Labor - Global

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Greece in Flames

Prelude to European Revolution? A Debate within the Left. Savas Michael-Matsas, Mitchel Cohen, February 13, 2012 Athens - The worst fears of the ruling classes of Greece and Europe are becoming true: an uncontrollable social explosion is under way in Greece. When these lines are written, late in the night on February 12-13, 2012, the violent clashes and street fights between demonstrators and the riot police, in the center of Athens and in other cities all over the country, still continue. The phony “majority” that just voted in Parliament the new package of measures of social cannibalism imposed by the troika ... Greece

Greece: A brutal experiment on people's lives

Afrodity Giannakis, Green Left Weekly, February 12, 2012 Greek unions launched a two-day general strike on February 10 against new extreme austerity measures the “troika” of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union is seeking to impose on the southern European nation. The deal will give Greece a new “bail-out” worth 130 billion euros (A$161 billion) in return for fresh spending cuts. Amid ongoing street protests and building occupations, the Greek cabinet approved the deal on February 10. Six cabinet members resigned in protest. Greek parliament was scheduled to vote on the deal on the evening of February 12. ... Greece

Greek lawmakers approve austerity bill as Athens burns

Harry Papachristou & Yannis Behrakis, Reuters, February 12, 2012 Athens - The Greek parliament approved a deeply unpopular austerity bill to secure a second EU/IMF bailout and avoid national bankruptcy, as buildings burned across central Athens and violence spread around the country. Cinemas, cafes, shops and banks were set ablaze in central Athens as black-masked protesters fought riot police outside parliament. State television reported the violence spread to the tourist islands of Corfu and Crete, the northern city of Thessaloniki and towns in central Greece. Shops were looted in the capital where police said 34 buildings were ablaze. ... Greek

Greek Left's veterans Theodorakis and Glezos head up new resistance movement

Nicolas Mottas, Spectrezine, February 10, 2012 While crisis-hit Greece faces a new round of neoliberal austerity madness, two legendary personalities call for civil disobedience. While the negotiations between the Greek government, IMF and the EU over debt swap with private creditors continue, new anti-austerity resistance movements are being born. This time the initiative belongs to prominent personalities of the Greek left who yesterday declared the creation of the 'United Popular Democratic Resistance' - E.LA.DA. in Greek, an acronym which literally means "Greece". The idea belongs to two legendary figures of the country's modern history ... Greek

European Summit: German Austerity Blues

Maria Margaronis, The Nation, January 30, 2012 “Nein! Nein! Nein!” roars today’s headline on Ta Nea, Greece’s largest circulation daily, over a caricature of Angela Merkel controlling a map of Greece with puppet strings. This is not just the usual Greek rage against the EU’s austerity measures: Last Friday the Financial Times made public a German proposal to take over Greece’s finances so extreme as to look like parody. In order to receive the next tranche of its bailout, the document explains, Greece would have to agree a “transfer of national budgetary sovereignty” to a European commissar, “preferably through constitutional amendment”... European

Egypt’s new labour movement comes of age

Ben Moxham, Stronger Unions, January 30, 2012 On the desert-battered outskirts of Cairo, in a kitsch marble convention centre, the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU) has just announced to Egypt and the world that it has come of age. EFITU was born in the inspiration and chaos of Tahrir square, exactly 12 months to the day. Since then they have been organising, organising and organising. Today was a chance to show the results and I was blown away. The federation claims to have organised a phenomenal 2 million workers into 200 unions in barely a year. ... Egypt

How Swedes and Norwegians broke the power of the ‘1 percent’

George Lakey, Waging Nonviolence, January 25, 2012 While many of us are working to ensure that the Occupy movement will have a lasting impact, it’s worthwhile to consider other countries where masses of people succeeded in nonviolently bringing about a high degree of democracy and economic justice. Sweden and Norway, for example, both experienced a major power shift in the 1930s after prolonged nonviolent struggle. They “fired” the top 1 percent of people who set the direction for society and created the basis for something different. Both countries had a history of horrendous poverty. When the 1 percent was in charge, hundreds of thousands of people emigrated ... How

