aawl mini-news

Asbestos kills Trevor Grant

Trevor Grant was one of Australia’s most respected sports journalists with a career spanning 40 years. From his work covering cricket in Sri Lanka, Trevor became a passionate supporter of the Tamils right to self determination, a fierce critic of successive Sri Lankan governments wars, and defender of the rights of refugees. Trevor died this week from mesothelioma, an asbestos related disease, which he had contracted while working as a journalist in buildings containing asbestos. Deaths like these highlight the importance to ban the use of asbestos worldwide. Unfortunately, the economic and political interests connected with the continued mining and use of asbestos will use any means to stop a ban on asbestos.

Garment workers still fighting for wages in Indonesia

Almost two years ago, 4,000 workers at the PT Jaba Garmindo were left unemployed when their factory closed down suddenly. These workers are still waiting for four months’ worth of unpaid wages as well as termination payments. In total workers are owed almost US$11 million in payments. There is an ongoing international campaign to force UNIQLO, the company sourcing from this factory to pay these workers. This issue is very similar to the one that involves Mizuno, another global fashion brand, over the non-payment of hundreds of its workers at another Indonesian factory.

Situation for refugees in Australia remains dire

Amid uncertainty on whether the refugees held in the concentration camps of Nauru and Manus will be transferred to the USA in a swap with Central American refugees, or be forced elsewhere, conditions at these prison camps remain dire, see here and here. The conditions for the women detainees is especially brutal, with violence widespread. Refugees already in Australia are now also being targeted by the Australian government. In a related story, the Australian government is being sued for over AUS $100 million for jailing underage Indonesian fishermen under the pretext of people smuggling. On Sunday the 9th of April, demonstrations in all major cities in Australia will be held for the rights of refugees.

Freed Pakistani activist was tortured

This week, Waqass Goraya, a human rights activist in Pakistan, told reporters that after he was kidnapped in early January, he was tortured repeatedly. Waqass at once stage believed that his captors were going to torture him until he died as he was critical of the government. Waqass was one of five human rights activists that were abducted by unknown armed persons in early January. It is widely assumed that the abductors were connected to the Government. Unfortunately, critics of the Pakistani government and of other powerful groups routinely get attacked via legal, or extra-legal means.

Workers in India continue to face harassment

On the back of the devastating effects from the Indian government’s demonetisation actions of last year, workers across many industries continue to face anti union attacks. In a long running dispute, the Labour Court has revoked the dismissal of four Renault Nissan labour activists, though the company is still refusing to re hire them. In a similar dispute, hundreds of workers at PMI Engineering, are finding that even after a major strike, the company is still targeting labour activists and not abiding to agreed resolutions. In a major show of force, over one thousands bank employees held a one day strike to protest against overwork and outsourcing.

Malaysia - Cleaners losing hope for unpaid wages

In a case that dates back to 2015, 51 school cleaners with government schools in the city of Ipoh, Malaysia, are still waiting the backpayment of 8 months of wages. Their dispute first started when the company they were working for, Time Medi, collapsed in July 2015. The cleaners were told to keep working by the local education department and assured that their wages would be forthcoming. After more than 18 months, the education department has still not paid these workers the money that is owed to them.

Peace, Bread, Land - International Women’s Day 2017

International Women’s Day (IWD) has a long history and is a reflection of women’s efforts towards attaining gender equality. The sphere of unpaid and paid work is also part of this movement, and labour activists around the world are still fighting for gender equality at the workplace. In commemoration of 100 years since the Russian Revolution that was sparked by IWD, for this year’s IWD Rally in Melbourne Australia, we’re raising the demand Peace, Bread and Land! 
Additionally, Victoria Trades Hall is organising its annual Women’s Rights At Work Festival
There will also be a major IWD rally this coming Wednesday.
IWD Rally - 8th March, 5.30pm - Parliament House, Spring St, Melbourne

Defend wages, defend weekend penalty rates

Following from the recent decision to cut penalty rates for some of Australia’s lowest paid workers, a number of unions have called for a major rally in Melbourne for this coming Thursday.
Unions in the construction industry are spearheading this fightback as they have been specifically targeted by anti union laws – referred to as the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). These laws are aimed to weaken workers ability to organise on the job, will reduce pay and conditions, and will result in more accidents and deaths at the workplace.
10.30am on Thursday 9 March - Victorian Trades Hall, Corner Victoria and Lygon Streets Carlton

State sanctioned mass murder continues in the Philippines

The new year began with a slowdown in the rate of murders from Philippines President Duterte’s vicious War on Drugs. This pause seems to have ended with President Duterte recalling his police force into the front line of the War on Drugs. The number of people killed has now reached almost 8,000. Leila de Lima, one of the highest profile critic of these massacres, has been arrested in an attempt to silence her. The murders have also given rise to a new type of investigative journalism, see here and here. President Duterte is now also on the verge of reinstating the death penalty in The Philippines as well as wanting to lower the age of criminal liability to nine years of age.
No to the War on Drugs! No to extrajudicial impunity!  Stop the killings!

South Korea political crisis intensifies

The economic and political crisis that saw repeated general strikes and demonstrations of over a million people against President Park from late 2015 onwards has continued into this year. The last two weekends have seen more huge mobilisations of up to a million people against the President and her supporters, see here and here. The labour movement has also very active in these protests calling for an end to union repression, more secure jobs and better wages and conditions. On top of these protests, the issue of a new USA missile system, the THAAD, has sparked more opposition and protests among South Koreans.

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