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workers' rights

(Updated Aug. 6) Vestas workers: `Fight for green jobs not over ... Change should be made for the people, not for money'

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

Ventnor Blog -- August 5, 6pm, 2009 -- With Mike Godley having left yesterday, we spoke to Mark, one of the six who are still inside at the Vestas sit-in. We discussed how they had to reorganise themselves now four people have left.

He said that that morale was still good and how they’ll “still be fighting Vestas”. Mark explained that “It was strange to have that many people leaving at once.”

It’s unclear if Vestas have applied for bailiff papers to have them removed from the building. Vestas have issued a statement that they are very patient and that they can wait. Mark said, “They did ask us yesterday that if we wanted to leave the door open they would come in and get us. We replied ‘No’.”

(Updated August 5) South Korea: Graphic photos, video -- Ssangyong sit-in workers' appeal: `Our lives are at stake'


(For best results: allow video to load on `pause' before pressing play.)
[Go to ``South Korea: Ssangyong workers face brutal police/thug attacks as factory occupation continues'' for the backgound to the sit-in.]

Urgent appeal by the Korean Metal Workers Union and Korean Confederation of Trade Unions

[Please send solidarity messages to the KCTU at inter@kctu.org]

 

Wave of workplace occupations aims to reverse tide of closures; August 5: Thomas Cook workers arrested

Avril Boyne, more than eight months' pregnant, who has nine years' service at Thomas Cook, protesting at the closure of the travel agency and the redundancy package offered to staff at the Thomas Cook office, Grafton Street, Dublin. Thomas Cook is offering five weeks' pay for each year of service but workers are holding out for eight weeks. Photograph by Matt Kavanagh/Irish Times.

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STOP PRESS: Thomas Cook sit-in raided by police, workers arrested!

Send protest/solidarity emails to wendy@thomascook.ie and fennj@tssa.org.uk

For jobs and the environment: Why the workers occupied the Vestas wind turbine plant

Climate campaigners show their support for the Vestas workers.

Below is the text of a speech written by a Vestas worker for delivery at trade union and environmental movement meetings. It gives an excellent insight into the background of the struggle, and its wider political significance. It first appeared at http://savevestas.wordpress.com. See also ``Capitalism vs the environment: Wind turbine workers fight factory closure with sit-in'' for more coverage.

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I’ve come today to speak about a little factory called St. Cross on the Isle of Wight – otherwise known as Vestas; you may have heard about it before …

(Updated August 4) South Korea: Ssangyong workers face brutal police/thug attacks as factory occupation continues

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See also the statement by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, ``Call to Action: Stop Police Suppression against the Striking workers of Ssangyong Motors!''

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Scroll down for earlier coverage.

Urgent Appeal: Ssangyong Motor workers’ lives in danger! Solidarity urgent!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU)

inter@metal.nodong.org

Dear friends,

We urgently request your solidarity regarding Ssangyong Motor Workers’ dispute. It is urgent for the Korean government to step up and play a role toward a peaceful settlement!

Our union members’ lives are in danger.

South Africa: At the end of the wage

By Dale T. McKinley and Ahmed Veriava, Johannesburg

“I'm collecting a register for the indigent people and I had 37,000 applications from Emfuleni only. Each and every day I come across children who are left in their homes -- the parents are deceased -- they are hungry. When I knock at the door, I say how you are surviving and they say we have been hungry for three days, we haven't got food. You wouldn't think it's a reality in an urban area like this but it is a reality. People are unemployed, a lot of people are unemployed.”

-- Priscilla Ramagale-Ramakau, government social worker in Sebokeng

July 5, 2009 -- It wasn't always this way for Sebokeng, one of the older urban ``townships'' in South Africa, a place synonymous with the early settlement and subsequent massive growth of the black industrial working class.

Selling Iran: Ahmadinejad, privatisation and a bus driver who said `no'

Mansour Osanloo, the bus driver who said `no'.

By Billy Wharton

June 26, 2009 -- A creeping assumption lies just beneath the surface of arguments concerning the disputed election in Iran. Incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is cast as an anti-US populist crusader resisting the materialistic advances of the West. His opponent, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, as his foil – a Western-backed liberal intent on implementing free-market policies. Violent street battles have been presented as a reinforcement of the Western disposition to see the two idealised positions as the limit of what is politically imaginable. Such arguments conveniently avoid a third force – the people of Iran, whose street politics threaten to move well beyond the confines of the electoral campaigns. Questions remain. Is Ahmadinejad really a populist – the only force preventing a wave of pro-market policies in Iran? Does Mousavi’s campaign mark the limits of the reform movement?

