Monday, October 12, 2009

Solidarity with the workers of the processing plant „Yanovskaya” in the city Krasny Luch/Ukraine

On September 30 a request was issued for messages of support for the workers of a processing factory in the Ukraine. The message reads:

The request for solidarity to the workers of the processing plant „Yanovskaya” in the city Krasny Luch/Ukraine

From July 2nd to July 18th the workers of the private processing plant „Yanovskaya» in the city Krasny Luch (Lugansk region, Ukraine) were on strike for their demand to pay out the wage debts for some past months as well as for 2008. The workers, in their majority women, founded a strike committee and an independent trade union and under their leadership even blocked the railway leading to the plant. The result of this strike and the blockade was pay out of their wages for March and partly April 2009. And all participants in the strike who were dismissed before by the management were employed again on their former workplaces.

However, after that the local authorities together with the plant management started to take revenge on the strikers by taking up the chase again. The proprietors decided to get rid of the organizers of the protest with any random means and to stop any attempt of a workers’ struggle for their rights in the future. They instituted legal proceedings against the organizers of the strike, demanded to recognize the struggle of the workers as “illegal” and to punish them.

The trial against the activists was launched on 28 July and will be renewed on October, 9. With criminal means the leaders of the strike committee and the union leadership of the plant Anatoli Moskaljov and Anna Antroptschenko are prosecuted.

We emphatically protest against this repression and demand to stop any legal and criminal prosecution of the workers’ activists of the enriching plant „Yanovskaya“!

We ask to send letters of protest to the following addresses:

1) High Court of the Ukraineul. P. Orlika 4Kiev, Ukraine, 01024;e-mail:

2. Chief Public Prosecutor of the Ukraineul. Riynitskaza 13/15Kiev, Ukraine, 01001

3. State Regional Administration of the District LuganskPl. Geroev VOV 3Lugansk, Ukraine, 91016;e-mail:

Solidarity messages send, please, to the address:

Yours faithfully,Coordination Council of workers` movement of Ukraine (KSRD)Edition of the newspaper « Worker`s Action»

I sent a message to the High Court and the State Regional Administration of the District Lugansk, and also forwarded a short message directly to the Coordination Council of the Workers’ Movement of Ukraine at

That message reads:

I have sent the following message to the Ukranian authorities as per your request:

I emphatically protest against the repression of the workers’ activists of the enriching plant „Yanovskaya“ and demand that the Ukrainian authorities stop any legal and criminal prosecution against them!

Workers of all countries, unite!


Greetings to the Yanovskaya workers: dare to struggle, dare to win!

A couple of days ago, I received a message in reply:

Dear comrade Michael!

Many thanks for your solidarity!

We have already given your letter and his translation to active workers of processing plant "Yanovskaya" in the city Krasny Luch. Your help has caused the hottest words of gratitude.

We inform you details on session of court taken place October, 9. The judge did not expect, that their comrades from abroad begin to support active workers of "Yanovskaya". The judge has not risked to sentence, and has decided to tighten cause again. The judge has declared carry of judicial hearing for October, 30.

We with you still have time for carrying out of the even greater and strong campaign of solidarity! Let's connect to it new comrades and we shall finally achieve a stop any legal and criminal prosecution of organizers of strike on plant „Yanovskaya“!

Long live solidarity!

Yours faithfully, Coordination Council of workers` movement of Ukraine (KSRD)Edition of the newspaper « Worker`s Action»

What a great democratic weapon the internet is, allowing workers around the world to support each other so quickly!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Holloway ambiguous, Marathon unhappy

As this website has predicted, SA Resources Minister Holloway has avoided pulling the plug on Marathon Resources, and has instead offered a 12-month exploration license for the company at Arkaroola.

However, there are restrictions on where and how and with whose approval any exploration is to occur.

These restrictions mark a partial but important victory in the campaign to protect Arkaroola from mining in general, and from Marathon’s proposed uranium mine in particular.

