aawl mini-news

Turkish government cracks down on workers

Following the attempted military coup of just over a week ago that resulted in the death of over 250 people, the Erdogan government has moved swiftly against all opposition. In addition to arresting the military and police personnel who were involved in the actual coup, the Turkish government has instituted a ‘State of Emergency’ giving it extraordinary powers. In the last few days an estimated 13,000 members of the Ministries of Justice, Interior and Finance were either sacked or suspended, over 35,000 teachers were “purged”, and 19 trade unions were suspended. These moves are clearly aimed at destroying workers’ organisations that are seen as political opponents. Read the statement by the DISK labour federation.

Korean workers stage massive protests

This week, in a strong show of protest to the recent jail sentences handed down to labour leaders, an estimated 100,000 workers took to the streets throughout South Korea. Workers were also protesting against the recent wave of layoffs as well as demanding a higher minimum wage. In a separate display of workers power, earlier in the week, tens of thousands of workers from Hyundai factories took partial strike actions across South Korea. More strikes and protests are planned in the coming weeks and months.

Fight for Maruti Suzuki workers continues

This week thousands of workers in the Gurgaon-Manesar-Bawal automobile belt defied government bans against protests, to come out and forcefully call for the release of their jailed fellow workers. The workers rallied on the 4th anniversary of the death of a plant manager that occurred in clashes between workers and company hired thugs. This clash was the outcome of a long running, ongoing industrial dispute. Following the death of the manager, 148 workers were arrested, with 35 still remaining in jail. While the flawed justice system is a focus of the protests, the underlying fight continues to be for the right of workers to organise, to have a living wage, and safe workplaces.

Brewery workers continue the fight against global giant

The struggle by 55 workers in Melbourne, against subcontracting and insecure work is now in its second month. The company, CUB, is part of the SAB Miller group, a global company that employs around 70,000 employees in more than 80 countries, and last year had a net revenue of USA $24 Billion. To effectively fight the power of global companies like SABMiller, workers need to step up and take co-ordinated industrial actions at many of their sites across the world. In Asia, SAB Miller has production facilities in Australia, India and New Zealand. You can support the striking workers at 22 Southampton Cres, Abbotsford and donate to their strike fund. Solidarity messages can be sent to solidarity@aawl.org.au.

Owners of Rana Plaza finally indicted for murder

In a welcomed move this week in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 41 people, including the owner of Rana Plaza, were indicted for murder for the death of over 1,100 workers. The collapse of Rana Plaza, which housed five garment factories, in April 2013 highlighted to the world the abysmal conditions that garment workers faced. While some improvements to the garment sector have occurred since 2013, the garment industry is still characterised by unsafe workplaces, inhumane working hours and days, poverty wages, and rampant repression of unions and labour activists.

Justice denied to Filipino workers

This week, Australian industrial investigator, the Fair Work Ombudsman, found against the infrastructure and mining service giant Thiess over its treatment of its migrant workforce. Thiess made the workers, who were employed under a temporary work visa system, sign employment contracts that threatened to sack and deport migrant workers if they joined a union. The company was forced to apologise to the workers and make a donation to the Filipino community. Unfortunately, the workers lost their jobs and have been left with outstanding debts. Unions have repeatedly uncovered workplace abuses of temporary workers in Australia as the visa system leaves these workers in a very vulnerable position (see here and here).

The European crisis and the workers movement in Asia

With massive labour protests in France, the Brexit decision in the UK, the rise of anti-immigration and anti-Muslim parties, and with continuing austerity politics in many countries, the political and social situation in Europe is changing very fast. What do these dynamics mean for the working class in Asia? What are the lessons? Will they help international solidarity and organising? Come to an AAWL public meeting to discuss these issues. All welcome.

6pm, Wed 3 August, Evatt Room, Trades Hall

Thai generals target journalist’s wife

This week, the Thai military junta gave a warning to any exiled critic that while they may be outside of Thailand, they can still go after their families. Noppawan “Ploy” Bunluesilp, with her three year old son, was detained by the Thai military for being the wife of journalist Andrew MacGregor Marshall. Andrew is in exile due to having written a book critical of the Thai monarchy. Fortunately, Ploy and her son were released and left Thailand the next day. Unfortunately, new arrests of perceived enemies continue to be made, swelling the numbers already in jail in Thailand.

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

Protests at Turkish coal mines continue

Thousands of coal miners and supporters have been staging ongoing demonstrations and protests in Zonguldak in the north western Black Sea region of Turkey. The miners are opposing plans to privatise the mines, a move that would lead to massive job losses and reduced health and safety conditions due to cost cutting. These mines are already very dangerous and have claimed the lives of thousands of workers. The Soma coal mine disaster of two years ago that claimed 301 lives is a stark example of the dangers of the profit driven system.

Brewery fight against sub-contracting goes global

It is a month since 50 Carlton United Brewery (CUB) workers were fired. They were 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. CUB is part of the SABMiller group, the second largest brewer in the world, and is trying to reduce wages and conditions for all its workers. To effectively fight the power of global companies like SABMiller, workers need to step up and take co-ordinated industrial actions at sites across the world. 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.

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