aawl mini-news

Filipinos facing martial law once more

President Duterte has declared martial law in the southern Filipino island of Mindanao, supposedly in response to the ongoing conflict by armed groups there. The spark was the offensive by the Maute group in the city of Marawi where many people were killed. The Filipino army response has led to many more deaths as fighting continues in the densely populated urban areas of Marawi. Pres Duterte announced in crude and sexist language that he will not hesitate to unleash mass killings on the scale of his ongoing War on Drugs campaign. Many labour and human rights activists fear that this is just the beginning of a more generalised climate of repression in the Philippines.

Aboriginal people in Australia demand real power

On the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum recognising the ongoing existence of Indigenous people in Australia’s Constitution, and the 20th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report, which exposed the extent of forced child removals, a major Aboriginal convention was held at Uluru, near Alice Springs. The Constitutional recognition forum was held as the final stage of a process to decide how best to recognise Aboriginal societies and cultures in Australia’s constitution. Amid vigorous discussions, and a walkout by some delegates, the outcome was a call for a Treaty and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Given the repressive and discriminatory policies by successive Australian governments towards Aboriginal people, the way forward from this point will require ongoing organising and activism.

Palestinians win hunger strike

The hunger strike by 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, has ended after marathon talks on the weekend between Palestinian leaders in jail and Israeli officials. The deal struck saw the prisoners win many of their demands. In the last week, the health of many prisoners had deteriorated markedly with real fears that some may die. Last Monday, there was a huge strike throughout the Occupied Territories by Palestinian workers and communities in support of the hunger strikers. Labour groups all around the world (see here, here and here) had called on Israel to meet the demands of the hunger strikers. Solidarity actions have been continuing daily around the world. The situation in Palestine had become very tense.

Thousands of workers fired by Freeport-McMoran

The industrial dispute at the huge Grasberg copper and gold mine that started earlier this month, has continued to escalate with the company, Freeport-McMoran now having terminated the contracts of over 2,000 workers. The mine has always been controversial because of its massive size, its environmental impact on the region and the fact that the local Indigenous West Papuans have seen very little of its wealth. The mine is protected by a large contingent of Indonesian soldiers. Latest reports indicate that up to 4,000 miners might now have been sacked.

New powers for Turkish President target workers

Following his successful constitutional referendum on gaining more powers for the post of President, President Erdogan, last Sunday wasted no time in promising to fight mercilessly against all his enemies. With the situation for workers already very serious such calls only promise more hard times. This week, two teachers who had been on an extended hunger strike in protest against their dismissals were arrested, as were some of their supporters the day after. In addition, the Government has once again invoked ‘National Security’ reasons to stop workers taking industrial action.

Korean workers take to the streets again

This week, thousands of members of the Korean Metal Workers Union took to the streets against proposed amendments to the Labour Act and for secure jobs. They also staged a solidarity rally in support of two of their comrades, Jeon Yeong-soo and Lee Seong-ho, who are now into their second month of their aerial protest against their dismissal from the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard. Also this week, a United Nations human rights body declared that the continued detention of Han Sang-gyun, president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), is contrary to human rights and he should be released.

Philippines hotel dispute set to escalate

Jenny Marcos was a leading activist for the Peninsula Employees Union, the union representing workers at the luxury Manila Peninsula Hotel, when in January of this year she was sacked and two of her colleagues suspended. Their ‘crime’ was to negotiate for better working conditions, like the use of a cart when cleaning rooms, as well as to gain secure employment for over 400 casual employees. The workers at the hotel are now about to undertake industrial action because management has continued to campaign against better working conditions and the union itself. The IUF has now initiated an international campaign in support of these workers.

Al Nakba Day remembered amid increasing tensions

Last Monday 15 May, Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Lands commemorated the 69th anniversary of Al Nakba – the ‘catastrophe’. This day marks the founding of Israel through the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their lands. As with many other years, Palestinians marking this event were fired upon by Israeli soldiers, with 11 people wounded. This year, there is mounting tension due to the ongoing hunger strike by 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. International solidarity events in support of the hunger strikers continue around the world.

All victims pulled out of coal mine

It took almost a week for rescue workers to pull out all the bodies of the miners that were killed by an explosion at the coal mine in Golestan Province in early May. The final death toll now stands at 43, with many others injured. The President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, went to visit the site but was met by an angry workers who survived the blast as well as miners’ families, see video. The miners accused the government of having abandoned the miners and not listening to them previously. As a recent human rights report details, the situation for workers in Iran is very oppressive. Currently there is an international campaign to free Esmail Abdi, an imprisoned teacher.

More ship breaking workers killed

In the first ten days of May, two workers were killed in separate incidents in the huge shipbreaking beaches of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Ishaq was killed when a steel wire smashed into his face while the second worker, Shahinoor, was killed after falling off the ship he was working on. As previously reported (see here and here), these are not isolated deaths. The shipbreaking yards of South Asia have appalling safety standards, wages are extremely low, while organising efforts by workers are severely repressed by both employers and governments.

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