jiselle's blog

Another Iranian labour activist dies

Earlier this month, well-known labour activist and former political prisoner Mohammad Jarahi died of cancer. Mohammad Jarahi was 59 years of age and had been a long time member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organisations, which fought for the establishment of independent worker organisations in Iran. Mohammed died from wide ranging complications from a lack of proper treatment during his five-year imprisonment. He was just one of many workers targeted in Iran by authorities. Labour activists hold the Iranian government responsible for his death. Activists like Mohammad Jarahi continue to inspire a new generation of workers to fight against the Iranian government.

Free for all political prisoners in Iran!  Freedom for workers to organise!

Workers oppose new labour laws

The Philippines government, headed by President Duterte, is looking to legalise further exploitation of workers via two new bills, the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act (TRAIN) and the Alternative Work Arrangement Bill (Senate Bill 1571). Labour centres claim that the new tax bill will favour the rich and will just impose new sacrifices on workers. The supposed compensation schemes for workers will not actually reach the majority of workers over the long term. In addition, the proposed changes to the work week will not introduce flexibility for workers but will only institutionalise 12 hour working days.

Airport dispute globally significant for workers

While the dispute that saw over 700 ground crew workers walk out in protest against Swissport Canada’s attempts to contract out and casualise its workforce may be over, other issues remain. It has been revealed that the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) is in support of the privatisation of Toronto Pearson Airport. This will only lead to more insecure work practices and lower wages for workers. Workers at airports all around the world have a stake in opposing this attempt by the GTAA to drive down wages and conditions. Only by engaging in co-ordinated actions can aviation workers take on the power of these global companies.

Global stevedoring company attacking Indonesian workers

Dockworkers in Indonesia employed by the global stevedoring company, International Container Terminal Services (ICTS), are in a protracted struggle over wages and conditions. The company is forcing its workforce into working long and unsafe overtime in order to earn a living wage because their basic salary is totally inadequate. The International Transport Federation is supporting the Indonesian workers in their fight for a living wage. The ITF has found that ITCS is similarly underpaying its workforce in Madagascar, while in Pakistan port workers demonstrated in support of their comrades in Madagascar and Indonesia. Against a global company like ICTS, co-ordinated industrial actions at other ICTS sites around the world would be much more effective in maximising workers’ power. For coverage on this listen to this episode of 3CR’s Stick Together show.

Organising space in Thailand keeps shrinking

This week, two separate cases has highlighted the level of repression that now exists in Thailand. Sulak Sivaraksa, a renowned Buddhist and academic, is facing possible Lese Majeste charges for a comment over an elephant duel that is alleged to have happened in 1593. In the industrial belt of the town of Prachinburi, around 2,000 workers employed by the auto parts manufacturer Y-Tec, are engaged in a vicious struggle in their attempts to form an independent union. The campaign to abolish the repressive Lese Majeste law is continuing to grow, with supporters both inside Thailand and internationally.

Free all political prisoners in Thailand! Abolish Article 112! End the military dictatorship!

Workers still waiting for compensation

In late 2013, just six months after the horrific disaster at Rana Plaza, a fire engulfed the Aswad Composite Mills textile mill in Gazipur, Bangladesh. At least seven workers were killed and over 50 injured. It is now over four years since this horrific industrial incident and families and survivors are still waiting for compensation to be paid to them. The fact that fires like these continue to happen, and compensation has still not been paid is a reflection of the corruption of the political system in Bangladesh, the power of the owners of garment factories, and the continual repression of independent union organising.

AAWL film fundraiser: Sherpa

This documentary by Australian film maker, Jennifer Peedom, explores some of the politics and conflict between the mountain climbers and the Sherpas who are trying to improve their livelihood. During the making of the documentary, an avalanche killed many Sherpas including the union’s vice president.

Monday October 16 at 6pm

LongPlay, 318 St Georges Road, North Fitzroy

Tickets are $20 waged and $10 concession.

This is a fundraiser for AAWL’s activities and campaigns across the labour movement in Asia. For more information, check out the Facebook event page.

Ice cream workers battle global giant

Around 150 workers in the Australian city of Sydney have been in a brutal struggle from last August against their employer, Streets Ice Cream, a subsidiary of the global giant Unilever, over a new enterprise agreement. The company wants to reduce workers’ wages by over 40%, as well as cuts to overtime and redundancy payments. Workers have made a video on the effects that such savage cuts would have on them and their families. The company is now trying to silence workers by threatening them with dismissal if they comment publicly on any aspects of the dispute. While a boycott of Streets Ice Cream has been proposed, co-ordinated industrial actions at other Unilever sites around the world would be much more effective in maximising workers’ power.

Samsung Electronics claims another victim

This week, Yi Hye-jeong, a 41-year-old former Samsung employee, died from the effects of systemic sclerosis, an auto immune disorder that damages the body’s organs. Yi worked in the chip making department and over the years she was exposed to a variety of chemicals including nitrous oxide, arsenic, phosphine, oxypoclimin, benzene, and xylene. Yi is the 118th documented case of an ex Samsung Electronics worker being killed due to occupational diseases. Samsung Electronics is a brutal anti-union company. On the 7 October, OHS activists will mark two years of a sit in protest in front of Samsung headquarters in Seoul.

Electrical workers demand living wages

Last month around 5,000 workers from Orissa’s power distribution companies protested in the state’s capital of Bhubaneswar. They were demanding that their monthly wages be increased from the current 4,000 rupees (US$61) to 18,000 rupees (US$275), as well as permanent jobs for outsourced workers. Workers have had long standing grievances with these companies over unsafe working conditions that put workers’ lives at risk. Many workers die every year as the companies do not supply adequate safety gear. The workers also see what electrical workers around the world earn and so want to be renumerated accordingly.

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