By ERNIE GOTTA
Colombia: Death threats against education union leaders
Death threats have been sent to all executive board members of the Federation of Education Workers (Federación Colombiana de Educadores, or FECODE) as well as the President of the Trade Union Confederation. Labour Start writes, “The threats took the form of a funeral wreath with the words ‘rest in peace’. Sixteen candles and 16 obituary notices with the name of each targeted union leader were also delivered to the home of Carlos Rivas, FECODE’s Secretary for legal affairs.”
There have been numerous mobilizations in the streets over the past year that have highlighted the country’s economic crisis. Trade unions are leading many of these actions, and FECODE is attempting to make schools “zones of peace” where the community can have a broader dialogue to fight for the needs of the working class. Teacher unions have recorded over 900 murders and 78 disappearances of members between 1986 and 2016.
Dominican Republic: Sugarcane Workers Union fights for pensions
For eleven years, sugarcane workers in the Dominican Republic have been mobilizing in hundreds of demonstrations for retired workers’ pensions. The refusal of the government to fully recognize these pensions is a continuation of discrimination and racism against a majority of Haitian immigrant workers who are cutting sugarcane. On Sept. 26, after years of struggle, the government finally promised to recognize the contribution made by 1610 retired workers. The government has not yet delivered on its promise and again workers are mobilizing to fight for their rights. Socialist Resurgence is supporting their fight by signing a petition being circulated by the Movimiento Socialistas de los Trabajadores in the Dominican Republic.
USA: The International Campaign to Reinstate Erek Slater fights on
Erek Slater, Chicago bus driver and member of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 241, continues to fight for his job. On July 7, 2020, Erek Slater was officially fired by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) for leading discussions with his coworkers regarding the use of public transit buses in shuttling police to protests against the murder of George Floyd. Erek read the official statement of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) to CTA Bus Operators:
”Furthermore, as our members—bus drivers—have the right to refuse work they consider dangerous or unsafe during the pandemic, so too Minneapolis bus drivers—our members—have the right to refuse the dangerous duty of transporting police to protests and arrested demonstrators away from these communities where many of these drivers live. This is a misuse of public transit.” (full statement here).
Nigeria: Maritime union declares strike!
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) called an indefinite industrial strike to shutdown the Eastern Ports on Dec. 14 following the firing of 500 workers by the Integrated Logistics Services Nigeria, Ltd. The union has been in negotiations with the company to improve the welfare of workers when the 500 were fired. Following the firing, union members gathered at the company, were locked out, and attacked.
The union states, “To further worsen the situation, they unleashed armed security operatives, including soldiers and policemen on the union members and inflicted various degrees of injuries on our members. Some of them are at present in hospitals receiving treatment.” MWUN claims they will only withdraw the strike notice after the company reinstates workers and the government investigates the company attack.
India: Workers rebel in iPhone factory over exploitation
Workers rebelled Saturday, Dec. 13, at Taiwanese-run iPhone Wistron Infocomm Manufacturing’s facility on the outskirts of Bangalore, India’s IT hub. Workers were angered over unpaid wages; videos show workers smashing windows and flipping cars on their side. About 100 workers have been arrested, and a harsher crackdown is likely. Much of India’s workforce belongs to a vast informal sector that relies on precarious exploited labor. The Winstron workers’ action comes on the heels of a 250 million-person strike, the largest in human history and the mobilizations of 300,000 farmers. The small farmers are fighting the government’s deregulation of agriculture, which would leave them poor and exploited by larger corporate agricultural interests.
South Korea: Autoworkers’ rolling strikes at Kia and GM
South Korean autoworkers have staged a series of two, four-hour partial strikes since Oct. 30 at Kia and General Motors. Workers are striking against a proposed wage freeze that would replace regular increases by a performance-based bonus.
Despite tentative agreements being reached between GM and the Korean Metal Workers Union (KMWU) over more than 20 rounds of negotiations, workers are rejecting the contract and opting to continue the struggle. Union official Jung Jai-heon told the media: “We are not only striking over wage issues, but also over job security at our No. 2 plant in Bupyeong, which hires about 1,200 workers.”
In November, GM issued a warning letter saying that labor unrest was making it difficult to do business in South Korea despite receiving a hefty financial rescue package two years ago. The financial rescue package was supposed to guarantee that GM would stay in the country long term.
Illustration by General Strike Graphics