aawl mini-news

Many foreign workers in Thailand killed in bus accident

Last Friday, a double-decker bus carrying nearly 50 registered Myanmar workers was engulfed in flames, trapping the passengers inside and immediately killing 20. The workers had been picked up at the Thai/Myanmar border and was en route to Pathum Thani province. While the cause of this disaster is not known, it highlights the precarious and unsafe conditions that many migrant workers from Myanmar face in Thailand. Thailand’s light industrial, farming and aquaculture sectors rely on the super exploitation of millions of migrant workers, the majority of whom come from Myanmar.

 

Manufacturing workers win in Melbourne

Workers employed by the global company Yakult in Melbourne, Australia, had a good win after a 10 day long strike. The workers were involved in an enterprise bargaining period and were looking to get wage rises to keep up with cost of living expenses. Their determination was helped by the support their union, the National Union of Workers, and other workplaces gave them.

 

Thais demonstrate against continuing dictatorship

Last weekend, up to a 1,000 demonstrators marched in central Bangkok calling on the army to withdraw support to the ruling military Junta. Gen. Prawit Wongsuwan, who is also Deputy Junta leader, immediately responded that the military is united in its support for the Junta. The march was organised by a new group called the “Democracy Restoration Group” and is a sign that public opposition to the military Junta is increasing. On the following day on Monday, prosecutors charged nine Red Shirt leaders with insurrection for leading an anti-government protest in April 2009.

 

Tyre workers continue fight in southern India

Over 700 young workers employed by JK Tyres in Kachipuram district, Tamil Nadu, have been on strike since 23 March over a new collective wage agreement. Last year a successful strike by these workers forced the management to recognise their union and reinstate workers who had been suspended by management in the preceding period. Since then, management has been unwilling to negotiate on the workers’ wage demands and has instead kept pressuring the workforce by setting impossible production targets. The workers are determined to continue their fight against management until all their demands are met.

 

Chemical fire near Mumbai kills three

A fire that broke out on Friday March 9 in a chemical factory in Boisar, near Mumbai, India, has killed at least three workers and injured many more. The fire was so fierce that it affected five other nearby chemical factories and the sound of exploding chemicals could be heard up to 12 kms away. The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage, but unfortunately deadly workplace incidents are common in India due to lax OHS regulations and enforcement.

 

Marching on International Women Day 2018

International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated all around the world on 8 March. While much of the commentary in certain countries is about the ‘glass ceiling’ and women’s representation on major company boards, the reality for most women in the world is that IWD is a fight against exploitation and is a class issue. Major demonstrations were held in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Philippines, South Korea, India, Pakistan, and Turkey. Additional reports can be read here and here.

 

New far right attacks in Sri Lanka

The last week has once again seen the Muslim minority in Sri Lanka attacked by armed mobs. While a traffic accident of a few days ago was seen by some as the spark for these new pogroms, the reality is that these latest riots have been well organised. The main suspect is believed to be the hardline Buddhist group - Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), who in the past has already carried out similar attacks. While the government has imposed a State of Emergency, there is fear that powerful elements in Sri Lanka will continue to stoke the fires of ethnic hatred and violence.

 

Australian Paper workers win dispute

After an 8 week strike, around 90 workers were able to retain their rostered days off and increase their wages. The workers are employed by Australian Paper in the northern Melbourne suburb of Preston and is the country’s biggest envelope manufacturing plant. The workers were ably supported by their union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, throughout the weeks of dispute. While not every detail of the new agreement was settled, the workers were confident that outstanding issues would be resolved quickly.

 

Electricity workers in India in partial win

In late February, workers employed at the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB) signed a new four year agreement that gave them a 17% wage increase as well as a higher minimum wage – set at US $276 per month. This agreement came only after thousands of workers took strike action in mid-February against the TNEB’s slow negotiating tactics. While the agreement contains significant gains, there are many other outstanding issues including the use of precarious employment contracts and chronic understaffing which is leading to serious OHS issues for the remaining workers.

 

Australian Government to continue training Myanmar’s military

A recently released paper has confirmed that the Australian government will continue to fund and train members of the Myanmar military. While the paper recognises that other countries have different positions, Australia needs to protect its own interests in the region. The Myanmar military has been perpetrating a campaign of ethnic cleansing against its minority Rohingya population in Western Myanmar. The military is also accused of continuing its offensives against other minority groups in Myanmar.

 

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