aawl mini-news

Victory for Fletcher Insulation workers in Melbourne

Around 90 manufacturing workers at Fletcher Insulation, in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, have been on strike since the 17 February.  After 96 days, the workers won their fight and returned to work. The issues were around a proposed new enterprise agreement where the company wanted to increase hours of work, reduce staffing levels, increase the number of casual workers and have no pay rise for four years. The workers established an ongoing picket line in front of the factory, and the company attempted to bring in scab labour. Workers received strong local and international support.

Indian garment workers win back wages

Around 300 women workers employed at SLAM Clothing organised a successful strike.  The factory is located in Mahindra City, Chennai which operates as a Special Economic Zone. The workers walked off the job to demand wage arrears from 2014, annual increments and their social security benefits. This victory is doubly important as the workers had to fight to have their collective rights recognised and to have their union fight for them. The garment industry worldwide is characterised by insecure work, oppressive working conditions, and frequent relocation of factories as companies chase the lowest wages and highest profits.

Global Day of action for Baba Jan

Tuesday 23 May was the Global Day of Action calling for the release of Baba Jan, a well-known human rights and community activist in Pakistan. Baba Jan was arrested in 2012 for the ‘crime’ of leading a demonstration against killings by the police. Baba Jan was charged under terrorism laws and tried in special anti-terrorism courts. He, and 15 other activists were handed life sentences. A new appeal is going to be heard by the Supreme Court of Pakistan against his sentencing. 

Latest cover up at detention centre exposed

In mid April, at Australia’s refugee detention centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea defence personnel attacked the centre and shot at the refugees, wounding one. Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton not only downplayed the incident but intimated that the refugees had assaulted a local child. Dutton’s version was not only contradicted by the PNG authorities and by evidence collected by human rights organisations, but it has become clear that the attack seriously put the lives of many refugees at risk. The response by the Australian government to this incident once again highlights the brutal anti-refugee policies that have been carried out by successive Australian governments.

Freeport mine workers in massive strike

More than ten thousand mine workers at the huge Freeport-McMoRan copper and gold mine in West Papua, have gone on strike. The dispute centres on job security amid ongoing concerns about job losses. In response to the strike, the company has sacked 178 workers with the announcement that another 120 will also soon be fired. This dispute is shaping up to be as bitter as the walkout in late 2011 that costs the lives of a number of workers and lasted months.

Palestinian prisoners hunger strike still strong

The hunger strike by at least 1,500 Palestinian prisoners is now entering its 5th week. Amid complete isolation and continued harassment by Israeli authorities, the prisoners are holding firm in their fight for their rights. Solidarity actions in support of the hunger strike have continued throughout the world and in the Palestinian lands of the West Bank and Gaza. A Palestinian youth was shot dead by Israeli soldiers during a recent solidarity demonstration. There is mounting concern about the health of many of the prisoners, though there are now some signs that the Israeli government may be open to negotiations.

Opposition to Article 112 grows in Thailand

The military junta in Thailand is finding that opposition to its rule is continuing to spread as its autocratic measures increase. This week, news surfaced that seven more people have been charged with Lese Majeste for a wide variety of alleged crimes. Not content with applying the Computer Crimes Act or issuing edicts against specific people’s use of social media, the generals are now pressuring Facebook to block over 100 Facebook pages from being accessed within Thailand.

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

Workers still suffering three years after Soma disaster

The third anniversary of the Soma mine disaster that killed 301 workers, was particularly sombre this year as it coincided with Mothers’ Day. The authorities banned a planned rally and commemoration by support organisations and deemed that only a commemoration at the cemetery was appropriate. While some compensation has been paid to miners’ families, the owners of the mine are still to face justice. The situation for workers remains dire in Turkey, with many dismissed workers resorting to extreme measures like undertaking a hunger strike to win back their rights.

Coca-Cola company engaged in union busting

The leader of the local trade union for the Coca Cola bottling company Amatil in Bawan, central Java, was recently dismissed in a blatant anti-union move. This followed the workers’ successful campaign, which began in late 2016, to unionise and register their own union. This case was very similar to what the Coca-Cola workers in the Jakarta-Cibitung area, have faced in the last two years. They also managed to organise and register their own plant union, but the company immediately harassed the organisers and was able to sack the main union leader. Coca-Cola has a long history of union repression in the region, as past disputes in Turkey, Pakistan and Hong Kong show.

Kidnapped Iraqi anti-corruption activists released

Unknown gunmen kidnapped seven anti-corruption activists, last week, in the middle of the night in central Baghdad. While kidnappings have now become common in Iraq, these were particularly targeted. All the men were involved in organising the anti-corruption demonstrations that have regularly taken place in Baghdad since mid-2015. Participants at these demonstrations have numbered in the hundreds of thousands but they have also faced repression in the streets, with many injured and killed. Social activists believe that these kidnappings are meant to act as a deterrent and to send a message to opposition activists. Their quick release and the Government’s involvement, is now shrouded in mystery.

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