What is the ANC and Where is the Left in South Africa?

By Chris Webb

About a month ago I stood with some 200 striking farm workers in South Africa’s Hex River Valley, a rich agricultural region that produces table grapes for export. The workers were on strike against severe pay cuts and outsourcing, which came about when a major fruit export company took over the farm from its previous owner. The workers were a mixed group. Some were Zimbabwean migrants, but the majority were Xhosa speakers from the more impoverished Eastern Cape, where 72 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Most of them currently lived in the valley’s informal settlements, expanses of matchbox houses and zinc shacks on the dusty ground between the grape farms. As we marched toward the farm, the workers began to sing struggle songs praising the African National Congress (ANC) and the role of struggle leaders like Oliver Tambo and Chris Hani.


Profs Against the Hike, or a New Beginning for Faculty Political Action

By Anne-Marie Le Saux and Philippe de Grosbois

During the Quebec student strike this year, CEGEP and university teachers opposed to the tuition fee hike that triggered the student mobilization organized themselves in a network, Profs Contre La Hausse (Profs Against the Hike, PCLH by its French initials), to take action in solidarity with students and against the government’s agenda.This organization, independent of union structures, was an important development. We are glad to present this article about PCLH, which was written before the final phase of the student strike — NSW


Ontario Teachers Under Attack: It’s Our Turn Now

By Jason Kunin 

Like passengers on the upper deck of the Titanic who could order drinks and mill about in their tuxedos a good hour after those in the lower decks had drowned, we teachers in Ontario have spent the past eight years relatively insulated from anti-labour attacks that have affected workers in virtually every other sector, from garbage collectors to postal worker to the custodial and secretarial staff we work side-by-side with in our schools. 

Moving Forward After the Elections in Greece Part II – Building a Working Class Alternative

Moving Forward After the Elections in Greece Part II – Building a Working Class Alternative


This is Part II of Kokkino’s statement after the June elections in Greece, revised and slightly abridged from the version published in International Viewpoint. Kokkino is a revolutionary socialist organization in Greece, which has been in the throes of a major debt crisis since 2009.

Kokkino is part of the broader Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), which is the main force against the austerity measures being imposed on Greece by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a condition of a proposed bailout. SYRIZA’s anti-bailout stance resulted in a dramatic growth in its popular support in the run-up to the recent elections – from just under 5% of electoral votes in May to 27% in June.

Part I of this statement offers an analysis of the election’s political outcome. The final sections, reprinted here, focus on strategic questions for the radical left in Greece. Although the context is quite different, there is much to be learned from the experience of major social mobilization in Greece since the eruption of the debt crisis. – New Socialist 


Editorial: Why Greece’s June Elections Matter to All of Us

The final opinion polls before the June 17 parliamentary elections in Greece report that SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) has the support of between 25 and 31.5% of voters, up from the 16.7% it won in the May 2012 elections, when it stunned many people by leaping to second place among Greece’s many political contenders. It’s possible that SYRIZA could come first this time.


Red Square, Everywhere: With Quebec Student Strikers, Against Repression

By Xavier Lafrance and Alan Sears

The Charest government has turned to repression to try to break the largest and longest student strike in Quebec history. Students had already endured heavy-handed policing, including hundreds of arrests and brutal attacks by riot cops on campuses and in the streets. The new strikebreaking legislation, Bill 78, is a brutal clampdown on the right to organize collectively and on freedom of expression. The protest plans for any demonstrations of more than 50 people must be cleared with the police in advance of any gathering, or the action will be considered illegal.  Individual students, staff or faculty members who advocate the ongoing strike action risk harsh penalties, and student unions or university employees unions who organize or support ongoing strike activity will face heavy fines.


