Britain’s unions worried about attacks on workers’ rights

Britain’s Trades Union Congress (TUC) said in a statement last week that it shares the “deep concerns expressed by trade unions throughout Europe at attacks on workers’ rights and the rise of demagogic approaches to immigration issues in a number of European Union countries.”

TUC General Secretary John Monks said, “The TUC strongly supports the need for a common European immigration and asylum policy founded on equal treatment and rights, coupled with tolerance and respect for cultural diversity.”

On the eve of the Seville European Summit June 21-22, the Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation pledged to step up the campaign in defense of the “European Social Model,” including public services.

Bangladesh protesters target ‘Status of Forces’ pact with U.S.

Demonstrators gathered in Bangladesh’s capital city, Dhaka, May 29 to protest the “Status of Forces” (SOFA) pact with Washington. The Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), which organized the action, said the Bush administration is trying to use the SOFA agreement to bring Bangladesh into its military strategic network to enhance economic exploitation in southeast Asia and looting of the region’s resources by U.S. imperialism.

The CPB said U.S.-based transnational corporations were gaining control of the country’s oil and gas sector, electricity, rail, seaport and natural resources, day by day. It also accused Washington of trying to ensure its geopolitical interests by supporting pro-U.S. political parties and “the present anti-people government” of Bangladesh.

Striking dockers paralyze Belgian ports

Some 8,000 dockers nearly paralyzed shipping traffic in the Belgian ports of Zeebrugge, Ghent, Antwerp and Oostende with their 24-hour strike on June 7. The workers were protesting European Union plans to let shipowners use their own personnel to load and unload cargo currently handled by union workers. “It is important to send a signal … that the plans are unacceptable,” said union spokesperson Bob Baete.

The three striking trade unions represent virtually all Belgian dockers. They said further actions are planned during the June 17 meeting of EU transport officials.

SACP condemns banks for HIV/AIDS discrimination

The South African Communist Party (SACP) this week strongly condemned South Africa’s Banking Council and its members for discriminatory policies leading to the eviction of HIV/AIDS orphans from properties bought by parents who die from HIV/AIDS related illnesses. “These policies are cruel, inhumane and reflect the poverty of private commercial banks and the insurance industry in our country,” the SACP said. “Given the HIV/AIDS pandemic and its particular impact on employed workers, all financial institutions need to take measures to ensure that credit, finance and credit insurance are available to all people living with HIV/AIDS.”

Instead, the SACP said, “We have banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions either omitting such cover or discriminating against people living with HIV/AIDS.”

Cuba donates vaccine to Uruguay

Cuba has donated 1.2 million units of meningitis-B vaccine to Uruguay, to combat an epidemic that cost the lives of three children.

The final shipment of 800,000 doses, transported by Cubana Airlines, was greeted in Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, last week, by members of solidarity groups carrying Cuban flags and signs thanking Fidel Castro and the people of Cuba. Other signs expressed the Uruguayans’ support for the resolute attitude of the Cuban people and their leader in the ongoing confrontation with the United States.

German workers conduct ‘warning strikes’

Some 6,000 Deutsche Telekom workers in Hamburg and Munich, and 4,000 German postal workers in northern and eastern Germany – members of the service workers union – staged brief “warning strikes” Monday. The union is seeking 6.5 percent wage increases for its 120,000 phone industry workers, and similar increases for the nearly quarter-million postal sector.

Meantime, the IG Bau construction union held a strike vote on what could become the industry’s first strike in a half century. Labor struggles are shaping up in other industries, too – banks and insurance companies, inner-city shopping areas and chain stores.

Earlier this year the giant IG Metall engineering union won a 4 percent wage hike.