aawl mini-news

Fears remain for imprisoned editor

While the Chinese government has officially stated that editor and bookseller Gui Minhai has been released, doubts remain over his status and his whereabouts are unknown. Gui disappeared over two years ago in Thailand while on holiday, only to turn up in China three months later on trial for a traffic accident. It is believed that his abduction was related to his work in Hong Kong as a seller of political books. Gui’s abduction is not an isolated one. A number of other Hong Kong based journalists and book sellers have been detained by Chinese authorities in the last few years. 

Worker dies from overwork in Australia

This week, a 27 year old worker picking watermelons in the region of Townsville, in the northern state of Queensland, collapsed and died while working from suspected heat stroke. A government enquiry currently underway has found that workers in the agricultural sector of Australia are so seriously exploited and underpaid that their employment situation is comparable to slavery. This sector is notoriously un-unionised and only in the last few years, has there been more effective organising drives.

Mass sackings hit dockworkers in PNG

In early October, the global port operator company, International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), took over the operations of a number of ports in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The workers took industrial actions against this takeover as part of global actions against ICTSI in ports around the world. Subsequently, up to a 1,000 workers were dismissed by ICTSI so that they could be replaced by cheaper non-unionised labour. Australian maritime workers rallied in Sydney during the week in support of their fellow workers in PNG.

Iranian labour activist arrested again

On October 28, security forces once again targeted labour activist Mahmoud Salehi. Mahmoud was leaving the dialysis unit of a hospital in Saqez, in north western Iran, when he was arrested and immediately sentenced to another year in prison. Mahmoud Salehi was the president of the Bakery Workers' Association and he has been active in the labour movement since the early 1980’s. Mahmoud was first arrested in early 2007 and has been suffering ill health since the early days of his prison life. Unfortunately, Mahmoud Salehi is only one of many labour activists being targeted by the Iranian government.

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

Workers celebrate first anniversary of candlelight revolution

South Koreans commemorated the first anniversary of what has come to be known as the ‘candlelight revolution’ on Saturday 4 November. The candlelight revolution was a series of huge demonstrations over a few months that led to the downfall of President Park Geun-hye. For this anniversary thousands of workers demonstrated on the streets of Seoul for further reforms in relation to an end to casualisation, higher wages and less union repression. Workers’ continued activism is still needed, and this is reflected in other parts of civil society in relation to the widespread corruption in the South Korean political system.

Organising is not a crime! 

Free Han Sang Gyun!

Australian Aboriginal workers take action on wages

This week, the newly created First Nations Workers’ Alliance, has come out forcefully to condemn the Community Development Program (CDP), a so called job creation program, as structurally racist and as another tool keeping Aboriginal people in poverty. A separate enquiry also found that the CDP was inherently flawed and routinely financially punished the people that it was supposed to help. Aboriginal people have not only suffered dispossession and mass murder since colonisation, but have been systematically used as virtual slave labour.

Coca cola workers still fighting in Indonesia

Workers at Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia have been involved in a long running dispute in their attempts to set up their own independent union. The dispute began in 2015 when the workers were able to register their own union. The company responded by harassing members and eventually sacked its chairperson, Atra Narwanto and later suspended Lutfi Ariyanto, another union official. Coca Cola has a proven track record in the region for union busting. There is an ongoing international campaign by the IUF in support of the Indonesian Coca Cola workers.

Workers massacred in factory explosion

A few days ago on Thursday October 26, an explosion ripped apart a firework factory in Kosambi, Tangerang, Banten in East Java, Indonesia. The explosion and the subsequent fire killed at least 47 workers and injured many more. The explosion was thought to have been triggered by a faulty electrical connection. Firework factories are notoriously dangerous workplaces with tragic workplace disasters common around the world (see here, here and here). Only independent and democratically run unions can guarantee the safety and health of workers at workplaces.

Samsung engineers workplaces for further overwork

The global electronics giant Samsung opened a new semiconductor fabrication line in Pyeongtaek, South Korea earlier this year. Even in this short time, there have been two workers who have killed themselves as a direct result of the punishing and brutal work demands. Instead of addressing the cause of the overwork and stress for workers, Samsung has instead replaced closets, hangers, doorknobs, windows, garment bars, and other amenities in the dormitories so as to prevent workers from using these as hanging points. Samsung Corporation has a long and dark history of vicious union busting.

Car worker dies in southern India

This week, a 51 year old car worker named Francis, died at work from the harassment and victimisation he had recently received from the Pricol company management. The Pricol car component manufacturing factory is located in southern India in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. Its workforce has a proud history of struggle but has also had to fight brutal repression which has now left two of their leaders in jail on life sentences. In a similar long running car dispute, workers at the Maruti Suzuki factory in northern India have contributed 550,000 rupees (~USA $8,500.00) to the families of the 13 labour activists who are still in jail. There is an active global campaign to support and link car workers in struggle around the world.

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