Workers News Roundup

Submitted by Anon on 12 October, 2007 - 9:28

Iranian sugar workers strike

Workers at an Iranian state-owned company went on strike at the beginning of October over several months’ of unpaid wages. Workers from the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Plantation and Industry Company gathered in front of the Governor’s Office in Shush city, in Khuzestan province in southern Iran and vowed to stay on strike until their demands were met.

The workers have been on strike 16 times over the past two years. But for two years they got nowhere with the management or any government officials.

Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane is the only sugar cane factory in Iran and was built nearly 50 years ago. It has nearly $100 million debts. The workers believe that since this debt is owed to state-owned institutions like the water, electricity and gas companies, as well as the tax and insurance authorities, it can be written off.

The workers say that a “sugar mafia” is operating in the country and has got the government in its pocket. While many sugar producing companies are facing bankruptcy, the private sector and the government are making big profits from importing sugar!

The workers have no right to form a trade union. Some of the workers who have been following up these issues have been victimised and threatened with the sack.

• More info; Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network, www.iwsn.org

• According to reports on LabourStart from the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, the Iranian regime has deployed members of the Lebanese Hezbollah to break the strike.

Venezuelan repression

We print this abridged declaration of the Juventud de Izquierda Revoluionaria (JIR) of Venezuela denouncing the repression against Venezuelan oil workers last month.

THE JIR repudiates the violent repression against the oil workers of Puerto La Cruz, carried out Thursday 27 September at the CVP (Corporación Venezolana de Petróleo) in Anzoátegui.

The workers were mobilising over the Collective Petroleum Contract in the morning, to deliver a document about the situation to the PDVSA President and Minister Rafael Ramírez, but the answer they got was brutal repression by the Anzoátegui state police, who attacked the peacefully protesting oil workers. This mobilisation was part of the national day of struggle for the Collective Petroleum Contract. A small group of workers, among them José Bodas, general secretary of Fedeptrol-Anzoátegui, were locked inside the CVP building. Three workers suffered bullet wounds.

Once more, workers struggling for their basic rights in the country have suffered brutal repression. It is no accident that these repressive acts are against front line workers.

Today the same oil workers who confronted the coup plotters of April 2002, and those who were in the front ranks to defeat the oil work-stoppage sabotage [December 2002 – January 2003], organised by the right wing and ordered from the US, by taking control of several refineries like that of El Palito, and preventing the success of Washington’s assault, are repressed.

We call on all the political forces of the left, on the workers’ organisations, unions and popular organizations, on the social movements, on student centres and human rights groups, etc., to repudiate this brutal act. The broadest unity is needed, to carry out protests. This deed cannot go unpunished, since it indicates that now workers’ protests are beginning to be criminalised.

We hold the government of this state and its police, and the national government, which runs PDVSA, responsible for all these acts, as well as for the fate of the workers who are still in the CVP installations in Anzoátegui.

• Full article at www.ft-ci.org/article.php3?id_article=1009

Climate change

While new records are set for Arctic temperatures and the Amazon rain forest burns, the global capitalist class and its states cannot agree even the most limited palliatives.

Last week, new reports by Canadian researchers working in the Arctic found temperatures of 22°C, some 15°C above average in July and August.

This led to dramatic melting of Arctic sea ice in September and suggests global warming is taking place even more rapidly than feared.

At the same time projects to upgrade road and river transport, as well as plans to create dams and power and communications cabling, mean that the entire Amazon jungle may be lost within 40 years.

Against this backdrop, the US government convened a meeting of the 20 biggest global polluting countries, responsible for nearly 80% of global carbon emissions – but failed to agree on a common international programme to cut emissions over the next generation. At the talks George Bush rejected mandatory caps or specific targets to reduce emissions, and instead pinned his hopes on market mechanisms and unspecified technologies. This puts in question whether any sort of global deal will be struck in Bali at the UN climate change conference in December.

One measure of the paucity of market-driven measures came to light last week. A survey of FTSE 100 by Christian Aid found that fewer than one in five companies have absolute emissions reductions targets, with only seven of them aiming to cut their emissions by 5% a year. Fewer than half include indirect emissions in their figures and one in six doesn’t even bother to calculate their emissions at all.

For the capitalist class, profit comes before the planet, just as it comes before poverty and working class peoples’ lives. The labour movement simply cannot trust the bourgeoisie to tackle climate change. What we need is to develop our own programme of demands to stop global warming. This must include control over the big production decisions, and drastic changes in working hours.

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