Dianne's blog

Auto Talks Go Past the Wire

The contracts between the Big Three corporations and the United Auto Workers (UAW) expired at midnight September 14 but were extended as negotiations continued. The official union strategy had been to target General Motors as the lead. As union and company signed off on various issues, these were then taken to Chrysler and accepted, or modified. In the final hours, the UAW negotiating team huddled with GM.

Workers at General Motors' Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant listen as officials of the United Auto Workers union and GM give speeches marking the beginning of negotiations over the 2011 union contract. [credit: Jim West]

Pakistani Telecommunication Workers Protest

The Pakistani Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) was privatized in 2005 and with Etsalat obtaining 26% shares along with management rights. Since then PTCL has shed more than 50,000 workers. Last year, when workers organized a national protest to demand a wage increase, Etsalat suspended 600. Although most were subsequently reinstated, 83 leaders were terminated.

On the 1st of August PTCL workers set up a protest camp in Lahore to demand their reinstatement. On the 5th of August 400 trade unionists, half of them women, joined the camp in a show of solidarity and threatened to escalate their tactics. While currently sitting on a side road and not interfering with traffic, they are prepared to block traffic, picket the PTCL headquarters or even occupy the offices of the PTCL headquarters.

Notes from Barcelona’s Tahrir Square: Rebellion of the indignant

There is no doubt about it. The wind that has electrified the Arab world in recent months, the spirit of the repeated protests in Greece or the student struggles in Britain and Italy, the mobilizations against Sarkozy in France... has come to the Spanish State.

by Josep María Antentas and Esther Vivas

Spain: Videos from the Revolt

These videos were created by Sandra Ezquerra, who wrote an article on women in the Spanish economy for Against the Current. She included the following note:

I am sending you the link to a little video I just made on the mass concentrations and campings going on in dozens of cities in Spain. The one in the video is on my city, Barcelona, but there are many more in other places and the ones in Madrid is much bigger. Thousands are getting together to say stop the crisis, stop a system that exploits people and the planet, stop sexism, stop corruption, and stop this false democracy. This is a very inspiring moment here in Spain and we need everybody in the world to have first-hand knowledge of what is happening. The political class is seriously worried.

I have added English subtitles in the video so people from outside the country could understand. Please, send it to all your contacts and let's make the revolution global!!

Plight of women workers in Pakistan's informal sector

Why home-based women workers need social protection urgently

By Bushra Khaliq

April 26, 2011

Bushra KhaliqThe neoliberalization of the late 1980s resulted in the increasing informalization and casualization of the Pakistani labor market, spawning a growth in home-based work almost exclusively performed by women and, frequently, their children. This informal sector consists of small units producing goods or services. Its activities are characterized by low levels of capital and skill, with little access to organized markets and technologies. The working conditions are poor; the incomes low and unstable. Highly labor intensive, this sector stands outside the scope and purview of the official statistical machinery or government regulation.

The government of Pakistan has not developed any social or economic policy or program for home-based women workers. According to the constitution of Pakistan, women are guaranteed rights to enter into any business, but when we review the labor laws, we find there is not even a single applicable one. Home-based workers are not covered by the definition of a worker under the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, West Pakistan Shops and Establishment Act, 1969, Industrial Relations Ordinance, 1969 and the Maternity Benefits Ordinance, 1958 and Employees Old Age Benefit act.

Remembering the Freedom Riders

May 4th was the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, when a dozen interracial riders, organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), challenged segregation in bus accommodations across the Deep South. They were determined to use non-violent direct action to implement a 1960 U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared segregated restaurants and waiting rooms at interstate transportation terminals. The ride, like an earlier one in 1947 CORE had undertaken in the Upper South, was composed only of men. (From the beginning women had demanded to be included, but CORE was insistent that only men face the danger.) The first bus was firebombed outside Anniston, Alabama and the second one was boarded by eight Ku Klux Klan members at the bus terminal. They beat the Black activists and whites like Walter Berman, a retired Wayne State University professor who intervened and was so badly beaten he ended up in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Determined to get to New Orleans in time for a rally, the activists decided to fly, and found the Klan succeeded in closing the airport until federal intervention got them in the air. Fearing that someone would be killed, CORE called off the rides.

