aawl mini-news

Workers take on global aviation services company

Since late July, more than 700 Swissport aviation workers at the international airport hub of Toronto, Canada have been on strike. Swissport is the biggest independent global ground services provider with the largest number of hub and LCC base operations globally. The strike is about wages and conditions and is part of a long running campaign by workers to achieve a minimum wage that will be a living wage for workers and their families. Given the size and reach of Swissport, this fight by Canadian workers for better conditions has ramifications for aviation workers globally. Many workers around the world have taken action in solidarity with Toronto workers (see here and here). Co-ordinated industrial action against Swissport around the world would be the most effective strategy to maximise workers’ strength. 

Death of stockman highlights Stolen Wages scandal

This week, Gregory Dunn, an 88 year old Aboriginal man in northern Australia, died just days before he was due to tell his story to a Court about how the wages he earned working as a stockman had been stolen from him. His case is part of a landmark class action by 3,500 Indigenous Australians who are fighting the State government of Queensland for the wages they are owed over decades of work. The issue of Stolen Wages is a long running fight by Indigenous workers and solidarity labour activists, and is another example of the systematic dispossession and exploitation that Aboriginal people have endured since Australia was colonised in 1788.

Major protest against government over mass killings

Last week, in the biggest public show of opposition to the murderous "War on Drugs" of Philippines’ President Duterte of the Philippines, more than 1,000 people demonstrated against the continued killings. While the spark for this demonstration was the latest murder of a child by police, this time 17 year old Kian de los Santos, it allowed many other victims’ families to come out, to demand justice, and to call for an end to these mass killings. Over the last year, Filipino working class communities have had to endure death squads with an estimated 10,000 people murdered so far.

Journalists demand a stop to political interference

In an unprecedented move, journalists from South Korea’s public broadcasters KBS and MBC have overwhelmingly voted to go on general strike from 4 September, over management interference. The workers at both media outlets are demanding the resignation of management and directors whom they accuse of undermining the fairness and credibility of public broadcasting through their actions. This strike can be seen as a continuation of the recent mass public protests against corruption that has already claimed the country’s President, Park Geun-hye, and the Chairman of the country’s biggest corporation, Samsung’s Lee Jae-yong.

Organising is not a crime! 

Free Han Sang Gyun!

Military called in to quell workers actions

This week many workers were injured at the giant Grasberg copper and gold mine in West Papua, owned by Freeport McMoran when police and security guards dispersed workers’ picket lines. This represents a further escalation of the current dispute that began in early May over possible job losses. In this time, the company has dismissed over 4,000 workers in an attempt to break workers’ commitment and solidarity. In industrial disputes involving 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.

More garment workers attacked in Bangladesh

Earlier this week, more than 50 garment workers were injured when their demonstration was attacked by hired thugs. One of their activists was also kidnapped and only released hours later. The workers, employed by the Haesong company, had been taking action in support of their demands for the payment of leave entitlements from earlier in the year. Unfortunately, this violence was not a random event, as many companies pay for thugs to harass, intimidate and attack workers. The employers’ aim is to suppress workers’ ability to achieve a living wage and a safe working environment.

Another town in West Asia facing annihilation

The western Syrian town of Raqqa is the latest urban settlement to face massive bombardment after Aleppo and Mosul in Iraq. Amid ongoing calls for civilian evacuations from international human rights agencies and the United Nations, and media reports on the war, the working class communities of Raqqa are now trapped amid bombardments from all sides. The situation inside Raqqa is becoming increasingly desperate with the city slowly being pulverised. As always, working class women, children and men are the main victims of intra imperialist wars.

Australian workers facing savage pay cuts

The ice cream manufacturer, Peters, a subsidiary of the global giant Unilever, is trying to terminate an existing enterprise agreement at one of its factories in western Sydney. The hundreds of workers employed at this factory stand to lose up to 46% of their current wages, as well as other conditions, if the company is successful in terminating the current agreement. The terminating of enterprise agreements is a new tactic by companies in Australia (see here and here), to try to drastically slash the pay and conditions of workers at what had been strongly unionised workplaces. 

More repression in Myanmar

August 8 was the 29th anniversary of the uprising in 1988 against the military dictatorship in Myanmar. While that uprising was repressed, the fight against repression has continued. The new democratically elected government has not fulfilled people’s expectations with human rights abuses still widespread in the country. These can be seen in the continuation of the ethnic cleansing of the Rohinga people, the various wars against ethnic minorities, and the targeting of workers. The military’s ability to use its political and economic influence is seen as the main problem facing human rights and labour activists.

Cambodian garment workers campaign continues

Over 200 workers from the Chung Fai Knitwear factory in Cambodia have been fighting for over a year to get their wages and entitlements after the factory unexpectedly closed down. The mainly female workers have remain steadfast in their quest for justice. Their campaign has become international with progressively more labour groups supporting their demands. There is an international petition to sign on while the group Clean Clothes Campaign is also co-ordinating an international response.

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