||The Purpose of
Solid Net ( Solidarity Network ) is to inform about the activities
as well as the ideological and political views of different Communist
and Workers' Parties on National and International issues.
People's Voice - Issue of May 1-15, 2010
From: Communist Party of Canada
http://www.communist-party.ca , mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
PEOPLE'S VOICE - Issue of May 1-15, 2010
1) A MESSAGE FROM THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CANADA
PART 1 - Round 2 of the crisis: whose "recovery"?
PART 2 - Resistance, not retreat!
PART 3 - There are Alternatives! A People's Recovery plan
2) EUROPEAN WORKERS STRIKE TO DEFEND JOBS AND PENSIONS
3) ONTARIO BUDGET: OPEN FOR BUSINESS
4) CAMPBELL LIBERALS CIRCLING THE DRAIN
5) THE CRISIS AND MAY DAY - Editorial
6) CHILLING REVELATIONS - Editorial
7) WASHINGTON'S DOUBLE STANDARDS
8) SOUTH KOREA'S STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS
9) NO "RECOVERY" FOR YOUNG WORKERS
1) A message from the Communist Party of Canada
PART 1 - Round 2 of the crisis: whose "recovery"?
The corporate owned mass media greet us daily with upbeat
economic reports about how the global economic crisis is
over and that `recovery is now well underway'. This is all
very comforting, but it's also a gross perversion of the
In reality, there is no recovery for most working people in
this country. Unemployment and job insecurity remain high,
with over 1.5 million (8.2%) out of work according to
official statistics; real unemployment is closer to 12%.
Since 2003, more than 500,000 well paying manufacturing
jobs HAVE been wiped out, 290,000 in the past two years
alone. Soon EI benefits will be running out for hundreds of
thousands of these unemployed workers.
Nor is there any recovery for young people trying to find
work or to complete their education. Or for Aboriginal
peoples who continue to suffer systemic joblessness and
grinding poverty. Or for new immigrants and their families
trying to build a better life. Or for pensioners and others
on fixed income.
So what kind of recovery is this? It's a recovery for the
profits of the biggest banks and corporations, and for
those who own and control them.
Think back. For more than two decades, the largest banks
and monopolies had been phenomenally successful in amassing
wealth. Stock markets soared and net profits went through
the roof. They achieved this through "restructuring" their
activities by laying off many of their workers, while
making the rest work longer hours; by holding down real
wages and benefits while increasing labour productivity;
and by gouging consumers through inflated prices.
And they were aided and abetted by right wing, pro
corporate governments (whether `liberal' or `conservative')
which brought in `business friendly' policies like
privatization and de regulation, which weakened labour
standards making it more difficult for workers to organize
and defend their rights, and which cut corporate tax
levels, shifting the tax burden more and more onto working
But this set the stage for inevitable crisis. In due
course, more goods and services were being produced than
working people could afford to consume. To maintain high
consumption levels to keep the super profits rolling in,
big business cajoled and forced working people to sink
deeper and deeper into debt. And they went on an orgy of
speculation to artificially drive the value of their assets
Eventually, the debt bubble had to burst, and ever since
the `meltdown' of September 2008, the largest
transnationals and banks have been manoeuvring to protect
their wealth and maintain profit levels by getting working
people to pay for the crisis which their greed had created.
Big business accomplished this by using their control of
the media, their `think tanks', and their friends in
government to convince everyone that the "sky was falling"
and that governments had to come to their rescue in order
to save the system of capitalism. As a result, over the
past 18 months governments around the world poured
trillions upon trillions (more than $10 trillion in the
U.S. alone) into massive corporate bail outs and buy outs
of `toxic' loans, while relatively little was spent on
short term infrastructural and other job creation projects.
In fact the real purpose of these bail outs was to protect
the unsecured wealth of finance capitalists, rather than to
stimulate new economic growth.
And it worked out all rather well for monopoly, as shown by
the spectacular rebound in their profit margins. Canadian
corporations reported $60.1 billion in operating profits
for the last quarter of 2009. The banks alone raked in some
$15.2 billion during those three months, including $1.5
billion for the Royal Bank and $1.29 billion for TD Bank.
The oil & energy giants made another $7 billion in profit
over the same period. During 2010, corporate profits will
likely top $250 billion.
This `golden parachute' for monopoly the largest single
`theft' of public wealth in history came at a heavy cost.
The corporate bail outs and subsidies, along with generous
corporate tax cuts, are largely responsible for the massive
government deficits and increases in accumulated public
debt we witness today.
One of the biggest gifts to monopoly has been the steady
cuts to corporate and capital gains taxes, down from 28% a
decade ago, to only 17% today. The Harper Tories plan to
further reduce corporate taxes (to 15%) by 2012. In
2009/10, Canadians paid $108 billion in personal income
taxes, while the corporations paid just $22.3 billion. The
2010 federal budget alone included $6 billion in corporate
tax cuts. Right wing provincial governments have also been
guilt of cutting business taxes, to the point that Canada
now has virtually the lowest corporate tax structure in any
of the advanced capitalist countries around the world.
