Donate to Links


Click on Links masthead to clear previous query from search box

GLW Radio on 3CR



Recent comments



Syndicate

Syndicate content

workers' rights

New Zealand: Matt McCarten on Unite and the prospects for a new left party

Matt McCarten (right) campaigning for better pay.

December 7, 2010 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Matt McCarten is secretary of the New Zealand's fastest growing union, Unite. The union organises fast-food workers, cleaners, hotel and casino workers, security and part-time staff. It has a financial membership of 8000 members. The transient nature of the industries the union organises means it has an annual membership turnover of 66 per cent and recruits about 600 new members every month. The union operates on an income of just over 1 million dollars per annum.

McCarten is a veteran of many left campaigns, including playing a key role in the foundation of the New Labour Party following the split from the New Zealand Labour Party in 1989. It was his leadership in the historic 1985 occupation of the Sheraton Hotel with the Hotel and Hospital Workers Union that put McCarten in the national spotlight. He writes a weekly column for the Herald on Sunday.

France: Movement debates next steps in resistance to government attacks

By Chris Latham

November 14, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- President Nicolas Sarkozy enacted a new law on November 10 that increases the retirement age of French workers. The move came just days after more than a million workers and students mobilised across France against the law.

The November 6 protests were the eighth national strike and protests since September 7 against the bill — although it was the easily the smallest of the mobilisations.

The protest highlighted the depth of ongoing popular anger over the changes, which were pushed through parliament on October 27. However, the decline in the size of the protests reflects growing divisions in the movement over its direction now the law has been passed.

Sarkozy enacted the law just hours after it had been approved by the Constitutional Council. There had been hopes among some union leaders and left groups that the council would reject the bill.

South Africa: Workers' factory takeover to defend jobs enters second month

November 17 video made by Workers' World Media, Cape Town.

November 17, 2010 -- A militant factory occupation by South African metalworkers is about to enter its second month. On October 20, 2010, workers at the Mine Line/TAP Engineering factory in Krugersdorp, just outside Soweto, began the occupation to prevent the removal of machinery and other assets and to fight to save their jobs. The workers are demanding the state take over the factory, so that it can be reopened as a democratically run workers' cooperative.

The workers are organised by the Metal and Electrical Workers Union of South Africa (MEWUSA), in which the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM, the affiliate of the Committee for a Workers' International in South Africa) plays a leading role.

South Korea: Epic Ssangyong workers' strike remembered

Malaysia: 'Draconian, oppressive' amendments to labour law


PSM secretary-general S. Arutchelvan addresses the October 1, press conference. Video journalist: Hisyam Salleh.

By Philip Ho

Kuala Lumpur, October 1 -- klik4Malaysia -- Socialist Party of Malaysia (Parti Sosialis Malaysia, PSM) secretary-general S. Arutchelvan called the proposed labour law review by the Malaysian government's Human Resources Ministry, which will be tabled in the coming parliament sitting, "draconian" as it practically destroys whatever remaining rights workers have left.

Classic cartoon by Fred Wright: `How much do you pay your boss?'

Drawing on the American Labor movement -- Fred Wright (1907-1984) was one of the United States’s most renowned labour movement cartoonists. His career lasted from 1939 until his death in 1984. He is best known for his work as a staff cartoonist for the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE). In addition to his cartoons illustrating the union’s newspaper, the UE News, he designed leaflets, strike placards and animated organising cartoons to contribute to the US labour movement. 

Wright sold his first cartoon to the National Maritime Union (NMU) publication, The Pilot, in 1939. He continued to draw cartoons for the US Army during World War II and was ultimately hired as a staff cartoonist for the UE in 1949. Throughout this time, his work was reprinted in labour and radical publications worldwide. In the spirit of the labour movement, his cartoons criticised the Taft-Hartley Act, McCarthyism, and other government post-war attacks on trade unions.

`People's Daily' columnist -- `Time to defend Chinese workers' rights'

Honda factory in China.

By Li Hong

June 7, 2010 -- People's Daily -- Wherever exists exploitation and suppression, rebellion erupts. If the exploited are a majority of the society, the revolt draws even nearer and comes with a louder bout. For the past 30 years witnessing China's meteoric rise, multinationals and upstart home tycoons have rammed up their wealth making use of China's favourable economic policies as well as oversight loopholes. In sharp contrast, tens of millions of Chinese blue-collar workers who have genuinely generated the wealth and created the prosperity have been left far behind.

Venezuela: 100,000 celebrate May Day

By Tamara Pearson

May 2, 2010 -- Venezuelanalysis.com -- Venezuelans marched on May 1 to celebrate International Worker's Day. President Hugo Chavez also implemented a 15% wage increase, and the government broadened social security entitlements.

