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Asian Labour Update
Labour News Across Asia
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Vietnam to raise minimum wage by 10 pct in July

Instead of keeping wages unchanged, Vietnam’s legislators on Saturday approved a plan by the finance ministry to raise minimum wage by nearly 10 percent, or VND100,000 (US$4.8) a month, starting in July of next year.

The minimum wage for state employees, will be increased from the current VND1.05 million a month, as was suggested by the Finance Ministry on October 31.

Earlier the ministry had proposed keeping the current wage unchanged throughout next year, citing the low budget that did not achieve its targets in terms of alleviating poverty or reducing unemployment.

But many legislators objected, arguing that wage increase would boost consumption and save the economy.

Previously, Vietnam had planned to raise minimum wage to VND1.3 million in May 2013.

To even afford the more modest increase, the assembly on Saturday called on the government to impose standards of strict frugality in terms of spending and to vigorously control corruption.

It asked the government to save money on festivals, conferences, car purchases and travel trips for officials.

Deputies at the session also asked the government to maintain current prices on consumer goods and that raising them would render the wage increase neglible.

Increasing the minimum wage will drain the state budget of VND20.7 trillion ($993 million), of which local authorities will have to contribute VND3.3 trillion.

Approximately 8.3 million employees and retirees of state agencies stand to receive a boost in salary.

The Labor Ministry has said wages in the business sector will be increased by between 25 and 36 percent in May, from the current VND1.4-2 million depending on region.

The government is less concerned about the wage increase within the business sector because that burden will fall largely on enterprises.
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[Bangladesh] RMG workers stage demo for outstanding salary at CEPZ

[Bangladesh] RMG workers stage demo for outstanding salary at CEPZ | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
Several hundred workers of a readymade garment factory at Chittagong Export Processing Zone staged demonstration Thursday morning demanding payment of their outstanding salaries.
CEPZ sources said authorises of the ready made garment North Pool BD Limited, which remained closed for the past three months, were scheduled to pay outstanding salaries to the workers in the morning.
Ranjir Roy, a sub-inspector at the Bandar police station, said the workers staged demonstration in front of the factory, as the authorities failed to make the payment as per prior schedule.
Later, the workers left the spot, as the authorities pledged to make the payment on November 27 following police intervention, he said.
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IndustriALL inspired by Indonesian trade union victory | Industriall

IndustriALL inspired by Indonesian trade union victory | Industriall | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
IndustriALL is celebrating a significant victory of its Indonesian affiliates in the campaign against outsourcing and low wages.

Pressure on the Indonesian government from the strategic, large-scale trade union campaign of lobbying, mobilization and action resulted in new legislation on outsourcing enacted on 21 November.
The victory restricts outsourcing in Indonesia to five sectors, namely: security, canteen, cleaning services, transport, and mining services.
IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina saluted the Indonesian comrades for their impressive victory:
Once again you show what can be achieved with a well-planned strategy and mobilization. You are an example and inspiration to our whole global union family.
The powerful Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers' Union FSPMI led by president Said Iqbal played a leading role in the campaign. Iqbal is also chairman of trade union confederation KSPI and had led the creation of a new workers' council (MPBI) that unites the three major trade union confederations in Indonesia (KSPI, KSBSI, and KSPSI). This unity has built strength.
An estimated 35 per cent of Indonesia’s 118 million workforce are precarious workers. The new government regulation will change the status of an estimated 16 to 20 million workers from outsourced to permanent employment. Any contract worker employed in the same job for three years or more must now be given permanent employment status.
The second substantial achievement of the trade union campaign, also reported today, is industrial agreements increasing the minimum wage across most of Indonesia’s industrial area. The minimum wage in Jakarta, Bekasi, Bogor, Karawang, Sidoarjo, Mojokerto, Batam have been set for the year 2013, with average 40.2 per cent increase. For example, in Jakarta the minimum wage will be raised from US$157 to US$230. Average increases to the minimum wage in recent years have been on average 20-30 per cent.
Inflation and economic growth are high in Indonesia, but these large increases in minimum wages move forward the union goal of bringing salaries in Indonesia in line with those in China, Malaysia and Thailand by 2016. Indonesia is ranked 16 in the world in terms of GDP, but 69 in terms of wages.
Last month, the three national trade union centres, KSPI, KSBSI and KSPSI mobilized three million workers in massive demonstrations against precarious work. The marchers, who set the bar high for the 7 October World Day for Decent Work, demanded a halt to outsourcing which was reducing workers’ salaries and benefits. Unions in the 3 October manifestations called on the government to restrict outsourcing to the five sectors stated in the legislation.
Upcoming targets for the trade union activists include government implementation of health care insurance in January 2014 and pension protection by 2015.
IndustriALL calls attention now to the importance of full implementation of the new outsourcing legislation.
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The growing global movement against austerity

