Yangon: Over 200 workers set up barricades around factory

 Some of the striking workers are seen at DJY Knitting Myanmar Ltd. sock factory. Zaw Zaw Htwe/The Myanmar Times
Some of the striking workers are seen at DJY Knitting Myanmar Ltd. sock factory.
5 Sept 2017 – Over 200 protesters from DJY Knitting Myanmar Co. Ltd sock factory, stepped up in their strike by building barricades around the factory on September 4, as their demands were denied again.

“The factory officials violated the law. They fired us without proper reasons. Now we’re also forced to break the law. We resorted to blockade in search of a better outcome,” worker leader Ko Phyoe Ko Ko Aung told The Myanmar Times on September 4.

The dispute was mediated by the Hlaing Tharyar township arbitration group in the morning of September 4, and has been passed on to the Yangon regional arbitration council due to a lack of settlement.

Strikers said that they will maintain the barricade until they get positive results. Workers asked the factory officials to re-hire them at their former positions or to compensate for the loss of jobs, in accordance with the labour law.

“The factory denied both rehiring and compensating. We have no other choice than to build barricades. It can last more than two months if we go with the routes of arbitration councils system and strikers have problems with their daily expenses,” said Ko Pyoe Ko Ko Aung.

Factory officials told The Myanmar Times on September 4 that they were blocked in the factory by the protesters. They have informed the respective officials of Myanmar, as well as the Chinese Embassy, to solve the dispute.

“They are acting against the law. What they are doing is illegal. We will solve this issue legally with the respective officials. We don’t talk with [the strikers] anymore,” said a factory official. He added that the factory will not compensate nor re-hire the strikers who were fired last month. Workers who want to join the factory again can apply as new recruits; they will not get their former jobs.

“Today, the worker’s demands were completely denied. The factory blocked every possible route for conciliation. We don’t encourage the barricades as it is illegal, but we also don’t object to their strike,” said Ko Aung Soe Min, labour supporting officer from the worker organisation We Generation. We Generation has been helping to solve the dispute between the workers and DJY sock factory.

Over 228 of the sock factory’s workers have been protesting since August 7, demanding the rehiring of their worker leader Ko Soe Thura Ko, and the creation of an independent labour union.

All strikers were sacked by the factory on August 22 because they failed to return to work by the deadline set by management.

The DJY Knitting Myanmar Co. Ltd, opened the sock factory in Haling Tharyar two years ago and has been producing various kinds of socks, including famous brands for export, according to a factory official.

There were about 400 workers in the factory, over 200 of which are currently on strike. Meanwhile over 100 of the workers are still working at the factory.

On September 1, protesters also marched to the Hlaing Tharyar industrial zone, demanding their rights.

Thailand: Cannery Row Strike Wins Pay Promise for Workers

26 Feb – A strike of more than 1,100 workers at a canned food factory southwest of Bangkok in Samut Sakhon province ended today with company executives agreeing to pay overtime and wages allegedly withheld from workers.

The strike, which began Thursday and mostly involved workers from Myanmar, was a rare victory in a country where migrant workers routinely suffer discrimination and harsh working conditions with little or no leverage.

Continue reading “Thailand: Cannery Row Strike Wins Pay Promise for Workers”

Cambodia: Mass arrest at Bavet garment protest

Police use a fire hose to disperse demonstrators at a protest in Bavet this morning, where thousands of garment workers are striking to demand an increase to the minimum wage.Police use a fire hose to disperse demonstrators at a protest in Bavet this morning, where thousands of garment workers are striking to demand an increase to the minimum wage.

20 Dec – A large group of striking garment workers has been arrested in the Svay Rieng province town of Bavet, officials and rights groups confirmed, during a day of protests that has seen water cannons used to disperse crowds.

Ros Tharith, provincial administration director, said authorities intercepted a “small number” of workers this morning who were supposedly carrying rocks that they were going to use to pelt a factory in the Manhattan Special Economic Zone.

“They wanted to incite other workers to come out,” he said.

“Our authorities did not crack down; we just took action to prevent them from using violence and arrested them, and we will wait to see how they explain themselves.”

But while there is no official tally of the number of those arrested yet, Nouth Bopinnaroath, provincial coordinator for rights group Licadho, estimated that more than 30 male and female workers were arrested.

“The men were tied down with ropes and hand-cuffed … It is not a good picture.”

Photos uploaded to local media and Facebook showed police dispersing strikers with water cannons.

Chea Oddom, provincial representative of the Cambodian Union for the Movement of Workers, said three trucks were loaded with arrested workers this morning. He estimated that some 8,000 workers were on strike today, down from a reported 30,000 last week.

The strikes began last Wednesday after workers demanded a $20 raise to the current minimum wage of $128, $8 more than the $140 figure mandated by the government in early October. Violence was soon reported after factories were pelted by stones and had their doors broken down.

