Nigerian women win jobs for villagers

Over 150 women from Nigeria’s delta lifted the blockade they instituted last week at a Chevron-Texaco oil terminal, when management offered to hire at least 25 villagers and build schools, electrical and water systems in the oil rich but impoverished region.

The women started their peaceful protest last week to demand jobs for their sons and electricity for their villages. They celebrated their victory with dance and song, but vowed to remain at the facility until a written agreement was signed. Some 700 workers, including foreign workers, had been blockaded inside the terminal during the protest.

Police and navy forces reportedly patrolled the rivers and swamps around the terminal, with orders not to harm the unarmed demonstrators.

ILO: Justice for fired Jakarta hotel workers

The Freedom of Association Committee of the International Labor Organization (ILO) has called on the Indonesian government to assure the labor rights of some 600 unionized Shangri-La Jakarta Hotel workers who were victims of an illegal mass firing in May of last year, following a lockout by management.

The ILO committee demanded a thorough investigation of charges of management union-busting tactics, including pressure on workers to resign from the union and threats of violence against union leaders.

In the last six months both the Indonesian Administrative Court of Appeal and the ILO have ruled that the workers must be reinstated in their jobs. The workers were locked out at the end of 2000, after Indonesian police stormed the five-star Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta to break up a strike and sit-in for better wages and working conditions.

The hotel workers’ union continues to hold regular rallies and demonstrations at the hotel and elsewhere. Messages supporting the workers may be faxed to Indonesian President Megawati Sukarno Putri, at +62 21 344 2223/385 9786.

Demand rights for child detainees

Australian advocates for the rights of children are telling a U.N. Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission inquiry that the mandatory confinement of children in Australia’s immigrant detention centers is “horrifying and unnecessary.”

Gaye Phillips, executive director of UNICEF Australia, said Australia is currently the only country in the world that detains children on a mandatory basis. She added, “There is no legitimate justification for this discriminatory policy.”

“If an Australian parent imprisoned their child, did not send them to school and exposed them to violence and psychological harm,” said Gillian Calvert, Commissioner for Children and Young People in the state of New South Wales, “child protection authorities would have undeniable strong grounds to intervene.”

Calvert is calling for children to be given access to schooling five hours a day, use of recreation and sports facilities, and for children’s names to be used rather than identification numbers.

The Woomera detention center, in a desolate area of central Australia, has been the site of ongoing protests by detained immigrants, including a hunger strike, against inhumane conditions.

China’s economy continues to grow

China’s economy grew 7.8 percent in the first half of 2002, compared to the same period last year, according to official figures. This was well above the government target of 7.0 percent.

Economic planners were encouraged because growth accelerated from 7.6 percent in the first quarter, to 8.0 percent in the second quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

The bureau’s deputy director general, Qiu Xiaohua called the figures “a good foundation” for meeting planned growth for all of 2002.

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to the end of June totaled U.S. $548.5 billion. Urban residents’ annual income grew by 17.5 percent, and rural residents’ income by almost 6 percent, in the first half of the year.

Canadian hotel workers set one-day strike

Some 4,000 union workers at 23 hotels in Canada’s Quebec Province will strike July 26 – during the height of the tourist season – unless their demands are met. Noting that two months of negotiations have proven unproductive, Jean Lortie, president of the Confederation of National Trade Unions’ (CNTU) commercial wing, said the strike would effectively close down the province’s 7,000 hotel rooms.

The union housekeepers, doormen, front-desk clerks, laundry workers, servers and kitchen workers are calling for 5 percent annual wage increases in a three-year contract, and an end to contracting out of their work. They also seek better working conditions, paid vacation for long-serving workers, and retirement benefits.

“We are facing some tough employers who are telling us that their American management style leaves no room for guaranteed hours, no room for job security,” Lortie said.