jiselle's blog

Leader of Socialist Party arrested in Malaysia for sedition

This week, S. Arutchelvan (Arul), the General Secretary of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) was arrested under the draconian Sedition Act for making comments about the trial of Anwar Ibrahim. Arul was released the next day. The PSM has been a strong advocate for workers in Malaysia especially around urban squatter rights, plantation workers and minimum wages. This is not the first time that members of PSM have been targeted by the Malaysian state. This arrest also has to be seen within the context of the increased use of the Sedition Act to stifle dissent in Malaysia.

Drop all the charges
Revoke the Sedition Act

Turkish miners at Soma continue to suffer abuse from company

Last year in May, the Soma coal mine hit the world’s headlines when 301 workers were massacred in an explosion due to the company’s drive to maximise profits and minimise health and safety costs. Later that year in December, the same company, the Soma Holding Company, announced the laying-off of almost 3,000 workers from its mines. This will have a devastating effect on workers’ families and communities with mining the major activity in the area. In the latest blow to workers, the company has announced that it is unable to provide any severance pay to these workers. The events of the last year offer a stark example of the brutality of the profit system where workers are treated as disposable costs.

Arrests and opposition continue in military led Thailand

As reported previously, the military in Thailand is continuing to extend its rule over all aspects of Thai society. This week, another four anti coup activists were arrested, while at the same time the military was intimidating villagers who were opposed to an oil company conducting drilling on their lands. It is becoming clear that the military junta is trying to clear the decks to make sure that whenever the next election is called, only pro military parties will be able to win. The campaign to neutralise the Thaksin family is in order to remove a capitalist competitor and not because they are revolutionaries. In the meantime, opposition to the coup continues to be visible, whether at stadiums or in the streets.
No to the military!
Free all political prisoners! 

Armed Wahhabist movements are a deadly threat to workers

As described before (see here and here) the continuation of dictatorships, dispossessions, and wars in the Arab regions of West Asia and North Africa have generated multiple rebellions. Currently, the strongest insurgency groups are aligned either with Al Qaeda or the Islamic State (IS) groups. Both originate from the conservative and purist Wahhabist tradition - a tradition sustained by the Saudi Monarchy. These groups have exploited the social catastrophe engulfing the region. While sounding radical, Al Qaeda and IS are enemies of the working class, routinely killing workers and destroying worker organisations (see here, here and here). Only by developing class based organisations can workers defeat terrorist groups and imperialist armies.

Reza Barati remembered, but still no justice for refugees in Australia

It has been a year since the murder of Reza Barati, an Iranian asylum seeker held in the detention centre of Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Many others were badly injured on that day, but the Australian government has made no real attempts to investigate this murder. Meanwhile, the conditions for detainees on Manus Island and Nauru, Australia’s second offshore detention centre for asylum seekers, continue to deteriorate. The movement to free these asylum seekers and close the camps continues around Australia with events and actions planned in upcoming weeks and months.

Global Day for the Right to Strike - 18 February

The right for workers to withdraw their labour and to strike is an essential element of freedom of association and collective bargaining. Without this right, workers’ ability to defend their rights, to demand a safe workplace, and to win a living wage is severely undermined. During this latest capitalist economic crisis, this right has been under severe attack by employers and governments around the world. In response, global unions, like IndustriAll and ITUC, called on affiliated unions to take action on the 18th of February for the right to strike.

Fighting for justice for TJ Hickey, 11 years on

Saturday 14 February 2015 marked the 11th anniversary of the death in custody of TJ Hickey in Redfern. He died as a direct result of the actions of the Redfern Police. No police have been charged over Hickey's death and his family are still waiting for justice. The family was determined to march through central Sydney to make clear that they are still waiting for justice and to convey the message that without justice, there can be no peace.  Outrageously, the NSW Police refused the highly visible march route and tried to limit the march to a short route and keep the protest contained within Redfern.   The march went ahead with a very heavy police presence.

Stop Aboriginal Deaths in Custody
Justice for TJ Hickey

Filipino workers win important dispute in export processing zone

A short but determined strike by over a hundred workers at the Tae Sung Philippines company has allowed workers to gain substantial increases in wages and conditions. Tae Sung Philippines manufactures parts for the auto and electronics industry. The significance of this strike is that the company is located in the Cavite Export Processing Zone (EPZ) just outside Manila. EPZs have been set up around the world as low wage anti union areas where companies can extract as much profits as it is physically possible. This win by the Tae Sung union will now give strength and support to other workers in the EPZ to unionise and improve their wages and conditions.

Turkish union extends class solidarity to Rojavan resistance

As previously reported, the wars in West Asia have taken a terrible toll on workers and their organisations. One of the most positive developments has been the social and economic process that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria’s northern Kurdish regions of Rojava has been implementing. This movement has been boosted by the successful defense of the town of Kobane against both ISIS and the Turkish government. The Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions of Turkey (DISK) in a show of practical class solidarity has announced that it has more than 10,000 volunteers ready to rebuild Kobane. Such solidarity actions are the key to not only defend the gains already made but also to extend a working class alternative to the rest of the region.

Workers and communities in Bangladesh exposed to deadly poisons

As reported in a previous item, the tannery industry is another sector where workers and their communities are exposed to toxic chemicals. A recent investigative report has found that up to 15,000 workers, many underage, are exposed to chemicals such as chromium, chloride, sulfur, and manganese on a daily basis. In addition, over 20,000 cubic meters of chemicals and toxic waste from the factories flow every day into Dhaka's main river from the local tanneries. The area where these tanneries are located, Hazaribagh, is reputed to be one of the most polluted in the world. 

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