Posts Tagged ‘protest’

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Up to a million U.K. public sector workers—firefighters, librarians, teachers, and council staff—are expected to participate in today’s strike.

Britain is to witness the biggest round of industrial action for three years as teachers and firefighters join care workers, refuse collectors, librarians and other civil servants at picket lines and rallies across the country. . .

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, representing many of the country’s lowest paid workers, told the BBC: “Something has got to give – enough is enough.

“We’ve got 300,000 now on zero-hours contracts, we’ve got a million workers in local government earning below the living wage that Boris Johnson and others talk about, and people are saying: ‘We cannot go through another three years of this pay restraint.'”

Union leaders say there will be more than 50 marches and rallies across England and Wales including a protest that will end in a rally at Trafalgar Square, London. There will also be scores of picket lines at schools, council offices, depots and fire stations across England and Wales.

 

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An estimated 50,000 people march in London, not to protest England’s early departure from the World Cup finals but against the government coalition’s austerity measures.

The crowds heard speeches at Parliament Square from People’s Assembly supporters, including Caroline Lucas MP and journalist Owen Jones. Addressing the marchers, Jones said: “Who is really responsible for the mess this country is in? Is it the Polish fruit pickers or the Nigerian nurses? Or is it the bankers who plunged it into economic disaster – or the tax avoiders? It is selective anger.”

He added: “The Conservatives are using the crisis to push policies they have always supported. For example, the sell-off of the NHS. They have built a country in which most people who are in poverty are also in work.”

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Labor union Verdi has called on workers at German warehouses of online retailer Amazon.com to extend their strikes over pay and working conditions on Thursday and Friday of this week.

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Yesterday, the fast-food strikes that have been spreading around the United States went global. Workers at restaurants like Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and KFC walked off their jobs in 230 cities around the world to demand a minimum wage of $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. Strikers protested in 150 US cities, from New York to Los Angeles, and in 80 foreign cities, from Casablanca to Tokyo to Brussels to Buenos Aires.

Currently, the median pay for fast-food workers is just over $9 an hour, or about $18,500 a year. That’s roughly $4,500 lower than the Census Bureau’s poverty threshold level of $23,000 for a family of four.

The “Fight for $15″ campaign started in New York in November 2012, when 200 fast-food workers demanded $15 and the right to form a union without retaliation.

Union organizers say the movement has elevated the debate about inequality in the U.S. and helped raise the minimum wage in some states.

A man lays carnations at the Miners Monument in central Soma, a district in Turkey's western province of Manisa

Turkish unions have called for a national strike today in response to an explosion in a coal mine in the west of the country that has left at least 282 workers dead.

According to Erinç Yeldan,

One of the greatest work-crimes in mining industry occurred in Soma, a little mining village in Western Turkey. At noon-time on Tuesday, May 13, according to witnesses, an electrical fault triggered a transformer to explode causing a large fire in the mine, releasing carbon monoxide and gaseous fumes. (The official cause of the “accident” was still unknown, at this writing, after nearly 30 hours.) Around 800 miners were trapped 2 km underground and 4 km from the exit. At this point, the death toll has already reached 245, with reports of another 100 workers remaining in the mine, yet unreached.

Turkey has possibly the worst safety record in terms of mining accidents and explosions in Europe and the third worst in the world. Since the right-wing Justice and Development Party (AKP) assumed power in 2002, and up to 2011, a 40% increase in work-related accidents has been reported. The death toll from these accidents reached more than 11,000.

Many analysts agree that what lies behind these tragic events is the unregulated and poorly supervised attempts of a corrupt ruling government to push through hasty privatizations and a forced informalization of labour. The Soma mine itself was privatized in 2005. In the heyday of an anti-public sector campaign, the new owners of the plant proudly declared a decline in production costs from the US$120-130 range under the public ownership of State Coal Inc. (TTK) to US$23.80. It was not very long before it became clear that what actually facilitated this ‘miraculous market success’ was the determined evasion of safety standards. On that front, the president of the private company Soma Inc., Mr. Gürkan, was heard boasting, “You can ask ‘what changed in the mine?’ The answer is ‘nothing.’ We simply introduced methods of the private sector only.”

Over this process of “introduction of the methods of the private sector,” average gross daily pay of the miners hovered at 47 TL (approximately US$20), while the existing mine tunnels were extended from 350 m to more than 2.5 km. The dissolution of the Council of Public Inspection by government decree in 2011 was clearly instrumental in reducing the role of formal inspections to no more than friendly visits to the company headquarters, with no attention paid to the actual working conditions in the tunnels.

