18 May 2017 Ferado

PAKISTAN: Teachers demand removal of education minister

HYDERABAD, May 16: Women were among a number of primary school teachers who staged a protest sit-in under the banner of the All Sindh Primary Teachers’ Association (SPTA) on May 15 at the Hyderabad bypass for some hours while pressing the Sindh government to remove the provincial education minister and implement their charter of demands forthwith.

They took out a big rally from Jamshoro Road and staged the sit-in for around three hours. The protest caused traffic jams and hardships to passengers and commuters in the sweltering weather.

Carrying banners and placards, office-bearers and members of the SPTA raised vociferous slogans against Sindh Minister for Education and Literacy Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar and the Sindh government. Delivering fiery speeches, they said the government adopted a step-motherly attitude towards primary teachers “who educate and polish the very young children of the nation”.

Speaking to protesters, SPTA central president Intezar Hussain Chalgari, senior vice president Ghulam Rasool Mehar and general secretary Sikandar Ali Jatoi presented a charter of 20 demands.

They demanded of the government to give grade-16 to primary teachers and to regularise over 15,000 contractual teachers, who have been working since 2010 in Sindh after qualifying a test conducted by the University of Sindh. They said that around 2,500 primary teachers had been relieved from various schools in the province two years ago after they were accused of not performing their duties. They rejected this allegation and asked for their posting and release of their salaries.

They said that those 4,000 teachers who were appointed in 2001 and were regularised in 2005 must be promoted. They asked for implementation of son and deceased quota without any further delay. They demanded reinstatement of the ‘forcibly’ sacked teachers and abolition of biometric system.

Meanwhile, they called off the protest when Hyderabad SSP Irfan Baloch talked to education secretary Abdul Aziz Uqaili on phone and Mr Uqaili issued a letter for a meeting with the SPTA office-bearers today (May 16) at his office, according to SPTA general secretary Sikandar Ali Jatoi.

18 May 2017 Ferado

CUB manager planned to ‘shoot’ workers shut out for refusing lower wages

A senate inquiry this morning revealed that CUB management kept notes describing the CUB 55 dispute in 2016 as a ‘war’ and had a strategy to ‘shoot the sh*t’ out of the striking workers in order to avoid paying them their fair wages and conditions.

In August 2016, CUB dumped a longstanding contract that left 55 CUB workers without a job. The workers were asked to reapply for their jobs with a new contractor but with their pay slashed by up to 65 per cent and non-union conditions.

This dispute highlights the mentality of employers who feel unrestrained by the current workplace relations system and have the power to attack workers and their rights in any way they see fit.

The outcome of that dispute, which saw the workers return to their jobs with their conditions intact, is to the immense credit of the 55 workers who refused to be pushed around by the iconic Australian company and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Electrical Trade Union who supported them.

Quotes attributable to Australian Council of Trade Unions Secretary Sally McManus:

“The CUB 55 dispute showed that when working people pull together they have the power to take on the biggest corporations in the world and win.”

“The actions of CUB management were a case study in how employers are rorting the system and how the system is allowing them to get away with it.”

“The use of labour hire to cut the wages of existing jobs, the refusal to bargain in good faith, and the use of enterprise agreements signed by tiny groups of workers on the other side of the country years before is all too common.”

“We welcome the admission today by CUB and InBev that CUB’s approach to the dispute was a mistake which they will try to learn from in future.”

“The revelations from the senate inquiry this morning are concerning but show what unions are fighting against every day — a system which has given too much power to employers. The mentality of these employers is to rort the system, treat workers as a cost rather than as people and destroy union agreements as a way to lower costs and cut corners.”

17 May 2017 Ferado

PAKISTAN: Nearly 29,000 Pakistanis seeking illegal passage to Europe deported by Iran in 2016

Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Deputy Director Jawad Khan on Tuesday said in 2016 Iran had intercepted and handed over 29,074 Pakistani nationals to authorities at the Pak-Iran border at Taftan.

Thousands of Pakistanis fleeing poverty, unemployment and law and order problems have been attempting to illegally enter Europe.

Every year, thousands of Pakistan make abortive attempts to enter Greece via Iran and Turkey for better working opportunities. Most of them are arrested in Iran and Turkey and sent back.

Separately, the FIA, Frontier Corps (FC), Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies intercepted 8,512 Pakistani nationals who were trying to enter Iran illegally during the year 2016, Khan said.

The numbers show that the influx of illegal immigrants from Pakistani into Iran had increased since 2015-16. In 2015, Iran had arrested and handed over more than 26,000 Pakistanis to authorities at Pak-Iran border Taftan.

That wa

s a significant rise from 2014, when Iran had sent back 5,218 illegal Pakistani immigrants, the Deputy Director FIA revealed.

Human traffickers used both frequented and unfrequented routes along the 900-kilometre-long porous Pak-Iran border to sneak into Iran via Balochistan, the official said.

In 2005, Pakistan had established an inter-agency task force comprising FIA, FC, Coast Guard, Levies forces and police to tackle human trafficking.

“We have only FIA personnel working at the Pak-Iran border crossing in Taftan and the rest of the border is not properly manned,” Khan added while explaining the geographical problems faced in curbing human trafficking.

“When arrested, victims also do not cooperate with us to pinpoint the gang of agents,” he said.

17 May 2017 Ferado

UNITED KINGDOM: Labour pledge a welcome relief for foreign students

A Labour government would remove international students from the immigration numbers, a key demand from campaigners who believe their inclusion in the numbers has contributed to an unwelcoming atmosphere, which has been partly responsible for the sharp decline in the number of Indian students coming the country for studies.

