aawl mini-news

Korean women workers win landmark dispute

After a strike that had lasted over five years, 10 sacked women workers, all members of the Korean Metal Workers Union, finally won their fight to become permanent workers.

The workers were originally sacked by Kiryung Electronics as the company claimed they were not direct employees but sub contractors.

The agreement is particularly significant as it is the first time in Korea that an employer has agreed to directly hire dismissed irregular workers into permanent positions.

Asbestos: Canada, China, Australia

British Colombia Construction unions are putting pressure on the Quebec government to permanently close Jeffrey Asbestos Mine.

“The Jeffrey Mine is solely based on exporting deadly asbestos to vulnerable developing countries that have not yet banned asbestos.”
said Wayne Peppard, the executive director of the B.C./Yukon Territory Building Trades Council. Delegates at the recent 41st annual convention of the trades council unanimously backed a motion calling for the permanent closure of the mine.

Earlier this month, a Canadian-led consortium of international investors made a successful offer to buy 100 per cent of Mine Jeffrey Inc. The Quebec government plans to give a $58 million guarantee loan to support the expansion of the mine. The 250,000 tons of asbestos it produces will be exported to Asia for use in the construction industry.

News received by the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) on November 3, 2010, confirmed rumors that a new industry standard had been adopted in China which prohibits the use of asbestos in siding and wall materials for construction. The prohibition is part of a Chinese national standard  which will be implemented as of June 1, 2011. IBAS reports that there can be no doubt that the new guidelines will impact on the profitability of China's asbestos-cement industry.

A scathing criticism of Government inaction over asbestos has been issued by the NSW Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is particularly critical of the mountain of asbestos tailings left behind at the abandoned Woodsreef Mine in northern NSW. Australia has the highest per capita incidence of asbestos disease in the world, according to Professor Nico Van Zandwijk at Sydney's Bernie Banton Centre - all deaths that are preventable.

Ship-Breaking Workers in Pakistan Ask for Solidarity

Ship-breaking workers in the Gadani ship-breaking yard are demanding better working conditions, health and safety standards, proper equipment and better wages.

In June 2010, approximately 15,000 ship-breakers went on strike in the town of Gadani, Balochistan province, and since then have taken various forms of industrial action.  Gadani ship-breakers work for twelve to fourteen hours a day, receiving between 200 and 300 rupees, and remain unregistered in any government social security institution through which they could access medical facilities. Despite having worked for ten to fifteen years, they don’t have formal confirmation of their employment status. Even though the conditions of work are arduous, there are next to no workplace safety guidelines - they are not provided safety shoes, gloves, goggles, helmets, belts, or other necessary safety items. As a result of this neglect, in the last year approximately 20 workers have died on the job. There is no clean water to drink, nor any decent food provided. The workers are also not provided with proper accommodation, and the nearest hospital is in Karachi, which is about 50km away, that could guarantee emergency treatment in the event of an accident.

To read the Ship-Breaking Democratic Workers' Union's statement about this struggle, written during the June 2010 strike, click here.

The struggle for union recognition, as well as better wages and conditions continues.

Send your letters of condemnation to the Balochistan Government by clicking here.

Send your letters of solidarity to the Pakistan Labour Federation by clicking here.


Oldest union in the Philippines under threat

A recent decision by the Filipino Labour Secretary, Ms Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, will allow Philippine Airlines (PAL) to outsource its airport services, in-flight catering and call centre reservations. It will also mean the laying off of more than half of its workforce, possibly up to 3,000 workers.

PAL is owned by a prominent Filipino capitalist, Lucio Tan, and this restructure is viewed as a plan not only to cut workers' conditions, but also to destroy the Philippine Airlines Employees Association (PALEA).

For more information and solidarity.

Asia Pacific Currents podcasts for October 2010

Asia Pacific Currents 30.10.10
Asia Pacific news, current affairs and labour rights from the region.
Interview with Diana Beaumont on the state of labour rights in China.
File Download (29:01 min / 27 MB)

Asia Pacific Currents 23.10.10
Asia Pacific news, current affairs and labour rights stories from India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, New Zealand.
Interview with Rajeev Sharma, BWI Project Manager, about construction workers involved with the building of stadiums for Commonwealth Games, child labour in India and economic growth and inequality.
File Download (27:57 min / 13 MB)

Asia Pacific Currents 16.10.10
Asia Pacific news, current affairs and labour rights from the region.
Interview with Michel See from the Migrant Trade Union in Korea, about the upcoming G20 Summit in Seoul, and the demonstrations that are being organised against the crackdown on civil and political rights in the lead up to that meeting.
File Download (28:28 min / 13 MB)

Asia Pacific Currents 09.10.10
Asia Pacific news, current affairs and labour rights from the region.
Interview with Manrico Moro, Australia Asia Worker Links’ Co-ordinator, about the Labour Movement Charter and international organising.
File Download (29:35 min / 14 MB)

Asia Pacific Currents 02.10.10
Asia Pacific news, current affairs and labour rights from the region.
Interview with Christine Hill from Oxfam, about mining in Papua New Guinea. 
File Download (30:49 min / 14 MB)


Foxconn workers under attack in India

The class conflict in Tamil Nadu, India, has sharpened recently with the mass dismissals of workers at the Foxconn factory in October, now followed by an even greater number of workers dismissed from BYD Electronics, a Nokia supplier.

On the first of November, BYD Electonics terminated the services of 2,500 contract workers, sacked 37 permanent workers, suspended 23 more and ordered 437 others to sign a letter of apology. This vicious attack by management was in response to workers holding a four day strike over appalling working conditions and demands for union recognition. There is an international campaign to support these workers.

Justice for Refugees

Rally and March
2pm, Sunday, 7 November 2010

State Library, corner Swanston and Latrobe Streets, Melbourne

The Refugee Advocacy Network, the coalition that organised the World Refugee Day march in Melbourne on 20 June, has called another mass rally and march for Sunday, 7 November. The focus of the rally will be to call for an end to the policy of Mandatory Detention. There are currently over 4600 people in detention centres, places that 2010 Australian of the Year, mental health advocate Pat McGorry, described as "factories for producing mental illness".

KEC occupation in Korea takes a deadly turn

Two hundred workers at the KEC electronics factory in Gumi have resorted to occupying the factory in order to force the company to negotiate with them.
The industrial dispute started over four months ago in June.
In the last week, management agreed to meet the workers, but used the meeting to allow the police to ambush the workers representatives.
In an act of resistance, Kim Jun-il, the local
Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU) branch chief, doused himself with thinner and set himself alight.
Kim Jun-il is now in a critical condition in hospital.
The strike and occupation are continuing.

Filipino unionist wins freedom after 3 years in jail

It has taken more than three years for the Philippines military's frame up of Vincent 'Ka Bebot' Borja, KMU National Council member representing Eastern Visayas, to finally collapse. Ka Bebot was arrested on the 7th of May, 2007, and charged with murder by the military.

On the 13th of October of this year, the military's star witness admitted in court that Ka Bebot was not involved in the murder. While rejoicing about this case, trade unionists in the Philippines are scared that repression will continue under the country's Human Security Act.

Latin American, Australian & Asia Pacific Solidarity Gathering

Defending Workers and Indigenous Rights
Building bridges and global resistance against Multinational Corporations

12th, 13th & 14th November
Trades Hall Lygon St Carlton

26th & 27th November
Unions NSW, 4-10 Goulburn St Sydney

Registration: $30/$20/$10 or $35/$25/$15 at the door
To register please contact James 0417 732 698
More information from LASNET

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