Saturday, October 31, 2009

[olympiaworkers] 'Two killed, 100 hurt' in Bangladeshi workers riot

By Shafiq Alam (AFP) – Oct. 31, 2009

DHAKA — At least two people died and 100 people were injured Saturday when
Bangladesh police fired rubber bullets at thousands of garment factory
workers rioting over unpaid wages, police said.

The two people were killed after around 15,000 workers began hurling
stones and rocks, prompting officers to retaliate, police said, in the
worst industrial violence to shake Bangladesh as it struggles to cope with
the fallout from the global recession.

Police said the protesters, who worked for Bangladeshi-owned Nippon
Garments, were demanding three months' back pay from owners who had shut
down the factory, blaming a lack of orders.

"The law-enforcers had to fire rubber bullets from shotguns to disperse
the workers who hurled stones and bricks at our officers," Inspector
Shafiqul Alam said, adding two people had died.

At least 100 workers and a number of police officers were hurt in the
clashes in the Tongi Industrial Area, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of
Dhaka, police sub-inspector Maleka Begum said.

Nine of the injured were admitted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital,
clinic official Abdul Baten told AFP.

"All of the injured have wounds caused by live ammunition and some are in
serious condition," he said.

Police insisted, however, they used only rubber bullets to quell the unrest.

"The angry workers became unruly and violent this morning. They threw up
barricades on the roads and suddenly attacked police," Begum said.

The workers also damaged vehicles, torching some, and blockaded road links
between Bangladesh's northern districts and Dhaka, she added.

Saturday's clashes were the most severe since the global downturn began to
affect Bangladeshi apparel factories, which accounted for 80 percent of
the country's 15.56 billion dollars worth of exports in the last financial

In June, some 50,000 workers protesting wage cuts and unpaid salaries
clashed with police, leaving scores injured.

Fazlul Haque, head of the 1,300-member Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers
and Exporters Association, said the global slowdown had forced many
factories in the country to lay off workers or shut down.

"Western retailers who are our top buyers have cut orders and squeezed
prices. The big factories have somehow coped, but most of the small- and
medium-sized factories are facing very tough times," he said.

In the first two months of the financial year to August 2010, overseas
shipments fell by three percent.

Unions said factories have cut wages to compete for orders with other
apparel-producers, such as Vietnam, China and India.

Montu Ghosh, head of the Garment Workers Trade Union Center, said the
owners of Nippon Garments were due to pay the wages Saturday morning and
had asked employees to collect their money.

"But they shut down the factory in the night and sent police to guard the
factory. The workers became angry when they saw the owners had left
without paying the salaries," he said.

Forty percent of Bangladesh's industrial workforce is employed in the
garment sector.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

[olympiaworkers] Sugar Union Leaders Sentenced to Prison in Iran - Act Now!

Posted to the IUF website 26-Oct-2009

In a drive to destroy the independent union established last year by
workers at the giant Haft Tapeh plantation/refining sugar complex in
southern Iran, a court on October 12 sentenced 6 union leaders to
immediate prison terms on charges stemming from October 2007. Three
leaders convicted for their union activity last year for "endangering
national security" in connection with worker action in 2008 had their
sentences overturned on appeal in September. Two union officers, president
Ali Nejati and communications officer Reza Rakhshan, both of whom face
lengthy prison sentences, were still awaiting the outcome of their appeal
when the court in the city of Dezful sentenced the six leaders on the
similar 2007 charges.

Ghorban Alipour, Feridoun Nikoufard, Jalil Ahmadi, Nejat Dehli and Ali
Nejati were all sentenced to 6 months' immediate imprisonment and 6 months
suspended sentences over 5 years; during which time they are barred from
union activity. Mohammmad Heydari Mehr received a 4 month term, 8 months
suspended. Ali Nejati must serve his suspended sentence as prison time,
meaning he faces an immediate one-year prison term. Should he lose his
appeal on the 2008 conviction, his sentence could stretch to over 2 years.

Haft Tapeh workers in recent years have repeatedly had to resort to
strikes and other actions to claim huge wage arrears and protest
deteriorating working conditions. The union was officially founded in June
2008 following a 42-day strike to demand long-standing arrears. The Haft
Tapeh union is an IUF affiliate.

