Canada: Locked-out media workers

Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) workers, locked out since Aug. 15, are gaining solidarity in Canada and beyond.

On Sept. 6, reporters and editors at Canadian Press and Broadcast News held a byline and signoff strike to protest CBC’s use of their print and audio material as feeds. CPBN managers signed a contract with CBC the day before the lockout, allowing CBC to use Broadcast News audio feeds on their radio newscasts, turning its workers into “virtual scabs.”

The president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists last week called on AFTRA members not to work with CBC during the lockout.

The 5,500 locked-out workers include all non-managerial CBC employees outside Moncton, New Brunswick, and the province of Quebec. The main issue is CBC’s demand for unlimited contracting-out and use of temporary workers.

“Does that mean parents can also have temporary children, and that you can sit down with your bank manager and negotiate a temporary mortgage?” British Columbia Federation of Labor President Jim Sinclair asked on Labor Day.

Caribbean: PetroCaribe to save millions

The 13 Caribbean countries joining Venezuela’s PetroCaribe energy cooperation initiative could save up to $50 million a year and see their foreign trade grow as a result of oil-for-goods exchanges, Prensa Latina said last week.

Under the project, Venezuela will supply 185,700 barrels of oil to the region per day, invest in expanding existing refineries so Venezuelan heavy crude oil can be treated, invest in increased storage capacities and use three cargo tankers on three main routes — Jamaica/Cuba/Bahamas, Dominican Republic, and the eastern Caribbean rim.

Caribbean countries will pay 60 percent of their oil bills. The remaining 40 percent deferred for later payment, and may be paid in goods and services.

Discussions started last year on PetroCaribe. The project was formalized in June and finally ratified last week in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Nepal: Demonstrations vs. monarchy

Over 600 pro-democracy activists, including several top leaders, were arrested Sept. 13 in the capital city, Kathmandu, as thousands of protesters shouting pro-democracy slogans marched toward the king’s palace. Riot police baton charged demonstrators, spraying them with water from fire engines and tear-gassing them before dragging them off to police vans, reported.

Since the king assumed absolute power last February, pro-democracy forces, including the seven political parties that held over 90 percent of the seats in Parliament, have maintained a drumbeat of protests, with many participants injured and/or arrested.

Among those arrested in the latest wave of demonstrations that started Sept. 4 are top leaders of the Communist Party of Nepal–Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML), the Nepali Congress, the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions and other parties and mass organizations.

Israel: Soldiers testify about killings

The Israeli Defense Forces have launched 17 investigations into fatal shootings of Palestinians following testimony by former solders about deaths they say should have been prevented. said the investigations were initiated after the “Breaking the Silence” organization collected hundreds of testimonies from former soldiers who spoke for the first time about incidents from their military service.

One soldier in an elite unit said a brigade commander told his men that “every kid you see with a stone, you may shoot him,” on the grounds that a stone is a “murder weapon” and the commander had seen a woman being hit by a stone.

Miftah said that while Palestinians have repeatedly charged IDF members with indiscriminate killings of civilians, former soldiers — encouraged by Breaking the Silence — have only recently begun to testify about killings.

Breaking the Silence is calling for an independent


Africa: Amnesty says oil firms override human rights

A report published Sept. 7 by Amnesty International charges that a consortium of western oil companies headed by ExxonMobil has made legal pacts with African governments that could override human rights of local populations, the London Guardian said.

The pacts relate to a 665-mile pipeline from the Doba oilfields in Chad to the Atlantic terminal at Kribi, Cameroon.

Amnesty says the agreements could require Chad and Cameroon to put the oil companies’ interests ahead of the rights of people living near the oilfields or pipeline. It said poor farmers in the Doba region have already been displaced without compensation, while other villagers have been denied access to safe water. Amnesty also noted that the two countries have poor human rights records.

Cameroon and Chad have each agreed to clauses saying no one can interfere with the construction, operation or maintenance of the pipeline.

World Notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel (