India: Tamil Nadu sanitary workers protest to demand protective equipment
Sanitary workers in Coimbatore demonstrated on June 9 to demand that they be treated the same as frontline health workers and receive proper COVID-19 protection gear. The protest was organised by the All India Trade Union Congress and the Tamil Nadu Ambedkar Sanitary Workers Union. The workers have been not provided with any coronavirus safe equipment or even gloves.
Protesters also demanded municipal corporation officials check workers’ oxygen levels every morning and ensure that they are provided with safety gear before deploying them to work.
The sanitary workers said that nine of their city colleagues have died from the infectious disease but only one was officially noted to be a COVID-19 death. The workers also demanded that a 2.5 million rupees ex-gratia payment be made to the family of the deceased worker.
ASHA workers’ strike continues in Maharashtra
Thousands of Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers who walked out on June 15 in Maharashtra remain on strike after talks between their union and the state government on June 16 failed. The workers’ action committee has decided to remain on strike indefinitely until their demands, including an increase in their honorarium, are granted.
ASHA union officials said that the state’s public health minister has refused to increase the honorarium and failed to offer any assurances on workers’ other demands. ASHA workers receive a 5,000-rupee ($68) honorarium each month. They want this increased 18,000-rupees because they have been working eight to nine hours since the pandemic began, instead of their usual two to three hours. ASHA activists are the backbone of COVID-19 care in India’s rural areas.
Vijayawada Municipal Corporation employees walk out
Vijayawada Municipal Corporation workers began a two-day strike at Dharna Chowk in Andhra Pradesh on June 14. They are demanding permanent jobs for outsourced workers, a 5,000-rupee ($US68) pension for retired workers, housing facilities and a 6,000-rupee health allowance.
The workers alleged that the state government has ignored them for the past four months even though they risk becoming infected with COVID-19 every day at work.
The protest was organised by the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation Workers’ and Employees’ Union, which is affiliated to the Centre for Indian Trade Unions.
Junior doctors hold state-wide strike in Andhra Pradesh
Junior doctors in Andhra Pradesh boycotted out-patient services at non-COVID-19 hospitals in the state on June 9. The protest strike was organised by the AP Junior Doctors’ Association. Its demands include ex gratia health insurance for all frontline workers, COVID-19 incentive payments to all junior doctors (post-graduates and interns) and increased security measures in hospitals.
The union threatened to intensify its agitation by blocking all coronavirus related emergency services on June 12 if the government failed to respond. The Health Minister and Principal Secretary (Health) held talks with the junior doctors and they later called off their strike after the state government agreed to their demands.
ICDS workers in Jammu & Kashmir demand three years’ outstanding wages
Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) workers on June 14 demonstrated in Srinagar to demand the release of three years’ wages. The ICDS workers assembled at the Press Enclave in Srinagar chanting slogans and expressing their demands.
Protesters told the media that whenever they ask for their salaries, officials claim their positions are not sanctioned, even though there are 850 women working as helpers in the department. The workers said that if their long-outstanding wages are not paid within 15 days they will protest outside the Civil Secretariat.
Police attack protesting Bangladesh garment workers
Police attacked 600 demonstrating garment workers from Lenny Fashion and Lenny Apparels plants in Savar on June 13, injuring 35 people and leading to the death of another. The workers blocked the Dhaka-Tangail Highway for several hours to demand outstanding payments.
Police baton-charged the protest and used rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas to break up the protest.
The dead female worker, Jasmine Begum, worked as a swing operator at Goldtex Garments after losing her job at Lenny Fashions. She died from serious head injuries at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. The industrial police in Ashulia claimed she received the injuries after she crashed into an iron pole while fleeing the demonstration.
The two Lenny company plants, which employed 6,000 workers in Dhaka Export Processing Zone, were shut down in January without paying workers any of their entitlements. Factory authorities claim they had settled some of the outstanding entitlements and that the balance would be paid when they sell the factories.
Sri Lanka: Welioya Estate plantation workers protest
Around 1,000 workers from Welioya Estate in Hatton, Nuwara Eliyah district, about 122 km from Colombo demonstrated on the main road to the estate on Tuesday.
The workers, who face severe economic hardship, were demanding relief payments for those placed in COVID-19 quarantine for nearly a month. They allege that a promised government subsidy of 5,000 rupees was not paid to the workers in the most isolated locations.They also called for the immediate release of relief food packages.
Australia and New Zealand
Frigate maintenance workers clash with police in Western Australia
Workers at BAE Systems (BAE) defence ship repair facility in Henderson Western Australia held a 24-hour strike on Tuesday. Police attempted to move about 100 strikers picketing the shipyard off the road. One worker’s foot was caught under a car and another man was charged with obstructing police. The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) claimed that barricades erected by BAE outside the facility had made it harder for workers to protest.
BAE workers are concerned about the company’s increasing use of contractors and the elimination of permanent jobs. The union want a 3 percent annual pay increase. The last enterprise agreement signed by the AMWU locked in a below-inflation 1.5 percent annual wage increase for three years. Enterprise agreement negotiations have been dragged out by the company since July 2020.
BAE is one of Australia’s biggest defence contractors with a 30-year agreement with the federal government for the maintenance of Navy frigates. BAE secured the $35 billion Hunter Class frigate program in 2018.
UGL Barrow Island workers in Western Australia begin four-week strike
Maintenance and production workers employed by contractor UGL have commenced a four-week strike at Chevron’s Barrow Island LNG production plant in north-western Australia. The company has threatened to redirect work to its competitor AGC.
Last month, UGL used a federal court decision ordering the unions to cancel previously planned strike action because of supposed safety issues.
The Offshore Alliance (OA), which called the Barrow Island strike action, is an oil and gas industry union alliance which involves the Australian Worker’s Union, the Maritime Union of Australia, Electrical Trades Union and the AMWU. Negotiations with UGL for a new enterprise agreement recently resumed after workers last month rejected UGL’s proposed enterprise agreement which included a pay freeze and cuts to travel allowances.
Food delivery riders protest NSW government’s proposed new safety laws
Food delivery riders protested the New South Wales (NSW) governments’ new safety laws in Sydney on Wednesday. Last year five delivery riders were killed. Working conditions for delivery riders are dangerous, with pay that falls below minimum wage and does not include training or safety equipment. The riders, who are paid per delivery, can lose their job if they do not deliver on time, incentivising risky practices.
While the proposed laws would require delivery companies to…