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					The Solidarity Report

March 7, 2010


Thousands of working people in India protested the high cost of food in demonstrations
held around the country last week. The demonstrations were organized by a coalition of
the country’s five trade union confederations. The cost of food in the country has been
rising dramatically in the past few years. The workers demanded a proper public
distribution system, stabilized prices, and an end to the withdrawal of investment in
public sector companies. Police arrested several of the demonstrators.



A two-day strike by 1,500 workers at a brewery in Burma ended peacefully last week.
The workers at the Grand Royal Whisky brewery were calling for slightly higher wages
and improved job security for permanent workers. However they were able to win only
minor concessions from the company. It agreed to increase the monthly bonus for
employees who do not miss a day of work in a month from $6 dollars to $10 dollars.
Employees who have to take a day off for sickness or family responsibilities are
regularly denied the bonus payment. The strike at the brewery was similar to other
strikes in the Rangoon area over the last month. All those strikes were organized
despite the Burmese junta’s reputation for harsh crackdowns on industrial action. It
seems the Burmese workers are fighting back as best they can against a violent



The Swiss corporation Nestlé describes itself as a health and wellness company. But
according to its employees it doesn’t much care about the health and well-being of the
people who work for it. The workers have been organizing world-wide protests. Diana
Beaumont reports.

(0:18) (Diana 1:00)

Portugal is the latest European country to be hit by demonstrations protesting
government plans to make working people pay for the recent economic crisis. Last
Thursday, March 4, thousands of Portuguese civil servants walked off the job. They
shut down schools, hospitals, courts and other workplaces. Manuel Carvalho da Silva,
the leader of the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers said public pensions
and other benefits have been cut for years leaving workers very angry. The strike was
the biggest Portugal has seen in recent times.


Workers in Greece continued their opposition to the government’s austerity programme
last week. Some 12,000 demonstrators marched through the streets of Athens
protesting against salary freezes, tax increases and reduced pensions. Schools were
shut, public transport was halted, flights at the and airport were cancelled and many
public services halted. The General Confederation of Workers in Greece released a
statement on the situation. It said "the workers are intensely and radically opposed to
the unfair, one-sided economic measures that greatly burden workers, pensioners and
the unemployed while leaving business owners, the rich and the powerful untouched."
( 0:46)

The European Trade Union Confederation is the organization which represents national
labour centrals at the European level. Its General –Secretary, John Monks, has a
message for European governments as they try to pull themselves out of the economic

(0:16) (Monk clip 1:05)

Europe’s other workers – the millions of migrant labourers – are also fighting back. Irma
Arkus reports

(0:08) (0:40)

(Migrants- China)

Of course there are migrant workers all over the world. Here is William Nee from the
China Labour Bulletin with a report on migration in the world’s largest and most
populated country.

(0:12) (2:26)

The president of the plantation workers’ union in Zimbabwe is still in prison and its
general secretary is on the run. President Manjemanje Munyani was arrested two
weeks ago when security forces raided the union’s offices. General Secretary Gertrude
Hambira has fled to South Africa after discovering that the security forces were
searching for her. The union is an affiliate of the Building and Woodworkers’
International. BWI General-secretary Ambet Yuson has sent a letter to the president of
Zimbabwe demanding the release of Ms Munyani and an end to the harassment of Ms.
Hambiria. You can help these two women union leaders by visiting the BWI website
where you will find a letter that can be sent to the president of Zimbabwe, Robert
Mugabe. Remind him that the world is watching what happens to trade unionists in



The Trades Union Congress in the United Kingdom is urging South African President
Jacob Zuma not to argue for a lessening of sanctions against Zimbabwe. Mr Zuma was
in the UK last week on a state visit. TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
“Relaxing sanctions would be seen as a relaxation of support for human rights in
Zimbabwe.” The TUC is especially concerned about the recent arrest of leaders of the
plantation workers union in the country and the increasing attacks on trade unions rights
as documented by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions .

Apple – the company known for its Macintosh computers, iPod music players and
iPhones – has been accused of accepting the use of child labour and ignoring health
and safety conditions in the plants which manufacture its products. Irma Arkus,
RadioLabour’s senior correspondent has a report.

(0:20) (Arkus Apple1:45)

(India IT)

The government of India released a budget last week. Karthik Shekhar from the
UNITES Professionals union analyzes how it will affect young information technology
workers in the country.

(0:11) (Shaeker clip 1:44)


Samsung is a multinational corporation headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. It is the
world's largest corporate conglomerate. A group of organizations came together
recently to make Samsung face up to its responsibilities when workers die in its plants
around the world. Diana Beaumont reports

(0:21) (1:56)


Haiti, where 250,000 people died in the recent earthquake and 1.2 million are homeless,
is trying to re-build. Some people are arguing that this re-building should be based on a
existing free-trade treaty with the United States called Hope2. But as Paul Tulloch,
RadioLabour’s multinationals reporter tell us the treaty may not be the solution to the
problems facing Haitian workers.

(0:30) (Tulloch 2:15)
(March 8)

March 8th is International Women’s Day – a day on which trade unions around the world
organize events designed to highlight the working conditions of women. So here’s a
quiz: How many girls and women are there in the world? About 3.3 billion – most of
them in the developing world. How much of the world’s work do these women do?
About 70%. For this 70% of the world’s work how much of the world’s income do they
earn? About 11%. Which means then men do about 30% of the work in the world and
get paid almost 90% of the income. We have much to do.



Many of the world’s girls and women work in the informal economy. And while there is
much more trade unions could be doing to organize t hem there are examples of what
can be done. One example is SEWA – a trade union in India. SEWA is the Self-
Employed Womens Assocation is an affiliate of the ITUC and has almost 1 million
members. Here being interviewed by Frederick Noronha is the General Secretary of
SEWA, Namrata Bali.

(0:30) (SEWA Clip 1:45)


The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women is holding a conference in
New York during the first two weeks of March. But the International Trade Union
Confederation – the ITUC – and three global unions have expressed outrage at the
process and substance of the event. Union delegates at the conference say that they
are being effectively excluded from the proceedings. Drafts of resolutions to be passed
are not circulated, civil society participants are forced to wait in line-ups lasting up to
nine hours. and the workspaces provided for unionist and other participants are limited
and unhealthy. The global union - Education International - has put a letter of complaint
on its web site which you can use to send a message to the Secretary-General of the
UN, Ban Ki-moon.


Now here with the major headlines on LabourStart – the labour movement’s news
service – is Derek Blackadder.

(0:7) (2:20)


Some countries around the world have minimized the political and economic aspects of
International Womens’ Day. They’ve changed it into another sort of Valentines Day or
Mothers Day with flowers and chocolates with little discussion of the status of women in
their societies. But we should remember that the Day grew out of the political and
economic struggles of women around the world. We should remember its history. Here
is Robin Jane Roff with a report on the history of International Women’s Day.

(0:27) (1:56)

And that’s it. This week’s labour news you can use.

On behalf of myself, Marc Bélanger, and the rest of the team at RadioLabour, thank you
for listening. You can contribute to RadioLabour by sending audio reports or making
suggestions for stories. Consult the RadioLabour website to find out how you can
become a RadioLabour correspondent. And remember: Global Solidarity Forever.