Haft Tapeh president Nejati has been refused work at Haft Tapeh and
blacklisted from all work in the region since being released in April from
a month in solitary confinement in an intelligence detention center. The
other Haft Tapeh leaders sentence on October 12 have now also been turned
away from their work and instructed to report to prison.

The regime is clearly determined to crush the union by putting its entire
leadership behind bars.

The fate of imprisoned transport and teachers' union activists shows that
the Haft Tapeh prisoners risk prolonged physical and psychological abuse.
The IUF urges all defenders of democratic and trade union rights to
mobilize in their defense.

Act Now! - CLICK HERE to send a message to the Iranian state and judicial
authorities, calling on them to immediately and unconditionally annul the
sentences against the Haft Tapeh unionists! Please note that some messages
may bounce back - do not be discouraged! Server overload is a common
condition in Iran - some messages will get through, making the point that
the persecuted trade unionists enjoy international support. The Haft Tapeh
union leaders are also supported by Amnesty International.

You can also send a message to the Iranian embassy or diplomatic
representation in your country - or pay them a visit! A complete list of
embassies/consulates is available here, and you can generally find e-mail
addresses by searching the internet for the individual representation in
your country.

[olympiaworkers] Solidarity picket against property developers, Lorig Associates Nov. 2

Start: 11/02/2009 - 18:20
Timezone: America/Los Angeles

Some comrades from the Seattle Solidarity Network ( are coming
down to Oly for an action against Lorig (a property developer) & we need
some help.

This action will be in solidarity with Patricia, a former employee who was
pushed out of her job at Lorig & dealt with a lot of racist bullshit from

We're hoping that Olympia-folk could meet us at 6:20pm in front of the
City of Olympia building at 900 Plum Street SE.

Let me know if you have ANY questions whatsoever at or 206-973-2548 (NEIL).


Here's the official-like blurb:

Our favorite discriminating property developers, Lorig Associates, are
hoping the Olympia City Council will choose to award them the contract to
develop a downtown municipal parking garage, plus retail and housing
units. Lorig really wants this job, but they're still competing with four
other companies to get it.

*Action Monday:* We'll be picketing outside, and flyering inside, the
Olympia City Countil meeting, letting everyone know the truth about Lorig.
According to the city's website, this council meeting (moved from Tuesday
to Monday, since Tuesday's election day!) will be televised live. Let's
see if we can reduce Lorig's chances of scoring a contract from the city
of Olympia!

*WHEN/WHERE:* This Monday, November 2nd. Those coming from Seattle are
meeting up at LELO (3700 S Hudson St) at *3:30pm* and then carpooling down
to Olympia. We're starting so early because travel time on I-5 can be
unpredictable, and we can't risk missing this action opportunity due to
traffic jams. If we get to Olympia early, we'll start picketing early.
Those who are already in or near Olympia should meet us at 6:20pm in front
of the City of Olympia building at 900 Plum Street SE, Olympia, WA.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

[olympiaworkers] 90th Anniversary of the Centralia Tragedy - November 13 & 14

From: "Katy Fogg" <>
Date: Fri, October 23, 2009


I am sending you a press release with details for an event on
November 13 and 14 in Centralia, commemorating the 90th anniversary
of the Centralia Tragedy of 1919. Olympia filmmaker Anne Fischel's
documentary, "Lewis County: Hope and Struggle," will be featured on
November 13th.

Please contact me or Peter Kardas, director of the Evergreen Labor
Center, at 360-8678-6526 or for more information.

Thank you,
--Katy Fogg

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

[olympiaworkers] Workers support city hall occupation in Nikea Oct 19 2009

The municipal workers association of Nikea stand in solidarity with
anarchists occupying the city hall since Saturday

As the occupation of the city hall of Nikea enters its third day, the
support of locals so visual during the protest march regarding the police
torture and death of Mohamed Karman Atif, which led to serious clashes
with the police and 8 arrests last Saturday 17/10, has been expressed in a
communique by the municipal worker's association of Nikea.

Communique of Workers Association of the municipality of Nikea about

Nikea City Hall is occupied by anarchist groups from the afternoon of
Saturday after a protest, for the death of the unfortunate Pakistani
immigrant that took place in the Police Station of Nikea.

The Workers Association demands that the forces of repression leave from
within the boundaries of the historic City of Nikea. The occupation of the
City Hall by the protesters is a political act, and the attempt to
criminalise it is unacceptable and undemocratic.