Amaia Engana didn't wait to be evicted from her home. On Nov. 9, in the town of Barakaldo, a suburb of Bilbao in Spain's Basque Country, officials from the local judiciary were on their way to serve her eviction papers. Amaia stood on a chair and threw herself out of her fifth-floor apartment window, dying instantly on impact on the sidewalk below.
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Myanmar garment, wood factories’ workers strike

Myanmar garment, wood factories’ workers strike | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it

Myanmar workers from Dagon Seikkan Township’s garment and wood factories went on strike recently, demanding for a better salary and compensation.

On November 5, Golden Day garment factory workers started to strike as the factory management failed to pay their October wages because of a plan to shut down the factory. The workers continued their actions until November 16, demanding another three months compensation if the factory is shut down.

A garment factory worker said: “The ministry of Labour came to solve the problem. But the owner has yet to respond.”

Just recently, as many as 34 Hlapa Thaw wood factory workers also went on strike over poor salary and mistreatment.

“Ministry of Labour officials came to negotiate the cases. But we have not yet found solution. The wood factory workers went on strike because the company failed to pay the salaries on time,” said Nay Linn who advocated the Hlapa Thaw factory workers.

The representatives of both of the factories cannot be reached for comment.

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Miners march from Yangon to Nay Pyi Taw to protest government

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Miners from the Moehti Moemi goldmining region of Mandalay Region’s Yamethin township are walking from Yangon to Nay Pyi Taw, where they plan to protest in front of government buildings.

On Thursday, November 8, 85 of the miners set off from Yangon to Nay Pyi Taw after holding three protests in the former capital, said Ko Youte Kyi, a member of the group.

They expect to arrive in Nay Pyi Taw around Tuesday, November 20, where they will seek permission to protest in front of the Ministry of Mines, Pyidaungsu Hluttaw and the office of Myanmar National Prosperity, the company with which they are embroiled in a long-running dispute over an agreement to mine gold at Moehti Moemi.

Myanmar National Prosperity won a tender to mine gold in the area in late 2011.

But in June, workers from the hundreds of small mines at Moehti Moemi began protesting after the company allegedly reneged on an earlier verbal agreement to split all gold found in the area 50-50.

Myanmar National Prosperity officials reportedly made the promise to the small mining companies and individual miners in December 2011, saying they could excavate gold from the area for the duration of its five-year contract with the government.

After holding several illegal protests in the mining area, the miners applied for permission to demonstrate in Yamethin but were rejected twice.

About 30 of them then protested in front of Myanmar National Prosperity office in Yangon on November 3, 6 and 8, after which they decided to walk to Nay Pyi Taw.

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[Indonesia] New Decree to limit the use of contract workers signed

Ignoring complaints from the business sector, the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry has issued a controversial decree that will limit the use of contract workers through the so-called outsourcing scheme. 

Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said over the weekend that he had already signed on Thursday a revised decree on labor outsourcing and that it had been sent to the Law and Human Rights Ministry to be passed before its immediate enactment. 

Under the decree, companies will be given six months to alter the status of their contract workers into permanent staff.

According to the planned decree, companies will not be permitted to outsource their core business, leaving outsourcing limited to five types of job: cleaning services, security, driving, support services on mining sites and catering.

