Cambodia: Workers rights activists call for Jan. 26 mass protest despite ban on gatherings of 10 or moreJanuary 25, 2014
Cheang Thida (pictured above) is a young woman local union leader of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) at Kin Tai Factory in Phnom Penh. Last December she led 10,000 workers on a legal and peaceful strike demanding a minimum wage that satisfies the workers’ basic needs. As a consequence, she was sacked from her job making Armani Jeans.
By the beginning of January this year the strike had spread and was involving between 50,000 and 100,000 according to grassroots worker organisers. But their strike was crushed by a brutal military intervention on January 2-3 which resulted in the killing of at least four workers and serious injuries to many more. On January 4 a protest camp of the opposition CRNP was violently dispersed.
Twenty-three workers and activists detained in the crushing of are still in prison and are facing charges of intentional aggravated violence and intentional aggravated damage to property.
A Free The 23 campaign has been launched by trade unions and human rights groups. But when a small group of unionists and activists from the campaign tried to present copies of statements of protests to foreign embassies in Phnom Penh on January 21, 11 of them were detained.
Among the 11 detained (and released later that day) was Cheang Thida and Rong Chhun, a leader of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) to which Thida’s union is affiliated. According to Joel Preston, an Australian working as a consultant with the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) in Cambodia, they were targeted because they are leaders of the “the fiercest and most independent union confederation in the country”.
“Thida was instrumental in leading 10,000 workers on strike in a major garment district, Chak Angre Krom. As a result Mr Rong Chhun was summoned to court on January 14. Following this, Thida and Chhun were at the US Embassy with a group of other activists submitting a petition for the release of the detained workers when a car pulled up and police kidnapped the two from the crowd,” Preston told Green Left Weekly
“Chhun is a very public figure and those associated with CCU, CATU or CITA (The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association) are also at risk.”
An attempt by the Free The 23 campaign to hold a small prayer meeting near the Royal Palace on the evening of January 19 was also broken up.
The Phnom Penh municipal government has imposed a ban on gatherings of 10 or more in the city and has enlisted private security guards to strictly enforce this ban. These security guards are dressed in blue uniforms and wear black-visor motorbike helmets (see photo right). They carry long batons and have been aggressive towards protesters.
A group of trade unions and human rights organisations have responded by calling a mass rally for January 26 at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh.
Malay Tim, the president of the Cambodian Youth Network, told GLW that the rally was called by nine trade union and associations: the he Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation; Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association; the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions; the Cambodian Youth Network; the Cambodia’s Independent Civil-Servants Association; the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia; the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia; the National Trade Union Coalition; and the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association.
“We hope to bring out about 10,000 people around three demands: 1. Free the 23 human rights defender and workers; 2. A minimum wage US$160 a month for workers in all sectors; 3. Stop the violence.”
Tim added that the government had refused a permit for the rally and warned that it will be dispersed however the people “had no alternative but to counter-attack with non-violent struggle for justice and a living wage.”
He rejected the ban on gatherings of 10 or more saying it contravened the Cambodian constitution which guarantees rule according to “principles of liberal democracy and pluralism” (Article 1).
Full article

Cambodia: Workers rights activists call for Jan. 26 mass protest despite ban on gatherings of 10 or more
January 25, 2014

Cheang Thida (pictured above) is a young woman local union leader of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) at Kin Tai Factory in Phnom Penh. Last December she led 10,000 workers on a legal and peaceful strike demanding a minimum wage that satisfies the workers’ basic needs. As a consequence, she was sacked from her job making Armani Jeans.

By the beginning of January this year the strike had spread and was involving between 50,000 and 100,000 according to grassroots worker organisers. But their strike was crushed by a brutal military intervention on January 2-3 which resulted in the killing of at least four workers and serious injuries to many more. On January 4 a protest camp of the opposition CRNP was violently dispersed.

Twenty-three workers and activists detained in the crushing of are still in prison and are facing charges of intentional aggravated violence and intentional aggravated damage to property.

A Free The 23 campaign has been launched by trade unions and human rights groups. But when a small group of unionists and activists from the campaign tried to present copies of statements of protests to foreign embassies in Phnom Penh on January 21, 11 of them were detained.

Among the 11 detained (and released later that day) was Cheang Thida and Rong Chhun, a leader of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) to which Thida’s union is affiliated. According to Joel Preston, an Australian working as a consultant with the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) in Cambodia, they were targeted because they are leaders of the “the fiercest and most independent union confederation in the country”.

“Thida was instrumental in leading 10,000 workers on strike in a major garment district, Chak Angre Krom. As a result Mr Rong Chhun was summoned to court on January 14. Following this, Thida and Chhun were at the US Embassy with a group of other activists submitting a petition for the release of the detained workers when a car pulled up and police kidnapped the two from the crowd,” Preston told Green Left Weekly

“Chhun is a very public figure and those associated with CCU, CATU or CITA (The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association) are also at risk.”

