jiselle's blog

Inadequate working conditions kill three marble workers in Cambodia

An accident in a warehouse in an industrial suburb of Phnom Penh that killed three workers has highlighted once again Cambodia’s deficient work safety legislation. The three workers were killed as they were attempting to unload a big piece of marble off a truck. They were not provided with any mechanical devices and the stone, proving too heavy, crushed all three of them. Labour activists have called for the prosecution of the owner of the factory. In an unrelated incident, four garment workers were hospitalised when a truck tried to break a picket line. The workers had been surrounding the factory over unpaid wages. 

Secretary of Iranian teachers' union arrested by Iranian authorities

As previously reported, teachers in Iran have been very active this year organising three nationwide days of protests over pay and conditions. Esmail Abdi, the General Secretary of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association, was arrested this week as he was about to leave the country to attend an international conference of the global union federation - Education International. This latest arrest is unfortunately only the latest one as the Iranian government is desperately trying to suppress workers’ anger over increasing levels of poverty and exploitation. For more information and solidarity click here.   For Education International statement, click here.

Gaza bound flotilla hijacked by Israeli navy

As reported recently, international solidarity activists had organised another naval flotilla to bring much needed supplies to Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. As in previous times, in an act of piracy on the high seas, these ships were intercepted in international waters by the Israeli military and forcibly taken (see video) to an Israeli town. This latest action once again highlights the conditions that Palestinians in Gaza have to endure and the continuing illegal occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel.

Asia Pacific labour and activist groups support an end to austerity in Greece

The economic crisis that has been engulfing Greece over the last four years has reached another turning point this Sunday the 5th of July with a referendum over whether to accept more austerity measures. Workers and their communities have been progressively impoverished in the last four years via cuts to wages and jobs. A solidarity message by a number of regional labour organisations has been published in support of the fight against austerity. A ‘No’ vote is seen as crucial for workers and their living standards. Regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s referendum, the situation for workers will remain grave unless they are able to organise and take greater control of their workplaces.

Thai student protest highlights repression in Thailand

As reported previously, (see here, here and here), the military junta is consolidating its hold in Thailand suppressing all criticism of the coup (click for video). In the latest developments, a newly formed organisation called the ‘New Democracy Movement’ staged a series of protests in May to oppose the military regime. The military later arrested 14 students as ‘ringleaders’. These students are now facing up to 7 years in jail charged with sedition. A television programme that looked at their arrests is also facing pressure from the military. The students have put out a call for further resistance and the need to organise.

 
No to the military!
Free all political prisoners! 

Australian health workers break censorship laws over concentration camps

As detailed previously (click here and here), the Australian Government repression of asylum seekers and refugees keeps increasing with new laws being enacted with the full support of the ALP opposition. One of the latest laws has been the ‘Border Force Act’ which carries a jail term of up to 2 years for any workers in refugee detention centres who speak out about the conditions in these centres. In protest, a group of health workers in Darwin publicly challenged the government to prosecute them as they stated they were not going to be bound by this law.

Korean auto workers vote to take industrial action

A vote of over 14,000 workers at General Motors plants in South Korea this week approved the taking of industrial action over issues of pay, bonuses and job classification. Some of these issues have been fought by workers over a number of years, (see here and here). The automotive industry is one of the most integrated in the world with companies constantly trying to lower costs by pitting workers against each other. Globally co-ordinated actions need to be taken to defeat these multi-national companies.

Korean undocumented migrant workers win right to join unions

Migrant workers all over the world form part of the most exploited layer of the working class. Many of these workers are termed ‘illegal’ as national laws often discriminate against them. In South Korea this week, after a nine year fight, undocumented workers have won the right to join and be represented by a trade union. This is a great achievement especially as the Migrant Trade Union (MTU) who represents them, has itself lost a number of officials in the last few years to deportations. The MTU is part of the Confederation of Korean Trade Unions (KCTU)

Cambodian workers continue to fight for their rights

As reported last week, the Cambodian government wants to pass new legislation that will restrict the rights of workers to unionise. This week, hundreds of workers and their supporters had a protest outside the National Assembly to demand the repeal of the proposed Trade Union Law. In a separate development, a coalition of garment based unions have announced that they will continue to campaign for an increase of the minimum wage to USA $177/month. Given the importance of the garment industry in Cambodia, these negotiations will have important ramifications for other workers as well.

Malaysian timber workers fighting to establish their own union

The right to form an independent union as opposed to a yellow, company union, is an issue that many workers around the world face. In Malaysia, timber workers have been fighting a long hard fight against their employer, Sabah Forest Industries (SFI), part of the global giant Avantha Group. SFI has stifled workers’ attempts to form their own union for over 20 years and latest reports indicate that it is preparing legal action against the workers. A global campaign has been set up to send protest letters to the company. Co-ordinated industrial action by workers at other sites of the Avantha conglomerate would also be effective in supporting the workers in Sabah.

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