jiselle's blog

Canada’s asbestos ban not good enough

This week, after years of lobbying and campaign by labour and health groups, the Canadian government announced that it will ban the use of asbestos in Canada within 12 months. While this is a great win for Canadian workers, their families and communities, the government only recommended that a panel be set up to review the export of asbestos. Canada is one of the world’s main producers of asbestos and 98% of the asbestos mined is exported to Asian countries. This decision means that more workers and working class communities in Asia will be left exposed to this deadly material.

CUB workers win an important battle

This week, after a hard fought six month campaign that spanned the globe, 55 maintenance workers in Melbourne, Australia, won their dispute against the CUB brewery, part of the global empire of the AB InBev company. The company had tried to destroy the union by sacking these workers and wanting to rehire them through a labour hire agency at less than half of their wage. The workers stood firm and with the support of other workers in Victoria and elsewhere, they were able to regain their permanent jobs. On Monday the 12 December, a victory rally will escorted them for their first day back. While this is a great win, global companies like AB InBev have internationally integrated operations and are always looking to implement ‘world best practices’ that undermine workers’ wages and conditions across their global empire.

Bus drivers brutally attacked in Tehran

Last Sunday, hundreds of Tehran bus drivers evaded police check points to rally in front of Tehran City Hall to demand better social services. Police and security forces attacked this protest severely injuring a number of workers and arresting a number of others. Heroically, the workers kept up their protests and secured the release of the workers who had been detained by the police. This protest follows the government’s updated labour law that further criminalises labour activity and extends precarious work contracts. Many labour activists are currently in jail in Iran for the sole ‘crime’ of organising.

New King, same repression in Thailand

Following the death of King Bhumibol, his son Maha Vajiralongkorn has become the new King of Thailand. Amid an atmosphere of social repression and military dictatorship, the new era has not seen any change. Jatuphat Boonpattaraksa was arrested and accused of Lese Majeste the day after the coronation for a Facebook post on the new King. The BBC office in Bangkok has also been targeted for its coverage. In two separate other cases, Thanaporn was given a two year suspended sentence for a FB post on the political violence in 2010, while Chanoknan Ruamsap has been threatened with Lese Majeste, also for a FB posting against military repression. In addition, the international campaign in support for labour activist Andy Hall continues. It is obvious that the Thai military junta is using this transition period to further consolidate its hold on power.

Free all political prisoners in Thailand! 

Abolish Article 112! 

End the military dictatorship!

Aboriginal activist in Australia wins landmark compensation

The Australian Federal Court this week awarded AUD $220,000 in damages to the Aboriginal community of Palm Island in Queensland, Australia, for being subjected to racial discrimination. The judgement was against both the Government of Queensland and its police force in relation to the police actions in 2004 on Palm Island. The police handling of the death of Cameron Doomadgee and the subsequent protests were found to be racially discriminatory. The action was initiated by a local man, Lex Wotton, who had been jailed for his part in the protests and then banned from speaking to the media.

Burma becoming a new garment production hub

A new report detailing how Burma’s political and economic integration with the global capitalist system is leading to a huge expansion in its garment sector. There are at least 350 garment factories in Burma and like the other major garment centres of the world such as Cambodia and Bangladesh, conditions are extremely harsh for workers. The garment sector is renowned for its global ‘Race to the Bottom’ in its search for the lowest possible costs and highest profits. The report documents how workers regularly work 6 days a week, 10 hours a day, often in cramped, noisy and dusty conditions. Labour organising is routinely suppressed through threats of or actual dismissals. 

Anti-union Commission comes back in Australia

At the end of November, the Australian Senate passed a new amended version of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). The ABCC is an anti union law that is directly aimed at one of the most powerful unions in Australia, the CFMEU and its officials. The ABCC restricts the power of unions and of individuals while at the same time giving employers greater ability to use precarious work contracts. The original version of the ABCC was abolished in 2012 after a long fight by workers and supporters. Its re-introduction will mean that the safety for workers on Australian building sites will now be compromised.

Faremo workers still battling despite closure

Faremo International was a garment factory in the Philippines Cavite Export Processing Zone near Manila. It announced that it was closing and relocating to lower wage countries though orders were still coming in. The decision by the company was part of an ongoing offensive against its nearly 1,000 strong workforce as they had just managed to form a new union. Wages and conditions in the Cavite Export Processing Zone are notoriously low, with many workers needing to have second jobs. The dismissed Faremo workers are continuing to get support from other Filipino workers

Cotton harvest still tainted by forced labour

The economy of the central Asia republic of Uzbekistan relies heavily on cotton with hundreds of thousands of workers coerced into the annual harvest. While international campaigns have led to a decrease in the number of children being gang pressed for the harvest, the numbers have been taken up by more adults being forced to harvest cotton. Death and injuries are common. The latest campaign in support of Uzbeki workers is to prevent the European Union from signing a textile treaty with Uzbekistan as it would only lead to a rise in demand for cotton without any extra labour protection.

Killings in the Philippines hit new record

The vicious and brutal ‘war on drugs’ that President Duterte unleashed (see here and here), since the start of his Presidency, continues to ravage Filipino working class communities. In the first five months of his rule, the number of people killed in this campaign has now reached 5,000, whether from police or right wing death squads. Duterte has in the past threatened to prosecute those who stand in the way of this campaign, but recently he has upped the pressure by threatening to kill human rights activists who oppose his war on drugs.

No to the War on Drugs! No to extrajudicial impunity!  Stop the killings!

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