aawl mini-news

Bangladeshi garment workers demand new minimum wage

In late February, a number of garment unions in Bangladesh formed the IndustriAll Bangladesh Council (IBC) to issue a series of demands that included a call for the minimum wage to be raised from the current US $68/month to US $192/month. The garments sector worldwide is renowned for its vicious race to the bottom tactics, and in Bangladesh workers have not had a wage increase since 2013. The wage increases that workers won in the years 2009 to 2013 only came through long bitter struggles that saw millions of workers take to the streets (see here and here). Given the history of repression, garment workers can expect a hard road ahead.

 

Walk for Justice for Refugees

It has been over four years since Reza Barati was murdered during a riot at the Manus concentration camp in Papua New Guinea. The fact that in all these years no-one has been brought to justice shows the Australian government contempt for refugees. In the other off shore concentration camp in Nauru, a new leaked report attests to the fact that refugees have been housed in unhealthy conditions for years due to untreated mould outbreaks. In late March, co-ordinated protest rallies will be held all around Australia demanding the closure of these concentration camps and an end to the repression of asylum seekers and refugees.

 

Thousands of Korean auto workers facing dismissal

In mid-February, General Motors (GM) announced that they would close their Gusan assembly plant in South Korea. Around 2,000 workers will lose their jobs. The GM representative, Barry Engle, then proceeded to state that they would also evaluate the remaining three Korean manufacturing plants over the next few weeks. These three other factories employ a total of 16,000 workers. There is mounting anger and protests by Korean workers at these decisions. Once again, companies put profits above workers’ lives as they scour the world for the cheapest costs and highest profits.

 

Workers of the world march for IWD

International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8 has a long history and is a reflection of women’s efforts towards attaining gender equality. IWD originated in the USA in 1908, when women garment workers held demonstrations protesting against their appalling and dangerous working conditions. Women's struggles is union business. The sphere of unpaid and paid work is also part of this movement, and labour activists around the world are still fighting for gender equality at the workplace. AAWL, in solidarity with workers internationally, will celebrate IWD on the 8th of March in Melbourne, Australia, see here for rally details. 3CR Radio will host 24 hours of women voices and issues.

AAWL and APHEDA will also be co-hosting a public meeting – Women Organising Globally.  Featuring a panel of local and international organisers, the discussion will focus on women currently organising in unions and communities across our region for workplace rights and gender equality.  For facebook event, click here.

Time: 6pm-8pm
Venue: MUA Auditorium, 46-54 Ireland Street, West Melbourne

 

Indian labour organisations meet for new strategy

On February 18, fourteen labour organisations held a one day meeting in New Delhi to discuss the state of the workers movement in India and possible ways forward. While in the last few years there have been incredible struggles like the Maruti, the Pricol and the Anganwadi workers, these either only gain temporary victories or face the full repressive force of the state. The workshop saw that the main issues that workers are facing are low wages, precarious work contracts and unfair labour laws. The outcome was a commitment to support workers in struggle, and those who are in jail, and to better co-ordinate the various labour struggles.

 

Fight against Exxon in Australia continues

The dispute against the global giant Esso/Exxon in the small South Eastern Australian town of Longford has now been going on for over 250 days. The company is attempting to use subcontracting and sham employment contracts to slash the wages and conditions of hundreds of workers. There has been support from workers all around Australia, and while the picket line outside the Esso/Exxon is solid, more needs to be done to involve other workers and workplaces. Against global companies like Exxon, co-ordinated industrial actions with other Exxon sites around the world would be most effective in increasing the power and effectiveness of workers’ actions.

 

Saudi Arabia cracks down on critics

This week, two human rights activists, Issa al-Nukheifi and Essam Koshak, were sentenced to 6 years and 4 years of jail respectively. Their crime was to publicly criticise the Saudi Arabia government policies in Yemen and internal policies. These latest sentences are just part of an ongoing campaign by the government of Saudi Arabia to silence any critics, especially in times of rising economic inequality and cutbacks. Such crackdowns on local activists makes the task for the millions of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia to organise and improve their conditions even more difficult.

 

Campaign to free refugees continues in Australia

It has been over four years since Reza Barati was murdered during a riot at the Manus concentration camp in Papua New Guinea. The fact that in all these years no-one has been brought to justice reflects the Australian government contempt for refugees. In the other off shore concentration camp in Nauru, a new leaked report attests to the fact that refugees have been housed in unhealthy conditions for years due to untreated mould outbreaks. In late March, co-ordinated protest rallies will be held all around Australia demanding the closure of these concentration camps and an end to the repression of asylum seekers and refugees.

 

Turkish writer gets additional jail term

Last Wednesday, Ahmet Altan, a prominent Turkish novelist and newspaper editor, was handed an additional six years of jail only a week after he was sentenced to life in prison. These additional six years were for an article Ahmet wrote in support of Kurdish people and for a text in which he criticised President Erdogan. The recent long term jail sentences given to critics of the Turkish government is a dangerous new sign for workers and activists in Turkey. In addition, the propaganda against any opponents of the Turkish government is reaching new levels with TV hosts regularly calling for the death of any traitors to Turkey.

 

Filipino workers facing unrelenting terror

Since the start of President Duterte’s ‘War on Drugs’ in 2016, it is now estimated that over 20,000 people have been murdered by police, paramilitary units or hit squads. Almost all the victims have been from working class communities in the Philippines. A reign of terror now grips millions of workers and their families as armed gunmen daily roam their neighbourhoods looking for new targets. The perpetrators enjoy total impunity. President Duterte recently upped the stakes even further by now offering a bounty of US $380 for any ‘communist rebel’ killed as well as encouraging soldiers to mutilate their prisoners.

End the War on Drugs! 

Stop the killings! 

End the impunity!

 

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