Thursday, September 24, 2009

[olympiaworkers] Staff, students to walkout at 10 University of California Campuses

Sep 24 2009

In an effort to protest education cuts, students and staff at ten
University of California campuses will stage a walkout on 24 September

University of California administrators say they want to keep things
running as smoothly as possible Thursday -- the first day of school at
many campuses -- when many faculty, staff members and students are
expected to walk out of classes, host rallies and stage a systemwide labor
strike for technical employees.

UC is facing one of the worst years in its history as it tries to close a
budget gap of more than $750 million in lost revenue from the state and
increased expenses. To balance the budget, administrators have ordered
unpaid furloughs for nonunion employees, staff layoffs and course
cutbacks, and are expected to raise tuition for next year, making it 45
percent higher than last year's student fees.

Those actions have infuriated employees and students.

"There is a lot of anger and frustration, and people need to vent that,"
said Dan Mogulof, a spokesman for UC Berkeley, where classes have been in
session for a month. "The main concern is that the faculty are expected to
meet their obligations to students -- giving them notice about course
cancellations and changes, and making sure that the course material is

It's a sentiment echoed by administrators across the 10-campus system. The
last thing they want Thursday are empty classrooms -- or rooms filled with
students with no one at the podium to teach them. But it's a possibility
on many campuses.

Since late August, some UC faculty members have been urging all
instructors to walk off the job Sept. 24 to protest the university's
handling of its crisis and a policy that furlough days not be taken on
days they teach. More than 1,000 professors and associate professors
across all campuses have signed a petition urging the walkout.
Other faculty members at UC Berkeley have taken a different approach,
forming a group called Save the University. They support their colleagues
who plan to walk out, but will hold educational forums on UC's financial
troubles from the perspective that there are better ways to bolster the

Even so, many of the same faculty members may cancel classes or hold them
off campus to avoid crossing a picket line by the University Professional
and Technical Employees union, which plans a one-day strike because it has
been working without a contract for 18 months.

Meanwhile, some student groups have issued statements in support of their

Amid all of this, campus administrators say they are hoping for business
as usual.

"I think that most of our classes will go off without a hitch," said
Patricia Turner, vice provost for undergraduate studies at UC Davis, which
starts school Thursday.

"We completely support freedom of speech," she added.

It's a message the campuses are sending to the protesters -- even as they
urge students and faculty to go to class.

"I understand that on some campuses, including ours, labor actions could
impact the opening of classes this Thursday," UC Santa Cruz Provost David
Kliger said in a message to all employees sent Monday. "I hope that those
who participate in this action try to minimize disruption to our students
-- the people we are here to serve."

Some faculty members want a different message.

"I'd like them to talk to the students who are going to have to drop out
because they can't meet the (expected) tuition increases," said Shannon
Steen, a UC Berkeley associate professor of theater. "These are the
students who are going to be hurt the most."

The resolution of the University of California Students Association
supporting the action can be found here:

An interview with one of the professors who will be taking part in the
walkout can be found here:

Monday, September 21, 2009

[olympiaworkers] New Zealand Dairy Workers Locked Out Sep 20 2009

New Zealand company Open Country Cheese, part-owned by Talleys and tied to
various National Party MPs via New Zealand's Dairy Investment Fund and
Kaimai, is fighting dirty in an attempt to break workers seeking a
collective agreement with basic redundancy and transfer of undertakings

From Aotearoa Indymedia:

"There is no wage increase on the table. Workers are seeking a collective
agreement which protects them from being made temporary or casual at any
time. They want a say on how their rosters and hours of work can be
changed so their family lives are not disrupted without notice and
consultation. They want temp workers to be paid the same rate for the job
after 3 months. They want temp workers to be made permanent after 11
months service. They want redundancy compensation if made redundant and
they want to be paid for a meal break if they can't leave the plant. –
Most of all they want to be treated as human beings- not a commodity to be
tossed aside when no longer required. They want decent jobs."

Dairy Workers Union National Secretary James Ritchie has stated:

"Our members at Open Country Cheese were escorted off the site today
(Wednesday) 5 hours before the strike was to begin. The Company has re-
registered as a different company and is now the company that operates
plants at Invercargill and Whanganui. It is Talleys by any other name.
There are various legal permutations of this and we are considering our
response. Strikebreakers have been transported from Invercargill and

And from Scoop:

"Talleys-owned Open Country Cheese's insistence on running their plant
without appropriate trained environmental staff is now causing serious
environmental damage," said James Ritchie, National Secretary of the Dairy
Workers Union.

