aawl mini-news

Faremo garment workers win concessions

Earlier this month, the three month long dispute at the Faremo garment factory in the Cavite Free Trade Zone ended with an agreement between the company and the workers. The dispute centred on the company’s resolve to destroy the workers’ union and slash conditions. The workforce of around 1,000, mainly women workers, stayed united even after being dismissed. Their determination allowed them to win further gains. The workers were able to get an additional substantial financial assistance package, the gifting of a number of sewing machines as well as the option of rehiring in the future. The solidarity of other workers in the Philippines and internationally was also of crucial importance in this dispute.

Mass deportations of workers in Saudi Arabia

Reports indicate that in the last few months, Saudi Arabia has expelled around 40,000 migrant workers from Pakistan. Using concerns around security issues, the Saudi Arabian government is expelling large numbers of migrant workers to curtail efforts at workplace organising. Many of these workers are still owed unpaid wages and face difficult times back in their home countries. These deportations are occurring in a climate of economic and social difficulties where migrant workers are being used as scapegoats for these problems. In actual fact, migrant workers in the Gulf countries in West Asia have consistently been used as cheap and disposable labour by national governments.

Invasion Day is no day to celebrate

Australia’s national holiday, 26 January, is Invasion Day. It commemorates the start of the British invasion of Aboriginal Australia in 1788 and the dispossession and genocide of Australia’s Indigenous peoples. Indigenous people have resisted this from the beginning and their resistance continues today. Sovereignty has never been ceded, the land has never been sold. We support Aboriginal and Torres Islander rights to self-determination.  This year, tens of thousands of people across the country took to the streets in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and against the ongoing violence, repression and genocide of First Nations people.
 
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Workers injured in factory fire in the Philippines

A massive fire in the Cavite Export Processing Zone on February 1 has injured more than 100 workers with at least two in a critical condition. Luckily, so far no fatalities have been reported.  There is some dispute between Government official reports, and unionists, family members and co-workers about the number of people still unaccounted for. The fire took place in Singaporean company, House Technology Industries (HTI), which manufactures housing parts such as shower rooms, windows, and counters made of wood or plastic.  HTI has a shady health and safety record with a previous fire in 2012 blazing for 10 hours before it was able to be put out. Activists are now calling for a transparent investigation, which would include the participation of labour organisations and a proper interrogation of HTI’s OHS compliance certification.

Missing Trade Union Leader found

Sujeewa Mangala who has been at the forefront of industrial action for over a month against Sri Lanka's main telecommunications provider has been found three days after his abduction.  He went missing on January 29 following court orders banning protests led by his union.  Sujewaa Mangala is the Vice President of the All Ceylon Telecommunication Employees' Union and was found dumped blindfolded at the roadside on 1 February. Telecommunication manpower workers have been on strike since 26 December 2016, for job security. Of nearly 8000 workers, at least 2100 employees come under the manpower employee category. Some of them have been in temporary employment for seven years. Sujeewa Mangala was threatened by the perpetrators to abandon the six week long strike action.

War Criminal Netanyahu visits Australia

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting Australia in February 2017.  Netanyahu has been responsible for Israel's illegal blockade of Gaza, as well as Israel's ongoing occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights. In 2014, Netanyahu ordered Israel's 50 day murderous assault on Gaza, which resulted in the death of more than 2,250 Palestinians, including almost 1,500 civilians, one third of whom were children, along with 299 women. Netanyahu has also just announced the first new settlements in the West Bank in 25 years. Demonstrations are being planned including a solidarity event in Melbourne, where Netanyahu has cancelled a stopover.

Media union in Australia says Bring Them Here!

The Australian union representing workers in media and the arts is calling on the government to resettle Behrouz Boochani, Mehdi Savari, and ‘Eaten Fish’, respectively a journalist, an actor and a cartoonist who have been detained in a refugee detention camp on Manus Island. These comrades are among 900 other refugees, migrants and asylum-seekers detained on Manus Island as victims of the Australian Government’s cruel policy of deterrence and indefinite offshore detention for those who seek refuge in Australia by sea (see here, here and here). To join the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance campaign, see here.

Parmalat workers locked out, fight is on!

Workers in Australia remain under sustained attack by the capitalists, with existing EBAs being threatened with termination.  The latest example of this is Parmalat, owned by Lactalis, the largest dairy manufacturing company in the world. In July 2016, they presented the ETU and AMWU with an enterprise agreement log of claims that represented a major attack on the wage rates and employment conditions at the Echuca site.  When the union said no, Parmalat lodged an application with the Fair Work Commission to terminate the existing EBA.   The workers have been locked out since 18 January, and the Fair Work Commission is due to consider the application on terminating the EBA on 16 and 17 February.

Garment workers sacked for organising in Myanmar

Over 20 garment workers lost their jobs this week when the Chinese-owned Unitedtex Overseas Co factory dismissed them for trying to unionise. A report released by Progressive Voice in December 2016 revealed that workers in the garment industry continue to be frequently exposed to unfair working conditions including being forced to work overtime, reduced break times and threat of unlawful dismissal and continuous verbal abuse. As labour organisations and trade unions struggle to fight for workers’ rights, the incentive for factory management to take advantage of workers is evident. Organising is not a crime!

Union leader loses appeal in South Korea

On Wednesday this week, the Seoul High Court upheld the jailing of Han Sang gyun, the president of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) for the ‘crime’ of organising demonstrations. The court sentenced Han to 3 years' imprisonment with a fine, which is a reduced penalty from the one he received a few months back. Nevertheless, this once again shows the political nature of the legal attacks against the powerful South Korean workers’ movement. In light of the massive anti President Park mobilisations and her subsequent impeachment, this ruling shows that the Korean working class is still a force to be reckoned with but is facing hard battles ahead.

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