ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘trade

Scabs On Twitter

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News in from Eric Lee, Vale Inco might try to recruit scabs using Twitter in their dispute with the USW.

The United Steelworkers in Canada have been on strike since mid-July and need support, their web site www.fairdealnow.ca has more and here’s LabourStart:

“Since being privatized in 1997, the global mining giant Vale has unleashed a vicious attack on workers. The company undermined health and safety standards in Brazil and now it’s set its sights on Canada. In 2009 negotiations with the United Steelworkers (USW), Vale claimed it needed deep concessions – despite making over $13 billion (USD) in 2008 net profits. The company’s strategy is to divide and conquer by undermining seniority and providing lesser benefits to new employees. 3,500 members of the USW rejected Vale’s demands and went on strike in mid-July. Vale has since announced it will hire replacement workers and force other union members to do the work of the striking miners. Meanwhile Vale workers throughout Brazil are struggling to hold on to jobs, earn a living wage, achieve minimum standards for safe working conditions, and guarantee basic labor rights. Vale employees and their unions in Brazil and Canada are fighting back together, reaching out to workers in a global campaign for fair treatment at Vale.”

Also at the IMF, Unions shame Vale CFO in Madrid and protest in Seoul.

The Sudbury Star covers it too.

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23/11/2009 at 20:14

Over In The Workers’ Paradise?

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Not exactly, but Iran must seem like the bastion of “anti-imperialism” to some (a modern day workers’ paradise for Westerners that don’t have to live under the repressive regime), I just heard of a strike at the Abadan oil refinery and checking Labourstart I was surprised at the number of on-going disputes.

The Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network has more on the oil worker’s case:

“After their wages and bonuses went unpaid a group of Abadan oil refinery workers began a protest on Wednesday November 11. Around 300 workers have not been paid for more than three months.

Tehran Emrooz daily reported that when the workers protested outside the Abadan oil refinery on November 12 the “Abadan oil refinery officials told the workers that as they are working in the third phase of the refinery then they are working for a private contractor and their wages have nothing to do with the refinery.”

This protest is highly significant in that oil industry workers have had no major protests for a number of years. They are paid regularly, unlike most workers in Iran, and their work environment is very heavily policed and controlled.

The Abadan oil refinery in the southern Khuzestan province is over 95 years old and was the biggest refining facility in the world for many decades. It is one of the oldest and most important centres of the Iranian workers’ movement.”

Update 1: I have had my eye off of the balls, HOPOI has more on protests in Iran.

Update 2: Over at the Guardian, Iran moves to silence opposition with internet crime unit.

Update 3: Reuters reports:

“TEHRAN, Nov 14 (Reuters) – An Iranian court on Saturday sentenced a student who took part in protests following Iran’s disputed presidential election this year to eight years in prison, a website reported.

The June 12 vote triggered big street demonstrations by opposition supporters accusing the authorities of rigging the result, which gave President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a second term in charge.

Abdullah Momeni’s wife told website Mowjcamp, which backs defeated candidate Mirhossein Mousavi, that Momeni was sentenced to six years for taking part in post-election protests and two years for previous activities concerning national security.

Several other post-election detainees have received jail terms and three people have been sentenced to death, according to Iranian media.

Last week a court sentenced a man to seven years in jail and 74 lashes for post-election activities, Mowjcamp reported.

Thousands of people were detained after the election five months ago. Most of them have since been freed, but more than 100 have been charged with fomenting post-election street unrest, including senior reformist figures.”

Update 4: More brutal than the Shah?

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16/11/2009 at 11:47

Eric Handles The TUC.

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Over at the Guardian, Eric Lee and Benny Weinthal have a typically combative article on the recent boycott gesture at the TUC.

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23/09/2009 at 14:49

Mean While In That Theocratic Dictatorship.

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No TUC motion on Iran? Nothing about the fiddled election?

Nothing about the anti-Jewish racist, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Nothing about neo-nazi shindigs in Tehran?

Nothing about the attacks on Mansour Osanloo and other trade unionists?

Nothing about the street protests in Iran?

Nothing about the very nature of the dictatorship in Tehran?

Still, brave Iranians took their fight straight to Ahmadinejad as he was spouting more Holocaust denial, the Guardian reports:

“Iran’s opposition Green movement put on a powerful show of strength today against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the hardline president repeated his notorious claim that the Nazi Holocaust was a “lie” designed to justify the existence of Israel.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in central Tehran to shout “death to the dictator” despite a heavy security presence and official warnings to the opposition not to hijack the Quds (Jerusalem) Day rally, the regime’s annual display of solidarity with the Palestinians.

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18/09/2009 at 15:14

In Turkey.

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LabourStart reports on the plight of trade unionists in Turkey:

“Recently, the Turkish government has been systematically pressuring KESK (the Confederation of Public Employees Trade Unions) with banishments, dismissals, investigations, detentions and arrests. The operation against KESK started on 28th May 2009 in the early hours (about 04:00 AM), and 22 trade unionists including KESK women’s secretary Songül Morsümbül, former General Secretary Abdurrahman Daşdemir, women’s secretary of EĞİTİM-SEN Gülçin İsbert and former one Elif Akgül Ateş were arrested and the number of KESK arrested members increased to 32. These people are now in “F-Type”, or small group isolation prisons. On 28th May 2009, the headquarter of KESK, its branches in İzmir and Van and houses and workplaces of the detained members were raided and searched by the Gendarmerie. In the search of the office of Songül Morsümbül in KESK all official documents, national and international documents about women’s issues and trade union activities were seized as evidence of crime. These proceedings took place in contradiction of the Code of the Constitution and Criminal Procedure. In Turkey, collective “talks” by which the living and working conditions of public employees are to be determined, are going to be launched on 15th August. KESK took the first step of our struggle for transforming Collective Talks into Collective Agreements on 15th May. KESK had organized a great demonstration against the effects of the economic crisis in Ankara on 29th November and in İstanbul on 15th February with the participation of more than 100.000 people. On May Day KESK demonstrated in Taksim Square. On 5th June 2009, the march of Eğitim-Sen (the biggest teachers’ union) was prevented by the police using very extreme violence. KESK calls on the Turkish government to secure the immediate release of all trade unionists, to take any necessary steps to guarantee their safety and to abide by the international norms ratified by Turkey.

