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Ukrainian trade unionist speaks

By Yuri Samoilov - Workers Voice, February 28, 2023

Yuri Samoilov, president of the Independent Trade Union of Miners and the Kryvyi Rih regional sector of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine (KVPU), is taking part in a series of meetings in eight European cities, at the invitation of the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggle. His first presentation took place on Feb. 21 in Warsaw and was organized by the Polish trade union Inicjatywa Pracownicza. Check the report here. Major excerpts from his speech follow below.

This talk took place on the same day that President Joe Biden attended a meeting with leaders of NATO countries in Warsaw. Despite many words of support, Biden failed to deliver the tanks and the Patriot anti-aircraft batteries promised in December. In Moscow, Putin played the victim and said he would continue the war to annex the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson in addition to Crimea, annexed in 2014. Faced with these facts, it is urgent and necessary to strengthen the international workers’ solidarity.

The Workers’ Aid campaign for Ukraine was launched at the fourth meeting of the International Labour Network for Solidarity and Struggles in the French city of Dijon in April 2022:

In the same month, the first workers’ aid convoy was sent to Ukraine, where the “Dimensions of War” Conference was held on May 1 together with the Ukrainian organization Sotsyalnyi Ruh. The 800 kilograms of food, first aid kits and generators were handed over to the Kryvyi Rih Miners and Metalworkers Union:

At the end of September, the Labour Network sent the second workers’ aid convoy with a ton of first aid kits and power generators to the town of Kryvyi Rih where they met with local unionists and activists. See the photo report: On December 17, the International Conference of the Workers’ Aid to Ukraine Campaign was held, with the participation of more than 200 activists from 23 countries. On this occasion, an international crowd-funding campaign was launched to help workers during the winter. Watch the video about the activity here:

Here are major portions of Yuri Samoilov’s speech at the meeting in Warsaw:

‘Megathreat Mountain’: challenges for 2023

By Willy De Backer - European Trade Union Institute, February 20, 2023

The year 2023 promises to be at least as challenging as the previous one, with war still raging between Russia, Ukraine and the West. The climate emergency turning into a real climate collapse also for countries in the Global North which had been spared some of the deadly and devastating effects which some countries in the Global South had already experienced for years.

At the beginning of the year, many ‘expert’ commentators and think tanks published their forecasts for the next 12 months. All of them agree that the new year looks challenging, if not to say scary. In an excellent comment on Project Syndicate, Nouriel Roubini refers to Thomas Mann’s great novel ‘The Magic Mountain’ comparing the current ‘age of mega threats to the tragic period between 1914 and 1945 and stating that we are ‘sleepwalking on mega threat mountain’.

Let us have a quick look at some of the chief challenges for Europe in 2023 but mostly in the form of questions (with further reading links) instead of predictions.

ETUI Webinar on climate-induced migration

By Mehtap Akgüç and Franklin Kimbimbi - European Trade Union Institute, February 20, 2023

Climate change and rising temperatures are the leading causes of natural disasters such as flooding, storms, land sliding, wildfires, drought, and desertification, to name a few. With the rate of change of climate, the frequency and scale of these disasters have also gone up over the last decades. Related to these natural phenomena, although it may feel like it often happens far away and not in the immediate term, climate-induced migration is emerging in several regions across countries, including Europe, leaving almost no country immune to its consequences. Even though it is hard to disentangle the root causes of migration, and several push and pull factors are at play during the mobility process, environmental reasons are emerging as a significant push factor.

Some of the key characteristics of climate-induced migration, research suggests, are that it takes place mainly within the borders of a country (i.e. internal). That return migration is very common (95 per cent of the time). While it is a complex task to come up with exact figures, it is estimated that nearly 350 million people have been displaced because of weather conditions and natural disasters from 2008-2021. Most of these people returned (except around 6 million), and an even smaller proportion crossed international borders. The type of natural disaster, fast- versus slow-onset events, also determines the nature of displacement, e.g., involuntary versus voluntary or temporary versus permanent. 

All in all, the pace of climate change and existing inequalities in adaptation and resilience capacities suggest that climate-induced migration will rise as an important issue to be addressed in the coming years. And the key question remains: how will climate change adaptation and mitigation policies interact with migration (and eventually integration) policies? 

Howie Hawkins (Ukraine Solidarity Network US): ‘The anti-imperialist position is to support the national liberation struggle of the Ukrainian people’

By Howie Hawkins and Federico Fuentes - Links, January 28, 2023

Howie Hawkins is a retired Teamsters union warehouse worker, the US Green Party 2020 presidential candidate and an ecosocialist. Together with a range of other leftists, socialists, unionists and academics, he recently helped set up the Ukraine Solidarity Network (US). Hawkins spoke to Federico Fuentes about the initiative and the challenges of building solidarity with Ukraine while opposing US imperialism.

