A round-up of the latest news from working-class struggles around the world.
Airport workers in 13 cities in Indonesia are threatening to strike this weekend in protest at the government’s attempt to take over their pension fund.
According to The Jakarta Post, workers at state airport operator PT Angkasa Pura had agreed to stage a “massive protest” from 18 to 20 January before going on strike on 21 January. Air traffic controllers at the 13 airports will notify all airplanes that they will not be able to land or take off from the airports, affecting flights to tourist resorts such as Bali and Lombok.
Angkasa Pura workers have protested since the middle of last year when the company’s new management announced plans to transfer the workers’ pension fund from the workers’ foundation to a private insurance firm. Workers are concerned that the management and officials may embezzle the funds during the transfer. They also argued that the insurance firm had asked for a high fee to manage the funds, reaching 30% of the total funds managed.
Sugar workers in the Philippines have vowed not to go back to work without their union leaders, after their strike was declared illegal and dismissal of the 35 union officers who led the strike upheld.
The workers, members of the CAT union, suffered violent repression on 16 November 2004 at the Hacienda Luisita sugar mill. In all, 14 people were killed, including two children aged 2 and 5 years old who died from suffocation from teargas thrown by the police and army dispersal teams. One of the victims was strangled after being shot and his dead body hanged by the factory gate. At least 35 people sustained gunshot wounds, 133 were arrested and detained, hundreds were wounded and another hundred are still missing.
Trade unions in the Philippines are calling for a strong international protest, demanding a full investigation of what happened, the rehiring of illegally dismissed workers, and withdrawal of criminal charges brought against the strikers.
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Management of the Jotun multinational, located in Tekirdag — a city near Istanbul — sacked all 50 members of Petrol-Is union earlier this month in order to smash the organisation.
Workers are demonstrating outside the factory and are refusing to allow anyone to work inside.
Ten new workers who were hired by the management stopped work immediately after they were warned of the problem. The workers and Petrol-Is are asking Jotun to stop the unionbusting and to re-hire the dismissed workers.
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McDonald’s has become the latest well-known multinational operating in China to announce it will allow trade unions to organise in its restaurants.
The problem is that the only union allowed by law is the state-run ACFTU, which will not offer workers any kind of support for their grievances.
On 6 January, 32 McDonald’s restaurants in Tianjin set up trade unions. Also this month two branch companies of Samsung in Tianjin have also established trade unions.
Carrefour in Beijing and Harbin has also followed the trend. STAECO, which has just set up an office in Xiamen, will also establish a union in late January. At present, half of the several dozen large foreign companies in Xiamen have set up unions.
However, some multinationals are not allowing the ACFTU to organise, in spite of the law that says they can. For example Wal-Mart stores refuse to set up unions.
* More info: Asian Labour News www.asianlabour.org