Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Paul G. Stevens

Events on the International Scene

(14 June 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 24, 14 June 1948, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Labor Struggles in Italy

Last week widespread strikes occurred in Italy again. Miners, shipyard, metal workers, farmhands and printers took part in stoppages throughout the country. On June 3, the whole province of Bologna was paralyzed by a general strike in protest against the arrest of four union leaders as well as against the police ban on demonstrations. In Cremona province, agricultural workers tied up the production of all dairy products in a bitter struggle marked by police fire upon 200 strikers at Spino d’Adda. At Emma, in Sicily, the miners occupied the pits, in opposition to new mine regulations. On June 3, the miners called a 2-hour general strike demonstration throughout Italy.

All these actions are. attributed by the press to the Stalinist party’s drive against the Marshall Plan. But that the real causes are more deep-rooted was revealed by a pontifical address in St. Peter’s square at Rome Oh June 2. The Pope’s main theme was the need for immediate “social reforms.” It is urgent, he declared, “to provide the poorer classes with housing, bread and work.” The government must act, he went on, “lest the enemy ... retake ground so laboriously conquered” – referring to the recent election victory of the Catholics over the CP-SP bloc.

Belgian Metal Workers Demand General Strike

At its last session toward the end of May, the National Committee of the Metal Workers Union – the most important in Belgium – adopted a resolution calling for an Extraordinary Congress of the Belgian Trade Union Federation to organize a general strike. Its purpose is to win wage increases to meet the rising cost of living. Additional significance is attached to this action because the Stalinists play no important role in this union.

Upsurge in Cyprus

A strike of 2,000 workers against the Anglo-American Mining Corporation, which owns all of the sub-soil in the Aegean island of Cyprus, has entered its fifth month. It began last January when negotiations for wage increases in the new contract reached a deadlock. The company has sought to break the strike by the most vicious methods – withdrawing the milk ration from strikers’ children, turning miners’ families out of company-owned houses, barring strikers from use of the Pentagia Hospital which it controls, etc. But a wave of solidarity actions, including two brief general strikes, has aided the miners in holding out, despite police terror, which has taken a toll of two dead and four wounded.

The Cyprus section of the Fourth International is actively aiding the striking miners. Its weekly organ, The Proletarian (published in Greek), is devoted to strike publicity. The total receipts for the sales of the paper go into the strike fund.

Indian Socialist Party

At its recent convention in Nasik, the Socialist Party of India voted to break away from the National Congress, with which it had been affiliated since its formation. The action was taken not upon its initiative, but of the Congress leadership itself. The latter adopted a position barring organized groups from the Congress in the future, a break with its previous federated structure.

The SP leaders, who enjoyed an expectedly big success with independent candidates in the Bombay elections several months ago, were reluctant to give up their organization in order to remain in the Congress. At their convention, they stressed that in going independent they hoped to play the role of a loyal opposition to the Congress governments.

New Spark, organ of the Indian Trotskyists, comments as follows on this development:

“Now, this attitude is all very good for a purely parliamentary opposition. It is in the best tradition of ‘His Majesty’s loyal opposition’ in the British parliament. But the Socialist Party, by leaving Congress, has taken on its hands not only the parliamentary struggle, but also the important struggle in the fields and factories. And for the successful prosecution of this struggle the above attitude is fatal.

“Let there be no mistake. Whatever may be the attitude of the Socialists to Congress and the Government, from now on the attitude of Congress and the Government to the Socialists will be cne of bitter opposition. To fail to realize this and to continue to operate on the old formulae and along the old lines will be to throw away the battle before it has begun. It will also mean light-heartedly to betray the large sections of the masses who are today rallying with new hope and confidence behind the Socialist Party.”

May Day in Hong Kong

The Chinese Trotskyists on the island of Hong Kong organized a small May Day celebration with delegates from some dozen of the most important factories and enterprises. Some 60 working men and women attended the meeting, which was illegal.

A delegate from a shipbuilding concern was the main speaker and dwelt on the history of May Day as the day of international class struggle. A delegate of the street car, workers spoke on the living conditions of the Hongkong wage earners and the humiliating procedures of management, such as the search of all workers leaving company property etc. Three women textile workers followed, describing the intolerable conditions of the mill workers – 14-hour day, piece work, unemployment. One of the women workers spoke about the strike going on at her mill. The main demands were: Reduction of the work day from 14 to 9 hours; payment of wages on fixed days; a ban on the beating of women workers.

She called for an extension of the strike to the other mills and the adoption of a broad program for all Hongkong workers, including the 8-hour day, sliding scale of wages, abolition of piece work, cessation of barbaric treatment of workers, unification of the trade union movement (at present divided into Kuomintang and CP-led unions), formation of a General Federation of Labor.

Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 1 February 2022