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Killing for Profit

The 2008 Annual Survey of Trade Union Rights is frightening reading. The report documents the murders of 76 trade unionists around the world. By far the most dangerous place for trade unionists remains Columbia where approximately one trade unionist was slaughtered each week. The second most murderous state was Guatemala, where nine trade unionists were killed. Four were killed in both Venezuela and the Philippines, three in Honduras, two in Nepal and one each in Iraq, Nigeria, Panama, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

These figures are in some ways only the tip of the iceberg. For example, it does not include people killed in strikes or on demonstrations. In Egypt, for instance, after textile workers were forced back to work, a demonstration of support by the general public was put down with six people being killed. Again, in Equatorial Guinea, a strike by Chinese workers was bloodily suppressed by the security forces, leaving two workers dead and several others injured. Subsequently, 300 strikers were sent back to China.

The report also documents the physical attacks, imprisonment and sacking of thousands of trade unionists, as well as the increasing use of temporary contracts, outsourcing and the use of other “flexible” working practices as a means of undermining collective organisation and driving down pay and conditions. The report highlights the fact that capitalism worldwide remains a brutal system that will kill, main and imprison in its thirst for ever higher profits.

The full report is at: http://survey09.ituc-csi.org/

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