Major mobilisation of workers hits capital

Over three days starting from 9 November, tens of thousands of workers staged a series of mass sit-ins and protests in the Indian capital city of New Delhi. It has been over three years that the current Government headed by Prime Minister Modi has been in power, and the situation for workers has steadily worsened. On top of the disastrous demonetisation of last year, the Modi government has unleashed a whole series of reforms that have undermined the power of workers and worsened their living standards. These protests were very important as not only did most labour and union centres in India participate, but the actions were directly targeting the government of Prime Minister Modi.

Mine workers continue their fight

Since starting to take action in May of this year at the giant Freeport Grasberg gold and copper mine in West Papua, thousands of workers have been fired from their jobs. This harsh response by the company shows their determination to maintain the huge profits from this mine by keeping workers un-organised. These same workers fought a heroic battle against the company back in 2011 (see here and here). To highlight the current struggle, the global union federation IndustriALL has produced a documentary on these workers and their lives.

South Korean workers stage big rally

For the 47th anniversary of the suicide of labour activist Jeon Tae-il, the Korean labour movement staged a massive rally in central Seoul on Saturday, November 12. At least 50,000 workers took part in this rally, organised by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions to demand higher wages, better conditions and an end to union repression. Other unions such as the Korean construction unions have also been holding their own separate rallies. One of the main demands by workers both in South Korea and around the world (see here and here), is for the release of imprisoned KCTU leader Han Sang gyun.
Organising is not a crime! Free Han Sang gyun!

Lese Majeste effects exposed in new report

In Thailand, the most repressive law that all activists face is Article 112, or commonly referred to as the Lese Majeste law. This law criminalises any alleged, implied or indirect criticism of the Thai Royal Family and any of their interests with jail terms of over 10 years. Many activists have been imprisoned on the most flimsy of evidence (see here, here, here and here). A new report has analysed Lese Majeste arrests over the last decade and has highlighted how cases of Lese Majeste increase in line with periods of intense political mobilisations in Thailand.

Free all political prisoners in Thailand! Abolish Article 112! End the military dictatorship!

Workers take global action against repression

Workers and labour activists in many countries took action on November 16 to mark the Global Day of Action against Trade Union Repression. Pictures of events can be seen here. This is the fourth year that workers internationally have taken co-ordinated action against trade union repression. The day commemorates all the comrades around the world who face repression from capitalists and governments for fighting for a living wage, secure employment and a safe and healthy workplace. It is also a day to come together as an international class in global solidarity with each other.

Pro refugee protests continue in Australia

Following Australia and Papua New Guinea’s decision to close the Manus concentration camp leaving around 600 refugees in limbo, protests have erupted in both countries. The refugees themselves have been holding an indefinite sit in protest. The PNG government has threatened to use force against them. In Australia ongoing protests calling for the refugees to come to Australia have been occurring in many cities (see here, here and here). Bodies such as the Australian Medical Association, the United Nations, and other international organisations have called for an end to the inhumane and cruel refugee policies of the Australian government.

Textile workers use bold tactics in protest

In recent weeks, shoppers in Istanbul found notes in their newly bought Zara brand clothes that complained that workers who produced these clothes had not been paid. The issue dates back to earlier this year when the Bravo Tekstil factory in Istanbul suddenly closed down leaving around 140 workers being owed many months of wages. While the company has claimed it is working on setting up a hardship fund, any back pay has yet to materialise. Incidents like this only serve to highlight the brutal race to the bottom that companies like Zara engage in, in order to reap the highest possible profits.

Cambodian workers to face greater obstacles

This week, the main opposition party in Cambodia, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was dissolved by that country’s High Court. This move has effectively ensured that the current Government, headed by Hun Sen, will win next year’s elections. This ruling comes on the back of previous arrests and repression of opposition activists as well as the closure of independent media outlets such as radio. Given the oppressive situation that Cambodian workers already face (see here, here and here), the latest crackdown will only worsen the ability for workers to organise to improve their working conditions.

Iranian labour activist close to death

Long-time labour activist Mahmoud Salehi, has been transferred from his jail cell to a regional hospital with failing heart and kidney functions. Mahmoud is in grave danger of dying if not transferred to a better hospital.  In the meantime, Reza Shahabi, another labour activists serving time in jail, has released a letter protesting his ongoing repression by the authorities. In another case, poet and civil rights activist Reza Ekvanyan has been sentenced to three years jail and 40 lashes for one of his poems. There is an ongoing solidarity campaign around the world to protest against the Iranian government and its repressive policies against labour and human rights activists.

More workplace abuses by Samsung Electronics

A recent report jointly produced by the Hanoi-based Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED) and the Swedish IPEN Centre, has condemned Samsung Electronics’ health and safety performance in their factories in Vietnam. Samsung has been expanding its production facilities in Vietnam due to the lower costs there in comparison to South Korea. The researchers have found that the workplaces, which assemble smartphones, are so toxic that women workers now regard suffering miscarriages as unexceptional. Samsung Electronics has a murderous history in relation to workers and health and safety practices at its workplaces.

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