Four garment workers were already arrested on Friday and charged with damages, violence and incitement on Sunday.

Brisbane: high school teachers plan stop-work over students’ rights

Mojgan Shamsalipoor

16 Nov – Brisbane teachers will take industrial action on a human rights issue for the first time, continuing their campaign in protest against the Government’s detention of an asylum-seeker high school student.

Mojgan Shamsalipoor, 21, was months away from graduating at Yeronga State High School when she was forcibly removed from the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation Centre in August and taken to a Darwin detention centre after a failed visa application.

Teachers at the school will hold a stop work meeting at 1:40pm on Tuesday as part of an ongoing campaign regarding the fight for the rights of Ms Shamsalipoor and other students on bridging visas, or no visas.

Students also will refuse to go to class, holding a sit-in to coincide with the industrial action, according to the school’s Queensland Teachers Union representative Jessica Walker.

Ms Walker said it would be the first time industrial action would be taken in relation to a human rights issue.

“We have grave concerns for Mojgan’s emotional wellbeing, and that of other students who are experiencing increased distress and a sense of hopelessness,” she said.

Ms Shamsalipoor fears returning to Iran, having arrived in Australia by boat in 2012 after fleeing sexual abuse and an arranged marriage to a man in his 60s.

Her asylum claim was rejected last year after she had lived in Australia for two years on a bridging visa.

Cambodia: Situation ripe for more strikes

2 Oct – Short-sightedness, weak adherence to the law and poor working conditions in Cambodia’s garment sector are creating a fertile field for strikes to prevail over negotiations, a recent study released by the Arbitration Council Foundation, an independent labour mediator, has found.

According to the study, incidents of striking have considerably increased in the disputes the council mediated, going from 17 in 2012 to 94 in 2014. While compensation issues were by far the most common demands in strike cases the council oversaw – making up 37 per cent of all cases during a one-year period from April 2014 to 2015 – it was far from the only factor enabling the proliferation of strike action.

Because many employers offer only the most minimal protections required by the law, strikes are not used as a last resort but as a negotiation tactic, the study says, beginning on an “ad hoc basis rather than as part of a campaign to achieve broad based CBAs [collective bargaining agreements]”.

CBAs, or governing contracts drawn up between unions and employers, are seen as smoothing industrial relations by avoiding the use of strikes while setting up clear standards for workers.

But a range of issues hamper the effective implementation of CBAs in Cambodia, according to the report, such as the lack of a separate labour court to handle cases involving a wide number of demands.

“An inability to promulgate various claims at one time and achieve a longstanding resolution in the form of a CBA provides many more ad hoc opportunities for strikes to occur,” the report reads.

Employers’ tendency to reimburse striking workers’ salaries has also led to a system in which strike pay is used as a consolation prize, often awarded in lieu of strikers’ more “substantive demands”, the report says.

Meanwhile, the industry’s attempt to co-opt the labour movement through the use of pro-employer, or “yellow”, unions has had the side effect of proliferating minority unions as workers become frustrated and disenchanted with yellow representation.

William Conklin, country director of the US-based Solidarity Center, said that Cambodian workers’ overreliance on strikes exists largely because other measures lead nowhere.

“The avenues are very limited for unions,” he said. “Ideally, strikes wouldn’t be used, but you also want to get towards employers [providing] a decent working situation.”

Conklin added that effective CBAs were largely absent due to the little respect employers paid to minimum labour standards, leading to confrontation rather than negotiation as the chief conduit of action.

“You can’t have dialogue when [only] union members are being terminated,” he said.

However, Ken Loo, secretary general for the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said that establishing CBAs was difficult due to minority unions disrupting the CBA process merely to “get benefits out of the situation”.

Loo added that unions themselves did not respect the Labour Law when they went on strike, ignoring rules such as providing prior notice.

“All their strikes are illegal, they don’t comply with procedures,” he said.

Melbourne: Strike at Woolworth’s liquor warehouse

Workers picket the entrance to a Woolworths liquor distribution centre at Laverton.

17 August – Report from Anarchist Affinity members who were supporting the MLDC (Melbourne Liquor Distribution Centre) strike last week.

Workers at Woolworths MLDC launched unprotected (unlawful) strike action in the early hours of Monday morning last week. Workers were responding to broken promises by management; Woolworths management had announced the week before that all new hires at the Laverton site would be through a labour-hire agency despite promises to the contrary made in EBA negotiations less than a year earlier.

The MLDC strike was called for, planned and hastily executed by rank and file union militants at MLDC. The decision to strike occurred to the genuine surprise of NUW union organisers and officials (the NUW is the workers’ union), and this decision was taken by a workforce who had never previously been on strike together.

