aawl mini-news

Journalists in Myanmar continue to face pressure

Late last week, satirical columnist Ko Kyaw Zwa Naing was released without charge after being detained for two weeks for alleged defamation under the sweeping powers of Article 66 of the Telecommunications Law. His paper’s chief editor, U Kyaw Min Swe, is still in jail and will be tried under the same law. Article 66 is a very wide ranging but ambiguous law that has been increasingly used against journalists and other media commentators to stifle criticisms of the government. International Federation of Journalists has also strongly condemned this law saying that it’s a way for governments to criminalise dissent.

No pride in hate – Melbourne counter rally

The last couple of years has seen a marked increase in mobilisations by a number of racist, far right and fascist organisations throughout Australia (see here and here). This coming Sunday, 25 June, in Melbourne, Australia far right groups will try to use nationalism to divide and weaken working class communities. To fight against this ongoing threat, a counter mobilisation has been called by a coalition of number of labour, anti-racist and anti-fascist activists.
No Pride in Hate
Assemble 10.30am, Sunday June 25, Cnr Nicholson & Gertrude Sts Fitzroy, Victoria

Workers organising against repression in Kashmir

The situation for workers and their communities in Kashmir has deteriorated sharply over the last couple of years. Working class communities have been the hardest hit with disruption to basic services, repression by paramilitary and police forces and loss of employment. A major meeting was recently held by a number of trade unions and labour organisation to understand the Kashmiri situation better and the need for the working class to get involved in the fight against repression and for justice.

Nationwide Australian refugee rallies

Labour and human rights activists will once again stage a number of events and co-ordinated rallies in support of the rights of refugees this Tuesday, the 20 June (see here for Melbourne rally). Refugees are the victims of an economic and political system that creates war and oppression. Australian government repression of refugees and asylum seekers has been well documented before (see here and here). This week, the Australian Government agreed to settle out of court a multi-million dollar compensation package to hundreds of refugees rather than have the evidence of its barbarity exposed in court.
Bring them Here, Close the Camps, Sack Dutton 6pm, Tuesday June 20, State Library of Victoria

Fireworks explosion kills scores of workers

Last week a massive explosion destroyed a firecracker factory in Balaghat, in the state of Madhya Pradesh, killing up to 25 workers and injuring many other workers. The immediate cause of this disaster is not known, but unfortunately this was not an isolated incident. Explosions and fires at factories producing firecrackers are common in India because of inadequate safety measures, regulations that are breached with impunity, and the lack of independent unions.

More workers dismissed at giant mine

The dispute that started early in May at the giant Grasberg copper and gold mine in West Papua, owned by Freeport McMoran, has continued to escalate with more than 3,000 workers now having been sacked. At the same time as these dismissals, Freeport McMoran is in discussions with the Indonesian government over the terms of its mining lease. This dispute is also having repercussions for workers at a copper smelting plant in East Java, where the company has used the Grasberg strike as an excuse to dismiss hundreds of workers. In industrial disputes involving such global giants like Freeport McMoran, industrial action by workers in other Freeport McMoran mines around the world would be the most powerful actions to take.

Three construction workers killed in Dhaka

Three young construction workers were killed this week when the bamboo platform they were working on collapsed from the 10th storey of the building, sending them to their death. Investigations are still ongoing but preliminary signs point to the lack standard safety measures and negligence by supervisors of the construction company. Unfortunately, repression of independent unions, lax regulations and corruption all lead to the development of a deadly environment for workers in Bangladesh (see here and here).

Qatar crisis spells more dangers for workers

The new unfolding crisis in West Asia that centres on Qatar can be traced back to the political shockwaves that the Arab Spring has produced since 2011. In particular, it is the current and developing situations in the wars in Iraq and Syria that are leading various ruling elites such as Saudi Arabia, to reassess their alliances and which sides to back in these various conflicts. This has had a snowballing effect with other governments also re-evaluating their positions and alliances, including  Russia and the USA. Obviously with these heightened tensions and threat of more military conflicts, the immediate losers are going to be workers, their families and communities, whether local or part of the huge migrant workforce of the region.

Pakistani Khaadi workers win campaign

This week, after a long campaign by workers and labour activist, the leading apparel company of Khaadi signed a new agreement with its workforce. The estimated 6,000 workers will now have standardised written contracts, decreased overtime, guarantees against gender discrimination, secure social security payments, access to bonuses, and access to clean drinking water as well as other health and safety improvements. This was an important victory as labour activists believe that this could be used as an example for other large employers in the garment sector of Pakistan.

Maruti Suzuki workers' struggle captured on film

The ongoing heroic struggle by Maruti Suzuki workers in the Manesar region of northern India is the subject of a new documentary – ‘The Factory’. The documentary focuses on the 3 year criminal prosecution of hundreds of workers, exposing the structural injustice of the law in India that protects the profits of the Global Auto Industry. The film will be screened in Melbourne as an AAWL fundraiser.

6:30 PM, Tuesday, June 13
318 St Georges Road,
Fitzroy North
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