aawl mini-news

More workplace abuses by Samsung Electronics

A recent report jointly produced by the Hanoi-based Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development (CGFED) and the Swedish IPEN Centre, has condemned Samsung Electronics’ health and safety performance in their factories in Vietnam. Samsung has been expanding its production facilities in Vietnam due to the lower costs there in comparison to South Korea. The researchers have found that the workplaces, which assemble smartphones, are so toxic that women workers now regard suffering miscarriages as unexceptional. Samsung Electronics has a murderous history in relation to workers and health and safety practices at its workplaces.

Teachers strike amid unprecedented disaster

Around 150,000 teachers in Yemen are believed to have gone on strike to demand payment of unpaid wages. Some teachers have not been paid since October 2016. This strike is the direct result of the brutal Saudi led invasion of the country in the last two years. The conflict shows no sign of abating while the humanitarian disaster is on the brink of becoming the world’s worst famine. In latest developments, the Saudi led coalition is on the verge of a major split with main ally, the UAE, developing its own allies on the ground in South Yemen.

Exploitation of migrant workers rife in West Asia

The stories of two separate migrant workers in the Indian media in recent weeks, have shone a spotlight on the terrible working conditions that hundreds of thousands of workers face in West Asia. The unexplained death of a Telanganan labourer, Chitam Malaya, while working in Dubai, and the overwork and torture that domestic worker Manjusha had to endure while working in Saudi Arabia, are just two examples in a system that is founded on ruthless exploitation of vulnerable workers. In countries like Bangladesh, the migration of workers is supported and facilitated by layers of government officials and labour intermediaries who profit from the desperation of impoverished workers.

Antiwar activities in South Korea continue

The recent visit to South Korea by US President Trump was met with protests in many cities as an increasing number of people are becoming active in actions against the threat of war in the Korean Peninsula. These protests were on the back of the recent nationwide mobilisations against the deployment of a new anti-missile system – THAAD. Workers are heavily involved in these mobilisations, with international unions supporting their South Korean counterparts. Meanwhile the fight to free the imprisoned head of the KCTU, Han Sang-gyun, continues.

Fears remain for imprisoned editor

While the Chinese government has officially stated that editor and bookseller Gui Minhai has been released, doubts remain over his status and his whereabouts are unknown. Gui disappeared over two years ago in Thailand while on holiday, only to turn up in China three months later on trial for a traffic accident. It is believed that his abduction was related to his work in Hong Kong as a seller of political books. Gui’s abduction is not an isolated one. A number of other Hong Kong based journalists and book sellers have been detained by Chinese authorities in the last few years. 

Worker dies from overwork in Australia

This week, a 27 year old worker picking watermelons in the region of Townsville, in the northern state of Queensland, collapsed and died while working from suspected heat stroke. A government enquiry currently underway has found that workers in the agricultural sector of Australia are so seriously exploited and underpaid that their employment situation is comparable to slavery. This sector is notoriously un-unionised and only in the last few years, has there been more effective organising drives.

Mass sackings hit dockworkers in PNG

In early October, the global port operator company, International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), took over the operations of a number of ports in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The workers took industrial actions against this takeover as part of global actions against ICTSI in ports around the world. Subsequently, up to a 1,000 workers were dismissed by ICTSI so that they could be replaced by cheaper non-unionised labour. Australian maritime workers rallied in Sydney during the week in support of their fellow workers in PNG.

Iranian labour activist arrested again

On October 28, security forces once again targeted labour activist Mahmoud Salehi. Mahmoud was leaving the dialysis unit of a hospital in Saqez, in north western Iran, when he was arrested and immediately sentenced to another year in prison. Mahmoud Salehi was the president of the Bakery Workers' Association and he has been active in the labour movement since the early 1980’s. Mahmoud was first arrested in early 2007 and has been suffering ill health since the early days of his prison life. Unfortunately, Mahmoud Salehi is only one of many labour activists being targeted by the Iranian government.

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

Workers celebrate first anniversary of candlelight revolution

South Koreans commemorated the first anniversary of what has come to be known as the ‘candlelight revolution’ on Saturday 4 November. The candlelight revolution was a series of huge demonstrations over a few months that led to the downfall of President Park Geun-hye. For this anniversary thousands of workers demonstrated on the streets of Seoul for further reforms in relation to an end to casualisation, higher wages and less union repression. Workers’ continued activism is still needed, and this is reflected in other parts of civil society in relation to the widespread corruption in the South Korean political system.

Organising is not a crime! 

Free Han Sang Gyun!

Australian Aboriginal workers take action on wages

This week, the newly created First Nations Workers’ Alliance, has come out forcefully to condemn the Community Development Program (CDP), a so called job creation program, as structurally racist and as another tool keeping Aboriginal people in poverty. A separate enquiry also found that the CDP was inherently flawed and routinely financially punished the people that it was supposed to help. Aboriginal people have not only suffered dispossession and mass murder since colonisation, but have been systematically used as virtual slave labour.

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