And now we're entering Round Two of the crisis. The
dominant sections of capital the same ones who were so
quick to urge state intervention when it served their
interests are now clamouring for governments to rein in
their `free wheeling' spending, eliminate operating
deficits and control the public debt.
That's what is behind the recent Harper federal and the
provincial "austerity" budgets. Right across the country,
pro-business governments are launching an attack on the
public sector and on the wages and benefits of its workers.
The ruling corporate and financial circles know full well
that by driving down the wages and conditions of public
sector workers, this will put more downward pressure on the
wages of all workers in both the public and private
This is the real strategy of the monopoly capitalists and
their willing servants in governments, especially the
Harper Conservatives. They want to further erode public
services, gain greater access through another devastating
round of privatizations into lucrative sectors like
healthcare, education, and pensions. And they want to
weaken and destroy the resistance of organized labour by
attacking one of its main pillars the public sector
Working people simply cannot afford to take this lying
down. We need to respond in unity "Enough is ENOUGH! We
will not be forced to pay for your crisis!"
PART 2 - Resistance, not retreat!
Faced with a long term "jobless recovery" and the continued
destruction of social safety nets, working people have two
basic options: retreat or resistance.
Big business and their minions in government constantly
urge us to keep our heads down, give concessions to the
bosses, and wait for "better days."
This retreat strategy didn't work in the Dirty Thirties
during the last "Great Depression," and it won't work
today. The economic crisis has not hurt the wealthy, but
they are using it as a club to drive working people deeper
into poverty and debt. The same corporations which demand
lower wages and pensions are reporting profits in the
To survive this attack, working people must fight back. Our
sisters and brothers in Greece, Portugal and other European
countries are showing the way, organizing mass
demonstrations and general strikes to resist the corporate
But there are many similar struggles right here in Canada.
Most of this resistance goes unreported in the corporate
media, but workers across the country are standing up for
their rights, despite intensive pressure to surrender.
The most powerful example is in Quebec, where the Common
Front of public sector workers is battling the Charest
Liberal government to win better wages and working
conditions. On March 20, 75,000 public sector workers and
supporters marched through the streets of Montreal. More
huge rallies have followed, as the Qu�b�cois show
opposition to the Charest government's pro corporate
budget. This massive struggle may well escalate into a
Quebec wide general strike.
In British Columbia, the Campbell Liberal government is
also in deep trouble with working people. A province wide
campaign is underway to force a referendum on the
"harmonised sales tax" (HST) which would shift nearly 2
billion dollars each year from working people to the
business sector. Angry protests have erupted across the
province against brutal cuts to public education. The
"Coalition to Build a Better B.C.", initiated by the trade
union movement, has been joined by Aboriginal peoples, arts
groups, seniors, students and many others, to build a
strong, united struggle against the government's anti
Opposition is beginning to grow in Ontario as well in
response to the McGuinty government's imposition of a wage
freeze on provincial workers, to cutbacks in services, and
plans for privatization.
Solidarity is growing with the heroic struggle of the
miners fighting Vale Inco in Sudbury, Port Colborne and
Voisey's Bay, and with the Journal de Montreal journalists
and clerical workers at one of Quebec's largest daily
papers. These lengthy battles against highly profitable
employers prove the determination of workers to stand up
against attempts by the bosses to slash wages and wipe out
gains achieved through decades of collective bargaining.
In fact, there are many recent cases of working people
across Canada who refuse to surrender to corporate
blackmail. These are crucial struggles for our jobs, our
families, our communities. This is a fight for our hard won
healthcare, education and other social programs, and indeed
for the future of Canada.
But none of these valiant struggles can be won in
isolation. Our watchword must be "an injury to one is an
injury to all." We can't succeed by fighting one battle at
a time, against bosses and governments expert in divide and
rule tactics. Today there is an urgent need to build a
united, labour led fightback at every level, including the
grassroots. But we also need a Canada wide response to the
crisis. The leadership of the trade union movement can and
must take the initiative, by convening a cross Canada
People's Summit of the entire labour movement and its many
allies Aboriginal peoples, youth and students, women,
farmers, seniors and all democratic forces engaged in the
struggle for peace, the environment and for labour,
democratic and equality rights to map out a united,
coordinated and militant counter offensive.
PART 3 - There are Alternatives! A People's Recovery plan
Stephen Harper and the big corporations want to make
working people pay for the "economic recovery", through
lower wages, higher unemployment, and huge cuts in social
spending. We say: those who reap billions in profits must
pay! Unite and fight for an emergency program to put Canada
back to work and protect social programs. A genuine
"People's Recovery" plan should include the following:
expand EI to cover all workers for the full duration of
unemployment, with benefits at 90% of former earnings;
protect and expand manufacturing industries on the basis of
a comprehensive value added industrial policy, and
introduce plant closure legislation with teeth;
stop evictions, mortgage foreclosures and utility cut offs
due to unemployment;
raise the minimum wage to $16/hr., and social assistance
rates; increase pensions through the Canada Pension Plan
to ensure a living pension for all retired workers;
take emergency action to improve the social and economic
conditions of Aboriginal peoples;
invest in a massive public construction program to build
affordable social housing, rebuild Canada's infrastructure,
and protect the environment;
expand Medicare, invest in education and cut tuition,
introduce a universally accessible affordable system of
quality public child care.
