aawl mini-news

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.

 

Vale Simon Millar

On January 27 of this year, the labour movement in the state of Victoria, Australia, unexpectedly lost a long time fighter for the working class. Simon Millar was only 51, but had three decades of experience of activism in the community and the labour movement fighting against inequality, exploitation, injustice and repression. Just before he died, Simon wrote an article on the long running Longford Esso/Exxon dispute that highlighted his deep understanding of the class struggle, and the need for workers to be united both at the national and international levels. Condolences to his family, friends and comrades.

In unity and solidarity

 

Coalminers end dispute with mixed results

After almost two years of negotiations and a 180 day strike, maintenance workers at the Griffin Coal mine in the West Australian state of Australia signed an agreement to go back to work with the company. While the workers defeated attempts by the company to cut their wages by over 40%, they did agree to take a 20% cut. In addition, the company was able to achieve cuts to the manning levels at the company. This dispute is an example of the brutal industrial relation environment in Australia and the ongoing offensive by capital to break workers’ organisations and conditions.

 

Samsung heir freed after one year

Earlier this month, after almost a year in jail, Lee Jae-yong, the de facto head of the giant Samsung Corporation, was released when an Appeals Court cut his sentence. Lee had been jailed for his involvement in a corruption scandal that had also claimed disgraced former South Korean President, Park Geun-hye. Given Samsung’s size and influence in South Korea's economic and political sphere, many Koreans are unhappy about this release and are suspicious of the deals that have been made to secure his release. Meanwhile, Korean trade union leaders, Lee Young-Joo and Han, Sang-Gyun, remain in jail.
Organising is not a crime! Free all jailed labour activists!

 

3CR Radio subscriber drive

For over 41years 3CR Community Radio in Melbourne, Australia has featured union, worker, indigenous, women’s, ethnic, environmental, music and other community programs that are not heard elsewhere. As a community radio station, 3CR Radio funding comes from its listeners. One of the ways you can keep the radio station on air is by becoming a member. Asia Pacific Currents is AAWL’s weekly radio program on 3CR Community Radio. Support labour struggles, become a member and subscribe to 3CR Radio.

 

Fire kills 17 workers in New Delhi, India

On Saturday 20 January, a fire broke out in a plastics factory in the Bawana industrial area in the north of New Delhi, killing 17 workers. The fire quickly engulfed the building as the owner had illegally stored firecrackers in the building, with inadequate fire safety precautions. Survivors have since related how badly they were treated when working there, the lack of safety features and how the only exit was blocked. While Manoj Jain, the owner of the factory, was detained by the police, this horrific incident is unfortunately not an isolated one. The main victims of this brutal industrial system are women workers who are more likely to be employed in the informal sector and in more precarious working conditions.

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