aawl mini-news

Wave Hill – 50 years since the walk off

This week, at Kalkarindji, a small outpost in the northern deserts of Australia, a major commemorative festival took place to mark 50 years since the historic and ground-breaking Wave Hill strike by around 200 Aboriginal stockmen. The Gurindji people were protesting against the atrocious work and pay conditions that they had endured for years, especially at the pastoral station owned by Lord Vestey. This strike was supported by unions and other activists throughout Australia. The Gurindji struggle is seen as the birth of the Land Rights movement in Australia. Their struggle is immortalised in a song entitled ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ written by Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly.

Syrian conflict continues to destroy working class communities

The popular uprising that began over five years ago is now a war that is laying waste large areas of Syria. The war has killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, thousands are in prison, while liberties are repressed by all sides (see here and here). This conflict has seen the involvement of many imperialist and reactionary forces (see here and here) with resistance forces badly outgunned. The recent battles in and around Aleppo have only served to increase the misery for working class communities. Nevertheless, popular resistance continues amid the ruins of war, whether in documenting the war, rescuing the injured, or staging demonstrations. Without greater international solidarity to the working class resistance in Syria, the conflict will continue to create misery for millions of people in and around Syria.

Growing opposition to Australian government repression of refugees

This week, the Immigration Minister of Australia, Mr. Peter Dutton, stated that the concentration camp of Manus will close. This announcement comes on the back of growing pressure on the government. This week, over 100 former workers from the concentration camps of Nauru and Manus have publicly called for their closure. Paul Stevenson, a renowned psychologist admitted that he was the source of leaked confidential documents, and activists managed to disrupt a speech by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Imprisoned refugees have also made impassioned calls for justice. Demonstrations are planned for Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne on Saturday the 27th of August.

More Maruti workers get bail

A few days ago, another 18 Maruti Suzuki workers received bail in Gurgaon and were released from jail. This now still leaves 16 workers in jail, including the union leadership group. The Maruti Suzuki struggle started four years ago by workers attempting to unionise and secure long term employment contracts. Their efforts have been met with repeated violence and repression by the company and the state. Notwithstanding this huge struggle, Maruti Suzuki continues to employ many workers on a temporary basis so that it can pay them less.

Beer dispute continues in Melbourne, Australia

The fight against contracting out, lower wages and insecure work by CUB workers will soon be three months old. The 55 sacked workers continue to receive massive support from other workers and unions in Melbourne, while international solidarity is also increasing (see here and here). This struggle is becoming a watershed issue with a global company taking on a strongly unionised workforce in an effort to increase their profits by creating insecure jobs at lower rates of pay. You can visit the workers at 22 Southampton Cres, Abbotsford and donate to their strike fund. Solidarity messages can be sent to solidarity@aawl.org.au.

Documentary planned on Fiji nuclear testing survivors

During the 1950s, the United Kingdom had a nuclear test program in the central Pacific. Thousands of British military personnel, and hundreds of New Zealand and Fijian soldiers and sailors were involved in these tests. Many of these soldiers and sailors suffered health effects and never received compensation. The situation for the Fijian survivors was so dire that recently the Fijian government created a welfare fund for them. A documentary, called Kirisimasi, aims to tell the stories of these Fijian nuclear veterans. You can support the documentary by making a donation.

Crew left to starve on abandoned ship

Earlier this week, food supplies had to be rushed to 20 crew members left to fend for themselves on a ship off the Gladstone coast, a city in the north east of Australia. The workers employed on the ship, owned by Fujian Shipping, had not been paid for over two months and had run out of food. The Maritime Union of Australia is working with authorities to help these workers. Situations like this are a stark example of the brutality of the global shipping sector where a never ending race to the bottom exists in the drive for higher profits.

Ansell workers in Sri Lanka get some justice

Hundreds of Sri Lankan Ansell workers who have been fighting for almost three years, have finally won some justice. The original dispute began with the sacking of labour activist by Ansell in a clear union busting action. This week, an agreement was reached between the representing union (FTGSEU) and Ansell for many of these workers to be offered new jobs. Some will be offered early retirement packages. This fight is a testament to the role of unions, the power of international solidarity and the commitment of the workers themselves to fight for justice.

Twenty one workers killed on Tianjin anniversary

On Thursday 11 August, a blast occurred at a chemical plant located in Dangyang in the central Hubei province of China. The blast was caused by a high pressure steam tube breaking apart. Initial reports put the death toll at 21 workers dead with another 6 injured. This blast happened the day before the 1st anniversary of the horrific explosion that engulfed the port area of Tianjin, killing over 170 people. The Tianjin disaster, and this latest accident in Dangyang, highlight the precarious state of occupational health and safety in China.

Military Junta in Thailand wins sham referendum

This week, after much delay, and with no independent campaigning allowed, and arrests of any opponents, a new constitution was adopted via a national referendum. The ruling military junta had overseen the drafting of this new constitution as a way to guarantee law and order. In reality, the new constitution enshrines the power of the military by giving them unprecedented powers. The fight against military rule will continue into the future with more arrests occurring on polling day itself.

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

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