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Killings, protests, occupations and declarations - trade unions around the world

Global Solidarity | 04.12.2001 13:26

Here's just a small selection of trade union related news from around the world... (for full articles follow links)

Most taken from and

Argentina: brutal police repression of Neuquén ceramic workers
Report by Guillermo Crux
Published: 03/12/01

The workers of Cerámica Zanón (one of the largest porcelain and tile factories in South America) have been on strike for more than three months demanding the payment of their salaries and the re-opening of the factory.

Following a mass meeting held on 30th November, the workers marched to the provincial government building in Neuquén to protest. They burnt their letters of dismissal, threw eggs at the building and burnt tyres on the corner of the street. Minutes later the police arrived with a water-cannon with which they doused the fire. The workers accepted this action of the police but asked for the withdrawal of the anti-riot squad. More people spontaneously joined the demonstrators, who at that point were surrounded by the police. The chief of police ordered the withdrawal of the anti-riot squad but at that moment a tear gas grenade was discharged - “accidentally” according to the police. Following this, a scuffle started and the police opened fire with rubber bullets despite the fact that the workers were completely unarmed. They then chased people, particularly anyone who was wearing a brown shirt - the uniform of the workers of the factory. The workers defended themselves and were helped by their wives and daughters who obstructed the police from making their arrests.

The demonstrators looked for shelter in public buildings, trade union offices and even in the provincial hospital which is close by. The tear gas affected the patients of the hospital and groups of small children who were leaving a nursery school. Altogether 19 workers were arrested and 9 injured.

Two hours later Zanón workers assembled with their families and other trade-unionists. More than 3,000 people marched through the city demanding the release of the 19 workers who had been arrested, chanting “Here we are, the workers of Zanón!” as people waved and clapped from their balconies.


Bolivian water anti-privatization leader Oscar Olivera arrested
Chris Keene, Coordinator, Anti-Globalisation Network
Published: 29/11/01

Dear Friends,
Our friend, brother and comrade, Oscar Olivera is in trouble. Oscar, as you know, was one of the leaders that led a movement to successfully reverse water privatization here in Bolivia. Today he was arrested on charges of, among other things,“sedition, conspiracy, instigating public disorder, and criminal association.” Oscar’s crime? Leading protests against water privatization.


Brazilian Power Workers' Leader Murdered
29 October 2001

Brazilian power workers' leader Aldanir Carlos dos Santos was murdered last Saturday, the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) has learned.


Civil disobedience for reform in Zimbabwe
December 3, 2001 Posted: 10:35 AM EST (1535 GMT)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Unionists, priests, and thousands of representatives from civic groups launched a civil disobedience campaign Sunday to force Zimbabwe's government to implement political reforms and stage free presidential elections early next year.


South Africa: Privatisation, Water, and Electricity Cut-Offs
Report by Anti Privatisation Forum
Published: 03/12/01

Organisations from Gauteng, Western Cape, Northern Province, Northern Cape, North West Province and KwaZulu-Natal gathered in Johannesburg for a workshop that resolved to launch a national Anti-Privatisation Forum Co-ordinating Committee.

All of the organisations present at the launch outlined increasing levels of poverty and government brutality in communities, where the sick are turned away from under-resourced clinics and die, where the poor and elderly are cut off from water and electricity and where police brutality accompanies vicious evictions.

Based on this, the Front will prepare to launch a national campaign against water and electricity cut offs and evictions.


Protesters storm Argentine stock market
Thursday November 22, 10:28 AM

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) - Several dozen Argentine protesters stormed the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange on Wednesday, interrupting floor trade for about 20 minutes in a sign of flaring social tensions.

"They just broke one of the doors and came in ... and took the entire trading floor," said Ruben Pasquali, a trader for Mayoral brokerage. "It was incredible."


KOREA 3/12/01: Farmers protest government policies, new global trade talks

About 20,000 farmers from across the country staged mass rallies at Gwacheon and Seoul yesterday to protest the government's farm policies and the start of new global trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization.

The protesters in Gwacheon clashed with riot police, hurling eggs, rocks and human excrement. They also burned effiges of the WTO and the NACF, and chanted their opposition to the government's farming policy and the WTO's move to liberalize agricultural markets.

