ModernityBlog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Unions

Defend Trade Union Rights in Turkey.

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Just in:

“111 trade union leaders and members, including the President of the IUF-affiliated TEKGIDA-İŞ along with four other national officers of the union and 12 branch presidents, and current and former officers of the national centers DISK and KESK, have been indicted on criminal charges in connection with an April 1 demonstration in Ankara in support of 12,000 tobacco workers whose jobs and acquired rights were eliminated overnight.

The charges carry prison terms of up to 5 years.

The trials, which begin on June 3, are a massive attack on trade union rights and the rights of all workers. ”

The IUF has more:

“The Turkish government has filed criminal charges against 111 union leaders, members and supporters which carry prison terms of up to 5 years in connection with a 2010 demonstration in Ankara. The Ankara action was in support of 12,000 workers made redundant overnight following the privatization of the state tobacco monopoly TEKEL.

Following the sale of the TEKEL tobacco manufacturing activities to BAT in February 2008, the state retained control over the 40 warehouses where leaf and semi-processed tobacco was stored. IUF-affiliated Tekgida-Is, which represents the workforce at TEKEL, continually sought negotiations with the government over the future of the 12,000 warehouse workers, who were offered only insecure contracts at half their former wages and no rights or benefits. In December 2009, their employment was abruptly terminated.

Three months of union protests in Ankara brought no results, but as a goodwill gesture the union ceased public action and waited for a response to their demands for new employment with acquired rights – as required under Turkish law.

When the government failed to offer anything concrete, TEKGIDA-IS and their many supporters demonstrated again in Ankara on April 1, 2010. They were beaten and pepper-gassed – and now they face prison. “

(H/T: Eric Lee)

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20/05/2011 at 13:57

Mrs. Desai.

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I was sadden to hear of the death of Mrs. Desai.

She was one of the leaders during the 1976 Grunwick strike, which went on for ages.

I can still see her, in my mind’s eye, meeting miners who had come across from all parts of Britain to support the fight for basic union rights at Grunwick’s.

The Guardian has more:

“Jayaben Desai, the Asian trade unionist whose bold leadership of the Grunwick dispute in the late 1970s produced a landmark in industrial relations, has died aged 77.

Desai led a walkout of the Grunwick Film Processing Laboratories in the summer of 1976 in an attempt to convince managers to recognise a unionised workforce.

One of the disputes that triggered the walkout involved a 19-year-old male employee, but Grunwick became known for the way in which predominantly Asian and female workers stood up to their employers. The dispute by the women – who became known in the press as “strikers in saris” – lasted more than two years, and Desai’s defiant campaign gained national recognition.

After storming out of the processing plants in north London, Desai and her co-workers joined the Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer Staff (Apex). However they were joined on picket lines by workers from across the labour movement, who coalesced around the Grunwick dispute in solidarity.

As momentum built, there were frequent confrontations between hundreds of trade unionists and police.

Desai’s attempt to achieve union recognition for the Grunwick workers was ultimately unsuccessful, ending in a hunger strike outside the headquarters of the Trades Union Congress, which she accused of betrayal, in 1978.

But the strike proved a seminal moment in the British labour movement, drawing attention to the overlooked plight of female migrant workers – and generating admiration for Desai’s tenacity.

Desai, who died just before Christmas after several months of illness, was known for her force of character, eloquence and courage. A photograph of her confronting a row of police officers, a handbag dangling from her arm, became one of the iconic images of the 1970s.

Originally from India, she had arrived in Britain eight years previously, after migrating to Tanzania. Perhaps her best-known statement was issued in confrontation with a manager at Grunwick, who she told: “What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. In a zoo, there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are those lions, Mr Manager.”

Mrs. Desai and their friends.

(H/T: Stroppy)

Update 1: This gallery on striking women is good.

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07/01/2011 at 16:28

Union Solidarity.

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There is an old notion that the working class have no country and that solidarity between unions should be international, irrespective of any linguistic or cultural differences.

That used to be true, years ago but now in the age of discriminatory boycotts that international solidarity seem to break down when faced with the prejudice of anti Israeli types.

As Eric Lee comments:

“West Bank universities are on strike. But academics unions that have called for a boycott of Israel are strangely silent. Maybe it’s because they’re only interested in solidarity when it has to do with boycotting the Jewish state?”

TULIP has more:

“According to this report, thousands of university employees in the West Bank, as well as students, have launched a three day strike. The strike has nothing to do with the Israeli occupation — it is entirely focussed on bread-and-butter, economic issues.

“The union head said the protests are a response to the Ramallah-based Palestinian government’s continuous ‘haggling’ over employee demands,” according to a report from the Ma’an news agency. Those demands include “a salary increase in relation to the cost of living, and inclusion on the government’s retirement scheme as civil service employees.”

Academics unions which have called for a boycott of Israeli universities — in solidarity, they say, with Palestinian academics — have not mentioned the West Bank strike on their websites.”

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09/03/2010 at 21:40

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