AMANDLA: Power to the People!
BWI 4th World Congress 2017, Durban, South Africa
by Edward Miller
BWI affiliates across the Asia-Pacific region are some of the most insecure and vulnerable workers in today’s global economy, in which hyper-globalization has generated a global inequality crisis.
Free trade agreements, privatization, and deregulation have created a crisis of poverty wages, precarious and temporary work, exploitative labor migration, unsafe working conditions and the total dehumanization of workers. These conditions have a corrosive effect on democracy and can be seen all over the region.
Organised workers are the bulwark against this crisis; by fighting for a democratic workplace and taking on broader issues of social and environmental justice, the union movement is fighting back.
In South Korea, the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions (KFCITU) was at the forefront of the fight against labor reforms, a struggle which developed into a nationwide movement that overthrew the corrupt Park Government. KFCITU has also vigorously organized workers on the Pyeongchang 2018 construction projects, winning lost wages and demanding justice for worker fatalities.
In Australia, the Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Energy Union(CFMEU) and Electrical Trades Union (ETU) are fighting back against a corrupt regulator (ABCC – the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner) designed to attack their unions and their workers’ rights. Both are now fighting the use of loopholes to drive down wages, including in the iconic #CUB55 campaign.
BWI’s affiliates in India took place in the largest strike in world history in September 2016, involving some 180 million workers pushing a 12-point charter of demands including minimum wage hikes, an end to precarious work and universal social security.
The Pakistan Federation of Building and Wood Workers (PFBWW) have organized workers on Chinese-built infrastructures despite attacks on trade unionists, military intervention and denial of the right to bargain collectively.
The Building and Wood Workers Trade Union of Cambodia (BWTUC) lobbied against the use of asbestos and is now fighting the unjust new Trade Union Law and attacks on democracy.
In the Philippines BWI’s affiliates have fought to hold President Duterte to his promise to end contractualisation.
These are just a handful of examples of BWI’s unions fighting for workers rights and to defend democracy.
In doing so, they are improving workers lives and shaping the kind of society that will prepare us for tomorrow’s challenges. Amandla! Power to the People. CPM