aawl mini-news

Invasion Day highlight ongoing Aboriginal injustice

On Friday January 26, Invasion Day demonstrations were held in all major urban centres in Australia. The biggest turnouts were in Melbourne and Brisbane were tens of thousands of people marched in support of Aboriginal people and against the ongoing injustice of colonialism and dispossession. Under the theme of ‘Abolish the Date’, the demonstrations highlighted the ongoing exploitation, repression and injustice that Australian indigenous people and communities still endure.

Campaign against asbestos continues

The Asia Ban Asbestos Network (A-BAN) has started a new round of activities in its attempts to totally ban the use of asbestos in the world. Unfortunately, asbestos is still used widely across Asia, with six of the top seven countries being in this region. Asbestos is deadly at all points of its production and manufacturing, while its toxic effects continue to kill years after its use has been stopped. As the examples of Australia and New Zealand show, it was only through the determined efforts of workers and unions that asbestos use was banned in these two countries.

Don’t celebrate, demonstrate on Invasion Day

Australia Day on January 26 marks the day the Great Britain began its occupation of Aboriginal land. The process of occupation, dispossession and exploitation has been a devastating one for the Indigenous people of Australia. For many decades, Aboriginal people were forced to labour or had their wages stolen. More recently, the Northern Territory Intervention and Federal Work Programs have continued this exploitation. Aboriginal people first protested against Australia Day in 1938. Their resistance continues today. Protest marches will occur in all major Australian centres on Friday January 26.

Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land

Dockworkers win against global company

The dispute that started in late November, over the dismissal of an active unionist at one of the port terminals in Melbourne, Australia, has been won with the company agreeing to reinstate the worker. This outcome was achieved through the determination of his fellow workers, the Maritime Union of Australia, and by the support of many other workers and unionists. In spite of legal threats, a 24 hour community assembly was created outside the gates of the International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) operations. ICTSI has been on a global offensive against workers in a bid to keep its operations free of union influence so that it could increase its profits by paying workers less and making them work longer. 

Thousands of health workers sacked

Last week, the state government of Bihar, northern India, ordered that 80,000 allied health workers be sacked for taking strike action. The dispute began at the start of this month, when tens of thousands of health workers employed on short term contracts demanded regularisation of their employment status and equal pay for equal work. These workers cover many roles, including nurses, accountants, lab technicians and local health managers. The dispute is ongoing with workers taking direct actions, while the government trys to employ new health workers in a bid to break the strike.

Electronics workers targeted and attacked

Hundreds of workers employed by the electronics factory Lakepower Converter Inc. in the Cavite Economic Zone, have been on strike since the middle of the previous week. The workers went on strike to protest against unfair labour practices as well as union busting. The company in a brutal show of union repression had terminated 6 union officials while many other labour activists were suspended from work. The workers set up a picket line but a number of them were injured when thugs repeatedly attacked them and their picket line.  Photos of the protest can be seen here and here.

Iranian labour activist dying in prison

Reports are coming out this week that jailed labour activist Reza Shahabi has suffered a stroke that has left him partially paralysed. Nevertheless, prison authorities are denying his family’s requests for Reza to be transferred to a hospital outside of the prison. Reza is one of the heroes of the Iranian labour movement having been a founding member  of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company. He has spent many years in jail for his labour activism. Earlier this year he undertook a long hunger strike in protest against his treatment, and released a solidarity letter to workers all around the world. Protest letters calling for his immediate release can be found here.

Free for all political prisoners in Iran! 

Freedom for workers to organise!

Turkish workers receive solidarity from South Korea

The global giant, Posco, is one of the world’s largest steel-making companies with factories located all around the world. In Turkey, it has fired scores of union members from its steel plant in Kocaeli, Turkey. The current total of dismissed labour activists stands at 80. As with other large ‘Chaebols’ that originated in South Korea, Posco has a ‘no union policy’. Posco has been involved in bitter disputes before such as in 2006 in South Korea, and more recently in north eastern India. South Korean Posco workers have expressed solidarity with their Turkish counterparts and have urged them to keep fighting.

Garment workers continue to organise globally

The garment industry is one of the most brutal internationally with a constant Race to the Bottom dynamic employed by companies as they scour the world for the cheapest labour that they can exploit. Nevertheless, constant pressure is having some positive effects with the global brand H&M promising to start paying a living wage to its workers from 2018. Such a step would be a tremendous win, but will only come through workers’ mobilisations. Another major problem for workers in the global Race to the Bottom is companies closing their factories and leaving their workers owing months of wages, as well as severance and termination payments.

Protests increasing against military junta in Thailand

This week there was a demonstration at the Democracy Monument in central Bangkok by scores of activists against the undemocratic nature of the current military crafted constitution. Activists had to be very careful to not breach any of the junta’s repressive policies against freedom of expression. A separate protest was held last Friday, in defiance of the junta’s repressive public assembly law, calling on Parliament to move a no-confidence motion against the junta. Meanwhile the crackdown on any dissent and criticism continues. Recently octogenarian writer, Sulak Sivaraksa was charged under the Lese Majeste Act, while Arnon Nampa, a human rights lawyer, has been charged under the Computer Crime Act.

Free all political prisoners in Thailand!

Abolish Article 112! 

End the military dictatorship!

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