The Guardian 20 July, 2005

Global briefs

ARGENTINA: An appellate court last week annulled the forced reorganisation 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.

HAITI: Speaking in Port-au-Prince, Lavalas (party of deposed president Jean-Bertrand Aristide) spokesman Samba Boukman denounced the July 6 pre-dawn attack by UN troops (MINUSTAH) on the poor working-class Cité Soleil neighbourhood as brutal and indiscriminate. 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 children, some of whom were killed as they fled. Boukman condemned MINUSTAH's use of such powerful weaponry in a densely populated neighbourhood. 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 neighbourhoods are known for staunch support of Aristide.

CANADA: At the end of June the City Couincil of Vancouver, Canada, decided to reject a proposal to build the city's first Wal-Mart by 8 votes to 3. 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 City Council(200km from Vancouver) 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 its employees have the right to organise and to claim better working conditions."

INDIA: Four left parties including the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India led nationwide protests on June 28 against the government's decisions to raise fuel prices and to privatise 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.

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