aawl mini-news

Turkey: One-day general strike

Following a breakdown in negotiations between the government and the representatives of TEKEL workers, the six trade union confederations representing the interests of the TEKEL workers in Ankara decided to launch a mass one-day strike on Thursday, February 4, 2010. The hunger strike has also been resumed. TEKEL is the recently privatized public enterprise producing cigarettes, tobacco, alcohol and spirits in Turkey. More information here.

Also in Turkey new members of Birleşik Metal-Is at the Ekoendustri are under attack by management who have fired 15 active union leaders after the workers applied for union representation to the Labour Ministry. Other unions members face intense harassment and intimidation by the company who have been pressuring workers to resign from Birleşik Metal-Is or face dismissal.

The IMF and EMF are calling on auto components and sports equipment maker Ekoendustri to reinstate the workers immediately and respect ILO conventions 87 and 98 to which Turkey is a signatory. Full story here.

Mumbai: Workers denied drinking water

During a project evaluation visit by an international delegation to the Mumbai shipbreaking site January 20, workers explained to union leaders how, despite repeated requests, they are faced with continual water shortages and often work in extremely hazardous conditions for 12 hours a day with nothing to drink.

Despite the Indian Factories Act 1948 clearly spelling out that drinking water should be provided to workers this is widely being ignored. The local union leadership has stated that if the situation is not resolved then the only alternative maybe to call for industrial action among the workers. The International Metalworkers' Federation has been working closely with the shipbreaking workers as part of its union building project which has seen 2,500 workers organized in Mumbai, and a further 6,500 in Alang. Read more here.

 

The situation of the workers' families settled around the ship breaking yards in very precarious conditions is completely disregarded by employers and local authorities. No housing  facilities, drinking water, sanitation or schooling  are provided for the families of the migrant workers who have followed  the men of the family engaged in the ship breaking yards.

A group of over 40 women activists and unionists from self-help groups formed in residential communities near the ship breaking yards met with representatives of IMF and UK affiliate GMB on January 20, to speak about their own experiences and to jointly explore possibilities of creating women's groups among the ship breakers' families.

IMF and GMB promised to look for support for this initiative and to maintain close contact with this group of women activists  and to develop a programme for the workers' families. More.

Thailand: Unionists defend their rights

At a factory blockade of a Michelin tire plant in Laem Chabang, Thailand, on 20 March 2009, workers protested against a harsh 35% pay cut. Following the manifestation, 22 union activists were arrested, suspended from their jobs, with management taking out criminal charges against them.

Those 22 unionists, members of ICEM-affiliated Petroleum and Chemical Workers’ Federation (PCFT), were finally reinstated to their jobs on 18 January, after attending a special training session specifically for them.

Ten of the 22 are still facing criminal charges, charges the ICEM believes are unjust because they relate to legitimate trade union activity. The cases are expected to be processed in the next month.

Trade union members continue to face discrimination on a daily basis inside the Michelin factory, a workplace that employs 1,500. They receive lower pay than non-union members and have witnessed management take away holiday allowances in 2009. More information here.

 

In Thailand, a 28 February deadline awaits for some two million migrant workers from Burma, Cambodia, and Laos to either register through a complex “Nationality Verification” process, or leave the country. A  groundswell of momentum, both inside and outside of Thailand, is taking shape to convince the government that this is a bad idea, considering alone that 80% of these workers are Burmese who face persecution and imprisonment on ethnic and political grounds if they return to Burma. A full report from the ICEM can be found here and an ICEM letter to the Thai Prime Minister can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

A few months ago, railway workers in Thailand went on strike, refusing to drive unsafe trains following a fatal crash.  The employer's response was to sack six union officials and to sue the union for damages. 

The State Railway Workers Union and its global union federation, the ITF, have called for an international campaign to protest these decisions, to urge the company to stop fighting against the union and instead to "build a new safety culture in the Thai railways with the workers and the union where whistle-blowers are not penalised." But the Thai Transport Minister is pushing the railway to continue pursuing its case against the union in court. Read more and make a protest here.

Indonesia: Cross-Factory Worker’s Forum

Potential large-scale layoffs due to the implementation of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) have raised the concerns of  workers, including workers who work at the Industrial Zone of Nusantara (KBN) Cakung, North Jakarta.

Therefore, FBLP (Cross-Factory Worker’s Forum, which is a member of the The Preparatory Committee of Indonesian Centre for Labor Struggle/KP PPBI) held an open discussion with invited speakers from Indonesian Transportation Union of Struggle (SBTPI), comrade Kamal; comrade Kim from the National Worker Union (SPN), comrade Ade from FSPBI and comrade of Budi Wardoyo from KP-PPBI. The discussion was hosted by Jumisih (spokesperson of KP-PPBI North Jakarta). Around 70 people from various factories and unions in KBN Cakung participated in the discussion

The discussion also addressed the initial steps to build a movement, especially in the KBN Cakung. The forum discussed a political way out, whether a political solution, i.e. the struggle for political power by the workers and the poor people, and the economic solution, namely the development of national industries under the control of the people.

As a step towards building a movement, on next Saturday (29th January 2010), there will be a meeting across the factory, between the union movement to formulate the next struggle. Background information here and here.

Philippines health workers arrested

Please find here the statement of Gabriela Women's party in condemnation of the illegal arrest of 43 health workers, most of them women, in Morong, Rizal (neigboring province of Manila) by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The victims, who were conducting a training seminar on community health work at the time of arrest are being falsely accused as members of the New People's Army.

As of today, February 8, they are detained in Camp Capinpin in the same province. Families and lawyers were not allowed to visit the victims. Once again this is a clear violation of human rights by the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime.

See more images of the protest action in front of the Department of National Defense here.

Toxic Cadmium used in Jewelry

Despite the risks, manufacturers in factories ringing Yiwu on China’s east coast say their top priority is profit. So offering cut-rate goods often means using lower cost materials, including cadmium, which is known to cause cancer.

Cadmium poisoning is an occupational hazard associated with industrial processes such as metal plating and the production of nickel-cadmium batteries, pigments, plastics, and other synthetics. The primary route of exposure in industrial settings is inhalation. Inhalation of cadmium-containing fumes can result initially in metal fume fever but may progress to chemical pneumonitis, pulmonary edema, and death. Read more here.

Sixth Iranian Sugar Union Leader Arrested

Reza Rakhshan, communications officer for the Haft Tapeh independent sugarworkers union in southern Iran, was arrested by security agents at his workplace on January 4 and was only released from Shush prison on January 20 after being charged with "endangering national security" for his union activity.

At the time of his arrest, Rakhshan was still awaiting final sentencing for the convictions last year on similar charges which put 5 other union leaders in prison. Like union president Ali Nejati, the new charges mean he could face lengthy back-to-back sentences which could see him imprisoned for years. Married, with a child, the 39-year old union officer has worked at Haft Tapeh for 5 years.

More information from the IUF report, Iranian Workers' Solidarity Network and Iran Labor Report

Workers Suffer as Japan Airlines Goes Bankrupt

Last month Japan Airlines, Asia’s largest airline by revenue, filed for bankruptcy protection after facing a debt load of over $25 billion.

As part of a government bailout, Japan Airlines will layoff 15,700 employees, roughly one-third of their workforce. JAL has asked its employees to make enormous concessions. In response, the company’s biggest union agreed to halve their remaining workers’ pensions in order for JAL to receive government funds. Read more here.

White Australia has a Black History

Solidarity with Indigenous people with their fight for justice, equality and land rights. Aboriginal Struggles are Union Business. And look here.

Celebrate 222 years of resistance at the Survival Day concert
January 26, 2pm to 8pm, Treasury Gardens, Melbourne.

On Tuesday 26 January at 11am join Gilla McGuinness live on 3CR from the Belgrave Survival Day concert through until 4pm.

Come to the AAWL Public Meeting 'The labour movement and solidarity with indigenous people'. The meeting will hear about current indigenous struggles in Australia and the role that labour movement solidarity can play.

The meeting is open to all, starts at 6pm, Wed 3 February, Trades Hall, 54 Victoria St, Carlton South, Victoria.

 

Philipines Toyota Workers fight on

On December 20, 2009 Toyota Motor Philipines Corporation Workers Association held an end year activity for the families and members of TMPCWA.  It is the ninth year celebration of Christmas specially for the illegally dismissed members and their families.

In the program is the one year activity report of TMPCWA: For instance the protest action in front of Toyota in commemoration of the mass dismissal case; the protest in front of the Japanese embassy and other agencies of the Department of Labor and Employment; the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals; The Global Day of protest against Toyota and many protests; in Toyota Japan the launch by the Support Group for TMPCWA in Japan. Read more here.

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