South Korean labor calls for unity in election struggle

Executive members of six labor and people’s organizations met early last month to project a joint program “to make 2002 a year of hope by realizing unity of all progressive forces.”

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, National Federation of Peasants Associations, National Alliance of Paupers, South Korean Federation of University Student Councils, Democratic Labor Party and National Alliance for Democracy and Reunification said in their resolution that preventing war in Korea and unifying the country independently and peacefully is an urgent priority.

They warned that a dark cloud of war hangs over the peninsula, and said the aggravation of tensions by the U.S. and Japan jeopardizes the lives and living standards of Korean working people. All progressive forces should unite to oppose the conservatives in the coming elections, the resolution said, including the building of a powerful and progressive political party.

U.N., 10 countries observe Colombia peace talks

The United Nations, the Catholic Church and 10 cooperating countries began last week to formally observe peace negotiations between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP). The National Negotiation Table announced on Feb. 6 that progress has been made in defining the role of the International Commission and the church representatives.

ILO protection sought for India’s export zone workers

India’s CITU trade union federation has protested to the International Labor Organization (ILO) over inhuman working conditions imposed on some 1,200 workers of the World Wide Diamond Manufacturing, Ltd. in the Visakhapatnam Export Processing Zone (VEPZ) in Andhra Pradesh state, and management’s brutal attempts to suppress the strike the workers initiated last month. CITU charges multiple violations of ILO conventions on freedom of association and union rights.

Workers of the firm’s two units – one managed by an Israeli company and the other by a Belgian firm – have no job security, no minimum wage protection or overtime wages, CITU says. They are fined for a host of imaginary “offenses,” and face constant petty harassment. Though India’s export processing zones do not ban trade unions, they are not allowed in the VEPZ, and workers have been warned they may be fired for organizing.

CITU says conditions are similar in all seven Indian Export Processing Zones.

Norwegian nominates Bush, Blair for Nobel Peace Prize

Right-wing Member of Parliament Harald Tom Nesvik has nominated U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for their role in “fighting terrorism.” As a member of a national legislature, Nesvik has nomination rights.

The Oslo-based awards committee accepts nominations postmarked through Feb. 1. Nobel Prize winners are named in mid-October and awards are always presented on Dec. 10, the day their founder, Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, died in 1896.

Readers wishing to protest these nominations can communicate with the Nobel Institute through its website,, or by e-mailing the Hague Appeal for Peace at

Greek farmers protest government farm policy

Farmers continued their roadblocks of key highways in northern Greece after talks between farmers and the government over cotton subsidies and compensation for damaged crops collapsed last week.

Militant farmers belonging to the Communist Party and the main opposition conservative New Democracy party have decided to take their protests to Athens this week.

“The descent to Athens will be carried out, possibly by tractor, possibly with crowds of people, or both,” said Athanassios Natsikas, a New Demoracy unionist. In the meantime, farmers are gathering support for the roadblocks they have already set up in parts of northern and central Greece. Natsikas apologized to the public for the inconvenience, but blamed the government for the situation.