Some would argue that we "can't afford" such radical
changes. Here's how it can be done, without adding to the
burden on working people:
shift the tax burden from working people onto the
corporations and the wealthy;
restore the federal corporate income tax to 28% which would
bring in over $30 billion annual revenue;
immediately withdraw from the disastrous war of occupation
in Afghanistan and cut military spending by 50%, saving
another $10 billion every year.
These immediate "people's recovery" measures should be
strengthened by more transformative steps:
nationalize the big banks, insurance and other financial
institutions and place them under public, democratic
nationalize the energy industry to guarantee domestic
supply and to provide the material basis to rebuild
Canadian industry and create hundreds of thousands of jobs,
especially in renewable energy and mass transit;
place the "Big Three" automakers under public ownership and
democratic control, and build a small, fuel efficient,
affordable and environmentally sustainable Canadian car;
immediately withdraw from NAFTA, and adopt a diversified,
multilateral trade policy based on mutual benefit;
introduce a liveable, guaranteed annual income (GAI), and a
shorter work week with no loss in take home pay.
Such a plan would move our country in a fundamentally new
direction, by placing the needs of working people and our
environment before corporate greed, establishing a foreign
policy based on peace and disarmament, and reversing the
erosion of our sovereignty. And our efforts to forge unity
around such a People's Recovery plan can give rise to a
powerful People's Coalition of labour and democratic forces
which can press for even more substantial social and
The Communist Party of Canada, the party that led crucial
working class struggles which won unemployment insurance
and other gains, pledges to do everything in our power to
help build and win such struggles. We urge you to take up
these issues in your unions, your workplaces and schools,
your communities. If you agree with our proposals, contact
us today. Join and build the party that combines today's
urgent fightback with the vision of a socialist future, one
in which unemployment, hunger, exploitation, racism and
oppression, are ended forever!
2) EUROPEAN WORKERS STRIKE TO DEFEND JOBS AND PENSIONS
Special to PV
Using tactics from general strikes to road blockades,
millions of workers across Europe have mounted strong
resistance against the drive to make working people
shoulder the burden of restoring corporate profits.
This epic struggle has been particularly sharp in Greece,
where the recently-elected social democratic PASOK party
quickly caved in to big business demands to slash spending.
The people of Greece are being ordered by the European
Union and transnational capital to accept wage freezes, tax
hikes, mass layoffs, social spending cuts, and a higher
But the militant sections of the Greek labour movement have
fought back, inspiring their sisters and brothers facing
similar right-wing policies in Canada and many other
countries. Starting last year, the communist-led PAME
labour organization, which brings together trade unionists,
unemployed workers and others, took the initiative to
launch several powerful general strikes. Even trade unions
led by PASOK itself have been forced by their own members
to join these strikes, shutting down schools, government
offices, docks, transportation, and other sectors.
In yet another action, public sector workers walked off the
job on April 22 to press the Greek government to reject
further cuts as part of a so-called "aid package" with the
European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
Doctors, nurses, teachers, tax officials and dockers
stopped work, paralyzing public services. Tens of thousands
marched to the parliament buildings in Athens, where
politicians were meeting to discuss the terms of a
"These bloodthirsty measures won't help Greece exit the
crisis," said one union leader.
"We won't tolerate any more measures because we cannot make
ends meet. I have a mortgage, two children, I have cut down
on every luxury," said 38 year old civil servant Pavlina
Parteniou. "Why don't they catch those who stole the money?
Is my salary or my mother's pension of 300 euros going to
save the country?"
Earlier in April, thousands of PAME supporters were joined
by students, pensioners and women for demonstrations in
over 60 cities and towns, condemning measures which will
give new tax cuts to big capital.
Anger against the corporate agenda has erupted in other
European countries. In France, train drivers recently
launched their third strike this year to demand better pay
and working conditions. The railway workers are fighting
attempts to impose layoffs and new schedules which would
British Airways cabin crew walked off their jobs for seven
days during March, causing hundreds of flight cancellations
in another battle over pay and staffing issues. Similarly,
employees at German based Lufthansa airlines struck in
April to demand that the company stop violating their
collective agreement by replacing crews with lower-paid
Strikes at oil giant Total have disrupted refineries across
France. The union at Total is campaigning to protect job
security after the company suddenly closed a major plant,
throwing nearly 400 workers out of their jobs.
French unions are heading for a showdown with the Sarkozy
government over plans to raise the retirement age by two or
three years. The government also wants to increase the
number of years that workers must contribute to qualify for
a full pension.
