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Britain’s biggest rail strike in 30 years began this week
More than 40,000 workers quit their jobs this week in Britain’s biggest rail strike since 1989.
Network Rail workers and 13 other rail companies are fighting for a pay rise of at least 7% as skyrocketing inflation eats away at their wages. Railway bosses bid a maximum of 3% with conditions affecting new hires.
Railway workers went on a 24-hour strike on Tuesday and Thursday, with another strike planned for Saturday. Rail, Sea and Transport Workers’ Union boss Mick Lynch said the BBC Saturday’s strike will likely not be the last unless they reach an agreement.
In response to the strikesThe UK government has allowed employers to replace striking workers with temporary workers. It also increased the amount that unions can be fined for ‘unlawful’ strike action from £250,000 to £1 million.
“I am afraid we cannot allow the unions to win this dispute in the very militant way they have been operating,” said UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said Sky News.
Tunisians strike over referendum, judges sacked
Several strikes erupted in Tunisia over the weekend as hundreds of protesters demonstrated against President Kais Saied’s forthcoming referendum and a separate decision to sack 57 judges.
On Saturday, the Free Constitutional Party and its supporters took to the streets of Tunis to oppose Saied’s decision to change the country’s constitution to give more power to the presidency. He wants to put the new constitution through a referendum on July 25.
“Tunisians are starving, public finances are collapsing, but Saied doesn’t care. He only focuses on a personal project to enforce his constitution. We will not accept that,” said Abir Moussi, leader of the Free Constitutional Party of Tunisia. said to the crowd.
Saturday’s protest was followed by more demonstrations on Sunday, led by the Heilsfront coalition.
Tunisia is currently suffering from high unemployment and inflation, which have been on the rise 18.4% and 7.5% respectively. Last week, the country’s largest union, the three-million-strong UGTT, led a nationwide strike against Saied’s plans to freeze wages and cut subsidies.
Over the weekend, Tunisian judges also extended their strike for a third week to protest Saied’s dismissal of 57 judges, the Tunisian Judges Union confirmed said was politically motivated.
Zimbabwe’s teachers and healthcare workers are on strike to demand US dollar wages
On Monday, teachers and health workers in Zimbabwe went on strike to demand the government pay them in US dollars as the country suffers from hyperinflation and their currency is rapidly depreciating.
Healthcare workers on an indefinite strike held placards and danced outside Zimbabwe’s main hospitals on Monday. Al Jazeera reported. A union leader told the news agency the first day had been a success. “We have been invited to a meeting by the Health Services Board and the Department. That hadn’t happened in the past 14 months,” said Dr. Tapiwanashe Kusotera, the chair of Health Apex, a federation of health unions.
“We just want to live a better life. Some of us are married, some of us have children, some have responsibilities. So with current salaries we can’t afford’ to support our families, Denford Masona of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association said Voice of America.
The country’s teachers’ union began a five-day strike on Monday.
Both groups of public workers are demanding US dollar pay of US$540 a month – the amount they were earning in 2018 before the country reintroduced its national currency. Nurses now make about $80 a month. Zimbabwe’s inflation rate rose to over 130% in May.
Migrant workers kicked out of Singapore over Facebook post
Zakir Hossain, who often speaks out on migrant worker issues in Singapore, was denied an extension of his work visa in retaliation for his lobbying.
In a Facebook post last October, Hossian, a Bangladeshi construction worker who has been in Singapore for 19 years, said the workers were treated as “slaves” and the dormitories they lived in were “labor camps.” He also said soldiers and armored vehicles surrounded a dormitory where riot police were called after riots broke out.
Hossain believes his permit was not renewed because of his comments on issues such as high brokerage fees and workplace harassment.
“Singapore is my second home and I want it to get better as a country. For that, she needs to learn to listen to people, even migrants,” he continued.
In an opinionSingapore’s Labor Ministry claimed Hossain’s Facebook post was “false” because there were “no soldiers, let alone armored vehicles,” although a Channel NewsAsia report shows police officers in protective gear and armored vehicles in front of the dormitory.
“A foreigner’s ability to work in Singapore is not an entitlement,” the ministry wrote. “He’s exceeded his reception.”
Chile’s copper workers strike after smelter closures
Workers at state-owned mining company Codelco in Chile – the world’s largest copper producer – went on an indefinite strike on Wednesday after the government forced a foundry to close.
The Copper Workers Federation, which represents around 50,000 workers, is asking the government to invest $54 million to upgrade the plant to meet the highest environmental standards.
The smelter was shut down after more than 100 people in the area fell ill with sulfur dioxide poisoning.
The president of the union, Amador Pantoja, said per a report by Radio Universidad de Chile that the government should “give the country what it really needs” to get out of poverty.
Edinburgh sex workers raise £20,000 to fight strip club ban
Britain’s United Sex Workers have raised £20,000 to fund a judicial review Edinburgh City Council strip club ban. If not repealed, the rule would force all strip clubs in the city to close by April next year and bar new clubs from opening.
About 100 strippers working in the city’s four sex clubs will lose their jobs and put their lives at risk, according to United Sex Workers.
“By depriving workers of livelihoods during an unprecedented livelihood crisis, local councils are forcing us to choose between poverty or more dangerous underground sex work,” the organizer, who names Audrey, told the Edinburgh Times.
If they successfully lift the ban, Audrey said it would “guarantee the rights of thousands of workers” as “venues across the UK will be attacked”.
A council member stood by the sex workers and said the ban was “a moral decision based on false arguments”.
“It’s not our job to tell women where they can and can’t work, especially in the current economic climate,” said Susan Rae, a green councilor from Leith Walk, an Edinburgh parish. “They didn’t like it when they heard that strippers were sending their kids to private schools with their kids. The judgmental tone of the debate was terrible.”
International news and strikes taking place elsewhere
This was written with the assistance of Rachel Phua, our newest Bill Greider Fellow for Labor Reporting.
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