aawl mini-news

Workers globally celebrate May Day

Workers all around the world marched again for workers’ rights on May Day (see here, here and here). In Sweden, May Day specifically targeted the issue of Islamophobia and how this is impacting negatively on women workers. In the Asia Pacific region, workers had to survive police repression in Turkey, hundreds of thousands of workers took to the streets in Jakarta, while other major demonstrations and actions took place in Pakistan, India, South Korea (see here and here), Cambodia, Malaysia, The Philippines (see here and here), and Australia.

What we do – AAWL’s 2016 activities

During 2016 workers in all industries once again continued to face pressure from the ongoing crisis of capitalism. Companies everywhere tried to increase profits by making workers work harder for less, and by spending less on health and safety. This relentless ‘Race to the Bottom’ was coupled with repression against labour organisers, with many of our comrades in jail. Nevertheless, workers continued to organise and fight back. AAWL is part of this fight back. Read AAWL Activities report for 2016. You can also become a member, affiliate your union, and/or donate to our work.


Repression intensifies post Turkish referendum

The recent referendum in Turkey on whether or not to expand the powers of the president, once again exposed the deep class rifts in Turkish society. The results highlighted the opposition’s strongholds in the industrialised and urbanised areas of Turkey, as well as the Kurdish south east. In addition, accusations of irregularities were dismissed by the Erdogan Government. As expected, after securing victory, the Government has restarted its campaign to isolate and weaken any real or perceived opposition. Last week, another 4,000 workers were dismissed, with others are facing jail sentences.

World press day highlights continuing problems

World Press freedom day falls every year on the 3 May and it is a time to remember those who have been killed for doing their job and to call for greater protections. So far this year, 14 journalists have been killed around the world. The International Federation of Journalists published a report detailing how journalists are fighting back against repression, intimidation, censorship and precarious working conditions. In Australia, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has also put out a similar report on the situation in Australia. A major newspaper employer, Fairfax, chose World Press Day to announce wide-scale retrenchments of their workforce, for which the union announced a 7-day strike.

Iraqi oil workers unionise major Shell site

This week, the Basrah Gas Company, a joint venture with Shell, Southern Gas and Mitsubishi, agreed that its 6,000 strong workforce could be represented by the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU). This is a great win by workers to have their power to collective bargain recognised, in such a strategic industry. In the last few years, oil workers have staged a number of large mobilisations as well as fighting off efforts to imprison their leaders. Just last month, six Iraqi trade unions decided to file a complaint with the International Labour Organisation in relation to the Iraqi government not allowing workers the right to freely organise into independent unions.

Global beer giant attacking Cambodian workers

Last year, a number of beer promotion workers, all women, were dismissed by Cambrew for fighting changes to their employment contract that would have worsened their working conditions. The Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation (CFSWF) has been supporting these workers in their fight against Cambrew. In retaliation the company is suing the CFSWF for damages for their involvement in a strike at a company warehouse. In addition, reports have come out that the company offered money to selected workers in an attempt to undermine workers’ solidarity and break the union.

Filipinos workers continue to face death squads

The discovery of a hidden room inside a Manila police station that was used to keep accused suspects without charge, is only the latest revelation of the continuing brutal War on Drugs that President Duterte has unleashed. Earlier this month, Arturo Lascanas, an ex-police officer from Davao offered evidence of his own complicity in Duterte’s death squads, while Vice President Leni Robredo has publicly commented on the rising number of Filipinos killed with impunity. A Filipino lawyer has now petitioned the International Criminal Court in The Hague to charge Mr Duterte and 11 other Philippine officials with mass murder and crimes against humanity.

Missing plaque a symbol of Thailand’s dictatorship

The removal of a small brass plaque, no larger than a dinner plate, embedded in the tarmac in front of Bangkok's Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall, has become a symbol of the continuing military repression in Thailand. The plaque commemorates the 1932 overthrow of the rule of absolute monarchy and a new constitution. A number of activists have now been detained for daring to ask the police to investigate its theft (see here and here). A Lese Majeste prisoner, Pai Dao Din, has been awarded a human rights prize by a South Korean organisation. He was awarded the 2017 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights from the South Korea-based May 18 Memorial Foundation. Meanwhile Somyot has just marked his sixth anniversary in jail under the Lese Majeste Law.

South Korean leader's defiant jail letter

This week, the international labour movement received a letter from Han Sang-gyun, the imprisoned leader of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. In the letter, Sang-gyun thanks all of his supporters, both locally and internationally, and restated his commitment to keep fighting the anti-worker offensive of the last couple of years. Even though Korean workers were instrumental in forcing President Park to resign earlier this year, they are still facing many of the same issues and need your support and solidarity.

Workers globally call for safer workplaces

All around the world, workers and labour organisations held events for International Workers’ Memorial Day on 28 April to remember workers killed and injured at work. The message of the day was that all workplace deaths are preventable deaths. As unionists and labour activists, it is our job to fight for safer workplaces and put an end to the continuing slaughter of our sisters and brothers. A map of localities that took part in this day can be seen here. Statements from some of the major global unions can be read here, here and here.

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