Italy's largest trade union held a one day strike against
the government's economic and immigration policies on March
12, disrupting schools, hospitals, transport and other
The left wing CGIL union federation, which has some six
million members, called a nationwide stoppage across all
sectors, saying the Berlusconi administration was failing
to respond to the economic crisis. Hundreds of thousands of
protesters gathered in central Rome to march through the
capital, carrying anti government banners and letting off
3) ONTARIO BUDGET: OPEN FOR BUSINESS
By Liz Rowley, CPC (Ontario) leader
The Ontario budget delivers on the government's promise to
open the province up to (foreign) business. It includes a
$4.6 billion corporate tax cut, another $4.5 billion cut
effective July 1 with the implementation of the Harmonized
Sales Tax, elimination of the capital tax, and a small
business tax reduction. Other items: a two-year public
sector wage freeze, cuts to health and education, and a
review of provincial assets for sale. For the poor, the
budget eliminates the Special Diet Allowance, which allowed
those with serious health problems a little extra for food
on top of the pittance paid by welfare.
The government tried to play down the horrible news by
declaring that somewhere in the future its policies would
generate new jobs and surpluses to fund social programs.
In other words, pie in the sky when you die. Of course it's
a lie, but most people don't know what to do about it. It's
also a lie that "we're all in this together" as the Budget
The news that corporate profits have recovered, and that
CEOs and executives have had performance bonuses
reinstated, has generated deep public anger.
Some take comfort in the Liberals' decision to fund the
8,500 child spots that the federal government just
abandoned, and in the funding of full day junior and senior
kindergarten for 4 and 5 year olds. But the province won't
cover the other $1 billion in federal spending on transit,
housing, and health care that Harper has also abandoned.
In fact, our self styled education premier, Dalton
McGuinty, continues to underfund school boards,
universities and colleges, and allows tuition to keep
rising. Accessibility? If students have money, they have
access, says McGuinty. The budget anticipates plenty of
money from international students, whom it plans to exploit
generously. Apparently, that's the new funding formula for
Health care? The budget uses scare tactics, citing the rise
in expenditures over the past 20 years, projected into the
future. The idea is that Ontario can't sustain current
levels of service. Figures don't lie, but liars do figure,
as these numbers show.
Data prepared by the Ontario Health Coalition shows that
hospital spending as a percentage of health care has
declined from a high of 52% in 1981 to a low of 37% in
2008. In other words, hospitals can't provide services
because they're underfunded. Ontario spends less per capita
than any other province on hospital service.
Another round of hospital closures is upon us. The last one
was directed by the Harris Tories, this one by the
Liberals, both under the premise of "efficiencies". Both
have eroded health care and caused deaths in overloaded
emergency rooms, hospitals and clinics.
These are "made in Queen's Park" crises. Both the Liberals
and Tories are geared up to sell the idea of a spending
crisis, and the conclusion that spending must be reigned
in. But this is a crisis of inadequate revenue, not
over-spending. Instead of more than $9 billion in corporate
tax breaks, and the HST a regressive flat tax that will
hit working people the hardest - the government should
increase corporate taxes. It should keep the capital tax,
and expand it to cover all industries and business
including underground mining. It should eliminate the HST,
and introduce a progressive tax system that would put the
load on the corporations, not working people and the
Progressive tax reform would generate the funds needed for
universal health care, for quality, public child care, and
for public and post-secondary education. Progressive tax
reform would enable the delivery of public transit and
affordable housing, while cutting property taxes in half.
Instead, McGuinty's tax reform "of a generation" is a Big
Business tax grab, and it's going to hurt a lot of people,
as OPSEU President Smokey Thomas pointed out.
The Liberals intend to pay for the corporate tax cuts with
a public sector wage cut of at least 4% - about the rate of
inflation over the next two years. That's equivalent to a
week's pay, says Thomas, and that's a wage cut, not a
OPSEU will be organizing demonstrations at Liberal fund
raisers, and will vigorously oppose Bill 16. They should be
joined by the whole labour movement. There are stirrings in
Toronto to mount a fightback that will focus on defence of
social programs and services. This is welcome news.
But it's disturbing that some unions are `holding back',
thinking they can clear the two-year wage freeze before the
next set of negotiations, or because they think they can
hold their noses and live with the Liberals, but not with
the Hudak Tories as the 2011 provincial elections approach.
After NDP leader Andrea Horwath told the media she refused
to be boxed in on the wage freeze issue, a lot of workers
wonder if they can live with any of the parties currently
in the Legislature.
The attack on wages, pensions, and benefits started last
year in the private sector with the autoworkers, municipal
workers, and miners. Now it encompasses all workers, public
and private sector, across Canada and globally. The
austerity programs in Ontario are paralleled in BC, Quebec,
Europe and around the world. So are the corporate tax cuts,
the sale of public assets, the elimination of social
programs, and the attack on free collective bargaining and
the right to strike, organize and picket.
"Open for Business" is the second shoe after the 2008
economic crisis, and it's just beginning. The right wing is
very active in Ontario in a way we haven't seen before,
attempting to turn worker against worker, private against
public, employed against unemployed, Canadian born against
migrants and new Canadians, young against old.
That's why the fightback of 75,000 protesters in Montreal
was never publicized in English-speaking Canada, and why
the heroic ten-month strike of 3,300 miners and
smelterworkers in Sudbury, Port Colborne and Voisey's Bay
is virtually unknown outside those communities. Heroic
struggles like these could be lost without the whole labour
movement actively intervening. Organized labour cannot
leave this matter to a Legislature that is indifferent or
hostile to working people. Nor can labour wait it out.
