Workers’ struggles: Asia and Australia
India: New Delhi police arrest protesting doctors
New Delhi police arrested several hospital residents who were protesting outside Maulana Azad Medical College on December 27. The Federation of Resident Doctors Associations (FORDA) condemned the police action and threatened that all health facilities would be completely closed from that day.
The protest was part of the ongoing indefinite national strike that began on December 21 to oppose the suspension of postgraduate medical admissions, resulting in additional workloads. Resident doctors from several Indian states resigned on December 6 from the issue.
This year’s NEET-PG 2021 postgraduate entrance exam, which typically takes place in January, has been postponed to September due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. Adding to the delay, postgraduate medical admissions were suspended by the Supreme Court, which postponed until January 6 the hearing of petitions filed by students questioning the validity of the allocation of seats to residents.
The striking doctors said they would not return to work until they received written assurances from the government that the issue was resolved.
Tamil Nadu’s aerial tank operators and conservation workers demand permanence
Hundreds of aerial tank operators (OHTs) and conservation workers employed in rural Tamil Nadu demonstrated on December 21 to demand higher wages and permanent jobs. Cleaners and conservation officers in the villages said they were being exploited and paid a meager monthly salary of 3,600 rupees ($ 48) with no time off or time off.
They demanded the correction of a government decree issued by the previous state government in February. While the government claimed that the ordinance increased all salaries, it set them at just 4,000 rupees per month and effectively reduced the wages of OHT operators who earn up to 5,000 rupees per month.
OHT operators have been working part-time or at consolidated remuneration for several years. They allege that no proper employment records have been kept, which means they could be made redundant at any time.
Punjab University teachers continue strike
The strike by teachers at Guru Nanak Dev University and affiliated Punjab state colleges has entered its fourth week.
Members of Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association, as well as members of Punjab District Unit and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, want the salary scale of the University Grants Commission (UGC) is revised in accordance with the seventh remuneration committee. They are also asking the government to reverse its decision to separate teachers’ salary scores from the UGC salary scale.
Veterinary care workers at the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University hospitals in Ludhiana, Punjab, went on an indefinite strike on December 1 over the same issues.
Haryana nursery nurses demand higher wages
Anganwadi (childcare) workers protested and blocked traffic on the Chandigarh-Kharar highway in Chandigarh, Haryana state on December 21 due to late payment of wages and an increase salary. Traffic was blocked, causing long lines of vehicles stretching for nearly 4 kilometers.
Protesting workers have made these demands over the past nine months, but the government has not responded. They warned that they would proceed with various forms of protests until their demands were considered.
Pakistan: Islamabad teachers oppose reforms to remove them from federal civil service
Teachers and non-teaching staff at public schools and colleges went on strike on December 23 to oppose a government law that removed the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), the current authority over schools, from the hierarchy of the federal government. It will instead be controlled by the mayor of Islamabad and become a local government body. More than 400 educational establishments, including 390 schools, were closed by the strike.
A previous weeklong strike that began on November 30 over the issue was called off by the federal government’s Joint Action Committee on Education after the government said it needed time to respond to educators’ demands. .
Teachers and non-teaching workers have asserted that the reforms will end their status as federal government employees and result in the loss of current benefits. Opposition to the reform has broad support from students and parents.
FDE employees are also concerned that the federal government’s continued failure to meet its financial commitments to interim and local governments has often resulted in delays or non-payment of salaries. Imran Khan’s government seeks to reduce public spending, including on education, through reforms that transfer responsibility for the social budget to local authorities.
Islamabad Police Attack Federal Officials
Employees from several federal government departments in Islamabad protested outside the finance ministry on November 30 to demand the implementation of the 25 percent wage increase agreed to by the government in February. Demand comes amid continued double-digit inflation and stagnant wages.
A large contingent of police attacked the demonstration on November 30 with tear gas, preventing them from marching to the Prime Minister’s office. Police blocked roads with truck-sized containers to contain protesters.
A similar protest took place on November 16 in which workers also demanded the inclusion of various allowances in their base salary and promotions over time.
In February, the All Government Employees Grand Alliance put an end to the mass workers’ protest that paralyzed Islamabad, saying the government had agreed to respond to their demands. The government quickly reversed its agreement and instead implemented the measures demanded by the International Monetary Fund to reduce the federal budget deficit.
Sri Lankan station masters protest long-standing demands
Station masters took industrial action on December 23 to protest the railway department’s lack of action on their pending demands. They have stopped transporting or accepting packages and issuing tickets. Station masters said rail authorities had ignored their requests, despite numerous calls to rectify multiple issues.
The main demands included the payment of cover indemnities if promotions cannot be provided and overtime for station masters calculated according to the same system as locomotive drivers.
Sri Lanka’s trainmen’s union called off the action on Tuesday, saying it had received assurances from the minister of state for transport that their demands would be taken into account.
South Korean parcel delivery men threaten to strike
Union members at CJ Logistics, South Korea’s leading parcel delivery company, have threatened to strike before the end of the year to demand better working conditions and against dangerous workloads. More than 93 percent of the company’s 2,290 union members approved an indefinite strike from December 28.
The union says CJ Logistics did not use the full amount of increased delivery costs that should have been spent to reduce the workload under a January deal between the government and logistics companies. The deal required logistics companies to hire additional workers to sort packages and take other measures to avoid overwork.
The deal was reached after massive protests by workers over the deaths of 16 delivery men allegedly caused by overwork. According to the union, CJ Logistics is spending just 30 percent of the increased shipping costs to improve working conditions for delivery people.
Workers sacked at Cambodia’s biggest casino protest
Some 365 sacked workers at the NagaWorld casino complex in Phnom Penh have been organizing daily protests since December 18 in front of the casino complex to demand their reinstatement and an end to alleged discrimination against union members.
The dispute dates back to April when the Hong Kong-owned resort used the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to restructure its operations and target labor organization. It laid off 1,329 of its 8,000 employees. Only 85 workers accepted severance pay which, according to the union, was less than what is required by law.
The protesters, mostly union members, are calling for their reinstatement and the review of severance pay to bring them into line with Cambodia’s labor laws. The dispute is handled by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training.
Junior doctors at Victoria hospitals mount class action lawsuit
More than 1,400 young doctors from multiple health departments in Victoria have joined a statewide legal campaign demanding reimbursement for unlisted overtime as well as sanctions against hospitals for alleged violations of the Fair Work Act . Doctors claimed they were overworked and underpaid.
Australian Medical Association Victoria’s physician-in-training coordinator Dr Gavin Wayne said morale was at an all-time low and the hospital system was at “breaking point”. He said health administrators and various governments have relied on these doctors for decades, who regularly work up to 25 hours a week in overtime, most of it unpaid.
Dr Wayne said the systemic exploitation of junior doctors would be the only thing keeping hospitals in business in 2022, when health departments try to catch up with a backlog of treatments delayed by COVID-19.