Massive Student Upsurge Fuels Major Debates in Quebec Society

By Richard Fidler

A crowd estimated at 250,000 people or more wound its way through Montréal April 22 in Quebec’s largest ever Earth Day march. They raised many demands: an end to tar sands and shale gas development, opposition to the Quebec government’s Plan Nord mining expansion, support for radical measures to protect ecosystems, and other causes. And many wore the red felt square symbolizing support to the province’s students fighting the Liberal government’s 75 per cent increase in post-secondary education fees over the next five years. The Earth Day march was the largest mobilization to date in a mounting wave of citizen protest throughout the province.


Toronto Municipal Workers Under Attack: An Interview

Over 25 000 unionized workers at the City of Toronto, members of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Locals 79 and 416, along with Toronto Public Library workers in CUPE Local 4948, are under attack by right-wing mayor Rob Ford. A lockout seems likely and will be a “historic test for labour.” In late December 2011, David Camfield discussed the situation with two members of CUPE 79, Julia Barnett and Peter Lynch.


Should Radicals Care About Unions?

By David Camfield

People in Canada who want deep-rooted social change are divided when it comes to unions today. While many are pro-union, it’s not uncommon to run into dismissive or simply hostile attitudes too.


Toward a New Labour Politics

By Maryann Abbs

Review of David Camfield, Canadian Labour in Crisis: Reinventing the Workers’ Movement
(Winnipeg: Fernwood, 2011).


What’s at Stake at Canada Post?

By Cindy McCallum Miller

Canadians embrace the urban myth that postal workers strike regularly, usually at Christmas and always over money. That’s as far from the truth as believing Stephen Harper is a feminist. The last pan-Canadian strike by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) was in 1997 but that will soon change.


What Happened in Wisconsin?

By Tessa Echeverria and Andrew Sernatinger

On a cold January day in Wisconsin, the two of us sat over a couple of cups of coffee and started talking, like many others, about what was happening in the world and remarked on the chain of revolts across Europe and North Africa. We got up to leave and passed a copy of January’s Economist magazine, the cover reading “The Battle Ahead, Confronting the Public Sector Unions.” We crossed East Washington Avenue, a long stretch of vacant manufacturing buildings in Madison, and asked each other, “When is it going to be our turn?”


The European Workers’ Movement: Dangers and Challenges

By Murray Smith

With the onset of the world economic crisis, the European workers’ movement finds itself in a new phase, one that is replete with dangers and challenges. It is important to underline that we are in fact in a new situation and not just a continuation of the previous period.


The Battle of York

By Xavier Lafrance

On January 29, 2009, 85 days after it was launched, the longest strike in the Canadian university sector outside of Québec came to an end. This was a strike by some 3400 contract faculty, teaching assistants and research assistants employed by York University and unionized under the banner of CUPE 3903.


Brazil: A Tradition of “State Unionism”

By José Luís Rojo

Brazil’s workers’ movement is the largest and most powerful in the Americas, despite the setbacks it has suffered from the attacks by both employers and the neoliberal government of President Lula da Silva of the Workers’ Party (PT). On June 5-6, some 4000 people including 3200 delegates showed up to the “Congress of the Working Class” (referred to in Portugese as Conclat) held in the city of Santos. The aim of the congress was to unite left-wing unions and other working people’ organizations in a new central body, as an alternative to the two established union federations whose leaderships are loyal to the Lula government. Unfortunately, the congress was a setback, with the leaders of the Conlutas association using their majority of delegates to pass key motions opposed by the Intersindical group instead of seeking a compromise consensus to unite the forces gathered at the congress. As a result, a large minority of delegates walked out of the congress. A good article on the congress is available in French and Spanish. The following article is a useful introduction to the union movement in Brazil today.


What Strategy for the Big Union Centrals?

By Pierre Mouterde

In the name of “deficit reduction,” governments and other public sector employers across the Canadian state are attempting to extract concessions from public sector workers and weaken the services they deliver. The Common Front of Quebec’s public sector unions is currently in negotiations for contracts covering 475 000 workers. The employers are still showing no sign of moving to meet union demands, but the union leaderships have not been preparing for a strike and continue to negotiate despite the lack of progress at the bargaining table. This article takes a look at the situation. We will be running more articles about public sector unions in future. — NS.