22 Aug 2017 Ferado

Rights Activist Flees Kazakhstan Over Safety Fears

KAZAKHSTAN: A prominent Kazakh rights activist who heads a group that advocates for the rights and safety of journalists says he has fled the country because he fears for his life.

Ramazan Esergepov, president of the Almaty-based NGO Journalists In Trouble, told RFE/RL by phone on August 4 that he is in Paris. He said he arrived there on August 3.

Esergepov told RFE/RL that he decided to leave Kazakhstan after he was stabbed by unknown attackers in May and other developments led him to conclude that he might be jailed.

On August 1, police in Almaty detained and questioned Esergepov, accusing him of organizing of an unsanctioned rally in Almaty on July 29 to support political prisoners.

Esergepov became president of Journalists In Trouble in 2012.

He previously spent three years in prison after being convicted of revealing classified information in articles about alleged links between a Kazakh businessman and the National Security Committee.

At least five activists and journalists have fled Kazakhstan for Ukraine in recent years.

Zhanar Akhmet, a blogger who criticized President Nursultan Nazarbaev’s government, fled in March amid mounting pressure and politically charged criminal investigations.

Nazarbaev, who has held power in the Central Asian nation since before the 1991 Soviet breakup, tolerates little dissent.

22 Aug 2017 Ferado

Free port Indonesia copper mine access to resume after clashes

TIMIKA, Indonesia – Limited access to the giant Grasberg copper mine in eastern Indonesia is expected to resume on Monday, its operator said, after hundreds of former workers blockaded the site and clashed with police.

Trouble erupted at the mine, which is operated by the Indonesian unit of Freeport McMoRan Inc, during a demonstration over employment terms on Saturday afternoon.

Three former workers were injured after police fired tear gas and warning shots to disperse the blockade, according to a union official representing the ex-workers.

Freeport said at least four contractors were also injured.

Buildings, vehicles and motorbikes belonging to the company and its employees were also torched in the incident in the province of Papua, Freeport said, and access to the world’s second-largest copper mine was restricted due to safety concerns.

Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama praised local authorities on Sunday for “restoring security control” but also continued to advise workers to avoid traveling to the area.

“The Main Supply Route also has been cleared, and bus and cargo convoys will resume on a limited basis Monday,” Pratama said in an emailed statement.

22 Aug 2017 Ferado

ONE Millions PSU bank employees to go on strike tomorrow; here’s what they are demanding

INDIA: Nearly 10 lakh public sector bank employees are likely to go on nation-wide strike tomorrow. Employee unions under United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) on threatened to go on strike on Tuesday against the government’s proposed consolidation reforms.UFBU is an umbrella body of nine unions, including All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW).The unions claimed that as the conciliation meeting before the Chief Labour Commissioner failed, unions are left with no other option but to go on strike. As many as 21 public sector banks control 75% of the total business.

Though, most of the PSU banks have informed their customers about the strike and impact on services, operations at private banks like ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Axis Bank, are likely to remain normal except there can be a delay in cheque clearance.The unions under the UFBU announced the strike after talks with the government over a proposed consolidation move across the sector were inconclusive, among other demands.

What are the demands?

According to a PTI report, unions have four demands:

1. No write-off policy for non-performing assets (NPAs) of corporate loans
2. Declaring wilful default of loans as criminal offence
3. Implementation of the recommendations of parliamentary committee on recovery of NPAs
4. Government should abolish the Banks Board Bureau and ensure stringent measures to recover bad loans.

Apart from these three demands, the unions said that banks should not pass on the burden of corporate bad loans on bank customers by raising the charges.

22 Aug 2017 Ferado

INDIAN BANKS STAFF ON STRIKE

INDIA: No work is likely to be transacted at as many as 5,000 bank branches across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday with public sector and old generation private and regional rural banks employees set to go on a day’s strike.

Over 80,000 bank employees in the two States will be participating in the nationwide strike, said VVSR Sarma, Convenor (Telangana and Andhra Pradesh) of the United Forum of Bank Unions. An umbrella body, the Forum comprises five workmen unions and four officers associations. The new generation private sector banks and ATMs of all banks, however, are expected to function as usual. The strike is against what the bank unions term as “anti-people banking reforms”, write off of corporate non-performing assets and increase in bank charges.

It is in support of the demand for stringent measures for recovery of bad loans, withdrawal of proposed FRDI (Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance) Bill, abolition of Banks Board Bureau, adequate recruitment in all cadres and resolution of issues relating to employees, Mr.Sarma said.

This would be second strike this year by the UFBU, with the Forum holding a similar protest, impacting routine banking operations, in February. Several public sector banks anticipate normal functioning of their branches and offices to be affected, if the strike materialises, on Tuesday as evident from their intimation to the stock exchanges.

A few banks said they are taking “all the necessary steps in terms of the existing guidelines for smooth functioning” of the branches/offices.

22 Aug 2017 Ferado

Streets betrays workers by terminating agreement and slashing wages by 46%

AUSTRALIA: Unilever, owner of Streets ice cream, one of Australia’s most iconic brands, has betrayed workers at its Minto plant in Western Sydney by attempting to terminate a workplace agreement and cut its workers’ pay by 46 per cent.

As well as a drastic pay cut, hundreds of Streets’ workers, who make Paddle Pop, Magnum and Golden Gaytime ice creams, would also have important conditions slashed. Limits on overtime, annual, personal, parental and compassionate leave, redundancy conditions, and protections against use of labour hire and contractors, would all be torn up.

The strategy used by Unilever over a 16 month industrial dispute is disturbingly familiar. Management proposed a new agreement, which included harsh new conditions, which Streets’ workers overwhelmingly voted down.

In response, rather than continuing to negotiate, the company is applying to have the independent umpire slash wages by 46 per cent.

This practice has become a favourite of companies looking to bully their workforces into submission, and the precedent set up the Fair Work Commission’s rulings on disputes at Aurizon has allowed hundreds of agreements to be terminated.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:

“This is industrial blackmail. Unilever and Streets are forcing workers to choose between an agreement they don’t want and a 46 per cent cut in wages, with crippling cuts to conditions.”

“The rules that used to protect working people from this kind of attack are broken.”

“We stand with the workers at Minto just as we stood with the workers at CUB’s Abbottsford Brewery. This bullying of working people will never be tolerated.”

“Unilever are exploiting the fact that corporations have been given immense power, and protections for workers have been broken down. We want changes to the rules so that companies cannot blackmail their employees.”

“Unilever try to portray themselves as an ethical company, but that clearly doesn’t extend to their treatment of their own workers.”

“The ACTU will campaign against this appalling treatment of working people – not only at Streets but everywhere that companies are using termination of agreements as blackmail – until the rules are changed.”