On July 28, workers of five factories owned by Tuba Group in Bangladesh went on a hunger strike for the outstanding payments of more than Tk 4.14 crore. After several negotiations, the owner of the Group, Delwar Hossain, has agreed to pay the arrears. Around Tk 1.25 crore will be distributed among the workers.
"Even the wages of thousands workers are so little compare to employers' profits, they continuously count labour rights so little and see everything as commodity."
When everything is a commodity, labour rights count little
There’s a war going on in Asia – and it’s one that, unlike ISIS in Iraq or the chaos in Syria, is failing to make the headlines. It’s the war on workers that is taking place across much of the continent, according to the Director of the Asia Monitor Resources Center in Hong Kong, Sanjiv Pandita.
The geographer David Harvey has termed this process ‘accumulation by dispossession’. Across the continent, workers are being forced off their land to make way for plantations, mining, or even real estate. They’re resisting – but employers and police are using the age-old methods of repression.
The election is over and Indonesia’s people have spoken. They have chosen a small-town businessman over the elite as their next president: Jokowi. Jokowi has promised that workers will be more prosperous under his presidency. But his role in the 2014 Jakarta minimum wage negotiations sent a different message. In a year where there was over 8 percent inflation, a wage rise of 10 percent didn’t account for much. Workers might have won a big increase in the previous year, but Rp 2,441,000 (US$212) per month is hardly generous in a city like Jakarta.
Do Thi Minh Hanh, a young Vietnamese labor activist, was released from prison on June 27 after serving four years of a seven-year sentence for leafleting in support of footwear workers striking for better working conditions and higher wages. During her imprisonment, she suffered repeated beatings at the hands of prison guards and other inmates.
This book intends to bring together discussions on the progress and current state of Indonesian labour movement after the collapse of the Suharto's New Order regime in May 1998 that brought up the Reformasi. In the context of state-labour relationship, it allows more rooms for workers to organise and join into unions. However, it has also delivered neo-liberal challenges for workers’ collective efforts to defend their economic interests in the workplace.
The changes and challenges of Reformasi, however, do not prevent Indonesian labour to adapt, struggle and develop strategies to maintain its independent organisations. Although under the pressure of the market in globalisation and the constant control of the state, labour is crafting its paths - with trials and errors in some parts of the way, to defend members' interests. With these persistent efforts, we are witness the formation of independent and mature labour movement in Indonesia.
Edited by Jafar Suryomenggolo; Contributors: Benny Hari Juliawan; Surya Tjandra; R. Herlambang Perdana Wiratraman; Abu Mufakhir; Rita Olivia Tambunan
In light of the recent tentative agreement achieved by Samsung Electronics Service Workers after a 41 day strike and two recent films that depict the devastating impact of Samsung’s factory conditions, KPI is re-publishing this report on the Samsung Electronics industry and its treatment of workers, written by members of the Research Institute for Alternative Workers’ Movements in South Korea. Please note that the workers who were on strike this May and June were subcontracted after this article was written; the workers described in this article remain unorganized.
On June 30, 2014 Samsung Service Trade union won the battle as the negotiation on the collective agreement between the union and Samsung was concluded. It is the first collective labour agreement in Samsung for the past 76 years! Thanks for the struggle and solidarity of the workers!
Please support the Global Day of Action on July 2 calling on the giant electronics company NXP Semiconductors to bring back the 24 union leaders in its plant in the Philippines whom it laid off while negotiations for a collective bargaining agreement were taking place. The Global Day of Action aims to highlight the condition of the NXP workers in the Philippines and of workers in export-processing zones in the Philippines and other countries. Attached is a fact sheet about NXP workers’ fight.
3) Write a solidarity statement. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org (for workers in export-processing zones) Share your own experience with the workers of NXP.
4) Conduct a solidarity action in your workplace (example: hold a placard or wear an armband) calling NXP to bring back the 24 workers laid off and expressing support for all workers in free trade zones or EPZs in fighting for their rights. Have this photographed so it can be shared in social networking sites.
