More workers are killed in the shipyards of Bangladesh - Lives before profits

While the terrible conditions for garments workers in Bangladesh are now routinely discussed in the world’s media, they are not the only workers suffering a terrible price in the ‘Race to the Bottom’. The industry of shipbreaking is concentrated in the three South Asian countries of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. These workplaces are notoriously anti union, conditions are appalling and deaths of workers frequent. Early this month, another four workers were killed in a workplace accident in Chittagong, Bangladesh. History has shown that only by workers themselves forming independent unions can this slaughter of human beings be brought to an end.

Trade unionist in jail in Iran close to death - Free Shahrokh Zamani

The situation for workers, and in particular, worker activists continues to remain grim in Iran, with many in jail. Shahrokh Zamani, a member of the Syndicate of Paint Workers of Tehran and the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organisations was sentenced to 11years of jail in 2011 for the crime of labour organising. Shahrokh has now been on hunger strike for a month in a prison in Karaj city. There is an international campaign to demand his unconditional release.

Workers Memorial Day: Workers in Bangladesh still fighting for justice

With the 1st year anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse just a couple of weeks away, the issue of justice for workers is very stark. While the death of over a thousands workers made international headlines, the companies involved in this massacre have been negligent in paying compensation to the survivors and families of the dead. A similar situation is evident for the survivors of the Tasreen factory fire of over 18 months ago where workers are still waiting for compensation. Meanwhile, the murder of Mr. Aminul Islam, a garment worker organiser, is still unsolved.

 

On April 28 unions and workers around the world pause to not only remember those who lose their lives due to work incidents and disease – but to fight for the living. This means fighting for better regulation, increased government compliance activity, and achieving safer workplaces for all.This year, April 28 falls on a Monday and the VTHC will be holding an event at the Trades Hall at 10.30am. We invite Health and Safety Reps, delegates and workers to come along.

Download AAWL's Workers' Memorial Day leaflet here.

Chinese worker facing up to three years jail for organising strike

It has been almost a year since Wu Guijun was detained for organising a strike at the Diweixin Product Factory in Shenzhen. The trial for these ‘offences’ has just started, with Wu facing up to three years in prison if convicted. In contrast to past trials of worker activists, the proceedings are not only open, but at his hearing, there was a large group of supporters and fellow workers to support him. This is indicative that recent labour wins by Chinese workers are part of a growing confidence by workers to stand up for their rights.

Celebrate & fight on May Day

May Day has been celebrated internationally since 1886 as the day for workers to unite.
With the continuing intensification of the capitalist crisis globally, the significance of May Day and the commonality of our issues has never been more apparent.

March in solidarity with workers in struggle everywhere
Send us your May Day solidarity message to solidarity@aawl.org.au
 

Melbourne May Day Solidarity Rally
Wednesday 1 May at 5:00pm, State Library Swanston Street Melbourne
March to 8 hour monument
Facebook event

Other May Day events in Melbourne include a lunchtime event and a march on Sunday the 4th of March
 

Journalists are workers, time to end the repression against them

Australian journalist Peter Greste’s detention in an Egyptian jail on trumped up charges is one of the many dangers that journalists face as they try to do their job. Many other journalists in the region have felt the weight of authority via abductions, arrests or being murdered. In Turkey alone, there are currently over 40 journalists serving jail time because of their news covering. The situation has become so intolerable that the International Federation of Journalists have initiated an international campaign to raise awareness of the danger that journalists face and calling for their protection.

The fight against exploitation in Thailand continues on many fronts

The current political crisis in Thailand has reached an impasse with both sides of the ruling class not able to defeat the other. Nevertheless, this impasse has serious implications for workers and other activists. Recent debates have now raised the issue of racism with attempts to scapegoat migrant workers from Burma – who are routinely employed in the worst paying and most dangerous jobs (see here and here). The repressive Lese Majeste law is still continuing to be used against activists and others, like Somyot languish in jail. Meanwhile, the class struggle for workers continues at their workplace.

Casualisation and insecure work is hitting Japanese workers

In late March, thousands of dockworkers went on strike for the right to retain industry wide bargaining and for real wage increases. They also wanted an end to the increasing use of casualised and contractualised workers. In the same month, workers at Japan Post also took action calling for a halt to casualisation. As in many other countries, the ability for workers to organise is being undercut by the increasing use of casual and contract workers. Even in a sensitive industry like nuclear power, many workers face insecure employment conditions.

Toyota car workers in India strike for better wages

Over 4,000 car workers in the southern town of Bangalore have been fighting their employer over wages and conditions for the last three weeks. What started as a limited strike, was followed by a company lockout, and has now become a standoff with workers refusing to sign a company’s ‘good conduct’ agreement before going back to work. Union leaders have now started a hunger strike. This dispute is indicative of the ongoing push by global companies such as Toyota, into regions that have low wages and costs, but also of workers’ growing awareness of their role in the global economy and their opposition to the ‘Race to the bottom’. To be effective in fighting global companies like Toyota, the Indian Toyota workers need to organise industrial actions with Toyota workers in other countries.

Chinese workers employed at Samsung win pay rise

As reported in a number of previous posts (see here and here) workers in China are starting to increase their demands for better pay and conditions. The latest case involves the giant electronic company Samsung, which in its home country of South Korea, is notoriously anti union and has a dismal OHS record. In the southern city of Dongguan, over 1,000 workers were able to win increases to overtime rates and subsidies after a short strike. In a move that is meant to forestall more industrial disputes, three major Chinese cities announced increases to minimum wages.

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