No independent unions and weak regulations led to Tianjin deaths

Ten days after the massive industrial explosions that killed more than 100 workers, it is becoming clear that this was not an unfortunate accident but the result of criminal negligence. Scores of untrained and casualised firefighters were sent in to deal with the original fires leading to the deaths of over 50 of them. The warehouse at the centre of the explosion had also recently passed a safety review. In the aftermath of this disaster, more evidence of chemical contamination of the area and surrounds is coming out, with foaming rain and mass fish deaths being reported. Nearby residents whose houses were badly damaged by the explosions are now demanding compensation from the government.

Ansell workers in Sri Lanka not giving up after two years

Close to a 1,000 workers employed by the Australian company Ansell at the Biyagama Export Processing Zone in Sri Lanka went on strike in October 2013 for the right to form their own union. They are still fighting to establish their own union. Union representatives attempted to come to Melbourne, Australia in 2014 where the headquarters of Ansell are located, but were denied a visa. This time, Anton Marcus, the General Secretary of the Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union (FTZGSEU), is in Melbourne and a solidarity protest is planned for Tuesday 25 August. Against a global company like Ansell, that has facilities in 35 countries, co-ordinated action by Ansell workers in other countries would be the most powerful strategy.
Stop Ansell’s union busting Tuesday, August 25 at 12:00pm, 678 Victoria St, Richmond 

Labour and anti fascists to rally in regional city of Bendigo

There has been a concerted effort this year by racist and fascist forces in Australia to grow as a movement using anti-Muslim hysteria as its fuel. Each time these forces have rallied, major counter rallies by groups of anti-fascists have confronted them (see here and here). In the southern state of Victoria, the far right has created a particular militant group, the United Patriots Front, whose stated aim is to defeat the left and its organisations. They have now called for a new rally in the regional town of Bendigo to protest the building of a mosque. A counter rally has been organised for Saturday the 29th of August by a number of groups.  For updates see here and here.

Stop the bigots in Bendigo - no to fascism, no to Islamophobia
Saturday, August 29 at 1:30pm Bendigo Town Hall, 189-193 Hargreaves St, Bendigo

Migrant workers in South Korea finally win full recognition

Recently we reported that the Migrant Trade Union (MTU) in South Korea had won legal recognition following a decade of struggle and a Supreme Court decision. This victory was immediately curtailed by the South Korean ministry of Labour which imposed legal hurdles preventing registration of the MTU. Labour activists then initiated a campaign for full recognition and better rights. This week, the MTU finally won, bringing to end a struggle that began a decade ago.

Australian workers at Hutchison ports still fighting for jobs

As reported last week, a major dispute has developed in Australian ports against the global giant Hutchison. While mediation is ongoing, the workers assemblies set up in solidarity are still in place in Brisbane and Sydney. Solidarity has also been expressed by port workers all around the world, notably be the workers in Hong Kong who themselves had been involved in a bitter dispute with Hutchison a couple of years ago. Against global companies like Hutchinson, workers also need to organise globally and take industrial action at Hutchison sites around the world.

Upcoming Bersih rally in Malaysia to challenge Government

In the last few years, Malaysia has seen unprecedented mass demonstrations against the economic and political corruption of the ruling UMNO coalition governments. Previous rallies, known by the Malay word, Bersih, meaning clean and referring to the campaign for clean and fair elections, have been attacked by security forces with many activists arrested. The next rally, set for the weekend of 29 August, will be co-ordinated not only nationally but internationally as well. The main demands focus on ending corruption and for the right to free expression.

Millions of workers expected to join general strike in India

In response to the Indian government’s recent actions in amending labour laws to make it easier to dismiss workers and restrict workers’ rights to organise, a general strike has been called for Wednesday the 2 September. All the major 11 central trade union federations will take part as well as countless regional and local labour organisations. The strike will also be against an expanding policy of privatisation of public assets. The turnout for the strike is expected to be as big as those in 2012 and in 2013 that set a record for the biggest strikes in world history.

Tepco announces dumping of radioactive Fukushima water into sea

It has been just over four years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in northern Japan highlighted the dangers of nuclear reactors. Workers sent in to clean up the disabled reactor have been continually exposed to hazardous levels of radiation. In addition, in an effort to prevent further explosions, cooling water has had to be used in such high volumes that there have been major leaks of contaminated water into the surrounding area. The costs of this clean-up have become so enormous that there is doubt that the area will ever be rehabilitated. In its desperation, the Japanese government now wants to dump huge quantities of contaminated water into the sea. 

Massive working class demonstrations rock Iraqi government

As reported previously (see here and here) while the ravages of foreign invasion, wars and sectarian politics have led to the death and impoverishment of millions of Iraqis, working class struggles have continued. This week, on the back of a failure of the electricity grid throughout Iraq, millions of people took to the streets of Iraq to denounce corruption and sectarianism. Similar protests in the central provinces of Iraq in 2012 and 2013 were repressed by the military which then facilitated the growth of the Islamic State insurgency in those regions. These latest protests have produced some changes at the top of the Iraqi government, but the real problems are much deeper and systemic.

New abuses uncovered in Australia’s offshore concentration camps

The repression that successive Australian government have unleashed on asylum seekers has been well document previously (see here and here). Unfortunately, the litany of human rights abuses keep coming, especially from the two offshore detention camps at Manus Island in PNG, and in Nauru. This week a news report uncovered fresh allegations of spying, bullying and child abuse. In a separate parliamentary enquiry, new allegations of torture against asylum seekers were also tabled.

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