jiselle's blog

Unprecedented strike at Saudi Arabian hospital

Around 1,200 workers at the private Saad Specialist Hospital in the eastern city of Khobar have walked off the job in an indefinite strike over unpaid wages. Not only is strike action extremely rare in Saudi Arabia, a country that bans any trade union activity, but this action is extremely significant as all workers have gone on strike, from surgeons, to theatre staff, to cleaners and maintenance workers. Most of the cleaners and maintenance staff are migrant workers and this strike represents the first time that Saudi nationals and migrant workers have taken action together. Given Saudi Arabia’s history of repression and exploitation of migrant workers (see here and here), this strike may represent the first steps towards the unity of workers in the kingdom.

India Honda workers continue hunger strike

Five dismissed Honda workers have been on a hunger strike for that last week in New Delhi to protest against their treatment and for the reinstatement of dismissed workers. They have now been joined by hundreds more workers who are staging demonstrations in support of these hunger strikers in the face of arrests from police. Over 100 plant level union representatives have visited the workers in an ongoing show of solidarity. This widespread support is a reflection of the unsatisfactory conditions that many workers endure in the growing industrial belts of northern India and comes on the back of the huge general strike earlier in the month.

Australian coal miners taking on global giant

Around 140 workers in the central Queensland coal mine at German Creek, near the town of Middlemount, have been on strike over a new collective agreement. The mine is owned by the giant Anglo American group which has now taken steps to try to employ strike breakers through a labour hire firm. At a nearby mine site, the same company recently sacked 85 permanent workers but kept all its contract and labour hire workers. Anglo American is also involved in a similar collective agreement dispute with its workforce at the Los Bronces copper mine in Chile. Against such global companies, co-ordinated industrial action by workers would be the strongest way to fight back.

Turkey’s government purges hit workers massively

The Turkish government is using the opportunity of the July 2016 failed military coup to target the still powerful Turkish working class. The figures speak for themselves. The number of teachers dismissed in this time has reached almost 30,000, with another 10,000 still under investigation. An additional 20,000 civil servants have also been sacked from a variety of occupational sectors. In the meantime, the government is proceeding with the trial of a number of journalists  that are accused of being government critics and supporters of terrorism.

Public meeting to counter Hanson and the far right

Since the start of 2015, there has been a determined push by a number of far right groups in Australia to increase their influence by exploiting the current economic and political climate to their advantage. While Labour and human rights groups have organised counter mobilisations to oppose them, at the recent Federal elections, the One Nation party, led by Pauline Hanson, once again came to prominence on a platform of Islamophobia. History shows that such far right parties are a threat to workers everywhere and need to be stopped. A public meeting is to be held in Melbourne, Australia to discuss the best strategies to counter this growing threat.

6.30pm Tuesday, 27 September
Trades Hall, cnr Lygon & Victoria sts, Carlton Sth

Labour researcher found guilty of defamation

The long running case against labour right activist Andy Hall concluded this week when a Thai court found him guilty of criminal defamation and violating the Computer Crime Act. Andy’s research focused on the mistreatment of workers, mostly migrant workers from Burma, employed at the Natural Fruit Company, in Prachuap Khiri Khan province. The court imposed a suspended four year sentence as well as a substantial fine. Cases like Andy Hall’s are a clear indication of the difficulty that workers and labour activists find themselves in under the current military dictatorship.

Free all political prisoners in Thailand!
Abolish 112! No to military dictatorship

Cambodia report exposes garment industry practices

A new investigative report into the working conditions for workers employed by the global fashion company H&M has highlighted a number of labour rights violations. All the workers were not employed by H&M directly but were working for sub-contracting firms. In addition to low wages that often forced workers to do many hours overtime and to cash in their holidays, workers faced precarious work contracts and unhealthy working conditions. It was also clear that independent unions were actively discouraged and repressed by these companies as a way to stop workers organising to demand better wages and conditions.

East Timor workers battle for their rights

Over one hundred security workers in East Timor are battling Gardamor over their entitlements after being summarily dismissed. Gardamor is a security company run by an ex guerrilla fighter. Workers in East Timor have had lots of difficulty securing good working conditions and rights in the workplace, since independence. The General Workers Union of Timor Leste is supporting these workers and has called for solidarity actions by Australian workers.

Labour activist killed by death squads

Death Squads in the Philippines have predictably started assassinating worker organisers. Orlando Abangan “Ka Lando” was shot dead on his way home in Talisay, Cebu in the Philippines on 17 September. Ka Lando was a well-known labour and human rights activist. Recently he had been a staunch critic of the Government’s campaign of mass killings of ‘drug users’ among Filipino working class communities. Ka Lando’s assassination is a clear sign that President Duterte’s unleashing of paramilitary death squads will have severe repercussions on the labour movement in the Philippines.

Justice for Ka Lando! No to extrajudicial impunity! Stop the killings!

Aboriginal people seek to reclaim history and wages

Aboriginal people in Australia continue to survive colonisation and the impact of the invasion is brutal and long lasting. In Melbourne last week, in an historic occasion, the first ever monument commemorating the death of Aboriginal freedom fighters was unveiled (see video of unveiling). In the meantime, in the northern state of Queensland, local Aboriginal people have launched a new campaign to recover millions of stolen wages. In the 1800’s and 1900’s, tens of thousands of Aboriginal people were employed as virtual slave labour in a planned and organised operation by the government.

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