aawl mini-news

Community workers rally to demand better pay

Almost 4000 social and community services workers in not-for-profit organisations (NGOs) from across Victoria came together to rally in Melbourne calling on the state government to fund the sector properly chanting we don’t want charity, we just want parity.

ASU delegate Pia Cerveri said that today 'showed that my colleagues have had enough and are no longer prepared to accept poor wages and conditions that have dogged our sector.  We are no longer going to lie down and accept things.  We will keep going until we get what we’re demanding.'

The campaign is expected to continue into 2010. Facebook and You Tube links.

Nestle Workers Protest Attacks in Philippines

More than seven years have now passed since more than 600 employees at the Cabuyao factory of Nestlé Philippines, Inc. went on strike to enforce their right to negotiate their retirement benefits. The Supreme Court’s repeated rulings in their favor on this issue have failed to render justice, as the Swiss multinational food company continues to defy the court’s decisions.

The Union Of Filipro Employees last month wrote to the ILO to protest against a raft of attacks against the union including the murder of two of its Presidents, union busting activities, illegal dismissal of 616 workers and arrests, detention, threats and harrasment of union members. Read their letter here.

This repression has directly or indirectly resulted in 23 strike-related deaths, including union leader Diosdado "Ka Fort" Fortuna, who was assassinated on his way home from a picket line on September 22, 2005. His predecessor, Union president Meliton Roxas, was assassinated in front of the picket line on January 20, 1989, during the workers' previous strike involving the same issue. Find out more about the struggle here.

Bhopal 25th Anniversary

Rachna Dhingra, 32, originally from Delhi, was just six years old when the world's worst industrial disaster struck Bhopal in 1984. She is one of a group of activists making a European bus tour on the 25 anniversary of the Bhopal blast. She says her reasons are "To tell people that this is not a disaster that happened 25 years ago, but it continues to happen today. To raise awarenes among people in Europe that the story of Bhopal is not just about Bhopal, but it is a story of corporate greed and profit who put profit before human lives & environment. The bus tour is a easy way to travel across several countries, stop in small places and make connections with other communities who are fighting similar battles."

For the full text of the interview click here. To learn more about the tour click here.

Solidarity campaign continuing for sacked Thai unionist

In October of this year the State Railway of Thailand (SRT) sacked a train driver after an accident. The State Railway Union of Thailand (SRUT) believed that this was an attempt to blame a worker for the company's OH&S failings and called for his re-instatement.

The SRT reacted by filing a legal case against the union leadership and persuading the court  to prohibit six union officers from engaging in industrial action.

Now the SRC is attempting to sack 14 members of the union leadership. For further background information and solidarity actions.

Workers Rally in Seoul

Last month 150,000 workers rallied in Seoul to protest aginst government plans to allow multiple unions at a single workplace and to reduce union leaders'  wages. Rallies were organised by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions.

Asbestos Diseases of Victoria Commemoration Ceremony

Please join us at the Asbestos Diseases of Victoria (ADSVIC) annual Commemoration Ceremony held at the end of Asbestos Awareness Week. The Commemoration Ceremony will start at 11 am on Friday 27 November 2009 at the BMW Edge Theatre, Federation Square.

We are urging union members and OHS reps in particular to attend in numbers as a show of solidarity for ADSVIC and to share the occasion with the families and friends of workers that have died from an asbestos related disease.

Creating public awareness is critical to successfully pressuring the Brumby government to act on asbestos. Strong worker attendance at the event will encourage the media to continue reporting about asbestos and will increase the awareness of the dangers of asbestos among the general public.

This year the Governor of Victoria David de Kretser AC will present the keynote address. Martin Kingham will also speak followed by a number of small presentations by families personally affected by asbestos disease.  There will be a BBQ after the ceremony on the banks of the Yarra.

