Labor struggles: Asia and Australia

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Asia

India: Pondicherry workers oppose closure of state-run textile factories

Members of the Indian Trades Union Congress (AITUC) and other union members joined workers in Pondicherry on Tuesday in protesting against the government’s plan to shut down the state-run Swadeshi and Bharathi textile factories. Protesters demanded that the mills be restructured and relaunched to provide much-needed jobs for hundreds of people. The unemployment rate in Pondicherry in June 2021 was 47.1%, the highest in India.

The factories were closed in September 2020, but around 300 workers stayed and did some renovations to keep them running. The government claimed that the mills were operating at a loss and had to be closed. The workers claimed that the losses were due to poor management and lack of modernization.

Telangana University teachers hold statewide protest

Teachers at Telangana district colleges halted work on Wednesday to protest delays in publishing timetables for teachers’ transfers and promotions.

The Upadhyaya Sanghala Porata Committee (USPC) called on the Chief Minister to intervene and order the Department of Education to address the issue. They also demanded the resolution of issues related to Government Order 317, including spousal and mutual transfers. Other calls were for an end to delays in paying wages and clearing additional bills.

Tamil Nadu water and sewer workers strike

Hundreds of sewerage contract workers from the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) went on strike on Monday and demonstrated at the utility office in Chennai demanding permanent jobs. Nearly 1,900 sanitation workers are employed by the council in various categories.

Protesters said several workers had been working under contract for up to 20 years with pittance daily wages of between 499 rupees (US$6.5) and 867 rupees, depending on their job category. They asked the CMWSSB to gradually introduce permanent jobs based on seniority. They also complained about the lack of job security and the fact that their family was not compensated if the employee died on the job.

Tamil Nadu garment workers stage two-day strike

Textile units including manufacturers, exporters, yarn traders, dyeing, printing and other ancillary units, in Karur, Tamil Nadu, shut down for two days on Monday and Tuesday to demand that the Modi government controls rising cotton and cotton yarn prices. They demanded that these products be included in the list of essential products so that production and sales are monitored to avoid artificial demand and called for a temporary ban on exports of cotton and cotton yarn.

There are 20,000 textile manufacturing and related labor units that provide direct and indirect employment to one million workers in the textile city of Tiruppur, Tamil Nadu.

Strike by brick kiln workers in Punjab

Brick kiln workers in Fazilka, Punjab state, have been on strike since May 13 to demand higher wages. Their action disrupts traffic on the highway near the village of Lamochar Kalan.

The workers alleged that brick kiln owners paid only 500 rupees (US$6.5) for 1,000 bricks, in violation of the official fixed price of 820 rupees. They complained that the union lodged a complaint with the local magistrate two months ago, but union officials failed to act and accused them of being “pro-owners”.

A news report claimed a local government official said brick kiln owners had reached an agreement with the government to pay around 25-30% less than the fixed wage, saying automation had reduced labor content.

Punjab University non-teaching staff protest

Non-teaching employees of the Punjabi University of Patiala protested on May 12, accusing the administration of violating promotion rules. Members of the Class A (non-teaching) Officers’ Association alleged that promotions ignored existing seniority lists.

The association demanded that the university administration hire non-teaching civil servants for non-teaching positions rather than assigning them to faculty members. They met with a state government official and demanded his intervention in the matter.

Laid-off workers from Bangladesh’s Barapukuria coal mine get their jobs back

Hundreds of sacked protesters from the Barapukuria coal mine suspended their two-month protest last week with a “partial acceptance” of authority to resolve their grievances. They demanded reinstatement and payment for eight months”. About 700 workers were laid off at the mine two years ago when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country.

The Barapukuria Miners’ and Coal Mine Workers’ Union said on May 13 that mining authorities had agreed to let employees return to work in stages and that a decision on unpaid wages would be discussed at a meeting. with the Petrobangla workers’ representative in Dhaka.

