South African strike: Political watershed? – Gentle

South African strike: Political watershed?

Leonard Gentle

Pambazuka News, 2010-09-09, Issue 495

The public sector strike has been suspended. But whether the unions accept the state’s latest offer or not, this strike may well be (and these things we are almost always fated to see only in retrospect) a watershed in South African politics.
Firstly, amidst all the media opprobrium and invective against the strikers and the stories of intimidation, there is also a picture emerging of the appalling state of the public sector.

Whilst the very wealthy and even many middle-class people simply avoid much of the public sector, sourcing health services from medical aids and private hospitals, sending their kids to private schools and living in gated communities cleaned by private companies, most other South Africans are dependent on public healthcare, public schooling and other public services. And not only have these been seriously neglected, the very people who must provide the services – teachers, nurses, state clerical workers – are underpaid and angry enough to hold out for a protracted strike in order to get some improvement. Continue reading


How Policy Is Affecting the Marginalized (South Africa) – Vavi

Zwelinzima Vavi’s Address to the Ruth First Memorial Lecture ruthfirst2aOn the 17 August 2010

Cosatu General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, delivered the address at the Ruth First Memorial Lecture at Wits University. The theme was “How policy is affecting the marginalised and its impact on poverty”.

In keeping with the current issues faced by South Africa, Zwelinzima Vavi says “…we ask a question and pose a challenge to the journalists and academics of today: How many journalists and academics have taken forward the legacy of Ruth First? How many on a daily basis, battle against poverty and inequalities and fight for economic justice as she did?” Continue reading

Global Unionism – Leitch

Global Unionism – which way forward?

Looking at the example of unionism in Mexico, Richard Leitch discusses different approaches to building union internationalism.

My recent review of ‘Global Unions, Global Business’ by Croucher and Cotton [on the newunionism site – pw] raised a couple of concerns about the authors’ preferred perspective of ‘regional minilateralism’. These revolved around its applicability to all areas of the global economy, and whether or not the alternative approach (which they call ‘rank and file bilateralism’) has some purchase for international trade unionism. Here I want to expand on these points, and look in particular at the example of building independent trade unionism in Mexico. Continue reading

Crisis? What Crisis? – Petras

Crisis. What Crisis?  Profits Soar!

James Petras

While progressives and leftists write about the “crises of capitalism”, manufacturers, petroleum companies, bankers and most other major corporations on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific coast are chuckling all the way to the bank.

From the first quarter of this year, corporate profits have shot up between twenty to over a hundred percent, (Financial Times August 10, 2010, p. 7).  In fact, corporate profits have risen higher than they were before the onset of the recession in 2008 (Money Morning March 31, 2010).  Contrary to progressive bloggers the rates of profits are rising not falling, particularly among the biggest corporations (Consensus Economics, August 12, 2010).  The buoyancy of corporate profits is directly a result of the deepening crises of the working class, public and private employees and small and medium size enterprises. Continue reading

A New Type of Political Organization? – Rosenfield and Fanelli

A New Type of Political Organization?

The Greater Toronto Workers’ Assembly

Herman Rosenfeld and Carlo Fanelli

Socialist Project E-Bulletin No. 400, August 6, 2010

At the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, the Left around the world is undergoing reformation. As the Great Recession has vividly demonstrated, more than three decades of neoliberal capitalism have eroded many of the significant gains won in the immediate decades following World War II. From wage and benefit concessions to reductions in social services, in an openly anti-union political climate, it is now being demanded that the working class pay for a crisis which it did not create. With the impasse of the anti-globalization and other new social movements that burst onto the scene in the early 2000s, coupled with the inability of many historically progressive unions, trapped in erstwhile social democratic parties, to mobilize their membership base, the Left is in a period of experimentation. Continue reading

Klimaforum 10 Platform

Press release # 8
México D. F., July 9, 2010

After several meetings, we have adopted the following Political Platform
of KlimaForum10:

patterns of the world are undergoing a rapid and disturbing disruption,
which is increasing in both force and catastrophic impact. This change
could end up being life-threatening for many human communities in coming
years, for the large majority of people in this century. Describing this
process as “climate change”, amounts to distorting reality.
 Continue reading 

Russian Workers’ Movement in 2009 – Clement

IV Online magazine : IV424 – May 2010


The workers’ and trade-union movement in 2009: consolidation and dispersion

Carine Clément

At the beginning of 2009 Russian workers took the crisis in a rather passive way, even though in May-July we witnessed a surge of activity, initially in the form of an explosion of street actions and other forms of protest that were fairly uncontrolled and not envisaged by the legislation on the resolution of work-related conflicts. Subsequently, we saw a slow but persistent growth in the number of industrial disputes, with many more meetings being held. The increase in tensions was expressed outside the public space, including by individual acts (hunger strikes, sit-down strikes and even, sometimes, suicides). Continue reading