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A four-day sit-in by brick kiln workers in Lahore in late April ended after successful negotiations held with the labour minister over their demand of implementation of a minimum rate of 740 rupee (about $8.1) per thousand bricks. Workers from all over the Punjab took part in this sit-in. After daily threats by government and police, the labour minster finally agreed to negotiate with leaders of the workers. Brick kiln workers are among the most exploited in Pakistan. There is widespread use of child labour and debt bondage ― both against the law in Pakistan.
Campaigners for Scottish independence have received another boost as a branch of the public sector trade union Unison sided “positively with the Yes side” in a debate on Scotland's September 18 referendum on whether to remain part of Britain.
Before Hugo Chavez became president of Venezuela in 1999, the barrios of Caracas, built provisionally on the hills surrounding the capital, did not even appear on the city map. Officially they did not exist, so neither the city nor the state maintained their infrastructure. The poor inhabitants of these neighbourhoods obtained water and electricity by tapping pipes and cables themselves. They lacked access to services such as garbage collection, health care and education.
During the six years of economic crisis in Europe, its elites have not just attacked the living standards of workers, unemployed and poor. They’ve also been engaged in a three-and-a-half year scrap among themselves. Their fight is over a financial transactions tax (FTT), first mooted by the European Commission (EC) in October 2010 for all 28 members states of the European Union. It was finally agreed to in January last year by 11 Eurozone members ― Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia and Slovakia (the “EU11”). Aims
The project is called “The Different Europe with Alexis Tsipras”. It name is written on a red background. Predictions indicate it could surpass, maybe easily, the 4% electoral threshold needed to win seats in the coming European elections. In 2009, this threshold prevented both left lists, the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC) and the Left Ecology Freedom (SEL), both of which received only a little more than 3%, from winning seats. This new project, however, is not a mere electoral coalition set up to clear this hurdle. In its foundation and structure it is something very different.
Long-time Socialist Alliance member Zoltan Torrey — a gentle, thoughtful, uplifting and inspiring man — died suddenly at home on January 16. He wrote two extraordinary books. Out of Darkness is his memoir. He describes his youth in Hungary when it was occupied by Nazi Germany, and his arrival in Australia post World War II.
Three years ago the Portuguese government, unable to raise funds on the capital markets, went for help to the infamous troika ― the combination of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union. In return for their bail-out, the troika imposed punitive conditions that have wrecked livelihoods. In Portugal last September, the negative impact was expressed for me in one biting comment: “They are draining the life blood from Portugal.”
I am one of the organisers for the March in March and March in May and a social justice advocate. The leaflet for the Sydney Institute dinner [held on April 28] declares that the honourable Tony Abbott has had a “long and distinguished political career”. I disagree with this statement, and from here on will refer to our prime minister as the dishonourable Tony Abbott. Since taking office in September last year, the dishonourable Tony Abbott and his government have worked hard to undermine the needs and rights of Australians, giving us plenty to get worked up about.
Youth unemployment has risen to double the national unemployment rate, a new report by the Brotherhood of St Laurence has found. The overall unemployment rate is 6%. But for 15 to 24 year olds it is 12.5% and in some areas as high as 20%. The rates of youth unemployment have risen for the past two years. The length of time young people are unemployed is also rising. Young people who choose to study at university are also facing a life of poverty.
About 2000 people rallied in Tasmania’s Upper Florentine Valley on April 27 to defend World Heritage listed forests. The rally was organised by the Bob Brown Foundation to oppose the proposed removal of the Upper Florentine from the World Heritage Area by the federal government. Organisers say the proposal will exclude some of the world’s most intact temperate forests and some of the tallest hardwood forests on Earth and would allow them to be opened up to environmentally destructive practices such as logging.

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