Protesters in front of the NACF headquarters attempted to unload about 1,000 bags of rice from their trucks in objection to the falling rice prices, but were thwarted by the riot police troops.


Thousands protest Turkish economic woes
December 2, 2001 Posted: 0348 GMT
ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) -- About 20,000 Turkish workers marched in rallies across the country Saturday to protest the government's failure to ease a crippling financial crisis that has cost a million jobs.

They called on the government to step down and threatened a nationwide strike if the government "blindly follows" the measures introduced by the International Monetary Fund to resolve the crisis. The IMF has suggested Turkey cut state spending and lay off some workers


JAKARTA, Dec 3 Locals threaten to seize cement plan in new blow to Indonesia privatisation
Monday December 3, 3:01 PM

Local people in West Sumatra province will seize a cement plant if necessary after rejecting the Indonesian government's latest concession in a faltering privatisation deal, a legislator said Monday.

The central government is trying to privatise the country's biggest cement producer Semen Gresik in a deal strongly advocated by foreign analysts but fiercely opposed by local factions.


ECUADOR: Plan Colombia activists being threatened by the internet in Ecuador

UNI has been informed through the ICFTU that a group calling themselves the "Legion Blanca" are sending threats through the internet to activists from the Ecuadorian Human Rights Network an organistaion that is linked to the ICFTU affiliate, CEOSL.

The repressors are acting with impunity, threatening the physical integrity of trade union and social leaders, particularly the civil group monitoring the effects of plan Colombia in Ecuador.


Chilean 'blaze man' dies
Saturday, 1 December, 2001, 16:07 GMT

A hospital in Chile has said a man who set himself ablaze in front of the presidential palace in an apparent protest over the misuse of asbestos has died. Eduardo Mino set himself alight on Friday after stabbing himself in the stomach and dousing himself with petrol.

News organizations said they'd received faxes signed by Mr Mino in which the sender said the protest was calling attention to the cases of hundreds of people who had become ill through contact with asbestos.


More than one million people die annually
from injuries at work and occupational diseases

Injuries at work and occupational diseases claim 1.3 million deaths annually.
There are 250 million accidents at workplaces each year.
160 million working men and women contract occupational diseases each year.
Approximately four per cent of gross national product is lost through injuries at work and occupational diseases.


Forced labour still massive in Burma

Brussels, December 03, 2001: "Burma's military authorities continue to resort to forced labour on a massive scale, in spite of their denials and alleged spirit of co-operation with the ILO", the Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) said today.

In a new report submitted on November 30 to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the ICFTU accuses "senior, middle and low-ranking army officers and rank-and-file soldiers, as well as civilian authorities, to have continued to exact forced labour in all areas of activity previously identified by the ILO".


WTO Doha Conference a Setback for Labour and the Poor
Geneva, November 21, 2001
There can be little doubt about the outcome of the WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha. Dressed up in the language of a "development round" and rhetorical invocations of the commitment to poverty-alleviation is a significant victory for the proponents of corporate globalization.


The Second International Conference for Trade Union Solidarity against Capital was held successfully in Annecy, France, from 29 September to 1 October 2000. Over 200 delegates from 14 different countries attended the conference. Following is the declaration agreed by the participants.


