aawl mini-news

Two Iranian workers killed in gas explosion

Last week, a huge explosion rocked the western suburbs of Tehran, the capital city of Iran, when underground subway workers hit a gas pipeline. The explosion left a crater up to 50 metres deep. Two workers died as a result, but had the explosion occurred in a more populated area, there would have been many, many more. This latest workplace accident once again throws light on the precarious and unsafe working conditions that huge numbers of Iranians face. Construction and mining are the most dangerous occupations with thousands dying each year. The fact that independent unions are brutally repressed in Iran makes it almost impossible for workers to campaign for better working conditions.

International campaign against union busting at Hyundai

Friday 24 June 2016 marked 100 days since 41-year-old Han Kwang-ho, committed suicide. Han was a union organiser at YooSung Entreprise, a Hyundai auto part supplier in South Korea. Han had endured five years of intimidation, repression and attacks by the company in retaliation for his trade union activities. On Friday, labour activists commemorated his death and renewed calls for Hyundai to stop its union busting activities. Against global companies like Hyunday, coordinated industrial action across countries is needed.

Brewery workers in Melbourne fight against outsourcing

In mid-June, 50 workers employed by Carlton United Brewery, part of the SABMiller group, the second largest brewer in the world, were fired. They were then told that they could reapply for their jobs with another company that would then sub-contract to CUB. Their new positions would be on individual contracts, with no job security and reduced pay and conditions. These workers and their union, the Electrical Trades Union, have set up a protest camp. You can visit them at 22 Southampton Cres, Abbotsford and donate to their strike fund. Solidarity messages can be sent to solidarity@aawl.org.au

Vale Comrade Lynn Beaton

The Australian labour movement lost another stalwart feminist unionist this month, with the passing of comrade Lynn Beaton.  Lynn is best known to her political activists in Melbourne Australia, and is fondly remembered as a political activist, author, community academic and trade union warrior.  Vale Lynn Beaton.

Bahrain crackdown continues to intensify

Earlier this month, the arrest and detention of Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, highlighted the continuing level of repression that exists in the country. Since the government moved against the popular uprising in early 2011, working class people and organisations have borne the brunt of this repression (see here and here). The rights to protest and organise have basically been abolished, overseas travel curtailed, and social media is now being targeted for censorship and control.

Japanese protest Okinawa military base

Last week, another massive demonstration was held in the southern Japanese island of Okinawa against the presence of USA military bases. While the catalyst for this latest protest was the rape and killing of a local woman by a US servicemen, there are deeper issues. Many Okinawans feel that the military base negatively influences the economic and political life on their island as well as being opposed to growing militarism in Japan.

Turkish Government targets union leader

Earlier this month, the Turkish police detained Arzu Cerkezoglu, general secretary of the national trade union centre DISK, on charges of 'insulting the President’. This law of ‘insult’ was only introduced in 2014, but already around 1,850 people have been charged under this Act. It carries a jail term of up to four years and it is being used against human and labour right activists. The situation for labour organisers is becoming more difficult in Turkey with widespread instances of anti-union activities, (see here, here and here).

Demonstration in Hong Kong in support of bookseller

Last week, an estimated 6,000 labour and human rights activists marched in the streets of Hong Kong in support of Lam wing-kee. Lam was one of the five workers that were employed in bookshops and printers and mysteriously disappeared for months. They later reappeared in mainland China. Lam said that he was arrested by mainland Chinese authorities for publishing material that was critical of Chinese politicians.

Korean government wants union leader in prison

In a stark reminder of the offensive that South Korean workers are facing, a state prosecutor has asked for an 8 year prison sentence to be given to Han Sang-gyun, the president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). Sang-gyun was involved in a number of large demonstrations last year against anti worker government policies. He has been charged with a variety of ‘crimes’ and has received international support for his actions, (see here and here). Sang-gyun was also the leader of the Ssangyong union when thousands of workers staged a heroic factory occupation in 2009 (see here, here, here, here and here).

Pakistan uses terrorism laws to silence activists

This week, Baba Jan and 11 of his fellow activist were sentenced to 40 years jail by the regional Gilgit Baltistan Supreme Court. They were tried under Pakistan’s draconian anti terrorism laws. Their ‘crime’ was to organise working class people against exploitation and corruption. Baba Jan and his comrades were originally jailed four years ago following a mass protest where police shot dead two protestors. Unfortunately this is not the first time that the Pakistani government has used anti terrorism laws to imprison labour activist. An international campaign to free Baba Jan and the other 11 activists has been launched. 

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