workers' rights & unions

Members of the Argentine Metal Workers’ Union (UOM) marched to the Ministry of Labour in Buenos Aires on February 14 in protest of thousands of jobs cut from electronics manufacturing companies.

The cuts came after a government decision to eliminate a 35% tax on computer imports.

Protesters gathered in front of the National Congress of Argentina before marching to the offices of the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, with many banging drums and waving flags.

Other unions also took part in the demonstration.

A strike at Chile's Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest, entered its fifth day on February 13 with few signs of speedy resolution as workers threaten to stop production for up to two months.

Workers began a strike at the Australian-run BHP Billiton mine on February 9 to put pressure on the company after failing to reach an agreement in wage negotiations.

The union said its 2500 members are committed to action and threatened a two-month work stoppage, leading BHP to admit that it will not be able to meet its contractual obligations.

Thousands in the streets across US for Weekend of Action

The resistance is taking many forms in the United States, Common Dreams said, with some constituents showing up to lawmakers' town hall events to demand accountability and others taking to the streets to protest the Trump administration and its draconian policies. 

“Trump’s America,” wrote a leading African American journalist, Charles Blow in the New York Times, January 30, “is not America: not today’s or tomorrow’s, but yesterday’s.

“Trump’s America is brutal, perverse, regressive, insular and afraid. There is no hope in it; there is no light in it. It is a vast expanse of darkness and desolation.”

There is a lot of disgust toward Trump and his white nationalist strategist Steve Bannon, former executive chairman of Breitbart News, a leading promoter of conspiracy theories and white supremacists.

"McDonald's workers clearly aren't lovin' Trump's immigration policies," Mashable.com said. "On Thursday, McDonald's restaurants across the United States, along with a variety of other businesses, closed their doors as part of a nationwide '

Derryn Hinch and the three Nick Xenophon Team Senators voted with the government on February 15 to pass a bill fast-tracking the new federal building code that outlaws union-friendly agreements on Commonwealth-funded building sites, such as schools, hospitals and roads.

The clauses include union consultation provisions, restrictions on the use of labour hire staff, and requirements for non-working site delegates.

Up to 3000 construction companies will now have to replace their union-friendly agreements before they can become eligible to win lucrative federal contracts.

Left-wing British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s relaunch of his campaign since the start of the year has seen him take a more combative and pro-active approach in putting forward his anti-austerity, anti-war agenda. In doing so, he has engaged more with the media.

A union leader, M Sujeewa Mangala, was found blindfolded and dumped by the roadside on February 1, three days after being abducted by unknown armed men.

Mangala, the vice-president of the All-Ceylon Telecommunication Employees Union, has been playing a leading role in the struggle of temporary workers at Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) for permanency. The workers are classified as “temporary” even though some have been working at SLT for more than a decade.

The CFMEU told a Senate inquiry building materials containing asbestos, formaldehyde and cheap glass that explodes are being imported and used in Australian building sites.

Assistant national secretary of the CFMEU Construction Division Brad Parker said the Australian Border Force was seriously under resourced to intercept the arrival of dangerous building products.

This call for a “militant international strike” on International Women’s Day on March 8 was written by US activists and academics Linda Martin Alcoff, Cinzia Arruzza, Tithi Bhattacharya, Nancy Fraser, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Rasmea Yousef Odeh, Angela Davis and Barbara Ransby. It first appeared in Viewpoint Magazine.

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