The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 73/No. 10      March 16, 2009

On the Picket Line
Oil workers’ union
fights for safety

PHILADELPHIA—Oil workers and their supporters rallied on the steps of City Hall February 26 and marched to Sunoco, Inc., headquarters a few blocks away protesting the company’s concession contract offer here.

The “Rally to Demand Safe Staffing Levels at Sunoco’s Philadelphia Refinery,” organized by United Steelworkers (USW) locals 10-1 and 10-901, attracted some 250 workers, who rode buses from refineries.

Members of USW Local 10-1 reached a tentative agreement March 2. Details were not yet available.

The union is demanding no reduction in the number of operators. The workers explain that a cut in operators would compromise safety and increase the likelihood of accidents, not only for them, but for residential communities around the refineries. A “flash fire” explosion at the one of the facilities injured two workers 14 days ago.

The company’s proposal would slash the South Philadelphia refinery workforce by 25 percent. Seven hundred union members work there. Another 430 workers are at the company’s Marcus Hook refinery.

At company headquarters union officers delivered petitions signed by about 2,000 refinery neighborhood residents supporting the oil workers.

—Osborne Hart

Indonesian workers rally
for right to unions

Hundreds of workers rallied outside the East Java High Court in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 25 to defend their right to organize unions. The rally was called by the Alliance of Workers in Protest out of concern that the court might reverse an 18-month sentence handed down by a lower court against a manager who prevented workers at the KJI plant from forming a union.

“This is the first time that the workers’ right to associate has been legally protected,” alliance member Anwar Sastro Ma’ruf told the Jakarta Post. University students also joined the rally.

In a closed door meeting with the workers’ representatives, court officials said a decision had been reached on the KJI manager’s appeal but that they could not divulge it without also informing the manager and the prosecutor.

A spokesman for the alliance said that if the ruling was not to their liking “workers across East Java would return to the streets in a much bigger rally,” reported the Post.

—Sam Manuel

Argentine farmers protest
low prices, high taxes

Farmers in Argentina ended a four-day halt in sale of grain and cattle February 24 after the government held talks with them over declining prices for their products and drought support for farmers. The same day some 200 farmers ended a one-day bank sit-in in the city of Parana demanding the rescheduling of farmers’ debts.

Farmers are also demanding a reduction in a 35 percent export tax on soybeans. Farmers said the meeting with the representative for Argentine president Cristina Kirchner produced some mild results. While the government announced it would allocate $1.3 billion to assist farmers it also said there would be no reduction in the export tax.

The tax on soybeans generated about 10 percent of the government’s revenue in 2008, reported the Wall Street Journal. Argentina will be stretched to make about $18 billion in debt payments due this year, while also launching an economic stimulus plan, the Journal said.

—Sam Manuel  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home