The main national march was in the capital Caracas, where people chanted, danced, waved placards and banners and played music as they marched towards the presidential palace Miraflores. While there were no official or police estimates, various participants in the march told Venezuelanalysis they estimated that "hundreds of thousands" turned out, celebrating the achievements of the Bolivarian revolution and its promotion of wage increases, better working conditions and better life conditions for the poor majority. [However, more sober accounts told Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal that participation was around 100,000.]

A range of union and workers' representatives addressed the crowd from the main stage and 7000 police and guards looked after the march.

Statement Bersama untuk Hari Buruh Internasional

Di seluruh dunia kelas buruh mengorganisasikan dirinya. Kami berorganisasi untuk menuntut upah yang layak untuk hidup. Untuk kesehatan dan keselamatan di tempat kerja. Untuk kompensasi dan rehabilitasi. Untuk hak buruh migran dan pengungsi, Untuk hak kewarganegaraan bagi buruh migran dan keluarganya. Untuk hak bekerja berdasarkan prinsip kesetaraan. Kelas buruh berorganisasi melawan deportasi, menentang rasisme, menolak diskriminasi. Kelas buruh berorganisasi menentang perang yang membawa bencana bagi jutaan kelas buruh.

May Day 2010: `Workers will win!'

Graphic by Ashley Cecil.
 

Statements from left organisations around the world to mark international workers' day.

* * *

Joint May Day 2010 statement from Asia

Click here to endorse the joint May Day statement 

All over the world workers are organising ...

We are organising to demand a living wage. For health and safety at work. For compensation and  rehabilitation. For the  rights of migrant workers and refugees, for citizenship rights for migrant workers and their families. For the right to employment on equal terms. Workers are organising against deportations, against racism, against discrimination. Workers are organising against wars that are a disaster to millions of workers.

New Zealand: What has happened to real wages since1982?

By Mike Treen

Official data on wage movements in New Zealand point to a real wage decline of around 25% between 1982 and the mid-1990s that has never been recovered.

There have been two series measuring wages in the period – the Prevailing Weekly Wage Index (discontinued in June 1993) and its replacement the Labour Cost Index. I have created a continuous series based on the LCI series back to 1982 (by adjusting the PWWI numbers before December 1992 when PWWI at 1000 was equivalent to the LCI at 868). These numbers are in turn deflated by the CPI index covering the whole period.

What is revealed is that by the mid-1990s real wages had declined at least 25%. There has been no recovery since then and real wages remain 25% below their 1982 peak. This result can be directly attributed to the combination of the massive deunionisation as a result of the anti-union employment laws and the recession that accompanied it in the early 1990s.

A new united movement stops Mexico for a day

By Tamara Pearson

November 14, 2009 -- Mexico City -- In the many metro stations of this giant city, amidst the ugly smell of Pizza Hut and the newspapers vendors yelling out, “Grafico! 3 pesos!”, every day young people crowd around the handwritten posters recruiting for the national police. At 12,000 pesos (US$1000) per month, and with increasing unemployment and harder prospects, the offer is very tempting.

Canada: Vale Inco strike shows need for international action

On strike since mid-July.

By Marc Bonhomme, translated by Richard Fidler

A Québécois militant, member of Québec solidaire, discusses the global implications of the strike by 3500 workers at Vale Inco, the world’s largest nickel mine, in Sudbury, Ontario.

November 11, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- In France’s South Pacific colony of New Caledonia [Kanaky], a small delegation of Vale Inco strikers from Sudbury, in northeastern Ontario, most of them Franco-Ontarians, met in October with the union at the island’s Vale Inco nickel mine, due to open in 2010, although it threatens a UNESCO nature reserve. The newspaper Nouvelles calédoniennes reported the encounter, in its October 31 edition:

Britain: The Lucas Aerospace workers' plan -- A real Green New Deal

By Hilary Wainwright and Andy Bowman

October 9, 2009 -- Red Pepper -- Thirty-five years ago, workers at the Lucas Aerospace company formulated an ``alternative corporate plan'' to convert military production to socially useful and environmentally desirable purposes. We consider what lessons it holds for the greening of the world economy today

There are moments when a radical idea quickly goes mainstream. A cause for optimism but also caution; an opportunity for a practical challenge. The ``Green New Deal'’, a proposal for a green way out of recession, is such an idea (see interview with Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, Red Pepper, June/July 2009). It has now been adopted in some form, in theory if not in corresponding action, by governments across the world.

In Britain, the workers’ occupation of the Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight – supported by green, trade union and socialist campaigners across the country – has provided a practical challenge to the government. The Vestas workers’ argument, committed as ministers say they are to green investment, is that here is an exemplary case: so intervene and save green jobs, creating a base and a beacon for further action in the same direction.