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[Bangladesh] Transport workers on strike on 19 routes today

Transport workers go on strike from down to dusk on 19 routes in Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar and Bandarban today in protest at the killing of a bus driver at the hands of robbers on Friday and demanding security for vehicles on the road.
The Arakan Road Transport Workers Union at an emergency meeting in the afternoon announced the strike. The organisation’s president Mohammad Ali presided over the meeting.
The organisation’s general secretary Mohammed Musa said that they had also decided to go on strike for an indefinite period if the killers were not arrested and family of the deceased was not given compensation in a week.
Robbers robbed valuables from passengers of a bus headed for Cox’s Bazar from Chittagong at Medhakachchhapia of Chakaria about 8:00pm on Friday after shooting dead the bus driver, Jasim Uddin.

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Capital as Power: Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism

Abstract or Brief Description

Conventional theories of capitalism are mired in a deep crisis: after centuries of debate, they are still unable to tell us what capital is. Liberals and Marxists think of capital as an economic entity that they count in universal units of utils and abstract labour, respectively. But these units are totally fictitious: they can be neither observed nor measured. In this sense, they do not exist. And since liberalism and Marxism depend on these non-existing units, their theories hang in suspension. They cannot explain the process that matters most – the accumulation of capital.

This breakdown is no accident. Capitalism, we argue, is not a mode of production but a mode of power, and every mode of power evolves together with its dominant theories, dogmas and ideologies. In capitalism, these theories and ideologies originally belonged to the study of political economy – the first mechanical science of society. But as the capitalist mode of power kept changing and the quantitative revolution made it less and less opaque, the power underpinnings of capital grew increasingly visible and the science of political economy disintegrated. By the late nineteenth century, with dominant capital having taken command, political economy was bifurcated into two distinct spheres: economics and politics. And in the twentieth century, when the power logic of capital had already penetrated every corner of society, the remnants of political economy were further fractured into mutually distinct social sciences. Capital was completely monopolized by economists, leaving other social scientists with little or no say in its analysis. And nowadays, when the reign of capital is all but universal, social scientists find that they have no coherent framework to account for it.

The theory of capital as power offers a unified alternative to this fracture. It argues that capital is not a narrow economic entity, but a symbolic quantification of power. Capital is not absolute, it is relative. It has little to do with utility or abstract labour, and it extends far beyond machines and production lines. Most broadly, it represents the organized power of dominant capital groups to create the order of – or creorder – their society.

This view leads to a different cosmology of capitalism. It offers a new theoretical framework for capital based on the twin notions of dominant capital and differential accumulation, a new conception of the state and a new history of the capitalist mode of power. It also introduces new empirical research methods – including new categories; new ways of thinking about, relating and presenting data; new estimates and measurements; and, finally, the beginning of a non-equilibrium disaggregate accounting that reveals the conflictual dynamics of society.
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Southeast Asia Will Be Less Export Dependent by 2017, OECD Says - Businessweek

AFPSoutheast Asia Will Be Less Export Dependent by 2017, OECD SaysBusinessweekThe prospects for developing Asian nations contrast with the fiscal and demographic challenges faced by more advanced economies, as higher public spending and younger populations...
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[Korea] Ulsan labor protest making a splash

[Korea] Ulsan labor protest making a splash | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
Two irregular workers have camped out high atop a pylon, drawing attention to their plight...

As demonstrations on top of a steel pylon in Ulsan by in-house subcontractor employees of Hyundai Motor entered their third day on Oct. 19, more groups have stepped forward to stand in solidarity with the strikers and expressed support for their actions.

 

In particular, the union of regular workers and groups of temporary workers at Hyundai Motor along with various workers’ unions from Ulsan area have been actively demonstrating their unity with the strikers, holding candlelight vigils and tent sit-in demonstrations.

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[Indonesia] Workers in Jababeka Area Attacked

[Indonesia] Workers in Jababeka Area Attacked | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it

The Bekasi Workers’ Association has slammed recent attacks launched by a group of people on several workers’ posts in the Jababeka Industrial Area, Cikarang, Bekasi. 


Budi Wardoyo, Bekasi Workers Joint Secretary Labor spokesman, believed the attacks were launched based on an order from a certain party and not based on the attackers’ own initiative. 

“Previously there were leaflets circulating that warned workers to stop staging demonstrations because they disrupted the security in the area,” Budi told BeritaSatu.com on Monday. 

