Contractors Building U.S. Embassy in Honduras Allege Labor Abuses
More than 900 construction workers in Honduras building a new U.S. embassy went on strike on Wednesday and Thursday to demand fair treatment.
The contractor, B.L. Harbert, was previously accused of underpaying and abusing workers who built U.S. embassies in Ghana and Namibia.
The workers in Honduras say they were forced to sign illegal labor contracts that do not protect them from work injuries, according to HCH. The workers are also asking for permanent contracts. Some were made to sign hourly contracts, which is also illegal, according to Radio America.
Adrienne Pine, a medical anthropologist in Honduras, says workers pay for their own health insurance, are fined if they miss a day of work regardless of the reason, and are supplied with rotten food for lunch. Those injured on the job have not been given any sick leave or compensation.
Credit: Adrienne Pine
B.L. Harbert is “revising its contracts” to comply with new labor laws, the U.S. Embassy in Honduras said in a statement
U.K. Train Drivers, Station Staff Walkouts Likely
U.K. train drivers under the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) may strike for the first time in 27 years as workers from the 10 companies it represents hit the ballots. ASLEF head Mick Whelan told the Financial Times walkouts are “likely” as three companies have already agreed to strike. The drivers are fighting for a pay raise in line with the U.K. inflation rate.
“We believe [strikes] will have a massive effect,” Whelan said. “There will be a summer of disruption.”
Members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, which represent 6,000 white collar rail employees, are also threatening a walkout. A spokesman from the union told the Evening Standard its London staff were on starting salaries “in the early £20,000s” and that one member said they were “better off working at Lidl,” a European supermarket chain.
The two unions’ actions come after 40,000 members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) walked off their jobs in June, causing the country’s entire rail network to come to a standstill. The RMT has not ruled out further strikes if they cannot come to an agreement over pay and working conditions with Network Rail and train operators.
Read more at the Financial Times
SAS Pilots Strike, Airline Files for Bankruptcy
Pilots from Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) went on strike this week to fight against the airline’s decision to set up two subsidiaries — SAS Link and SAS Connect — to hire new pilots at lower salaries and skirt around its previous agreement to re-hire pilots laid off during the pandemic.
Half of all SAS scheduled flights have been grounded since Monday, when 900 SAS pilots from Norway, Denmark, and Sweden walked off their jobs. Around 30,000 passengers a day have been affected.
Meanwhile, the airline has filed for bankruptcy protection in New York, which would put civil litigation on hold while the business reorganizes its finances, the Associated Press reported.
SAS pilots union head Roger Klokset decried the move, saying that SAS “had stretched negotiations and mediation from November last year until the day before the application” and never intended to come to an agreement with the pilots.
Read more at the Associated Press via ABC News
Jordan Port Workers Protest Chlorine Gas Leak Deaths
Workers at Jordan’s Red Sea port of Aqaba are striking to protest dangerous work conditions.
Thirteen people died and over 300 workers were injured last Monday after a crane loading chlorine containers onto a ship dropped one, causing it to explode, Reuters reported.
Union leader Ahmad Amayra said they are “committed to the stoppage until our demands to provide the right industrial safety environment” are met.
The incident could have turned catastrophic if dozens of workers ending a shift were still on-site during the leak, industry experts said. Winds also blew the toxic gas away from populated areas to the outlying desert. Industry experts say safety measures at the country’s sole commercial port have been subpar.
Read more at Reuters via U.S. News & World Report
Myanmese Workers Go Hungry Under Junta Rule
Factory workers in Myanmar are “barely left with any money to buy food” as wage theft, re-hiring salaried workers as daily wage laborers, and a union ban run rampant under military rule in Myanmar, one of the country’s union leaders told Myanmar Now in an interview.
Since the February 2021 coup, 1.6 million employees have lost their jobs nationwide. Some 16 labor groups have also been outlawed, said the Coordination Committee of Trade Unions Secretary General Ye Naing Win.
Meanwhile, the majority of labor organizations that supported these workers have left the country.
He added that many factories have shut down since the coup, some workers’ unions have closed, and others are no longer running. Strikes are illegal under the current administration.
But he attested to the strong will of the workers. “If tens of thousands of workers are starving, they will go out on the streets to protest, without anyone even rallying them.”
Turkey’s Healthcare Workers Strike After Doctor is Murdered
Healthcare workers in Turkey have gone on a two-day strike after the murder of a doctor in the central city of Konya. The workers are angry that they are not adequately protected against violence on the job.
On Wednesday, cardiologist Ekrem Karakaya and his secretary were murdered by a man who was upset over the death of his mother, who was Karakaya’s patient. The man, Hacı Mahmut Akcay, died following the attack.
“Violence is a predictable and preventable social problem, and this problem can be overcome with overarching policies aimed at solving it,” the Turkish Medical Association said in a statement.
Violence against medical workers rose by 62% in 2021, when 364 medical workers were attacked and 316 lost their lives, a report by the Union of Health and Social Service Workers found. Only 11% of the attackers were imprisoned.
The government banned media coverage of the murder soon after the incident, Balkan Insight reports. Media outlets that do not adhere to the ban can be fined.
Flight Attendants In Canada Support Mask Mandates
Many Canadian flight attendants are glad that the government has chosen not to ease face masks, according to a survey of thousands of flight attendants by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Paddle Your Own Kanoo reported.
The flight attendants hope airlines will continue providing masks and other personal protective equipment even when mask mandates are lifted.
Currently, all crew and passengers aged over six years old must don a mask on all domestic flights and international flights to and from Canada.
The country’s approach is markedly different from the U.S., where a federal mask mandate on airlines was removed in April, with mixed reactions from crew and passengers. Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, America’s largest flight attendants’ union, declined to take a position on the issue.
Read more at Paddle Your Own Kanoo
International News & Strikes Happening Elsewhere
- Parents, Students Demand Nigeria’s Education Minister Resign as University Teachers Strike
- Ghana Teachers Hold Nationwide Strike (Pidgin)
- Norway Oil and Gas Workers End Strike as Government Steps In
- South Africa Unions Sign Pay Deal After Illegal Strike
- Bus Drivers Start Rolling Strikes in Thessaloniki, Greece
- The Care Workers of Rural India are Ready to Strike
- Striking Paris Airport Workers Call New Walkout for July 8-10
- How Coal India Workers’ Strike Over Salary Hike Demand can Cause Blackouts in Country
This was written with assistance from Rachel Phua, our latest Bill Greider Fellow for Labor Reporting. Alright folks, that’s all for today. Donate to help us cover our travel costs to cover the presidential election in Brasil this fall. Please if you can, sign up as one of our 702 recurring donors todaKeep sending ideas, tips, links and comments to [email protected] Thanks again for the support & suggestions.
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