THE WORLD OF LABOR — June 11, 2011

By Harry Kelber

World-Wide Survey Shows Repression Is Increasing

The Annual Survey, conducted across 143 countries, paints a picture of people fighting for greater economic rights and freedom to organize, with many governments and businesses responding with repression, firing, violence, death threats and murder. The survey was released by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) on June 8 at the 100th ILO Conference.

Covering the year 2010, the survey reveals:

• 90 murders of trade union activists (49 in Colombia);

• 75 recorded death threats; at least 2,500 arrests, and

• 5,000 firings of workers for union activity.

The survey shows that many governments encourage repression by not enforcing labor laws, hiring few inspectors and permitting discrimination against migrant workers.

Russians Move to Ban Temp Agency Labor

Russia’s Duma (Parliament) has voted in favor of a bill, which if adopted, will effectively ban the use of temporary agency labor in Russia. The legislation was proposed last November by two trade union leaders who are also Members of the Duma and who received massive support from trade unions around the country.

Data supplied by various associations say that between 70,000 and 300,000 people are hired as temporary employees—a low figure when set against Russia’s economically active population of 76 million.

A survey documented widespread violation of basic rights and pay of temporary workers in factories and farms. Passage of the bill would clearly identify employer responsibility by banning labor market intermediaries. It would therefore represent an important advance for protecting worker rights, not only in Russia, but throughout East Europe and Central Asia.

Police Attack Renewed Strikes in Egypt

Essam Sharaf, Egypt’s interim Prime Minister, released a statement on June 8 announcing the government’s decision to begin applying the anti-strike law criminalizing any form of action that disrupts work and production. Soon after, police descended on Maglis El-Shaab Street, arresting at least seven farmers and using force to disperse the rest.

Workers are on strike at Nasr Car Company. Some have gathered in front of the government Cabinet offices, while others filled surrounding streets and buildings. Strikers are being supported by farmers, students, and other sector employees.

Waleed Sami, speaking on behalf of the strikers, announced that, starting today (June 9), employees would begin an open-ended strike, spanning the length of Egypt from Alexandria to Aswan. He added that on June 15, they would begin an open-ended sit-in at the Egyptian Museum.

Bahrein Puts Medical Staff on Security Trial

Doctors and nurses who treated injured protesters during the unrest in Bahrein went on trial in a security court on June 6, accused of participating in efforts to overthrow the monarchy.

The prosecution of 47 health professionals is a sign that Bahrein’s rulers will not end their relentless pursuit of the opposition, despite officially lifting emergency rule last week. The doctors and nurses were charged with taking part in illegal strikes and participating in efforts to overthrow the Sunni monarchy.

Medical staff in Bahrein repeatedly said they were under professional duty to treat all casualties. They strongly rejected claims by the authorities that helping anti-government protesters was akin to supporting their cause.

The Government Wants Unions to Pay for Strikes

The Czech government will demand that trade unions Pay for whatever damages occur, if they follow through with their planned strike on June 11, said Prime Minister Petr Necas The strike would violate an injunction, based on the verdict of an independent court, Necas said.

Jaroslav Zavadil, chairman of rthe Bohemian and Moravian Confederation of Unions, said the government had resorted to totalitarian practices. The unions will not drop their labor action, he said, adding that “Our lawyers are examining the situation. It certainly does not mean we will drop the strike.”

The planned work stoppage is a protest against the government’s pension, health and tax reforms that are to achieve a balanced budget by 2016. Necas said the Cabinet was ready to negotiate with the unions to settle the dispute.

Strikes Hit Greece in Protests at More Austerity

About 2,000 strikers marched through central Athens, hours before Prime Minister George Papandreou was to convene the Cabinet to approve more austerity measures through 2015

The austerity plan includes a 6.4 billion euros (US $9.4 billion) package of spending cuts and tax hikes for this year; new austerity measures for 2012-2015 and a 50 billion euro (US $73 billion privatization plan.

Under the slogan, “We Won’t Sell,” workers at state-owned companies were holding strikes throughout the day. Public transport workers walked off the job, as did workers at ports, post offices, banks and TV stations. Angry Greek citizens were venting their rage over each new austerity measure in protests at numerous public places.

To keep informed about workers and their unions in foreign countries, read our weekly column, “The World of Labor,”which we post here every weekend and on our two web sites: and