Monthly Archives: September 2015

Over 1,000 Arrested in Bengal, India Amid Violence During Trade Unions’ Countrywide Strike

Millions responded to a strike called by seven trade union centers in India. According to one union leader, “this is reflection of disenchantment of the working class. The government should learn its lessons from the strike. We are ready to discuss and reach a consensus. If the government does not take its lessons, the movement will be intensified.

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Missing Social Security Funds Initiating a New Wave of Labour Movement: Violent suppression intensified (Labour Rights in Hong Kong Enterprises in China 2014-2015)

Release of Investigative Report on Labour Rights in Hong Kong Enterprises in China 2014-2015

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A vast number of Hong Kong enterprises have set up factories or established businesses in China. Many of them are suppliers for international brands such as Marks & Spencers, Disney, UNIQLO, etc. Yet, the labour conditions in these enterprises have long been neglected, without an efficient monitoring mechanism.

HKCTU continued to run its “Monitoring Database of Labour Rights in Hong Kong Enterprises” since 2013. The key findings of the Investigative Report as as below:

  1. Nearly 70%, a significant growth of collective labour disputes: Between May 2014 and April 2015, the HKCTU collected 25 cases of documented collective labour actions in Hong Kong enterprises in China. Nearly 90% covered strikes and the rest were large-scale protests. Compared with the previous years, there is a nearly 70% growth of documented collective labour actions. This is related to the Hong Kong management’s refusal to engage in collective bargaining and its unprofessional manner in handling labour conflicts. Workers have no choice but to strike to force employers to negotiate.
  2. Missing social security premiums is the cause of over 55% of the collective labour disputes: Compared with last year (<15%), disputes caused by missing payment of social security have increased significantly. Missing or under-payment of severance pay at relocations, and missing wages are the two other reasons for collective labour actions, accounting for 44% and 40% respectively.
  3. Affecting an estimated 150,000 workers: It is estimated that these 25 cases of collective labour action, affected about 150,000 workers. Since 28 May 2010, the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China has banned Chinese media from reporting or discussing strikes. Therefore, it is believed that the actual number of strikes is a lot higher than those documented.
  4. Nearly 85% of labour disputes triggered by violations of Labour Contract Law: As shown in these cases, the Hong Kong enterprises often violate multiple labour laws simultaneously. For example, an enterprise might refuse to pay both severance compensation and social security premiums at the same time. The Chinese authorities tend to side with the employers. They avoid responsibility by claiming that workers’ missing pension insurance is outside their administrative jurisdiction. This opens the door for the Hong Kong employers to avoid paying pension insurance for workers indefinitely; For those areas which are not clearly stipulated in the Labour Contract Law, the court gives judgement guidelines to judges, that open another door for the Hong Kong employers to avoid severance compensation.

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150 million Workers on Strike in India Today

(India) About 150 million workers are on a nationwide strike and essential services like banking and public transport have been hit in many places. There is major impact in West Bengal and cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram.

Here are the latest developments:

  1. Rival parties clashed in many places, including capital Kolkata, in West Bengal, where unions enjoy significant clout. In Kolkata, women activists from the Left were seen being dragged by the police. Banks, shops, and many schools are closed and all public transport is off roads.
  2. The bandh has also impacted Southern states. Around 3,500 government-run buses are not running in Hyderabad and public transport has also been hit in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. Schools and colleges are closed in Bengaluru.
  3. Ten major trade unions have called ‘Bharat bandh’ over the government’s pro-business initiatives, after talks with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley broke down.
  4. The unions are demanding that the government dump plans to sell off stake in state-run companies to boost the public purse and to shut down unproductive factories.
  5. They are also opposed to the government’s proposed labour reforms expected to diminish the influence of trade unions and make the labour market more flexible.
  6. Many banks have shut their doors for the day all over the country.
  7. Long lines of commuters and school children were seen waiting at bus stops in many cities across the country, including national capital Delhi, while passengers were stranded at airports as taxis and rickshaws stayed off the streets.
  8. Unions like Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), which is backed by the ruling BJP, and the National Front of Trade Unions are not participating in the strike.
  9. PM Modi won a landslide election victory last May, promising a string of business-friendly reforms to attract foreign investment and revive the economy. But the opposition has blocked flagship tax and land reforms, aggravating investor concerns, while the unions are increasingly angry over the reforms.
  10. India’s economy grew by a slower than expected seven per cent in the first quarter of the financial year and experts say, reforms are needed to create jobs for millions of young people. Previous strikes have shut down cities and cost the Indian economy millions of dollars in lost production.

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150 million people participated in General Strike today

150 million people participated in the strike today!

All India General Strike is a great success all over the country. Right wing groups finally opted out and did not join the strike. But more than 150 million people participated in the strike!

There are direct and radical actions at many places including train blockades in West Bengal. In industrial areas of Gurgaon, all workers in all plants of Suzuki took part in the strike, along with many other factories in the area. We will keep you updated

– Updated by Surendra Pratap of Centre for Workers Education, India 
– Photo by Surendra and Pranesh Sarkar

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Biggest strike ever? ‘Bharat Bandh’ today, India braces for protest by trade unions

As the entire nation braces to bear the brunt of the nationwide ‘Bharat Bandh’, 2nd September 2015 may witness what the trade unions have called ‘the biggest strike in the country ever’.

Turning a deaf year to the central government’s appeal to call off the strike, ten central trade unions have decided to go ahead with ‘Bharat Bandh’ on September 2, protesting against the reforms in labour laws proposed by the government, which they have described as anti-worker economic policy.

The central trade union refused to call off the strike after recent meetings with central ministers did not end satisfactorily. A 12-point charter of demands has been put forth by the trade union leaders.

Normal life may be hit badly with strike disrupting essential services like banking and public transport, and also supply of power, gas and oil.

The strike by 11 trade unions was originally planned for July 11 after talks between Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreyat, however it was postponed for September 2.

In a last moment and rare act, the BJP-backed Bhartiya Mazdoor and National Front of Trade Union withdrew out of nationwide strike.

However, the remaining 10 union trade, that claim a combined membership of 15 crore workers from both public and private sector, including bank and insurance companies have decided to go with nationwide strike after their proposal was failed by Central ministry.

Ten central trade union participating in the nationwide strike are CITU, INTUC, AITUC, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, AIUTUC, TUCC, SEWA, AICCTU, UTUC and LPF.

Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, however, downplayed the impact that would be caused by the strike.

“I don’t think essential services will be affected by the strike. I feel that the impact will not be much. I appeal them to call off strike in the interest of workers and nation,” Dattatreya told reporters.

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