Could you tell us a bit about how and why the Ukraine Solidarity Network came about, and what the fundamental aim of the network is? What practical solidarity does the network plan to carry out?

The Ukraine Solidarity Network was initiated at a meeting at the Socialism 2022 conference in Chicago in early September. We convened following a talk on “Ukraine, Self-Determination, and Imperialist War” by Yuliya Yurchenko of Sotsialnyi Rukh (Social Movement), a democratic socialist organisation in Ukraine. Though initiated by socialists, we agreed to build a broader network of people to support the Ukrainian people’s national liberation struggle. Our fundamental aim is to build moral, political and material support in labour and social movements for the people of Ukraine in their resistance to Russia’s invasion and their struggle for independence, democracy and social justice. We want to nurture links between progressive labor and social organizations in Ukraine and the United States.

Public education is an immediate priority. We want to counter the narratives of significant parts of the old left and the peace movement in the United States who have decided that if the US is sending arms to Ukraine, they must automatically oppose that support. Given the vicious history of US imperialism, that stance may be understandable. But a one-size-fits-all conclusion is not justified without a critical examination of each conflict. Would these people have opposed US military aid to the anti-fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War because it came from the US imperialist state? Or the military aid the US gave to the Soviet Union in World War II? Or the US arms and special forces the US sent to the Viet Minh resisting the Japanese invasion during that war? In the case of Ukraine, the knee-jerk conclusion of no US aid to the Ukrainian national liberation struggle reveals a US-centric colonial mindset. It sees US imperialism as the cause of what they call “the US proxy war on Russia.” It renders the Ukrainians invisible. Ukrainian perspectives on the causes of the war and why they want arms for self-defence are ignored, including the views of progressive trade union, socialist, anarchist, feminist, LGBT and environmental movements in Ukraine.

The Ukraine Solidarity Network wants to be a voice on the US left that opposes all imperialisms — Russian as well as US — and supports the right of historically colonised and oppressed nations like Ukraine to self-determination and to self-defence against aggression. We are concerned that those on the US left who oppose aid to Ukraine and, in some quarters, openly support a Russian victory, are alienating progressive- and peace-minded people in the US and internationally from the left.

While US military and economic support for Ukraine currently has wide support in the political centre and left, it is fast eroding in the Republican Party. The US right admires Putin’s authoritarian strongman rule and his conservative Christian, ethnonationalist, patriarchal, anti-gay, anti-trans and climate change-denying policies and pronouncements. US aid to Ukraine will be challenged by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives when the next round of funding is considered later this year. By next fall, far-right “peace” candidates, who will campaign on cutting aid to Ukraine and redirecting those military resources to Pacific deployments against China and Mexican border deployments against migrants, are likely to gain traction in the Republican presidential primaries. I hope the Ukraine Solidarity Network will have a significant influence on the Ukraine debate in US politics with a progressive perspective that support’s Ukraine’s self-determination and opposes both Russian and US imperialism.

Climate-induced migration

By staff - European Trade Union Institute, September 15, 2022

Can you imagine being displaced in your own country because of abnormal heavy rainfall or prolonged droughts?

According to the UNHCR, every year more than 20 million people leave their homes because of extreme weather events and are relocated to other areas of their country. This phenomenon, called ‘climate-induced migration’, which can cumulate in situations where people are displaced across borders, illustrates a complex nexus between migration and climate change.

This nexus is complex because, after an ecological catastrophe, it is difficult to isolate environmental factors as the sole driver pushing people to move. Many other factors come into play in the decision to migrate. For example, how well-off are the communities affected by the ecological catastrophe (economic factor)? Or what measures does the state take to cope with the situation (political factor)?

To add to the lack of clarity in this nexus, displaced people tend to underestimate the environmental factor as the main drivers of their exodus: ‘Most explain their displacement in terms of poverty, often overlooking the root cause behind the deterioration of their homes and land, and the resulting loss of productivity.’ (Source: Euronews)

Climate-induced migration is a ‘multicausal’ and ‘multidimensional’ phenomenon (Source: IOM Outlook on Migration, Environment and Climate change. International Organization for Migration (IOM). 2014, pp. 126). It occurs most often in the Global South, but this doesn't mean that the Global North is spared.

