aawl mini-news

Over 500 workers sacked for organising

In a brutal display of anti-union action, Amertron Electronics, a semiconductor and optoelectronics producer, has recently sacked 532 labour activists. The workers had begun to take action in September over a number of health and safety issues, as well as wages and health insurance issues. The company, which employs around 2,700 workers over two sites, has refused to negotiate with workers and has progressively terminated workers. The semiconductor industry globally has been a sector where many workers have been repeatedly exposed to toxic chemicals (see here and here). Workers have now organised pickets outside the Amertron factories (see here and here).

Aviation industry continues to slash conditions

Workers in Australia employed by Aerocare, a leading independent provider of aviation services, are engaged in a long running fight against the company’s attempts to cut costs. Specifically, the company wants to slash wages to poverty levels and introduce split shifts that would force workers to sleep at their workplace in between shifts to avoid travel costs. As the recent dispute at Toronto airport, (see here and here) and the long running dispute at Philippine Airlines demonstrate, aviation companies are engaged in a global ‘Race to the Bottom’ across countries and affecting all workers. Only co-ordinated global campaigns by workers can effectively halt these offensives and increase wages and conditions for all workers.

Anganwadi workers continue actions in India

Following on from the ground breaking victory earlier this year by the Anganwadi workers in and around New Dehli, many other similar rural health workers have been taking action to increase their wages and better their conditions. In Odisha state in Eastern India, this week the state government has promised to raise the wages of Anganwadi workers by 50%, as well as make other improvements. In the south of the country in Tamil Nadu, while Anganwadi workers recently won a pay increase, they are still unhappy with their conditions. In the north eastern state of Rajasthan on the other hand, Anganwadi workers are still fighting to get a better deal from their state government.

Transport strike hits Manila

This week, Jeepney drivers staged a two day strike in the Metro Manila area to protest against oil price increases, increasingly strict franchising and regularisation guidelines, and ever multiplying government fees. Another issue has been the government’s plan to modernise the fleet which, according to the Jeepney drivers will only lead to job losses and higher fares. The strike was well supported with up to 90% of drivers staying away. The strike was supported by large sections of urban working class communities who rely on them for transport. In response, the government claimed that the strike was an ‘act of rebellion’ and a plot by the left to undermine the government of President Duterte.

What will the new Palestinian deal achieve?

Last week, the two biggest Palestinian political factions, announced that they signed an initial unity agreement. This deal was announced by both sides as ‘a declaration of the end to division and a return to national Palestinian unity’. While this is a positive steps, there are many big issues to resolve between the two organisations, as well as dealing with the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and expansion of settlements. The political space for Palestinians in the West Bank continues to diminish with a continual media crackdown denying media registration and arrests of journalists. Meanwhile protests against administrative detention by prisoners continues.

Major OHS conference in Australia

Every year, millions of workers either die, get injured or suffer major illnesses because of unsafe workplaces. Unions fight for safety at work. At the end of this month in Melbourne, Australia, a major conference will be held by trade unionists and labour activists to talk about how best to improve the health and safety of workplaces. This is a free conference for all health and safety representatives at their workplaces.

Another Iranian labour activist dies

Earlier this month, well-known labour activist and former political prisoner Mohammad Jarahi died of cancer. Mohammad Jarahi was 59 years of age and had been a long time member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organisations, which fought for the establishment of independent worker organisations in Iran. Mohammed died from wide ranging complications from a lack of proper treatment during his five-year imprisonment. He was just one of many workers targeted in Iran by authorities. Labour activists hold the Iranian government responsible for his death. Activists like Mohammad Jarahi continue to inspire a new generation of workers to fight against the Iranian government.

Free for all political prisoners in Iran!  Freedom for workers to organise!

Workers oppose new labour laws

The Philippines government, headed by President Duterte, is looking to legalise further exploitation of workers via two new bills, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) and the Alternative Work Arrangement Bill (Senate Bill 1571). Labour centres claim that the new tax bill will favour the rich and will just impose new sacrifices on workers. The supposed compensation schemes for workers will not actually reach the majority of workers over the long term. In addition, the proposed changes to the work week will not introduce flexibility for workers but will only institutionalise 12 hour working days.

Airport dispute globally significant for workers

While the dispute that saw over 700 ground crew workers walk out in protest against Swissport Canada’s attempts to contract out and casualise its workforce may be over, other issues remain. It has been revealed that the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) is in support of the privatisation of Toronto Pearson Airport. This will only lead to more insecure work practices and lower wages for workers. Workers at airports all around the world have a stake in opposing this attempt by the GTAA to drive down wages and conditions. Only by engaging in co-ordinated actions can aviation workers take on the power of these global companies.

Global stevedoring company attacking Indonesian workers

Dockworkers in Indonesia employed by the global stevedoring company, International Container Terminal Services (ICTS), are in a protracted struggle over wages and conditions. The company is forcing its workforce into working long and unsafe overtime in order to earn a living wage because their basic salary is totally inadequate. The International Transport Federation is supporting the Indonesian workers in their fight for a living wage. The ITF has found that ITCS is similarly underpaying its workforce in Madagascar, while in Pakistan port workers demonstrated in support of their comrades in Madagascar and Indonesia. Against a global company like ICTS, co-ordinated industrial actions at other ICTS sites around the world would be much more effective in maximising workers’ power. For coverage on this listen to this episode of 3CR’s Stick Together show.

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