When Diane Nash, chair of the earlier Nashville sit-ins and already a SNCC organizer, heard the news she convened a group who decided it was necessary to continue, even if they were to die. Otherwise, mob rule would reinforce Jim Crow practices.

International Women's Day, 8th March 2011

This is a message from the World March of Women, an organization that exists in many countries in Latin America and Europe:

We have started 2011 with hope and revolution in our hearts and minds, as we support the struggle for self-determination and participatory democracy in northern Africa and the Arab world. The peoples of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Syria have demonstrated that mass uprisings of women and men do have the power to topple governments and dictatorships. Women's voices and actions are crucial to the construction of people power, and on International Women's Day we commit ourselves to struggle alongside our sisters to ensure their active participation in their country's transition processes.

One year on from the launch of our 3rd International Action, we - feminists and activists of the World March of Women - continue to march, resist and construct alternatives. We renew our commitment to organize collectively until all of us are free from the oppressions and discrimination that we face as women. We are committed to strengthening, consolidating and expanding our permanent, grassroots movement around the world.

Policing Women's Bodies in 2011

Since the beginning of February Live Action has released several videos shot at different Planned Parenthood clinics. The sting operation seems designed to reveal that the organization is not complying with federal legislation. They claim to show Planned Parenthood staff offering advice to those in sex trafficking of teenagers. Planned Parenthood responded by announcing it is retraining staff, but it also claims the videos have been doctored.

Meanwhile U.S. Rep Mike Pence (R-IN),proposed denying Title X funding to any organization that provides abortions. Pence's target is clearly Planned Parenthood, whose network of clinics offers a variety of health services and remains the country's largest abortion provider.

Title X was enacted in 1970 to provide sex education and contraceptive services for low-income women. Funding covers pelvic and breast examinations as well as testing for high blood pressure, anemia and diabetes, but specifically excludes abortions. Currently the program costs $318 million and serves five million women. In 2009 Planned Parenthood received $16.9 million Title X funding.

Petitioning U.S. and Canadian Embassies

The editors of Against the Current initiated a petition addressed to the Indian Ambassador in Washington DC and the High Commissioner of India in Ottawa, Canada. It requested that a ban on Dr. Richard Shapiro be lifted and charges dropped against Angana Chatterji and Zahir-ud-Din. The latter two are co-founders and co-conveners of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir. They have been charged with writing to incite against the Indian State.

Richard Shapiro is Angana Chatterji's husband, and has accompanied her to India and Kashmir on numerous occasions. On November 1, without any stated reason, Dr. Shapiro was not allowed into India.

Joining the ATC editors in signing the petition were the editors of Canadian Dimension, Campaign for Peace and Democracy, the editors of the New Socialist webzine, Ahmed Shawki, editor, International Socialist Review, the Socialist Project, Toronto and Billy Wharton, editor, The Socialist:

We ask that the Government of India to reverse the November 1, 2010 decision of Immigration Authorities in New Delhi to deny entry to Professor Richard Shapiro, Chair and Associate Professor of the Department of Anthropology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco and husband of Angana Chatterji, Co-convener of the International People's Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir (IPTK) and also Professor of Anthropology at CIIS.

After the Flood

I think this interview with Farooq Tariq of the Labour Party Pakistan is a clear explanation on how the left is reaching out to those who have been affected by the floods, providing concrete aid and building a political campaign to cancel the odious debt.


“The floods have revealed the real nature of poverty in Pakistan”

22 October by Stéphanie Jacquemont

An interview with Farooq Tariq, member of CADTM Pakistan, Labour Relief Campaign (LRC) and spokeperson for Labour Party Pakistan (LPP )- Lahore, 11 October 2010.

Stéphanie Jacquemont (SJ): The Labour Relief Campaign, which comprises various organizations including CADTM Pakistan, is now helping communities that have been hit by the floods. Can you tell us more about the situation for people living in the flood-affected areas?

Farooq Tariq (FT): This has been the most devastating flood in the history of Pakistan. Twenty million people have been affected, and there are still thousands of people on the roads because their houses have been destroyed. Agriculture has also suffered large-scale damage.

This disaster has revealed the real nature of poverty in Pakistan. Earlier, the government was claiming that poverty was on the decline, that the poverty alleviation schemes were working well, that Pakistan had not been impacted by the world capitalist crisis, etc.