However, they do not yet go far enough. Before adding further comment, here is the statement released last Tuesday, 6 October 2009 by Paul Holloway, Minister for Mineral Resources development in the SA Government:

Stricter conditions for Marathon exploration
News Release
Hon Paul Holloway
Minister for Mineral Resources DevelopmentMinister for Urban Development and PlanningMinister for Small Business

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Minister for Mineral Resources Development Paul Holloway said today Marathon Resources remains suspended from major exploration activity on its northern Flinders Ranges tenement despite being offered a subsequent exploration licence that includes tough new conditions.

Mr Holloway says the subsequent licence has been offered to Bonanza Gold, a subsidiary company of Marathon Resources, for an initial term of one year with additional licence conditions.

“These conditions include the requirement for both the Director of Mines and Chief Executive of the Department of Environment and Heritage to jointly approve all (emphasis in original - servethepeople) exploration activities,” he says.

“Early consultation with Arkaroola Management has also been formalised in the new conditions.

“Marathon will need to agree to these new stringent conditions if it wishes to accept the licence extension.”

The Northern Flinders Ranges area has long been identified as having high prospectivity for copper, gold, uranium and other metals. The area is also now recognised for having high prospectivity for the development of geothermal energy. But it is also recognised as an area of unique scenic beauty.

Mr Holloway says a balance has to be struck between the need to preserve environmentally sensitive areas and unique landscapes, including those with high tourist values, with the desire to fully explore the State’s resources potential.

“A comprehensive Environmental Management Framework for the Northern Flinders Ranges is now being developed to achieve this strict oversight of exploration and potential resource development,” Mr Holloway says.

“The framework will guide allowable mineral and energy exploration activities in this environmentally and culturally iconic part of South Australia.”

Mr Holloway says this collaborative project being finalised by the Department for Environment and Heritage and Primary Industries and Resources S.A. identifies sensitive areas that should be excluded from any future exploration and mining.

“There are some parts of the Arkaroola area that should never be open to mining,” he says.

“And there are other parts where mining activity should be heavily restricted to ensure environmental features are not disturbed.”

Mr Holloway says it is essential South Australia has a secure, stable and consistent legislative framework to attract high-risk mining investment to this State.

“Attracting this sort of investment is all the more critical in the current world financial environment,” he says.
Mr Holloway says Marathon’s activities in 2007 involving unauthorised disposal of waste also brought to light some deficiencies in compliance and enforcement provisions of the Mining Act.

Despite the breaches identified in 2007, Bonanza Gold and Marathon remain in compliance with the Mining Act 1971 and conditions of their licence, and are entitled to apply for a subsequent licence.

“A number of changes to the legislation being drafted will strengthen the compliance and enforcement provisions of the Mining Act and the ability of PIRSA to better regulate activities on mineral tenements, including exploration licences,” he says.

“The subsequent licence will only be granted for an initial one year term and all ground disturbing exploration activity on the tenement, which includes Arkaroola, will remain suspended at least until proposed amendments to the Mining Act come into force.

“I am confident that the additional stringent licence conditions, a strengthened regulatory framework and the development of the Environmental Management Framework for the Northern Flinders Ranges will ensure this iconic and mineral-rich region is sensitively managed.”


The positives in this statement are that Marathon “remains suspended from major exploration activity” and that a new license is only offered on conditions that “all exploration activities” be jointly approved by two government departments, giving the Department of Environment and Heritage a say for the first time.

“Early consultation” with the Spriggs as managers of the Sanctuary is also a condition, although experience of “consultations” is that they are generally only a procedural formality provided for window-dressing purposes.

Even so, Marathon’s management cannot be said to have reacted with glee to the announcement. A sour grapes statement from the company indicated only that it would “assess’ the license proposal and respond to the Government within 21 days (see ).

Of particular note in Holloway’s press release is the observation that “some parts of Arkaroola should never be open to mining”.

Our belief is that if this applies to any part of Arkaroola, it must certainly apply to the Mt Gee site, but that, in any case, the integrity of the Sanctuary can only be protected by declaring the whole area off-limits to mining.

It would be perfidious in the extreme if, prohibiting Mt Gee from being the site for a mine, the Government, having bought time until after the next State election in March, and having lulled people into a false sense of security, was to subsequently allow mining in areas less visible to tourists. Marathon has already indicated that it believes that there are such areas.
Their data shows the "hot areas" and has plenty off them out of sight (other side of the hill) of the famous Ridge Top Tour, including the backside of Mt Painter, an area with enormous heritage value of gemstone quality mineralogy.

Marathon’s sour grapes are our sweet nectar, but there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip….

Monday, October 05, 2009

Derivatives - what would Chairman Mao have Thought?

The global capitalist crisis is still being played out. Even if there is some movement towards a recovery, it is a movement characterised by twists and turns, a recovery in which speculative and parasitic finance capital is more or less successfully resisting the social democrats who believe that future prosperity rests on regulation of the sector.

Here in Australia we have sheltered from the storm under the protective umbrella of Chinese resource purchases…actual purchases of the ores themselves, and more recently, some fairly aggressive purchasing of resource sector private companies.

However, the umbrella is not without its own holes.

Having “opened to the outside world” for three decades, (a cute phrase that lets the US off the hook for the cordon sanitaire and blockades that it maintained against China through the fifties and sixties), China has lost some of its financial sovereignty and is only just realising its vulnerability as part of the imperialist world economy.

This is particularly so in respect of derivatives, those arrangements through which companies try to take advantage of fluctuations in commodity prices or, at the least, protect themselves if the fluctuations head consistently south.

The derivatives industry is huge. The Swiss-based Bank for International Settlements recently estimated that the value of global derivatives contracts was 1.14 quadrillion dollars. Can’t visualise that? Look at this post of mine for some idea of what it means.

So how does the derivatives industry relate to China?

Keen to participate in the global economy, some of the biggest state-owned enterprises (SOEs) seem to have forgotten their socialist origins and their responsibilities to the Chinese people.

They have embraced the get-rich-is-glorious-regardless-of-how-you-do-it ideology of those “pragmatists” who set the pace for much of what happens in China and have entered into the shady world of derivatives perhaps not fully understanding the pitfalls underlying speculative capital transactions.

Mushtaq Kapasi was a derivatives dealer employed by Western banks to get into the pants of Chinese companies. He confessed that “Many Chinese firms had little experience with complicated financial products such as derivatives before they bought billions of dollars worth of these investment products” (Confessions of Chinese Derivatives Deals Pt. 1).

He cites the example of China Eastern Airlines.

“Quite sensibly,” he writes, “the airline bought derivatives that would pay if oil became more expensive. But to make the hedge cheaper in the short term, China Eastern agreed that if oil prices dropped past a certain point, then it would have to pay double what the bank would have to pay if the price of oil went up. After the oil bubble burst last year, the company admitted these derivatives cost them 6.2 billion yuan – and obliterated their profits for 2008.”

In the end Kapasi pulled out of the derivatives game in China having observed too many international banks conning Chinese firms, state-owned and otherwise, with what he called “tricky products”.

The scale of losses suffered by Chinese firms has shaken officialdom.

The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) concedes that 28 SOEs have taken out derivatives contracts and that most have suffered losses to such beneficial institutions as Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs Group, J.P. Morgan Chase and Co, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley.

As Lenin said in a somewhat different context, What is to be done?

SASAC has authorised the SOEs to begin withholding payments to the banks; indeed six SOEs are believed to have begun legal proceedings to break their contracts.

One school of thought holds that this is a bad move that will tarnish China’s business reputation; another holds that the banks know that they took advantage of Chinese inexperience with derivatives and will accept the loss of the contracts in return for continued involvement with other lucrative projects in China.

At least the SOEs have the Chinese government to support them. As Kapasi noted, however, “Most small investors are not as lucky…Many are linked to markets that could go haywire at any time. Chinese derivative holders would then face enormous costs that many can’t afford.”

Meanwhile, I read in a recent Women of China magazine the case of a teacher in Yunnan Province who has paid the tuition fees of her poverty-stricken students so that they can keep attending school.

I guess that's the difference between serving the people and serving big capital….