Friday 27 November

Rose Garden in Morwell, 11.00am. The ceremony will be followed by free BBQ lunch with the compliments of Gippsland Trades & Labour Council - all most welcome to attend. For further information contact Vicki Hamilton 0407274173 or the GARDS - Gippsland Asbestos Related Diseases Support Group office: 5127 7744

Garment workers - global struggle


On 31 October several hundred workers turned up at the gates of the Nippon Garment Factory in Tongi, an industrial city 24 km north of Dhaka, expecting to work and to receive wages owed. Instead they found police blocking the entrance - and a note on the gate informing them that the factory was shut until November 29 because of "global recession". The notice also asked workers to collect their wages on November 10, though arrears were already 3 months late.

The mainly female workers tried to force their way into the factory but they were attacked with baton charges by the police. More workers and locals from the surrounding slum areas joined the protest and the crowd grew to several thousands and moved to block the main highway. Hundreds of police and para-military forces intervened. Police began shooting teargas and live rounds at the workers who erected barricades. Two workers were killed, and a thousand people are reported injured.

When they get paid, Bangladeshi workers on the minimum wage receive US$0.15 per hour. Following the clashes in Tongi the Bangladesh governemnt is considering supporting the establishment of unions in the the garment industry. Read more on the Tongi struggle


Workers members of the Triumph Labour Union have occupied the Ministry of Labour in Bangkok, and set up their living quarter and garment production facilities inside the ministry buildings.

Almost 2000 union members were sacked by Triumph in June, and have been picketing the factory in Bang Phli, Samut Prakan since then. The factory owners dismissed the workers claiming a fall in profits, and they set up a new factory with casual workers.

The workers are producing garments under their own label, and continue their fight for reinstatement & compensation. Read more on the Triumph struggle at Committee for Asian Women

Sri Lanka

The Free Trade Zones & General Services Employees Union in Sri Lanka has demanded that employers ensure decent work by paying a living wage, Free Trade Zone workers earning the minimum wage live in poverty, often barely able to afford one meal a day.

As part of its on-going campaign for a living wage, on October 7 the ITGLWF affiliate organised a demonstration in front of the main gate of the Katunayake FTZ. The workers maintained the action for an hour in spite of attempts by police to break up the picket.

The union is campaigning to increase wages during the 2009 salary review which is now underway. The union’s approach is in organising at factory level as a key way of securing a living wage. The FTZGSEU is supported in its campaign by the ITGLWF, which selected the living wage issue as the theme for its World Day for Decent Work activities. Read more on the Sri Lanka wage campaign at ITGLWF

Global Economic Crisis Forum

Global Economic Crisis Forum: Perspectives, Impacts & Implications

Saturday 7 November, 12.00pm-4.30pm, Federation of Education Unions, Conference Centre, Ground Floor, 120 Clarendon St, Southbank.

We hope you can join us for the 2nd Melbourne Left Renewal Roundtable as we look at the impacts, character and political implications of the greatest global economic crisis since the Great Depression. Speakers include Kenneth Davidson, John Hinkson (Arena), Julius Roe (AMWU), Rob Durbridge (AEU), Cath Smith (VCOSS). Cost: $10 / $5. snacks / afternoon tea provided. More info: SEARCH Foundation

ASU Day of Action

We Demand Action on Equal Pay!

All ASU members are called to participate in a Day of Action on November 10, assembling at Parliament Gardens at 11am, to protest against the complete failure of the Brumby Government to increase our wages and to demand equal pay with Queensland SACS workers and public sector workers doing the same work. Click here for more information.

Click here for the flyer of the ASU SACS rally on November 10.

Sri Lanka Forum

Sri Lanka: Human Rights Issues and Media Representation

Tuesday 10 November, from 6 - 8 pm.

Monash University Caulfield Campus
900 Dandenong Road
Caulfield East

Presented by the Victorian Trades Hall Council, Amnesty International, the Human Rights Law Resource Centre, the Alfred Deakin Research Institute, the Herb Feith Foundation (Monash University) and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (Sydney University).

The recent turn back of the boat of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers is a poignant indication of how bad the situation in Sri Lanka is, particularly (but not only) for Tamils, and it is hoped that this forum will generate more interest and understanding of the situation there.

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