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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(14 July 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 50, 14 July 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Marceau Pivert Joins List of Persecuted Anti-Militarists

In addition to our comrades Rigal, Steve and Schmitt, a whole series of other militants in the labor movement, ranging from the anarchists to the Socialist Workers and Peasants Party (P.S.O.P.) are now facing full-barrelled persecution for anti-militarist work in France. Latest among the attacks against the anti-militarists is the prosecution initiated by the Daladier regime against Marceau Pivert, leader of the P.S.O.P. Pivert has been indicted for “provoking the military to disobedience.”

The charge is based on a leaflet issued by the party at Cherbourg, calling upon the reservists to act against their arbitrary detention in barracks beyond the twenty-one day period they were called out for. A local leader of the organization, comrade Mariette, had already been charged on the same grounds.

In a statement to the court, comrade Pivert takes full responsibility for the action of the Cherbourg branch of the P.S.O.P. Defending their action, he reaffirms its correctness and denounces the war-mongers in the following terms:

“I declare that the appeal to the reservists seems to us especially justified since, as we have proved in the columns of our paper Juin 36, the big capitalist powers which are the origin of the war threat continue to exchange among themselves the materials necessary for war – minerals, gas masks, airplane motors, etc.”

The first hearing of the case was held on June 21. The actual trial is due to be held later this month.

Strikes Against Lower Living Standard Spreading in Indo-China

Numerous important strikes are spreading throughout French Indo-China, linked with mass demonstrations against the new pro-war taxes. Both the strikes and the demonstrations are directed at the declining living standards.

On May 8, more than 3,000 workers went out on strike at Haiphong with the following demands: 1. Increase of 30 per cent in wages; 2. Regular payment; 3. Sick benefits; 4. Recognition of shop delegates; 5. Suppression of unjust fines. The strike started with the weavers of the “Cotonniere” factory, and soon spread to the whole textile field. After sixteen days of struggle the basic demands of the strikers were accepted and the strike settled.

On May 31, more than 2,000 workers at the navy yard in Saigon went out on strike against an attempt to cut down the rate for overtime work. The strikers are demanding time and a quarter for overtime during the day and time and a half for night work. At the present writing the strike is still spreading.

A strike of 3,000 unskilled coolies in the Saigon-Cholon region has broken out recently with a demand for a twenty per cent increase in wages.

Anti-tax demonstrations have been held in Saigon, Hanoi and Haiphong.

At the same time, the colonial lackeys of French imperialism have cracked down on the native working class press. No less than three editors of working class journals have been arrested in recent weeks, among them our comrade Nguyen Van Qua of La Lutte, organ of the Indo-Chinese section of the Fourth International.

Canadian Comrades Organize Farmers Branches in West

Within the last month, our Canadian comrades, the Socialist Workers League, have organized two new branches in the Western part of the Dominion. The branches are located in the towns of Wiseton and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and are composed almost exclusively of farmers. So popular has the party become in these towns that for the first time in its history the local authorities granted the use of the schoolhouse for a meeting of a political party. A meeting held there on June 14 attracted farmers from the whole countryside who came to listen to Carl Hichin, Western organizer of the League. Most of the participants braved heavy rainstorms and almost impassable roads in order to attend.

Congratulations to the Canadian section of the Fourth International! In breaking the ground among the farmers they have accomplished a real pioneering job for our movement in North America. It is an example worthy of emulation by our comrades in the farming regions right here in the States.

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