The workers of Kokkinia [red neighborhood] disapprove strongly the attack
of the forces of repression against the demonstrators and the mindless use
of chemical gasses in a densely populated area. The police rule imposed
cannot intimidate protesters and workers.

We demand the immediate clarification of the case of the death of our
fellow human being, the immigrant. We call the Minister of Protection of
Citizens [Minister of Public Order] to deal himself with this dark case
and not attempt to conceal or whitewash this tragic case.

The Association of Workers protests strongly against xenophobia and racism
that extreme-right centers and para-centers are trying to impose on Greek






Thursday, October 15, 2009

[olympiaworkers] Strike at St. Peter's Hospital community rally at 4:30pm today

Strike at St. Peter's Hospital

The Workers are fighting against reductions in medical and retirement
benefits and below standard wage increases.

Community Rally at 4:30pm at the hospital.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

[olympiaworkers] STRIKE! Community Called to Picket, St. Peter's Hospital, Thursday, Oct. 15th

Submitted by Patty on Wed, 10/14/2009 to

STRIKE! Community Called to Picket, St. Peter's Hospital, Thursday, Oct.

Union service Workers picketing all day during standoff with management.

LPNs, Service and Tech Workers at our local St. Peter's hospital will be
on the picket line all day tomorrow - Thursday, October 15th - and they
ask for Supporters to join them in a one-day strike.

The Workers are members of Service Employees International Union, SEIU,
local 1199NW and are fighting against reductions in medical and retirement
benefits and below standard wage increases.

Their Union reps are holding strong presenting Worker demands to
management, and Worker-Activists with SEIU expressed today that management
has been presenting more threats than working faithfully with the Workers
in negotiating over Worker wages and benefits. Things are getting ugly and
the Workers would like to show the huge profit making hospital that the
Community - who they serve - are behind them.

Show your support and turn out at any time of the day or night (they'll be
there from 6 AM-Midnight) and join the picket at the intersection of Lilly
and Ensign Rd.

Don't let our local hospital, with it's show of large profits, greedily
ask for more on the backs of the Workers, while wagering against the
desperate need for medical care of the People who live in this Community!

Call of Support in Solidarity with SEIU, local 1199NW Workers written by
independent Community Member, Patty Imani, on 10/14/09

[olympiaworkers] Wildcat strike in Hartlepool Oct. 13, 2009

Hundreds of workers walked out in the morning of 12 October at an offshore
construction yard in a dispute over union recognition.

The Peterlee mail reported that workers want Unite to be given official
recognition at the Heerema site in Greenland Road, in Hartlepool, but
talks are believed to have stalled in the last few weeks.

That led to tradesmen calling a wildcat strike this morning with an
estimated 200 workers standing outside the gates of the site.

The Mail reported how 40 pipe-fitters and riggers had held similar action
at the beginning of last week in connection with the same dispute.

Workers want Unite to be recognised alongside the GMB as an officially
recognised union at Heerema.

One picketing worker, who did not want to be named, said: "All we want is
Unite to be recognised so they can take part in pay talks and we don't see
why that can't happen.

"We didn't want it to come to this but it has and it's good that 200 men
are standing together on this.

"So far this is only one day of action and we will wait and see what takes
place after this."

Heerema today told the Mail it could not comment on the matter.

Heerema is a Dutch-owned company which had a core team. It increased that
by around 280 more staff when it won new contracts.The firm designs and
constructs offshore facilities for the global oil and gas industry.

[olympiaworkers] Guineans in post-massacre protest

Mon Oct 12, 2009

CONAKRY (AFP) – Shops, markets and offices were closed Monday in Conakry
and other cities after labour unions called on residents to stay home in
protest at the September 28 massacre which killed at least 150 people.

Little traffic ventured onto the streets of Guinea's capital two weeks
after elite troops opened fire on thousands of demonstrators protesting
military rule.

Banks and service stations were also shut in Conakry.

The union call received strong backing in the southeastern town of
Kissidougou. Local trader Sall Mamadou Lamarana told AFP by telephone
there was "no activity" in the main market. "All the shops, as well as the
banks, have shut down, and the bus station as well," he said.

In northwestern Boke, "there is no activity at the market. People have
been praying in the courtyards, and youth clubs," schoolteacher Sine
Magassouba said by phone.

