Caribbean banana workers and farmers are campaigning in the UK ahead of new trade rule changes that threaten their livelihoods.
Many Caribbean workers and farmers depend on exporting their banana crop to the UK. At present bananas exported from the Windward Islands enjoy protected access to the EU without any tariffs — whereas “dollar” bananas from Latin America are liable for a tariff. All imported bananas are also subject to a quota system.
From the beginning of January 2006 this will change when a new tariff level will be introduced alongside a continuation of a tariff free quota for bananas from the Caribbean entering the EU. Campaigners are calling for the current quota and licence regime to be maintained, until a system can be introduced that supports socially and environmentally sustainable production for all. The proposed reforms will mean many more cheap bananas in the EU. A shift of production to other continents with very bad conditions and low wages may be the consequence.
More information: Banana Link: www.bananalink.org.uk
Thousands of demonstrators marched through the Nigerian city of Lagos at the beginning of September in protest at a 30% rise in fuel costs after subsidies were cut last month. The marches began two weeks of protests organised by the trade union federation, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC). The BBC estimated that the demonstration was more than three kilometres long.
Two-thirds of Nigeria's population is still living on less than $1 a day. Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil exporter, but is dependent on imports of fuel because it does not have enough refining capacity to meet its own needs.
After two week of protest, the NLC will decide whether further action is needed. It has not ruled out a general strike. Last year, the NLC organised three successful general strikes against fuel prices rises. However the government passed anti-union laws in March and the NLC called off a strike.
The Korean Federation of Service Workers’ Unions (KFSU) is calling for international support for their struggle against union busting at the Hotel Rivera in Daejeon City. Union members there have been struggling since August last year after the ownersclosed the hotel, in order to break the union only to reopen it again.
Messages of support: www.labourstart.org
Health workers in Argentina have organised a national strike. The Union Association of Health Professionals of Buenos Aires organised the strike after wages had been frozen for three years. Workers also want more secure contracts. The union said that 77 public hospitals, clinics and private sanatoriums joined the strike and workers were widely supported by other social organisations.