Australia Asia Worker Links is taking a summer break

This is the last regular mini news for 2014. The full mini news will restart in the first week of

February 2015. The Asia Pacific Currents radio program is also taking a break. The first APC program for 2015 will be on Saturday the 7th of February.

The first public meeting of Australia Asia Worker Links will be on Wednesday the 4th of February. The topic will be building working class solidarity with indigenous movements in Australia.

During this time, we will continue to cover labour issues on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

The fight for freedom and justice continues.

Fight for rights continues for workers in Bangladesh

It has been well over a year since the massacre of over 1,100 garment workers at Rana Plaza and still the fight for proper compensation continues. Benetton is one of the major brands that has not contributed anything yet. In an unrelated development, owners of two of the garment factories that were in Rana Plaza were granted bail, raising fears that they will never be held to account for their actions. Meanwhile a separate investigation, has highlighted the appalling working conditions for workers in the coal processing sector. The continued repression of unions in Bangladesh has forced millions of men and women to work in appalling conditions for starvation wages.

Amid the ruins of war, working class resistance continues in Iraq and Syria

As reported previously, it is workers and their communities who are the greatest losers in the ongoing wars in West Asia. Despite repeated attempts to organise, widespread discrimination and precarious working conditions continue to weaken our brothers and sisters’ attempts to organise in Iraq. In neighbouring Syria, the heroic resistance by the left wing PYD is acting as an inspiration to other labour activists and organisations with increasing calls for direct support for their battle in Kobane. Meanwhile, in civilian areas, resistance to repression continues. The intervention by regional labour groups remains the key to stopping these wars.

Australian workers in bitter industrial dispute against global company

Around 150 workers in the southern city of Melbourne have been on strike for two months against the giant Otis company, the world’s largest manufacturer of elevators, escalators and moving walkways. Otis employs over 60,000 workers world-wide. The workers are fighting for better wages and conditions with the company trying to downgrade workers’ entitlements. A fighting fund has been established and solidarity messages have been received from around the world. While local workers are united, coordinated industrial action by other Otis employees at their workplaces in other countries would be the most effective way to fight against this global giant and support the Australian workers.

Indonesian workers flexing their muscle for higher wages

The last few years have seen growing confidence among workers in Indonesia with the staging of major strikes and actions to win better wages and conditions. Nevertheless, many workers continue to face harsh working conditions, unsafe workplaces and repression by the state. Thus, labour organisations continue to push for their rights. Earlier this month, huge numbers of workers took to the streets all around Indonesia to test the new President Jokowi stated goal to tackle the growing inequality in Indonesia by calling for higher wages.

Murder of Palestinian minister just the tip of the iceberg

The killing of Ziad Abu Ein, a minister in the Palestinian Authority, by the Israeli army once again has brought into focus the lethal consequences of the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Ziad Abu Ein was killed when he, and a number of other villagers, were attempting to plant some olive trees in protest against illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Many other Palestinians have been killed recently as anger against the occupation continues. In the meantime, thousands of Palestinians continue to languish in Israeli jails. Resistance will continue and a new hunger strike has been launched by prisoners.

South Koreans protest against Thai Coup leader

As reported previously, protesters greeted General Prayuth Chan-ocha’s visit to Malaysia last week. This week, further protests were organised by labour and human rights groups in South Korea during his visit for the ASEAN summit. There has now been a call by the Free Thai Movement for Democracy and Human Rights to continue the worldwide protests against the Thai military regime. Meanwhile, the use of the repressive Lese Majeste law inside Thailand is continuing with further arrests (see here and here).
No to the military! Free all political prisoners! Organising is not a crime!

Trade unionist among those detained in Hong Kong crackdown

As previously reported, the fight for direct elections has been shaking Hong Kong for a number of months with unions actively involved in these protests. The size of the protests has been fuelled by widespread anger against increasing inequality, corruption and the high cost of living. This week, the Hong Kong government cleared the last remaining camp of the protest movement. Many people were arrested by police, including prominent unionists from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), though they were later released. Protest organisers have promised that they will be back. On the mainland, shoe factory workers won an important three month battle over compensation.

Another unionist murdered in the Philippines

Less then two weeks after the global day of action to Stop the Repression Against Trade Unionists, Rolando Pango, a farm worker organiser on the Filipino island of Negros was assassinated by four killers. Rolando had been active in defending workers against exploitation by the dominant sugar plantation farmers in the area. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case as many other Filipino labour activists have been killed just this year. Labour mobilisations continue in the Phillipines.

Bhopal disaster 30 years on: Still killing and still no justice

Thirty years ago in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh - India, the worst single industrial accident in the world happened at the Union Carbide chemical plant. A chemical explosion and leak, caused by inadequate maintenance, bad health and safety procedures, and inept emergency procedures, led to an immediate death toll of around 3,000 people. Many thousands more have died since then with a continuing injury and disease toll that has now affected more than half a million people. The criminals responsible for this mass murder have never been brought to justice while workers and their families are still battling to get compensation.

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