An attempt by the Free The 23 campaign to hold a small prayer meeting near the Royal Palace on the evening of January 19 was also broken up.

The Phnom Penh municipal government has imposed a ban on gatherings of 10 or more in the city and has enlisted private security guards to strictly enforce this ban. These security guards are dressed in blue uniforms and wear black-visor motorbike helmets (see photo right). They carry long batons and have been aggressive towards protesters.

A group of trade unions and human rights organisations have responded by calling a mass rally for January 26 at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh.

Malay Tim, the president of the Cambodian Youth Network, told GLW that the rally was called by nine trade union and associations: the he Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation; Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association; the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions; the Cambodian Youth Network; the Cambodia’s Independent Civil-Servants Association; the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia; the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia; the National Trade Union Coalition; and the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association.

“We hope to bring out about 10,000 people around three demands: 1. Free the 23 human rights defender and workers; 2. A minimum wage US$160 a month for workers in all sectors; 3. Stop the violence.”

Tim added that the government had refused a permit for the rally and warned that it will be dispersed however the people “had no alternative but to counter-attack with non-violent struggle for justice and a living wage.”

He rejected the ban on gatherings of 10 or more saying it contravened the Cambodian constitution which guarantees rule according to “principles of liberal democracy and pluralism” (Article 1).

Full article

Thousands of African migrants strike in IsraelJanuary 20, 2014
Tens of thousands of African migrants suspended a general strike Jan. 13 that had been in effect since January 5 in the Zionist state of Israel. The strike is scheduled to resume on Jan. 15 in the aftermath of the death of Ariel Sharon.
A list of demands put forward by the African community — most of whom come from Eritrea and South Sudan — calls for the nullification of the recently enacted Anti-Infiltrator Law, a halt to arresting people under that law, the release of those currently jailed and a review of asylum requests for Eritreans and Sudanese. The strike impacted the hotel, restaurant, café and cleaning services sectors of the Israeli economy.
Some 60,000 migrants from Eritrea and South Sudan have entered Israel since 2006. Over the last two years, a new detention facility has been constructed to hold migrants on the border with the Egyptian Sinai.
The migrants are forced to flee ongoing conflicts in Central and East Africa and the subsequent economic devastation they have created. These conflicts are a direct result of Western imperialist interference in the internal affairs of post-colonial African states.
The Workers’ Hotline organization has received numerous complaints from African migrant workers of terminations and other threats from employers. “A group of workers came to our offices, and we also got phone calls from workers in Eilat who were told not to come back, and that their strike was seen as quitting without notice,” said Noah Kaufman, who works as a coordinator for refugees and asylum seekers at the agency. (Haaretz, Jan. 13)
Kaufman went on to say, “There were two accounts of workers given ultimatums — either agree to change their employment conditions for the worse, or quit without getting severance pay or notice.”
The agency says it is developing a legal strategy for addressing the ultimatums and firings.
A staff attorney for the Hotline, Michael Tadjer, stated: “Employers cannot exploit the asylum seekers’ suffering to worsen their terms of employment. They are using this as a means to threaten their workers. In essence, they’re saying, ‘We can fire you, so either you quit or we take away your seniority, worsen your conditions,’ or lots of other things. Employers are using this for exploitation.” (Haaretz, Jan. 13)
Tadjer went on to note: “The legal question is how much the strike was protected. Although they are unorganized workers, there is an umbrella organization that declared this strike, and there have been precedents in Europe in which sectors of the population went on strike in protest against the government, when policy directly harmed individuals. This strike is a political strike, and it might be that it is supported by law, but it hasn’t come up for legal review. We think that firing workers after a week-long strike against a law that harms the most basic thing — their freedom and ability to work — is an act committed in bad faith.”
Full article

Thousands of African migrants strike in Israel
January 20, 2014

Tens of thousands of African migrants suspended a general strike Jan. 13 that had been in effect since January 5 in the Zionist state of Israel. The strike is scheduled to resume on Jan. 15 in the aftermath of the death of Ariel Sharon.

A list of demands put forward by the African community — most of whom come from Eritrea and South Sudan — calls for the nullification of the recently enacted Anti-Infiltrator Law, a halt to arresting people under that law, the release of those currently jailed and a review of asylum requests for Eritreans and Sudanese. The strike impacted the hotel, restaurant, café and cleaning services sectors of the Israeli economy.

Some 60,000 migrants from Eritrea and South Sudan have entered Israel since 2006. Over the last two years, a new detention facility has been constructed to hold migrants on the border with the Egyptian Sinai.

