Korean Peninsula: Working together for Olympics

North and South Korea agreed Nov. 1 to send a unified team to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and to next year’s Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, The New York Times reported. After a three hour meeting in Macau, officials from the two countries issued a statement saying they will meet in Kaesong, a North Korean city near the demilitarized zone, to work out details of selecting and training the unified teams.

“We have agreed to have a unified team, but we haven’t agreed on the details yet,” said Baek Sung Il, a spokesperson for South Korea’s Olympic Committee. “We have to work out the details on how to select our athletes and how to train them. It’s not something we can agree on at once. But we will send unified teams to the Asian Games and to the Olympics.”

Nigeria: Charge new human rights violations

Citing reports of ongoing human rights violations in the Niger Delta oil region, Amnesty International is calling on the Nigerian government to hold “thorough and independent inquiries” into allegations that security forces have killed, injured and raped civilians, and destroyed their property.

The report, based on a recent AI mission to the Niger Delta, focused specially on events Feb. 4 at Chevron’s oil terminal at Escravos, and Feb. 19 in the community of Odioma. On Feb. 4 soldiers from Nigeria’s Joint Task Force fired on protesters at Chevron’s oil terminal. One person died and 30 were injured. On Feb. 19 at least 17 people were killed and two women allegedly raped when Joint Task Force troops raided Odioma.

AI called on the government to make findings public and bring those responsible to justice. It also demanded that Chevron investigate the incidents at Escravos, and that Shell investigate allegations of a security arrangement between one of its subcontractors and a criminal group in Odioma.

Uruguay: Health workers strike

Uruguayan doctors, public health, and state central administration workers struck Nov. 3 to demand better resources and higher pay, Prensa Latina said.

The Public Health Officials Federation (FFSP) of the Central Labor Union said the action is one in a series of protests to challenge the government’s inflexibility.

State Officials’ Confederation Chair Carmen Galizzi, who is also an FFSP member, said the unions are demanding more workers “to be able to offer medical care with dignity to the entire population.”

The left-led Broad Front government of President Tabare Vazquez, in power since November 2004, said the crisis and debt inherited from previous conservative administrations, and new promises of payment to international financial institutions, do not allow for increased spending.

Canada: Labor vows solidarity with indigenous peoples

At its meeting in Ottawa last week, the Executive Council of the Canadian Labor Congress called for a “complete overhaul” of policies toward Aboriginal communities, in partnership with Aboriginal communities and their leaders.

In a statement responding to the crisis faced by the Kashechewan First Nation, where as many as 1,000 people were being evacuated from a remote community because of E. coli in their drinking water, the CLC called the emergency “only the newest most visible result of a large number of negative social and economic conditions faced daily by Aboriginal communities” that have placed them among the hardest-hit populations worldwide, according to the UN Human Development Index.

A boil-water order has been in effect in the Kashechewan community for two years. In mid-October people learned that their water supply, including drinking water, was contaminated with E. coli, despite addition of high amounts of chlorine.

Russia: Ford workers strike

Some 350 workers at Ford Motors’ plant in Vsevolozhsk, outside St. Petersburg, held a warning strike Nov. 2, demanding a 30 percent increase in wages and introduction of a so-called 13th salary at the end of each year, MosNews reported. Their demand was based on increases in both labor productivity and inflation rates.

The workers warned management that if their demands are not met, they will hold a series of strikes, including a sit-down strike.

A labor struggle has been going on at the plant since September. Workers there now earn up to $600 a month. With overtime, total pay comes to about $700.

The labor union, founded three years ago, unites over 1,000 of the plant’s 1,700 employees, the majority of them factory workers.

World Notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel (mbechtel@pww.org).