Anti-racist activists right across the world
took to the streets in their thousands to oppose racism and fascism
and to stand in support of refugees. The international day, declared M19, was observed right across the globe
over the weekend of March 19 to 21. In Australia, the annual Palm Sunday march for refugees was marked with thousands of protesters in the streets of Melbourne
and other cities. Racism divides us as workers and only serves the boss’s interests. We must oppose these divisions and stand united as workers internationally.
Open The Borders! Free the Refugees! Let them Stay!
The Malaysian police have shut down a Marxism course organised by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), in a new escalation of state repression. The police cited reasons of public safety and violence as the reasons to shut down the course, and alleged that they had received complaints about it. The PSM believes political opponents are behind the complaints, and has issued a public statement. This attack on political organising is not new in Malaysia, and demonstrates yet another reason why we as workers must unite internationally against all forms of repression against our efforts to organise.
In another sign of the savage exploitation that workers in Pakistan have to endure, 10 coal miners were recently killed in a methane gas explosion. The disaster happened in Al-Hussaini coal mine in Kyber Pakhtoonkhaw province. Subsequent bad weather and poor rescue equipment further hampered the rescue efforts. These deaths are only the latest in a series of disasters that point to the lack of health and safety conditions for Pakistani coal miners.
Mahmoud Langroodi, Mohammad Reza Niknejad and Mehdi Bohlooli, all members of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association were sentenced this week by the Islamic Revolutionary court in Tehran to five years in jail. One of them, Mahmoud Langroodi, was already in jail serving a nine year prison sentence, which was also for trade union activities. Last year saw huge mobilisations by teachers in Iran, and these sentences are quite clearly an attempt by the Iranian government to destroy this new activism. Just last week, another labour activist, Reza Shahabi, a bus driver and labour activist, was sentenced to an additional year in prison.
Almost 600 former workers of Hindustan Unilever who were employed at its thermometer factory in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, have finally won their fight to receive compensation for their injuries and illnesses. One of the main components of thermometers is mercury, a highly toxic substance for humans. Unilever for decades dumped unused mercury in the surrounding lands where workers and their families lived. Since 2001, the workers and their supporters have waged a continuous struggle to force the company to accept responsibility. While a settlement has been reached, Unilever still needs to decontaminate the region.
The number of Palestinians in Israeli jails topped 6,000 people at the end of January 2016, with at least 10% of them in ‘administrative detention’. There are constant hunger strikes by prisoner fighting for better conditions or their freedom. These increasing arrests have to be seen in light of the continuing Occupation of Palestinian lands, with more land stolen in recent days. In addition, the Israeli military continues to target civilians, producing an ever increasing number of wounded and dead.
Activists in Thailand
are using the proposed vote for a new constitution, which would cement the military’s role in Thai politics, to show opposition to the military junta. Given the level of repression
in Thailand, activists like Anurak Jeantawanich, face constant surveillance and harassment
from the authorities. In an unrelated incident, the death of eight workers
in a chemical accident in a bank vault is a symptom of a system where sub-contracting is widespread and union organising repressed.
Free Somyot! Free all political prisoners in Thailand!
Abolish Article 112!
End military dictatorship!
Another worker has suffered acute methanol poisoning
at a Samsung factory in the last month. The young worker had to be hospitalised and later fell into a coma. This case is only the latest of a spate of serious injuries
that workers have suffered at Samsung where reports indicate they are not provided with health and safety equipment. Samsung electronics is a brutal employer with a long historyof union repression
. Many of its workers are in precarious employment with widespread sub-contracting, temporary and casualised jobs.
Australian unions are advocating for a new law that would automatically give workers a permanent contract
after six months of casual employment with the same employer. The use of casualisation is one of the methods used by employers all over the world to undermine workers’ conditions and union organising. In a related matter, a Parliamentary committee looking at the issue of seasonal workers
has heard how this system is literally creating a new class of ‘bonded’ workers in Australia. Unions are campaigning against the scheme as it renders the workers totally open to exploitation from employers.