jiselle's blog

Australian union new push for secure jobs

The powerful CFMEU Queensland union is using the Federal election period to start a political campaign called Steady Jobs. The aim of the campaign is to call on governments to legislate for better job security and against the increasing use of short term/casual employment contracts. This issue is something that unions in Australia have been focusing more in the last few years as precarious work arrangements continue to spread (see here and here). Insecure work has now become a feature of our global economy as a tool by companies to attack workers, in places as disparate as Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, China and India.

PepsiCo continues union busting campaign in West Bengal

Hundreds of workers employed at a warehouse sub-contracted to PepsiCo in the Indian state of West Bengal are facing more pressure from management. The dispute started three years ago when workers took action to form their own union and for greater job security. Other groups of PepsiCo workers have also faced similar issues and had to fight for their rights. In the latest round of intimidation, the company, Radhakrishna Foodland, has reduced workers’ contracts from the present 12 month duration to just 3 months. You can send a solidarity message here.

Shipbreaking workers in Pakistan win dispute

This week, thousands of workers at the Gadani shipyards, near Karachi in Pakistan, took action to demand the reinstatement of hundreds of sacked workers. Workers had been demanding safer working conditions. Unfortunately the Gadani shipbreaking yards have a long history of unsafe practices, leading to many deaths (see here and here). This time though, the workers resolute action, led to the reinstatement of all the sacked workers. There is power in the union.

Silicosis continues to kill in India

Last week, the Supreme Court of India helped to expose the ongoing disaster that is affecting quarry workers in the north western state of Gujarat. The court directed the Gujarat state government to finally pay compensation to over 200 families who had lost a family member due to the lung disease silicosis. Unfortunately, families have been waiting for a long time for compensation. In addition, the scourge of silicosis has been well documented in India previously (see here and here), but without independent and strong unions, safe workplaces are hard to enforce.

Filipino workers battle against precarious work

The issue of insecure work affects workers all over the world, and in the Philippines it has come to prominence during the recent presidential elections. It is in this context that the members of PALEA are calling on the new Filipino President to pressure Philippines Airlines to honour the agreement around secure employment contracts. At a different workplace, 400 manufacturing workers have gone on strike to also press the new administration to implement secure employment legislation. 

Black lung disease still a problem

Australian coal workers had thought that pneumoconiosis, or as it is commonly called, ‘black lung disease’, was a disease that had been relegated to history after workers won better working conditions. But the capitalists have been systematically pushing back and making our workplaces unsafe in service of higher profits. Due to sustained pressure and campaigning by unions, the ongoing problem of this fatal disease among coal miners is starting to be uncovered. While a special medical and investigative task force is a good development, the need is for safe working conditions so that this totally preventable disease is eradicated forever. 

National Sorry Day but dispossession continues

Australia marked National Sorry Day on 26 May, a day to remember and commemorate the attempted genocide of the country's Aboriginal people. While many events were held, the reality is that the oppression and dispossession of Australia’s Indigenous peoples continues (see here, here, here and here). Aboriginal workers had their wages stolen by successive governments in the 19th and 20th centuries by legislative decree, for no other reason than they were Aboriginal.  This money is still owed. Racism is a worker’s issue, and all unions must take up the fight for justice for all Aboriginal People.
Pay Back Stolen Wages!
Stop Aboriginal Deaths in Custody!
Stop the Closures of Aboriginal Communities!

East Timorese workers call for higher wages

Earlier this month, hundreds of workers in East Timor marched calling for an increase to the minimum wage. The minimum wage has not been revised since 2012 and is only around 50% of what an average family needs to live on. East Timor is a relatively young nation where workers have struggled to organise to be able to win living wages and good working conditions (see here, here and here).

Garment workers in India continue to face repression

In the middle of April there were unprecedented protests by thousands of garment workers in the southern Indian city of Bangalore. These protests were heavily repressed with many workers injured. Over 300 workers are now facing charges following these protests. Raising bail for all defendants has put a lot of pressure on these workers and their families. It is important for the workers movement to support these workers and the right to organise.

South Korean workers continue to fight

Earlier this week, an international delegation visited the capital of Seoul to support the ongoing campaign to free the jailed leaders of the KCTU and to highlight the ongoing harassment of others. In other labour news, thousands of unionists marched onto the headquarters of the giant automaker Hyundai to protest against its ongoing anti-union activities. At a nearby location, dismissed Hydis workers marked one year of struggle by holding a street action to highlight their continuing quest for justice.

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