The CPC (Ontario) is calling for a mass extra-parliamentary
struggle for policies that put people's needs ahead of
The OFL must pick up the challenge, flex its muscles, and
show its power. Organized labour must lead a province wide
struggle to block the right, defeat this corporate budget,
and campaign for policies and government to bring in a
recovery for people in Ontario.
4) CAMPBELL LIBERALS CIRCLING THE DRAIN
By Kimball Cariou
The next B.C. election is three years off, but if a vote
was held this spring, the Liberals would probably be
reduced to a handful of MLAs in Victoria.
The latest survey of voters showed the Liberals at just
29%, a startling 18% behind the NDP led by Carole James.
The Greens are at 14%, and the provincial Conservatives -
suddenly considered an attractive alternative by some
business forces - are at 5%.
The survey showed deep disenchantment with the current
options. An overwhelming majority viewed the Liberals as
arrogant and dishonest, but the results also found that if
a new "centre-left" party was formed, it could have the
support of 34% of voters, compared to 28% for the NDP and
23% for the Liberals.
The news is particularly bad for Gordon Campbell, who is
increasingly detested by voters.
Probably the main factor is the "Harmonised Sales Tax",
scheduled to take effect on July 1. Over 80% of voters
oppose the HST, and a province-wide campaign to force a
referendum on the issue may well succeed. This would
require collecting the signatures of at least 10% of voters
in every single constituency by early July, a task
previously considered impossible. But the campaign is well
on the way to completion with two months left to gather
names. This could create a complicated legal situation,
since the HST legislation is actually federal rather than
provincial. But the exercise is widely seen as a de facto
referendum on the Premier's moral and political authority
to remain in office.
Other issues are also dogging the Liberals, such as their
announcement that the long-delayed Site C dam in northern
B.C. will take the next step towards reality. This has
further alienated many British Columbians, since the dam
would flood valuable farmland solely to produce electricity
for export. (More in an upcoming issue.)
More immediately, underfunding of public education has
further weakened the government. In an effort to divert
attention from their policies, the Liberals recently
appointed a "special advisor" to review the finances and
operations of the Vancouver School Board, one of dozens
facing huge budget shortfalls. The move is seen as an
attempt to crack the whip over school trustees, by
attacking the Board with the most consistent record of
vocal criticism of underfunding.
While the tactic may have confused the issue for some, it
appears the government has already lost this public
relations battle. Another survey, conducted in early April
by the BC Society for Public Education, found that 80% of
British Columbians want the government to increase support
for the public school system. About 65% agreed that the
government should end its ever-growing financial support
for private schools, turning those funds over to the public
system. The government did its best to cover up the
findings; the pro-Liberal Vancouver Sun tried to muzzle its
own education beat reporter, but the story was eventually
The survey may have prodded B.C. school trustees to shift
gears during their recent AGM in Victoria. Historically,
many trustees were reluctant to be associated with
criticism of underfunding, but that changed dramatically at
the April 23-25 meeting, marking a huge victory for the
fightback movement in B.C.
In one key vote, trustees resolved to "request the Ministry
of Education to redirect to the public education system the
public money spent on independent schools, other than band
The AGM backed school boards that are calling for more
funding for public education, and passed another motion
urging the province to "provide adequate, predictable and
sustainable funding that includes additional financial
support for newly mandated initiatives and existing
The trustees also called on Minister of Education Margaret
MacDiarmid to release the report of the special advisor as
soon as it lands on her desk. The Advisor, B.C. comptroller
general Cheryl Wenezenki Yolland, has already admitted that
her report cannot help with the VSB's underfunding crisis,
since it will be submitted a month after the Board's April
29 budget vote.
At press time, the outcome of that vote remained hard to
predict. Parent, teacher and student groups have been
sharply critical of the cuts in the budget, but put the
blame squarely on the province. No group has called for the
defeat of the budget, since this is widely seen as an
invitation for the province to remove the popular Board.
But the trustees face the very real dilemma of trying to
protect education without adequate funding.
5) THE CRISIS AND MAY DAY
People's Voice Editorial
The after-shocks of the great meltdown still reverberate
eighteen months later, as workers across the planet rally
on May Day 2010. The events of September 2008 proved again
that the Marxist understanding remains valid: capitalism
inevitably generates crises which shake the system to its
foundations. The question arises: how can this latest
crisis be resolved?
The ruling class answer is simple. From their perspective,
the crisis has already been overcome, by the return to
previous levels of corporate profits and economic activity.
How did this miracle happen? Equally simple: by the massive
looting of public funds, i.e. the taxes paid by working
people. Even better for the bosses, the crisis supplied the
excuse for a savage attack on wages, pensions, social
programs, collective bargaining rights, and every gain won
by workers in recent decades. In essence, the initial
outcome of the crisis has been to enormously widen the gap
between boss and worker, between rich and poor, on a global
But for the working class, May Day 2010 is an occasion to
fight for a different strategy. The assault has sparked a
world-wide upsurge in resistance, in the workplaces and in
the streets. The most inspiring fightback has been in
Greece, where the communist-led All-Workers Militant Front
(PAME) has initiated general strikes and huge protests
against the drive to impose the entire cost of the crisis
on the working class.