The migrants are forced to flee ongoing conflicts in Central and East Africa and the subsequent economic devastation they have created. These conflicts are a direct result of Western imperialist interference in the internal affairs of post-colonial African states.

The Workers’ Hotline organization has received numerous complaints from African migrant workers of terminations and other threats from employers. “A group of workers came to our offices, and we also got phone calls from workers in Eilat who were told not to come back, and that their strike was seen as quitting without notice,” said Noah Kaufman, who works as a coordinator for refugees and asylum seekers at the agency. (Haaretz, Jan. 13)

Kaufman went on to say, “There were two accounts of workers given ultimatums — either agree to change their employment conditions for the worse, or quit without getting severance pay or notice.”

The agency says it is developing a legal strategy for addressing the ultimatums and firings.

A staff attorney for the Hotline, Michael Tadjer, stated: “Employers cannot exploit the asylum seekers’ suffering to worsen their terms of employment. They are using this as a means to threaten their workers. In essence, they’re saying, ‘We can fire you, so either you quit or we take away your seniority, worsen your conditions,’ or lots of other things. Employers are using this for exploitation.” (Haaretz, Jan. 13)

Tadjer went on to note: “The legal question is how much the strike was protected. Although they are unorganized workers, there is an umbrella organization that declared this strike, and there have been precedents in Europe in which sectors of the population went on strike in protest against the government, when policy directly harmed individuals. This strike is a political strike, and it might be that it is supported by law, but it hasn’t come up for legal review. We think that firing workers after a week-long strike against a law that harms the most basic thing — their freedom and ability to work — is an act committed in bad faith.”

Full article

Thousands of teachers in Puerto Rico strike against pension cuts
January 15, 2014

Thousands of teachers across Puerto Rico walked off their jobs Tuesday in a noisy two-day strike over cuts to their pensions that the island’s government says are necessary to avert financial disaster but that educators say will force many of them into poverty.

The teachers gathered with tambourines, cowbells and bullhorns outside public schools across the island on the first day of classes after winter break, forcing hundreds of schools to close. 

Aida Diaz, president of Puerto Rico’s Teachers’ Association, condemned the law that was approved on Christmas Eve and calls for switching from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution system, among other changes. She noted that teachers in Puerto Rico do not collect U.S. Social Security, and that many would see a decrease in their pension.

“This is the most important fight in our history,” she said. “It’s about protecting and defending the only source of income we have upon retirement.”

Source
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African asylum seekers strike to demand rights, hold unprecedented rally in Tel Aviv
January 6, 2014

Over 20,000 asylum seekers, mostly from Eritrea, assembled in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square Sunday morning to demand recognition as refugees. Across Israel, asylum seekers went on a three-day strike, and more protests were planned.

In recent weeks, the government stepped up the arrest and imprisonment of African asylum seekers who entered the state without permits. Several months ago, Israel’s High Court of Justice struck down a law authorizing the state to lock up for three years any person who entered the country illegally, and in some cases, indefinitely. But last month the Knesset passed a new law, authorizing the state to hold asylum seekers in “closed” prisons for a year. A new “open” holding facility named “Holot” began operating in the desert, where asylum seekers can be held indefinitely until their eventual deportation.

The government has stepped up enforcement measures against Israeli businesses that employ asylum seekers in recent weeks and months and municipalities have been shutting down shops and restaurants owned by Africans, adding to a feeling of despair in the asylum seeker community.

The general strike is the latest step in the African protest campaign against the recent measures. Dozens of asylum seekers walked out of the Holot facility (most of them were returned by force), large marches took place in Tel Aviv and Eritrean dissidents broke into an event in the North hosted by the Eritrean ambassador to Israel. Some 50 people were injured and arrested in the fight that broke out between the regime supporters and the protesters.

Most asylum seekers who do work are employed in hotels and restaurants, mostly as various types of cleaners.

Click here for +972 Magazine’s full coverage of asylum seekers in Israel

Protesters in Tel Aviv held signs reading: “We are not criminals; we are refugees,” and “Freedom”. Speakers told stories about the plight of the community. “We are living in fear,” one speaker said, “the government waged war on us.” At least a couple members of Knesset showed up and expressed their support for the asylum seekers.

Speaking at the rally, chair of the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said, “this is an existing moment: tens of thousands of innocent people are not willing to go to prison, standing together and shouting: ‘we are not criminals.”

“There are certain steps (taken by the state) about which we cannot stay silent,” she continued. “It’s time for real answers – and the government can give them.”

There are some 53,000 African Asylum seekers in Israel. The government refuses to review their individual requests for refugee status and instead refers to them as “infiltrators.” The term, which was used to describe Palestinians refugees that tried to enter the country in the 1950s, is also commonly used in the Hebrew media.

Source

kropotkitten

reclaimingthelatinatag:

Luisa Capetillo (October 28, 1879 – October 10, 1922) was one of Puerto Rico’s most famous labor organizers. She was also a writer and anarchist who fought for workers and women’s rights.

During a farm workers’ strike in 1905, Capetillo wrote propaganda and organized the workers in the strike. She quickly became a leader of the “FLT” (American Federation of Labor) and traveled throughout Puerto Rico educating and organizing women. Her hometown, Arecibo, became the most unionized area of the country.

In 1908, during the “FLT” convention, Capetillo asked the union to approve a policy for women’s suffrage. She insisted that all women should have the same right to vote as men. Capetillo is considered to be one of Puerto Rico’s first suffragists.

In 1912, Capetillo traveled to New York City, where she organized Cuban and Puerto Rican tobacco workers. Later on, she went to Tampa, Florida, where she also organized the workers. In Florida, she published the second edition of “Mi Opinión”. She also traveled to Cuba and the Dominican Republic, where she joined the striking workers in their cause.

In 1919, she challenged the mainstream society by becoming the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear pants in public. Capetillo was sent to jail for what was then considered to be a “crime”, but, the judge later dropped the charges against her. In that same year, along with other labor activists, she helped pass a minimum-wage law in the Puerto Rican Legislature.

fuckyeahmarxismleninism
fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

Durham, North Carolina: “Fast food workers repeat 1957 march to segregated lunch counter at Royal Ice Cream, which was site of the first sit-in during Civil Rights movement. Now fast food workers carry the torch and struggle for justice on the job! Burger King worker Willetta Dukes speaks to crowd.”
 #fastfoodforward #dec5strike#organizethesouth
Photo and report by Dante Strobino

Today, fast food workers went on strike to demand a living wage in more than 100 cities across the country. 

fuckyeahmarxismleninism:

Durham, North Carolina: “Fast food workers repeat 1957 march to segregated lunch counter at Royal Ice Cream, which was site of the first sit-in during Civil Rights movement. Now fast food workers carry the torch and struggle for justice on the job! Burger King worker Willetta Dukes speaks to crowd.”

 #fastfoodforward #dec5strike#organizethesouth

Photo and report by Dante Strobino

Today, fast food workers went on strike to demand a living wage in more than 100 cities across the country. 

OUR Walmart announces 1,500 Black Friday protests across the country 
November 27, 2013

Walmart workers and community allies today announced plans leading up to and on Black Friday, saying 1500 protests are scheduled for across the country, in what is set to be one of the largest mobilizations of working families in American history. Workers are calling for an end to illegal retaliation, and for Walmart to publicly commit to improving labor standards, such as providing workers with more full time work and $25,000 a year. As the country’s largest retailer and employer, Walmart makes more than $17 billion in profits, with the wealth of the Walton family totaling over $144.7 billion – equal to that of 42% of Americans.

“Black Friday 2013 will mark a turning point in American history,” said Dorian Warren, associate professor at Columbia University. “Fifteen hundred protests against Walmart is unprecedented. Working families are fighting back like never before – and have the support of America behind them.

Emboldened by news from Walmart CEO Bill Simon that as many as 825,000 workers are paid less than $25,000 a year, workers and supporters are calling for better jobs nationwide. Major protests are planned in more than a dozen metropolitan cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Bay Area, Seattle, Sacramento, Miami, Minneapolis and Washington, DC.

The announcement follows revelations this week that many Walmart workers don’t have enough money to cover Thanksgiving dinner for their families. A photo from a Canton, Ohio store set the internet abuzz Monday, with workers,customers and commentators pointing to a food drive set up for Walmart’s own employees as proof that the retailer pays its workers poverty wages.

“Walmart’s right that associates do stick together and look out for each other. We have to because Walmart and the Waltons seem to be fine with the financial struggles that we’re all facing,” said Barbara Gertz, a five-year Walmart employee from Colorado. “We’re are all in the same situation, one that Walmart creates by paying us poverty wages that aren’t enough to cover holiday meals. We don’t want handouts; we want an employer that pays us enough to afford Thanksgiving dinner – and dinner every night of the year.”

Workers and community supporters have been inspired by actions across the country in recent weeks. In Los Angeles, workers went on a two-day strike that culminated in the largest-ever act of civil disobedience against Walmart, and last week, workers in SeattleChicagoOhio and Dallas joined them in walking off their jobs.

The strikes, which call for an end to illegal retaliation at Walmart, come as the federal labor board this week issued a decision to prosecute Walmart for widespread violations of its workers’ rights. The decision will provide additional protection for Walmart’s 1.3 million employees when they are speaking out for better jobs. The Board will prosecute Walmart’s illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 117 workers, including those who went on strike last June.

With the Labor Relations Board moves forward to seek a settlement that could include the reinstatement of fired workers, a group of Walmart employees who were illegally retaliated against are traveling to Bentonville, Arkansas to call on Walmart CEO Bill Simon to reinstate them immediately. Early Fridaymorning, November 22, the fired workers will visit Home Office to urge Walmart to live up to the anti-retaliation policy it professes to follow.

“I’m traveling to Bentonville with other workers who were wrongfully fired because Walmart needs to hear from us directly: we want our jobs back, and we want you to put the anti-retaliation policy you talk about into practice,” said Jeanna Slate, a fired striker, mother and grandmother from rural Texas who is traveling to Bentonville. “Walmart makes $17 billion dollars in profits while the majority of its workers make less than $25,000 a year. Walmart can do better.”

Walmart workers have escalated their online organizing and community outreach ahead of Black Friday 2013, allowing customers and community members to join the fight for $25,000 and an end to illegal retaliation. Chicago worker Charmaine Givens-Thomas launched an online petition asking President Obama to meet with Walmart workers, which currently has more than 100,000 signers; individuals can sponsor a Walmart striker online; and a new online portal,www.associatevoices.com, allows associates to step forward and request Black Friday protests at their stores. Just weeks since the launch, the number of cities that have requested a Black Friday rally is well ahead of the number at this point in 2012.

Full article

Bangladesh factories agree to pay rise, but protests go onNovember 15, 2013
Bangladeshi garment factory owners said on Thursday they had agreed to a proposed 77 percent rise in the minimum wage, but police used teargas and rubber bullets to break up new protests by stone-throwing workers calling for a bigger increase.
Bangladesh’s official wage board had proposed the rise to $68 a month as the minimum wage, up from $38, after a string of fatal factory accidents this year thrust poor pay and conditions into the international spotlight.
The factory owners agreed to the proposal at a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday night after several days of violent protests by workers.
"We have agreed to the new wages after the prime minister assured us she would look into our problems," said Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association.
He said the new wage, to be officially approved by the wage board, would be effective from next month.
"In the greater interest of our garment sector, we agreed to it. But many small factories cannot afford the rise," Islam told Reuters.
Workers demanding a $100 a month took to the streets, blocking major roads and attacking factories in the Ashulia industrial belt, on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka.
Police used water cannon, fired rubber bullets and lobbed teargas to disperse the stone-throwing demonstrators, witnesses said. More than 50 people, including police, were wounded.
"We will continue protesting until we realize our demand," a protester said.
STILL LOWEST
Violent protests over the pay rise have forced the closure of more than 100 factories this week. About 200 were shut on Thursday.
Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju urged workers to go back to work. He said continuing unrest could threaten livelihoods and warned of action against trouble-makers.
"We are working to ensure decent pay for garment workers," he told reporters after a meeting trade unions. "Culprits who are trying to destroy the industry won’t be spared."
The new wage would still be the lowest for garment workers in the world, said Khandaker Golam Moazzem, a research director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue think-tank.
The protests have coincided with violent anti-government protests and strikes led by the main opposition party demanding next year’s elections take place under a non-partisan government.
The impasse between the ruling party and opposition over election rules is a fresh threat to Bangladesh’s $22 billion garment export industry, the economic lifeblood of the impoverished country of 160 million, employing about 4 million people, most of them women.
The garment industry, which supplies many Western brands such as Wal-Mart, JC Penney and H&M, has already been under the spotlight after the accidents, including the collapse of a building housing factories in April that killed more than 1,130 people.

Rock-bottom wages and trade deals with Western countries have helped make Bangladesh the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China, with 60 percent of its clothes going to Europe and 23 percent to the United States.
Source

Bangladesh factories agree to pay rise, but protests go on
November 15, 2013

Bangladeshi garment factory owners said on Thursday they had agreed to a proposed 77 percent rise in the minimum wage, but police used teargas and rubber bullets to break up new protests by stone-throwing workers calling for a bigger increase.

Bangladesh’s official wage board had proposed the rise to $68 a month as the minimum wage, up from $38, after a string of fatal factory accidents this year thrust poor pay and conditions into the international spotlight.

The factory owners agreed to the proposal at a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday night after several days of violent protests by workers.

"We have agreed to the new wages after the prime minister assured us she would look into our problems," said Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association.

He said the new wage, to be officially approved by the wage board, would be effective from next month.

"In the greater interest of our garment sector, we agreed to it. But many small factories cannot afford the rise," Islam told Reuters.

Workers demanding a $100 a month took to the streets, blocking major roads and attacking factories in the Ashulia industrial belt, on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka.

Police used water cannon, fired rubber bullets and lobbed teargas to disperse the stone-throwing demonstrators, witnesses said. More than 50 people, including police, were wounded.

"We will continue protesting until we realize our demand," a protester said.

STILL LOWEST

Violent protests over the pay rise have forced the closure of more than 100 factories this week. About 200 were shut on Thursday.

Labour Minister Rajiuddin Ahmed Raju urged workers to go back to work. He said continuing unrest could threaten livelihoods and warned of action against trouble-makers.

"We are working to ensure decent pay for garment workers," he told reporters after a meeting trade unions. "Culprits who are trying to destroy the industry won’t be spared."

The new wage would still be the lowest for garment workers in the world, said Khandaker Golam Moazzem, a research director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue think-tank.

The protests have coincided with violent anti-government protests and strikes led by the main opposition party demanding next year’s elections take place under a non-partisan government.

The impasse between the ruling party and opposition over election rules is a fresh threat to Bangladesh’s $22 billion garment export industry, the economic lifeblood of the impoverished country of 160 million, employing about 4 million people, most of them women.

The garment industry, which supplies many Western brands such as Wal-Mart, JC Penney and H&M, has already been under the spotlight after the accidents, including the collapse of a building housing factories in April that killed more than 1,130 people.

Rock-bottom wages and trade deals with Western countries have helped make Bangladesh the world’s second-largest apparel exporter after China, with 60 percent of its clothes going to Europe and 23 percent to the United States.

Source

Protest by Bangladeshi garment workers shutters 100 factoriesNovember 12, 2013
Thousands of Bangladeshi workers demanding a higher minimum wage on Monday hurled rocks and sticks at clothing factories and clashed with police who used rubber bullets and tear gas against them, bringing fresh scrutiny to working conditions in the country’s garment industry.
The garment workers’ demonstrations forced the closure of more than 100 factories in the Ashulia industrial belt on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of total garment exports.
At least 30 people were reported wounded in the clash with police.
The South Asian nation has seen three weeks of bloody political protests, and the demonstrations by garment workers only added to the chaos.
Bangladesh’s official wage board proposed a 77 percent rise in the minimum wage for garment workers last week, up to the equivalent of $66.25 per month, after a string of fatal factory accidents this year thrust poor pay and conditions into the international spotlight.
But even with a raise, at $38, Bangladesh still has the lowest minimum wage in the world, which is about half that of rival Asian exporters Vietnam and Cambodia and just over a quarter of the rate in China, according to data from the International Labor Organization.
Bangladeshi workers have rejected the proposal, demanding $100 a month instead.
But factory owners said they could not afford 77 percent, and that it would increase their production cost significantly and destroy the industry in a fiercely competitive global market.
The Ministry of Labor would still have to approve the proposed amount to make it a law.
Bangladesh’s garment industry has come under scrutiny for its often harsh and unsafe conditions after the collapse of a factory building killed more than 1,100 people in April. In another horrific case, a fire last November killed 112 workers.
As the world’s second-largest garment manufacturing country after China, Bangladesh earns more than $20 billion a year from garment exports, mainly to the United States and Europe, an industry that serves as an economic lifeblood to the impoverished country of 160 million people. The sector employs about 4 million workers, mostly women.
Garment factory staff went on strike over wages for six days in September, hitting production at almost 20 percent of the country’s 3,200 factories. The strikes followed similar protests over the summer.
The new protest coincided with a four-day nationwide strike led by the main opposition party demanding next year’s election take place under a non-partisan government.
Source

Protest by Bangladeshi garment workers shutters 100 factories
November 12, 2013

Thousands of Bangladeshi workers demanding a higher minimum wage on Monday hurled rocks and sticks at clothing factories and clashed with police who used rubber bullets and tear gas against them, bringing fresh scrutiny to working conditions in the country’s garment industry.

The garment workers’ demonstrations forced the closure of more than 100 factories in the Ashulia industrial belt on the outskirts of the capital Dhaka, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of total garment exports.

At least 30 people were reported wounded in the clash with police.

The South Asian nation has seen three weeks of bloody political protests, and the demonstrations by garment workers only added to the chaos.

Bangladesh’s official wage board proposed a 77 percent rise in the minimum wage for garment workers last week, up to the equivalent of $66.25 per month, after a string of fatal factory accidents this year thrust poor pay and conditions into the international spotlight.

But even with a raise, at $38, Bangladesh still has the lowest minimum wage in the world, which is about half that of rival Asian exporters Vietnam and Cambodia and just over a quarter of the rate in China, according to data from the International Labor Organization.

Bangladeshi workers have rejected the proposal, demanding $100 a month instead.

But factory owners said they could not afford 77 percent, and that it would increase their production cost significantly and destroy the industry in a fiercely competitive global market.

The Ministry of Labor would still have to approve the proposed amount to make it a law.

Bangladesh’s garment industry has come under scrutiny for its often harsh and unsafe conditions after the collapse of a factory building killed more than 1,100 people in April. In another horrific case, a fire last November killed 112 workers.

