jiselle's blog

Another mass explosion rocks China

A massive explosionearlier this week killed 14 people and injured another 147 in the town of Xinmin, Shaanxi Province, destroying a number of buildingsin the working class residential neighbourhood. The cause of the explosion is thought to be due to illegally stored chemicalsfor use in one of the many coal mines that exist in the province. Unfortunately, such massive industrial accidents are not rarein China, due to widespread corruptionand the suppression of independent trade unions.

Wars continue to devastate working class communities

The continuing wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen are having a devastating effecton workers of these countries. Whether it is hospitals in Afghanistanor Syriabeing bombed, or funerals in Yemen, or market areas in Baghdad, the results are hundreds of dead at the hands of one of the various imperialist or reactionary groups involved in these wars. The brutality of these ongoing conflicts then contribute to the rise of new reactionary actorswhich offer only more bloodshed to workers. It is only by recognising the working class resistance movementsof the region, can a just and lasting peace be built. International solidarity by labour activists and organisations also needs to be based on this class principle as well.

More jail sentences for Iranian workers

Earlier this month, the Appeals Court of Tehran confirmed the six year sentenceagainst the General Secretary of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association, Esmail Abdi. Teachers in Iran staged massive protestsin 2015 for better pay and conditions and against the deplorable state of public education in Iran. Esmail was targetedfor repression as an example to other workers. He is not the only trade union leader in jail, and this month, Jafar Azimzadeh, chairman of the Free Union of the Iranian Workers, and Shapour Ehsanirad, were also given long prison sentences.

Organising is not a crime!

Battle against Samsung continues in South Korea

The protest camp outside the headquarters of the giant Samsung Corporation in Seoul, South Korea has now passed its first year. This sit-in is run by a group of labour activists. They have campaigned relentlessly to bring justice to the many workers, and their families, who have been injured or killedat Samsung workplaces due to the company’s relentless drive for profits. The company has historically been viciously anti-union with new documents showingthat this practice is still currently used by management. An international campaignis also underway to pressure Samsung to allow trade unions, while further protestsin South Korea are continuing.

Precarious work a health hazard for workers

Australia’s Fairwork Ombudsman and Unions NSW have released major reports that each expose the widespread tactic of making work precarious for workers. Like many other countriesof the world, Australian workers are seeing companies using flexible working arrangements like casualization, sub-contracting, zero hour contracts and short term visas to undermine wages and conditions. The practice is so widespread that global labour hire companiesare now using these tactics as part of their global strategy. At an individual level, such a precarious working existence can have disastrous consequences. Only by organising into independent unions can workers fight this assaults.

Sri Lankan killings point to elusive peace

The end of the insurgency of the Tamil Tigers in the northern part of Sri Lanka in 2009 did not bring the peace dividendthat both Tamils and labour activists were hoping for. While the war has finished, large parts of the island are still militarised. This week, two Jaffna university students, Nadarasa Kajan and Pavunraj Sulaxan, were shot dead by police at a checkpoint for allegedly not stopping. These killings have highlighted the ongoing injusticesthat many Tamils still face. There were widespread protests in the following days to opposethe ongoing police brutality.

More protests against far right in Melbourne

The far right in Australia has grown significantly over the last two yearswith the creation of a number of new groups as well as the election of representatives of the One Nation partyin the Australian Parliament. These far right movements have grown on the back of the ongoing War on Terror and the demonisation of Muslims and refugees as well as the global economic crisis. Copying the tactics of similar fascists groups in Europe, an aged care centre is now being targeted because it will house some refugees. The local community has called a counter protestfor the morning of Saturday the 5th of November. On the same weekend, pro-refugee rallies will be held throughout Australia, click here for Melbourne event.

Another worker dies at giant mine in West Papua

One worker was killed and another one injured in a bulldozing accident at the Freeport-McMoRan Inc giant Grasberg open pit copper mine in West Papua. Notwithstanding the huge and prolonged strike that workers carried out in 2011 (see here, here and here) such deaths are not isolated incidents. Last month, another worker was run over and killed by a mining truck at the company's power plant area in Kuala Kencana – a town located near Grasberg mine. In 2013, there was a major accident where 28 workers were killed when a tunnel collapsed.

Honda workers' hunger strike enters second month

The long running dispute of the dismissed Honda workers in Rajasthan, India continues amid strong opposition by the company and local governments. Due to the hospitalisation of some of the initial hunger strikers, new workers have taken their place in continuing the fast. Workers have also renewed their agitation among the industrial belts of northern India, leading the company to issue defamation writs against some of the workers. This struggle is continuing to garner international support.

Factory closes in bid to destroy union

Faremo International is a garment manufacturer that employs close to 1,000 workers in the Philippines Cavite Export Processing Zone. This week it announced it was going to relocate to Vietnam and Cambodia. In the weeks prior, it had shifted most of its machinery out of the factory and had given a list of union members to other garment factories in the area so as to blacklist the best organisers. The workers in this factory had fought long and hard under harsh conditions to organise and win a collective agreement. This move by Faremo International once again shows how companies will use their global reach to undermine local groups of workers. Only by organising and taking co-ordinated action across countries can workers begin to challenge the power of these global companies.

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