India: Fired Honda workers reinstated

A months-long labor protest ended with reinstatement of 57 fired workers at Honda Motors’ Gurgaon plant, IPS news service reported Aug. 3. The company also agreed to increase wages and said it would not discipline workers who protested.

However, hundreds arrested July 25 during a brutal police attack on a large workers’ demonstration against the firings were still in jail. A wave of domestic and international protest, including a call for solidarity by the World Federation of Trade Unions, followed the attack.

“The reinstatement is only a partial victory, we are now fighting to get our comrades who were arrested released from jail,” said strike leader Gurudas Dasgupta, Communist Party of India trade union leader and member of Parliament. He told IPS the left parties and trade unions are gearing up for a massive Sept. 29 national strike to highlight “the exploitation of workers by multinational corporations in the name of liberalization and globalization.”

The plant’s 2,000 workers produce motorcycles and scooters.

Ireland: CP welcomes IRA statement

The Communist Party of Ireland said the Irish Republican Army’s July 28 statement that it has ended armed struggle “should be welcomed by all those who are genuinely interested in seeing the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement. It is clear … that the Republican movement is now committed to struggle for its goals by political means.”

The CPI called on all democratic forces to cooperate for national unity and democracy, and said the IRA’s move opens new possibilities to rebuild unity in the working class, north and south, on urgent political issues including Irish sovereignty, neutrality, the Iraq war and the European Union Constitution.

The IRA said its leaders had “formally ordered an end to the armed campaign,” and had instructed all its members to work for “purely political and democratic programs through exclusively political means.”

Among provisions of the 1998 Belfast Agreement were a commitment by all sides to “exclusively peaceful and democratic means,” and a devolved Northern Ireland Assembly. The agreement was approved by referendum in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Niger: Food crisis escalates

United Nations officials last week more than doubled their emergency appeals for Niger’s escalating food crisis to nearly $75 million, the UN News Service said. The agencies warned that more international aid would be needed to save 3.5 million people from extreme hunger and malnutrition.

UN World Food Program Executive Director James Morris said whole families were subsisting on “just one meal a day of maize, leaves or wild fruit.” He added, “If donors had responded earlier, the cost of this operation would be hugely reduced, as the situation has deteriorated severely over recent months.”

The “lean season” (April-October) in the poor West African country has been made worse by last year’s drought and a major invasion of crop-eating locusts, the WFP said.

Iraq: Baghdad water workers organize

The workers’ committee of the Electricity and Energy Workers’ Union at Baghdad’s main water agency has started a campaign on behalf of workers at the agency and related offices.

Among the committee’s activities: providing for interest-free grants to be made available to workers, ensuring that the agency pays workers holiday pay, pressing for a better way to pay workers and for an emergency investigation into attacks on workers when they collect their wages at banks, and providing workers with bicycles at reasonable rates to help with transportation. The workers’ committee also won reinstatement of 20 dismissed cleaning workers.

The union is affiliated with the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions.

Indonesia: Newmont Mining on trial

Newmont Mining and chief executive Richard B. Ness were to go on trial Aug. 5 in Indonesia on criminal charges of pollution at its Buyat Bay gold mine, The New York Times reported.

The Indonesian government says Denver-based Newmont, the world’s biggest gold producer, contaminated the bay with mine waste containing heavy metals. Among government witnesses are 11 villagers from Buyat Bay who have complained of skin rashes, tumors and dizziness since mining started in 1996. Mining operations ended last year.

If convicted, Ness faces up to 10 years in jail and a $50,000 fine, while the company could have to pay for cleaning up environmental damage.

World Notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel (