jiselle's blog

Major project leads to deaths in Pakistan

The local Government of Punjab has invested a lot of political prestige in the construction of the new modern rail based mass rapid transit system, the Orange Line Metro Train, for the city of Lahore. In its determination to build the line as quickly as possible the lives of workers are being sacrificed with regulations and health and safety being overlooked. Just this week, another four workers were badly injured when they fell from a crane. It is estimated that at least 25 workers have been killed so far, with the worst single incident happening in January this year when 7 workers were burned to death. It is obvious that the local government sees the lives of workers, many of them migrants from poorer rural areas, as totally expendable. 

Over 4,000 mine workers now sacked

The dispute at the giant Freeport-McMoran Grasberg mine in West Papua has now entered its third month. As of last week, 4,220 workers had been fired for taking strike action. The workers at this mine have a proud history of fighting and taking on this huge global company as the strike in 2011 exemplified. The issues are again around insecure employment contracts, wages and health and safety. 

Repression and death under the military junta

The military junta in Thailand is continuing to entrench its power with the passing of a new bill that will allow them to impose its policies even once it has stepped back and new elections have been held. The military’s increasing role in Thailand is also seen by its ever expanding defence budgets. The repression against any critics continues in Thailand with the recent arrest of political activist Ekachai Hongkangwan, ongoing charges against human rights defenders and the use of the Lese Majeste law. With labour organising restricted, workers are at great risk of injury and death at workplaces, as can be seen in the case of the five workers killed at a food processing plant.

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

Indian automotive workers continue fight

Hundreds of workers at the automotive parts maker Aisin are continuing to take industrial action despite having their picket line broken up by police (see video). The workers grievances have been building for a number of years with insecure work and low pay the main issues. The workers undertook to form their own union this year but have come under sustained pressure from management. As with many other disputes, the mass media has not been covering this issue in an effort to demoralise and isolate the Aisin workers from fellow workers of the nearby industrial zones.

Iraqi unions oppose new Government bill

While parts of Iraq have been devastated by war, workers in the rest of the country are continuing to struggle to have their right to independently organise recognised. This fight has been ongoing since the USA invaded the country in 2003 (see here and here). Currently, the Iraqi Government wants to approve a new law that will not guarantee the rights of workers to form their own unions, or to grant them any legal protection for trade union activity. Pressure from labour and human rights groups have recently stopped the government adopting laws restricting freedom of expression and so labour activists are hoping they can do the same for this proposed law.

Australian workers fighting global gas company

Following the announcement of a few weeks ago that workers were being offered new contracts at 30% less pay, a picket line has now been established outside of Exxon-Mobil's Longford gas plant. The company that was engaged to maintain this plant, UGL, is trying to force existing workers to sign up with a new subsidiary company. This company is offering the workers 30% less pay, less annual leave, less allowances and no control over shift rosters. In disputes with global companies like Exxon-Mobil, co-ordinated industrial actions across its many global sites would be the most effective.

Bangladesh labour activists facing criminal charges

Thousands of workers at the Azim Group’s Orchid and Savar factories in Chittagong have continued to face intimidation, violence and brutality from their employers in their quest to form a union. This week, 61 of the main labour organisers have had criminal charges filed against them, with 22 workers still remaining locked up. Unfortunately such repression and brutality are not uncommon in Bangladesh where employers and governments actively stop workers organising so as to keep wages below poverty levels (see here and here).

Turkish workers win amid continuing repression

Around 6,000 glass workers employed by the Şişecam group have won significant concessions on shift bonuses for night work, holiday, travel and clothing allowance, and a wage increases across the board. This agreement came after two weeks of militant industrial action which included workers occupying their factories. While this is a great win, the Turkish government is continuing to clamp down on any opposition with the recent arrest of Taner Kilic, the Chairman of Amnesty International in Turkey, and the sentencing of Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a leading opposition parliamentarian, to 24 years in jail.

Australian workers to rally against attacks

On Tuesday the 20 June, the powerful CFMEU has organised co-ordinated demonstrations  around Australia to protest against the ongoing attacks against workers (see here for Melbourne rally details). In particular, the focus will be on the special anti-union powers of the ABCC, the cutting of wages for workers in the retail and hospitality industries, the underpaying of workers across industries and the continued widespread exploitation of migrant workers.
Stand up, Fight Back, Stop the Attacks on Workers
10.30am, Tuesday June 20, Victorian Trades Hall, Cnr. Lygon & Victoria sts, Carlton, Victoria 

Court overturns dismissals for Korean workers

Hundreds of dismissed workers from an electronics factory owned by operators in Taiwan, received fantastic news this week when a Korean court ruled in their favour. The decision not only declared that their dismissals were invalid, but also ordered the company to pay back wages. The workers have kept up an unrelenting struggle against the company for the last two years, including travelling to Taiwan, hunger striking and setting up protest camps. It is to be seen whether the company will abide by the Court’s decision.

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