The MLDC sits at a critical juncture in Woolworth’s supply chain. The strike shut-down liquor and cigarette supplies to Woolworths, BWS and Dan Murphy’s stores across Victoria.

On day four of the strike, industrial action occurred at two other Woolworth’s distribution centres in Hume and Barnawatha. The Hume DC afternoon shift joined the strike and the Barnawatha DC imposed an overtime ban whilst planning to join the strike.

This strike action continued despite the threat of fines and dismissal. It continued in defiance of an order by the Fair Work Commission on Tuesday. When ordered back to work, strikers at MLDC burnt copies of the FWC order and announced they would not return to work until Woolworths agreed “no labour hire and no repercussions [for striking]”.

The power that these workers held in their hands was palpable.

Continue reading “Melbourne: Strike at Woolworth’s liquor warehouse”

Zine: Sydney Uni on strike

Communiques from the Campus: March – June 2013

Download .pdf

This zine was put together to provide a comprehensive account of the strike through the voices of those who participated in it. It is intended to provide a counter narrative to not only the lies of the university administration, police and corporate media, but also to the claims of union bureaucrats and political sects who seek to control, limit and claim ownership of the struggle. Continue reading “Zine: Sydney Uni on strike”

Denmark: Solidarity with the USYD strike from Copenhagen

Indymedia: In the early hours of June 5 some anarchists redecorated the facade of the Australian embassy in Copenhagen with messages of solidarity with the ongoing strike at Sydney University. Students and workers at USYD have faced off against the pigs of the NSW police force on numerous occasions since April this year, in an ongoing campaign against neoliberal restructuring of their university.

We sprayed:







FOR THE SYDNEY UNI COMMUNE Continue reading “Denmark: Solidarity with the USYD strike from Copenhagen”

Sydney: riot police arrest eleven at University strike

June 5: The fifth day of strike action at Sydney University took a dramatic turn on Wednesday morning, with eleven people arrested by police in two incidents.

Senior lecturer and picket line leader Nick Riemer told Guardian Australia the riot police had “behaved like violent animals” during the first incident.

“We had a picket line of staff and students who were observing the NTEU [National Tertiary Education Union] protocol which says that we are allowed – and it’s what we are here to do – to have conversations with people about why we are here,” said Riemer.

He alleged the police gave no verbal warning before “swooping” on protesters after they sat down on the driveway of the Carillon Avenue entrance to the university in front of a truck attempting to enter the grounds.

Riemer claimed protesters were “violently manhandled, they yanked them out of the way, they pushed them – I got pushed, I got asphyxiated for a small number of seconds. I got violently manhandled.” Continue reading “Sydney: riot police arrest eleven at University strike”

Sydney: Militancy and collaboration at the USyd Strike

See also Open letter: whose university is University of Sydney?, from one of the people arrested on the first day of the 48-hour strike.

Indymedia: Tuesday March 26 marked the begining of a 48 hour strike at Sydney university. The strike was called by the NTEU with CPSU support as a continuation of the struggle against the uni administrations new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, intended to undercut staff conditions, increase casualisation, micromanagement and surveillance under the familiar guise of “flexibility”. In the early hours of March 26, some anarchists once again broke into the City rd Catholic college (or chapel of the Insurrection) and again dropped a massive banner reading

At 6.45am we joined hundreds of staff, students and socialists in picketing and barricading seven different entrances to the uni.
Early in the morning a contingent of riot police attempted to break a picket at the city rd car park entrance. After a brief scuffle in which the picketers managed to hold their ground, the riot pigs retreated in humiliation.

Meanwhile the parramatta rd footbridge was barricaded by anti-authoritarians who soon came into conflict with NTEU officials who collaborated with police to break the picket to allow scabs and students to pass. Militant picketers were told by NTEU bureaucrats that they had to lets scabs pass or “the union could be fined for illegal activity”

From 9am on, some crews of anarchists roamed the uni in a series of roving noise pickets, passing out hundreds of anti-cop and anti-scab leaflets, writing messages on uni walls and disrupting lectures, libraries and businesses. Any commercial operation within the uni territory was fair game. We banged pots, drums, shouted at scabs and chanted against classes, cops and capital. Anyone on campus studying, working in an office, coffee shop or lecturing was acting as a strike breaker and we made sure to inform them what this meant. We aimed to disrupt any semblance of normality on the uni grounds, to assert our right to this territory against the claims of capitalists like Michael Spence and his riot pigs.

Some members of the socialist sects (who noticed the effectiveness of the roaving pickets) then marched a large contingent of students into a chemistry lecture, though rather then shouting insults at the scab and passing leaflets to students then leaving, they decided to occupy the hall and make long speeches to the chemistry students. The police soon mobilised the riot squad which burst into the lecture hall, violently dragging out picketers and arresting two of them. A crowd of angry students and anti-authoritarians then confronted police chanting “COPS OFF CAMPUS” and “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, FUCK THE POLICE!” Police responded by violently pushing and dragging the crowd out the building.

