What's Left 2015-07-05 Volume 19

The Greek people sent a strong message to the powers of Europe along with a stinging defeat to capital, finance and liberals pushing for more cuts and suffering. A total of 61.5% voted against economic blackmail and creditor imposed austerity. This was driven by a massive turnout of youth, nearly 70% of whom voted Oxi ('No'). This resounding vote – in the country that invented Western democracy – will bring interesting weeks and months ahead. In many ways, the vote was the easy part.

Page content

Click here to get What’s Left in your Inbox every Sunday


Greeks show they have not forgotten they invented democracy and vote “No” to austerity

The Greek people sent a strong message to the powers of Europe along with a stinging defeat to capital, finance and liberals pushing for more cuts and suffering. A total of 61.5% voted against economic blackmail and creditor imposed austerity. This was driven by a massive turnout of youth, nearly 70% of whom voted Oxi (“No”). This resounding vote – in the country that invented Western democracy – will bring interesting weeks and months ahead. In many ways, the vote was the easy part.

European liberals have a history of violent and unprofessional behaviour when they do not get their way. It will not be easy going – especially if the European Central Bank stops providing support to those in Greece.

Many predict vindictive actions from the leaders of Europe’s “centrist” governing parties, many of whom made antidemocratic statements in the lead-up to, and moments immediately following the referendum. The German government went so far as to suggest that this act of democracy represented the end of any possibility of productive working relationships between the two countries and did not know how they could find common ground again. Centre-right and old Social Democratic parties will be looking to vilify the Syriza leadership further since its success may lead to similar mobilizations elsewhere in Europe. Unfortunately, forcing financial hardship has been an easy tactic to employ. This vote shows it has failed in this circumstance, but that doesn’t mean neoliberals won’t double-down on this policy.

Greeks must now unite to develop an alternative vision for their country, one that continues the transformation of their economy so that it meets the needs of all people, and not just the rich.

More: How Europe Played Greece

More: Greeks defy Europe with overwhelming referendum ‘No’

More: [[https://citizenspress.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=27d7d00e19a37005743125d7e&id=836741bde7&e=8484a6ba75][Greece Contemplates Nuclear Options: May Print Euros, Launch Parallel Currency, Nationalize Banks]]

More: What Comes After Oxi?

People-based economy at stake in battle over Uber-like services

While private financiers and apolitical, middle-class thirty-somethings love to take Uber cabs because there’s lots of cool buzz, governments and workers are not so enamoured. While it can sometimes cost less and seem more convenient, the “disruptive” (illegal) practices of Uber have been shown to undermine regulation, eliminate wage floors for cab drivers, and encourage other exploitive and unregulated services. One of the the service’s main goals is to push licensed drivers out of the market by driving down wages.

Recently in France, Uber management were arrested for purposefully breaking laws regulating the taxi industry, and were forced to shut-down the service in that country. Following a judge’s ruling that Uber doesn’t seem to operate as a “dispatcher” and is only a phone application, Toronto taxi drivers have threatened to protest during the PanAm Games.

The pressure from progressives needs to be directed at governments to strengthen regulation and eliminate rent-seeking by for-profit multi-license holders. Companies that exploit mass ownership of taxi medallions have had a downwards pressure on the wages of drivers while acting as a drag on the quality of service. Municipalities and taxi driver cooperatives struggling with these aggressive free market entrepreneurs can find some answers by consulting taxi-driver unions who have been asking for reforms for decades.

While it is easy to see benefits from technology (like using an app to hail a cab), it is important for socialists to remind each other about the need for a just and planned transition for workers, especially since apps exist for most cab companies. Disruption cannot be used as an excuse to drive working people into poverty wages and promote deregulation.