But militant labour action is growing in Canada as well.
The Common Front of Quebec public sector workers continues
preparations for a possible mass walkout. Labour-led
fightback coalitions are stirring into action in British
Columbia and now Ontario.
This May Day, People's Voice and the Communist Party send
greetings to all workers in action, including our sisters
and brothers in the Common Front, those on the picket lines
against Vale Inco, and those battling the Campbell Liberals
in British Columbia. And we take this occasion to urge the
labour movement to take the next step, by calling a summit
of labour and its allies, to help build a powerful, united
campaign to fight for genuine "People's Recovery" policies.
6) CHILLING REVELATIONS
People's Voice Editorial
The story behind the March 2009 decision to ban British MP
George Galloway from Canada has been revealed, and the
facts are chilling. After Immigration Minister Jason
Kenney's communications director sent an email flagging
Galloway's speaking tour, it took just 102 minutes for an
official in the National Security section of the Canadian
Border Services Agency to rule Galloway inadmissible as "a
member of a terrorist organization."
In reality, George Galloway was helping to ship desperately
needed medical aid to Gaza, where Palestinian civilians
live under a deadly blockade by Israeli authorities. The
Palestinians, of course, had democratically elected a
government led by the Hamas movement. For this "crime,"
they were punished by the Harper Tories, who immediately
cut off all aid programs, making them accomplices in mass
murder of the Palestinians.
Mr. Galloway was targetted, not for "membership" in Hamas,
but for his pro-Palestinian views. This action was part of
the Tory drive to criminalize criticism of Israel, on the
absurd claim that such criticism constitutes "anti-Semitic
Jason Kenney lied to Parliament and to Canadians to cover
up the truth: his office used political strong-arm tactics
to force the CBSA to act on the whims of the Tory
government. For this Mr. Kenney should immediately resign.
And consider the broader implications. If the federal
government can treat a British member of Parliament this
way, how safe are the freedoms of ordinary Canadians? The
record shows that for the Harper Tories, democracy and
civil liberties are dirty words, not freedoms to be
7) WASHINGTON'S DOUBLE STANDARDS
The Cuban Five and the Assassination of Fabio di Celmo:
Washington's Double Standards, by Arnold August, April 18,
2010 (slightly abridged from original)
The alternative media in countries such as the USA and
Canada are trying to further break the silence regarding
the Cuban Five. One such media is Radio Montr�al in Quebec.
The host of the weekly program in French, Le Monde, cette
semaine (the World this Week), Andr� Pesant, invited me
once again to exchange views with him about this case.
The five Cubans were sent to south Florida in the 1990s to
infiltrate terrorist organisations operating for decades
with impunity against Cuba. Over 3,000 Cubans were killed
and 2,000 seriously maimed by terrorist activities in Cuba
since the revolution of January 1, 1959. The Cuban
authorities have continuously pressed Washington to stop
this action emanating from their territory, but to no
avail. The only choice open to Cuba was to gather the
information and provide it to the US authorities so that
action is taken against those responsible. This is what the
five Cuban citizens did. However, when all the evidence was
presented to the FBI representatives in Havana, instead of
arresting the perpetrators of these crimes, they arrested
the five Cubans.
The kangaroo court proceedings were held in Miami, despite
the objections of their lawyer to the impossibility of
having a free, fair and impartial trial in that city. Miami
is the hotbed for violent anti Cuban action. The Five were
also held in solitary confinement (the "hole") for 17
months after their arrest on September 12, 1998, unable to
communicate with each other or their families. Their
confinement prevented them from properly preparing for
Gerardo Hernandez: two life sentences and the continued
refusal for over 11 years to receive the visit of his wife
Rene Gonzales: 15 years and the continued refusal for over
10 years to receive the visit of his wife Olga Salanueva.
Antonio Guerrero: Life sentence plus 10 years, subsequently
reduced in the fall of 2009 to 22 years.
Ramon Labanino: Life sentence later reduced to 30 years.
Fernando Gonzalez: 19 years subsequently reduced to 17
years and 9 months.
The families of Antonio, Ramon and Fernando have to
overcome one obstacle after another to visit the prisoners.
All five have been kept in the worst conditions in an
obvious attempt to break their spirit: Gerardo, Antonio and
Ramon are kept in high security prisons, while Fernando and
Rene are in FDC (Federal Detention Facilities).
The original trial, coupled with the double punishment
which consists of refusing appropriate family visits,
violates US laws, jurisprudence and penitentiary rules.
Regarding the holding of the jury trial in Miami,
international law consists, amongst others, of article 14
of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, which states in part that "all persons
shall be equal before the courts and tribunals. In the
determination of any criminal charge against him, or of his
rights and obligations in a suit at law, everyone shall be
entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent,
independent and impartial tribunal established by law."
Those who have taken a stand from around the globe include
parliamentarians (such as 56 members of the Canadian
Parliament from Quebec and Canada), heads of states, trade
unions (such as the most of the main unions in Canada and
Quebec), student associations such as the Canadian
Federation of Students, ten Nobel Prize laureates, human
rights organizations and innumerable personalities.