Budi believed the attacks were in response to the workers’ demonstrations. Authorities and government already knew about the plan but chose not to take any preventive measures to protect the workers, he said, adding that since Sunday night, a group of people had attacked several workers’ posts in Jababeka. 

“The thugs began by searching Samsung workers, some of them were stopped and hit,” Budi said. “They stopped not only at that but the attackers also took off the workers’ clothes, those who wore the labor forum uniform.” 

According to Budi, the attackers, who called themselves the United Bekasi Community Forum, had asked workers to sign an agreement to stop staging demonstrations and to accept the outsourcing system.

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Samsung: Designed for humans, produced in deaths

Samsung: Designed for humans, produced in deaths | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
Samsung: Designed for humans, produced in deaths — Behind the world’s leading maker of electronics

Samsung’s dark story went even deeper than a case of profit maximization at all costs – it proved to be a spectacular example of the unholy alliance between business and government that has become prevalent in capitalist economies around the world.

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[Thailand] 17,000 nurses threaten to go on strike

[Thailand] 17,000 nurses threaten to go on strike | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
17,000 nurses threaten to go on strike The Nation Network calls for contract workers to be given permanent status right away...
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Are US corporations exploiting their workers?

Are US corporations exploiting their workers? | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
We ask if American workers are being punished for the bad business practices of their bosses.
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Walmart and Black Friday protests

Walmart and Black Friday protests | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
Protests against Walmart are about a ruthless capitalist system that exploits workers as MNCs post record profits.
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[Srilanka] Private sector workers to protest demanding pay hike

JVP–led private sector trade unions would protest on Friday (23) opposite the Fort Railway Station demanding an immediate pay hike.

 

President of the Inter Company Employees’ Union Wasantha Samarasinghe said that budget 2013 did not give anything to the private sector employees.

 

He said that the private sector contribution to the national production was 95 per cent but it did not gst any relief in the budget.

 

"Our protest will force the government to add an amendment to the budget," Samarasinghe said.

 

The former JVP MP said that there was no proper mechanism to increase private sector salaries.

 

Sometimes, Samarasinghe said, the government insists they have no right to intervene in private sector salaries.

 

However, as a responsible government, they cannot avoid private sector problems," he said.

 

"We have been waiting for a solution to the private sector employees’ salary problem for a long time without resorting to trade union action. Now, we will have to consider that option after our Friday’s protest, Samarasinghe said.

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[Taiwan] Labor activists pelt police with eggs

[Taiwan] Labor activists pelt police with eggs | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
EGG ON MA’S FACE:Protesters said a proposal to allow more foreign workers, working for a different minimum wage, showed the government cared only for corporations

Close to 2,000 workers and labor rights advocates yesterday bombarded Ketaglan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office with eggs while tussling with police as they protested against low wages, unfair labor policies, rising prices and a growing labor insurance deficit.

 

Despite attempts from the police to calm the crowd, the angry workers — mobilized by various labor organizations, including the Labor Party, Taiwan International Workers’ Association (TIWA), Raged Citizens Act Now and unions from across the country — threw eggs in the direction of the Presidential Office, though they were kept 300m away from the building itself by a line of police.

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Fukushima worker files law suit

Fukushima worker files law suit | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it

A former worker at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has filed a lawsuit alleging the plant's operator, TEPCO, sent crews into highly radioactive areas without proper protection.

Thousands of workers were involved in getting the damaged plant and its reactors under control after it was hit by the powerful 2011 tsunami.

The former worker, identified only as Shinichi, has filed a legal complaint with Japan's labour office, seeking an improvement of safety standards.

"From the outset there was no mention about water nor any instructions as such," Mr Shinichi said.

"We were not given any information. All we were told was to do our work, to connect the switchboards."

Mr Shinichi says TEPCO knew the risks posed by highly radioactive water that was pooling in the reactor buildings.

He claims the company sent crews into the flooded areas despite this knowledge.

"When I went inside I saw a pool of water. If you're a nuclear plant worker you know that water on the floor is bad news, you just don't touch it," he said.

TEPCO spokesman, Yoshimi Hitosugi, says the company was unsure if there would be highly radioactive water at the time.

