aawl mini-news

Organising space in Thailand keeps shrinking

This week, two separate cases has highlighted the level of repression that now exists in Thailand. Sulak Sivaraksa, a renowned Buddhist and academic, is facing possible Lese Majeste charges for a comment over an elephant duel that is alleged to have happened in 1593. In the industrial belt of the town of Prachinburi, around 2,000 workers employed by the auto parts manufacturer Y-Tec, are engaged in a vicious struggle in their attempts to form an independent union. The campaign to abolish the repressive Lese Majeste law is continuing to grow, with supporters both inside Thailand and internationally.

Free all political prisoners in Thailand! Abolish Article 112! End the military dictatorship!

Workers still waiting for compensation

In late 2013, just six months after the horrific disaster at Rana Plaza, a fire engulfed the Aswad Composite Mills textile mill in Gazipur, Bangladesh. At least seven workers were killed and over 50 injured. It is now over four years since this horrific industrial incident and families and survivors are still waiting for compensation to be paid to them. The fact that fires like these continue to happen, and compensation has still not been paid is a reflection of the corruption of the political system in Bangladesh, the power of the owners of garment factories, and the continual repression of independent union organising.

AAWL film fundraiser: Sherpa

This documentary by Australian film maker, Jennifer Peedom, explores some of the politics and conflict between the mountain climbers and the Sherpas who are trying to improve their livelihood. During the making of the documentary, an avalanche killed many Sherpas including the union’s vice president.

Monday October 16 at 6pm

LongPlay, 318 St Georges Road, North Fitzroy

Tickets are $20 waged and $10 concession.

This is a fundraiser for AAWL’s activities and campaigns across the labour movement in Asia. For more information, check out the Facebook event page.

Ice cream workers battle global giant

Around 150 workers in the Australian city of Sydney have been in a brutal struggle from last August against their employer, Streets Ice Cream, a subsidiary of the global giant Unilever, over a new enterprise agreement. The company wants to reduce workers’ wages by over 40%, as well as cuts to overtime and redundancy payments. Workers have made a video on the effects that such savage cuts would have on them and their families. The company is now trying to silence workers by threatening them with dismissal if they comment publicly on any aspects of the dispute. While a boycott of Streets Ice Cream has been proposed, co-ordinated industrial actions at other Unilever sites around the world would be much more effective in maximising workers’ power.

Samsung Electronics claims another victim

This week, Yi Hye-jeong, a 41-year-old former Samsung employee, died from the effects of systemic sclerosis, an auto immune disorder that damages the body’s organs. Yi worked in the chip making department and over the years she was exposed to a variety of chemicals including nitrous oxide, arsenic, phosphine, oxypoclimin, benzene, and xylene. Yi is the 118th documented case of an ex Samsung Electronics worker being killed due to occupational diseases. Samsung Electronics is a brutal anti-union company. On the 7 October, OHS activists will mark two years of a sit in protest in front of Samsung headquarters in Seoul.

Electrical workers demand living wages

Last month around 5,000 workers from Orissa’s power distribution companies protested in the state’s capital of Bhubaneswar. They were demanding that their monthly wages be increased from the current 4,000 rupees (US$61) to 18,000 rupees (US$275), as well as permanent jobs for outsourced workers. Workers have had long standing grievances with these companies over unsafe working conditions that put workers’ lives at risk. Many workers die every year as the companies do not supply adequate safety gear. The workers also see what electrical workers around the world earn and so want to be renumerated accordingly.

Aviation workers around the world continue actions

The aviation industry is one of the most globalised industries in the world.  Aviation companies continue to enforce a Global Race to the Bottom in their search to cut costs and increase profits. Casualisation, contracting out and temporary employment of their workforce are some of the main tactics the companies use to break the power of workers. Aviation workers are also linking up across the globe to take on these companies in co-ordinated struggles.

Australia’s refugee policies continue to claim victims

The brutality of Australia’s anti refugee policies continue to kill people with two more refugees dying this week. Santhiya died due to inadequate medical care in an Indonesian refugee camp as she was unable to proceed further and reach Australia. She suffered kidney failure. Rajeev Rajendran was another Tamil refugee who died while he was detained in Australia’s concentration camp of Manus. Rajeev succumbed to years of psychological deprivation caused by his imprisonment and he killed himself. In the meantime, a new protest among the detainees in Manus Island has passed two months in duration.

Migrant workers charged with defamation

This week fourteen migrant workers in Thailand pleaded not guilty to charges of defamation brought by the Thammakaset chicken farm where they had been working. The ‘crime’ of these Burmese workers was to have complained to the National Human Rights Commission over their terrible conditions that they were employed under. This case is related to the ongoing criminal cases against labour researcher Andy Hall, who had to flee Thailand to avoid arrest. An open letter by almost 100 Thai civil society groups called on the Thai government to de-criminalise the defamation law. In the same week, Thailand’s dictator, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, visiting the USA to discuss ways to increase economic and military ties between the two countries. 

Veteran political activist jailed in Malaysia

On Friday 29 September, opposition politician and long-time human rights activist Tian Chua, withdrew his appeal before the Court of Appeal and was given a jail sentence of 30 days. Tian was arrested in 2012 for ‘entering a restricted area’ after the Bersih 3.0 demonstrations. Tian’s decision not to proceed with his court case was a protest of his treatment and the unjust criminal justice system of Malaysia. In court, Tian reiterated his beliefs about the continuing biased and corrupt legal and political system in Malaysia and that change is inevitable. Amnesty International has called for Tian’s release and condemns his imprisonment as part of a pattern of repression against outspoken but peaceful critics of the government in Malaysia.
 

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