International news briefs

October 23, 1996

News briefs

International news briefs

Worldwide attacks on unionists rise

Hundreds of trade union members were murdered and thousands of others injured or arrested across the world in 1995 according to a report released by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. "The growth of world trade has led to an increase in violations against trade unionists, as countries compete for capital investment and lucrative contracts from multinational companies", the ICFTU said. It found that 378 people were murdered in 1995 for being union members. The vast majority, 339, were in Latin America, followed by Africa with 28 (Sudan accounted for 20), Asia with 10 and Europe with one. More than 5000 people worldwide were arrested for trade union activities — almost 1,000 more than in 1994 — and 6847 people were sacked.

While abuses against trade unionists were worst in Third World countries, the ICFTU said it was becoming more difficult for unionists in the industrial countries as well. Laws passed in Britain during the last 15 years left workers with no protection against anti-union discrimination, while the US has used paramilitary guards against strikers.

US jailed 1.6 million in 1995

At the end of 1995, there were 1.6 million people incarcerated in the US. The US rate of incarceration has nearly doubled over the past decade, according to the US Justice Department. One in 167 people in the US is in custody, compared to one in 320 a decade earlier. The world's highest incarceration rate has seesawed in recent years between the US and Russia, both far greater than other countries. In 1995, the US prison population increased by 8.7%, a slightly greater growth rate than during the last five years. The total number of inmates in custody has more than doubled since 1985.

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