aawl mini-news

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.

Turkish metal workers win big pay rises

In a stunning result, 130,000 metal workers in Turkey, spread across 179 enterprises, won close to a 25% wage increase over two years. In addition to this wage rise, they also won substantial increases to their social benefits and the attainment of health insurance. The three unions covering these workers had announced a week ago that a nationwide strike was to begin on 2 February. The government than declared this action illegal on the grounds of ‘national security’. Given the repression against workers and any opposition activists in Turkey over the last 18 months, this victory represents a great achievement.

Mine deaths lead to protest rally in Pakistan

This January was another bloody month for coal workers with 6 workers killed in three separate accidents. Unfortunately, the coal mining industry in Pakistan has a terrible industrial record where workers have few rights and work long hours in unsafe conditions. Following on from the most recent deaths, mining unions held a protest rally in Quetta demanding better health and safety for all mine workers. In a separate event, in late December of last year, ten left wing parties in Pakistan announced an alliance in order to overcome the weakness of the human and labour rights movements in that country.

Iranian workers continue to be jailed

The teachers union leader, Esmail Abdi was returned to prison on January 20 after a few days of release. Esmail has been a tireless labour campaigner both in and out of jail. The health situation of Reza Shahabi, another imprisoned union activist in the high security Evin Prison, continues to be very serious. Reza’s supporters were recently brutally attacked by security forces. A recently released labour activist, Reza Salehi, has put out an open letter denouncing wars in the region. This repression against labour activists in Iran is occurring in a period of major class and social struggles inside Iran (see here, here and here).

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

Military Junta in Thailand keeps cracking down

A group of 39 activists who took part in a rally in central Bangkok in late January to demand that elections be held were charged this week for breaching the Public Assembly Act. All the protestors are facing up to 6 months in jail for having a demonstration too close to a Royal Palace. A subsequent silent protest by 4 activists against these politically motivated charges, has now led them to also be charged under the Public Assembly Act. In another case of political repression, Chanoknan Ruamsap, has fled Thailand as she was about to be charged with Lese Majeste, for sharing a BBC article in 2016.

Free all political prisoners in Thailand!

Abolish Article 112! 

End the military dictatorship!

Cambodian activists facing politically motivated charges

Late last month, three prominent human rights activists, Pa Nguon Teang, Venerable But Buntenh, and Moeun Tola, were charged with misappropriation of funds from the funeral of opposition activists Dr. Kem Ley in 2017. These charges were the result of a complaint from a pro government party. Already more than 30 civil society organisations have come out to condemn these charges and to call for their withdrawal. The implications of these charges are serious as one of the accused, Moeun Tola, is a long-time advocate for the rights of workers in Cambodia. These latest events are just another sign of the increasingly repressive climate in Cambodia.

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