Union close to CPN-M calls two-day strike over wage
KATHMANDU, JUN 06 – A week after the minimum wage of the industrial workers was determined under a tripartite agreement, supposed industrial peace is being threatened by All Nepal Revolutionary Trade Union Federation (ANRTUF), The federation, which was not part of the deal, on Wednesday announced a two-day strike on Thursday and Friday against the Minimum Wage Determination Committee’s decision to set the minimum wage at Rs 8,000 per month against its demand of Rs 15,000. The committee determined a daily wage at Rs 318 against its demand of Rs 700.
In its press release, the ANRTUF has also warned of an indefinite strike if its 25-point demand, including the higher wage hike, is not fulfilled. In response, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) asked the trade union concerned to annul its decision stating that such a protest would not only disturb the employer-employees relationship but also violate industrial peace and security in the country. The disgruntled trade union said that all the industrial units would be shut down during the two-day strike. As a prelude to the strike, the trade union picketed several industrial estates and organised corner meets on Wednesday.
ANRTUF Coordinator Ram Deep Acharya said that the government and the private sector underlooked their concerns and negotiated with the trade unions that were not serious about the interest of workers while excluding their unions from the negotiating table. The Minimum Wage Determination Committee comprises the government, employers and Joint Trade Union Coordination Centre representing 11 trade unions but there was no representative from the ANRTUF. The committee had increased the minimum wage by 29 percent on May 27.
Pashupathi Murarka, chairman of Employers’ Council (EC) at the FNCCI, said the agitating trade union and the government should resolve the matter without disturbing the industrial operation. He also said despite their request to include all the trade unions during the negotiation, the government failed to do so, thus inviting a trouble. Achut Pandey, general secretary of the Nepal Trade Union Congress said the ANRTUF protest would have no impact as all major 11 trade unions have agreed to the government-introduced pay structure.
“The protest programme itself is ethically wrong as the ANRTUF has not been legally recognised.” Krishna Hari Puskar, director general at the Department of Labour (DoL), also echoed Pandey saying that the ANRTUF had not been included in the negotiation process as it does not have any legal status. “Its protest will have no impact at all as all other trade unions are content with the newly revised wage package,” Puskar said, warning that the trade union would be brought to book if it is found of disturbing the industrial peace and obstructing operation.
Maoist trade union to protest
Employers say their right to economic freedom will be curtailed
HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE KATHMANDU: Employers have appealed to the All Nepal Revolutionary Trade Union Federation — the labour wing of CPN-Maoist — not to resort to strikes and disturb the good industrial environment by respecting the right to economic freedom that is also a basic human right. The CPN-Maoist affiliated trade union has announced an industrial strike tomorrow and the day after against the proposed minimum wage set by the Minimum Wage Fixation Committee.
The committee that has members representing employers, employees and the government had — after several rounds of talks — finalised a monthly salary of Rs 8,000 from Rs 6,200, and daily wage of Rs 318 from Rs 231, on May 28. But the CPN-Maoist affiliated trade union has been opposing the hike calling it insufficient. It has been asking for a minimum monthly salary of Rs 15,000. “We will strike against the proposed wage hike,” said coordinator of the federation Ramdeep Acharya. “We will close all factories and industries on Thursday and Friday,” he said, adding that the federation had organised a sit-in protest today. “The federation will not take back its protest programmes until the minimum wage decision is revoked.
The agreement is against the interest of workers.” However, the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) has appealed to the trade union to take back its protest programmes. “The private sector is passing through a difficult time due to regular power outage that has limited the capacity of industries, high interest rates, labour strikes and politicisation of labour force due to the lengthening political transition,” FNCCI said, adding that the forceful closure of industries will curtail economic freedom — that comes under basic human rights — of employers.
FNCCI has also requested the government to create an environment to operate industries safely and smoothly. “The forceful closure will disturb the cordial relation between employers and employees,” it added. The Minimum Wage Fixation Committee has fixed the minimum salary on the basis of inflation rate published by the central bank. “If the trade union forcefully closes the industries, employers themselves will have no option other than to close the industries,” according to FNCCI.