On May 27, 2005 the United Nations Working Group on
Arbitrary Detention also took a stand in favour of the
Five. A record number of 12 prestigious "Friends of the
Court" petitioned the US Supreme Court to revise the case
which was brought to this highest court in the land by the
Cuban 5 lawyers. However, despite the world wide
condemnation, the US Supreme Court refused to review the
case in 2009. To add insult to injury, the Supreme Court
did not give any reason for its denial.
The Cuban Five committee in Quebec is called the Comit�
Fabio di Celmo pour les 5. Fabio di Celmo was one of the
victims of the terrorist attacks in Cuba, the very type of
activity that the Cuban Five were trying to halt.
In 1997 the Miami based terrorists organized a program to
disrupt the tourist industry on the island. Fabio was in a
Havana hotel when a bomb placed in the lobby exploded and
killed him. Fabio di Celmo was a young Italian, living at
the time in Italy as well as in Montreal. He had been
granted residence status in Canada. At the time of his
assassination he was awaiting Canadian citizenship. And so
the Table de concertation de solidarite Qu�bec-Cuba (the
Concertation Table of Quebec Cuba Solidarity) decided to
name its special committee in honour of Fabio di Celmo.
Some of his family live in Montreal, notably his brother
Livio di Celmo.
The self admitted assassin of Fabio di Celmo and author of
other actions such as the blowing up the Cubana de Aviacion
airline flight in 1976 which killed 73 Cuban civilians is
Luis Posada Carriles. Andr� read out portions of a New York
Times interview with Carriles in which he actually takes
credit for these activities. Carriles and others like him
presently walk the streets in Miami, free as a bird. He
even actively takes part at this time in the current media
campaign against Cuba.
How is it that five Cubans are in prison for opposing
terrorism, while avowed terrorists such as Carriles are in
liberty? This and other similar examples show the double
standard and hypocritical policy of the USA. The family of
Fabio di Celmo is understandably outraged by this double
standard on terrorism and human rights, demanding that
justice be carried out: Carriles should be tried for his
This frustrating lack of justice is all the more reason to
support the work of Committees such as the International
Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five which have
organized a massive postcard campaign. Tens of thousands of
cards are being sent from all continents in dozens of
languages directly to Obama. In Qu�bec, the Fabio di Celmo
committee organizes monthly pickets in front of the US
consulate in Montreal and is circulating a petition. These
actions and similar ones in Canada such as in Vancouver and
Toronto all have one main goal: to force president Obama to
use his constitutional right to grant pardon and free the
Cuban Five. With the stroke of a pen Obama can do so. In
the meantime, committees, organizations and personalities
around the world are demanding the granting of visas on a
humanitarian basis to Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva so
that they can visit their respective husbands imprisoned in
(Arnold August is a member of the International Committee
for the Freedom of the Cuban Five and the Comit� Fabio di
Celmo pour les Cinq of the Table de concertation de
solidarit� Qu�bec Cuba.)
8) SOUTH KOREA'S STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS
By Sean Burton
Organized Korean workers do not beat around the bush when
it comes to their working conditions and rights, and there
have been numerous successes in their fight against South
Korea's reactionary ruling circles in the past sixty years.
Though present-day South Korea is hardly a beacon of social
progress, conditions are considerably better than twenty or
thirty years ago.
Mass resistance to the detested military dictatorships
flared up on a number occasions. One of the most notable
events was the Gwangju Democratization Movement of May
1980. Following the assassination of General Park Chung Hee
the previous year, South Korea's long suppressed democratic
movement began to mobilize again.
The new military government instituted martial law, and on
May 15, 1980, over 100,000 people protested in Seoul. In
response, the government expanded martial law and shut down
universities and banned political activities. Troops were
also sent around the country, including to university
campuses. Fighting broke out in the southern city of
Gwangju on May 18, and numerous civilians were killed.
Instead of being cowed into submission, many people banded
together and raided armouries and police stations to obtain
weapons and form militias. The South Korean army eventually
attacked the city in force and defeated the militias on the
27th, resulting in over two thousand casualties. The
legitimacy of the regime was severely undermined, and the
Gwangju Massacre became a rallying cry during the 1980s to
end military rule.
There have also been many attempts to improve labour
conditions. It is hardly surprising that labour rights
during the military dictatorship were quite limited. Labour
activists put themselves at great risk, since complaining
could be labelled as "unpatriotic", and perhaps "pro
communist". After Park Chung Hee's coup in 1961, there was
only the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), and this
was under the control of the government.
The self immolation of Jeon Tae il in 1970 was a notable
catalyst for organizing independent labour unions in South
Korea. Jeon, a tailor, had been particularly appalled by
conditions at the Seoul Peace Market. These included many
cases of tuberculosis due to poor ventilation, and forced
injections of amphetamines to keep workers awake. Jeon's
protests were dismissed by the government, and the
exasperated 22 year old set himself on fire in downtown
Seoul to demand enforcement of the labour code.
