aawl mini-news

Another deadly week for Indian workers

The last week has seen a number of industrial incidents claiming the lives of several workers. In Ahmedabad, five workers were killed when they were overcome by poisonous fumes while cleaning an effluent tank. A sixth worker died in hospital the day after. In eastern India, nine workers were killed in an explosion at their fireworks factory, while another three were injured. A few days ago, another three workers were killed as they were inspecting a blocked sewerage line. What all these deaths have in common is the lack of health and safety measures at their workplaces. In India, not only are OHS laws weak, but enforcement is often non-existent.

More garment workers killed in Bangladesh

In a tragic incident, at least six workers were killed, with many others injured, when a fire engulfed their textile factory in Munshiganj, near the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka. The Ideal Textile Mill factory was located in a mixed residential and industrial area in a multi storey building. The fire was thought to have originated in the first floor where chemicals were being stored while renovations were going on. This fire is only the latest of several other deadly factory incidents in the country’s textile industry this year and is a direct consequence of the ongoing repression against independent unions.

Claimants die waiting for their Stolen Wages

This week we learnt of the sad death of an Indigenous comrade from the northern state of Queensland, Australia, who was one of the central figures in the fight to recover their Stolen Wages. Our brother had started working in 1948 at the age of eight and was the face of AAWL’s postcard Stolen Wages campaign. The injustice done to him was deplorable.  His staunchness in the struggle to be paid the wages he earned and against the racism that allowed his wages to be stolen is an example to us all.  His courage lives on in the struggle for justice to which he inspired so many. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends. (For cultural reasons his name and photo cannot be shown)

Veteran anti-Thai military activist dies

This week, the anti-military junta and democracy activist Suthachai Yimprasert died peacefully at the age of 61. Suthachai had a long history of activism and was a survivor of the massacre of hundreds of students by the military on October 6, 1976 at Thammasat University. Suthachai was a lifelong opponent of the repressive Lese Majeste law and military coups in general. Thailand now leads the world in military coups. Suthachai was frequently targeted by authorities, most recently after the 2014 coup when he was briefly detained. Condolences to his family and friends.

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

Garment workers fighting for their wages

Textiles workers at the Bravo Tekstil factory in Istanbul, Turkey are taking action after their factory suddenly closed down. There are about 140 workers at this factory and they claim that apart from their severance pay, they are also owed around three months’ wages. Most of the production of the Bravo Tekstil factory was bought by three global fashion brands - Zara, Next, and Mango. Sudden factory closures are not uncommon in the garment industry, where competition is fierce and capital scours the globe for the cheapest labour. In globally integrated industries like the garment sector, co-ordinated industrial action across countries is the most powerful response for workers to take.

Iranian labour activist halts hunger strike

The imprisoned labour activist Reza Shahabi, this week temporarily halted his prison hunger strike after seven weeks. His decision to suspend his hunger strike was as a result of the promises made by a senior intelligence official that they would address Reza’s concerns. Given the repression and treachery of the Iranian government against independent labour activists, it is important to maintain solidarity with Reza and continue to pressure the Iranian government. Reza is only one of a number of labour and political activists who are currently in prison.

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

Defend women’s rights, yes to legal abortion

A coalition of religious conservatives and far right groups have again come together to organise a rally against women’s right to choose. Abortions were finally decriminalised in the state of Victoria in 2008, but there are still many barriers to working class women in Australia in realising their choices. The ‘March for the Babies’ is being led by Liberal Member of Parliament Bernie Finn. A coalition of women and pro-choice organisations have organised a counter demonstration to oppose their message of hate and bigotry.

Say yes to women’s rights
1pm, Saturday October 7
Parliament House, Spring St, Melbourne


Two cement workers crushed to death

In a horrifying industrial incident, Dhirendra Verma and Dilip Kumar Verma, were killed when the crushing mill they were inspecting started functioning again. Three other workers who were also inside managed to escape with only minor injuries. For workers at this company, Ambuja Cement, located in Chhattisgarh’s Balodabazar district, central India, this is unfortunately not an isolated incident. Four years ago a number of workers were killed when a container fell on them. Deaths like these highlight the importance of Occupational Health and Safety measures and of independent trade unions.

Anti-war movements growing in NE Asia

The escalating war of words between US President Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim, is dangerously increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Given the destruction that the USA military caused in North Korea during the war in the early 1950’s, and its use of nuclear weapons on Japan in 1945, there is widespread fear among working class communities that another devastating war could break out. In South Korea, peace activist Jo Young-sam, set himself on fire in protest against the deployment of new military hardware, the THAAD. The South Korean union movement has now joined with regional areas in staging large anti-war protests. Meanwhile in Japan, the labour movement is also becoming more active in anti-war activities.

Filipinos demonstrate against dictatorship and martial law

The 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the late dictator Ferninand Marcos on September 21 was used by activists to stage a major demonstration against the policies of the current government of President Duterte. All the major labour and progressive groups were present in these protests against the increasing repressive policies of the current Filipino government (see here, here, here and here). The massive toll that the murderous ‘War on Drugs’ has taken on working class communities and the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao were the main issues for the demonstrations.

Stop the Killings! No to Martial Law! Release all political prisoners

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