Sri Lankan health workers protest

Hundreds of public sector health workers demonstrated on Wednesday against patient safety and the critical shortage of medical supplies. Public hospitals are running out of medicines, oxygen and other chemicals, jeopardizing the activities of intensive care units and laboratories.

Health workers displaying placards protested outside general hospitals in Kandy and Badulla over the issues. They accused the government of jeopardizing the entire healthcare system and endangering the health of patients.

Taiwan commuter train workers to stage second strike against corporatization

Over 90% of Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) train drivers backed a strike motion by the Taiwan Railways Union (TRLU) on June 3 [the Dragon Boat Festival holiday] to protest against the government’s plan to transform the TRA into a public company. About 1,200 drivers went on strike on May 1 because of this issue.

The TRLU accused the government of drafting a statute establishing the Taiwan Railway Corporation (TRC) before reaching an agreement with the unions. The other unions involved in the dispute are the National Train Drivers’ Union and the Taiwan Railway Union (TRU).

The unions have claimed that the draft statute does not address security issues and does not guarantee that the procedures for adjusting the salaries of civil servants will continue after the establishment of the company. Workers also fear they will be forced out of the TRA dormitories when the company is established and receive no pay or benefit improvements.

The TRLU threatened to call a strike during the Mid-Autumn Festival in September, the Double Ten National Day in October. and the nine-to-one elections in November. Over 16,000 employees will be affected when TRA is incorporated.

Australia

Workers at the Bosch auto parts and tools plant in Victoria halt work

Around 100 workers at the Robert Bosch auto parts and tools plant in Clayton, Melbourne, walked off work for the day on Wednesday amid a pay dispute. The United Workers Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Electrical Trades Union have been negotiating with Bosch for more than ten months over a new company agreement. Unions have accused Bosch of stalling negotiations and making a wage offer well below the rising cost of living.

Townsville aged care nurses protest pay cuts and conditions

Nearly 20 members of the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union (QNMU) marched for an hour on Tuesday and protested outside the Regis Kirwan aged care facility in Townsville after rejecting a company deal offered by The direction. Protesters held signs reading: ‘We can’t live on praise, we need a raise’ and ‘We said we were heroes, paid like zeros’.

A union spokesperson accused Regis of trying to scrap existing working conditions, including paid overtime, penalty rates and allowances, as well as very small wage increases that would lead to reduced wages real 4 or 5% for most nurses in the first year alone. The spokesperson said Regis wanted to force care staff to work up to 10 overtime hours with no overtime.

The proposed company agreement offers wage increases of just 1% a year, or about 25 cents an hour, for the next three years for experienced nurses, and 2% for most other staff male nurse. The union claimed the proposed “increases” would leave nurses far behind not only the consumer price index (CPI) of 5.1%, but also wages at other comparable nursing homes.

Last month, QNMU members at the Regis Whitfield aged care facility in Cairns, North Queensland, opposed management’s proposed EA, which would impose the same pay and conditions than those offered to Regis Kirwan. The QNMU claimed that private aged care nurses earn up to 48% less than their colleagues in public facilities in the state.

Adelaide’s older workers leave for low pay and excessive workload

Around 25 older workers and residents of the Anglicare facility at Elizabeth East in South Australia’s capital, Adelaide, left the premises on Thursday to demand better pay, better conditions and increased staff from Anglicare. The action by members of the United Workers Union (UWU) followed strikes by thousands of older UWU workers in Western Australia and Queensland on May 10 over poor pay, chronic understaffing and lack of care for residents.

Industrial action this month in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia affected eight major providers employing more than 12,000 older people in 160 aged care facilities, caring for approximately 12,700 residents.

Elderly social workers are also wondering why COVID-19 disappeared from public debate, when 350 older Australians died during the federal election campaign alone. A union spokesperson told the media that the public is being led to believe the Omicron wave has passed, but for older workers working double shifts in full PPE there has been no respite and the Elder care crisis is in full swing.

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