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Issue #1792      August 30, 2017

Region Briefs

Iran: Since August 9, Iranian labour activist Reza Shahabi has been on an ongoing hunger strike, to protest his renewed detention and extension of his prison sentence. Reza is a long-time member and activist with the “Vahed” Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company. Reza has a proud history of fighting for the rights of his fellow workers and many Iranian labour activists around the world are campaigning for his release and against the ongoing repression of labour activists by the Iranian government. Reza was serving six years in prison for organising and tragically he is just one of the many labour activists who are brave enough to stand up to the Iranian government which is attempting to stop transport workers organising and to destroy independent workers’ organisations.

Korea: On August 7, Keshav Shrestha, a young Nepalese migrant worker in South Korea committed suicide at a bearing manufacturing factory in Chungju, North Chungcheong Province, once again highlighting struggles migrant workers face against repressive regulations in South Korea. Migrant workers in South Korea have incredible restrictions on the right to move jobs or travel around the country under the Employment Permit System (EPS). The EPS allows employers to take advantage of, exploit and abuse highly vulnerable workers for their own benefits. Solidarity actions and public events by labour activists have been held demanding the repeal of the EPS law and justice for mistreated migrant workers in South Korea.

India: On July 24, over 600 workers employed at JK Tyres in Kanchipuram district, won the right to be represented by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) which is politically affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The workers in question were striking for more than two weeks, winning the reinstatement of 27 probationary workers who were previously dismissed during a strike on September 4. This is an important win for all workers in the region as other recent similar disputes, such as the one at Apollo Tyres, were shut down by government actions.

China: Since June 6, more than three thousand temporary workers at Volkswagen, many of whom have been working there for more than 10 years, have been fighting for their rights. The workers in question receive around half the wage and none of the benefits of permanent workers. The number of strikes in China confirms that while workers in the construction sector are the most likely to struggle, workers in the retail and service sectors are also continuing to make demands and take industrial action. The slowdown in wages growth came even as industrial firms saw the fastest profit gain in three years and nominal gross domestic product picked up, the most common demands of the workers were for an increase in wages.

Next article – Culture & Life – Unity is key to locking the door on fascism

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