In a statement issued last week, the main union federation called on
people to observe a "day of prayer", urging them to "kneel piously before
the mortal remains of the ... martyrs for democracy in Guinea," killed
when soldiers opened fire on the protest in a football stadium.

Rights organisations and the United Nations say that more than 150 people
were killed and 1,200 injured, while the junta led by Captain Moussa Dadis
Camara puts the death toll at 56.

The trade unions asked people to "observe two days of homage and
compassion and contemplation by way of protest and solidarity, on October
12 and 13."

"This means that all workers in the public, private and informal sector
are invited to stay at home to pray for the memory of those felled by the
bullets of the massacre of September 28," the secretary general of the
National Organisation of Free Trade Unions in Guinea (ONSLG), Yamodou
Toure, told AFP.

Schools were also closed, but the start of the new school year had in any
case been delayed until Thursday in the wake of the violence that rocked
the west African country.

On September 28, people defied a ban on protests to rally at the stadium
for a demonstration to urge Camara not to stand for president in elections
he has pledged to hold in January next year.

The killings began after presidential guard troops arrived in the stadium,
but Camara has denied responsibility and declared himself "very, very
sorry" for the slaughter.

The junta has been strongly condemned by the United Nations, the African
Union, the European Union, former colonial power France, the United States
and a slew of other countries.

On September 18, the African Union gave the junta and its leader Camara
one month to make a written commitment not to stand in the elections
scheduled for the end of January or face "appropriate sanctions."

AU commission president Jean Ping said Sunday on the sidelines of a
climate change forum in Ouagadougou that "the process is in hand," but
added that the AU would discuss "the nature of sanctions in liaison with
the international community."

Ping said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), meeting
Monday in the Nigerian capital Abuja, would decide what measures it wanted
to take against Guinea, which is a member state.

"We're working in tandem with ECOWAS," Ping added. "We need a joint stance
with ECOWAS."

ECOWAS commission head Mohamed Ibn Chambas last week met Burkina Faso
President Blaise Compaore, whom the regional body has appointed to mediate
on the Guinea crisis in the wake of the massacre.

Amid mounting international pressure on Camara, rights groups have also
reported many cases of rape and other abuses at the stadium.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

[olympiaworkers] Strike at Canadian nickel mine enters its 12th week

Submitted by Ret Marut on Oct 6 2009 to

After months of unresolved bargaining a strike began on July 13th at the
Sudbury mine in northern Ontario, Canada, after employers Vale Inco
refused to alter its original demands for concessions. United Steel
Workers union members (USW Local 6500) in Sudbury and Port Colburne in
Ontario and Voisey Bay in Labrador responded by voting 85% in favor of
strike action.

The strike affects 3,073 employees at Vale's integrated mining, milling,
smelting and refining operations in Sudbury, 116 employees at the Port
Colborne refinery and over 200 at Voisey Bay. The concessions demanded by
the company include a drastic change in pension benefits for new hires
(the pension Fund is $725 million in deficit), changes to seniority rights
and a cap on the "Nickel Bonus". "This bonus was negotiated in earlier
years to allow the company to benefit from relatively lower wages when
nickel prices were depressed and workers to benefit when the price was
high. Nickel bonuses – once used to placate underpaid unionised workers –
in recent years suddenly paid off 'big' – averaging as much or more than
the Canadian full-time median income of $41,000 – as nickel prices rose
three-fold to over $25 dollars a pound. Miners became six-figure earners
and bought new houses, cars, trucks, and boats."

The area is the richest ore region in the world. The mine has made $4
billion in the past 2 years, yet the company is demanding a reduction in
wages and conditions. Vale Inco is a subsidiary of the Brazilian Vale
mining conglomerate (pronounced 'Vallay'), the world's 2nd largest mining
company and active in 35 countries (including the UK). Vale is the No 1
producer of iron ore, an essential component of steel production. (More
than two thirds of all global iron ore comes from just three companies:
Vale, BHPBilliton and Rio Tinto.) There has recently been a wave of
mergers and acquisitions in the industry, with Vale expressing it's desire
to become the dominant power in the business. This has led to recent
expansions and cost-cutting, including attacks on workers' conditions. As
the competitive acquisitions grew, large companies often saddled
themselves with heavy debts - and then were were hit by the global
recession and subsequent decreased demand from major customers in China
and India.