Annecy, France, 29 September – 1 October 2000

We, the combative trade unionists on the side of the working class, who participated in the Second International Conference for Trade Union Solidarity, held in Annecy, France, call upon all those who are subject to the exploitation of monopolies and imperialism to struggle and show international solidarity.
"Globalisation" and the New World Order is an expression of an ever intensifying capitalist exploitation and imperialist aggression. Interventions of NATO and other imperialist institutions in soverign countries constitute a grave threat to world peace.
Capitalist Union in Europe and imperialist globalisation in general are designed to promote free movement of capital, commodities and services, and to consolidate the capitalist front, bringing with it growing unemployment, poverty and social injustices. In fact, scientific and technological advances and the wealth produced by the workers create the grounds for the solution of peoples’ problems and for the improvement of working people’s conditions of living internationally.
However, this wealth and development is used as an instrument to increase capitalist profits. Working people’s aspiration for them being used for the well being of humanity faces the barriers of hegemony of the monopolies which accumulate capital from the extreme exploitation of working people. Capitalists increase their profits while millions of people are faced with starvation and millions are deprived of even minimum living conditions.
The future of the working class and humanity as a whole does not lie in capitalism. Demands and aspirations for defending the existing rights and gaining new ones, for radical social and political transformations, and for the elimination of exploitation of man by man are becoming more and more vital.
The working class of the world is faced with an intense campaign of attacks by capital and its political representatives, designed to take away their gained rights. Behind this wave of neoliberal attacks what becomes clear is the crisis of capitalism and the fierce competition among monopolies for more profit.
We see more clearly today the negative consequences imposed on the working class after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. First of all, the right to work is under threat. Unemployment, an inherent characteristic of capitalism, is on the rise and it has been a social phenomenon for a long time. Real wages have been dropping dramatically. Social rights are being taken away, and social security system is being left to the mercy of capital. Public enterprises are being privatised. Public services like health and education are becoming commodities. Environment is under threat. Conditions of work are deteriorating and becoming more and more against the working class and working people in general. New forms of work to intensify exploitation are emerging; casual work is becoming an inseparable part of working conditions; daily working hours are being increased. An orderly working day, job security and collective agreements are all under threat. Democratic rights and freedoms are being restricted.
All these developments are, on the one hand, taking away workers’ rights, but on the other, expanding the grounds for the workers to unite and fight against the system, nationally and internationally. Furthermore, there are greater possibilities today for the workers in every country to unite with various sections of working people such as peasants, public employees, tradesman and craftsman in the fight against capital and monopolies. The grounds for the national and international unity of the working class and its alliance with other labouring classes have become an unprecedentedly concrete and actual phenomenon. Our Conference is a small but important step in this direction.
Collaborating trade unionism has played a big part in the negative developments taken place in the trade union movement. Such trade unionism and its representatives are the supporters of the measures for capitalist re-structuring and the anti-popular policies of social democrat and conservative governments.

Having abandoned the class struggle and the defence of working people’s democratic, economic and social rights, collaborationist line has become bankrupt. This line aims to integrate the working people to the system of exploitation.

Those who have a class combative line refuse and reveal this conciliation with the class enemy. They defend the combative unity of the working class and organise the working people for the fight against imperialism and monopolies. With this perspective, combative trade unionism must co-ordinate its forces Europe-wide and world-wide to put into practice international solidarity and common actions in order to achieve the following demands and tasks:

In defending the existing rights and gaining new ones, we must base on the rights related with wages, working conditions, social security, etc. gained as a result of workers’ struggles throughout the 20th century.
We demand recognition of trade union rights and freedoms in every country and an end to all anti-workers and anti-democratic legislation which ban or restrict the right to strike, the right to collective bargaining and trade union activity.
One of our main objectives is to reinforce our unions, and it is our urgent task to support and organise initiatives to increase trade union membership.
We draw attention to the need for a more advanced co-ordination of the actions of working people at the national and international levels.
It is one of our tasks to oppose unemployment and to make trade unions more sensitive to the fact that, irrespective of their gender, language, religion, etc. the unemployed are part of the working class. Our Conference also draws attention to the importance of the struggle against the anti-workers and anti-popular imperialist policies of institutions such as the IMF, WB, WTO and G7.
Defence of peace in Europe and in the world, abolition of the Atlantic alliance and Nato, the struggle for the withdrawal of imperialist forces from every country of the world, mainly from the Balkans, Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, are among the demands that the trade union movement cannot overlook.
It is the international demands of the workers to fight for social, democratic and environmental rights, to oppose privatisation and heavy tax burdens, and to reject the commoditisation of health and education through privatisation.
We demand a 35-hour and 5-day working week and 7-hour working day without any reduction in the wages (the question of hours may vary from country to country).
We denounce the kneeling down of the trade union movement to big capital, and fight against the conciliatory line and the impositions on our unions to collaborate with capital.
We have set up a committee consisting of trade unionists from different countries to co-ordinate the decisions of the conference internationally and to do the preparatory work for the third conference.
We will oppose the employers, the governments in the service of capital, and the decisions of the Brussels Commission; and we will fulfil the requirements of the task to support the understanding of combative trade unionism.
Our first common action will be practised during the ILO meeting in Geneva in June 2001. This should be seen as a continuation of the activities in individual countries. Our common slogan will be "Let’s internationalise our struggle against imperialist New World Order!"

Global Solidarity


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  1. Bolivia Update — :-)