Workers Struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific


Bangladesh: Police shoot garment workers in Gazipur

Three garment workers suffered gunshot injuries and at least 20 others were injured when police used firearms, teargas and batons to attack protesting garment workers who had blocked the Dhaka-Joydebpur road on Tuesday. Workers from Kojima Lyric Garments in Gazipur city were demanding a full basic salary as an Eid bonus and the attendance bonus increased from 200 taka to 500 taka ($US6.39).

The strike erupted after factory management failed to keep a commitment to make the payments by Tuesday. Every year workers are compelled to stage demonstrations due to non- or late payment of wages and festival allowances in time for the Eid holiday.

Pakistan: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government doctors end strike

Provincial Doctors Association members at the government-run Ayub Teaching Hospital in Abbottabad ended their strike on Monday after 24 hours, following a meeting with hospital administrators who agreed to all the doctors’ demands. Apart from the emergency department, all hospital services were forced to shut during the walkout.

The doctors were demanding a professional health allowance, wage increases according to the recently introduced service structure, higher house rent payments and scale upgrades, according to a decision of the high court, and abolition of the biometric-attendance marking system. The administration was also forced to withdraw disciplinary action against 150 doctors who opposed administrative orders.

India: Tamil Nadu government transport workers protest

Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation workers demonstrated outside the general manager’s office in Nagercoil on Monday calling for payment of Dearness Allowance arrears, higher pay and other demands.

The transport workers, who are members of the BJP affiliated Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh union, also wanted a new pension scheme withdrawn and prompt deposition of Provident Fund payments.

Karnataka: Government hospital non-clinical workers protest

Over 30 non-clinical contract workers at the Mandya Institute of Medical Sciences (MIMS) hospital in Bangalore protested outside the medical superintendent’s office on Tuesday on several demands. They wanted immediate release of pending wages and payment of the minimum wage, Employees State Insurance, Provident Fund, washing allowance, risk allowance and other benefits.

Workers said that they had to pawn personal items in order to make ends meet because their wages had not been paid by management. The protest was organised by the Government Hospitals Non-clinical Contract Labourers Association, which also demanded job permanency for contract workers at the facility.

Uttar Pradesh sanitary workers protest

Meerut Municipal Corporation sanitary workers protested on June 20 at Chaudary Charan Singh Park. They called for a pay increase, double wage rates for overtime, job permanency, filling of all vacancies, a health insurance scheme, and cuts to current “back-breaking” workloads.

A spokesman from the Sanyukt Safai Mazdoor Trade Union Samiti said that Meerut needed at least 7,000 sanitation workers. The corporation currently employs 3,000.

Utter Pradesh power workers demonstrate

Over 60 contract workers at Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited protested outside ESIC (Employees State Insurance Corporation) Hospital in Noida, alleging that the staff “delayed” the treatment of a lineman who was injured after a transformer fell on him on Monday.

The contract employees said that despite fractures to the workers’ leg, and severe facial injuries, emergency treatment was denied because there was no money in the ESIC card. Power company officials refused to comment on the incident.

Hong Kong airline workers protest

Around 30 United Airlines flight attendants and family members held a one-hour protest at the Hong Kong International Airport on June 16 to demand a single industry-wide contract. Protesters held various signs, including “We are United.”

United Airlines and Continental Airlines merged six years ago and their flight attendants split into three different groups--Subsidiary United, Subsidiary Continental and Subsidiary Continental Micronesia. Each group receives different levels of pay, work rules and benefits.

United Airlines flight attendants are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants, which held simultaneous protests at major airports over the issue.

Taiwan flight attendants vote to strike

Over 70 percent of China Airlines (CAL) members have voted to take strike action in a dispute over what they called an “enslavement contract.” CAL is Taiwan’s flag carrier.

More than 1,900 of the 2,540 Taoyuan Area Flight Attendant Union members who participated in the ballot voted to strike after management and the union failed to reach agreement on June 7 for a new work contract.

