Labor struggles: Asia, Australia and the Pacific

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Asia

India: Telangana government contract teachers protest layoffs

Contracted female teachers from the government-funded Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) girls’ school in Hyderabad protested outside the School Education Directorate office on Monday. The more than 400 teachers involved opposed the termination of their contracts.

The contracts of 937 teachers are terminated by the State, including those of resource teachers, postgraduate resource teachers and physical education teachers. Hired on November 17, 2021, they demanded to know why they were being made redundant even as the government issued a notification to fill another 1,000 positions on a contract basis.

Workers at Kuvempu University in Karnataka protest salary delays

Non-teaching staff at Kuvempu University in Shankarghatta, Karnataka staged a protest outside the administration block on April 28 over delays in salary payments. They submitted a memorandum of their demands to the Registrar and addressed to the Chief Minister of Karnataka.

They demanded an end to the processing of salary payments through the human resource management system. The workers alleged that the payment of wages had been delayed every month since the introduction of the new system.

Himachal Pradesh government college teachers demand higher salary

Public college teachers in the state of Himachal Pradesh demonstrated in Shimla on April 27 to demand the introduction of the UGC (University Grants Commission) 7th pay scale. The Himachal Government College Teachers Association submitted a letter to the Chief Minister and Minister of Education stating that 27 states have already implemented the scales. They accused the Himachal Pradesh government of deliberately delaying higher pay scales.

JNU University New Delhi employees fired for demanding unpaid wages

About 150 sacked sanitation and canteen workers from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi were sacked on Wednesday after announcing they would strike for three months of unpaid wages. The workers are now demanding immediate reinstatement, written assurance from the Dean of Students that the number of workers will not be reduced, and written assurance that wages will be paid by the seventh day of each month.

Tamil Nadu contracted out hospital workers during Sivakasi strike

Twenty-seven outsourced workers from the government-run general hospital in Sivakasi, Tamil Nadu went on a wildcat strike on May 3. Workers were involved in sanitation, gardening, carpentry, plumbing, electrical work and housekeeping. They decided to go on strike because the subcontracting company paid them only 4,500 to 5,000 rupees (59.01 to 65.57 US dollars), well below the amount set by the government of 12,500 to 13 000 rupees.

While the police intervened in an attempt to break the strike, the workers only returned after hospital management assured them they would receive the correct amounts.

Bangladeshi tea plantation workers demand pay rise

Tea garden workers in Chittagong, Sylhet and other areas demonstrated on May Day for several demands. The Bangladesh Tea Workers Union called on the government to end discrimination and harassment of tea plantation workers and raise the minimum wage. The daily minimum wage was set at a miserable 120 taka (US$1.4) a day following a bilateral agreement between the owners and unions in 2020. The agreement was violated by the management of the garden of tea. The workers demand that the daily rate be 300 taka.

About 100,000 people are employed in more than 150 tea gardens across the country. According to a 2021 survey by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and Unicef, 74% of tea garden workers live below the poverty line in Sylhet alone.

Sri Lankan government village service workers strike

Thousands of village service officers (grama niladhari) staged a sick leave campaign on Wednesday and gathered at Colombo Fort railway station to demand the government end political recruitment and undemocratic slashing of civil service . The Grama Niladhari Confederation of Trade Unions also demanded that workers be relieved of the exorbitant cost of essential items and worsening shortages.

The protesters marched to Galle Face Green in Colombo past the presidential secretariat and joined other workers who have maintained non-stop anti-government protests since April 9. Millions of workers across the country have staged two general strikes in the past two weeks to demand the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapakse and his government.

South Korea: Samsung workers protest against non-union wage deal

A group of Samsung Electronics trade unionists protested outside the Seoul Regional Employment and Labor Administration building on Monday. The union, which represents about 4% of Samsung’s 110,000 employees, accused management of illegally striking a pay deal with the company’s union-management council in violation of labor laws. The union filed a complaint with the government.

The company announced a 9% wage increase and three days of paid vacation, but according to the union, most employees will only receive a 5% wage increase. He claimed that most employees opposed the deal.

Since October, the union has held 19 meetings with management, including labor board arbitration, to try to reach agreement on a pay deal. The union wants an annual wage increase of 10 million won ($8,155) per employee, full disclosure of its incentive system and the abolition of its peak wage system, which gradually reduces wages over several years before retirement.

Samsung announced the abolition of the company’s non-union management policy in May 2020, but continued to negotiate wages with the union-management council. The union claimed that this violated section 33 and section 5 of the Worker Participation Act.

Australia

Moreland City Council workers stage second strike

Around 100 members of the Australian Services Union (ASU) from Moreland City Council, a north-central suburb of Melbourne, left work between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday. They picketed several depots in the morning and staged a protest in the afternoon at Brunswick City Hall. The workers are in dispute over the company agreement proposed by the council.

Workers maintain several work bans, including not picking up trash from street bins. The council has brought in contractors as scabs to remove the piles of rubbish that litter the city streets.

According to the ASU, the board’s leadership ended negotiations in early April with the bargaining group, which included ASU and the Australian Nurses and Midwives Federation (ANMF), with 40 unresolved grievances on the table. Workers unanimously opposed the councils’ ‘insulting’ pay rise offer of 1.5% this year, followed by 2%, a fraction of the current CPI rate of 5.1%.

Ipswich City Council workers set to strike again

Interior staff at Ipswich City Council in southeast Queensland plan to walk off work on May 11 and meet outside the council’s administration building to demand an improved pay offer. Members of the Services Union (TSU) staged two days of industrial action on April 7 after they rejected the council’s proposed 9% pay rise on a three-year company agreement.

The union wants a raise of at least 10%, in line with the raises given to some other council employees. However, a 10% pay raise is an effective pay cut. The CPI increase for Queensland is currently 5.1%, meaning workers would need a 15.3% increase over three years just to keep up with inflation.

South Australian power grid company lays off employees

Monopoly South Australian power distribution company SA Power Networks (SAPN) has begun quitting electricians and apprentices in response to collective action by co-workers to defend wages and conditions in a dispute over long standing on labor agreements.

Electricians and apprentices were laid off without pay for several days in late April in a clear attempt to divide workers during the dispute.

The company’s action follows two years of unsuccessful negotiations with the Communications Electrical and Plumbing Union (CEPU) for a new company agreement. The previous agreement expired in 2020.

CEPU members have three times rejected SAPN’s 3% wage offer and its demand for a two-tier wage structure with new recruits paid 20% less. Management also wants to change job security, remove limitations and conditions for the use of hired labor and contract workers. The CEPU is demanding annual wage increases below inflation of just 3.5% under a three-year deal.

New South Wales: Randwick Council contracts garbage collectors’ strike

Refuse collection truck drivers in Randwick Council, an eastern suburb of Sydney, stopped work for 24 hours on Monday in a dispute with their employer, waste management contractor Cleanaway.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has been negotiating a new company agreement with Cleanaway for several months. The union accused the company of trying to strip workers of the rights, entitlements and protections they had with Randwick Council’s former waste contractor.

A TWU spokesman said after Cleanaway took over the council’s waste management contract in March 2021, it refused to protect workers’ pay and conditions under an earlier deal with Randwick Council and Cleanaway.

TWU accused Cleanaway of circumventing the union and using bullying tactics by going directly to workers with an unnegotiated EA and demanding they sign the agreement.

Meanwhile, Cleanaway truckers in Tullamarine, Victoria, have taken industrial action in their dispute over the company’s proposed deal. The TWU says the drivers haven’t had a raise in almost two years and that Cleanaway wants to trade terms in exchange for a raise.

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