jiselle's blog

Mine deaths lead to protest rally in Pakistan

This January was another bloody month for coal workers with 6 workers killed in three separate accidents. Unfortunately, the coal mining industry in Pakistan has a terrible industrial record where workers have few rights and work long hours in unsafe conditions. Following on from the most recent deaths, mining unions held a protest rally in Quetta demanding better health and safety for all mine workers. In a separate event, in late December of last year, ten left wing parties in Pakistan announced an alliance in order to overcome the weakness of the human and labour rights movements in that country.

Iranian workers continue to be jailed

The teachers union leader, Esmail Abdi was returned to prison on January 20 after a few days of release. Esmail has been a tireless labour campaigner both in and out of jail. The health situation of Reza Shahabi, another imprisoned union activist in the high security Evin Prison, continues to be very serious. Reza’s supporters were recently brutally attacked by security forces. A recently released labour activist, Reza Salehi, has put out an open letter denouncing wars in the region. This repression against labour activists in Iran is occurring in a period of major class and social struggles inside Iran (see here, here and here).

Free for all political prisoners in Iran! Freedom for workers to organise!

Military Junta in Thailand keeps cracking down

A group of 39 activists who took part in a rally in central Bangkok in late January to demand that elections be held were charged this week for breaching the Public Assembly Act. All the protestors are facing up to 6 months in jail for having a demonstration too close to a Royal Palace. A subsequent silent protest by 4 activists against these politically motivated charges, has now led them to also be charged under the Public Assembly Act. In another case of political repression, Chanoknan Ruamsap, has fled Thailand as she was about to be charged with Lese Majeste, for sharing a BBC article in 2016.

Free all political prisoners in Thailand!

Abolish Article 112! 

End the military dictatorship!

Cambodian activists facing politically motivated charges

Late last month, three prominent human rights activists, Pa Nguon Teang, Venerable But Buntenh, and Moeun Tola, were charged with misappropriation of funds from the funeral of opposition activists Dr. Kem Ley in 2017. These charges were the result of a complaint from a pro government party. Already more than 30 civil society organisations have come out to condemn these charges and to call for their withdrawal. The implications of these charges are serious as one of the accused, Moeun Tola, is a long-time advocate for the rights of workers in Cambodia. These latest events are just another sign of the increasingly repressive climate in Cambodia.

Invasion Day highlight ongoing Aboriginal injustice

On Friday January 26, Invasion Day demonstrations were held in all major urban centres in Australia. The biggest turnouts were in Melbourne and Brisbane were tens of thousands of people marched in support of Aboriginal people and against the ongoing injustice of colonialism and dispossession. Under the theme of ‘Abolish the Date’, the demonstrations highlighted the ongoing exploitation, repression and injustice that Australian indigenous people and communities still endure.

Campaign against asbestos continues

The Asia Ban Asbestos Network (A-BAN) has started a new round of activities in its attempts to totally ban the use of asbestos in the world. Unfortunately, asbestos is still used widely across Asia, with six of the top seven countries being in this region. Asbestos is deadly at all points of its production and manufacturing, while its toxic effects continue to kill years after its use has been stopped. As the examples of Australia and New Zealand show, it was only through the determined efforts of workers and unions that asbestos use was banned in these two countries.

Don’t celebrate, demonstrate on Invasion Day

Australia Day on January 26 marks the day the Great Britain began its occupation of Aboriginal land. The process of occupation, dispossession and exploitation has been a devastating one for the Indigenous people of Australia. For many decades, Aboriginal people were forced to labour or had their wages stolen. More recently, the Northern Territory Intervention and Federal Work Programs have continued this exploitation. Aboriginal people first protested against Australia Day in 1938. Their resistance continues today. Protest marches will occur in all major Australian centres on Friday January 26.

Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land

Dockworkers win against global company

The dispute that started in late November, over the dismissal of an active unionist at one of the port terminals in Melbourne, Australia, has been won with the company agreeing to reinstate the worker. This outcome was achieved through the determination of his fellow workers, the Maritime Union of Australia, and by the support of many other workers and unionists. In spite of legal threats, a 24 hour community assembly was created outside the gates of the International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) operations. ICTSI has been on a global offensive against workers in a bid to keep its operations free of union influence so that it could increase its profits by paying workers less and making them work longer. 

Thousands of health workers sacked

Last week, the state government of Bihar, northern India, ordered that 80,000 allied health workers be sacked for taking strike action. The dispute began at the start of this month, when tens of thousands of health workers employed on short term contracts demanded regularisation of their employment status and equal pay for equal work. These workers cover many roles, including nurses, accountants, lab technicians and local health managers. The dispute is ongoing with workers taking direct actions, while the government trys to employ new health workers in a bid to break the strike.

Electronics workers targeted and attacked

Hundreds of workers employed by the electronics factory Lakepower Converter Inc. in the Cavite Economic Zone, have been on strike since the middle of the previous week. The workers went on strike to protest against unfair labour practices as well as union busting. The company in a brutal show of union repression had terminated 6 union officials while many other labour activists were suspended from work. The workers set up a picket line but a number of them were injured when thugs repeatedly attacked them and their picket line.  Photos of the protest can be seen here and here.

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