The new “pitchfork” protest – nationwide this time – was announced weeks ago but it still seems to have taken the whole country by surprise. It began on 9 December and is still going on today, the organizers declaring that they won’t stop until the Letta government collapses.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Three million workers across all sectors (mainly textiles) have begun a week-long strike to demand a nationwide pay rise of 50%, stricter rules on outsourcing, and universal health cover. Indonesia’s economy grew by 6% last year and the workers want a bigger piece of the pie. A group of 37 huge companies – mainly in the textile industry – have submitted a statement to the government demanding no wage increases in 2014, or they will close their factories and leave the country.