Al Nakba Day remembered amid increasing tensions

Last Monday 15 May, Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Lands commemorated the 69th anniversary of Al Nakba – the ‘catastrophe’. This day marks the founding of Israel through the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their lands. As with many other years, Palestinians marking this event were fired upon by Israeli soldiers, with 11 people wounded. This year, there is mounting tension due to the ongoing hunger strike by 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. International solidarity events in support of the hunger strikers continue around the world.

All victims pulled out of coal mine

It took almost a week for rescue workers to pull out all the bodies of the miners that were killed by an explosion at the coal mine in Golestan Province in early May. The final death toll now stands at 43, with many others injured. The President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, went to visit the site but was met by an angry workers who survived the blast as well as miners’ families, see video. The miners accused the government of having abandoned the miners and not listening to them previously. As a recent human rights report details, the situation for workers in Iran is very oppressive. Currently there is an international campaign to free Esmail Abdi, an imprisoned teacher.

More ship breaking workers killed

In the first ten days of May, two workers were killed in separate incidents in the huge shipbreaking beaches of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Ishaq was killed when a steel wire smashed into his face while the second worker, Shahinoor, was killed after falling off the ship he was working on. As previously reported (see here and here), these are not isolated deaths. The shipbreaking yards of South Asia have appalling safety standards, wages are extremely low, while organising efforts by workers are severely repressed by both employers and governments.

Victory for Fletcher Insulation workers in Melbourne

Around 90 manufacturing workers at Fletcher Insulation, in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, have been on strike since the 17 February.  After 96 days, the workers won their fight and returned to work. The issues were around a proposed new enterprise agreement where the company wanted to increase hours of work, reduce staffing levels, increase the number of casual workers and have no pay rise for four years. The workers established an ongoing picket line in front of the factory, and the company attempted to bring in scab labour. Workers received strong local and international support.

Indian garment workers win back wages

Around 300 women workers employed at SLAM Clothing organised a successful strike.  The factory is located in Mahindra City, Chennai which operates as a Special Economic Zone. The workers walked off the job to demand wage arrears from 2014, annual increments and their social security benefits. This victory is doubly important as the workers had to fight to have their collective rights recognised and to have their union fight for them. The garment industry worldwide is characterised by insecure work, oppressive working conditions, and frequent relocation of factories as companies chase the lowest wages and highest profits.

Global Day of action for Baba Jan

Tuesday 23 May was the Global Day of Action calling for the release of Baba Jan, a well-known human rights and community activist in Pakistan. Baba Jan was arrested in 2012 for the ‘crime’ of leading a demonstration against killings by the police. Baba Jan was charged under terrorism laws and tried in special anti-terrorism courts. He, and 15 other activists were handed life sentences. A new appeal is going to be heard by the Supreme Court of Pakistan against his sentencing. 

New film highlights workers struggle

The ongoing heroic struggle by Maruti Suzuki workers in the Manesar region of northern India is the subject of a new documentary – ‘The Factory’. The documentary focuses on the 3 year criminal prosecution of hundreds of workers, exposing the structural injustice of the law in India that protects the profits of the Global Auto Industry. The film will be screened in Melbourne as an AAWL fundraiser.

6:30 PM, Tuesday, June 13
318 St Georges Road,
Fitzroy North

Latest cover up at detention centre exposed

In mid April, at Australia’s refugee detention centre on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea defence personnel attacked the centre and shot at the refugees, wounding one. Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton not only downplayed the incident but intimated that the refugees had assaulted a local child. Dutton’s version was not only contradicted by the PNG authorities and by evidence collected by human rights organisations, but it has become clear that the attack seriously put the lives of many refugees at risk. The response by the Australian government to this incident once again highlights the brutal anti-refugee policies that have been carried out by successive Australian governments.

Opposition to Article 112 grows in Thailand

The military junta in Thailand is finding that opposition to its rule is continuing to spread as its autocratic measures increase. This week, news surfaced that seven more people have been charged with Lese Majeste for a wide variety of alleged crimes. Not content with applying the Computer Crimes Act or issuing edicts against specific people’s use of social media, the generals are now pressuring Facebook to block over 100 Facebook pages from being accessed within Thailand.

Free all political prisoners in Thailand!  Abolish Article 112!  End the military dictatorship!

Coca-Cola company engaged in union busting

The leader of the local trade union for the Coca Cola bottling company Amatil in Bawan, central Java, was recently dismissed in a blatant anti-union move. This followed the workers’ successful campaign, which began in late 2016, to unionise and register their own union. This case was very similar to what the Coca-Cola workers in the Jakarta-Cibitung area, have faced in the last two years. They also managed to organise and register their own plant union, but the company immediately harassed the organisers and was able to sack the main union leader. Coca-Cola has a long history of union repression in the region, as past disputes in Turkey, Pakistan and Hong Kong show.

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