Attendants claimed the new deal, which the airline asked them to sign in May, would increase their working hours to 220 per month. The hours would also slash attendants’ rest time from 24 hours to 12 on certain long-haul flights.

Management has also demanded that the company's flight attendants all report for duty at the nation’s main airport in Taoyuan, instead of at Songshan Airport in Taipei. Attendants would not be paid for the extra travel time.

CAL Employees Union president Ko Tso-liang, who is also a member on the CAL board of directors, has opposed the strike. He claimed the strike threat had “battered the company's reputation and its sustainable development.”

Cambodian garment workers protest

Around 600 former employees of the RCI garment factory in Preah Sihanouk province demonstrated outside their closed factory on Monday. Workers said production stopped abruptly last month with the factory owners disappearing owing them over one month’s pay. The former employees appealed to the provincial labour department to help them get their wages for May and their severance pay.

Cambodian footwear factory workers end strike

Three hundred striking workers at the Sky Nice International footwear factory in Phnom Penh ended a two-day strike on Wednesday after management agreed to meet most of their demands. This included improved benefits and a wage rise. The footwear workers’ main demand was for reinstatement of three union representatives. The company agreed to rehire two of the leaders, saying it would consider reinstating the third.

Phnom Penh city gardeners oppose privatisation

Around 50 Phnom Penh City Hall gardeners walked off the job for several hours on Wednesday to protest a plan to transfer their management to a private company. Despite city hall assurances that the 200 gardeners’ jobs are secure and that their $US150 monthly salary will not be affected, the workers fear their workload and daily hours of work will increased.

Australia and the Pacific

Sydney light rail employees hold second strike

Following a four-hour strike on June 16, Sydney’s light rail drivers and customer service workers walked off the job for 24 hours on Monday accusing their employer Transdev of ignoring dangerously crowded carriages, increased driver shift limits and unrealistic passenger turnaround times.

A spokesman from the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) said light rail drivers and conductors were struggling to cope with the sheer volume of passengers and an impossible schedule that allows just 45 seconds to load and unload hundreds of passengers at busy stations. The RTBU said that the company wants to increase drivers’ shift limits from 8 to 9 hours and decrease driver breaks—a move that will have a severe impact on worker and passenger safety.

Transdev and the union have been in talks for nine months for a new enterprise agreement. Workers have rejected the company’s last two offers.

The RTBU wants pay rises of 3.5 percent in the first year of a new enterprise agreement and 3.9 percent in the second. It has also called on the company to reinstate a monthly rostered day off. One worker said conductors are paid $7 to $8 per hour less than their counterparts in Melbourne.

Newcastle government bus drivers protest

New South Wales government bus drivers in Newcastle, north of Sydney, took protest action on Thursday over a plan to privatise services. Drivers across the city refused to wear their uniform and did not ask passengers to pay for tickets or to register their journey on the Opal ticketing system.

RTBU members want more information on how the impending privatisation of transport services in Newcastle will affect them. Their action follows a “uniform-free” day last week fearing they could lose their jobs if a private operator took over the service.

Papua New Guinea hospital doctors walk out

Doctors and nurses at the Mt Hagen General Hospital in the Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea walked out on June 17 and threatened to resign alleging mismanagement and corrupt practices at the hospital and at the provincial health authority. The walkout follows the signing of a 70-page petition by doctors, nurses and allied staff over the corruption issue. Emergency services only are being provided at the hospital by two doctors and some remaining nurses.

Their action followed a two-week sit-in protest by senior staff and nurses at the hospital in March. The strikers at the time delivered a 120-page petition to the government in Port Moresby complaining of run down conditions at the hospital. Staff returned to work after the government agreed to hold an inquiry into their complaints. The “inquiry” overlooked the list of complaints and found “no problems.”

Complaints revealed that there has been no microbiology unit for 13 years in the hospital; the operating theatre had been closed for eight months; the blood test section had been closed for six months; the blood bank crippled for a year; and many other problems.