Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Labour Disputes in Hong Kong & Bahrain

A month ago I wrote to you to ask for your support for striking dock workers in Hong Kong. Over 8,500 of you responded to the call and today I'm pleased to tell you that the strike is over.  The workers have accepted an improved wage offer and promises of further negotiations on working conditions, as well as an assurance that there will be no retaliation against workers who participated in the strike.

The Union of Hong Kong Dockers issued a statement thanking us all for our solidarity. In it, they write: 
'The passionate support and generous donations of the Hong Kong community, the international trade unions and organizations have helped us to sustain the strike for forty days. On behalf of our members, UHKD is thankful to all of you who have been giving us unwavering support. Together with you, we have demonstrated again the importance of workers’ unity in fighting not only for reasonable pay, but also our dignity and our future.' 

(More details are available on the ITF website.).

It's a great win and demonstrates once again the incredible power of international solidarity.   We've won a great victory in Hong Kong, but now we have to turn our attention to workers elsewhere who need our help.

In the past, LabourStart has highlighted the case of jailed Bahraini trade union leader Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb. 

In early 2011, as peaceful protests spread across Bahrain, Mahdi 'Issa Mahdi Abu Dheeb and his colleague Jalila al-Salman called for a teachers’ strike to support the growing demands for reform.
Most of us would say that there were doing their job as leaders of a teachers' union. The authorities in Bahrain did not agree.

They were arrested on 6 April 2011. Mahdi spent 64 days in solitary confinement during which he says he was tortured and forced to sign a confession. His family did not know where he was for the first 24 days.  Mahdi and Jalila were sentenced to prison. They were convicted for using their positions to call for a strike by teachers, halting the educational process and attempting to overthrow the ruling system.
Their sentences were eventually reduced on appeal – Mahdi’s to five years, Jalila to six months - but they should have never been arrested in the first place.
Jalila has since been released and I had the great pleasure to meet her recently at a teachers' union conference in Britain.  But Mahdi is still in prison. For more than two years.
Amnesty International has issued a fresh call for his release. I urge you to support it - please click here.

Thank you.
Eric Lee

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