Seven Labour Organizations have jointly signed an open letter responding against the suggestion to put aside the GuangDong Province Collective Contract of Enterprises given by the Six Hong Kong Chambers of Commerce. The open letter has sent to the HKSAR Chief Executive, Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government of HKSAR, International Labour Organization, All China Federation of Trade Unions etc.
In China, the state-sponsored All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) enjoys a monopolistic status and pre-empts the establishment of any autonomous or independent workers’ unions. Most workers view ACFTU as a part of the Government or management machinery. Although they claim to have a membership of 200 million workers, the biggest union in the world, they seldom flex its muscles in defending workers’ rights, mobilizes them in industrial action. In fact, most of its officers are not directly elected, but are appointed by the authorities or the management. As resulted, labour NGOs proliferate to act on behalf of the workers, especially the migrant labours in the developed coastal area while after China has opened its market, there are more and more migrant workers without protection and facing a lots hardship in their life. Being perceived as threats to their interests, the labour NGOs are coerced by both the state and private entities, even the ACFTU. .
The OSH Legal Resources Handbook is intended to serve as a practical reference handbook for those legal practitioners and activists involved in the struggle to seek compensation and justice for victims of occupational injuries and diseases. It aims to be a hands-on manual and provide an overview of the working of the law and its implementation. It is supplemented with case studies that give the reader an insight into the working of the laws in the region. It will also serve as a tool to aid cross-border alliances and build strong solidarity among victims’ support groups across the region.
This practical handbook has country reports from 10 countries: From South Asia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India; from East Asia: China, Japan, and Hong Kong; and from Southeast Asia: Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Each chapter focuses on a single country and reports on actual cases/ incidents in terms of the existing structures and mechanisms, showing the core of the system and how it works and elucidating the requirements and challenges facing a worker or victim seeking compensation. Many of these cases clearly demonstrate the issues and obstacles encountered by the worker, and some strategies and interventions used by legal practitioners to assist the victims.
AMRC will update the information in this handbook periodically with the aim of providing a more powerful tool to the network and to other workers and victims in the Asia region.
Being cheated and ‘sold’ to farm employers in remote areas of Vietnam’s Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, workers are left with only two options, either hiding in the forest to flee from labor exploitation or stretching their backs to work.
Korea health unions KHMU and KPTU-HealthSol held a strike from 24-30 June, and protest rallies on 27 and 28 June after the Korean government's announcement to allow for deregulation and privatisation of the health services in the country.
Last week a reported 220,000 Cambodian migrants hastily returned from Thailand in fear of a crackdown against undocumented workers, creating a migration crisis. The Cambodian government, United Nations and NGOs quickly mobilized to feed and transport them to their home towns.
Rebecca Henschke reports on garment workers killed by riot police when striking for pay rise
Ken Loo from the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia:
“Investors are here to make money. Investors are not here for charity. Investors are not here because of good compliance. Investors are here because we need to make money. So if we make money, we continue to stay here. If we don't, then very naturally they need to start to look at leaving. And they will.”
Henschke (Journalist): “Where, really, could they go?”
Ken Loo: “It's not a question of where really could they go. Now, the Vietnam has a higher minimum wage, yes, but only slightly higher. But their productivity is much higher. You know. And Indonesia, although, yeah, it's got a ridiculously high minimum wage, but really if you want productivity adjusted, unit costs per output is probably on par with Cambodia.”
[video] More than 40 protestors from Hong Kong and Indonesia gathered in front of the Adidas Office in Hong Kong to show solidarity to the workers in China and Indonesia. They are the Chinese workers in disputes with Dongguan Yue Yuen and Guangzhou Dynamic Casting, and the 1300 Indonesia workers from PDK who were unfairly dismissed in 2012. Among these factories, there is one thing in common: they are all producing for the international footwear giant Adidas.