Welcome to the Working World

January 20, 2010

Interesting protests from around the world that aren’t receiving any coverage:

Colombian health care workers have occupied two churches in Bogota in response to government plans to cut back on health spending.

The Cathedral Primata, Bogota, seized by health care workers

Workers at the United Win (China) Technology Ltd Co in Shanghai have “smashed vehicles and factory facilities” after complaining about “people dying from long-term exposure to the toxicant used in the factory” and being fobbed of by management. Apparently, the firm which is Taiwanese owned, makes screens for the iPod touch.

Weavers in Faisalabad, Pakistan, have been protesting against “unscheduled electricity and gas load shedding across the city” to coincide with a presidential visit. Meanwhile, the All Pakistan Power Looms Association has begun organizing hunger strikes against the idling of power looms while cotton yarn is being exported. Again, this was due to load shedding in the power sector, with a protest in Multan being told that “load shedding had rendered 100,000 factory workers and hundreds of daily-wagers jobless but the government was not taking any step to control it.”

Ex-employees of the Babi Nail Salon in Long Island, New York, have been protesting to raise awareness of a Federal lawsuit they have filed. The workers allege that managers “failed to pay them minimum wage—sometimes not paying them at all—verbally disparaged Chinese ancestry and physically abused the workers by kicking their chairs, pinching them or clawing their arms and backs.”

The GMB union has called a protest in the near future against the exploitation of Italian workers at the Staythorpe power station in Nottinghamshire. “An audit on pay and conditions carried out by the union found that subcontractors at the Staythorpe power station site…have been underpaying Italian workers by up to 1,300 euros (£1,145) every month.”

Workers at the Tekel factory in Turkey have embarked upon a hunger strike, after 35 days of protests and a three day sit in at the Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions which workers blame for not protecting their jobs in a privatization dispute. The decision by Turkey’s government to privatise alcohol and tobacco factories has left 10,000 jobless, while 30,000 people have reportedly joined protests on their behalf. Union leaders have done nothing. At a speech by one leader, workers chanted “General strike, general resistance” and “rushed to the platform subsequent the speech and demanded [that the speaker] return, shouting “Türk-İş on duty for general strike”

Workers in Sweden have been protesting against plans to shut one of Saab’s plants in the south of the country. The 15 minute stoppage was called in response to plans by General Motors to can the plant at Trollhattan, as bids for the Swedish manufacturer have not materialised.

Production of beer at Anheuser-Busch’s plants in Belgium has been completely stopped as workers have blocked entrances to factories in Leuven, Liege and Hoegaarden. Workers have protested in response to plans for 263 redundancies, and plans for hundreds more as the American multinational “restructures” its InBev arm.

Workers at health care company Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii have struck in protest against plans to move its Hawaiian mail order pharmacy work to Colorado. UNITE HERE members have been picketing the firm and have, reportedly, been joined by workers at the Waikiki Hotels chain.

Apparently, the RMT union in the UK has overturned a strike ballot by London Underground workers in favour of action, opting to push through a very poor pay deal agreed with managers at Transport For London. As the WSWS reports, “The vote was overwhelmingly (84 percent) in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and a 62 percent majority for strike action” yet this seems unlikely to receive the backing of union management.

Workers at the XStrata owned Bulga mine in Australia are struggling with management to revise a pay deal. Apparently, the miners have “have set up a protest line outside the mine after employees were locked out by management” who acted “in response to threats of rolling stoppages and bans over a new enterprise agreement” a euphemism for a wage agreement.

People in La Brea, Trinidad and Tobago have been clashing with police over water shortages. After “The police tried clearing a blockade…residents responded by throwing rocks and bottles at them” and police had to leave the area. Apparently, the “Residents from Sobo to Santa Flora have gone without a pipe-borne supply of water for months” while “Protesters were supported by members of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union.”

Workers in the Mahalla textiles plant in Egypt have temporarily called off a hunger strike called in response to the persecution of union leaders by the firm’s commissioner general, who sacked union leader Mustafa Foda and fined another leading unionist. The Mahalla workers have been at the forefront of a labour renaissance in Egypt, where unions are heavily controlled by government, when they are permitted. “Mahalla employees demand that their leaders be reinstated in their jobs and that the company provide workers with increased allowances for transportation and housing.”

The Greek private sector umbrella union, GSEE, has called a strike in protest against government austerity measures, which will go ahead next Monday, 25 January. This precedes a similar action by the public sector union ADEDY, scheduled for 10 February, while this week “Militant Greek farmers on Monday used tractors and farm machinery to block crossings with Bulgaria and Macedonia.” In the face of planned cut backs, “producers’ organisations are sticking to demands for an immediate freeze on repayments of debt owed to the state-controlled Agricultural Bank, as well as fuel subsidies and guaranteed prices for their crops.”

Greek farmers at the border with Bulgaria

(As an aside, Greece is becoming a pivotal nation in European political economy. As the Socialist Worker reports, “Global attention is currently focused on Greece, with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund demanding austerity measures to deal with a budget deficit. The country has seen its international credit rating downgraded. There are predictions it may be forced to quit the euro.” Workers’ struggles there may be crucial in heading off European wide austerity measures.)

Meanwhile, workers in Serbia have continued a wave of strikes against pay freezes in both the public and private sectors. Workers from recently privatized firms Kopaonik and 7. Jul have been “blocking the Niš-Priština road for ten days now” while “Employees of the Republic Geodetic Authority ended their strike yesterday after 15 days, but workers of the Glutin Veterinary Institute have gone on a hunger strike” according to B92. Strikes and stoppages have hit the Novi Sad public transport system, while medical workers are considering action as the government refuses higher pay deals, under pressure from the IMF.


One Response to “Welcome to the Working World”

  1. […] I have a message, it is for the Sun readers.  You are the people being exploited here.  If you can get a job, it is insecure and poorly paid.  If it ever crosses your mind to question your situation you are confronted by the smoke and […]

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