Hundreds of thousands of workers in South Africa supported a one-day general strike in protest against job losses on 18 May.
Three of AngloGold’s Vaal River mines were shut. Most workers were on strike at Harmony Gold’s big mines in the Free State. Two-thirds of the workforce stayed away from the Kloof mine. At the Beatrix mine in the Free State only one out of four shafts was operational.
Many members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa joined the strike. The union targeted Mittal (formerly known as Iscor), Denel, DaimlerChrysler, BMW, Ford and Volkswagen.
Two of the country’s biggest supermarket chains, Pick ’n Pay and Shoprite, also reported most workers out.
Schools in KwaZulu-Natal was heavily affected as thousands of members of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) supported the strike. The teachers had grievances of their own, which included the lack of safety at schools and excessively high pupil-teacher ratios.
The General Agricultural and Plantation Workers’ Union (Gapwuz), with the backing of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), has made a strike call over wages.
Some agricultural workers are not even paid the stipulated farm work wage of Z$1.3 million (R84) a month at a time when the generally accepted poverty level wage is set at Z$42 million (R2 725). With inflation above 1000 percent and the price of a loaf of bread scheduled to increase to Z$200 000 (R13), farm workers are literally facing starvation.
However the government has threatened “bloodshed” if the strike goes ahead.
Publicis Thailand, the Thai subsidiary of French-based global public relations giant Publicis Groupe has charged Junya Lek Yimprasert, coordinator of the Thai Labour Campaign (TLC), with “defamation by propagation.”
Yimprasert’s “crime” was republishing an article from CSR Asia Weekly on the TLC website about an unfair dismissal case filed by five workers against the company. If convicted Yimprasert faces a possible jail sentence, payment of monetary damages, and limitations on her or TLC’s important labour rights work. LabourStart is campaigning to get Publicis to drop this lawsuit.
More information: www.labourstart.org
The International Transport Federation is organising a boycott of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to pressurise the Pakistani government to stop the victimisation of eight aviation workers.
The PIA has harassed trade unions for years. With the support of the Pakistan government it has used anti-union legislation to sack the general secretary and publicity secretary of the Air League of PIA Employees and snubbed dialogue with pilots. Six more union members were suspended for criticising the company’s attitude, followed by four more in March who had been giving out leaflets.
The T&G is backing the boycott and the website for the campaign is: www.itfglobal.org/boycott-pia