In the past 10 years, the contribution of the manufacturing sector has seen a constant decrease, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics that has revealed that the contribution of the manufacturing sector is projected to drop to 6.17 per cent in the current fiscal year from 8.50 in 2001-02. Likewise, the average capacity utilisation of the industrial sector in the first half of the current fiscal year 2013-14 has also dropped to 44.7 per cent, according to the central bank’s recent report ‘Economic Activities Study Report.’
Vandals strike Chaudhary Group‚ threaten research centre
KATHMANDU: An unidentified gang of eight to nine persons who introduced themselves as cadres of the CPN-Maoist affiliated All Nepal Revolutionary Trade Union Federation (ANRTUF) attempted to vandalise the office of the Gongabu-based Lomas Herbal Research Centre on Thursday. However, police said that they fled the scene threatening Pradeep Jung Pandey, the Vice Chairman of Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) who is the owner of the Centre. Talking to THT Online Inspector at Gongabu police post Kishore Lamsal confirmed that the gang left the scene without causing any vandalism.
Meanwhile, an unidentified gang vandalised the office of the Chaudhary Group in Sanepa. Police suspected that ANRTUF members are behind the vandalism saying the unionists took to the action after the office defied their strike today. The ANRTUF, trade union of the CPN-Maoist had announced an industrial strike for today and tomorrow as well against the purported minimum wage of Rs 8000 set by the Minimum Wage Fixation Committee. They are asking to increase the minimal wage to Rs 15000.
Jilin slaughterhouse blaze site off limits as relatives mourn
Police in Dehui , Jilin , have tightened security around a poultry slaughterhouse where at least 120 workers were killed in a fire, as bereaved relatives prepare to mark a burial day without the bodies of their loved ones. Much of the main road leading to the Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Co in Mishazi town had been off limits since yesterday. Authorities were wary of social unrest breaking out today – the third day after the deaths, which is considered a day to lay the dead to rest, according to traditions in much of northern China. Quoting official sources, state-run media outlets such as Xinhua reported that authorities had identified 67 of the 120 bodies recovered as of late Tuesday, and nearly 80 people had been taken to hospital. Many people were still frantically searching for their loved ones yesterday.
Business owner Niu Fubiao , 36, went to the site for the second day yesterday, seeking information about his wife, Liu Fang . But riot police beat him up and detained him for several hours, Niu’s brother-in-law Liu Biao said. “We just want to talk to someone to get information about my sister to get some peace of mind, but no one is willing to talk to us,” Liu said. “What did we do to deserve this? We have already lost a loved one.” The State Council yesterday vowed to conduct a thorough investigation into the tragedy, after hearing from Minister of Public Security Guo Shengkun , who had just returned from a visit to the site.
As authorities made slow progress in identifying victims’ remains amid the public’s frantic scramble for answers, the tragedy could be seen taking a heavy toll on the victims’ relatives. Some family members were so traumatised that they had to be admitted to hospital for problems such as heart attacks and hypertension, said Jiang Xiuling , who was tending to his elderly mother at Dehui People’s Hospital. He said his daughter, a line worker in her early 20s, remained unaccounted for. Jiang said he was angry at the authorities for not approaching families about counselling or compensation.
But he added that he was currently focused on caring for his mother, who suffered a heart attack after learning that her granddaughter was among those missing. Line worker Zhao Yaqin , 40, was fortunate to survive Monday’s blaze. She was admitted to Dehui’s Fuyang Hospital with a sore throat. Zhao said she and several co-workers in the hospital had not received medication for nearly a day, and had been told to wait indefinitely for respiratory equipment to be shipped in for treatment. “We’ve been told not to worry about anything, including our hospital bills. But how could we possibly not worry if they start treating us like this just two days after our ordeal,” she said.
Precarious Calm Prevails Following Jordan Unrest
A precarious calm prevailed in the city of Maan in southern Jordan yesterday [June 5], six days following the bloody unrest that erupted between protesters and police forces during a protest rally against the killing of citizens by the police last week. Government sources said that the attorney general of the State Security Court filed charges “of carrying out terrorist acts, and unlawful assembly and rioting” against 13 of 15 detainees — against the background of the recent events — who were referred to him by the Directorate of Public Security.
