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Issue #1801      November 1, 2017

Region Briefs

Philippines: On October 25, there had been 13 days of organised picketing outside the Amertron factories after a brutal display of anti-union action. Amertron Electronics is a semiconductor and optoelectronics producer. In its industrial sector workers have been repetitively been exposed to toxic chemicals and has recently sacked 532 labour activists. In September workers at the factory took action over many health and safety issues, as well as wages and health insurance. The company, which employs around 2,700 workers over two sites, refused negotiation with workers while covertly terminating their contracts. The semiconductor industry globally has been a sector where many workers have been repeatedly exposed to toxic chemicals.

India: On October 19 in Bengaluru, a contractor brought five local goons along with him who were armed with metal rods and threatened the pourakarmikas (female sanitation workers and garbage collectors) who were protesting and demanding payment for unpaid labour. The contractor threatened rape and used casteist slurs as intimidation tactics. The pourakarmikas haven’t been paid their salaries by the contractor who hired them for the last three months.

Pakistan: On October 26, a Pakistani court issued an arrest warrant for the ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif in two cases of corruption spiralling out of the Panama Papers leak. He is currently in London with his wife who is undergoing cancer treatment, and hasn’t returned to Pakistan since he was charged with corruption earlier in the month. Despite reports indicating he would return, Sharif is the 15th premier in Pakistan’s 70-year history to be ousted before completing a full term in government. The charges stem from leaked documents, known as the Panama Papers which showed the family held unreported assets overseas, however Sharif’s family has denied any wrong doing.

Indonesia: On October 26, fireworks at Warehouse Firecrackers in Cengklong Village, Kosambi, Tangerang District were ignited. At least 47 people have been killed and 35 injured as a result and the site is currently being cooled to collect evidence to determine what caused the explosion. Fireworks are illegal in Indonesia, but it is a law that is rarely enforced. People across Indonesia use fireworks to celebrate weddings and festivals. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. In 2002 eight people were killed when an explosion ripped through a fireworks factory levelling several buildings in Kalibakung, a village about 350 kilometres from Jakarta. Often fireworks are made in small home-based factories without proper safety equipment.

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