jiselle's blog

Sixteen garment factories sack union leaders in Bangladesh

Despite the international outcry at the collapse of Rana Plaza in April 2013 that killed more than 1000 workers, and the factory fire at Tazreen garment factory in November 2012 that killed over 100, workers that try to unionise in Bangladesh’s garment industry face serious repression.  We previously reported on the crack down on demonstrations by garment workers held in Dhaka (see here).  Most recently, the Bangladeshi government is investigating sixteen garment factories that have sacked union leaders because of their union activity.  Workers must keep fighting in the face of this repression, because if you don’t fight, you lose!

Workers strike at Egypt’s largest state-owned textiles company

Over 20,000 workers are currently striking at Egypt’s largest state-owned textile company in Mahalla. Strikers at the Spinning and Weaving Company in Mahalla are demanding the payment of promised bonuses from 2013; the implementation of the minimum wage; and the dismissal of Fouad Abdel-Alim, head of the Holding Company which oversees all public sector textile firms. The Egyptian cabinet tried to placate the workers by offering the bonuses, but the workers have vowed to continue their protests until all their demands are met.  The workers of Malhalla were instrumental in bringing down the Mubarak regime in 2011.

Victory for Ssangyong workers

In 2009, workers at the Ssangyong vehicle manufacturing plant in Korea went on a 77 day strike in protest against mass sackings. The strike ended in August 2009 and union leader, Han Sang Kyun was arrested and jailed. More information about the strike can be found here and here and about Han Sang Kyun’s release in 2012 here.  Some four years later, the Korean court of appeals has now ruled that the sackings were illegitimate. While Ssangyong may still appeal this decision to a higher court, this is still a victory for the Ssangyong workers who fought bravely and heroically.

Mass workers rally to defend our right to protest

The government of Victoria, a state in Australia, is trying to enact a law that will have the effect of preventing pickets and protests.  The law will:
1. Remove protections for peaceful assembly
2. Allow for up to two years’ imprisonment for persons returning to a banned protest or picket
3. Provide the Police and Protective Services Officers discretion to 'move on' protests
This comes at a time when the Federal Government is attacking unions through the recently announced Royal Commission into union corruption, and Australia’s strong union movement is being blamed for industry closures (see Toyota, SPC Ardmona and Qantas).  We must defend our right to organise.  We must defend our right to fight back.  Come to the rally
Tuesday 18 February at 10am
Assemble at Trades Hall, Cnr Victoria and Lygon Streets, Carlton

Global day of action for workers’ rights and a living wage in Cambodia

The repercussions of the government’s crackdown on garment workers in early January continue both in Cambodia and around the world. Garment workers have not given up their fight for a living wage, demanding the release of their 23 comrades who are in jail, and justice for those who were murdered. International unions have also taken up the call and a Global Day of Action in solidarity with the Cambodian garment workers has been declared for the 10th of February.

Car workers fight back and win in India

After a bitter strike lasting 59 days, the workers at Autofit factory, Dharuhera, Haryana state have won their fight against union busting. The company has agreed to take back all 17 sacked union activists as well as agreeing to a wage rise. The important character of the strike was the unity between contract and permanent workers. Many similar strikes are happening in the Gurgaon industrial region near New Delhi. This area came to prominence with the major struggle of the Maruti Suzuki workers of a couple of years ago. Over 100 workers are still in jail from this dispute, but the fight for justice and their release has not finished. Internationally, the car industry is experiencing many struggles and disputes.

Anti-government protests in Thailand present a danger to workers

Last week’s election has not halted the protests in Thailand against the government. There is the real possibility that the government will compromise with some of the right wing forces currently protesting. Workers and activists need to stand up for the right to organise and freedom of speech. Thai activists need to put forward their own demands.
1. Address gross economic inequality 
2. Abolish Lèse Majesté and the Computer Crimes law. Free Somyot and all other political prisoners
3. Reduce the power and influence of the military in politics and society.
4. Bring to justice those who commit gross violations of human rights, including military generals, Abhisit, Sutep and Taksin. 

Palestinian workers battle the United Nations

Over 4,000 Palestinian workers who are employed by the UN Relief and Works Agency have been on strike for two months now. The workers want a pay rise to bring them in line with other UN workers and the end to the ban on employing any person who has been imprisoned in Israel. Meanwhile, while workers are battling for a living wage, a layer of Palestinian capitalists are able to profit from the Occupation. The protests by Palestinian prisoners are ongoing.

Fijian union leaders released after international campaign

On the 9th of January, six union leaders from the National Union of Hospitality Catering and Tourism Industries were arrested for an illegal strike.  The strike was at the Sheraton Fiji Resort and Westin Denarau Island Resort and Spa (both owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.) in Narewa village, Fiji. Workers were protesting against the removal of their benefits. This is not the first time that unions have been targeted in Fiji. Fortunately, this time, on the 2nd of February the charges against all defendants were dropped.

Workers in Iraq fight for the right to organise

As reported previously, Iraqi oil workers have been at the forefront of the fight by workers in Iraq against repression and exploitation. With the ongoing armed conflict in the country, it is workers who often pay the price. Nevertheless, the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, in conjunction with other Iraqi trade unions, is pressuring the government to legislate for the right to bargain collectively.

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