aawl mini-news

Five workers killed in Indian shipyard

Last week, five workers were killed and another 11 hospitalised when an explosion ripped through the inside of a ship in the area that they were working, in the southern city of Cochin. The incident is still under investigation but it is believed that a build-up of acetylene gas and an exposed welding flame caused the explosion. Health and safety conditions in many Indian workplaces are substandard with lax enforcement of the rules. In this instance, it seems that the owners of the shipyard had obtained a OHS ‘self-certification’ which allows companies to self-regulate, and therefore cut costs.

 

Iranian workers win their wages back

After almost 8 months of bitter dispute, the workers at the Haft Tapeh sugar complex in Shush, Iran, have managed to secure the payment in full of their wage arrears, dating back to July 2017. The tipping point in this struggle was the threat by the workers earlier this month to take over the complex from management. While getting their wages paid, there are a number of other outstanding issues. These include that daily contract workers also be paid the wages owed to them and that management recognise their union, which the workers formed in 2008.
Free for all political prisoners in Iran! Freedom for workers to organise!

 

Workers continue to face devastation in Syria

The war in Syria shows no signs of abating as new players and new battle fronts open up in a competition among regional players to increase their influence. At the border with Turkey, the battle for the Afrin region continues to rage, in the neighbouring province of Idlib constant bombardments have led to new rebel alliances, while in eastern Ghouta district hundreds of people are being massacred under constant bombardment. The continuation of war into an 8th year is a disaster for working class communities in Syria, though defiance and resistance by civilians still occurs.

 

Journalists get life sentence in Turkey

Last week, three journalists in Turkey were sentenced to life in prison over allegations of their involvement in the 2016 coup attempt. Their alleged crime was to have broadcast and printed ‘subliminal messages’ inciting people to overthrow the government. Three other people also received life sentences, while another journalist Deniz Yucel was released after a year in detention following the intervention of the German government. These convictions quite clearly show the level of repression that exists in Turkey at the moment and is a clear danger for labour and human rights activists in that country.

 

Workers around the world support Cambodian activist

Moeun Tola is a long-time activist on the side of the Cambodian working class. Tola, with two other activists, was recently charged with stealing funds in a clearly politically motivated attack to stifle opposition to the current Government. In a clear statement of support around the world, more than 30 labour and human right organisations have joined to call on the Cambodian government to stop the persecution against activists like Moeun Tola.

 

Vale Zelda D’Aprano

This week, the union movement in Australia lost one of its historical leaders in Zelda D’Aprano. Zelda was iconised in 1969 in a photograph showing her chained to the Commonwealth Building in protest against women receiving less pay than men. Zelda left school early so that she could work and support her family. She soon learnt of the exploitation that workers, and especially women workers, faced. Zelda was a staunch labour activist all her life and continued to support labour campaigns even after she had retired.
In memory and solidarity.

 

Iranian workers continue to resist

Earlier this month, Reza Shahabi, a member of the Tehran bus workers’ syndicate, was given a five day reprieve from his jail sentence in order to get proper medical care. Reza who has been imprisoned for his labour activities is in a bad state of health having suffered two strokes last December. In other labour news, the militant Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate has announced that they will take over management of their workplaces if their salaries and other demands are not met. These sugar cane workers have a long and heroic history of struggle. Meanwhile the protest wave of the last two months is continuing albeit in a more hidden fashion due to government repression.

 

Auto workers arrested in southern India

This week in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, six workers of LGB Rolon, a large manufacturer of automobile chains, were arrested for taking industrial action. All these workers are leading members of the newly formed union at this manufacturing plant. The workers’ demands focused mainly on getting wage rises and securing permanent work contracts for hundreds of temporary workers. The company is a vicious union buster that has managed to stifle all attempts by its workers to form independent unions for the last 60 years. The repression of auto workers in the state of Tamil Nadu is ferocious as the ongoing detention of the Pricol workers exemplifies.

 

Sri Lankan activists continue fight for disappeared

Valentine’s Day was used by human rights activists and families in Sri Lanka to highlight once again the thousands of people who were disappeared during that country’s civil war. Over the last year especially, protests have become more intense as family members fear that as the years pass, the memory of the civil war, and of their family members will also be buried forever. Unfortunately the climate of impunity that existed during the long years of civil war has not lifted, thereby continuing to hamper any investigations into massacres and disappearances.

 

Seventh anniversary brings more protests in Bahrain

On Wednesday of this week, February 14, thousands of people took to the streets in towns and cities in Bahrain to mark the 7th anniversary of the start of the protest movement in Bahrain. These protests began as part of the Arab Spring where working class communities demanded less exploitation, corruption and poverty. While the original protests in Bahrain were severely repressed, the movement has not been defeated. The demands from the protestors are for the royal family to resign, end the repression, end the discrimination, and free political prisoners.

 

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