Witnesses told Al-Hayat that clashes between angry citizens and police forces lasted until dawn yesterday, before calm prevailed over the city and street activity slowly resumed. Two days after the civil disobedience that was announced by tribal leaders, some shops were opened, whereas the majority of shops, bakeries and pharmacies continued to be closed, and classes were held as normal in the schools, where final exams are being given. The city streets were empty of the heavy security presence of the previous days. Police officers were gathered in front of the government departments and city entrances.
A meeting organized by tribal leaders in the city concluded that the solution lies in the intervention of King Abdullah II of Jordan. The protesters threatened to announce the renewal of armed clashes and civil disobedience, rejecting what they called “the state’s negligence in disclosing the identity of the killers.” Ali al-Maani, a resident of the city, said that “ignoring the citizens’ demands will exacerbate the situation, and will not result in a truce.” Mazen al-Khoutab, another citizen, said that “the state must disclose the identity of those who appeared in the video footage, to soothe the soul and reduce tension.” The Directorate of Public Security in Jordan said the dead “were two dangerous wanted men, who were killed in the clashes [with police] after having broken into southern quarries.”
However, videos posted by activists on social networking sites show that these two men were killed by people for revenge. The validity of the video footage is being questioned by the Directorate of Public Security, which said that they “are fabricated.” Maan Governor Abdul Karim Rawajfeh said that the competent authorities “arrested seven people who appeared in the video footage.” In Al-Hussein bin Talal University, a public university in Maan, violence erupted a month ago, resulting in the deaths of four young men and injuring dozens of others, following a bloody conflict between students affiliated with Maan clans and others hailing from the southern desert and representing the Howeitat tribe.
Cities in northern Jordan, particularly Mafraq and Ramtha, witnessed protests against the deaths of two young men whose car overturned while being chased by the Jordanian Customs Department. An official statement said that a customs patrol “asked the driver of the car to stop, but he refused. This prompted the patrol to chase the car; however, it overturned on the main street, and two deaths resulted.” The protesters blocked the roads and set fire to car tires, while others tried to break into the security facility, before the police fired tear gas and live ammunition in the air.
25 people indicted in anti-government riots in 2010
Rome, June 5 – Twenty-five people were indicted Wednesday on charges arising from violent clashes between protesters and police in Rome in 2010.A trial date has been set for November 16 on the charges that arose when protesters and police fought viciously on December 14, 2010. Rioting broke out in the capital after ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s government narrowly won a crunch confidence vote that brought out angry demonstrators. Police said hooded youths infiltrated what were meant to be peaceful student demonstrations and started a riot in which over 100 were hurt, including at least 57 police.
Eight Cambodian Labor Activists Charged Over Violence
A Cambodian court on Wednesday charged eight labor activists with inciting violence and destroying property following clashes between rival unions at a factory making clothing for the U.S. sportswear company Nike. Several thousand garment workers protested outside the Kampong Speu provincial court in southern Cambodia as the eight remained in detention after they were charged. The eight were arrested on Monday after police suppressed a riot by up to 4,000 workers at the Sabrina plant, just west of Phnom Penh.
The violence followed clashes between two unions—the Cambodian Garment Workers Union (CGWU), which had urged an end to the strike at Sabrina, and the Free Trade Union of Cambodia, which had argued that the strike be allowed to continue. Kompong Speu Court Director Khlok Pich said the eight union activists faced two charges—“intentionally inciting to cause violence and initiating damages against the factory.”
He said the demonstrations outside the court did not impact the hearing. Release FTU spokesman Pich Ponnray told RFA’s Khmer Service that the workers had gathered in the hope that the court would free their representatives. “The workers want the union members to be released and allowed to return to work,” he said. About 100 riot police were at the scene but there were no clashes. Khlok Pich said it was up to the court to decide if the unions want to seek bail for their representatives. FTU lawyer Kuch Ratha said he would press bail for the union members.