The riot pigs specifically targeted students of colour and those who were filming them and made 3 more arrests outside before dragged them into another building, where a crowd assembled to demanded the release of the hostages. Some trotskyite leaders then used their megaphone to order those acting in solidarity to leave the police alone and return to the picket. Instead many of the most militant picketers left the uni to make a noise demo outside Newtown cop shop. Though two arrestees were later released without charge, three more now face trumped up charges ranging from assault to hinder police.

On the following day pickets were established before 7am. Militant picketers soon marched from the Paramatta rd bridge to the City rd car park entrance and blocked cars for a number of hours before the riot squad began aggressively forcing picketers back whenever a scab wanted to drive through. After a number of minor scuffles the cops made the choice to block entrance with their car, to ease hostilities. Many picketers then broke away to cause disruptions in the operation of the library and coffee shops.

One student strike supporter complained that we were acting like “psychopaths” and asked, “what image do you want to project?”. We respond that the only things we wish to project are bricks at the pigs that arrest us and our loved ones, bricks we will then use to build the communal free schools of the future. We couldn’t give a fuck about the pathetic attempts by some students to act out the prescribed role of ‘good protesters’ for the corporate media. We do not perform for the media, we wish to sow class tension and spread the practice of sabotage amongst staff and students. As neoliberal restructuring deepens and the divide between the owners and managers of capital and those excluded from profits an production increases, this tension will inevitably rupture into open conflict. We wish to bring on the violent storms of class warfare, as the rebellious Greek youth sprayed across walls during the December 2008 insurrection, “we are an image from the future.”

At 12pm, a student rally had bee called by the National Union of Students (NUS) at UTS just a couple kilometers down George street. The rally was just one manifestation amongst many of the National Day of Action against for-profit education. While the NUS announced the rally would march from the UTS campus to Town Hall, a large contingent of strikers marched to UTS and convinced the students to change their route and instead march to Sydney Uni in solidarity with the strike.

As the initial contingent left Sydney uni, riot police launched an unexpected assault on a largely anti-authoritarian picket, taking another two hostages who’d been captured the previous day.

Over a thousand students from the NUS rally marched down George street onto City rd, before initiating a spontaneous sit in on one of Sydney’s busiest arteries. Police immediately freaked out but where unable to respond because of the massive number of students involved. As usual, members of trotskyist sects, alarmed by an action they had not promoted and were not directing, began using their megaphones to implore the crowd to leave the road. When this was at first unsuccessful, they resorted to a familiar tactic of theirs and called for a vote on whether people wanted to hold the street. As always these Leninist are only capable of draining energy and initiative from any moment of actual class conflict. While anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists continued to push for generalised disruptions across campus, the Trotskyite politicians successfully managed to disperse the large angry crowd of students with their repetitive and boring speeches that no one ever wants to hear.

With riot police encircling the dwindling crowd, clearly waiting for a small group to cause any disruption that could be used as a pretext for arrests, most militant activists decided to leave the uni to make another noise demo outside the cop shop in solidarity with the arrestees.
Police denied both comrades bail and vindictively delayed their processing till after courts closed and held them overnight. The following day over 20 people showed up at the court in solidarity and welcomed the comrades back to relative freedom on their release.

The neoliberal restructuring of the economy toward the privatisation, casualisation and generalised precarity of employment (in the interest of a narrow class of professionals) can only be enforced with batons, tasers and prison cells. The militarisation of police and the privatisation of our lives are merely two sides of a process of exclusion and exploitation. As students and workers we are hit first by higher fees, debt, casualisation and layoffs, then by police violence if we take a stand.

To take control of our destinies we cannot rely on those individuals and organisations who position themselves as our representatives. While we are willing to work with unions and student associations when it is necessary, we do not recognise their authority. We must act on our own behalf directly, without the mediation of organisers or spokespeople. We must break with any groups that seek to limit the struggle by telling us to leave the street, go back to work or class, to negotiate, to reconcile.
As an alternative to being herded by representatives, we call on students and workers to organise themselves collectively outside the structures of political parties or unions. We urge undergraduates, lecturers, service workers and staff to begin meeting together to discuss their situation. The more we begin talking to one another and finding our common interests, the more difficult it becomes for the administration and police to pit us against each other. To intensify our resistance, our immediate task is to create spaces of solidarity, care and freedom, where we can find one another to conspire against the conditions imposed on us by capital.

Occupations can liberate common spaces, negate existing property relations and assert the collective desire for that which is shared. We must physically expel the police and the administration from the territory of Usyd in order to create a free, open and communal university of resistance.