aawl mini-news

Australian workers continue fight against Parmalat

The lockout of 65 workers in the regional Victorian town of Echuca by the global dairy company Parmalat is now in its 7th week. The dispute is around a new contract and the company’s intentions to cut wages and conditions. Attacks like this on workers in Australia are becoming more common. The workers are receiving strong support from the electrical and manufacturing unions, while a delegation of maritime workers travelled 1,000 kilometres to deliver financial and political support to these workers. A fundraising campaign has also been set up. To fight effectively against the power of global companies like Parmalat that has facilities in 18 countries, workers need to organise co-ordinated industrial actions in multiple sites across the world.

IWD: Peace, Bread, Land

In commemoration of 100 years since the Russian Revolution that was sparked by International Women’s Day, for this year’s IWD Rally in Melbourne Australia, we’re raising the demand Peace, Bread and Land!  Additionally, Victoria Trades Hall is organising its annual Women’s Rights At Work Festival.  For details of WRAW Fest, check out this link, and for details of the Melbourne IWD rally, check out this link.

Iranian labour activists continue to be targeted

Once again Iranian labour activists are facing the repressive actions of the Iranian government as it tries to contain workers’ anger. This month, an appeal for a retrial of Esmail Abdi, a prominent teacher activist, was dismissed by the Supreme Court. Esmail is serving a 6 year sentence for organising workers. In another case, there is an international campaign to keep Reza Shahabi out of jail. Reza is an organiser for the bus union in Tehran and is currently on bail due to poor health. Esmail and Reza are only two of the many labour activists who are languishing in Iranian prisons.

Somyot’s jail sentence reduced

In a surprising and unexpected move, Somyot Prueksakasemsuk’s jail sentence was reduced by three years this week. While Thailand’s Supreme Court once again found Somyot guilty of Lese Majeste, it handed out a sentence of 7 years, which is in contrast to a lower court’s sentence of 10 years. Given that Somyot has already been in jail for 6 years, it is likely that he will now be released in April 2018. Nevertheless, the reality is that Somyot has committed no crime and the Lese Majeste law is used to suppress any government critics in Thailand. The fight for Somyot’s release, the fight against military dictatorship, and the fight against the use of Lese Majeste to crackdown on dissidents like Jatupat (Pai) Boonpattararaksa continues.

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

Arrest of Samsung Vice Chair a small victory

The arrest of Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Electronics’ Vice Chairman, on bribery charges is a small victory for the workers movement in South Korea. His arrest is connected to the political influence peddling scandal that, amid unprecedented mass protests, has forced the South Korean president Park Geun-hye to step aside. At the same time, the fight by labour activists against the deadly occupational health and safety conditions at Samsung Electronics continues. In the last few weeks, another two workers, Kim Ki-cheol and Hwang, died from work related diseases. To fight against a global giant like Samsung, workers need to organise and take coordinated actions internationally.

Thousands of Australian workers to lose pay

This week, the Australian industrial commission handed down a decision that will cut penalty rates for thousands of workers who work on a Sunday. The decision targeted workers in the hospitality, retail and fast food sectors, who are already some of the most exploited and lowest paid workers in Australia. This attack on workers’ wages is seen as the start of a new offensive against workers’ living standards by both governments and capitalists. Penalty rates were won by unions in Australia 70 years ago through industrial action. History shows that they will only be won back by organising workers in the workplace and taking industrial action.

Faremo garment workers win concessions

Earlier this month, the three month long dispute at the Faremo garment factory in the Cavite Free Trade Zone ended with an agreement between the company and the workers. The dispute centred on the company’s resolve to destroy the workers’ union and slash conditions. The workforce of around 1,000, mainly women workers, stayed united even after being dismissed. Their determination allowed them to win further gains. The workers were able to get an additional substantial financial assistance package, the gifting of a number of sewing machines as well as the option of rehiring in the future. The solidarity of other workers in the Philippines and internationally was also of crucial importance in this dispute.

Mass deportations of workers in Saudi Arabia

Reports indicate that in the last few months, Saudi Arabia has expelled around 40,000 migrant workers from Pakistan. Using concerns around security issues, the Saudi Arabian government is expelling large numbers of migrant workers to curtail efforts at workplace organising. Many of these workers are still owed unpaid wages and face difficult times back in their home countries. These deportations are occurring in a climate of economic and social difficulties where migrant workers are being used as scapegoats for these problems. In actual fact, migrant workers in the Gulf countries in West Asia have consistently been used as cheap and disposable labour by national governments.

Invasion Day is no day to celebrate

Australia’s national holiday, 26 January, is Invasion Day. It commemorates the start of the British invasion of Aboriginal Australia in 1788 and the dispossession and genocide of Australia’s Indigenous peoples. Indigenous people have resisted this from the beginning and their resistance continues today. Sovereignty has never been ceded, the land has never been sold. We support Aboriginal and Torres Islander rights to self-determination.  This year, tens of thousands of people across the country took to the streets in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and against the ongoing violence, repression and genocide of First Nations people.
 
Check out these reports: MelbourneBrisbaneSydneyPerthLa Trobe Valley

Workers injured in factory fire in the Philippines

A massive fire in the Cavite Export Processing Zone on February 1 has injured more than 100 workers with at least two in a critical condition. Luckily, so far no fatalities have been reported.  There is some dispute between Government official reports, and unionists, family members and co-workers about the number of people still unaccounted for. The fire took place in Singaporean company, House Technology Industries (HTI), which manufactures housing parts such as shower rooms, windows, and counters made of wood or plastic.  HTI has a shady health and safety record with a previous fire in 2012 blazing for 10 hours before it was able to be put out. Activists are now calling for a transparent investigation, which would include the participation of labour organisations and a proper interrogation of HTI’s OHS compliance certification.

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