World In Action

September 1, 2011

News from around the world that you may have missed…

14 Year-old boy killed by Bahraini security forces
According to the Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, a teenage boy was killed after being hit by a tear gas canister in the village of Sitra. Channel 6 News reports that “14-year old Ali Jawad Ahmed was among a small crowd which had gathered overnight in the village of Sitra, an oil hub 6 miles (9.6 kilometers) south of the Bahraini capital of Manama.” Apparently, “The group was engaged in a peaceful anti-government march when security forces allegedly used ‘excessive force’ against the demonstrators.” That force included firing a tear gas canister into the face of an unarmed 14 year-old boy from 7 metres away. []

Striking at Suzuki in India
Workers at the Maruti Suzuki plant in India continue to strike in reaction to the imposition of a “good conduct” bond by management. In the latest development, workers from factories around the plant in Manesar have assembled to show solidarity and, perhaps, launch strikes of their own. As Satyam Verma of the Citizens Front in Support of the Maruti Suzuki Workers’ Struggle puts it, “The company has also imposed a dictatorial and utterly illegal ‘good conduct bond’ on the workers and has decreed that any worker who will not sign the bond will be considered ‘on strike’ and will not be allowed to enter the plant.” Over 3,000 workers have struck in response. The strike builds upon earlier actions in July which occurred in response to attempts by the management to impose their favoured candidates as union leaders. After strike action then, the state government promised to recognise an independent union, but has back-tracked since, and now has declared the current action illegal, mobilizing a hefty police response.

Bad Apple
According to the Chinese Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, Apple has been complicit in the discharge of highly toxic substances into water supplies, endangering the health of thousands. As investigative journalist Ma Jun says, “Through the process of our investigations, we discovered several suspected suppliers to Apple that have been the target of numerous complaints from local communities” while chemical discharges have been “expanding.” Allegedly, pollution from the notorious Foxconn plant is so severe that residents nearby cannot open their windows, while workers at the Win Technology factory in Suzhou have suffered illnesses related to the substance N-hexane, used to polish iPhone touch screens.

The findings regarding Apple come after Disney was accused by the campaigning group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (Sacom) of serious violations of labour rights in its Chinese factories. According to Sacom, Disney employs child labour and “forces staff to do three times the amount of overtime allowed by law” while worker suicides due to abuse by managers are also documented. The factory concerned is operated by Sturdy Products and manufactures toys for Mattel, linked to popular childrens films such as Cars and Toy Story, making the alleged use of child labour doubly disgraceful.

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