Workers' Struggles

Hong Kong’s earthshaking protest movement is entering its second month. Despite increasing pressure from Beijing and the Carrie Lam government, the movement still grows in militancy. It is graduating from bourgeois liberal methods towards the method of class struggle. In many ways, when Carrie Lam emerged from days of obscurity to respond to the general strike, she was right to say that the Hong Kong movement is heading towards a “path of no return.”

Hong Kong’s mass movement against the Chinese state’s attempt to control the territory has been spurred forward by the whip of counterrevolution. On Sunday 21 July, as protestors returned home from demonstrating, around 50 thugs dressed in all-white burst onto a subway train and indiscriminately attacked passengers with poles and other blunt objects. Although the attackers were anonymous and the assault appeared arbitrary, the message was received loud and clear – as was the intention: do not dare challenge the Hong Kong government and its masters in Beijing.

On Monday, the Chilean teacher's strike entered its fifth week. More than 70 percent of the teachers voted to reject the latest government offer and want to continue the national strike indefinitely. The strike has involved hundreds of thousands throughout the country, with particularly active participation in the regions. For her part, the education minister Marcela Cubillos has shown great arrogance, and only last week agreed to dialogue amidst controversy over police brutality. After large marches of tens of thousands in the past weeks marked a milestone in the teacher’s movement, the high point was the cacerolazo (banging on pots and pans as a political protest) of the patipelados

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On 20 June 2019, the flight attendants of Taiwan’s private commercial airline EVA Air went on strike. Under the leadership of the Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union, with over 2,300 workers joining the strike, this is already the largest private sector strike in Taiwan since the end of the KMT dictatorship’s martial law in 1987. The strike has thus far caused more than 700 flight cancellations.

In the last period, the Czech Republic seemed to be a relatively politically stable country in the eyes of the global ruling class; with sufficient economic growth, very low unemployment, and even rising wages. This relative stability, sustained mainly by strong German investments, propped up the support for oligarch prime minister and second-richest Czech, Andrej Babiš, and his Berlusconi-style party ANO 2011. But things have changed, and the masses are moving.

In Honduras, a mass movement is reaching insurrectionary proportions and threatens to bring down the illegitimate government of Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH). Protests against planned privatisation of public healthcare and education, which began at the end of May, have recently been escalating. The past week in Honduras has seen a significant broadening of the protest movement out from the health professionals’ and teachers’ trade unions to the wider public.

The general strike of 14 June saw the participation of important sectors of the working class that have a tradition of organisation, such as metallurgical workers, chemical workers, oil workers, bank employees, public servants, etc. But the strike could have been stronger, with even larger demonstrations, if the union leadership had actually mobilised their base.

The spark of 7 June has ignited the contradictions in Liberian society. The massive mobilisation of the masses last Friday was a slap in the face for the cynics who argued that the Liberian people would continue to blithely accept the rotten status quo without acting to change the course of history. But nothing is stagnant: everything is in constant flux and subject to change. So too is the consciousness of the Liberian masses.

Today, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers marched in militant defiance of the ‘extradition bill’ that would grant China the power to take anyone in Hong Kong into custody on the mainland. Only three days earlier, Sunday 9 June, saw what may be the biggest demonstration in Hong Kong’s history. According to organisers, one million marched through the city’s humid streets, meaning one-in-seven Hong Kongers demonstrated!

Strike action was taken by over 50,000 teachers throughout New Zealand on 29 May to demand a 16 percent pay increase and improved working conditions. Their strike is the result of a breakdown in pay talks between the New Zealand Educational Institute, the Post-Primary Teachers Association; and the government Ministry of Education.

The Sudanese Revolution has been an inspiration to workers, women and youth around the world. The women in particular have revealed tremendous revolutionary potential. All that was progressive in Sudanese society emerged to show the world that society can be changed. But there was also a darker side and this has now reared its ugly head in the most brutal manner possible. Why is this happening?

On 28 May, dockers working the port at the Gulf of Fos in Marseille refused to load the Saudi cargo ship, Bahri Tabük, which was intended to carry French arms to Saudi Arabia, whose regime is waging a barbaric war in Yemen.

The Sudanese Revolution entered a new stage after carrying out a powerful general strike, which paralysed the whole country on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. The organisers are demanding that the Transitional Military Council (TMC), which usurped power in April, cede power to a civilian-led government, which is to be installed.

From May to August of 1934, Minneapolis was rocked by a strike that would forever change the course of U.S. labour history. This was the strike of Teamsters Local 574, a union led by Trotskyists. Many of the best techniques used by organised labour today find their origins in the Minneapolis Strike, in particular the flying picket. However, the strike's greatest conquest was in laying the foundations for industrial unionism in North America, leading to the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in the following years. Above all, the Minneapolis Strike demonstrated the role played by the young forces of American Trotskyism in obtaining gains for workers.

The Saudi ship Bahri Yanbu, which was docked at the port of Genoa to load military equipment to be used in the Yemen conflict, has left Italy without its intended cargo. This represents a great victory for the Genoese dockers, who refused to load the ship, which will now head to Alexandria, Egypt. At the Genoa port, a banner is still waving: "Stop arms trafficking, war on war."

The massive, marvellous and militant demonstrations on 15 May all over Brazil struck a blow against the already unstable Bolsonaro government. Protests took place in over 200 cities across the country and more than 1.5 million young people and workers took to the streets.

15 May saw a tsunami of demonstrators come out against education cuts and counter-reforms to pensions in Brazil. More than 1.5 million hit the streets of over 200 cities across the country during the national education strike against the latest measures of the Bolsonaro government, which include a 30 percent cut to university budgets. Despite its bravado, the government is weak and divided. The slogan “Fora Bolsonaro” (Bolsonaro Out) resonated widely. Certainly, Brazil is not in the throes of fascism. Far from it. It is now time to prepare a general strike to bring this government down.

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