Mine disaster in Myanmar kills over a hundred

A landslide at a jade mine in northern Kachin state this week, buried over 100 miners with more workers still missing. This landslide was only the most recent one in an area where corruption, repression and deregulation all create the conditions for these deadly accidents. Miners are forced to work in precarious conditions, often in semi-legal situations, to eke out a living while the profits of the owners of these mines are measured in billions of dollars annually. Only the establishment of independent unions will improve the health and safety of workers and their families in the region. 

Another deadly coal mine disaster in China

Another deadly fire at a coal mine in north-eastern Heilongjiang province in China claimed the lives of at least 21 workers last week. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event. The Chinese coal industry has an appalling safety record, even though improvements are being made. Nevertheless, for millions of workers in China workplaces remain a dangerous place with thousands of deaths and injuries every year. The race to cut costs and increase profits is the reason behind this high death toll.

Indonesian workers stage massive general strike

Hundreds of thousands of workers took action across 22 provinces and 200 cities of Indonesia this week. Workers are demanding a living wage across the nation and are protesting against restriction to their rights to bargains as well as the current repression by police against trade unionists. Participation by workers in these actions has been very high (see pictures here, here, here and here, and video). In the last few years, the Indonesian labour movement has mobilised in their millions to demand better wages and conditions.

Repression against Korean unions continues

As reported recently, South Korean workers staged a massive demonstration in the centre of the capital Seoul calling on the government to resign over continued anti-worker policies. While the demonstration was attacked by the police, these attacks have continued in the days following. Police have conducted raids on the offices of the KCTU as well as other unions. They have also issued an arrest warrant for the leader of the KCTU, Han Sang-Kyun, who is now hiding in a Buddhist temple. A number of international unions have expressed their support for the KCTU and for Han Sang-Kyun. The KCTU has called another rally for the December 5, but the police have stated they will declare this rally illegal.

Cambodian garment workers action builds momentum

As reported last week, Cambodian garment workers are renewing their push for a living wage across the sector. A number of international actions have already occurred (see here and here). December 10 is the day that all Cambodian garment workers will take co-ordinated industrial action. Many other organisations around the world will also take action on that day in support of the Cambodian workers’ demand for US $177 a month.
Melbourne, Australia event
5.30 pm, Thursday 10th of December
H&M, Melbourne GPO
350 Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Palestine workers increasingly being targeted

As reported previously, the continued occupation and repression of Palestinians are having a terrible effects on working class people both physically and psychologically. Workers are starting to be targeted more specifically with industrial workplaces and media outlets being closed for security reasons. Amid this suppression and the stagnation of any diplomatic solution to the occupation, Palestinian activists are calling for greater direct solidarity actions by supporters around the world.

Factory fires survivors still waiting for justice

It has been three years since a fire at a garment factory in Nischintapur, Ashulia in Bangladesh killed over 110 workers and left hundreds more injured. The relatives of the dead and the survivors are still suffering while company and government compensation has been inadequate. The fight for justice continues. This week, survivors of a similar fire just over three years ago in Karachi, Pakistan which left over 250 workers dead, are travelling to Berlin in their quest to get proper compensation from KiK, the company that was sourcing the garments that the workers were producing.

Never again. Cronulla riot – Sydney, Australia

Ten years ago, on the 11th of December, in a media inspired frenzy, thousands of people converged in Sydney’s seaside suburb of Cronulla to unleash an anti-Lebanese and anti-Arab riot. This year Australia has seen the rise of a number of anti-Muslim far right groups who are determined to grow and establish their presence on the streets of Australia. A number of these groups now want to celebrate the 10th anniversary of this riot by rallying in Cronulla once again. A coalition of labour and anti-racist groups will oppose them. The Electrical Trades Union Queensland and NT branch is the latest Australian union to come out condemning the rise of these racist far right groups (see video).

Malaysian government tightens repression

Following on from recent protests against government corruption, the Malaysian government this week made use of the draconian Sedition Act to try and stifle dissent. The use of the Sedition Act by the Malaysian government has increased over the last few years. The well-known human rights and labour activist S. Arutchelvan (Arul), was arrested under the Sedition Act earlier this year for making comments on the trial of former Minister Anwar Ibrahim. This week, his lawyers confirmed that the Malaysian government will proceed to charge him under the Sedition Act. Arul is now facing up to three years in jail.

Bahrain teacher still in prison

Workers have been integral in the uprisings in countries in North Africa and west Asia during the Arab Spring. They have then suffered greatly as these uprisings have been met with state violence. In Bahrain in 2011 a mass popular uprising was repressed by the Bahrain government with the help of Saudi Arabia military. Mahdi Abu Dheeb was the president of the Bahraini Teachers’ Association and one of the many trade unionists arrested in Bahrain. He was sentenced to five years in jail. Abu Dheeb is now in poor medical health and there is an ongoing international union campaign calling for his release.

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