aawl mini-news

Kurdish referendum marks a historic occasion

The autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq will hold a referendum on September 25 giving the choice to its residents as to whether they want to become an independent state. Given the current wars in Syria, Iraq, and the autocratic governments of both Turkey and Iran, the possible outcomes and ramifications of this vote are many and unpredictable. Many of the governments around the region have tried to stop the referendum going ahead or have threatened military action. While the leadership of the Kurdish autonomous region is widely seen to be corrupt and anti-worker, the desire for an independent Kurdish country has deep historical roots and opens all kinds of possibilities for working class communities.

Indonesian far right attacks again

Last week, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) planned to hold a discussion meeting at their offices between survivors of the military perpetrated 1965-1967 massacres and human right activists. Unfortunately, their building on the night was surrounded by hundreds of far right activists who threw stones and bottles at people and the building. The meeting was eventually cancelled and participants were only able to safely leave much later in the early hours of the morning. Given the far right prominence during last year’s Jakarta elections for Governor, the growing strength of far right organisations is a sign of real danger to all working class activists in Indonesia.

Union leader wins reinstatement at major hotel

In a great result for unionists in the service industry in the Philippines, Jenny Marcos has won back her job with full back pay. She was dismissed at the end of 2016 for her union activities. Jenny is a leader of the Peninsula Employees Union (PEU) at the Manila Peninsula Hotel. The union had been running a campaign to get better working conditions as well as winning secure contracts for up to 400 contract workers. Jenny’s reinstatement was achieved via the unrelenting efforts of the PEU, other local labour activists and unions, as well as the IUF internationally.

Australia’s refugee policies getting worse

Amid the unprecedented disaster engulfing the Rohingya population in Western Myanmar, with some of the world’s largest outflow of refugees, the Australian Government is trying to bribe Rohingya refugees residing in Australia to go back to Myanmar. Earlier this year, the Global Legal Action Network made a submission to the International Criminal Court that Australian systems of detention centres constitute a crime against humanity. The refugee movement around Australia is keeping the pressure up on the Australian government to close all the overseas concentrations camps by holding demonstrations in early October.

Millions of workers still treated as slaves

A new report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has quantified the number of workers that toil in some of the most oppressive conditions around the world. The report has found that there are 40 million workers trapped in slavery like conditions, an additional 25 million work in forced labour conditions, while an estimated 150 million children are subjected to child labour. Reports like this once again expose the brutality of a capitalist system that creates huge profits for a minority while exploiting millions of people around the world. Independent labour organisations, co-ordinating industrial actions internationally are the best way for workers to advance their rights.

More coal workers killed in Pakistan

Last week, four workers were killed deep inside the Sanjdi coal mine near the city of Quetta, Balochistan province in Pakistan, due to a build-up of poisonous gases. Labour activists have long complained of the poor working conditions that they have to endure, the lack of proper protective gear, and of no compensation payments for injuries. This week, in a similar workplace incident, three more coal miners were killed at a mine in Harnai district, also in Balochistan. In many countries around the world, the coal industry has an appalling safety record with mine owners routinely disregarding workers’ lives.

Iranian workers murdered along border

Two cross border porters were recently killed in Iranian Kurdistan by security forces as they were taking goods across the border near the city of Baneh. There are tens of thousands of cross border porters in Iran who toil away in hazardous conditions, often with no employment contract or conditions, and daily face the dangers of being shot by security forces or criminal gangs. Activists who protested against these latest killings have now been subjected to repression themselves from security forces. In another important labour update, the imprisoned labour activist Reza Shahabi is now approaching six weeks on hunger strike. His health is fast deteriorating.

Thousands more health workers go on strike in India

Following on from the successful strike by Anganawadi workers in the New Delhi region, up to 200,000 rural health workers in the state of Maharashtra went on an indefinite strike from Monday September 11. Their main demands centre on higher wages and addressing the grievances about the poor quality of food for their clients. The workers also want a reduction in the length of their work day. While the state government has promised to look into their grievances, the Maharashtra State Anganwadi Workers Committee has no faith in the current promises from the government.

Vietnamese garment workers go on strike

Earlier this month close to 6,000 garment workers at the S&H Vina Co. Ltd factory in Thanh Hoa province went on a wildcat strike to demand higher wages and better working conditions. The spark for the strike was the confiscation by a supervisor, of the offcuts that workers used for comfort during the lunch break. The workers then demanded a number of improvements including better wages, shorter working hours, better breaks and improved social welfare benefits. The workers returned to work after the intervention from the General Confederation of Labor of Vietnam promising to negotiate with the employers.

Palestinian activists facing repression from all sides

This week, Issa Amro a Palestinian human rights activist, was released on bail by the Palestinian Authorities (PA), but he still faces charges under the draconian Electronics Crime Law. Issa’s crime was to criticise the arrest of another human rights activist by the PA on a Facebook post. Issa is also facing a number of extra charges from the Israeli military. His detention is another reminder that on many fronts, the Palestinian Authority is complicit in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, and actively polices and represses Palestinian activists. In the meantime, the ongoing mass jailing of Palestinian activist by Israel continues unabated.

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