GPs set for first industrial action in 37 years

Scotsman, January 19, 2012 Scottish doctors are threatening their first wave of industrial action in nearly 40 years, after they overwhelmingly rejected proposed changes to their pension plans. The British Medical Association (BMA) called on the Scottish Government to intervene over the planned reforms, after a poll found 84 per cent of its members were opposed to changes being put forward by the UK government. It came as health secretary Nicola Sturgeon announced changes to ambulance staff working hours in a deal to end the long-running dispute over paramedics1 being disturbed during meal breaks. ... GPs

Greece: Independent left MP – ‘The rulers are scared'

Sofia Sakorafa, Marxist Thought, January 18, 2012 At the October 26, 2011, European summit it was agreed to slash Greece’s debt on the condition that a new, draconian austerity package and “memorandum”be carried out by the Greek government. After the agreement and a mass wave of protests on October 28, a referendum was announced by Prime Minister George Papandreou, only to be revoked a few days later. There then followed an endless series of negotiations, which led to the formation of a new coalition government headed by Loukas Papadimos. The new government was backed by right-wing capitalist party New Democracy ... Greece

Migration: A Product of Free Market Reforms

David Bacon, Americas Program, January 12, 2012 A political alliance is developing between countries with a labor export policy and the corporations who use that labor in the global north. Many countries sending migrants to the developed world depend on remittances to finance social services and keep the lid on social discontent over poverty and joblessness, while continuing to make huge debt payments. Corporations using that displaced labor share a growing interest with those countries’ governments in regulating the system that supplies it. Increasingly, the mechanisms for regulating that flow of people are contract labor programs ... Migration

Oaxaca's New Government Calls for Migrant Rights

David Bacon, Truthout, January 5, 2011 Oaxaca, Mexico - The Oaxacan Institute for the Care of Migrants (known by its Spanish acronym, IOAM) and its director, Rufino Dominguez, called for a new era of respect for the rights of migrants during a commemoration of International Migrants Day in the Palacio del Gobierno, Oaxaca's state capitol building. Representing the newly elected state government, Dominguez paid tribute to the contributions of the braceros, the first of Oaxaca's migrant workers to travel to the United States from 1942 to 1964, and to the women who cared for the families they left behind. ... Oaxaca

Caterpillar, Rio Initiate Lockouts in Canada

James R. Hagerty & Caroline Van Hasselt, Wall Street Journal, January 3, 2012

Two global companies, Caterpillar Inc. and Rio Tinto PLC, opened the new year by getting tough in contract disputes with Canadian unions, which face drives by corporate and government employers to cut labor costs.

US-based Caterpillar late Sunday locked out about 450 union workers at a locomotive plant in London, Ontario, in a sign that the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment is pushing hard for labor-cost savings despite a big earnings recovery over the past two years.

Meanwhile, Rio Tinto Alcan, an aluminum-production unit of mining giant Rio Tinto, locked out about 800 union workers at an aluminum smelter in Quebec.

CAW Members Victimized in Lockout by Caterpillar’s Rail Division

International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions, January 2, 2012 Local 27 members of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union were locked out at the New Year by Caterpillar Inc.’s Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) in a callous display of corporate might that could lead to corporate flight from Canada. The 650 CAW members in London, Ontario, voted by 98% on 30 December for strike action and 24 hours later – just as they were returning to jobs on New Year’s Eve following a holiday shutdown – they were locked out. ... CAW

Undercutting Vow of Softer Stance, Egypt Again Defends Office Raids

David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, January 1, 2012 Cairo - Egypt’s military-led government on Sunday justified its recent crackdown on human rights and democracy-building organizations as a defense against foreign interference in its politics, defying international pressure and contradicting reports from senior officials in Washington that Egypt’s military rulers had pledged to soften their stance. Egypt’s defense of the raids escalates a diplomatic feud with Washington that began last Thursday with raids by armed police officers on the offices of 10 nonprofit groups, including 3 supported mainly by the United States government ... Undercutting

Austerity Reigns Over Euro Zone as Crisis Deepens

Nelson D. Schwartz, New York Times, January 1, 2012 Europe’s leaders braced their nations for a turbulent year, with their beleaguered economies facing a threat on two fronts: widening deficits that force more borrowing but increasing austerity measures that put growth further out of reach. Saying that Europe was facing its “harshest test in decades,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany warned on New Year’s Eve that “next year will no doubt be more difficult than 2011” - a marked change in tone from a year ago, when she praised Germans for “mastering the crisis as no other nation.” ... Austerity

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