JAPAN: The BWI is extremely alarmed with the apparently first reported death, by suicide, in Tokyo 2020 Olympics National Stadium, touted as the centrepiece of the Summer Olympics. With the lawyer for the family of the deceased worker confirming that a case has been filed for workers’ accident compensation, serious concerns have been raised on health and safety of all workers employed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics infrastructure projects.
The unnamed male 23-year old construction worker who had gone missing on 2 March 2017 was found dead in April and the family attributed his death to “karoshi” based from The Japan Times news report. The Japanese government officially recognizes two types of “karoshi”, as deaths by overwork is known: cardiovascular illness linked to overwork, and suicide following mental stress related to work. Accordingly, the man had worked more than 200 hours overtime in the month before he committed suicide.
“This unfortunate tragic death of young construction worker is clearly an issue related to occupational health and safety in all Tokyo Olympics infrastructure projects”, said Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary.
Quoting from the same news report, the company, Taisei Corporation, “acknowledged letting him work beyond the limits set under a labour-management agreement concluded, based on Article 36 of the labour standards law. The accord allows the company to have employees work up to 45 hours overtime a month in principle and up to 80 hours in special cases”.
“Occupational accidents in Mega-Sporting Events can actually be identified and prevented as evidenced in London 2012 Olympics. This was made possible by direct involvement of trade unions in the identification, elimination and management of occupational health and safety hazards including stress and overwork”, added Yuson.
While extending condolences to the family of deceased construction worker, the BWI reiterated its offer to TOGOC to implement a joint Zero Accident campaign to avoid unfortunate case of this nature.
This is the second time that Taise Corporation has been marred with controversial issue; the first being that of importation and use of tropical plywood for concreting pillars from controversial sources in Sarawak, Malaysia.
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INDONESIA: Research into palm oil plantations in Indonesia reveals that workers and their families are paid illegally low wages, are exposed to dangerous pesticides and face routine abuse so that the US food and beverage giant PepsiCo can make world-famous products such as Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, Cheetos and Lay’s potato chips. Now international trade unions and environmentalists have joined forces in their fight for workers’ rights.
The US-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a 1.4 million-member multi-sector union has, along with the International Union of Food Workers, mobilised in the battle against widespread labour and human rights violations on plantations run by Indofood, a major Indonesian partner of PepsiCo.
“Solidarity between workers in the United States and on plantations in Indonesia is very important because we need support to pressure PepsiCo to force Indofood to improve labour conditions,” says Herwin Nasution, executive director of the Indonesian union OPPUK (Organisasi Penguatan dan Pengembangan Usaha-Usaha Kerakyatan, which loosely translates to Organisation for the Strengthening and Development of Community Enterprises).
The Teamsters represent the approximately 20,000 PepsiCo workers at Pepsi beverage, Frito Lay and Quaker production facilities in the US, who were consulted on the decision to send letters to PepsiCo’s board and CEO Indra Nooyi.
“When our members hear stories about palm oil plantation workers in Indonesia – there being the presence of child labour, or illegally low wages and hazardous pesticides – [they understand],” Timothy Beaty, director of global strategies at the Teamsters
JK Tyres Workers in Kanchipuram district struck work from 24th July 2017, demanding recognition of their union. This happened after the company tried to negotiate with the internal union, without any democratic process for the workers to choose the union they wanted for their representation. In response, over 600 workers struck work demanding recognition of the CITU union to which they belonged. After a 17 day strike, the management has agreed to negotiate with the majority union and reinstate 27 probationary workers who were dismissed during this period.
In a notice posted on August 2nd, one week into the strike, the management came down hard. They termed the workers’ strike illegal, as the industries under automobile sector have been termed public utility service. They also promised stern action against the workers for resorting to the illegal strike and threatened workers to either see ‘reason’ or face disciplinary action. Over 27 workers, according to Comrade Kannan of CITU, were terminated, citing ‘unsatisfactory performance’. However, the union and the workers were resolved to continue their fight for justice and increased the exposure of the strike by conducting various protests in front of Kanchipuram District Collectorate and in other parts of the District
The resolve of the workers has not been in vain. According to Comrade Kannan, the management has agreed to have conciliation meetings with the union starting September 4th on various demands of the workers. In addition, the 27 workers who have been terminated will be reinstated from August 21st, in the same postings they previously held. Talking to Thozhilalar Koodam, Comrade Kannan hailed this as a ‘major victory for democratic rights of workers through a sustained struggle’. He attributed the success of the struggle to the resolve of the workers and to the impact on production. He has said that over 40 demands of the workers will be resolved through negotiation with the management. These broadly cover wage increases, regularization of trainees after 480 days, improvement in allowances and amenities, lawful implementation of overtime and various other benefits.
The victory of the JK Tyres workers comes at an important phase for workers in Sriperumbudur, where unionization is being denied to workers through various pretexts, and victimization of workers continue unchecked for their union activities. The contention of the management to term the strike illegal under the guise of public utility service has been rightly challenged by the workers who have used collectivized struggle for their just cause. The workers have also rejected the idea of an internal union, which is a mechanism used to keep workers under management control. Its important that these moments of victory are consolidated by unions to push the working class struggles not only in favor of unionised workers but also those that do not come under union fold.
CHINA:Even years after major legislation was passed to curb abuse of agency labour and guarantee equal pay, agency workers are still fighting for their basic legal rights across China, particularly at SOEs.
According to Chinese law, agency work is supposed to be “supplementary” form of labour, though agency workers often find themselves working for years alongside full employees, performing the same work for significantly less pay and benefits.
Agency workers, however, are well aware of their rights, and their collective actions are not uncommon. For months, agency workers at China’s FAW-Volkswagen plant, a majority state-owned joint venture, in the northeast city of Changchun have made international headlines in their long campaign for equal pay. Below we highlight two other agency worker actions demanding equal pay at SOEs that occurred in July.
Rabat – La Fédération de la gauche démocratique (FGD), a coalition of three lef-wing parties, has called for a national march on August 27 in Rabat to demand the release of detained Rif activists.
The youth wings of the three parties issued a joint statement condemning the excessive use of violence against the Hirak (protest movement in Al Hoceima and its nearby towns in Rif), which led to the death of activist Imad El Attabi.
El Attabi was injured in the head during the July 20 national march in Al Hoceima. He remained in coma in the military hospital in Rabat until announced death on Tuesday.
FGD said the call to national march on August 27 is intended to show support for the Hirak and stand against the state’s policies aiming at undermining citizens’ rights.
Calls for releasing Rif prisoners have been issued since a massive of arrests targeted Hirak activists in late May and throughout June and July.
On July 29, dozens of activists were released on the occasion of the Throne Day but the bulk of the but a larger number of almost 200 protesters remain in prison in Al Hoceima and Casablanca where they are prosecuted for heavy charges such as “undermining people’s loyalty to state institutions” and threatening the security of the state.
The arrest, prosecution and detention of Rif activist put the government not only at odds with the residents of Rif but also with the rest of Morocco where an important segment of the population, civil society and political elite have shown support for the protest movement in the northern Moroccan region.