Workers' News Round-Up

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 9 November, 2004 - 8:20

A round-up of international class struggle news

China

About 3,000 workers protested over wages and conditions outside the Computime factory in Shenzhen last month, blocking traffic for four hours.

The workers’ monthly basic pay is around 230 Yuan — well below the 574 Yuan monthly minimum wage set by the Guangdong provincial government. Shenzhen is one of the richest cities on the mainland, and the cost of living there is considerably higher than in the rest of the country.

One protester said: “We have to work 14 hours a day, seven days a week. The compensation for overtime is only 2 yuan an hour.” Another worker added: “A lunchbox costs you about 12 yuan… we can hardly feed ourselves.”

The workers have been forced to work long hours without a break. “Each time you go to the toilet you have to apply to the squad leader first and then sign your name on a logbook. If you spend more than five minutes in the loo, you will be fined,” one worker said.

“We are fighting for survival. We tried to negotiate with the management and we tried to complain to the government. But nobody cares about us,” said one worker. “ In the end we had to organise a protest. The government has itself to blame.”

Most of the workers are migrants from poor inland provinces who came to Shenzhen in the hope of earning money in the new export factories that are powering China’s economic growth.
• More: China Labour Bulletin www.china-labour.org.hk

USA

Over 4,000 hotel workers are locked out of 14 hotels in San Francisco. The hotel companies have put a contract proposal on the table, with tiny pay increases and putting health benefits out of reach for most workers. The workers are on picket lines 24 hours a day and fighting back, but they need support.

On 29 September, workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 2 went on strike in four San Francisco hotels. Workers were trying to push the hotel companies forward in negotiations that had been badly stalled. UNITE HERE Local 2 announced at the time of the strike that they would return to work after two weeks. The hotel employers in San Francisco responded by locking workers out in ten additional hotels. Later they announced that the lockout would last indefinitely.

Hotel workers in Washington DC and Los Angeles, CA are locked in similar struggles with their employers.
• Send messages of support via the LabourStart website, www.labourstart.org

Indonesia

The secretary general of the Association of Indonesian Workers’ Unions (Aspek), Saeful Tavid, and the chair of the National Struggle Front of  Indonesian Labourers (FNPBI), Dita Sari, have said the future of the country’s workers will be bleaker following the inauguration of a new government in Indonesia.

New manpower minister Fahmi Idris and coordinating minister of economy Aburizal Bakrie were singled out by the groups as particularly anti-worker.

Dita Sari said President Yudhoyono’s economic team is pro-free market and oriented to applying a contract system of recruitment and outsourcing. She said a free market economy requires a flexible employer-worker system that provided easy access to setting up factories, recruitment of workers and worker dismissal.
• More information: TAPOL, http://tapol.gn.apc.org

Honduras

Canada-based Gildan Activewear has closed its El Progreso factory in Honduras, in the midst of a dispute regarding questionable labour practices at the factory. They plan to relocate production elsewhere.

The Maquila Solidarity Network continues to coordinate an international campaign to ensure that the rights of the El Progreso workers are respected.
For more background on Gildan and El Progreso, see the earlier appeals distributed by MSN: www.maquilasolidarity.org

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