Cambodian garment workers still fighting against union dismissals

On the 16th of December 2015, five union leaders of the 2,500 strong workforce at the Cambo Kotop Company were sacked by the company. Campo Kotop routinely films workers during rest breaks in an attempt to intimidate them and stop organising efforts. Following this, hundreds of workers then went on a two week strike. The company retaliated by terminating a further 50 workers in early July. Cambodian garment workers have been very active over the last year in demanding better conditions and wages. The Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) is still fighting for these workers. For solidarity statements and more information, contact union president Pav Sina at cumw.cambo@gmail.com.

Global Day of Action on 6 of March against Unilever in India

In a case that has lasted almost 15 years, former workers and local residents of Kodaikanal in southern India, have been campaigning for Unilever to compensate and rehabilitate their area from a dumpsite containing tons of mercury. This toxic site was the result of illegal dumping of mercury by a Hindustan Lever factory over a period of 18 years. Unilever has taken no responsibility for this dumped mercury or the illnesses that workers and their families have suffered since 1983. Unions all around the world will stand united on March 6 against Unilever. Once again, examples like this show how companies have no regard for workers’ health and lives in their quest to maximise their profits.

Palestinians Yarmouk refugee camp surviving amid massive deprivation

The refugee camp of Yarmouk is located in the southern suburbs of Syria’s capital, Damascus. Before the start of the Syrian uprising it had a population of around 250,000. The majority were Palestinian refugees. The situation over the last four years has deteriorated massively with many of the remaining residents barely having enough food to feed themselves. The camp has now become an open air prison with the Syrian government and its allies repressing any democratic or revolutionary activity. The fate of Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk is directly connected to the wider uprisings of the Arab Spring and the liberation of Palestine.

Ssangyong workers on rooftop continue to fight

The heroic occupation and subsequent defeat of thousands of Ssangyong workers in 2009, has not deterred the dismissed workers from continuing to fight for their rights. However, this fight has taken its toll on these workers, and many have committed suicide in recent years, while others have been propelled to take desperate measures. The latest action is the protest by Kim Jung-Wook and Lee Chang-Geun who have now spent close to three months atop a smokestack next to their old car factory.

Anti-austerity demonstrations around Australia - March 4

The continuing global economic crisis is starting to have a greater impact in Australia with a recent rise in the unemployment rate. As with many other governments around the world, the Australian government has embarked on a strategy of austerity that will impact on workers the hardest. In a familiar global pattern, the Australian government is embarking on a program of slashing social welfare, public education and health, lowering taxes and charges for businesses, while attacking the rights of workers to organise. In response, the Australian Confederation of Trade Unions (ACTU) has called for a national Day of Action on the 4th of March.

International Women’s Day - 8 March

International Women’s Day (IWD) originated in 1911, when women garment workers in New York took action to protest against their appalling and dangerous working conditions. Women workers often face more hazardous working and social conditions than their male counterparts and get paid less than men for comparable work. Violence against women is still very common. Women make up the majority of the world’s poor and as refugees face particular dangers. IWD is the global day when women and men will be marching to advance the fight for women’s rights and for equality. 

Melbourne rally

Please send your IWD solidarity statements to AAWL here.

Amid a slowing economy, Chinese workers organise to fight

With a slowing economy, Chinese workers in all industries are starting to feel the pressure of workplaces closing down, and overtime payments and bonuses drying up. In some cases, workers have been left without money for the important Lunar New Year annual holiday period. The last time that this occurred was in 2009, at the start of the current economic crises and many workers were slow to react.  This time, there are increasing signs that workers are organising. As reported previously, industrial actions are becoming more widespread as Chinese workers have increased their organisational ability and determination to resist and fight for their rights. Given the size of the Chinese working class, such developments are significant for workers worldwide.

Rana Plaza disaster continues to affect workers

It has been almost two years since the mass murder of over a 1,000 garment workers at Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh, but the fight for justice for the victims’ families and the survivors continue. After a long delay, another major clothing brand, Benetton, has agreed to start paying compensation, though both the amount and method are unclear at this stage. Meanwhile, a travelling photo exhibition highlighting the Rana Plaza disaster will open in Melbourne later in March.

Leader of Socialist Party arrested in Malaysia for sedition

This week, S. Arutchelvan (Arul), the General Secretary of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) was arrested under the draconian Sedition Act for making comments about the trial of Anwar Ibrahim. Arul was released the next day. The PSM has been a strong advocate for workers in Malaysia especially around urban squatter rights, plantation workers and minimum wages. This is not the first time that members of PSM have been targeted by the Malaysian state. This arrest also has to be seen within the context of the increased use of the Sedition Act to stifle dissent in Malaysia.

 
Drop all the charges
Revoke the Sedition Act

Reza Barati remembered, but still no justice for refugees in Australia

It has been a year since the murder of Reza Barati, an Iranian asylum seeker held in the detention centre of Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Many others were badly injured on that day, but the Australian government has made no real attempts to investigate this murder. Meanwhile, the conditions for detainees on Manus Island and Nauru, Australia’s second offshore detention centre for asylum seekers, continue to deteriorate. The movement to free these asylum seekers and close the camps continues around Australia with events and actions planned in upcoming weeks and months.

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