World news briefs

Communist Party of Vietnam 11th Congress

The 11th Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), held in Hanoi January 12-19, endorsed Marxism-Leninism as the cor­nerstone of the economic renewal started 25 years ago. A total of 1377 del­egates took part, representing 3.6 million members, as well as former members of its Central Committee and the group called Heroic Mothers, women who lost their children in the independence struggles.

Politburo member Nguyen Phu Trong was elected as the new general secretary of the CPV for the next five years. In his speech to the congress, outgoing party leader Nong Duc Manh said he believed the success of the congress would open a new stage of development on the road to building Vietnam into a wealthy, democratic and civilised socialist country.

The congress received 176 messages of congratulations from international political parties, organisations and friends. On behalf of the presidium and the entire congress, President Nguyen Minh Triet expressed his respect and thanks to the friendship and cooperation that foreign political parties, organisations and friends had given to the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Philippines PAL union: Strike still an option

The Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA), the ground crew union of the country’s flag carrier, said that despite a stay order of President Benigno Aquino in December putting on hold the planned retrenchment of ground crew employees, a strike remains an option should the labour dispute with management remain unresolved in 2011.

“PALEA calls on its members and its supporters from the labour movement to remain vigilant. Next year, we will wage the mother of all battles to finally defeat PAL’s contractualisation scheme,” Gerry Rivera, PALEA president and Partido ng Manggagawa vice chair, said in a statement.

PALEA welcomed the president’s intervention, but said it remains watchful because the suspension of PAL’s planned outsourcing, which would lead to the loss of some 3000 jobs, was only temporary. Rivera said the legal requirements of the planned strike “have been complied with and so it remains an option”.

Pakistan Labour Education Foundation award

The Pakistan Labour Education Foundation (LEF) has been presented the Silver Rose Award in the international category for 2011 by SOLIDAR.

The LEF is a non-government organisation with strong support from the Labour Party Pakistan that works to empower the working class to protect its social, economic and political rights, sensitises workers, women and youth groups about the need for literacy and enables them to advocate for their rights.

SOLIDAR is a European network of 52 NGOs active in more than 90 countries working to advance social justice in Europe and worldwide. SOLIDAR website

On January 13, the jury of the Silver Rose Award, chaired by Véronique de Keyser, Socialist MEP from Belgium, met in the European Parliament in Strasbourg and decided to award the honour to LEF.

SOLIDAR’s Silver Rose Awards were launched in 2000 to help raise the profile of individuals and organisations whose struggles contribute greatly to social justice and equality throughout the world.

2010 a rich year for LALIT

LALIT held a well-attended members’ meeting for an end-of-the-year review of 2010 on December 19 at its centre in Grand River North West in Mauritius. Rada Kistnasamy and Lindsey Collen gave the overall report on the party’s actions during the year, while six representatives of regional groups gave reports, and another seven representatives of LALIT commissions gave reports. The meeting was chaired by Rajni Lallah. A summary of the overall report is available on the LALIT website.

Police fire on garment workers in Bangladesh

Protests by garment workers in Bangladesh in December were met with savage repression. Police killed four people and injured at least 150. About 100 workers were injured in other clashes with police at export processing zones (EPZs) in Dhaka and Narayanganj. At least 65 workers were arrested.

The garment sector accounts for 80% of Bangladesh’s exports, and a huge number of workers are employed in this sector. However, the working conditions are poor and unsafe, and the workers are paid below the minimum wage. The government is determined to keep wages low in order to attract foreign investment.

Despite the police killings, workers continued strikes and protests. About 5000 garment workers staged a sit-in at the northern manufacturing district of Gazipur, while another 5000 stopped work at a factory inside the Ashulia EPZ, some 40 kilometres north-west of Dhaka.

The Revolutionary Workers’ Party of Bangladesh has demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all workers’ organisers and leaders; an end to torture in the name of remand; withdrawal of all false cases against workers and their leaders; an  inquiry into the police firing of December 12 and the fire in the Chittagong EPZ; compensation of 1 million taka (about $14,500) to families of workers who were killed, and compensation and medical treatment for  the injured; revision of grades and pay of workers according to their long-standing demands; basic rights including trade union rights for workers; and an end to all draconian laws and implementation of labour laws. For more information: Police Firing on Garment Workers in Bangladesh.

Meeting in the Swat Valley organised by the
Labour Party Pakistan, January 6.

500 participate in LPP meeting in Swat

More than 500 people attended a public meeting at Chaprial in the Swat Valley organised by the Labour Party Pakistan on January 6. This was the first political public gathering in this area after a military operation forced the religious fanatics to retreat from the area they controlled till 2009. It was one of three public gatherings attended by the central leadership of the LPP including Farooq Tariq, LPP spokesperson, Younas Rahu, general secretary for LPP Sindh, and Nazli Javed, member of the federal committee. 

The LPP leadership pointed out that the people of Swat had suffered at the hands of both religious fundamentalists and the military operation. The fanatics burned most of the educational institutions and had killed many who opposed them, making the lives of Swat people miserable.

The military takeover of Swat solved nothing, and most of the people suffered constant humiliation because of the military checks.

The LPP leaders said that joining more than 2000 people to the LPP in different parts of Swat shows that the left can be developed even in the most difficult objective conditions.