Labor struggles: Asia and Australia
India: Gujarat state government employees demand old pension plan
Around 700,000 Gujarat state government workers staged a day-long protest in Gandhinagar on Monday for several demands. They called for the reinstatement of the old pension scheme (OPS), the abolition of fixed remuneration schemes and the implementation of the recommendations of the seventh wages commission which have been pending since 2015.
The protesters came from 72 different state departments, including revenue, panchayat, industrial training institutes of health, regional transportation and education. The protest was organized by the National Old Pension Restoration United Front and the Gujarat State United Front.
Teachers staged protests across Gujarat in April demanding the reinstatement of OPS which was withdrawn in December 2003. The old scheme did not require a 10% contribution on employee salaries and the pension was determined by the last salary of the employees. Under the new scheme, the pension is reduced and there is no death benefit.
Ford auto workers in Tamil Nadu protest factory closure
Workers at Ford’s car factory in Maraimalai Nagar, near Chennai, staged a protest at the factory on May 7 to demand permanent jobs. Ford has decided to end its operations in India. Ford’s car plant in Gujarat state has been taken over by Tata Motors, with all workers retaining their jobs.
Management at the Maraimalai Nagar plant recently held so-called settlement talks with workers who are demanding the same job security as workers at the Gujarat plant.
Workers at the Maraimalai Nagar factory stopped work for two days in February in a desperate attempt to keep their jobs. The Chennai Ford Employees Union limited all industrial action to limited demonstrations, mostly confining workers to toothless appeals to the Tamil Nadu government and Ford.
Maharashtra police attack protesting steel workers
At least 10 protesting workers were injured at a stainless steel factory in Palghar in Maharashtra on May 7 after being attacked by police with canes. At least 19 police and factory officials were injured when workers refused to end the protest.
The workers were opposing a previous assault by management and victimization of union members after announcing they would strike on May 16. The workers were determined to maintain their actions after management said they would be replaced by contract workers if they went through with the industrial action.
Punjab bus contract workers demand permanent jobs
Contract workers from Punjab Roadways and Punbus demonstrated outside the Tarn Taran depot workshop on Tuesday. They demanded permanent jobs for all contract workers and equal pay for equal work. The Punjab Roadways/Punbus Contract Workers’ Union organized the protest which involved drivers, drivers and office staff. The workers also demanded the reinstatement of the dismissed employees.
Tamil Nadu: Ex-lunch and childcare workers demand pension boost
Former midday meal and anganwadi (childcare) workers protested outside the Panchayat union office in Reddiarchatram on Monday to demand a pension increase.
Members of Tamil Nadu Noon Meal and Anganwadi Pensioners Association shouted slogans condemning the state government for paying a monthly pension of just 2,000 rupees (US$26) to workers after many years on duty. The demonstrators demanded a minimum pension of 7,850 rupees per month and a high cost allowance. Members of the Tamil Nadu Government Employees Association also participated in the protest.
Municipal sanitation workers in Telangana demand permanent jobs and minimum wage
Thousands of contract sanitation workers from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) demonstrated at the company’s headquarters in Hyderabad on Monday to demand permanent jobs and higher wages.
The workers want a minimum wage of 26,000 rupees (US$337). They denounced the municipal administration and the minister of urban development. About 28,000 sanitation workers are currently working on a contract and outsourced basis in the GHMC.
New Delhi teachers protest over unpaid salaries
Struggling teachers employed in East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) schools protested outside the civic body’s headquarters in Delhi on Monday to demand salaries due from last December. EDMC claimed it had no money for salaries.
Protests over the issue of non-payment of wages are regular occurrences. In November, EDMC teachers staged a protest march through New Delhi to EDMC headquarters, threatening an indefinite strike. They hadn’t been paid for two months. It followed the action of sanitation workers against non-payment of wages. Authorities said they could not pay all outstanding wages and were only paying one month’s salary.
Tamil Nadu University professors protest
Teachers of Madurai Kamaraj University demonstrated in Madurai on May 8 to demand full implementation of career advancement program for college teachers as per the January 2021 government order. The Teachers Association from Madurai University Kamaraj said PhD professors should benefit from this incentive. They also demanded the abolition of the socially regressive contributory pension scheme.
AMPOL oil refinery workers on strike in Brisbane
Twenty-eight maintenance workers at the AMPOL oil refinery in Brisbane walked off Friday morning in their dispute over a pay rise. Members of the Electrical Trades Union are employed by the multinational maintenance company Wood Australia. Workers rejected the company’s offer of a 2.5% below-inflation pay rise in its draft company agreement. The official CPI increase for Brisbane is currently 6% and continues to rise.
Sydney bus drivers turn off ticket machines for a day
Region 6 bus drivers operating from four depots in Sydney’s CBD, inner western and southern suburbs have turned off their vehicle’s fare collection machines for the day on May 6 in their dispute with the services of public transport on wages. Members of the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) are calling for an end to the two-tier pay system for public transport services, which sees wages and conditions differ between workers performing the same job, on the same routes.
The action followed a 24-hour strike by members of the RTBU and the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) on April 11 in which 2,000 drivers in Sydney, Newcastle, Queanbeyan and the central coast of New – South Wales (NSW) have objected to unsafe working conditions including being forced to drive for more than five hours continuously, lack of meals and toilets, shortage of drivers and pressure to meet impossible schedules.
Since 2013, when unions authorized the gradual privatization of the government bus network, its division into 15 regions and its cession to a multitude of private operators under contract, wages and conditions have varied considerably. The two unions have signed successive individual company agreements which have led to the current situation.
The unions are calling for “same work, same pay”, but have not put forward any concrete demands that would include annual wage increases in line with the rapidly rising consumer price index (CPI), which is currently above 5%. The RTBU said Region 6’s latest token industrial action was causing headaches for transit services and the government, while thanking commuters for their continued support in their fight for ‘fair’ wages and conditions. . “It’s a win-win on our books,” a union representative falsely claimed.
University of Queensland maintenance workers on strike
Nine members of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) employed by maintenance contractor UGL Solutions on the University of Queensland St Lucia campus in Brisbane, Queensland’s capital, walked off the job on May 6 in opposition to the company agreement proposed by the UGL. The workers have not had a pay rise for three years.