aawl mini-news

Electrical workers demand living wages

Last month around 5,000 workers from Orissa’s power distribution companies protested in the state’s capital of Bhubaneswar. They were demanding that their monthly wages be increased from the current 4,000 rupees (US$61) to 18,000 rupees (US$275), as well as permanent jobs for outsourced workers. Workers have had long standing grievances with these companies over unsafe working conditions that put workers’ lives at risk. Many workers die every year as the companies do not supply adequate safety gear. The workers also see what electrical workers around the world earn and so want to be renumerated accordingly.

Aviation workers around the world continue actions

The aviation industry is one of the most globalised industries in the world.  Aviation companies continue to enforce a Global Race to the Bottom in their search to cut costs and increase profits. Casualisation, contracting out and temporary employment of their workforce are some of the main tactics the companies use to break the power of workers. Aviation workers are also linking up across the globe to take on these companies in co-ordinated struggles.

Australia’s refugee policies continue to claim victims

The brutality of Australia’s anti refugee policies continue to kill people with two more refugees dying this week. Santhiya died due to inadequate medical care in an Indonesian refugee camp as she was unable to proceed further and reach Australia. She suffered kidney failure. Rajeev Rajendran was another Tamil refugee who died while he was detained in Australia’s concentration camp of Manus. Rajeev succumbed to years of psychological deprivation caused by his imprisonment and he killed himself. In the meantime, a new protest among the detainees in Manus Island has passed two months in duration.

Migrant workers charged with defamation

This week fourteen migrant workers in Thailand pleaded not guilty to charges of defamation brought by the Thammakaset chicken farm where they had been working. The ‘crime’ of these Burmese workers was to have complained to the National Human Rights Commission over their terrible conditions that they were employed under. This case is related to the ongoing criminal cases against labour researcher Andy Hall, who had to flee Thailand to avoid arrest. An open letter by almost 100 Thai civil society groups called on the Thai government to de-criminalise the defamation law. In the same week, Thailand’s dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, visiting the USA to discuss ways to increase economic and military ties between the two countries. 

Veteran political activist jailed in Malaysia

On Friday 29 September, opposition politician and long-time human rights activist Tian Chua, withdrew his appeal before the Court of Appeal and was given a jail sentence of 30 days. Tian was arrested in 2012 for ‘entering a restricted area’ after the Bersih 3.0 demonstrations. Tian’s decision not to proceed with his court case was a protest of his treatment and the unjust criminal justice system of Malaysia. In court, Tian reiterated his beliefs about the continuing biased and corrupt legal and political system in Malaysia and that change is inevitable. Amnesty International has called for Tian’s release and condemns his imprisonment as part of a pattern of repression against outspoken but peaceful critics of the government in Malaysia.
 

Another deadly week for Indian workers

The last week has seen a number of industrial incidents claiming the lives of several workers. In Ahmedabad, five workers were killed when they were overcome by poisonous fumes while cleaning an effluent tank. A sixth worker died in hospital the day after. In eastern India, nine workers were killed in an explosion at their fireworks factory, while another three were injured. A few days ago, another three workers were killed as they were inspecting a blocked sewerage line. What all these deaths have in common is the lack of health and safety measures at their workplaces. In India, not only are OHS laws weak, but enforcement is often non-existent.

More garment workers killed in Bangladesh

In a tragic incident, at least six workers were killed, with many others injured, when a fire engulfed their textile factory in Munshiganj, near the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka. The Ideal Textile Mill factory was located in a mixed residential and industrial area in a multi storey building. The fire was thought to have originated in the first floor where chemicals were being stored while renovations were going on. This fire is only the latest of several other deadly factory incidents in the country’s textile industry this year and is a direct consequence of the ongoing repression against independent unions.

Claimants die waiting for their Stolen Wages

This week we learnt of the sad death of an Indigenous comrade from the northern state of Queensland, Australia, who was one of the central figures in the fight to recover their Stolen Wages. Our brother had started working in 1948 at the age of eight and was the face of AAWL’s postcard Stolen Wages campaign. The injustice done to him was deplorable.  His staunchness in the struggle to be paid the wages he earned and against the racism that allowed his wages to be stolen is an example to us all.  His courage lives on in the struggle for justice to which he inspired so many. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends. (For cultural reasons his name and photo cannot be shown)

Veteran anti-Thai military activist dies

This week, the anti-military junta and democracy activist Suthachai Yimprasert died peacefully at the age of 61. Suthachai had a long history of activism and was a survivor of the massacre of hundreds of students by the military on October 6, 1976 at Thammasat University. Suthachai was a lifelong opponent of the repressive Lese Majeste law and military coups in general. Thailand now leads the world in military coups. Suthachai was frequently targeted by authorities, most recently after the 2014 coup when he was briefly detained. Condolences to his family and friends.

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

Garment workers fighting for their wages

Textiles workers at the Bravo Tekstil factory in Istanbul, Turkey are taking action after their factory suddenly closed down. There are about 140 workers at this factory and they claim that apart from their severance pay, they are also owed around three months’ wages. Most of the production of the Bravo Tekstil factory was bought by three global fashion brands - Zara, Next, and Mango. Sudden factory closures are not uncommon in the garment industry, where competition is fierce and capital scours the globe for the cheapest labour. In globally integrated industries like the garment sector, co-ordinated industrial action across countries is the most powerful response for workers to take.

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