Argentina: Worker cooperative gains in court

An appellate court last week annulled the forced reorganization of the worker-occupied Zanon ceramics factory, clearing the way for ultimate recognition of the worker cooperative that has run it successfully for nearly four years.

The factory was closed by its former owners in October 2001, just two months before the Argentine economy was devastated by an IMF-induced crisis. Zanon workers then took over the plant, basing their management on democratic decision-making. The plant, which is located in the southern province of Nuequen, now has some 400 workers.

During the crisis workers took over many more enterprises, and now more than 200 such cooperatives exist.

As a symbol of this movement, Zanon has been targeted by the right wing. A woman worker was kidnapped and tortured earlier this year. Large demonstrations have also been held upholding the workers’ right to operate the plant.

Under the forced reorganization, Zanon’s former owner had applied to purchase the factory through a figurehead company. Calling the court’s decision “not a definitive solution but a large step forward,” the workers called on the community “to demand recognition of the workers management of the factory” and to support their struggle for expropriation and nationalization without payment under workers’ control.

Haiti: Working-class neighborhoods attacked

Speaking in Port-au-Prince last week, Lavalas spokesman Samba Boukman denounced the July 6 pre-dawn attack by UN troops on the poor working-class Cite Soleil neighborhood as brutal and indiscriminate, the Haitian news agency AHP reported.

Residents said over 300 UN troops used helicopters, tanks, machine guns and tear gas in the raid.

The UN, claiming the operation was against violent gang activity, acknowledged troops killed at least five people. Other estimates ranged to more than 50. Victims included women and children, some of whom were killed as they fled.

Boukman condemned MINUSTAH’s use of such powerful weaponry in a densely populated neighborhood.

AHP said that on July 8, ten residents of Port-au-Prince’s working-class Bel Air district were killed by Haitian national police. Witnesses said the police shot randomly, killing most victims inside their homes.

Both neighborhoods are known for staunch support of deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Canada: Victories against Wal-Mart

At the end of June the Vancouver, British Colombia, City Council decided, 8-3, to reject a proposal to build the city’s first Wal-Mart. The fight against the store was led by City Councillor Anne Roberts, who said that approving a Wal-Mart went against everything the city is trying to do. Days later, the Campbell River (B.C.) City Council followed suit, after a three-night, 15-hour public hearing heard over 200 speakers urge rejection of Wal-Mart’s rezoning application.

Meanwhile, UFCW Local 486 President Guy Chenier, called the decision of Quebec’s Labor Relations Commission to grant union accreditation to Wal-Mart workers in Gatineau “another beautiful victory for the employees of Wal-Mart who want to obtain a trade union. … This company will have to be made to understand that it’s employees have the right to organize and to claim better working conditions.”

India: Communists lead protests

Four left parties including the Communist Party of India led nationwide protests June 28 against the government’s decisions to raise fuel prices and to privatize portions of state-owned corporations.

Speakers denounced the price hikes, the fourth over the last year, and called for their immediate rollback. They also demanded an end to the government’s disinvestment in publicly owned enterprises.

S. Africa: Metalworkers to strike

The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) said nearly 190,000 of its members are set to strike July 12 over wages, the Johannesburg Mail & Guardian reported.

Other unions in the industry — Solidarity and the United Association of South Africa — have also served notice of a strike.

Numsa is demanding a 7 percent wage increase for the lowest-paid workers and 6 percent for the highest-paid workers, one percentage point higher than the employers’ offer. It said marches would take place in major cities around the country.

The employers have “taken sadistic pleasure in ratcheting up attacks on workers’ living standards,” Numsa said. “What is necessary now is to use our collective power to strike for good wages.” It added, “Layoffs, labor brokering, outsourcing and casualization are all features of a restructured production system in the steel industry.”

World Notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel ( Libero Della Piana contributed to this week’s notes.