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After months of protests, New York University’s Student Labor Action Movement [ht: ke] persuaded the University to cut its merchandise licensing deal with JanSport “until and unless” the manufacturer signs onto the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.

The JanSport victory caps a months-long pressure campaign to persuade the administration to incorporate the Bangladesh accord in its Labor Code of Conduct for licensees; VF remained an outlier by refusing to sign on. But NYU student Iraj Eshghi noted that it took a while to grab the administration’s attention, because “they essentially did their best to ignore us. We spent most of the semester trying to get meetings with the administration. We sent them letters, we sent them emails, they responded saying that JanSport doesn’t produce in Bangladesh.” They kept up the pressure on the main target, the parent company VF, and after they staged a sit-in, the administrators finally sat down with the protesters. Then, recalls Eshghi, they discovered the students were the last to be consulted after discussions within the administration and with outside labor activists.

Noting that “essentially they were going to ask us last,” Eshghi says the process reflected, in his view, a generally dismissive attitude toward students. “This was probably the biggest struggle within this campaign… seeing that NYU doesn’t consider us a large decision making force within the campus.”

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Special mention

Student Loans May 11, 2014

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This past Saturday, on the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow coal miners’ massacre, students and many others joined the Washington University sit-in against Peabody Energy [ht: db].

As Jeff Biggers explains,

In an emerging public relations nightmare for Washington University officials, the sit-in against Peabody Energy ties entered a historic third week, as students continued to press demands after a faltering statement released yesterday by Chancellor Mark Wrighton.

“We want to make it clear that we are not satisfied with this statement,” the Wash U Students Against Peabody countered. “We plan to continue to pressure Chancellor Wrighton and Provost Thorp until they end Washington University’s relationship with Peabody.”

Let’s face it: With growing national media attention, growing outrage over Peabody violations, and growing plans for nationwide rallies against Peabody at its shareholders meeting on May 8, the moment of truth for the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees about Peabody’s toxic relationship with Washington University has arrived.

Protest of the day

Posted: 23 April 2014 in Uncategorized
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Dozens of Sherpa guides packed up and abandoned Mount Everest’s base camp Wednesday in honor of 16 of their colleagues killed in the deadliest avalanche recorded on the mountain, an incident that has exposed a great deal of resentment over their working conditions, pay, and treatment.

Tusli Gurung, a guide who was at the base camp on Wednesday, estimated that nearly half the Sherpas had already left.

The walkout is certain to disrupt a climbing season that was already marked by grief following Friday’s disaster. Sherpa guides were hauling climbing gear between camps when a chunk of ice tore loose and triggered an avalanche. Thirteen bodies were recovered and three Sherpas still missing are presumed dead.

“It is just impossible for many of us to continue climbing while there are three of our friends buried in the snow,” said Dorje Sherpa, an experienced Everest guide from the tiny Himalayan community that has become famous for its high-altitude skills and endurance.

“I can’t imagine stepping over them,” he said of the three Sherpa guides who remain buried in ice and snow. . .

The avalanche was triggered when a massive piece of glacier sheared away from the mountain along a section of constantly shifting ice and crevasses known as the Khumbu Icefall — a treacherous area where overhanging immensities of ice as large as 10-story buildings hang over the main route up the mountain.

Special teams of Sherpas, known as Icefall Doctors, fix ropes through what they hope to be the safest paths, and use aluminum ladders to bridge crevasses. But the Khumbu shifts so much that they need to go out every morning — as they were doing when disaster struck Friday — to repair sections that have broken overnight and move the climbing route if needed. . .

While most climbers have to make multiple passes through the Icefall, moving up and down the mountain as they acclimatize and prepare for their summit attempt, Sherpas make the dangerous journey two dozen times or more, carrying supplies and helping clients negotiate the hazardous maze of ice.

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Thousands of workers at a major shoe factory in China, which employs more than 40,000 workers in Dongguan and supplies brands including Nike and Adidas, are striking over social security payments.

Workers at the Yue Yuen factory, in the southern industrial hub Dongguan, are demanding better social insurance and housing fund contributions.

The dispute has been ongoing since early April, with workers reportedly rejecting an offer from the company.

China has faced growing labour strikes in recent years.

The Yue Yuen workers are said to be angered at unpaid social security payments.