aawl mini-news

Pro refugee protests continue in Australia

Following Australia and Papua New Guinea’s decision to close the Manus concentration camp leaving around 600 refugees in limbo, protests have erupted in both countries. The refugees themselves have been holding an indefinite sit in protest. The PNG government has threatened to use force against them. In Australia ongoing protests calling for the refugees to come to Australia have been occurring in many cities (see here, here and here). Bodies such as the Australian Medical Association, the United Nations, and other international organisations have called for an end to the inhumane and cruel refugee policies of the Australian government.

Textile workers use bold tactics in protest

In recent weeks, shoppers in Istanbul found notes in their newly bought Zara brand clothes that complained that workers who produced these clothes had not been paid. The issue dates back to earlier this year when the Bravo Tekstil factory in Istanbul suddenly closed down leaving around 140 workers being owed many months of wages. While the company has claimed it is working on setting up a hardship fund, any back pay has yet to materialise. Incidents like this only serve to highlight the brutal race to the bottom that companies like Zara engage in, in order to reap the highest possible profits.

Cambodian workers to face greater obstacles

This week, the main opposition party in Cambodia, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, was dissolved by that country’s High Court. This move has effectively ensured that the current Government, headed by Hun Sen, will win next year’s elections. This ruling comes on the back of previous arrests and repression of opposition activists as well as the closure of independent media outlets such as radio. Given the oppressive situation that Cambodian workers already face (see here, here and here), the latest crackdown will only worsen the ability for workers to organise to improve their working conditions.

Boiler explosion in India kills workers

At least 30 maintenance workers were killed on Wednesday 1 November when a boiler at the Unchar thermal power plant, in Uttar Pradesh, India suddenly exploded. Eye witness reports indicate that the escaping gas and steam were so hot they would have melted many of the workers. Another 100 workers were injured, many with severe burns. The Indian Government has ordered an enquiry into the explosion and has already promised payments of 2,000,000 Rupees for the next of kin of those killed in the explosion. Industrial incidents like these once again reinforce the need for strong, independent unions to ensure that workplaces are safe.

Global Day of Action against trade union repression

All around the world workers are prevented from organising by capitalists and governments. We face fines, dismissals, beatings, rapes and even murder. By keeping us unorganised, they can pay us less, make us work harder, and make greater profits. By keeping us weak, they can increase casualisation and contracting out. Many labour activists end up in jail because of their organising activities. That is why we fight against trade union repression. Mark and organise your event for Thursday November 16. The Melbourne event will be at 5.30pm at the 8 Hour Monument, cnr Lygon and Victoria streets, Carlton.

Stop the killings of workers and unionists. Free our comrades in jail. Organising is not a crime. Stop sexual violence against women workers. Defend our unions. Un-organised workers are used as cheap labour, a living wage for all.

Iranian labour activist close to death

Long-time labour activist Mahmoud Salehi, has been transferred from his jail cell to a regional hospital with failing heart and kidney functions. Mahmoud is in grave danger of dying if not transferred to a better hospital.  In the meantime, Reza Shahabi, another labour activists serving time in jail, has released a letter protesting his ongoing repression by the authorities. In another case, poet and civil rights activist Reza Ekvanyan has been sentenced to three years jail and 40 lashes for one of his poems. There is an ongoing solidarity campaign around the world to protest against the Iranian government and its repressive policies against labour and human rights activists.

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.

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