Success in the global mining industry depends on also dominating related
markets (known as "vertical integration") such as shipping, smelting,
refining etc. Those top companies with the widest control set the price
for all others; they are the "price makers" while the rest are "price
takers". Vale now control most of the docks and freighters that move iron
ore around the world's oceans and its competitors are dependent on Vale
for shipping access.

"If that (resuming production) means a war in Sudbury, it's going to
be a war in Sudbury," - Wayne Fraser, director of District 6 for the
USW. (Sudbury Northern Life, Aug 19th.)

"The president of Steelworkers Local 6500 said his members will be
"respectful" of those crossing the picket line when Vale Inco resumes
partial production, something which could occur as soon as the end of
this week.
"My guys have been respectful all through this strike, and I'm sure
they'll continue to be," said John Fera, whose 3,100 members have been
on strike against Vale Inco since July 13." (Sudbury Northern Life ,
Oct 1st.)

Vale had hinted that they may at some point bring in scab labour to
restart production. But this week smelting operations have restarted at
the Sudbury Clarabelle mill with USW members of non-striking (USW) Local
2020; representing office, clerical, and technical workers who work under
a separate labour agreement not affected by the strike, they being used to
do the work normally undertaken by the strikers. So they are effectively
scabbing on their fellow union members. Such is the legalistic logic of
trade unionism; the USW leadership response is to "file a grievance" on
safety grounds.

The company has already lost one contract due to the strike. The miners
had managed to blocking contractors' trucks from crossing their picket
lines at the mining complex; but following a court injunction, pickets are
expected to not hold up trucks entering and exiting company property for
more than 15 minutes at a time.

The USW has sought to compromise with multinationals for some years now,
with diminishing success;

... the past record of the USW (in the USA and Canada) in protecting
jobs or wages is hardly auspicious of future success.

Over the past thirty years, in the steel industry, a sector that went
through numerous restructurings, bankruptcies, and closures, the
steelworkers sought to protect job security through consistent and
patterned wage reductions in the 1980s and 1990s. However, while
productivity increased, and by early 2000 profits improved, steel
manufacturing experienced record job loss.

More recently, in the United States, the USW has pressed for
'international champions' to takeover failing plants, and then sought
partnership agreements that typically traded wage and benefit
concessions for job security. They have also sought to have U.S.
governments uphold tariffs on steel imports from China and Western
Europe, claiming 'illegal' dumping of low-priced products was
responsible for the multiple bankruptcies in the U.S. steel industry.
But the results have often been poor.

Tariff restrictions were quickly lifted. While new conglomerates
failed to maintain employment and new investment, and union
cooperation with management has only meant more contracting out, the
speedup of work, job-loading, and more overtime for a few.

Mining dominates the economy of the town; after 50 years of struggles the
Sudbury miners still enjoy some of the best conditions in the global
mining industry - and Vale clearly want to change this. Vale's practice in
their native Brazil (and in other countries where feasible) is to lay off
workers every 3 years or so and then re-employ new workers under reduced
conditions and wages. USW workers have been visiting Brazil regularly to
publicise the strike and have also contacted miners in other countries.
Union leaders from various countries and international bodies recently
attended a USW in Sudbury and pledged solidarity, without specifying
commitment to any particular action;
This is expected to be a long, drawn out strike. But it will take more
than vague promises and excessive respect for the legalities of union
procedures to win victory for the Sudbury miners.

Friday, October 02, 2009

[olympiaworkers] Striking transport workers in Lyon occupy head office Sept. 29, 2009

After six days of strike action 20 workers have occupied parts of the head
office of Keolis, the company responsible for the city's public transport.

The strike action began on Thursday with strong support by workers leaving
only 58% of metro; 32% of tram and 25% of bus services running. Workers
were protesting against management attempts to remove a large number of
conditions from their contracts. While management argue that many of these
provisions are outdated and that they will not affect working conditions;
workers have responded that any changes to the conditions under which they
were hired should be compensated.

The unions have deposited a notice of action for a 99 day strike: meaning
that workers can legally continue the strike for 99 days as long as they
vote to continue action at daily workers' assemblies.The strike follows on
from an earlier strike in the year over the same issue.

By Tuesday management were claiming that 65% of services were running,
compared to 41% on the first day of action, but at least one tram line and
one metro line will not be running for the next few days and the others
will be running a limited service. The union are claiming 90% observance
while Keolis claim 60%.

Workers took the decision to occupy the building in protest at the failure
of management to make concessions during negotiations.