Mass protests in Lebanon highlight growing crisis in the region

As reported recently on the mass protests in Iraq, last week it was the turn of those in Lebanon to demonstrate en masse. While these protests started off as a reaction to uncollected garbage, they soon became a generalised protest against the government and politicians. The demonstrators were then met with police repression leaving at least one person dead and scores injured. These latest protests are an indication of the ongoing political and economic crisis that is engulfing the region. The reaction by the various ruling classes of intensifying internal repression and expanding military action only contribute to increasing the impoverishment of millions of workers and their families. Only by workers taking control can these problems start to be addressed.

Massive show of opposition in Malaysia against government corruption

As reported last week, the political coalition that has governed Malaysia for decades has been encountering greater opposition as corruption and inequality have become entrenched. This weekend saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets in Malaysia for the 4th Bersih (Clean) rally. Though the government had declared any street protests illegal and went as far as prohibiting the wearing of yellow t-shirts, the reality is that most people don’t believe the government any more. Solidarity rallies were held around the world. As with similar mass protests movements in Asia (see here and here) the issue is how to change a structure that is built because of powerful economic and political interests who will hold on to power at any cost.

Global fast food outlet exploits migrant workers in Australia

The issue of employers in Australia using loopholes in the working visa system to ruthlessly take advantage of vulnerable workers is becoming more widespread (see here and here). This week an investigation into the employment practices of the global giant 7/11 revealed how managers use the fact that workers are on temporary visas to make them work long hours for less than the legal minimum wage. While this has now come to the surface, the problem remains that the fast food industry is very poorly unionised, leaving workers at the mercy of their employers.

Andy Hall faces new charges in Thailand for exposing worker abuse

As reported last year, Andy Hall is a British migrant and labour rights activist who works in both Burma and Thailand. In 2013, Andy wrote a report detailing the abuses of migrant and child workers at the Thai fruit cannery, Natural Fruit Company. Almost immediately the company charged Andy with defamation. Last week, the Natural Fruit Company filed more charges against Andy. This is a clear case of intimidation against labour rights in Thailand and is part of the continuing crack down by the military dictatorship in Thailand. Drop all charges against Andy Hall!
No to the military!
Free all political prisoners! 

Workers continuing to die at shipyards in South Asia

As reported over the years, the ship breaking industry in South Asia is one of the most dangerous occupations for workers. Not surprisingly, it is also poorly unionised with governments and companies actively repressing attempts by workers to form genuine unions. While there are many international campaigns that highlight these abuses and work towards improving conditions, the reality is that without independent unions, workers will continue to work long hours, for low pay, and in dangerous conditions - as this latest publication details.

New labour law in Iraq marks an important new step forward

As reported previously, for over a decade workers in Iraq have been battling various governments to get better laws in relation to workers’ rights and the right to organise. Finally earlier this month, the Iraqi government passed a new labour law that guarantees workers the right to strike and to organise, among other improvements. Nevertheless, as the recent mass protests against corruption of the last few weeks have shown, the implementation of these new regulations is not a foregone conclusion.

Ansell protest in Melbourne only the start of a new campaign

As reported last week, Anton Marcus, the General Secretary of the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union was in Melbourne, Australia as part of a campaign for union rights for Ansell workers in Sri Lanka. The demonstration outside the headquarters of Ansell Australia was well attended by a number of unions and labour activists. This effort is part of an expanding international campaign against the anti worker activities of Ansell in countries around the world such as Malaysia.

Falling oil prices taking its toll on migrant workers in Asia

The slowing of the world’s economy and falling oil prices are starting to have an effect in oil rich countries in West Asia that host millions of migrant workers. While the brutal conditions that many of these workers have to endure, has been documented previously, the reality is that many are losing their job. In Oman, thousands of workers from the Indian sub-continent have been left stranded with no money as companies cut back. In the meantime, leaders from countries like India and Uganda continue to seek investments from countries in West Asia regardless of the cost to their own citizens.

No independent unions and weak regulations led to Tianjin deaths

Ten days after the massive industrial explosions that killed more than 100 workers, it is becoming clear that this was not an unfortunate accident but the result of criminal negligence. Scores of untrained and casualised firefighters were sent in to deal with the original fires leading to the deaths of over 50 of them. The warehouse at the centre of the explosion had also recently passed a safety review. In the aftermath of this disaster, more evidence of chemical contamination of the area and surrounds is coming out, with foaming rain and mass fish deaths being reported. Nearby residents whose houses were badly damaged by the explosions are now demanding compensation from the government.

Australian workers at Hutchison ports still fighting for jobs

As reported last week, a major dispute has developed in Australian ports against the global giant Hutchison. While mediation is ongoing, the workers assemblies set up in solidarity are still in place in Brisbane and Sydney. Solidarity has also been expressed by port workers all around the world, notably be the workers in Hong Kong who themselves had been involved in a bitter dispute with Hutchison a couple of years ago. Against global companies like Hutchinson, workers also need to organise globally and take industrial action at Hutchison sites around the world.

Syndicate content