Unions in Thailand start to campaign for new minimum wage

A number of Thai unions have begun to campaign for a 20% increase in the minimum wage. This campaign is being totally opposed by the Thailand Chamber of Commerce even though the minimum wage was last raised in 2013. Unfortunately, unions are now operating in a very different environment as the country is being ruled by a military junta which over the last year has imprisoned scores of people. The right to protest and take industrial action is now seriously restricted.
No to the military!
Free all political prisoners! 

Syrian conflict leads to mass killing of solidarity activists in Turkey

A suicide bombing this week in the Turkish town of Suruc was a clear political attack on labour and international solidarity activists. The bomber targeted a gathering of activists who were meeting as part of an ongoing effort to reconstruct the northern Syrian town of Kobane. The city of Kobane was the centre of resistance by the left wing forces of the PYD against Islamic State and other reactionary forces. The rebuilding of Kobane has been organised as a class based, international project. The labour movement internationally needs to support our Turkish and Syrian brothers and sisters.

Anganbadi childcare workers struggle for wages and conditions

Anganbadi childcare workers in India are in their second week of a hunger strike to press for their demand for permanent employment, an 8 hour day, a minimum wage and benefits on par with other government workers in India.  Anganbadi is a government sponsored child-care and mother-care program which relies solely on the work of the Anganbadi workers most of which are women.  The urban poor in Delhi rely heavily on these services from pre-natal care to accessing information about immunization.  Apart from looking after malnutritioned children, poor and expecting mothers they make birth and death registrations and recently they also have been assigned election duties for which they receive no additional remuneration.  These workers are paid a mere 5000 Rupees ($100AUS) per month for supposedly being volunteer workers.  Their struggle has been met with violence from police, and the health of 5 of the hunger striking workers is now starting to deteriorate. 

Tens of thousands of Japanese people protest against militarism

While the last two years, under the impetus of the Abe government, have seen a marked increase in the war readiness of Japan, there has been a corresponding increase in protests against this new militarism (see here and here). Late last month, a major rally of over 30,000 people surrounded the Japanese Parliament to protest against a new bill that would increase Japan’s military capabilities. When the bill was passed on the 15th of July, 50,000 people rallied at Parliament house to protest.

Workers in Myanmar win minimum wage but problems persist

In an historic achievement, and after years of fighting, the government of Myanmar has agreed to institute a national minimum wage. Though the wage is very low, set at just over US $3 per day, this will mean a wage rise for many workers in a country that is fast industrialising. Nevertheless, implementation will be a problem in a country plagued by corruption, weak institutions and repression (see here and here). Workers at the Bagan Hotel River View have been fighting for two years to get their union recognised.

New push by global labour union to protect shipbreakers

As reported previously, South Asia is the hub for the shipbreaking industry in the world. Unfortunately, the industry is concentrated in these countries because workers are un-unionised, they get starvation wages and working conditions are often deadly (see here, here and here). Because of continuing pressure by workers all around the world, the global union IndustriALL has now begun a co-ordinated campaign to lift the working standards for shipbreaking workers around the world. As history has shown, the best way to improve wages and conditions is for workers to be able to form independent unions.

Palestinians still suffering a year after the war in Gaza

It is just over a year since Israel unleashed the latest round of warfare on the people of Gaza. The effects of the war were devastating, and because of the continuing siege, much of the damage is still evident. Life in Gaza remains precarious with a new war already being proposed. In the West Bank, Khader Adnan, a leading political activist was re-arrested immediately after being released following a 55 day long hunger strike. He was later re-released. Within the Palestinian movements there are also growing calls for all oppression to be fought against, especially the issue of the oppression of women.

Victory for anti-fascist unionists and activists in Australia

The weekend of the 18/19 of July saw a series of rallies by the far right groups of Reclaim Australia and the United Patriots Front in many cities in Australia. Anti racist and anti fascists rallies were organised to stop these groups from using these rallies as organising opportunities. The biggest counter rally was in Melbourne, where around 1,500 protesters far outnumbered the racist rallies (see here and here for reports). Heavy police tactics led to a high number of injuries among anti-fascists in Melbourne. In other cities, the far right rallies were outnumbered by anti-racists and anti-fascists – click here and here.

Turkish women workers fight for better health & safety

Around 140 women working for Sera Pool in Istanbul that produces panels for swimming pools and showers, have been on a picket for over three weeks after the sacking of a fellow worker. The original dispute was around low pay, speed of work, heavy lifting and hazardous dust levels in high heat conditions. After the sacking, the rest of the workers occupied the workplace and demanded her reinstatement. Management then sacked the whole workforce. Click here for video of solidarity visit. The women are united in demanding their jobs back and for better working conditions. Messages of solidarity can be sent to disk@disk.org.tr.

International campaign to free imprisoned Iranian teacher continues

As we recently reported, teachers in Iran have been facing increasing repression. Their leader Esmail Abdi was recently arrested by authorities as he was about to leave the country for a conference. Latest reports indicate that he is in good health and there may be hope that he will be released on bail. Given that many other unionists are still in jail in Iran, both local and international pressure on the Iranian government to release Esmail must be continued. For updated information on the international campaigned sponsored by Education International, click here.

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