Iranian workers in action for democratic rights

Tehran's bus drivers have joined the struggle for democratic and trade union rights.

Introduction by Robert Johnson and John Riddell

June 29, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- The mass protests in Iran, sparked by charges of fraud in the June 12 presidential elections, express deeply felt demands for expanded democratic rights. The establishment press has been silent on the aspirations of rank-and-file protesters. Socialist Voice is therefore pleased to be able to publish several statements by components of Iran's vigorous trade union movement, which has been a major target of repression by Iran's security forces. We have provided the titles and some introductory comments.

United States: Solidarity sometimes (exclusive excerpt from Steve Early’s new book, Embedded With Organized Labor)

[With the permission of Monthly Review Press, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal is publishing an exclusive excerpt from Steve Early’s new book, Embedded With Organized Labor: Journalistic Reflections on the Class War at Home. Embedded With Organized Labor describes how trade union members in the United States have organised successfully, on the job and in the community, in the face of employer opposition now and in the past. Steve Early has produced a provocative series of essays -- an unusual exercise in “participatory labor journalism” useful to any reader concerned about social and economic justice. As workers struggle to survive and the labour movements try to revive during the current economic crisis, this book provides ideas and inspiration for trade union activists and friends of labour alike.

What’s wrong with a 30-hour work week?

By Don Fitz

May 30, 2009 -- With millions of jobs lost during the first part of 2009, who is calling for a shorter work week to spread the work around? Not the Republicans. Not even the Democrats. But why is there nary a peep from unions?

In the US, the vehicle industry sets the pace for organised labour. The only discussion at the top levels of the United Auto Workers Union (UAW) is how quickly the gains won during the last 50 years can be given back. Does the UAW have no memory of the 1930s and 1940s when a shorter work week was at centre of organising demands?

The gross domestic product is plummeting at the same time that jobs are disappearing. Why should there be any connection between the two? If society produces 10% less, why don’t we all just work 10% less? Didn’t things work like that for hundreds of thousands of years of human existence? When people figured out easier ways to get what they needed, they spent less time doing it.

(Updated May 3) Ireland & Britain: Car workers occupy plants over jobs -- Support Visteon workers!

May 3, 2009 -- Workers at Visteon, following a four-week battle, have gained a victory. After the occupation of the Visteon plants and 24-hour picketing when the company announced its liquidation, Ford/Visteon bosses were finally forced to concede to the workers' demands. Workers in Enfield and Basildon have already voted in favour of the deal, while those at Belfast will be voting soon. Below are reports and videos that recount events as they unfolded.

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China: `We feel like we are serving prison sentences', say factory workers for Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft and IBM

Workers sit on hard wooden stools without backrests 12 hours a day racing to complete 500 keyboards an hour. Each worker will complete 35,750 operations a day.

[For more discussion on China's recent economic and political developments, click HERE.]

By Charles Kernaghan

[This is an excerpt from the introduction and executive summary of a report released by the National Labor Committee in February 2009, High Tech Misery in China: The Dehumanization of Young Workers Producing Our Computer Keyboards. Click here to download the full report in PDF format.]

“I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tools we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user...The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.” -- Bill Gates

``We feel like we are serving prison sentences.” -- factory worker making Microsoft keyboards

The new assembly line: Making computer keyboards and other peripherals for Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft and IBM

Photo essay: The men who live in the canyon

Photographs and captions by David Bacon

San Diego, California -- March 31, 2008 -- Isaias, Alvino and Porfirio, three Mixtec men from Etla, a town in Oaxaca, Mexico, live in the Los Peñasquitos canyon on the north edge of San Diego. They work as day labourers and farm workers -- wherever they can find work.

Isaias stands next to the place where he sleeps.

Photo essay: Black and brown together in Mississippi

By David Bacon

Laurel, Mississippi is a town where many Mexican immigrants have arrived to work in poultry plants over the last decade, developing relations with African Americans who also work in the plants. La Veracruzana market and restaurant is named after the home state of many immigrants. Nearby, the Michoacana market sells religious statues. At the Veracruzana, Frank Curiel, an organiser for the Laborers Union and the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance, talks with owner Samuel Holguin. Down the street is.a motel where Mexican poultry workers live.

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