Though various labour organizations sprang up afterwards,
the FKTU remained the only legal federation of unions until
1999. Military rule ended by the early 1990s, but there
were still many struggles afterwards. There was another
self immolation in the late 1990s as the government of Kim
Yong Sam attempted to introduce a widely disliked labour
policy. There was a strike led by the then-illegal Korean
Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), and clashes with the
Where do things stand now? Few will forget the massive
beef-import protests of 2008, and the nation's unions,
particularly the KCTU, are in regular conflict with the
staunchly conservative Lee Myung Bak government. And now
Samsung, one of the south's most powerful corporations, is
facing criticism for the working conditions in its plants.
Late in March, a worker at one of Samsung's semiconductor
factories died from leukemia. She began working there in
2004. According to the Hankyoreh newspaper, her job
involved using "tweezers to place the semiconductors in a
hot lead solution and other chemicals, remove them and use
an x ray machine to inspect them". She first fell ill in
2007 and briefly recovered after a bone marrow transplant.
A human rights group at the plant has stated that about
twenty workers at two semiconductor plants have been
diagnosed with blood related cancers, of who eight have
died. Samsung has also denied any responsibility.
However, a former maintenance engineer recently came
forward and stated that the company is lying about working
conditions; that accidents were commonplace and dangerous
materials were being improperly handled. In some cases,
warning alarms were ignored and deactivated and managers
kept silent. There have since been demonstrations demanding
action from the company. Samsung did open up one of its
plants for media coverage. However, the company only
allowed access to two of the newer production lines, and
for just thirty minutes. It is unclear what will develop
from this and subsequent investigations, but the working
people of South Korea still have a long battle ahead of
9) NO "RECOVERY" FOR YOUNG WORKERS
The 25th Central Convention of the Young Communist League
Ligue de la jeunesse comuniste (YCL-LJC) will be held May
21-23 in Toronto. We reprint here some excerpts from Part 2
of the Call to the 25th Convention, the section on the
situation of young workers during the present global
The economic crisis is rooted in the systemic crises of the
capitalist system. It has come about at the same time as
crises in environmental problems and food supply that have
related but distinct origins.
As we've said, while neo liberalism has intensified the
outcomes of the current crisis, the crisis "is not the
result of the implementation of neoliberal policies such as
free trade, deregulation, privatization, and anti labour
employment policies, etc.; rather, it is the inevitable
outcome of the systemic crisis of capitalism itself."
Now the crisis has matured. There is a major campaign to
convince us that we have experienced a "jobless recovery."
In fact there is no such thing...
Internationally, the young workers have seen a major spike
in unemployment. No other age group has been hit as hard. 1
in 5 youth are unemployed in the United Kingdom. The United
States AFL CIO labour union central calls this the "lost
decade" for young workers. For third world and global
South's unemployed, youth are the majority.
Young workers [especially from the "second" and "third"
worlds] are the first victims of labour market
deregulation, produced by imperialist globalization, with
alarming results. Millions of young workers are unemployed,
sub employed or working in slavery like conditions without
health or social security. They are homeless and persecuted
emigrants, as well as child labour. A whole generation of
young workers are in material and spiritual ruin, with no
The capitalists are claiming that the debt and deficits
incurred to "fix" the crisis must be resolved by anti
people and anti youth measures, like:
reduced accessibility and privatization of education,
transit, housing, dental care, and childcare;
even lower rates of youth unionization, ageist two tier
collective agreements, poorer wages;
and even more debt.
The consolidation of these plans by imperialism are found
on the state budget level, and special trade agreements.
Those hit hardest include Indigenous youth; youth from
racialized communities; young women; youth in sub Saharan
Africa; youth in countries subject to imperialist wars,
occupations and blockades.
The intense ideological offensive designed (a) to divide
the working class, including scapegoating, racism, anti
communism, etc, and (b) convince people that a recovery is
in full swing.
Efforts to convince the youth through the corporate media
and culture that "the crisis has ended" have broadened to
include campaigning for the hearts and minds of the youth,
for their vision of a better future. etc. The methods are
sophisticated although the basic message is sometimes very
crude, found in all media.
...On the other hand, genuine anti imperialist efforts have
been seen globally:
outpouring of support by the youth for the revolutions of
Latin America, both on that continent and internationally;
the resistance of the youth in Honduras;
international youth support for the Cuban Five;
strikes and actions of the Greek youth and workers;
resistance of the German, Austrian and French students;
sharp criticism by the ANC Youth and Young Communist League
of South Africa of neo liberalism;
rejection by young Americans of Bush and the war in Iraq;
rise in youth support of the Japanese Communist Party;
global outrage by the youth about climate change, seen at
militant protests in Copenhagen.
These fight backs on the surface have a strong spontaneous
dynamic, but in fact are part of organized struggle. Often
they are connected with the specific work of youth
The most advanced global expression of anti imperialist
resistance is the World Federation of Democratic Youth
(WFDY). We also express our hope for strengthening the
International Union of Students. The continuation of the
World Festival of Youth and Students movement is a terrific
step forward. It should be greeted with the greatest energy
and enthusiasm by our YCL LJC.
END END END END END