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26/07/2009 at 17:31

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Vestas Update.

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The Isle of Wight County Press has more information:

“MASSED ranks of supporters from trade unions and environmental groups from across Britain descended on the Island in a graphic demonstration of solidarity with the sit-in Vestas workers.
A protest camp of around a dozen tents has been pitched outside the factory gates, where mass demonstrations have been taking place all week in support of the 25 employees who have shut themselves inside.”

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24/07/2009 at 13:41

Real Trade Unionism.

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The petulance and sloganeering that passes itself off in Britain as trade unionism, which is epitomised by UCU, achieves very little, but makes Westerners feel self-satisfied and content in their own small ways. Yet in the long run the anti-Israeli activities in UCU and other organizations actually weakens trade unions, it does not strengthen them.

With that in mind I was all the more gratified to find this video clip of genuine solidarity between Israeli and Palestinian trade unionists:

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08/07/2009 at 08:51

Never Noticed It Before.

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I like LabourStart, it has good coverage of international events, but it also has a bookshop, think Amazon but for trade unionists.

Well worth a visit.

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06/07/2009 at 23:44

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Basic Rights Taken For Granted.

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I am indebted to AVPS for reminding me about the Justice for the Shrewsbury Pickets campaign.

For far too long have we taken for granted those limited rights that we have to picket and take part in industrial action, and the case of the Shrewsbury 24 just shows what lengths a Tory government will go to in its battle to defeat trade unionism.

Britain might well have another Tory government within the space of a year, and if not, be left with a weak anti-Union set of New Labour flunkies, either way, not good for trade unionism.

AVPS explains the issue:

“Ricky Tomlinson talked about the recent attempts made to clear his name and described his correspondence with Jack Straw, the so-called justice minister. After much wrangling and petitions for the relevant files to be released under the 30 year rule (requests denied by Straw on grounds of ‘national security’!) Ricky was finally allowed to see some pertaining to the case. He sat down in a room with a keeper of the records and began turning the pages … only to find huge junks of the reports redacted. If these don’t suggest a cover up, he didn’t know what does. He also described the appalling treatment he and especially Dessie received inside, a treatment that saw Dessie serve his three years in no less than 17 prisons.”


Update:
Human Rights TV has coverage with Ricky Tomlinson.

They are available as downloads too.

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06/07/2009 at 01:17

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Unison And TUFI.

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The question of Unison’s actions against the trade union friends of Israel should make anyone committed to trade unionism worry.

According to the article in the Jewish Chronicle one of the reasons given was “safety”.

The implication being that if the Trade Union Friends of Israel had a stall at the Unison conference that it might be attacked or the people manning it might be threatened.

That seems possible in the current climate but consider the precedence.

In spite of the abundance of news concerning Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan in the 1980s, I don’t believe there was any question that anyone from the Trade Union Friends of the Soviet Union (or the equivalent) would have been attacked by other trade unionists, should they attend a conference.

Still less would be Trade Union friends of Russia be likely for physical attack in spite of Russia’s brutal and murderous campaign against the Chechens.

I have yet to hear of any Trade Union friends of China being accosted or threatened despite China’s military conquest of Tibet and subsequent occupation.

Readers could probably pick other examples, but I am sure that you see the implication?

Despite other regimes with terrible, utterly horrific human rights records there was never any question that their “Trade Union friends” or whatever the fraternal organisations were actually called being physically threatened, and certainly not by trade unionists.

That isn’t how trade unionist conduct arguments, fascists certainly attack trade unions but trade unionists do not emulate those modern barbaric regimes and why would they?

Fraternal discussion between Israeli and Palestinian trade unions has benefited both of them, it has lessened tensions and people relate to each other.

So Unison’s decision sets a terrible precedence, which is that the threat or implied threat of violence is somehow acceptable against trade unionists, who consider themselves to be friends of the Israelis.

Even if you disagree with the Trade Union Friends of Israel, that should worry any genuine and concerned trade unionist, for once you start down the road of violence (or implied violence) within the trade union movement then you are doing the fascist’s job for them.

Update:
Engage has news of a fringe meeting. I hadn’t realized but there’s history here.

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14/06/2009 at 02:00

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Anti-union Campaign at SOAS

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Jim explains it:

“Earlier today nine cleaners at SOAS were arrested. The staff, mainly of Ecuadorian and possibly Colombian origin, have been arrested and are being processed for deportation as part of an anti-union campaign at the school.

A demonstration had been organised at SOAS this morning in support of Stalin Bermudez, the SOAS Unison branch chair, who was sacked earlier this year after a highly controversial disciplinary process. A Unison representative arrived at the college, just off Russell Square, at 7am this morning to discover a number of immigration control officers who had detained and were processing cleaning staff, and interrogating them about their status. The union received no prior warning.”

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13/06/2009 at 00:12

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