As the world’s second-largest garment manufacturing country after China, Bangladesh earns more than $20 billion a year from garment exports, mainly to the United States and Europe, an industry that serves as an economic lifeblood to the impoverished country of 160 million people. The sector employs about 4 million workers, mostly women.

Garment factory staff went on strike over wages for six days in September, hitting production at almost 20 percent of the country’s 3,200 factories. The strikes followed similar protests over the summer.

The new protest coincided with a four-day nationwide strike led by the main opposition party demanding next year’s election take place under a non-partisan government.

Source

54 arrested in LA during Walmart protest
November 8, 2013

Dozens of Walmart workers and activists were arrested last night protesting the company’s labor practices and retaliatory behavior in Los Angeles’ Chinatown last night in what organizers are calling the largest act of civil disobedience in Walmart history.

Workers, clergy and activists sat down in the middle of Cesar Chavez Avenue in a circle outside the company’s new Chinatown store last night. Some 825,000 Walmart workers make less than $25,000 a year, workers say. Richard Reynoso is one of them, despite having a rare-for-Walmart full-time position as an overnight stocker.

“I got arrested today because I believe that taking this step will encourage others to be brave and step forward and stand up to the world’s largest retailer,” Reynoso said in a statement. “Walmart can’t silence me.”

The civil disobedience followed a protest outside a Walmart store in the working class Los Angeles suburb of Paramount, where 100 people gathered. The actions are supported by OUR Walmart, a union-backed workers group which organized the first strike in Walmart history last year. 

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Madrid trash collectors protest against layoffs
November 4, 2013

Trash collectors in Madrid have started bonfires and set off firecrackers during a noisy protest in one of the Spanish capital’s main squares as they prepare to start an open-ended strike.

Hundreds of street cleaners and garbage collectors who work in the city’s public parks converged on the Puerta del Sol plaza late Monday.

They were due to walk off the job at midnight in a strike called by trade unions to contest the planned layoff of more than 1,000 workers.

Madrid’s municipal cleaning companies, which have service supply contracts with the city authorities, employ some 6,000 staff.

The labor groups want the city council to intervene and halt the job cuts.

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Workers set factories ablaze in call for decent wage for producing globe’s ‘cheap’ clothing
September 23, 2013

Up to 200,000 garment factory workers sustained a third day of protests in Bangladesh on Monday, forcing hundreds of factories to close as the workers’ call for a better minimum wage was met with teargas and rubber bullets from police.

Protests were held in the capital of Dhaka and surrounding areas, home to hundreds offactories that produce clothing that ends up stores like Walmart and H&M.

At least two factories were set ablaze by protesters, Reaz-Bin-Mahmood, vice-president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, told Agence France-Presse. The protesting workers also blocked roads and confiscated and destroyed riflesfrom security officials.

Resulting clashes with police left nearly 150 injured.

The workers, 80% of whom are women, have demanded a $100 monthly wage for their contributions to the $20-billion industry, and called the factory owners’ offer of just a 20% raise "inhuman and humiliating." Their current monthly wage is $38, prompting one protester to say,  “We work to survive but we can’t even cover our basic needs.”

When the protests began this weekend, Nazma Akter, president of the United Garments Workers’ Federation, told the crowd, “Our backs are against the wall, so we don’t have any alternative unless we raise our voice strongly,” and added that “the economy moves with our toil.”

Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of the Exporters Association of Bangladesh, lamentedthat “A one-day closure means a huge loss for owners.”

Agence France-Presse reports that

Bangladeshi textile workers are among the worst paid in the sector worldwide, and often toil for 80 hours a week in factories which are vulnerable to fires and other accidents.

Protests over poor wages, benefits and working conditions are frequent but have gained in intensity since April when a factory complex collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people in one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.

Despite the massive death toll from the Rana factory fire in April as well as countless, day to day, potentially lethal incidents at garment factories in the country, little seems to have changed in the working conditions at many factories.

BBC investigation unveiled a factory where workers are still working 19-hour shifts and are locked in, and deceptive books “hide the truth about working hours from Western retailers.”

