This is our update of union news stories from around the world. This week, trouble at Foxconn as Apple launches the iPhone 5, Fashion is brutal, teachers show that strikes work, resistance in Southern Europe, COSATU congress, oppression in Zimbabwe, or …

Walton Pantland

This is our update of union news stories from around the world. This week, trouble at Foxconn as Apple launches the iPhone 5, Fashion is brutal, teachers show that strikes work, resistance in Southern Europe, COSATU congress, oppression in Zimbabwe, organising brick kilns in India.

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1. iPhone 5 and Foxconn factory conditions – read our story here.

  • There is growing worker unrest in China
  • Riots broke out recently at Foxconn
  • Foxconn has a long record of worker abuse, with a high suicide rate of workers
  • The Fair Labor Association – an industry funded body – recently reported that conditions at Foxconn are greatly improved
  • An independent report found that the old abuses persist

2. Fashion is brutal – read our analysis

  • Pakistan factory fires – making jeans for sale in Europe. The factory had been given a clean bill of health by an industry funded body
  • Bangladesh has won the race to the bottom in wages
  • Violent repression of workers’ protests, and the murder of union Aminul Islam
  • Almost all the money made from textiles goes to retailers and brand owners, not to producers
  • It doesn’t have to be this way – the worlds’ biggest textile union, SACTWU, has all sorts of innovative strategies for creating sustainable jobs in fashion – see the article on our website
  • The UK union Equity has created a union for models, who are also exploited
  • We can change this sector by working together – you can start by researching which companies have ethical practice – for instance the Spanish clothing chain Zara has signed a IFA with IndustriAll’s predecessor

3. Teachers, Verizon workers and Quebec students show that strikes work

  • Good articles in Gawker and The Nation
  • Meanwhile teachers in the UK are escalating industrial action against Michael Gove’s policies

4. Resistance works – Greece, Spain and Portugal

  • General strike in Greece on the 26th of September
  • Massive protests in Spain as the government tries to implement more austerity
  • Protesters force the government into a U-turn

5. Terrible news from Namibia, from our comrades at the Manufacturing and Allied Namibian Workers’ Union – one of their head office administrators was murdered at work by her partner – USi would like to send condolences to her family and colleagues

6.Domestic violence remains a major problem, with women more likely to be assaulted or killed by partners or former partners than anyone else

7. Cosatu congress

  • GS Zwelinzima Vavi and President S’dumo Dlamini retain positions
  • There had been attempts to oust Mr Vavi, who is sometimes an outspoken critic of the Government, and is seen as a voice of the poor
  • Speaking at congress, Mr Vavi said that South Africa needed a ‘Lula moment’, referring to the Brazilian experience of using a development state to dramatically move people out of poverty
  • COSATU also announced the launch of a civil society Coalition for a Free Palestine and explicitly made the link between apartheid and the experience of Palestinians. Palestine is an increasingly important issue for unionists around the world, and indeed next month sees the start of the New York sessions of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine
  • Difficult time for unions in SA because of Marikana

8. Zim 6 –

  • Trade union activists in Zimbabwe were arrested and tortured for showing a video about the Arab Spring
  • Support the campaign and hear Tafadzwa Choto’s testimony here

9. India – campaign to organise Brick Kiln workers is going very well – watch our latest report

10. Affiliate – your affiliation fees fund projects like the one in India


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Author avatar

Walton Pantland

South African trade unionist living in Glasgow. Loves whisky, wine, running and the great outdoors. Walton did an MA in Industrial Relations at Ruskin, Oxford, and is interested in how trade unions use new technology to organise.

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