aawl mini-news

Japanese workers support their Korean comrades

In a long running case, hundreds of Japanese labour activists rallied in Niiza City, Saitama Prefecture outside the headquarters of Sanken Electric Company to demand the reinstatement of dismissed Korean workers. The company sacked 35 of its workers last year, all of whom were active union members. In the fight to get them reinstated, representatives of the Korean Metal Industry Workers’ Union travelled to Japan to get support from their Japanese counterparts. While a labour court in South Korea found that the workers should be re-hired, the company is continuing its anti-worker stance.

Garment workers want bigger changes in Myanmar

A strike last month by hundreds of workers that led to physical clashes against management inside the Hangzhou Hundred-Tex Garment factory is another sign that workers in Myanmar are tired of waiting for better times. Amid continued repression, the garment industry has continued to expand in Myanmar, bringing more and more workers into the global production cycle. The successful outcome for the workers at the Hangzhou Hundred-Tex factory is another sigh that workers in Myanmar are losing faith in the current political environment and are prepared to rely much more on their own industrial strength.

Australian workers win against global dairy giant

After a fight that lasted two months, workers employed at the Parmalat dairy factory, won their right to secure employment contracts and wage increases. The company had tried to introduce a new agreement that would have increased the number of casual and contract workers, limit union rights and offer minimal increases to wages. The workers received great support from their unions, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Electrical Trades Union, as well as from many other worksites and unions. This attack was the latest by a large company to try to break a unionised workforce so that employment standards and wages could be lowered.

Explosion kills one worker and injures others

This week, a young woman worker was killed and 7 others hospitalised when a wood-fired boiler at their garment factory exploded. The Zhen Tai Garment Co Ltd, located in the Thmey disctrict of Phnom Penh, employs nearly 2,000 workers and is a major supplier of Levi trousers. The garment sector in Cambodia employs hundreds of thousands of workers but is characterised by a Race to the Bottom where industrial injuries are common, and workers’ organising and union activities frequently repressed. The situation for workers is further complicated by a political climate where general dissent is met by physical violence or ongoing detention.

Hyundai workers in India battle union busting

This week, 300 workers held a sit in protest at the Hyundai Motor factory, located in Tamil Nadu, against the company’s refusal to allow entry to two labour activists. Workers’ anger at the anti-union stance of management dates back to the factory’s launch in 2008. Other major actions and disputes occurred in 2010, and again in 2012. Each time, the issues were working conditions and recognition of the workers’ right to form an independent union. Similar issues have now seen 13 workers at Maruti Suzuki being jailed for life in northern India.

New imperialist alliances developing in Syria

The political situation in Syria is changing as the remnant forces of the popular uprising retreat under the greater military might of a coalition of imperialist actors. There is an ongoing realignment of the imperialist and reactionary forces involved as each now tries to reposition itself to gain advantage in this new phase (see here, here, here and here). The reality for working class communities in Syria remains catastrophic with many civilians being killed daily. The prospect of a resolution to this crisis remains low, with the likelihood of new conflicts breaking out in the near future.

Australia continues to deport refugees

This week, refugee activists in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Sydney tried to stop the deportation of a refugee who has been on a hunger strike. Saeed, a stateless person whose English is very poor, is to be deported to a war zone as his appeal to remain in Australia as a refugee was lodged too late. This punitive approach is an example of successive Australian government’s repression of refugees’ rights. Demonstrations in all major cities in support of refugees will occur in Australia on Sunday the 9 April. For details of the Melbourne demonstration, click here.

Close the camps!

Free the refugees!

Opposition to new missile system grows

The decision earlier this month by the US military to build a new Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea has sparked major protests from Korean anti-war activists. Activists are worried that the deployment of this new system will only serve to heighten tensions in the Korean peninsula and make a war with North Korea more likely. Last weekend, anti-war activists from around South Korea converged on the small town of Seongju for a series of rallies and a festival. More protests are planned in coming weeks.

New anti-government protests in Lebanon

This week, major demonstrations occurred around Lebanon in protest against a proposed new sales tax that will disproportionately affect workers and their families who are already enduring low salaries. In one demonstration, the Prime Minister Saad Hariri had to abandon his car when it was surrounded by protesters angry at the corruption and tax evasion that the government is not tackling. The tensions underlying these protests are similar to the ‘You Stink’ demonstrations that highlighted the government’s inability to solve social issues and provide for its population. Support protests were also held for 14 ‘You Stink’ activists who are facing trial.  

Labour activist in Uzbekistan released

Late last week, Elena Urlaeva, head of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan, was released after a concerted international campaign. Urlaeva was arrested earlier this month as she was preparing to go to an international conference. Urlaeva is an outspoken critic of forced and child labour in Uzbekistan's cotton sector. Her arrest is a reminder of the lengths to which the Uzbekistan government will go to protect its profits from the annual cotton harvest. The cotton industry is notorious for its use of forced labour and harsh practices.

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