International labor defense roundup


France: Reinstate trade union leader Gaël Quirante now!

On Jan. 14, trade unionists and supporters of Gaël Quirante, union activist and departmental secretary of SUD Poste 92 (postal service), will accompany him to trial and demand his reinstatement. Le Poste has been trying to silence Gaël for his role in building class-struggle unionism on the shop floor. Notably, SUD Poste 92 won significant gains from Le Poste following a 14-month strike that ended in August 2019. Management has been attempting to sideline Gaël since 2010 through a series of legal maneuvers that have failed to keep him out of the shop. 

Behind the company’s attack on Gaël is the desire to weaken the union. Le Poste’s effort to restructure the services by increasing the daily workload is hindered by a militant rank and file. A union victory in this case would legitimize the methods of class struggle in the eyes of the rest of the working class in France. 

Jordan: Teachers given prison sentences

On New Year’s Eve, a Jordanian court sentenced five leading members of the Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) to one year in prison and dissolved their organization. The sentencing is the culmination of the July arrest of 13 union leaders for leading protests demanding wage increases promised to them by the Jordianian government.

The union organized in 2011, quickly drawing in over 100,000 teachers to its ranks. Since its inception the JTA has been fighting for wage increases for low paid teachers. After a four-week strike in October 2019, the government agreed to significant wage increases but failed to deliver.

Readers can sign this petition by the Education International to show their solidarity.

Minnesota, U.S.: Bring back fired union nurse Cliff Willmeng!

On May 8, 2020, RN Cliff Willmeng was fired from Allina Health’s United Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., without a single patient care or attendance issue. Prior to his termination, Willmeng was part of a growing number of nurses fighting to protect their patients, their coworkers, and their families from the increasingly dangerous working conditions and medical protocol driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

United frontline medical staff communicated their concerns to senior hospital administrators, filed OSHA workplace safety complaints, initiated their own safety protocols, and drove local and national media attention.

After nurses’ attempts to compel Allina Health to address workplace and patient safety, Allina Health fired Cliff Willmeng for violating hospital uniform policy. Following his termination, it appears that Allina also reported Willmeng to the Minnesota Board of Nursing, threatening his nursing license and his livelihood.

Cliff is a husband and father of two, a registered nurse for 13 years, and a union steward in the Minnesota Nurses Association. Allina used his termination to intimidate all frontline workers taking a stand for coworkers and the safety of the public they serve.

We urge readers to sign and share the petition to bring back Cliff, donate to his defense fund or send a letter of support to the Minnesota Nurses Association by emailing:

Philippines: Free the Human Rights Day 7 and Maria Ressa!

On Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, authorities in the Philippines arrested union member and journalist Lady Ann (Icy) Salem along with six other union members on alleged weapons charges. Salem and others claim that the weapons were planted as they were being arrested and that they were also denied legal counsel.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines commented, “Icy’s [Lady Ann Salem’s] arrest is proof that this administration is bent on silencing the independent and critical Philippine media so it can manipulate the flow of information to the detriment of our people and of our democracy. We call on the community of independent Filipino journalists to close ranks and demand a stop to the repression of the media. We will hold accountable anyone who subjects Icy to any abuse and violation of her rights. Free Lady Ann Salem! Defend Press Freedom! Defend Democracy!”

Since taking office in 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has cracked down on the freedom of the press. Award-winning journalist Maria Ressa and a colleague were convicted in June of cyber libel for an article linking a businessman to a judge in the high court as well as the drug underworld. Ressa and her colleague were given up to six years in jail and fines of $8000 but face other cooked-up charges of tax evasion and collusion with the CIA, an accusation Duterte uses liberally against reporters. (Information in this section found on

Illustration: Journalist Lady Ann (Icy) Salem is arrested Dec. 10. (General Strike Graphics)

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