Solidarity needed for Iranian workers

This week saw the release of 5 of the 28 workers who were arrested at the Khatoon Abad Copper Mines for protesting in late January. The workers needed to post a high bail amount even though no charges have been laid against them. An international solidarity campaign is underway and can be accessed here. In a separate but related development, news has come out of Iranian paramilitary militia staging exercises to practice crushing workers’ protests. This is a worrying development that demonstrates the Iranian government’s fear of a powerful working class movement. 

Samsung workers at risk of going blind

In South Korea, Samsung’s electronics division has been a disaster area for workers with many injuries and deaths being recorded. Not surprisingly, Samsung is also viciously anti-union. In the latest disaster to hit workers, four employees of a Samsung sub-contracting firm are in danger of losing their sight due to exposure to toxic chemicals. This is another example of the consequences of the Race to the Bottom that global companies push in a quest for ever increasing profits.

Pakistan airline workers continue to face repression

Workers at Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) are continuing with their strike notwithstanding the murder of two of their colleagues at a recent demonstration. Support from other workers and unions for the PIA workers has been continuing as their strike is seen as crucial in rebuilding the workers movement in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the repression against the PIA workers continues with the recent disappearance of four trade union leaders at the hands of a special paramilitary force. They were released a week later.

Unions step up the fight for refugee rights

As reported last week, the fight for refugee rights in Australia has hit another critical point. The issue of the return to the concentration camp of Nauru of over 200 refugees, who are in Australia for medical care, has become a major political battleground. Some days ago, doctors in the north east city of Brisbane refused to discharge a baby from hospital. This action has the backing of the trade union movement in Australia and has seen a picket line being set up at the hospital to prevent Australian Immigration authorities from taking the infant. This active involvement of workers and unions can become a turning point as direct action by workers would have the power to impede the Australian government’s machinery of repression.

Jailed Pricol workers receive growing support

In December of last year, eight automotive workers in Tamil Nadu, India, received double life sentences stemming from strikes and protests in 2009. Their sentencing has generated lots of protests both within India and internationally. Within India, all eleven major trade union centres have come out in support of the jailed workers. This harsh sentence is clearly an attempt to intimidate a combative and organised group of workers.

Cambodian hospitality workers fight union busting

News about workers in Cambodia usually relates to the garment industry because it employs hundreds of thousands of people at low to extremely low wages. Another major and expanding industry is the tourism sector. Workers employed in hospitality are often young women, and face the issues of low wages, insecure work and sexual harassment. The most recent flare up has been the dismissal of 11 union members by a subsidiary of the global beer giant Carlsberg. There is an international solidarity campaign calling for the reinstatement of these workers.

The exception of the rescued Chinese miners

At the end of January, four Chinese gypsum miners were rescued from a mine collapse after 36 days buried underground. The rescue effort that saved them was massive and highly publicised, but it could not do anything for a number of other miners. As previously reported, Chinese mines are among the most dangerous in the world. It is hoped that greater focus on disasters such as this one in the city of Linyi, Shandong Province, will lead to greater health and safety measures for miners.

Korean workers facing jail and fines

At the end of last year, workers and other activists staged a series of demonstrations to protest against the government’s increasingly authoritarian measures and legislation to weaken the workers’ movement. While these actions mobilised hundreds of thousands of workers, the reaction from the government has been very heavy. Many unionists have been arrested, including the leader of the KCTU, Han Sang Kyun, while the government now plans to fine demonstrators as well.
Free Hang Sang Kyun.
Organising is not a crime.

Iranian workers continue to fight

Last year saw a succession of protests by labour groups, spearheaded by teachers (see here and here) who successfully mobilised across the country. Unfortunately, many labour organisers received long jail sentences and some, like Shahrokh Zamani, died in prison due to the harsh jail conditions. This year, hundreds of workers at the Khatoon Abad Copper Mines went on strike over low pay and insecure employment. In response, the government arrested 28 workers from the smelter division. A solidarity campaign is being initiated.

Workers facing greater repression by Thailand military

As reported previously, there has been no let up by the military junta in Thailand against labour and human rights activists. A prominent human rights activist, Sirawit Serithiwat, was lucky to survive an abduction by government security forces. In a separate case, an ethnic minority activist, Maitree Charoensuepkun, from the Lahu community was recently charged for insulting the military. Workers and labour activists are also increasingly feeling the pressure, with labour activists being tried for defamation or being followed and harassed by the military.
Free Somyot.  Free all political prisoners in Thailand.
Abolish Article 112.
End military dictatorship
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