S. Africa: Shoprite strikers march

A thousand striking Shoprite Checkers workers marched through Johannesburg Oct. 24 before presenting their demands at the company’s headquarters. Strikers planned similar marches in other cities.

The workers were accompanied by Willie Madishu, President of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), with which their Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union is affiliated. Among the messages on their picket signs: “Shoprite Checkers beware: we destroyed apartheid, your greed and exploitation is next.”

Issues include the conditions of employment for casual and part time workers, denial of a uniform allowance and the requirement that part time workers undergo a HIV test. The union said an estimated 98 percent of the workers had joined the strike, which it called historic because it united part-time and full-time workers.

The strike is also backed by organizations including the Congress of South African Students, the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party.

Greece: Anti-NATO activists on trial again

Last November, five anti-NATO protesters were acquitted of charges they obstructed the passage of NATO troops in 1999, during the assault on Yugoslavia by the U.S. and NATO. But the public prosecutor has ordered a new trial for the five – including Communist Party Central Committee member Nikos Christianis – starting Oct. 29.

The overwhelming majority of Greeks opposed the war on Yugoslavia, and waves of demonstrators sought for more than two months to halt the passage of NATO troops through Greece in violation of the Greek constitution.

The CP organization in Thessaloniki called the trial “part of the effort to impose the silence of the grave at a time when the situation in the Balkans, Palestine, Iraq is becoming more and more dangerous and requires popular mass reaction against the plans of the U.S., NATO and the European Union.”

It called for protest letters to the Prime Minister of Greece, at mail@primeminister.gr, with copies to cpg@int.kke.gr.

Australia: Maritime firm stranded Pacific Island workers

The ITF maritime workers union is accusing the Australian Faymon shipping company of “racist exploitation” after Faymon stranded seafarers from Fiji and Vanuatu for months in Bangladesh without food or water, and robbed them of their wages.

The ITF was alerted to the plight of 33 seafarers aboard the Pacific Emerald after they were left in Chittagong without food or water last August, forcing them to depend for months on the generosity of local trade unionists. Some were eventually sent home by the company, while others were repatriated by their governments.

“Faymon Shipping has bought a post box in Vanuatu and used it to evade its basic responsibilities,” said ITF coordinator Dean Summers. “It’s a racist thing. If our guys were Australians they would at least pay them but because these workers are Fijians and Vanuatuans they think they can get away with it.”

Sudan: East Africa leaders say peace deal close

Regional leaders from Eastern Africa meeting in Uganda last week expressed optimism that a comprehensive agreement to end the longstanding civil war in Sudan would be reached by the end of the year.

The leaders, attending a one-day summit in Kampala with a specific focus on regional conflict resolution and security, praised progress in the talks though some issues remain unresolved.

The meeting brought together leaders from Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea. It was also attended by Mozambique’s President Joaquim Chissano, who chairs the African Union.

International Notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel