Global day action for Cambodian garment workers

Cambodian garment workers have campaigned hard for a living wage for many years. They have faced a lot of repression with workers being arrested, beaten and killed.  This year a coalition of garment unions have organised a new series of actions calling for a minimum living wage of US $177 a month, better work standards and job security. This campaign is to be co-ordinated with labour organisations around the world. It will culminate in a global day of action for the 10th of December with actions taking place internationally.

Restructuring continues to affect Australian maritime workers

The maritime industry is one of the most globally integrated industries in the world. Maritime companies globally undertake constant restructuring in order to cut workers’ pay and conditions in an attempt to increase productivity and profits. Workers at Sydney and Brisbane were out campaigning for 100 days after they were sacked by the global company Hutchison. The dispute ended in an agreement but this will still lead to some job losses. In another dispute, the giant mining and energy company Alcoa, is going to replace the crew of the MV Portland ship with un-unionised labour from another country at much reduced wages and conditions.

Malaysian government tightens repression

Following on from recent protests against government corruption, the Malaysian government this week made use of the draconian Sedition Act to try and stifle dissent. The use of the Sedition Act by the Malaysian government has increased over the last few years. The well-known human rights and labour activist S. Arutchelvan (Arul), was arrested under the Sedition Act earlier this year for making comments on the trial of former Minister Anwar Ibrahim. This week, his lawyers confirmed that the Malaysian government will proceed to charge him under the Sedition Act. Arul is now facing up to three years in jail.

Bahrain teacher still in prison

Workers have been integral in the uprisings in countries in North Africa and west Asia during the Arab Spring. They have then suffered greatly as these uprisings have been met with state violence. In Bahrain in 2011 a mass popular uprising was repressed by the Bahrain government with the help of Saudi Arabia military. Mahdi Abu Dheeb was the president of the Bahraini Teachers’ Association and one of the many trade unionists arrested in Bahrain. He was sentenced to five years in jail. Abu Dheeb is now in poor medical health and there is an ongoing international union campaign calling for his release.

Korean shipyard workers protests against workplace deaths

A couple of months ago, Korean workers at the country’s biggest shipyards began an industrial campaign against the company’s attempt to restructure and drive down wages and conditions. The reality of constant cost cutting is that workers get killed at their workplace as health and safety is compromised. A recent report has found that one worker has been killed every five weeks at the shipyards of the Hyundai Heavy Industries Group. Korean labour representatives joined international labour group IndustriALL in a protest in Brussel over the continuing deaths.

New video on shipbreaking workers in Bangladesh

As reported previously, the shipbreaking industry in South Asia is characterised by union busting, low wages and horrific working conditions. A new video has been produced as part of a growing international campaign by labour groups to improve conditions for local workers by supporting the development of independent unions. The video focuses on the situation in Bangladesh and allows workers to describe their working conditions in their own words, as well as summarising the major issues that workers face.

Asbestos Awareness Week in Australia

The health issues surrounding asbestos are still a major problem for many workers in the world. As reported last week, there is a growing awareness of the need to ban asbestos in countries like India. This week is national asbestos awareness week in Australia where workers and labour organisations continue to raise awareness about the deadly legacy of asbestos in Australia. A major conference is planned in Melbourne. In the meantime, one of Australia’s biggest users of asbestos, James Hardie, announced that it will reduce the amount of money it contributes to a fund for workers who have developed asbestos related diseases. James Hardie is an Australian company which made huge profits off asbestos at the expense of thousands of workers lives.

Labour activist arrested in Uzbekistan

The cotton industry is one of the biggest export earners for the government of Uzbekistan and thousands of workers are involved in the annual harvest. Unfortunately many of these workers are coerced to work for low wages, long hours and in unsafe working conditions. Recently a human rights defender documenting labour abuse, Elena Urlaeva, was again arrested because of her advocacy work. The formation of independent unions for cotton workers in Uzbekistan needs to be a key campaign goal.

Paris murders – say no to war and repression

The indiscriminate mass murder of workers and their families in Paris of a few days ago follows on from similar massacres in Beirut and Jacobabad. These massacres are mirrored in countries where wars waged by imperialist countries result in mass civilian casualties such as in Kunduz, Haydan and Raqqa. These wars and terrorist murders are carried out by a multiplicity of different actors, in a climate of deepening economic crisis and austerity. None of these forces share workers’ interests for a living wage, safe workplaces, secure employment and against inequality and injustice. Workers globally need to start organising a class response so that workers can fight against all these various right wing, fundamentalist and fascist forces that are killing us from all sides. We need to stop the bombs and the wars. We have the power.

South Korea workers rally attacked by police

As reported previously, workers in South Korea are facing sustained attacks on their rights and wages by government and companies. Many sectors are fighting back (see here, here and here) but this week, unions united with a number of other groups to stage a mass rally calling on the government to resign. The 100,000 strong rally was attacked by police at the end of the day with water cannons and tear gas.

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