You would be forgiven for thinking that this post is an April fool’s joke… Walmart are holding a holiday ‘canned food drive’. So that employees ‘in need’ can enjoy a thanksgiving dinner. Walmart claim it’s a positive move and typical of the organisations caring culture. The workers have a different take on it.
Tens of thousands of Greeks have participated in marches through Athens to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the student uprising against the US backed military junta. The blood stained flag that flew over the Athens Polytechnic on the night of November 17th, 1973, was carried at the front of the march in memory of those who had been murdered. “Bread, Education, Freedom” chanted the marchers, just as they had done 40 years ago. 6,000 extra police were deployed around Athens and security stepped up at the US embassy.
In the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, groups of fascists in paramilitary uniforms are conducting what they describe as ‘civil patrols’. The purpose of the patrols is to stop people in the street and then demand to see their identification or immigration documentation. Leading member of the far-right National Union Party, Boyan Rasate has claimed that the city council and police force are well aware of the patrols and do not object to them.
Following a four day shutdown of hundreds of factories by strikes and a series of violent confrontations involving tens of thousands of people, Bangladeshi garment workers have forced the bosses into a 77% rise to the minimum wage, although it is still the lowest minimum wage in the world. This victory will hopefully be a catalyst to other garment workers in India, China, Cambodia, and Laos, who are being held back from confrontation by the boss’s threats of relocation and dismissals.
Striking Nestle worker and trade union organiser, Oscar lopez, was shot four times by multiple gunmen in a local bar. ‘Sinaltrainal’, his trade union had been locked in a bitter dispute with Nestle over union recognition and report receiving several death threats via text message from a right-wing paramilitary group, ‘Urabenos’- the day before Lopez was murdered. The messages read, “We are going to chop you up” and “Death to all Communists”.
Protesting garment workers in Cambodia have clashed with police leaving scores injured. Workers employed at SL Garment processing – who make clothes for Nike, H&M, & Gap - marched on the Prime Ministers house, demanding better pay and working conditions. They were met by heavily armed police who were intent on violence, using live bullets and tear gas to disperse the marchers. A woman selling rice at the side of the road was shot and killed by the indiscriminate shooting of the security forces.
Summary and links to news stories of workers' struggles around East Asia during October 2013 and related resources. The most important stories appear on my Twitter feed as soon as I find them: http://twitter.com/spartacusnews.
In the Chinatown area of Los Angeles, over 50 people have been arrested during a protest demanding better wages for Walmart workers. The trade union organised action involved more than 200 trade unionists, Walmart workers, and their supporters, who gathered outside a new Walmart store and sat in the road – blocking the road for a period of time before being arrested and dragged off. The police kept all those arrested in jail overnight unless they could find $500 bail.
Greek riot police have forcibly evicted dozens of journalists from the former state TV headquarters (ERT), bringing to an end a five month occupation that started after the TV station had been taken off air, and the journalists sacked. The closure had been part of a programme of public sector job cuts to meet their austerity targets. Many of the workers had stayed behind and kept the station running with an illegal news feed via the internet.
Fancy a challenge? Try keeping your politics intact whilst working with ordinary, apolitical workmates to build an unofficial union. Apolitical workplace organisers have it easy! If, like me, you hold dear a set of political beliefs that can only be fully realised once state and capital are no more, organising with your workmates may prove the most frustrating way of spending your precious time.
Over 3000 workers without permanent contracts have blockaded three lanes of Las Vegas Boulevard and a further 100 have occupied the lobby of the Cosmopolitan Casino - all of whom were subsequently handcuffed and arrested. Most of those involved have been working in casinos across Las Vegas for more than two years without any job security. Several Las Vegas casino owners are known to have contributed sizeable sums to a Republican Party ‘union busting’ campaign.