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Vol. 74/No. 37      October 4, 2010

On the Picket Line
Teachers in New Zealand
march to press contract fight

AUCKLAND, New Zealand—Chanting “When education is under attack, stand up, fight back,” 2,000 teachers marched through central Auckland September 15. Earlier in the day the teachers had distributed leaflets explaining their fight at street corners and shopping centers across the city. In Wellington, the nation’s capital, 1,000 teachers rallied outside Parliament.

The actions were part of a nationwide, one-day strike by 16,000 public high school teachers from 450 schools. Contract negotiations between their union, the Post Primary Teachers Association, and the government are currently stalled. The teachers are demanding a 4 percent pay raise and government action to limit increased class sizes and workloads.

—Terry Coggan

Cambodia: Garment workers
strike over minimum wage

Tens of thousands of garment workers in Cambodia struck for three days September 13-15 demanding the minimum wage be raised to $93 a month. In July the government had set the wage at $61. Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers’ Association, dismissed the workers’ demands as “impossible.”

According to Kong Athit, secretary general of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, more than 68,000 workers from 53 factories struck on the first day. He also told the media that another 52,000 workers had been prevented by their employers from participating. Many others joined the walkout over the next couple of days.

The garment industry in Cambodia employs some 345,000 workers and accounts for more than 70 percent of the country’s exports.

In a similar development, millions of textile workers in Bangladesh walked out in August, reported the Financial Times. The workers were demanding the minimum wage be set at $73 a month, up from $43.

—Brian Williams

Airport workers in Israel
strike one day over pensions

Airport workers at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Israel conducted a one-day strike September 13 demanding that the government guarantee their pensions. The walkout occurred after talks between the general workers’ union, the Histradrut labor federation, and the Israel Airports Authority failed to resolve the issue.

“Workers feared the government would raid their pension fund to cover other debts, including hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation owed to people living near the airport over noise complaints,” reported Associated Press. The Israeli Finance Ministry announced that day a deal had been reached. Finance and Transport Ministries promised the workers that their pensions would be secure.

—Brian Williams  
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