Congo: Apple, Microsoft and Google sued over child labour deaths in cobalt mines

USA: App based companies appeal against California law for gig workers

31 December 2019: App based taxi companies Uber and Lyft and courier company Postmates have come together to file a case against the newly promulgated California law – AB-5 which mandates these companies to provide gig workers the same benefits as other workers – weekly off, health benefits and overtime pay. California has over 4,50,000 workers who will benefit from this law.

The companies have approached the Los Angeles court claiming that the law is unconstitutional. Earlier these companies had constituted a $90 million fund to fight the legal battle against the bill.

France: Proposal for Pension Reform sparks countrywide protest

30 December 2019: French president Macron’s proposal for reforming the pension plan has ignited workers’ protests across the country. Over 180,000 workers have come out in opposition of the proposed law and 250 demonstrations took place across the country. 11 of 16 rail lines have been suspended as rail workers have gone on strike.

The ballerinas of the Paris Symphony Orchestra performed an impromptu 20-minute piece at the Palais Garnier to register their protest. Ballerinas are entitled to retire at age 42 with full pension. The strike of the Ballerinas has cost the Orchestra €8 million so far. 

France has 42 different pension plans to cater to different category of workers. The proposed law aims to raise the eligibility age for pension to 62 years for all workers irrespective of their occupation.

Peru: McDonald’s fined $250,000 for worker deaths

27 December 2019: Peruvian authorities have fined McDonald’s $250,000 after the fast food chain was found violating at least 6 workplace safety norms which led to the death of 2 workers.

On 15 December 2019, two McDonald’s workers aged 18 were killed of electrocution while cleaning the kitchen due to a faulty soda machine in the Pueblo Libre region of Lima province.

Pakistan: Safai Karmcharis go on strike against non-payment of wages

25 December 2019: Contract Safai karmcharis went on a 9-day long strike demanding annual bonus, extra leave, less duty hours and recruitment of more sanitary workers along with immediate payment of wages due to them. Sanitation workers started dumping garbage in front of the municipal offices and in front of the residence of municipal officers when their plea went unanswered for a week. Municipal Corporation has initiated a disciplinary enquiry against the striking workers for not reporting to work and dumping garbage in front of the municipal offices.

Congo: Apple, Microsoft and Google sued over child labour deaths in cobalt mines

18 December 2019: Unregulated and illegal mining of Cobalt, a rare metal essential for manufacturing batteries, has cost many lives in Congo. Lack of safety regulations and inaction of government in implementing existing laws has attracted all major technology companies to source the mineral from the African nation. International Rights Advocates (IRA) has sued companies including Microsoft, Tesla, Apple and Google for the death of children due to tunnel collapse and promoting precarious conditions of work in the region.

South Korea: Samsung Electronics Chairman sentenced to jail for sabotaging unions

18 December 2019: Lee Sang-hoon, Chairman of the Samsung Electronics’ board has been sentenced to 18 months in jail by the Soul Central District Court for violating labour laws and sabotaging union activities at workplace. Lee is among 26 Samsung executives that were convicted by the Court for violating labour laws. Samsung Group’s leader JY Lee, is also facing trial for bribery charges and violation of labour laws. The 50-year old company is notoriously infamous for its anti-union policy and victimization of workers who assert their right to freedom of association.

USA: Google fires 5 workers for forming union

18 December 2019: Google has fired yet another worker – Kathryn Spiers for union activities under the garb of violating data security policies. Earlier Google had fired Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton for organizing walkouts by Google employees against discriminatory policies company had towards contract workers. Rebecca Rivers and Laurence Berland were also terminated in November 2019 for organizing contract workers.

Kathryn has been charged with meddling with company’s servers. She had created a pop-up explaining to her co-workers their rights at the workplace. The National Labour Relation Board has initiated an independent probe against firing of workers for union activities which violates the workers’ Right to Freedom of Association at the workplace.

Meanwhile, over 2,300 contract canteen workers who are employed across Google campuses in the San Francisco Bay area have come together to form a union. These workers do not get the same wages, retirement and leave benefits as the permanent workers.

Thailand: HP supplier to compensate migrant workers for illegally charging recruitment fee

11 December 2019: Cal-Comp Electronics – which supplies to HP – illegally overcharged recruitment fee from at least 10,000 migrant Burmese workers. The workers were charged $660 on an average as recruitment fee which is over 6 times the statutory rate. The company has been ordered to compensate the affected workers based on the recruitment fee they paid.

Sudan: 18 Indians killed in factory fire

4 December 2019: Over 23 workers were killed and about 130 injured in a LPG tanker blast at Seela Ceramic Factory in Bahri area in Khartoum. Out of the 23 at least 18 were Indians. Lack of safety arrangements and careless storage of chemicals allowed the fire to spread across the factory which resulted in horrific casualties.

Japan: Workers spark #KuToo to end imposition of regressive dress codes

2 December 2019: In October 2019, the labour ministry of Japan drafted guidelines against workplace harassment known as “power harassment” which did not include dress codes imposed by employers on women.

It is mandatory for women in Japan to wear skirts to work and eye glasses are not allowed. This has sparked the #KuToo movement on social media in Japan where people are demanding that the proposed guidelines must address the issue of dress codes at workplace which create gender disparity at workplace.

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