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Global Rebalancing – Implications For Asia

Global Rebalancing - Implications For Asia - Although it remains the fastest growing region, Asia is already experiencing an economic slowdown, with gross domestic product (GDP) expected to fall from 6.8 percent in 2011 to slightly below six...
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Korean workers stage protest against Hyundai

Korean workers stage protest against Hyundai | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it

Two workers climbed a pylon and remain there at the Hyundai Motor plant in Ulsan on 17 October protesting against the company’s failure to recognise the permanent status of employees even after a positive Supreme Court decision.

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Calls mount to scrap ASEAN human rights plan

Calls mount to scrap ASEAN human rights plan | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
Ten Southeast Asian nations are set to sign a declaration critics say will degrade, not protect, human rights.
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[Pakistan] Factory fire: Hundreds lose jobs as plastics factory gutted

[Pakistan] Factory fire: Hundreds lose jobs as plastics factory gutted | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
Huge explos­ions averte­d as thinne­r tanks protec­ted.

 

On September 11, more than a thousand workers lost their jobs and about 259 died when a fire broke out in the Ali Enterprises garments factory also located in SITE.

 

This time, the fire gutted Metatex after breaking out Saturday at 11:45pm. It took more than 30 hours to control. The authorities announced that its building was dangerous as several portions have collapsed. The cause of the fire has yet to be ascertained.

 

Luckily no loss of life was reported. But according to owner Khalid Qasim, it was an unbelievable loss for him as he had just bought plastic machines at RsRs320 million each a year ago. He estimated a total loss of Rs1.5 billion. He was angry at the fire fighters, who he said could have helped save the property if they had worked on time. “In the begining it was water, then there wasn’t enough foam, then there wasn’t enough water,” he said.

 

He believed that the workers of the factory themselves put out the blaze as they were trained to deal with a fire emergency and they were quipped with proper fire-extinguishing equipment. “The fire came at a bad time. If there had been more workers we wouldn’t have suffered such a loss,” he said referring to the Eid holidays.

 

The two four-storey buildings collapsed but fire fighters managed to save the stock of thinner in two big underground tanks in the one-storey storehouse. The factory is spread over 3,500 square yards and was about eight years old.

 

As the news of the fire spread, scores of factory workers reached to help with the rescue operation. “This was our bread and butter,” said worker Asif Shabbir with tears in his eyes. “With this factory, the future of our families also went up in flames.” He was worried about compensation.

 

The fire fighters came from the KMC, Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy, Civil Aviation Authority and Karachi Port Trust but they struggled because of the huge stocks of chemicals and plastics feeding the fire. “We did whatever we could do,” said a sub-fire officer of the SITE brigade, Basheer Ahmed. “A shortage of the foam and a shortage of manpower at the right time allowed it to get worse.” He said that they did their best with whatever resources they had. “The biggest challenge was saving the thinner tanks,” he added. “If the fire had reached them, then there would have been an explosion that would have blown the surrounding buildings into the sky.” One of the tactics they used was to surround the tanks with 3.5 feet of water.

 

Law enforcers reached to help the fire fighters and disperse the crowd that was creating problems as well. “By the time I got there, the fire had spread to the main gate and leapt up more when they hit it with water,” said SITE division SP Akram Abro who was informed by the factory’s security guards. The CCTV cameras and their recorders were burnt. But the police have called the owners, workers and security guards today (Tuesday) to record their statements.

The factory used its own generators and gas to produce electricity.

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Revolt of the iSlaves – More labour unrest at China’s Foxconn factories

Revolt of the iSlaves – More labour unrest at China’s Foxconn factories | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it

Two incidents of mass unrest at Foxconn factories made worldwide headlines in late September and early October 2012. The leading customer Apple had just released a new version of his main product, the iPhone 5, so work pressure in the factories was high – and so was worldwide attention.

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Back on the streets

Back on the streets | Asian Labour Update | Scoop.it
A national strike shows that workers are once again a significant force...

 

‘Are you ready to be sacked?’ ‘We’re ready!’, answers the crowd of 50 factory workers. ‘Are you ready to be sacked?’, asks the union leader again. ‘Remember the union is not a god. We cannot protect you. All you have is each other, but if you are united you will be strong.’

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