Karen Silkwood: an inspiration to fighters for environmental justice and workers' rights

Karen Silkwood.

By Sharyn Jenkins

Thirty-five years ago, on November 13, 1974, US anti-nuclear activist and trade unionist Karen Silkwood was killed in a car crash many suspect was deliberately caused. Karen Silkwood will be remembered as someone who fought an uphill and often unpopular battle against the ruthless nuclear industry. She is an inspiration to all who believe in environmental justice and workers' rights.

Silkwood grew up in Nederland, the petrochemical heart of Texas. Following an unhappy marriage and bitter divorce, in which she lost custody of her three children, she moved to Oklahoma City to look for work. In 1972 she began work in the Kerr McGee Metallography Laboratory.

Lucas Aerospace -- When workers said `no' to military production, `yes' to green jobs

Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

By Rob Marsden

August 22, 2009 -- Socialist Resistance -- Today, the twin drivers of economic recession and the possibility of catastrophic climate change are beginning to push working people towards action. A series of small-scale but high-profile occupations of threatened factories, not just at Vestas wind turbine plant but also at Visteon car plant, where 600 workers took on the might of Ford and won a greatly enhanced redundancy package, show what is possible. In the 1970s workers at Britain's Lucas Aerospace went even further. We look back at the lessons of Lucas Aerospace.

It is clear that if we are to avert catastrophic climate change by moving rapidly to a low-carbon economy, certain industries will have to be wound down or drastically scaled back, for example, the power generation, aviation and car industries. However, rather than this leading to a net loss of jobs, efforts must be put into creating new green jobs or ``converting'' old jobs.

The 1819 `Peterloo' massacre: class struggle in the Industrial Revolution

By Graham Milner

August 16, 2009 -- The Industrial Revolution began in England, and the emergence of the industrial working class brought to the fore a new social and political force in world history. The bloody events of 190 years ago, on August 16, 1819, when a mass workers' protest in Manchester demanding political reform and labour rights was broken up by the army, with considerable loss of life, stand out as a stark warning to socialist activists everywhere that the ruling classes will react with violence and terror when their power and privileges are challenged.

On August 16, 1819, mounted regular troops and yeomanry of the British army, acting on the instructions of government officials, attacked without warning a mass meeting of more 100,000 people drawn from the industrial centres of Lancashire in the north-west of England. The meeting, held on St. Peter's Field in the centre of Manchester, the major industrial city of Lancashire, had been organised as part of a national campaign to win a radical reform of the British parliament and to redress the economic grievances of working people. More than 400 men, women and children were killed or seriously injured as a result of this ``action''.

Petition: Appeal for the immediate release of USTKE trade unionists in Kanaky

By Collectif Solidarité Kanaky, translation and introduction for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Annolies Truman

* * *

August 12, 2009 -- On August 6, a general strike in Kanaky (or the French overseas territory of New Caledonia) was called off after an accord between the trade union confederation USTKE (Federation of Unions of Kanak Workers and the Exploited) and Air Caledonia was finally signed by the airline.

The signing of the accord, which had been negotiated on June 11, put an end to 10 days of demonstrations, roadblocks and violent confrontations with police, motivated as much by a desire for independence and decolonisation, as by the issue of industrial justice.

The conflict originated with the unfair dismissal of an Air Caledonia employee in March for “betraying commercial confidentiality” for telling her mother that her father had taken a flight with his mistress.

Britain: Vestas workers end occupation, but `the campaign is anything but over'

Mike Bradley was one of the original workers who occupied the offices of Vestas. He gave an impassioned speech at the August 8 rally in Newport, Isle of Wight, where he reminded supporters that the struggle for Vestas to be nationalised can still be won. Video from Ventnor Blog.

[For more background information, go to http://links.org.au/node/1168 and http://links.org.au/node/1175.]

South Korea: Ssangyong workers occupy plant, win partial victory -- Class war in midst of economic crisis

Ssangyong worker is greeted by family member at the conclusion of the occupation, August 6, 2009.

[See also South Korea: Graphic photos, video -- Ssangyong sit-in workers' appeal: `Our lives are at stake'.]

By Young-su Won

August 6, 2009 -- After days of harsh and inhumane assaults by riot police and company thugs on striking workers occupying the Ssangyong Motor plant in Pyeongtaek, near Seoul, the Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU) and management reached an agreement: the union accepted part of the company’s redundancy proposal, saving about half the strikers’ jobs, while the rest will apply for voluntary retirement or unpaid long-term leave, or accept another job with the spin-off company.

Syndicate content

Powered by Drupal - Design by Artinet