The Guardian 6 July, 2005

Global briefs

SOUTH AFRICA: South African workers downed tools on June 27 in a protest organised by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) to demand decent jobs for all who want to work. "We are here to demand a development strategy to ensure that growth in the economy benefits all our people, creating jobs and overcoming poverty on a massive scale", COSATU General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told a Johannesburg rally. In remarks before the strike, Vavi said unemployment stands at 40 percent of all those who want to work. "The Freedom Charter 50 years ago declared there will be work and security for all", he added. COSATU said nearly all miners joined the strike, as did 86 percent of textile workers. Up to 30,000 participated in demonstrations in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Actions also took place in cities and towns throughout the country.

ARGENTINA: In a 7-1 decision Argentinaís Supreme Court has struck down two laws that blocked prosecution of crimes committed during the 1976-83 military dictatorship. The decision opens the way for prosecution of police, military officers and soldiers accused in the "disappearances", torture and killing of tens of thousands under the military junta. Argentine President Nestor Kirschner called the decision the beginning of the end of impunity in Argentina, the countryís greatest "shame". Rosa Tarlovsky de Roisinbilt, vice president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, whose grandchildren were kidnapped during the dictatorship, said the decision gave her groupís members "new hope". About 150 top military officers were convicted before amnesty laws were passed in 1986 and 1987.

PALESTINE: After meeting in Ramallah last month with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Chinaís Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing pledged his country would use its role as a UN Security Council member to work for peace in the Middle East. "As a member of the Security Council and a faithful friend of the Palestinian people, China is ready to deploy necessary efforts to support the peace process in the region", Li said. During the visit, Li and Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Qidwa also signed an agreement that China will fund a new foreign ministry building for the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, and will help finance the training of Palestinian diplomats in Beijing. Liís visit to Ramallah came after he held talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. Both Shalom and Abbas have recently visited Beijing.

FIJI: Last monthís strike by over 3300 government workers over unpaid wages for overtime was resolved when the government and union representatives agreed that overtime payment entitlements would be verified by the two sides over a two-week period and payments made accordingly. The workers struck last week to protest the governmentís failure to pay overtime allowances dating back to December 2002. Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions General Secretary, Attar Singh, said it was disappointing that Labor Minister Kenneth Zinckís promise in March to pay the arrears within four weeks had not been fulfilled.

Back to index page