Workers of the world: Round up

Submitted by Anon on 10 September, 2003 - 2:45

By Pablo Velasco

  • Israel: attacks on unions
  • Korean unions defend migrant workers
  • Salonika seven free, for now

Israel: attacks on unions

The Israeli government is preparing to dock the wages of workers taking industrial action, and introduce anti-union laws.

Around 30,000 workers - half of those employed by the government - have been engaged in go-slows and strike action over the last six weeks. Workers are angry about plans to cut the budget and change pension arrangements and government pans for privatisation.

The government's 2004 budget, which has to be approved by parliament by the end of the year, involves $2.2bn in spending cuts. The government wants to restructure and sell off state-run companies, such as refineries, the Electric Corporation and Mekorot water supplier. After the latest round of industrial action, the government said it would introduce anti-union laws, forcing unions to give 60 days notice before staging a walkout.

Korean unions defend migrant workers

Workers' organisations in Korea have stepped up their campaign to defend migrant workers after the government began a crackdown last month.

Members of the Equality Trade Union - Migrant Branch (ETU-MB), have promised to continue a sit-in at Myeong Dong Cathedral in the capital Seoul until the government stops attacking undocumented foreign workers and deportations.

Myeong Dong Cathedral has historically been a refuge for labour, political and civic activists, as the police have not usually entered the compound. A core of 80 ETU-MB members, including migrant workers from Nepal, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia as well as Koreans have sat in for over two weeks. They have been supported by demonstrations of over a thousand supporters, backed by the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions, of which the ETU-MB is a part.

There are around 300,000 illegal migrant workers in Korea. About 120,000 have been there for four years or more and are not registered under a new government scheme, and so now have to leave the country. The government has targeted migrant workers, doing so-called "3D" (dirty, dangerous and difficult) jobs, rather than those - mainly white - workers who are teaching English.

Salonika seven free, for now

The seven prisoners detained after protests at the EU summit in Thessaloniki in June have been released. Simon Chapman from Britain is out on unsecured bail and has to stay in Greece until he is tried, supposedly for carrying weapons in his bag.

Simon and his supporters say the police switched his bag for one which contained weapons.

Simon and the other six demonstrators, three Greek, two Spanish and one Syrian long resident in Greece, had been detained since June. All had mounted hunger strikes, five of long duration, and it was because their health condition was deteriorating so rapidly that the judge ordered them to be freed.

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