jiselle's blog

Israeli attacks on al-Aqsa mosque threatens to spark wider conflict

The continued repression by Israel and the resistance by Palestinians has been reported previously (see here and here) but in the last week tensions in Jerusalem have escalated greatly. The flashpoint is the al-Aqsa mosque where Israeli far right activists and settlers are trying to gain more access to the mosque and the space around it. There have been a number of clashes with Israeli security forces attacking and arresting Palestinians who were resisting. In the meantime, the campaign of hunger strikes in Israeli prisons continues with more Palestinians joining in.

Australian government accepts more refugees but escalates war in Syria

Facing widespread calls by the Australian public to accept more refugees from the wars in West Asia, the Australian government announced that it would take an additional 13,500 refugees from Syria. This intake will concentrate on bringing in the ‘most oppressed communities’, a sentence that for many refugee advocates means ‘anyone but Muslims’. On the same day, the government announced that it was going to expand its military campaign against Islamic State from Iraq into Syria.

Crisis in West Asia continues to expand and intensify

As reported previously, the mass exodus of people from Syria and neighbouring countries is a reflection of the intensifying cycle of repression, war and exploitation in that region. The announcement by Australia that it will now target Islamic State in Syria will only intensify the suffering of ordinary Syrians without resolving any of the issues that are fuelling the civil war. In neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq, popular protests against the respective governments are continuing; in Yemen more foreign armies are intervening in that conflict; while in Turkey the internal political crisis of the government is reigniting the conflict in Kurdish areas with attacks on opposition political organisations and a renewed military offensive against the PKK.

Repression again Iranian teachers continues with more arrests

This year has seen continued industrial activity by teachers in Iran (see here and here) with many of the main activists arrested. This week news has come out that Mahmoud Langroodi, a board member of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (Tehran) was arrested at his home while another two unionists, Mohammad Niknejad and Mehdi Bohlooli, were arrested a few days later. These three teachers had all participated in the protests this year and their arrests are part of the wave of repression that the Iranian government has unleashed on these workers. There are international campaigns to support these and other teachers that are currently being held in Iranian jails.

Global day of action against union busting in Turkey

When almost 200 employees of SF Leather decided to organise and join the union Deriteks, the company sacked 14 of the main labour activists in March of this year.  The company also sought to crush the workers’ effort to organise. Unfortunately, such anti union tactics in Turkey are not isolated and are part of a government inspired drive to destroy militant unionism. The global union IndustriAll has called for a global day of action on the 16th of September against the luxury handbag and clothing retailer Mulberry, which is the main buyer of SF Leather’s goods. Companies like Mulberry use the global chain of production to drive down wages and conditions for workers around the world.

Strikes at Korean shipbuilders signal the start of a new campaign

The continuing global economic crisis is affecting the large shipbuilding sector in South Korea, with workers under pressure to pay for this crisis. The main companies affected are Hyundai, Daewoo and Samsung. This week, 25,000 workers at Hyundai and Daewoo shipyards staged a 4 hour strike against a continuing wage freeze and proposed new job cuts. Given the size and strengths of the companies involved, the workers will most probably face a long and hard struggle ahead. As the companies are also globally integrated, coordinated industrial action at an international level will probably be crucial.

Pakistani workers still awaiting compensation three years on

On the 11th of September 2012, a fire started at the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan. Even though the factory had just passed a safety inspection, over 250 workers were burned to death because the exit doors were locked, and there were non-existence fire safety procedures and equipment. The main customer of that factory, a German retailer called KiK, originally had agreed to set up a compensation fund for the injured workers and relatives of the dead. The reality is that very little of the promised money has reached the effected workers and families while KiK continues to make big profits by buying from some of the most dangerous factories in the world. An international campaign is ongoing to force KiK to pay compensation.

Samsung Electronics in South Korea refuses to pay compensation

The anti worker and anti union activities of Samsung in South Korea over the years have been well documented, but just this week, the company once again blocked families’ attempts to claim compensation. Due to the relentless opposition by the company, some families of dead and injured workers have split from the main compensation groups as they are desperate for some closure. While Samsung has stated that it is prepared to pay some compensation, it will not apologise and will not undertake workplace changes in its factories in order to prevent further deaths and injuries.

Historical Strike in India - 150 million workers strike

In a momentous event for all workers around the world, this week around 150 million workers in India staged a nationwide general strike. These actions have been by far the biggest coordinated industrial mobilisation by workers in the history of capitalism. Indian workers were protesting against proposed laws that would weaken their ability to organise, continuing privatisation plans and an increase of the minimum wage across the board. This strike has shown the continued militancy and organisation of the Indian working class and its success resonated around the world.

The refugee emergency in Europe points to deeper political crisis

The continuing flow of thousands of refugees from West Asia and North Africa, is leading to increasing political tensions in Europe. While how to deal with this influx is important for the welfare of the refugees, and has generated much solidarity, it overlooks the factors behind this influx. The causes for this refugee movement are to be found in the continuing wars in the region and the defeats of the 'Arab Spring' movements. These defeats have led to the strengthening of repressive capitalist regimes that have increased exploitation and unleashed war and repression from both within and without the region. Only a reinvigorated working class movement can put an end to this ongoing barbarity.

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