According to data provided by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and cited by the same Euronews article linked above, climate events causing displacement in Europe have more than doubled in the last years, from 43 in 2016 to 100 in 2019. The IDMC estimates that almost 700,000 people have been displaced by wildfires, storms, and floods in the last ten years (2008-2019). Russia comes out top with 141,787 people displaced, followed by Bosnia and Herzegovina (91,215) and Spain (64,360).

Is it because climate-induced migration is difficult to apprehend that there is a lack of a commonly agreed definition of it at the international level? The question is open. Meanwhile, we must admit that there is currently no common European legal framework to protect people affected by environmentally induced migration.

Landing Desirable Jobs

By staff - European Transport Workers Federation, September 2022

As it is now, the aviation sector needs a long-term sustainability perspective, both from the environmental and social points of view.

On the one hand, workers are leaving the industry due to a lack of decent jobs. On the other hand, the industry accounts for 4.8% of total CO2 emissions. While not the most polluting economic sector globally, aviation must do its part and put forward an ambitious decarbonisation plan.

So how can environmental and social sustainability go hand in hand? With a plan for decarbonisation with the heart of the industry at its core: its workers.

TSSA calls for public transport fares to be slashed; let’s all do the same!

By Paul Atkin - Greener Jobs Alliance, August 4, 2022

TSSA calls for public transport fares to be slashed – let’s all do the same!

In a sharply worded blog on the TSSA web site, General Secretary Manuel Cortes notes that we have to deal with

two crises running in parallel – the climate … heating up at an unprecedented rate leading to increased extreme weather disasters and …an ever-deepening Tory cost of living crisis, inflation and costs are up, but wages are stagnant

and calls for a sharp cut in public transport fares to reduce costs, fossil fuel use and pollution. 

Russian socialist dissident: ‘Putin’s regime will collapse — and probably sooner rather than later’

By Federico Fuentes and Boris Kagarlitsky - Green Left, August 1, 2022

Boris Kagarlitsky is a Moscow-based sociologist and editor of the socialist website Rabkor (Worker Correspondent), whose writings regularly appear in English on Russian Dissent.

In this interview with Green Left’s Federico Fuentes, Kagarlitsky discusses the domestic factors behind Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine and the role of the left in anti-war organising.

Discussions in the West regarding Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine largely focus on NATO expansionism, the Kremlin’s imperialist ambitions or Putin’s mental health. But you argue these were not the key driving force behind the invasion. Why?

When a huge event occurs, such as the war on Ukraine, there are generally various factors at play. But you have to put these factors into the context of real political and social processes.

In that sense, all these factors, along with the long-term conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and the conflict within Ukraine and between Ukrainian elites, were all present. But, these factors do not explain much; they're very superficial.

The real question is: why did this war erupt now, despite these factors existing for many years.

War and climate justice: a discussion

By Simon Pirani - Peoloe and Nature, July 22, 2022

OpenDemocracy yesterday hosted a useful, and sobering, discussion about the war in Ukraine and the fight for climate justice, with Oleh Savitsky (Stand with Ukraine and Ukraine Climate Network), Angelina Davydova (a prominent commentator on Russian climate policy) and me.

Wars, Inflation, and Strikes: A Summer of Discontent in Europe?

By Josefina L. Martínez - Left Voice, July 12, 2022

Strikes over wage increases or working conditions are occurring in response to high inflation, aggravated by the aftermath of the war in Ukraine. These labor actions show a change in the mood of the European working class.

Are we heading toward a summer of discontent in Europe? Can we foresee a hot autumn on the Continent? It would be hasty to make such statements, but new strike activity is beginning to unfold among sectors of several countries’ working class. Inflation reached 8.8 percent as a European average in May (with higher rates in countries like the UK and Spain). After years of inflation below 1.5 percent, this is a significant change that is causing a fall in the population’s purchasing power, especially among the working class. Many analysts are already talking about the possibility of stagflation: a combination of recession and inflation.

This is in addition to the political instability of several governments and a widespread dissatisfaction with the traditional parties. The latter was expressed in France in the last elections, with high abstention and the growth of Marine Le Pen’s far-right party and of the center-left coalition grouped around Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Emmanuel Macron lost his absolute majority in the National Assembly and now faces a five-year period of great political uncertainty. Another government in crisis is that of the UK, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson is stepping down.

In this context, recent weeks have seen strikes taking place in key sectors, including transport, steel, ports, and public services, as well as in more precarious sectors. Although there are differences among these countries, the strikes are opening a breach in the climate of “national unity” that governments tried to impose a few months ago, when the war in Ukraine began. In this article we review some of these labor conflicts in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and other countries.


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