aawl mini-news

Structural racism in Australia continues

While it’s easy to see the racism in the ongoing discriminatory policies and structures that affect Australia’s Indigenous people, and of refugees attempting to reach Australia, racism is also entrenched in major institutions like the Australian Football League (AFL). The story of the treatment that AFL player Héritier Lumumba endured in his decade as a professional footballer has shone a spotlight on how powerful organisations can entrench and protect racist behaviours and attitudes. In this developing story, calls are growing for a thorough review of the AFL and the sacking of powerful individuals within this organisation.

Pakistani garment factories still not safe

This week marked the 5th anniversary of the horrific fire at the Ali Enterprise factory in Baldia, Pakistan, where 260 garment workers were killed. After a long campaign, both within Pakistan and internationally, some reparations were paid to the families of those killed and injured. Unfortunately, the situation for garment workers in Pakistan has not improved with companies routinely violating labour laws and putting profits above workers’ health. The Pakistani garment sector is characterised by insecure work contracts, long work days, non-existent Occupational and Health Safety standards, and the repression of independent union organising.

Race to the Bottom starves workers globally

A new study by the Centre for Environment and Sustainability (CES), University of Surrey in the UK, has shown once again how the clothing supply chain around the world brings mega profits to the companies but poverty wages for workers in a global Race to the Bottom. The researchers examined the supply chains of major European clothing companies and found that on average garment workers barely received half of what is calculated as a living wage. In addition, the researchers also found that it was the agricultural workers, who sit at the bottom of these global supply chains that were the ones who got paid the least. The study found that the presence of strong, independent unions led to higher wages for workers.

Myanmar Rohingyas facing murderous ethnic cleansing

Over the last couple of weeks, the crisis in northern Rakhine State has become a humanitarian disaster with tens of thousands of Rohingya people fleeing the scorched earth policies of the Myanmar military. The Myanmar military has a long history of human rights abuses against ethnic minorities, but the latest offensive in Rakhine State is on an unprecedented scale. While supposedly a democracy, the Myanmar government, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, has not changed its repressive policies against ethnic or religious minorities, or any opposition to its rule.

Kazakhstan coal miners killed in an explosion

At the end of August, the Kazakhstanskaya coal mine in the Karaganda region, just south of the capital Astana, operated by ArcelorMittal Temirtau was rocked by a major explosion. The blast was caused by extremely high levels of methane gas. Three workers were killed while three others were seriously injured. This is not the first time that major incidents have occurred at this mine. Coal mining is a very hazardous industry worldwide as companies put profits above workers’ lives, (see here, here and here). In Kazakhstan, independent unions are also heavily repressed.

Murder of outspoken journalist a political killing

The murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh earlier this week in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, is widely seen as the work of far right death squads. Gauri was a well-known local journalist who was very critical of government corruption and the growing dangers of Hindu nationalism and sectarianism. In her last column, she exposed how ‘fake news’ is being generated and spread by powerful interests to sow hatred towards minorities and other undesirables. Demonstrations to condemn her murder were held all around India, statements of protest were released by many media bodies, as well as by a number of unions, (see here, here, here, here). Gauri was given a State funeral

Syrian war exposes corruption and power plays

With the forces of the popular revolution exhausted after six years of war, the Syrian conflict is heading into a consolidation phase where all the major imperialist and reactionary players are aiming to define their areas of interests. The two main powers in the conflict, the USA and Russia, are increasingly trying to find a plan to ‘stabilise’ the region and give all the main players some areas of influence and control. Meanwhile, in the government controlled areas, reconstruction is now seen both as an economic opportunity to make super profits and a political opportunity to punish opposition areas.

Chinese labour activist released from prison

Earlier this week, labour activist Meng Han was released after almost 2 years in a Chinese jail. Meng had been working for the Panyu Workers’ Service Centre, a now dissolved labour rights group based in Guangzhou, and was convicted for supporting workers in their struggle against management. Authorities saw Meng as a serious threat having imprisoned him before in 2013. In his trial, Meng pleaded guilty after his immediate family came under pressure from authorities, and was handed the harshest sentence of his fellow co-accused.

Indian car workers win secure employment

A four day strike by over 6,000 workers at the Tata Motors' Jamshedpur plant in north east India, ended with the workers winning secure employment for an extra 200 of their colleagues. Given that there are over 4,000 workers employed on insecure contracts, this arrangement is still unsatisfactory. That this strike began due to minor issues over pay discrepancies is an indication of the pressures that car workers are feeling in India. While there have been many struggles by car workers in recent years, the repression has also been savage (see here, here and here)

Organising is a not a crime! Drop all the charges! Free all Maruti Suzuki, Pricol and Graziano workers

Government policies discriminate against Australia’s Indigenous people

It is 10 years since the Federal Government passed special legislation, known as the ‘NT Intervention’, which took control away from Aboriginal communities and allowed military personnel and police to take over their communities. The outcome of this take over has been further dispossession of Aboriginal people and a deterioration of their health and welfare status. A coalition of indigenous and non-indigenous people have come together to call for the immediate repeal of the intervention. In a related matter, a work scheme for unemployed Aboriginal people has also been a total failure, is racially discriminatory, and many people are forced into extreme poverty.

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