with strong participation by transport workers, teachers, health workers and students.

On Monday 25 November, all ships stayed in port, the buses stood still and the airplanes were grounded at Helsinki-Vantaa International airport. Finnish trade unions went on strike in support of the postal workers, who had decided to fight back against an attempt to force them to accept a worse collective bargaining agreement. After two and a half weeks of strikes, the postal workers won a crucial victory for the entire Finnish workers’ movement – but more battles lie ahead.

Yesterday’s general strike against Macron’s pension reform saw a “convergence of struggles” from across French society. According to the CGT (the trade union federation at the head of the strike), 1.5 million people took part in the demonstrations, which would make this the biggest movement since the battle against Alain Juppé’s package of attacks in 1995. The spirit of the gilets jaunes can be felt on the streets, where (despite the limitations of their leadership) the workers are directing their fury, not just against the pension reform, but the government as a whole.

Two weeks have passed since the eruption of protests all over Iran after the regime introduced a surprise cut to fuel subsidies. Despite a heroic struggle by the people on the streets, the movement was crushed by the regime within five days. But this was far from a triumphant victory for a regime that is now weaker than ever before.

The situation in Colombia is advancing very rapidly after the national strike on 21 November. What was a one-day strike became a permanent and daily protest that is already a week old. The protest did not stop, despite the curfew and militarisation decreed in the capital Bogotá (and in Cali) by the reactionary Duque government. The death of the young Dilan Cruz, who was shot by a tear gas canister directly in the head by ESMAD (Mobile Anti-Riot Squadron) has shocked the country. In response, the National Strike Committee decided to call for a new national strike on 27 November and to include among its demands the dismantling of ESMAD.

Last weekend, amidst a wave of protests that has raged on for over half a year following the Extradition Bill introduced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, Hong Kong held its regularly scheduled district council election. This typically low-interest, low-turnout affair was turned into an effective referendum on the Hong Kong masses’ opinion towards Beijing in light of recent events. It concluded with a landslide victory for the anti-Beijing bloc of politicians, with the highest turnout since Hong Kong’s return to China. But what is needed is a clear way forward based on class struggle politics.

Chile is experiencing another general strike, as part of the uprising against the regime that has been going on for almost 40 days already. The government continues to intensify the repression (denounced by international organisations) and even modifies legislation by granting itself more powers to use the army “in the protection of public buildings”, without decreeing the state of emergency, while trying to bamboozle the movement through “agreements” and promises of negotiation. The conditions for bringing Piñera down are present, but what is missing?

On 21 November, a powerful general strike paralysed Colombia. Originally called to reject a package of measures by the right-wing government of Ivan Duque, including a counter reform of the labour laws, a counter reform of pensions and massive cuts in education, it became the focal point for accumulated anger. The strike was the largest the country has seen since 1977 and there were mass demonstrations in every town and city. The government responded with repression and threats. This only served to escalate the situation.

A few years ago, a conversation was leaked between a commander of the revolutionary guards, and a group of Basiji militiamen, discussing the Green Movement that shook Iran in 2009. In that conversation the commander said something along the lines of “these guys [referring to the people in the Green Movement] are just uptown pretty boys, there is nothing to be afraid of, but once the barefoot people of the poor and destitute areas come out, that is when we have to be afraid.” Well, that day has come.

The general strike on 12 November was a huge success that put the government against the ropes. Hundreds of thousands, possibly millions marched across the country: 300,000 in Santiago, 40,000 in Valparaíso, 100,000 in Concepcion. The strike was solid in health, education, the public sector, the ports and sections of the mining industry, and had a widespread following in other industrial sectors. It revealed the strength of the working class in a capitalist country, which is able to paralyse the economy. Almost a month after beginning, the Chilean uprising continues to advance and has not been stopped by repression (with thousands of wounded and detained, more than 200 losing eyes and

...

A disastrous speech by President Michel Aoun, the killing of a protester and a burgeoning student uprising have revitalised the revolutionary struggle in Lebanon. Sensing the masses’ energy beginning to wane, the ruling class became overconfident, and seriously miscalculated with a series of provocations that only strengthened the people’s resolve.

The huge demonstration on 1 November marks a high point for the Algerian Hirak movement, which has been going on for an uninterrupted 37 weeks. The regime has decided to call for presidential elections on 12 December, which the masses have correctly rejected. The slogan of a general strike to stop the elections and force the ousting of the regime is gaining ground.

On Monday, 28 October, in the face of a massive movement of protestors from all backgrounds, Saad Hariri announced his resignation. This retreat of the government came after two million people – one third of the population – took part in huge protests across the country. Amidst calls for a general strike, people have blocked roads, and shut down banks and schools. Cutting across all the sectarianism that has dominated politics in Lebanon for decades, this movement has done more in two weeks than the corrupt politicians in Lebanon have done in years.

The elections last Sunday were to elect the president but, due to the conditions under which the whole process has been carried out, they were also a repeat of the 21 February 2016 constitutional referendum.

More than a million people demonstrated in Santiago de Chile on Friday 25 October, in what was called #LaMarchaMásGrandedeChile (Chile's largest march) – and certainly, it was, being larger than the NO campaign closing rally in 1988 that brought together a million people. The mobilisation on Friday was repeated in cities and communes throughout the country and took place one week after the

...

The following is a translation of an article we received about the current insurrectional movement in Chile, which began with youth-led protests against a hike in public transport fares. From a widespread campaign of fare dodging, a mass movement has developed against the government, which was responded with brutal repression. 

Join us!

Help build the forces of Marxism worldwide!

Join the IMT!