aawl mini-news

South Korean workers hope after elections

The election of Moon Jae-in as the new President of South Korea has brought new hope to Korean workers after the hard battles they fought in the last few years. In one of his pronouncements, Pres. Moon stated that he will make secure jobs one of his goals by ‘ushering in an era of zero irregular work’ in the public sector. Before his election, President Moon had made promises to resolve the ongoing OHS issues at Samsung Electronics. Both the Korean Trade Union Confederation and the Korean Public Transport Union have issued proposals they want the new President to implement. In other news, imprisoned leader Han Sang-gyun received another trade union rights award, this time from FNV, the Dutch trade union confederation.

Australian Government tries new land grab

The Australian government is trying to use the controversial Adani Coal mine application to pass through new legislation that would weaken Aboriginal people’s control over their land. Ever since the Australian continent was colonised by the British Empire, First Nations people have always fought to recover their ancestral lands. The proposed legislation would encourage divisions among Aboriginal communities by pitting claimants against each other. Aboriginal communities are looking for solidarity against this new attempt at land theft.

Scores of Iranian workers killed in coal mine

At least 35 coal miners were killed this week when an explosion ripped through their mine. More miners are still believed to be trapped deeper inside the mine. There is confusion at how many miners might still be trapped or if there is any chance of them still being alive. This fatal explosion at this mine in Golestan Province was thought to have happened due to inadequate ventilation allowing a dangerous build up of methane gas. Unfortunately, this type of disaster has occurred before. With independent workers’ organising severely repressed by the Government, thousands of Iranian workers daily face dangerous workplaces. 

Crane collapse kills 6 workers in Korea

This week, on Monday 1 May, 6 workers were killed and more than 20 others injured when a crane that they were working on collapsed (see video). This industrial murder happened at the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard on Geoje Island. Samsung is the world's third-largest shipbuilder and is a vicious anti-union company. All the dead workers were not direct employees of Samsung, but rather hired as subcontractors from different companies. The repression of independent unions and the increasing insecurity of employment, leads to unsafe workplaces for workers.

Global support for Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike

The hunger strike that more than 1,500 Palestinian prisoners began last month continues amid protests in Palestine (see here and here) and solidarity actions all around the world. For May Day, the hunger strikers released a statement detailing the class character of the Palestinians protests issuing a call for solidarity for all workers around the world to take a class conscious stance in support of the hunger strikers. The Democracy and Workers’ Rights Centre in Palestine also issued a call to workers globally to support the demands of the hunger strikers. This hunger strike is likely to continue until Al-Nakba Day, that Israel has already banned within its borders. Events for Al-Nakba Day will be held throughout the world, including Melbourne, Australia.

Iranian workers continue to face repression

On the 1 May, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, an Iranian labour and children’s rights activist, was finally released from Rajee Shahr prison. Benham spent almost 7 years in jail for the ‘crime’ of attempting to form independent labour organisations. The day before, another long-time imprisoned labour activist, Esmail Abdi, began a hunger strike. In conjunction with the start of his hunger strike, Esmail released a statement calling for justice for his fellow teachers in Iran. While the situation in Iran continues to be terrible for labour activists, protests against conditions and repression continue. The last year has also seen the politicisation of many of these strikes as workers direct their anger against the Government. 

Workers globally celebrate May Day

Workers all around the world marched again for workers’ rights on May Day (see here, here and here). In Sweden, May Day specifically targeted the issue of Islamophobia and how this is impacting negatively on women workers. In the Asia Pacific region, workers had to survive police repression in Turkey, hundreds of thousands of workers took to the streets in Jakarta, while other major demonstrations and actions took place in Pakistan, India, South Korea (see here and here), Cambodia, Malaysia, The Philippines (see here and here), and Australia.

What we do – AAWL’s 2016 activities

During 2016 workers in all industries once again continued to face pressure from the ongoing crisis of capitalism. Companies everywhere tried to increase profits by making workers work harder for less, and by spending less on health and safety. This relentless ‘Race to the Bottom’ was coupled with repression against labour organisers, with many of our comrades in jail. Nevertheless, workers continued to organise and fight back. AAWL is part of this fight back. Read AAWL Activities report for 2016. You can also become a member, affiliate your union, and/or donate to our work.

 

Repression intensifies post Turkish referendum

The recent referendum in Turkey on whether or not to expand the powers of the president, once again exposed the deep class rifts in Turkish society. The results highlighted the opposition’s strongholds in the industrialised and urbanised areas of Turkey, as well as the Kurdish south east. In addition, accusations of irregularities were dismissed by the Erdogan Government. As expected, after securing victory, the Government has restarted its campaign to isolate and weaken any real or perceived opposition. Last week, another 4,000 workers were dismissed, with others are facing jail sentences.

World press day highlights continuing problems

World Press freedom day falls every year on the 3 May and it is a time to remember those who have been killed for doing their job and to call for greater protections. So far this year, 14 journalists have been killed around the world. The International Federation of Journalists published a report detailing how journalists are fighting back against repression, intimidation, censorship and precarious working conditions. In Australia, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has also put out a similar report on the situation in Australia. A major newspaper employer, Fairfax, chose World Press Day to announce wide-scale retrenchments of their workforce, for which the union announced a 7-day strike.

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