Workers Memorial Day - Strong Unions Safe Work

International Worker’s Memorial Day is held on 28 April every year. Events and actions are held by labour organisations and activists around the world to remember those who have died or have been injured at the workplace. Millions of workers annually are injured or killed by their work. The day is also a reminder that genuine, independent unions are the best guarantee for a safe and healthy workplace. A wall collapse at a construction site in Melbourne this week highlighted the importance of unions. In Victoria, Australia a number of events will be held, see here.

 

May Day 2016 - Workers of the World Unite !

May Day has been celebrated internationally since 1886 as the day for workers to unite as a class. Capitalists and governments are killing us in our workplaces and in our communities. Workers need to stop the politics of austerity and war. March in solidarity with workers in struggle everywhere. Rallies and demonstrations will occur all around the world. In Melbourne, Australia, the May Day rally will be at 1pm, Sunday 1st of May, outside Trades Hall. 

Coles EBA at the Fair Work commission again

The giant Coles supermarket chain continues to pay many of its workers below the legal minimum wage. Coles workers are exploited under a terrible EBA, signed thanks to the efforts of the largest yellow union in Australia, the SDA. But the EBA is being contested, so possibly, thousands of workers will improve their wages. The current case has been taken to court by Duncan Hart, an individual member of the SDA and by the AMIEU, the meatworkers' union. The SDA is sitting with Coles management in the hearings. Workers are invited to the hearing at the Fair Work Commission, 11 Exhibition Street, Melbourne on Wednesday 27 April from 9:30am. Support Duncan and the AMIEU and wage justice for all workers.

Legendary Aboriginal activist Tiga Bayles dies

This week, Tiga Bayles, a long time advocate and activist for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander industrial and civil rights died after a long illness. Tiga was central to the long running fight by Aboriginal workers in the state of Queensland to recover their stolen wages. The Queensland Council of Unions acknowledged Tiga’s huge contribution to the working class movement. Tiga was also a long time broadcaster and journalist for Aboriginal media. His contribution will be missed. Our condolences go to his family, friends and community.

Sri Lankan workers take action against insecure work

This month, hundreds of workers employed at the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) to read household meters went on strike demanding that they be made permanent employees, see video. The issue of precarious employment has been fought against by these workers for a number of years. This week, after a strike of three weeks, the workers ended their actions after successful negotiations with the Power and Energy Minister, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, who promised to resolve the issue of insecure employment status.

Palestinian Prisoners’ Day marked around the world

There are over 7,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, many either locked up in ‘administrative detention’ without trial, or convicted for protesting against the Israeli occupation. The 17th of April is known as the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian Prisoners. Solidarity actions were held throughout the world as well as a symbolic one day hunger strike by 3,000 Palestinian prisoners. One prisoner, Sami Janazrah, has been on hunger strike for over 7 weeks, and there are real fears he might die soon. Palestinians see the continued incarceration of their activists as an attempt by the Israeli government to defeat their struggle against Occupation.

Activists campaign against exploitation in palm oil plantations

Early next month, labour activists internationally are going to co-ordinate an advocacy campaign against the global company Pepsi-Co over its indifference to labour right violations in oil palm plantations. Pepsi-Co is a massive buyer of palm oil for its snack food products and beverages. The exploitation of workers in the vast palm oil plantations of Malaysia and Indonesia has been well documented over the past few years, see here, here and here.

Popular protests continue in Iraq

While much of the focus in Iraq is on the civil war, workers and their communities in areas not affected directly by the war continue to suffer under a corrupt and dysfunctional political system. The mass protests that started last year have continued into 2016, causing the country’s political system to grind to a halt. While these protests have demanded the end to corruption, nepotism and sectarianism, at this stage they lack an independent organisational structure and may fall prey to further sectarian tensions.

Remember Rana Plaza

On 24 April 2013 the eight-story Rana Plaza building in Dhaka Bangladesh collapsed. The owners of a number of garment factories in the building had ignored the most basic safety regulations, and forced workers to keep working when it was clear the walls were cracking. The confirmed death toll was 1,130. Approximately 2,500 injured people were rescued. Rana Plaza shows how little the fashion brands that produce their expensive clothes care about the lives of their workers. Join us as we commemorate the workers killed and injured on 24 April 2013 in Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. We will have various activities including a silent vigil at 12:57pm - the Melbourne time of the collapse (8:57am Bangladesh time). 
Mourn the Dead, Fight for the Living. The Melbourne commemoration in Burke Street

Support the campaign to free Somyot

This upcoming 30 April will mark the 5th anniversary of Somyot Priksakasemsuk’s imprisonment in Thailand under that country’s draconian Lese Majeste laws. Somyot is a journalist and a labour activist. Thai activists are calling for supporters around the world to send letters to Somyot as a show of solidarity with him. Since the military coup of almost two years ago, the situation for human rights and labour activists has increasingly worsened.
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