There are more than half a million poor or socially marginalised children in Greece, while 322,000 of these are in dire straits materially, the Athens-Macedonia News Agency said on May 22. The shocking statistics were found in a “The state of the children of Greece 2013” report by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with the University of Athens.
The 40-day strike of more than 500 dockworkers at the Port of Hong Kong ended on May 6 with a settlement that included a 9.8% wage rise, non-retaliation against strikers and a written agreement, all of which had been fiercely resisted by the four contractors targeted in the strike. Strikers accepted the offer by a 90% vote. The four contractors also agreed to work through the port manager Hong Kong International Terminal (HIT) to provide meal and toilet breaks, which had been lacking even for workers on 12- or 24-hour shifts. Crane operators laid off during the strike will be rehired.
In West Papua, May 1 holds a special significance besides being the international day marking working-class struggle. It was on May 1, 1963, that Indonesia was granted control of the western half of the New Guinea island the by the United Nations. Since then, many West Papuan independence and human rights activists have been jailed, tortured and killed for demanding real democracy and a genuine independence referendum. As thousands of people across the region prepared for May 1 demonstrations marking 50 years of brutal occupation, the Indonesian authorities launched raids on April 30.
A report released in May by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and the Norwegian Refugee Council shows that 32.4 million people were forced to flee their homes last year by disasters such as floods, storms and earthquakes. Asia and west and central Africa bore the brunt, but 1.3 million were also displaced in rich countries, with the US particularly affected.
Founder of Venezuela’s world famous El Sistema music program, Jose Abreu, met with President Nicolas Maduro on May 22 to discuss expanding the program. They agreed on a project called Musical Program Simon Bolivar, which aims to have 1 million Venezuelan youths and children playing musical instruments.
The People's Assembly is electrifying the movement against austerity in Britain. Hundreds of new people are flocking to People's Assembly meetings around the country to hear speakers like author Owen Jones, comic Mark Steel, anti-war activist Lindsey German, trade unionists and local campaigners outline the need for coordinated national resistance to the government's plans.
Francisco Louca is an economics professor at the Technical University of Lisbon. Louca was part of the student movement against the Salazar dictatorship in the 1970s. He was a founding member of the Left Bloc, launched in 1999 when several left groups united. He served as the Left Bloc's chief coordinator between 2005 and last year. He was interviewed by Mark Bergfeld, a London-based socialist activist. The interview is abridged from MRZine. * * *
The first McDonald's strike ever in Wellington took place on May 22. At 8am, five of the seven workers on shift came off the job and joined the picket line that had been set up outside Bunny St McDonald's. It was a noisy, lively affair, with Fightback member and Wellington Unite union organiser Heleyni Pratley leading the way with chants, songs and the occasional speech to the people passing by. Pratley explained why the strike was being held and why the public needed to respect the picket line.
After a relatively quiet couple of years, the Unite union, which organises fast food and other previously unorganised sectors, has burst into action with a vigorous industrial campaign against McDonald's. The key demands are focused around winning a NZ$15 starting wage, an end to casualised hours, a fair and transparent roster system and a number of union-only benefits, most of which have already been won by KFC Unite members. See also: New Zealand: McDonald's hit by first ever strike in Wellington
A selection of this week's politically-relevant entertainment news... Jailed Pussy Riot Member Maria Alyokhina Hospitalised After Hunger Strike http://bit.ly/19kvC8a Domestic abuser Chris Brown Potentially Facing 4 Years Jail Following Fender Bender http://bit.ly/150DfOa New Report To US Congress Suggests IP Thieves Be Legally Targeted By Malware http://bit.ly/10B14bA Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds Allow Music To Be Used In New $6 Million SA Tourism Campaign http://bit.ly/1139vfP