India: Plans made for Nov. 14 anti-Iraq war demo

A newly formed Committee Against War on Iraq, convened by a number of political parties, trade unions, women’s organizations, youth and student groups, has announced plans for a Nov. 14 demonstration in the capital city, New Delhi. The action will protest the Bush administration’s drive to attack Iraq, and the Vajpayee government’s failure to oppose the U.S. war moves.

“There are no grounds whatsoever” for the Bush administration’s “flagrant violation of international law and the national sovereignty of Iraq,” the Committee said in a statement. “A war on Iraq will cause unimaginable destruction. Thousands of lives will be lost. It will create new tensions which will threaten world peace.”

The Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress Party were among the many organizations at the Committee’s founding meeting.

China: Reaffirms political settlement re Iraq

In recent statements, China’s President Jiang Zemin and other top leaders have reaffirmed that issues around Iraq should be resolved by political means.

Shortly before leaving for the U.S. and talks with President Bush, Jiang told UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that China supports the UN’s role concerning Iraq.

Last week Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan told his French counterpart, Dominique de Villepin, that China always supports a political solution of the Iraq weapons inspection dispute within the framework of the UN.

China has also strongly urged Iraq to cooperate fully with the UN inspectors, and has called for a comprehensive solution that would alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people.

Brazil: Metalworkers’ Federation congratulates Lula

In a message to newly elected Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva, the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF) said Sunday’s vote was “a proud moment not only for you but indeed all the metalworkers of the world to savor this momentous occasion.

“The fact that a metalworker like yourself can and has been elected to the highest post in your country gives us all tremendous hope for the future of the labor movement,” the message continued.

The IMF expressed confidence that the new president and his Workers’ Party will have the will and capacity to deal positively and promptly with the many problems faced not only by Brazil’s workers but by all the country’s people.

Ireland: Anti-Racist Workplace Week

Ireland’s third Anti-Racist Workplace Week, Nov. 4-8, is being sponsored by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation, the Construction Federation and the Equality Authority.

Among activities planned by unions, SIPTU – the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union – is inviting immigrant workers to meet with union officials, get information on their rights in the workplace and generally discuss any problems or questions they have, in confidence and with the help of an interpreter when needed. Also as part of the week’s observance, SIPTU will present its first “Excellence Award” for anti-racism activities and promotion of equality and diversity in the workplace.

Korea: North-South cooperation affirmed

In an eight-point joint statement issued Oct. 23, North and South Korea pledged they will aggressively cooperate in settling all issues, including the nuclear issue, through dialogue. The statement was issued at the close of ministerial talks in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The two sides said they would hold cabinet-level talks to speed the reconstruction of railway links between north and south, and would discuss details of the scheduled start of construction for the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the DPRK this December. Other issues to be discussed include safe passage of civilian ships through each other’s seas, allowing South Korean fishermen to use part of the DPRK’s fishing grounds, and setting up a permanent meeting place for separated families.

South Africa: Unions protest food prices

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) launched protests over soaring food prices last weekend, with picketlines outside Shoprite and Pick ‘n Pay outlets in Kimberley and Bloemfontein, and outside the Free State and Northern Cape provincial legislatures.

Responding to the Competition Commission’s report allegedly clearing retailers of anti-competitive practices, COSATU spokesman Vukani Mde said, “We are concerned not by any perceived lack of competition, but rather the pricing structure of all the retailers combined. This is what needs scrutiny.”

COSATU said major retail groups announced huge profits when prices were soaring, a situation “not unconnected.”

Communist Party spokesperson Mazibuko Jara noted that four retailers account for 70 percent of the market. “Considering their recent windfall profits and the food price hikes,” he said, “we are convinced that the ownership of retail stores needs to be questioned.”