Workers Struggles: Europe & Africa

14 May 2010

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Europe

Greece: May 20 general strike call

Greece’s two main public and private sector unions have announced a May 20 general strike to protest pension reforms.

The work stoppage will be the latest in a series of protests that have erupted since the Greek government adopted a plan requiring $30 billion in cuts in order to secure a $145 billion international bailout package.

The proposed austerity measures include reductions in civil service pensions and wage freezes.

Greece’s debt crisis has raised concerns that financial and social instability could spread to other European countries, including Spain and Portugal.

On May 12, the European Commission proposed that European Union countries submit their national budget plans to the commission for review before taking the proposals to their national parliaments.

UK: BA cabin crew to strike

Up to 12,000 cabin crew working for British Airways (BA) will take strike action for 20 days, starting this month, after rejecting an offer on pay and staffing levels.

Flight attendants will stage four five-day walkouts beginning May 18, the Unite union announced.

Around 81 percent of union members balloted last week rejected a revised pay offer, according to Unite.

Cabin crew took seven days of industrial action in two separate strikes in March, after BA cut staffing levels. The company estimates the stoppages cost as much as £45 million ($67 million) as it scrambled to book passengers on other airlines and hired planes to maintain services.

Africa

Dockers strike in Mauritania

Dockworkers affiliated to the Free Union of Mauritania (CLTM) began strike action May 10 in pursuit of a wage increase. There are reports that state security forces in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott have clashed with workers, and that there have been 30 arrests.

Miners across Zimbabwe take strike action

Around 25,000 miners belonging to the Associated Mine Workers of Zimbabwe (AMWZ) employed by different mining companies across the country went on strike May 12.

They are striking against management reneging on a pay agreement reached last year that awarded a minimum wage of US$140 a month. Some miners are receiving less than US$100 a month.

The largest mining company affected is Zimplats Holdings, which mines platinum and employs around 5,000 miners. Other companies affected include Rio Tinto and Metallion Gold.

Doctors plan “go slow” in Nambia

Doctors working for the Namibian state were due to start a “go slow” May 12, while doctors in the capital, Windhoek, were set to march to the prime minister’s office.

The doctors are protesting poor salaries and working conditions. The doctors are organised by the Namibia Medical Society. Labour Commissioner Bro-Mathew Shinguadja said he had received no notification of the action and declared it would be illegal.

Nigeria: Lagos dockworkers strike

Port workers at AeroMaritime in Lagos began strike action following an accident May 8, resulting in a worker having his leg amputated. The workers belonging to the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) are taking the action following a series of accidents at the site, some of which have been fatal.

They are also protesting the laying off of around 40 dock workers over the last three months, saying they were not paid benefits as agreed.