More: Uber wins court battle against Toronto

More: Uber suspends UberPOP in France


Making the case for truly fair election rules

The Canadian Federation of Students and the Council of Canadians were in court this week fighting against federal Bill C-23, a law that would limit the right to vote for tens of thousands of Canadians. The Conservatives want to make voting much harder for students and low-income citizens by changing voter identification rules. In the court case, the Crown has argued that the use of Voter Information Cards is not reliable, but even Elections Canada dismisses this argument as ridiculous. In a respectable democracy, limiting anyone’s access and right to vote shouldn’t be allowed, period.

More: [[https://citizenspress.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=27d7d00e19a37005743125d7e&id=75d83ea4de&e=8484a6ba75][Canadians Seek to Halt Fair Elections Act, Compare It to Voter Suppression in the US]]

Follow: @jessmccormick for court challenge updates

More: Let People Vote

Photo: Students & Activists make their case

Airport workers demand fair treatment

Last week, local 2413 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) showed their anger at the consortium of airlines cutting members’ wages by 30% through a sleazy contract manoeuvre. Following significant drops in the price of fuel, the Air Canada-led group have kept ticket prices steady and are hoping to attain even higher profits by exploiting the workers who refuel their aircrafts.

IAMAW workers at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, never ones to take such attacks lightly, caused major disruptions to the flight schedule Friday by simply not showing up to work. A hint to passengers: if you are experiencing delays, make sure to call your airline and suggest that they start treating their ground workers with respect. No one wants under-paid, stressed and angry workers maintaining their planes.

More: Contract changes seek to drive down wages

More: Machinists take their Fight to the GTAA

Conservatives pass anti-union bill using “draconian steps” according to Senate speaker

The Conservatives have used strong-arm tactics to muscle through Bill C-377, the anti-union legislation. Proponents of the bill want to undermine the work of unions while empowering big business and other anti-union groups. This legislation echoes other Conservative legislation put forward by private members, including restricting womens’ rights to control their own bodies, limiting the ability of environmental groups to fight for better environmental policies, and censoring government-supported research that contravenes the government’s official positions.

The fight is not over. Unions are going to oppose C-377 in the courts on the grounds that it contravenes the Constitution.

More: Conservatives force anti-union bill into law

More: Bill C-377 and Why You Should Care

More: [[https://citizenspress.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=27d7d00e19a37005743125d7e&id=af9a051979&e=8484a6ba75][Newly passed anti-labour bill seeks to eliminate unions, not enforce transparency]]

New generation of dangerous trade deals gain momentum

In the lead editorial from the CCPA Monitor, Stuart Trew outlines why the threat from the generation of free trade agreements is worthy of popular attention. With the adoption of “Fast Track” in the US, there is growing momentum in the neoliberal free-trade movement. International capitalists have been solidifying their project of cutting support for workers and the environment while increasing income inequality at the expense of the people.

More: Why State Invaders?


Cuba’s public health care system successfully eliminates mother-to-child HIV transmission

This week, a landmark medical accomplishment was achieved in Cuba. The country became the first in the world to eliminate mother-to-child HIV transmission. It is a success that should result in substantial advances in the fight against HIV all over the world. Renowned for its exemplary medical system, Cuba has long invested public money into building a system that not only provides high quality, universal, health care to its citizens, but that also trains and exports world-class doctors, medical practitioners, and generic drugs. The fact that health care has been such a priority for the country, including public support for health research and step-by-step support for women during pregnancy, are likely contributing factors in this recent milestone.

More: [[https://citizenspress.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=27d7d00e19a37005743125d7e&id=915a975827&e=8484a6ba75][World Health Organization validates elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis in Cuba]]

More: Cuba stamps out mother-to-child HIV

A path towards democratic control of electrical power generation

Trade unions and progressive environmental organizations from across the world converged in New York City last week. Their goal was to discuss and move forward with a strategy developed by Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED), a group dedicated to making reliable, renewable energy available to workers and communities.

TUED has released a discussion paper and popular education materials highlighting the impacts of climate change. It outlines possible and practical solutions for transitioning away from carbon-intensive industrial production and helping progressive unions build capacity to facilitate this discussion within their membership.

More: Power to the People: Toward Democratic Control of Electricity Generation