Sunday, 27 October 2013

International notes and updates

Saudi Arabia

Sixteen women detained as a result of driving protest

October 26th saw a number of women taking direct action against an unofficial driving ban in Saudi Arabia (see post below). The campaign was a small, but brave attempt at obtaining women's rights in Saudi society which operates a form of sexual apartheid, with women having next to no rights and subject to the oppressive for of male "guardianship" entrenched in the Wahhabi form of Islam promoted by the state.

In addition their website being hijacked by hackers, several of the women have been arrested as this report from Gulfnews outlines:
Riyadh: At least 16 Saudi women have received fines for taking the wheel on a day set by activists to defy the kingdom’s traditional ban on female driving, police and reports said on Sunday.
Only few women braved official threats of punishment and drove on Saturday in response to an online campaign headlined "Women’s driving is a choice".
"Police stopped six women driving in Riyadh, and fined them 300 riyals (Dh293.67) each," said the capital’s police deputy spokesman, Colonel Fawaz Al Miman.
Each of the women, along with her male guardian — who could be a father, husband, brother, uncle, or grandson — had to "sign a pledge to respect the kingdom’s laws", Miman told AFP......
The absolute monarchy is the only country in the world where women are barred from driving. Public gatherings are officially banned.

These women must not be abandoned by those of who fight for human rights. Women's rights are human rights!

South Korea

Teachers union "banned"

Earlier this month I published an appeal by Eric lee of LabourStart calling on trade unionists world wide to stop the South Korean Government "delegalise" one of the teaching unions. The Korean Times reports that this has now gone ahead:
The government stripped the nation’s biggest teachers’ union of its legal status Thursday for not abiding by an order to evict nine members who were fired by the previous government.
Employment and Labor Minister Phang Ha-nam said that the ministry notified the progressive Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU) that the union was no longer a legal entity because it refused to change a clause in its charter that allows teachers who are fired to retain membership.
“We cannot grant legal status to an organization which does not follow the law,” said Phang at a press briefing.
According to the Teachers’ Union Law, a union cannot accept teachers who have been fired as members.
The KTU criticized the government for depriving it of its legal status and filed an injunction with a Seoul district court to appeal the decision and have it nullified. The union also said that it will continue to fight against the government to regain its legal status.
“We will continue our efforts to improving the country’s education system regardless of whether we are a legitimate or outsider union,” said Kim Jung-hoon, chairman of the KTU.
This comes at a time when Public Sector unions in particular are under pressure not just in South Korea, but Britain and Canada as well.


Civil service unions right to strike under threat

The following and disturbing report appeared on CBC News last week:

The federal government is moving ahead with plans to strip certain public servants of the right to strike.
The second budget implementation act, which was introduced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty Tuesday, will make it illegal for any bargaining unit declared to provide an essential service to strike.
Instead, such workers will be forced into arbitration in cases of a contract dispute. The rule will apply to any union where 80 per cent or more of the positions are considered to be necessary for providing an essential service.
The proposed legislation goes onto say that "the employer has the exclusive right to determine that a service is essential and the number of positions required to provide that service."
In other words, the government decides when the rule applies. "A democratically elected government should have the right to identify what Canadians consider 'essential services,'" read an email sent to CBC News from Treasury Board President Tony Clement's office.
The Harper government also defended its intent to set public service pay and benefit levels. "The proposed amendments will bring savings, streamline practices and bring them in line with other jurisdictions," said the government's emailed comments. "Our government will sit at a bargaining table on behalf of the taxpayer where the rules are fair and balanced."
Canada's largest union representing public-sector workers says it was caught by surprise by these changes.
The Public Service Alliance of Canada says it is too early to say exactly what the impact will be — but they know they don't like it.
"This bill represents a far-reaching attack on public service workers and the unions that represent them," said PSAC President Robyn Benson.
"The government is upsetting the balance of labour relations, and is showing a callous disregard for due process, health and safety and the collective bargaining rights of every single public service employee," Benson said.
"The collective bargaining rights and the protections of workers who face discrimination, who do dangerous work, or who are treated unfairly will be undermined by the proposals in this bill." 
No doubt Frances Maude will be watching these developments with a view to enacting them in this country following severe cuts to civil service trade union facilities implemented by the Coalition Government earlier this year.


French Prostitutes demonstrate against new sex laws

Tendance Coatsey reports a demonstration by French Prostitutes:

We are Whores, We are Proud, with the Socialist Party, it’s War!
Some 300 prostitutes, many of whom wore white or red masks, demonstrated on Saturday in Paris against a bill tabled by the Socialist group in the National Assembly (Parliament) which will penalise penalise customers, said a journalist from AFP.
Holding placards “Customers penalised = murdered prostitutes” and chanting “We are whores, we are  proud, with the PS it  is war ,  prostitutes, including   trans,  marched in Paris.
More on this can be found at the Sex Workers Union website.

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