International news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 8 May, 2013 - 2:19

A court hearing on a “criminal complaint” against Iraqi oil workers’ leader Hassan Juma’a has been postponed until 19 May.

The complaint is being brought by lawyers working for the Southern Oil Company, against whom Juma’a’s Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions has a long history of organising.

However, SOC lawyers have so far failed to present any evidence or witnesses to support their complaint. They blame the Ministry of Oil for failing to provide them with requested material, but the court judge has told the SOC that 19 May is its last chance. He has also affirmed that, based on evidence he has seen, Hassan Juma’a’s involvement in workers’ demonstrations has been entirely lawful.

Juma’a says he feels positive about the case, and cites the international solidarity as a key factor.

Labour movement bodies — including the AFL-CIO, the TUC, and the FWCUI and GFIW (the two major union federations in Iraq apart from the IFOU) — have signed an open letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki demanding the charges against Juma’a are dropped.

• Sign the petition organised by US Labor Against War
• Get your union to back the open letter

Hong Kong dockers

Hong Kong dockers have secured a 9.8% pay increase after a 40-day strike. 450 crane operators and other dock workers struck on 28 March, citing low pay and oppressive working conditions as the factors behind the strike.

The Hong Kong International Terminal is the world’s third-biggest port, and is owned by Li Ka-Shing’s Hutchinson Port Holdings Trust, one of the four giants of the port industry. Li Ka-Shing is the world’s eighth richest man.

Although the final settlement is nearer to the bosses’ offer of 7% than the workers’ demand of 23%, it still represents a significant concession. Workers have faced years of pay freeze and say their wages now are lower in real terms than in 1995.

The 9.8% increase will see wages rise to around HK$60 per hour, still extremely low for one of the world’s most expensive cities. Analysts estimate the strike has caused a backlog of up to 90,000 containers.

Brisbane May Day

Over 1,000 construction workers walked off the job in Brisbane, Australia, on Labour Day, 6 May.

They demonstrated at the Attorney General’s office to demand an end to court proceedings against Bob Carnegie, who faces criminal charges for his role in organising solidarity with a construction workers’ dispute in 2012.

The verdict in Bob’s case, which was due late May, is likely to be moved to late June to allow Bob to undergo and recover from a major medical operation.

International support continues to grow, with a Unite branch in Middlesborough, England recently donating ÂŁ1,000.

• For more information, see here

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