The Greek parliament will vote late Wednesday on the structural reforms and budget cuts demanded by the Troika. Reports suggest that the government will be able to get a majority. But in a last minute attempt to derail the vote, the country’s two main labour unions called a 48 hour general strike that started today.
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Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan and labour unions failed in overnight talks to reach a compromise over the removal of fuel subsidies that has raised fears of a shutdown of Nigeria’s oil industry, Reuters says, citing union and presidency sources. Mr Jonathan was expected to make a public address later on Monday and unions declined to comment until he had spoken. Unions said Sunday that nationwide strikes and protests would resume Monday if no agreement was reached in Africa’s second-largest economy and number one crude producer. Unions representing oil industry workers have said they will shut oil output if talks reach deadlock.
Boeing has struck a four-year deal with its biggest union that would protect production from strike action and end a high-profile attempt to force the aircraft maker to close a new factory, the FT says. The company was hit by a damaging 52-day strike in 2008, the last time the contract was up for renewal, which cost the company about $5bn in lost revenue, halted production of all its commercial aircraft models and caused delays to the introduction of the 787 Dreamliner. If members of the International Association of Machinists agree to ratify the deal, the union has agreed to drop its grievance against the company over a new 787 factory in South Carolina, which is at the heart of a dispute between Boeing and the National Labor Relations Board that has been widely cited by business in the US as an example of regulatory over-reach.
The dramatic decision by Qantas to ground its fleet on Saturday has ended well, so far — for passengers, at least.
The national workplace relations tribunal, Fair Work Australia, convened over the weekend and in the early hours of Monday morning gave Qantas what it was seeking: a termination of industrial action. Read more
Almost half the workers in Verizon Communications’ wireline telecommunications business went on strike on Sunday as negotiations for a new labor contract failed, Reuters reports. The strike, involving 45,000 workers, is the first walk-out that Verizon, one of the two big U.S. telephone network operators, has faced since 2000, when about 80,000 workers went on strike for about three weeks. The WSJ says the move was a surprise and a quick resolution appeared unlikely as the two sides remained far apart.
BHP Billiton has declared force majeure on exports from the world’s biggest copper mine, the FT reports, as a mineworkers’ strike entered its eighth day. The strike at BHP’s Escondida mine in Chile, which supplied 7 per cent of the world’s copper last year, comes in a month of widespread mining strikes from Indonesia to South Africa. Early on Friday in Singapore, three-month copper LME futures rose to their highest level since April, Reuters says.
Workers at the world’s biggest source of copper, BHP Billiton’s Escondida mine in Chile, began striking late on Thursday, Bloomberg reports. The strike is planned to last 24 hours, leading to about 3,000 tonnes of lost copper production. Strikes are also planned in seven of BHP’s central Queensland coal mines in Australia, beginning next week, the news agency says. The industrial action in the flood-ravaged state is expected to drive coal prices higher.
Parents and travellers are among those facing disruption on Thursday as up to 750,000 teachers, lecturers and civil servants stage a one-day strike over pension reforms, the FT reports, while business leaders warn that the dispute threatens to undermine productivity. The UK Border Agency said travellers could face airport delays when passport officers walk out. The government expects a third of schools in England and Wales to be closed, and another third partially closed.
The French government signalled its determination to face down a prolonged protest movement against planned pension reforms when it requisitioned an oil refinery east of Paris, the FT reports. The facility had been blockaded for several days by strikers and demonstrators. The prefect, or head government official, in the Seine-et-Marne department east of the capital issued the requisition order late on Thursday night, prompting howls of protest from union representatives who said their right to strike was being impeded. Riot police moved into clear access to the Grandpuits refinery at 3am. The government does not intend to restart fuel production at Grandpuits – one of the 12 refineries in France which have all been shut down because of strikes and blockades – but wants to free up access to fuel depots on the site.
Chinese labour unrest is being replicated in south-east Asia where factories that compete with China to supply low-cost goods face walkouts as employees demand better pay and benefits, the FT reported. The disputes match similar action in China, where growing worker dissatisfaction has led to industrial unrest and higher wages.
Hundreds of Bangladeshi garment factories supplying western buyers such as Walmart and H&M gradually reopened on Wednesday, after days of violent protests by tens of thousands of labourers demanding higher wages. Economists say the unrest highlights how pressure for higher wages is not just confined to China, and is likely to spread to other cheap Asian manufacturing bases like Vietnam, raising inflationary pressure in the global economy, the FT reported.
Labour protests that have forced shutdowns at overseas-owned factories in China have spread beyond the country’s southern industrial heartland, reports the FT. Workers at a Taiwanese factory outside Shanghai clashed with police on Tuesday, leaving about 50 protesters injured. The confrontation represents an escalation of recent industrial action and, as the FT notes in a separate analysis, creates a political dilemma for Beijing.
The recent wave of labour disputes in China is creating a political dilemma for a government eager to boost workers’ income but allergic to organised unrest. As the disputes – including strikes at two car-parts plants affiliated to Honda – have hit the headlines, Beijing has avoided taking any firm public position, perhaps in the hope that the unrest will die down, the FT reported.