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50,000 Bangladeshi workers strike over ‘inhumane wages’September 22, 2013
Tens of thousands of garment workers have downed tools and taken to the streets to urge the government for an increase in the minimum salary.
Four million employees work in the country’s $20-billion garment export industry - 60 percent goes to Europe - and earn about $38 a month. They are demanding a raise to $103 a month. Earlier, the Bangladeshi government agreed to a 20 percent increase, but the workers called the raise "inhuman and humiliating." "Our backs are against the wall, so we don’t have any alternative unless we raise our voice strongly,"Nazma Akter, president of the United Garments Workers’ Federation told protesters.  
"We will not hesitate to do anything to realize our demand. We are not the object of mercy, the economy moves with our toll," Reuters reported her as saying. 
“The rally lasted four hours and has been the largest gathering of its kind to realize their demand for raising wages,” according to Dhaka Metropolitan Police Chief Habibur Rahman. 
Over 300 factories near the capital closed as employees staged a walk-out, blocking a highway and damaging a few cars. 
The highway was blocked by at least 10,000 employees, according to local police. Several nearby factories were also vandalized by the protesters, which caused a halt in production. 
Meanwhile, the country’s leadership has been negotiating with the demonstrators and the factory owners. The factory owners are strictly against the raise, because their Western customers are used to buying cheap clothing from them. 
The last time the government increased the minimum salary was in 2010, when they almost doubled it. 
In July, Bangladesh gave a boost to workers’ rights, after a factory building collapse three months earlier leaving over 1,100 people dead. Furthermore, In June, hundreds of workers were rushed to hospital after drinking contaminated water. 
Bangladesh is also facing pressure from the EU, which threatened the country with sanctions, unless workers’ safety standards are improved. 
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50,000 Bangladeshi workers strike over ‘inhumane wages’
September 22, 2013

Tens of thousands of garment workers have downed tools and taken to the streets to urge the government for an increase in the minimum salary.

Four million employees work in the country’s $20-billion garment export industry - 60 percent goes to Europe - and earn about $38 a month. They are demanding a raise to $103 a month. 

Earlier, the Bangladeshi government agreed to a 20 percent increase, but the workers called the raise "inhuman and humiliating." 

"Our backs are against the wall, so we don’t have any alternative unless we raise our voice strongly,"Nazma Akter, president of the United Garments Workers’ Federation told protesters.  

"We will not hesitate to do anything to realize our demand. We are not the object of mercy, the economy moves with our toll," Reuters reported her as saying. 

“The rally lasted four hours and has been the largest gathering of its kind to realize their demand for raising wages,” according to Dhaka Metropolitan Police Chief Habibur Rahman. 

Over 300 factories near the capital closed as employees staged a walk-out, blocking a highway and damaging a few cars. 

The highway was blocked by at least 10,000 employees, according to local police. Several nearby factories were also vandalized by the protesters, which caused a halt in production. 

Meanwhile, the country’s leadership has been negotiating with the demonstrators and the factory owners. The factory owners are strictly against the raise, because their Western customers are used to buying cheap clothing from them. 

The last time the government increased the minimum salary was in 2010, when they almost doubled it. 

In July, Bangladesh gave a boost to workers’ rights, after a factory building collapse three months earlier leaving over 1,100 people dead. Furthermore, In June, hundreds of workers were rushed to hospital after drinking contaminated water. 

Bangladesh is also facing pressure from the EU, which threatened the country with sanctions, unless workers’ safety standards are improved. 

Source

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Greece | September 18, 2013

1. Riot police walk past a burning garbage bin in front of the Bank of Greece during a protest in Thessaloniki. Violent clashes broke out Wednesday in several Greek cities after a member of the country’s far-right Golden Dawn party was arrested in the fatal stabbing of a 34-year-old musician described as an anti-fascist activist. The stabbing drew condemnation from across Greece’s political spectrum and from abroad. While the extremist Golden Dawn has been blamed for numerous violent attacks in the past, the overnight stabbing is the most serious violence directly attributed to a member so far. (Nikolas Giakoumidis/AP)

2. Protesters holding banners cast their shadows as they march during an anti-government rally in front of the parliament in Athens. Greek workers shut schools and forced hospitals to operate with only emergency staff on Wednesday at the start of a 48-hour strike against the latest plans to fire thousands of public sector employees. (Yorgos Karahalis /Reuters)

3. High school students shout slogans in solidarity with their striking teachers during a 48 hour general strike in Athens. (Kostas Tsironis/AP)

4. Protesters march in front of the parliament as words are seen on the ground during an anti-government rally in Athens. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

5. Protesters from the health sector take part in a protest during a 48 hour general strike in Athens. (Kostas Tsironis/AP)

6. People gather at the site where Pavlos Fissas, a 35-year-old anti-racism rapper was stabbed to death, by a man who sympathized with the far-right Golden Dawn group, at Keratsini suburb southwest of Athens. Fissas, 35, who went by the stage name Killah P, was stabbed twice in the heart and chest on Tuesday night in a brawl after a soccer match shown in a cafe in Keratsini, a working-class suburb of Athens. (John Kolesidis/Reuters)

7. Riot police officers detain protesters after clashes between police and anti-fascist protesters in the northern Greek town of Thessaloniki. (Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters)

8. A protester is chased by police during clashes between police and anti-fascist protesters following the killing of a 35-year-old anti-racism rapper in an Athens suburb. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

9. A protester throws a flare to riot police during a protest at the suburb of Keratsini near Athens. (Kostas Tsironis/AP)