The party launched its manifesto, titled “For the many not the few”, ahead of the election on June 8, with pledges to radically change British policy as it existed not only under the Conservatives, but under previous Labour administrations too.
Missed chance for Tories

The decision to exclude students from immigration figures comes after the Conservative government rejected an opportunity — in the form of legislation going through Parliament — to make this change earlier this month. While Britain does not have a cap on student numbers, campaigners argue that keeping students in the net migration figures (despite them not being permanent residents) ensures they remain within the highly charged debate on immigration, and contributes to pressure on governments to bring in tougher measures.

On immigration policy more broadly the party promised “fair rules and reasonable management of migration”, adding that it would put a priority in its future trade negotiations on growth, jobs and prosperity. “We make no apologies for putting these aims before bogus immigration targets.”

Speaking to The Hindu last year, Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn slammed U.K. government’s immigration policy and warned that it would hamper efforts to reach a free trade deal with India. “Labour is pro-trade and pro-investment,” said the Labour manifesto.

Labour said it would work to institute a new immigration system that could include employer sponsorship, work permits, visa regulations or a mix of those, but pledged to end overseas-only recruitment practices.

“Our manifesto offers hope,” said Mr. Corbyn at the launch of the manifesto in Bradford, contrasting it with the Conservative Party’s campaign of “fear”. He spoke about the “grotesque levels” of inequality and pledged to transform 21st century Britain in the way that Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson had in the 1960s.
Radical shift

The keenly awaited 124-page manifesto provides detail and numbers on Labour policies that have emerged in recent months, radically breaking from past Labour commitments. It includes pledges to renationalize the rail and water systems, and parts of the energy system, raise taxes for the top 5% of earners, ensure 60% of Britain’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2030, and introduce an Excessive Pay Levy on companies with staff on very high pay.

While recent polls have given the Conservatives a comfortable lead, the gap has narrowed.

One conducted by ICM for the Guardian on Monday found that Labour had gained a percentage from one earlier this month, with 28% support, still 20 points behind the Conservatives. The same poll found that Mr. Corbyn was trusted to do a better job on the NHS, improving public services, and making Britain fairer than Prime Minister Theresa May. However, Ms. May was trusted more on the economy, Brexit negotiations, immigration and protecting the public. The Conservative manifesto launch is expected later this week.

17 May 2017 Ferado

China set to expand DNA testing in Muslim region

China appears to be laying the groundwork for the mass collection of DNA samples from residents of a restive, largely Muslim region that has been under a security crackdown, rights observers and independent experts said on Tuesday.

Police in western China’s Xinjiang region confirmed to The Associated Press that they are in the process of purchasing at least $8.7 million in equipment to analyse DNA samples. Observers from Human Rights Watch said they’ve seen evidence of almost $3 million in additional purchases related to DNA testing. They warned such a collection program could be used as a way for authorities to beef up their political control.
Coercive action

The move comes after Chinese authorities last year reportedly required Xinjiang residents to submit DNA samples, fingerprints and voice records to obtain passports or travel abroad.

Xinjiang borders several unstable Central Asian countries. It has experienced numerous bombings and vehicle and knife attacks blamed on ethnic separatists from the native Uighur Islamic minority.

In one of the most recent attacks, eight people, including three assailants, were killed in a February knife attack in southern Xinjiang’s Pishan County, which borders Pakistan.

Chinese authorities seeking to counter religious extremism among the Uighurs (pronounced WEE-gurs) have taken increasingly aggressive steps to quell the unrest. Those have included mandatory satellite tracking systems for vehicles in some areas, rewards for terror-related tips and prohibitions against women wearing veils and men growing beards.

The purchases of DNA testing equipment in Xinjiang were confirmed by an official at the regional Public Security Bureau. The official, who gave only her surname, Huang, said a supplier already had been found. In Xinjiang’s Sheche County, suppliers were being sought for voiceprint collection systems and 3-D portrait systems, according to a security official surnamed Yin, who declined to give further details.

If used at full capacity, the new equipment could be used to profile up to 10,000 DNA samples a day and several million a year, said Yves Moreau, a computational biologist specializing in genome analysis and DNA privacy at the University of Leuven in Belgium.

The scale of the purchases raises “a legitimate concern that Chinese authorities could be planning to DNA profile a large fraction, or even all” of the Uighur people in Xinjiang, Moreau said.
DNA database

Since it started collecting DNA profiles in 1989, China has amassed the unique genetic information on more than 40 million people, constituting the world’s largest DNA database, according to a study last year by forensic researchers at the China Ministry of Public Security.

Unlike many other countries, China lacks legal protections to guard people’s privacy and prevent their genetic information from being misused, said Helen Wallace, founder of the British group GeneWatch.

“Xinjiang is already an oppressive region with a high level of surveillance,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Maya Wang. “To collect even more information on a mass scale unrelated to criminal investigation opens the door for an even greater level of surveillance and control.”

Government-sponsored DNA databases compile the genetic markers present in each individual, typically from blood, saliva or hair samples. They’re used by law enforcement agencies around the globe as evidence in criminal prosecutions and to monitor prior offenders.

In the United States, where laws generally limit DNA collection to people who have been arrested, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has 12.8 million offenders in its DNA database, according to the agency. That’s almost 4% of the total U.S. population. The United Kingdom has 5.2 million people in its database, or about 8% of its population, according the British government.

China’s database now covers about 3% of its population. It’s been used by authorities to reunite abducted children with their parents. It was also used in a highly publicized case last year to help track down a serial killer who authorities said admitted to the murders of 11 women and girls over a 14-year period.

“It’s clear there’s a fairly large infrastructure being built for DNA collection and they’re planning to expand that further,” Wallace said. “I would like to see China put their legal database on clear legal footing. That includes the kinds of safeguards we see in other countries.”