36 workers are in their third day of strike action at Open Country
Cheese's Waharoa plant in Waikato, after the company has refused to
negotiate a collective agreement and protect workers' job security.
Untrained staff are now operating the plant.

Today the environmental ponds overflowed with deactivated sludge and
poured into the river. The sludge tanks need to be managed by trained
staff and is a critical part of the manufacturing process.

Nomally the sludge is collected by trucks and spread on farms – but we
found out this morning that it had been poured directly into the Waitoa

This dispute is being viewed as a major attack on the right to join a
union and collectively bargain. The employer is openly organising
strikebreakers and encouraging farmers to get involved in the dispute.
This dispute has all the hallmarks of a major conflict.

There is a picket running from 5.30am to 6pm each day at (outside the Open
Country Cheese plant at Waharoa just north of Matamata on the main
Auckland to Rotorua/Tauranga highway). The Dairy Workers Union will be
collecting food and money in support.

Friday, September 11, 2009

[olympiaworkers] Subway workers hold 'no fare' protest and strike in Buenas Aires Sep 11 2009

This week employees on the Buenas Aires subway freed turnstiles for two
hours in a move to press the government to grant legal status to their
recently created trade union as well as taking strike action.

According to Argentine law only one union on each trade or activity can be
granted legal status and therefore, participate in wage bargaining or
legally call for a strike.

The spokesman of the workers, Néstor Segovia, said in a radio interview
that the union "is demanding that the Labor Ministry grants legal status"
to the subway workers union, whose workers last year voted in favour of
creating a new union as a result of differences with the UTA transport
workers union which now gathers all workers in the transport activity.

UTA claims the initiative would go against the law, as it goes against
their interests. Nevertheless, a ruling of the Supreme Court last year
paved the way for changes in the law in a move to democratize labor

Another union representative, Roberto Pianelli, later in the week told the
press that workers will also be taking strike action which will interrupt
service on all subway lines from noon till 2pm, but said that workers
wanted to "avoid" the strike and that they waited up to the last minute to
call it off.

Pianelli said that if before noon they get a phone call to begin solving
the problem of the legal recognition of a trade union of subway workers
independent from the larger Transportation Workers Union (UTA) then they
may reconsider. However, the delegate never received that call and the
strike began at 12 pm sharp on all six lines of Buenos Aires city subway.

Company officials said the strike would affect 160,000 passengers.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

[olympiaworkers] Kent teachers vote to stay on strike despite judge's order

Story Updated: Sep 7, 2009
By KOMO Staff & News Services

KENT, Wash. -- Teachers in Washington state's fourth-largest district
voted Monday night to continue their strike, despite a court injunction
ordering them back to work Tuesday to prepare for students.

Kent Education Association spokesman Dale Folkerts said 74 percent of the
1,300 gathered union members voted not to return to work until they have a
ratified contract.

The teachers "know there could be consequences" to going against the
judge's order, he said. But after a long and heartfelt discussion, "they
decided it was a cause that was important enough to stand up for."

Choosing to break the law, the teachers themselves weren't quite sure what
would come next.

"I don't know. Maybe come down and visit us in jail," said teacher Ron

"I suppose there's a whole slew of issues that could arise of these
consequences," said union president Lisa Brackin-Johnson. "Our members
have said they are willing to go (to jail).They made their vote today.
This is what they're willing to do."

The teachers are unwilling to settle on their top issues -- class sizes
and more time with students.

Folkerts said class-size limits in Kent are substantially larger than
surrounding districts and that overcrowded classrooms create bad learning
environments and in some cases, safety risks.

"Today we made a statement that says, 'No more; we've had enough.' And I'm
very proud of our association for that," said teacher Demetrius Pye.

"You know, I've always told my children to obey the law. But sometimes
laws need to be changed," said teacher Donna Pearson.

Before Monday night's vote, hundreds of families and students gathered to
cheer on the teachers in their fight.

"We want quality education. That's what this is about," said parent Tom
Curtis. "And we're here to support teachers, and they have to be really
courageous at this time."

