Death squads rampaging in the Philippines

As President Duterte’s administration approaches its 4th month of office, the death toll of the war on drugs he has unleashed is literally increasing too fast to count. It is believed that by the end of August, 2000 people will have been killed by either police or death squads. Amid increasing international concern at these massacres, the government is enlisting the help of the business community and sports stars for support. These killings are having a devastating impact on impoverished working class communities, have re-invigorated Filipino death squads, will have no impact on the usage of drugs, and runs the risk of turning the country into another Mexico.

Child labour on the increase in Iraq

A recent report on child labour has highlighted the social catastrophe that affects many Iraqis due to the ongoing effects of war. UNICEF reports that there are over half a million underage workers in Iraq, often working in precarious conditions in an environment that is badly regulated. The number of working children has been steadily increasing due to the rise in levels of poverty among working class Iraqis from widespread violence and displacement. The ongoing political crisis and endemic corruption only worsens this situation.

Rio Tinto to leave islanders stranded

The war in Bouganville that began in 1988 and lasted for 10 years, cost the lives of approximately 20,000 people. The dispute focused on the huge Panguna mine owned by Rio Tinto. While the Papua New Guinea government carried out the war against the local landowners, the Australian government was fully committed to helping PNG. While the war finished in 1998, no reparations or rehabilitation were ever carried out. This week, Rio Tinto announced that they will formally walk away, leaving the villagers to cope with the ongoing toxic effects of the mine. Rio Tinto has a history of suppressing opposition to its mines (see here and here).

More underpayment of seasonal workers in Australia

A recent investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman found that a group of 26 fruit workers from Pacific Island nations were subjected to illegal practices. The workers were brought here by Seasonal Labour Solution, a labour hire company, and were not only underpaid but also subjected to extraordinary long hours of work. Just last week, the National Union of Workers was able to win back wages for two international farm workers. These are not isolated cases (see here and here) in the Australian fresh food producing sector. The NUW has now produced a website to help international workers in Australia work out if they are being underpaid.

Turkish textile workers taking action

Over 300 workers employed at the Hyosung plant in Çerkezköy, a small city just west of Istanbul, Turkey, have been on strike since mid-August against the company’s anti-union stance. Five years ago the workers managed to form a union and get it formally recognised by the courts. The company challenged this decision and has tried to intimidate and pressure the workers to leave the union. In the last few years, the unions in Turkey have faced increasing hostility from both the employers and the government.

Migrant workers in South Korea stage rally

Last weekend, migrant workers in South Korea staged rallies in the cities of Seoul, Daegu and Busan to call for greater rights. As with many other countries in the world, migrant workers in South Korea are brought in on temporary visas, are unable to access the full rights that other workers have, and therefore suffer greater exploitation at their workplaces. While they have fought and achieved gains in the past, they are still demanding secure visas, an end to discrimination and the right to freely choose their jobs.

Report details shipbreaking issues in South Asia

The most recent report about the shipbreaking industry in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh details the consequences of the brutal Race to the Bottom that drives this industry. As the country with the lowest wages and costs, Bangladesh received around 40% of the ships sent to South Asia during the months of April to June. Many deaths and injuries were recorded in this period. Unfortunately, while workers are trying to organise, the repression of trade unions mean that injuries and deaths are common in these shipbreaking yards.

Sri Lankan activist touring Australia

Jayathilake Bandara is a Sri Lankan performing artist who has a long history of activism in campaigning against terror, war and injustice. He sings about the need for social justice, peace and the right to live without the fear of repression. Jayathilake has faced victimisation and physical attacks in Sri Lanka for his views. Jayathilake will perform live in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

Wave Hill – 50 years since the walk off

This week, at Kalkarindji, a small outpost in the northern deserts of Australia, a major commemorative festival took place to mark 50 years since the historic and ground-breaking Wave Hill strike by around 200 Aboriginal stockmen. The Gurindji people were protesting against the atrocious work and pay conditions that they had endured for years, especially at the pastoral station owned by Lord Vestey. This strike was supported by unions and other activists throughout Australia. The Gurindji struggle is seen as the birth of the Land Rights movement in Australia. Their struggle is immortalised in a song entitled ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ written by Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly.

Beer dispute continues in Melbourne, Australia

The fight against contracting out, lower wages and insecure work by CUB workers will soon be three months old. The 55 sacked workers continue to receive massive support from other workers and unions in Melbourne, while international solidarity is also increasing (see here and here). This struggle is becoming a watershed issue with a global company taking on a strongly unionised workforce in an effort to increase their profits by creating insecure jobs at lower rates of pay. You can visit the workers at 22 Southampton Cres, Abbotsford and donate to their strike fund. Solidarity messages can be sent to solidarity@aawl.org.au.

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