Bangladesh police open fire at collapsed garment factory protest
Police in Bangladesh have opened fired at a protest by former workers of a factory making clothes for western retailers that collapsed, who had taken to the streets to complain at their treatment by the authorities since the disaster six weeks ago. The protests took place close to the site of the former Rana Plaza factory, now entirely demolished, in Savar, Many garment factories are concentrated in the town near the capital Dhaka.
The death toll from the Rana Plaza disaster now stands at 1,130. Hundreds of protesters, including former workers as well as relatives of victims killed or injured, were demonstrating to demand compensation or outstanding salaries promised by the government and the main body representing local employers in the booming industry, the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA). Sheikh Farid Uddin, a Savar police official, said: “Workers protested for their compensation and back pay. They stopped traffic on the highway for three hours. We requested them to clear the road but they became agitated and began damaging public transport [vehicles]. We have detained two people.”
Protesters denied causing any damage. “We did not commit any vandalism but still the police opened fire and [used] teargas,” said Fatema Khatun, 20, a protester and survivor of the collapse, who said she had yet to receive outstanding pay. According to the local newspaper Prothom Alo, around 50 people were injured when police charged with batons. Police officials said any firing had been directed into the air. There have been several such protests in recent weeks. The BGMEA says outstanding dues have been paid.
More than 1,000 personnel to secure area south of Border for G8
A major Garda and Defence Forces security operation is being put in place involving more than 1,000 personnel to secure the area just south of the Border from where the G8 summit is set to take place in Co Fermanagh. It is the first major security operation in which the Garda has based so much of its information and intelligence gathering on the study of websites and the Facebook and Twitter accounts linked to known international anti-establishment groups and organised protest groups.
The summit, which begins in just under a fortnight, is a security threat flashpoint because of the number of world leaders that will be present, including those from the US, UK, Canada, Russia, Germany, Italy, France and Japan, with US military personnel assisting the security operation for the summit. While it takes place at the Lough Erne resort north of the Border near Enniskillen, a major security operation is being put in place just south of the Border to control any violence that may flare on the fringes of the summit and also to prevent the Republic being used as a launching pad for demonstration or terrorist groups, from both Ireland and abroad. 900 gardaí Some 900 gardaí will be in the region for the period covering the summit on June 17th and 18th and the lead-up to it.
Gardaí will place a particular emphasis on securing the Border, splitting the Borderlands into strategic policing areas, with major static checkpoints established for up to five days to monitor any threat that may be moving between the jurisdictions. While hundreds of public order unit gardaí will be on standby on a 24-hour basis in fleets of vehicles to be moved into position if rioting or any other on-street disorder flares, Assistant Commissioner Kieran Kenny said the Garda would adopt a high tolerance approach to protestors, whom he said were entitled to gather and demonstrate. “But if there is trouble we will be ready to deal with it and we are confident we have the resources in place,” he said. Gardaí have asked the Courts Service to have special late-night and early-morning sittings available to process any protestors arrested. The Defence Forces is also aiding the operation, though theirs is a support role and the numbers of personnel are much smaller than for the Garda operation.
Bomb disposal teams will be on standby in the region to deal with any suspicious devices on the southern side of the Border. Garda sources said that following a number of viable devices being found and hoax alerts triggered during Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Dublin two years ago, the bomb disposal teams will “almost certainly” be needed over the key five-day period. As well as public order gardaí, there will also be armed members from the Emergency Response Unit, armed Regional Support Unit, Dog Unit, Water Unit, Special Detective Unit and National Surveillance Unit.
Garda and Defence Forces helicopters will also be in the skies for surveillance. Port checks Gardaí say that while they are monitoring the threat from dissident republicans active on both sides of the Border, checks have also been put in place at airports and ferry ports to identify a wide range of foreign protest groups – from anti-capitalist factions to anti-war protestors – to keep on top of any threat posed by them and also any threat from foreign terrorist groups. In the event of an extreme security threat, such as a terrorist attack or very large-scale rioting, Garda had the option of turning off the mobile phone network to block those involved from communicating and co-ordinating trouble.