"Watched the teachers working with the students. I've seen how they're
suffering with over-sized classrooms, and not having enough funding for
supplies in the classrooms to the point where the teachers are asking us
for tissue boxes for classrooms," said parent Vipul Rathod.

The Kent School District has more than 26,000 students and 1,700 teachers
at 40 schools. Its teachers began their strike Aug. 27, less than a week
before classes were scheduled to begin.

On Thursday, King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas granted the
district's request for an injunction to force the teachers back to school,
saying their strike was illegal. She encouraged both sides to continue

District spokeswoman Becky Hanks said late Monday that the district's
bargaining team was prepared to negotiate throughout the night for the
first time since the teachers' strike began.

She said the district is working to address teachers' concerns while being
fiscally responsible, and has put forth a proposal that raises pay,
decreases meeting time, and increases the staff-to-student ratio by
bringing in extra assistants and placing limits on class size.

"The bottom line is, we have absolutely addressed each of their requests,
and we hope that our teachers have a chance to review the district's
proposal," Hanks said. "We want our students back in school where they
belong, and we believe we've presented a fair proposal that responds to
their requests."

Monday, September 07, 2009

[olympiaworkers] Coal miners strike in Hunan, Central China Sep 7 2009

Up to 5,000 workers at four coal mines in Hunan Province, Central China,
have been on strike since the 22nd of August over new contracts.

The mines belong to the Jinzhushan Mining Industry of Hunan Coal Group
(Xiang Mei Ji Tuan, XMJT), which proposed being privatized and being
listed on the stock market. In doing so it demanded workers sign
agreements waiving the legally required compensation of one month's pay
for each of their previous years of work – over 30 years in some cases –
before allowing them to resume work.

Speaking to US-based Epoch Times a family member of one of the strikers

Workers think the new contract is unfair as it includes no financial
compensation for one's previous years of work. All the workers are now
unwilling to sign the new contract. A miner who had worked for years
and was now ready to retire would get no compensation according to the
terms of the contract.

Workers at the Jinzhushan mine refused to sign the agreement and after
colleagues at the other three mines were informed, they all went on
strike, as workers told media:

Workers from four mines are on strike and haven't reported to work
since the strike began. They want compensation for their years of
work; otherwise they are not going to sign.

Third strike in a month

It is the third strike over a privatization of a State Owned Enterprise in
just over a month, and workers appeared well informed about the other two
instances. The Hong Kong-based South China Post reported one worker as

We have not beaten anyone, we have not detained anyone, and we have
not destroyed any company property. All we want is an answer.

This seems an allusion to the strikes Tonghua Iron and Steel, in which a
senior manager was killed (reported on libcom [url=]here[/url]),
and Linzhou Iron and Steel, involving the holding of a manager hostage for
several days (see reports here and here). Both strikes ended with workers'
demands being met.

Attempts by workers to contact mainland media have been rejected, only
Hong Kong and US based media reporting on the situation. Posts on mainland
Chinese blogs were also swiftly deleted.

Company forming "Mine Protection Brigade"

In an effort to prevent an escalation of the dispute local government
officials are currently negotiating with both managers and workers.
However, workers stated that the company had recruited local thugs at 200
yuan per person per day to form a "mine protection corps" to remove
strikers from the mine premises by force.

Despite a swift order from the local government to disband the corps, they
also warned strikers that they face arrest if they do not call off the
strike soon. Officials were probably trying to avoid a repeat of events at
another state-owned mine in Hunan two years' earlier when a peaceful
protest became a full-scale battle between miners and security forces,
reported on the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin:

On 8 August 2007, more than 800 mineworkers at the Tanjiashan mine in
Xiangtan staged a strike over arrears in the payment of final
severance packages and social security contributions. Early in the
morning of 15 August, more than 200 temporary security guards used
physical force to break up the strike. The miners retaliated and in
the ensuing mêlée at least one miner and a security guard were killed.
Over 20 other people were injured, and two police cars destroyed by
the enraged workers.

Since the 2nd of September no further news has come out on the progress of
the strike, although The Epoch Times reported yesterday on a strike at a
Philips respiratory factory in Shenzhen over changes the work time and
general conditions of work here. Factory management called the police who
immediately began beating workers when they arrived, forcing the strike to
be called off.