European, African workers strike for their lives


This 18 March 2020 video from France says about itself (translated):

Coronavirus: the wrath of Amazon Orléans employees

In Saran in the Orléans conurbation, the situation is also tense for the e-commerce giant Amazon. The site saw its activity jump as the Covid-19 crisis spread. Online orders have increased. But within the company, anger is raging. Two-thirds of employees in warehouses cannot telecommute.

France: For several days SUD-Solidaires has denounced the lack of protection that continues in call centres. Despite the confinement (lockdown), tens of thousands of people must continue to go to work to perform non-essential services, without the minimum of protection. Note that all of this is in complete contradiction with the maximum of five human interactions recommended by the government: here.

From the World Socialist Web Site today:

Strikes spread in Europe and Africa over lack of coronavirus safety precautions

27 March 2020

French Amazon workers protest lack of safety over coronavirus

Around 200 out of the 1,700 workforce at Amazon’s distribution centre in Douai, northern France walked out on March 17 protesting unsafe working conditions in relation to the coronavirus pandemic. The following day, half the workforce at Amazon in Montelimar, southwest France went on strike. The company said it would not pay the strikers.

According to the Sud-Solidaires union, around 80 Amazon staff at Lauwin-Planque distribution centre near Dunkirk walked out on March 19. One worker speaking to the Financial Post said, “It’s impossible for the safety distances to be respected in the warehouses. Our lockers are all stuck next to each other, when I come to get my belongings, we’re all rubbing shoulders.” Other Amazon workers report that facemasks and hand sanitisers are in short supply.

Amazon in France has experienced a surge in demand and is seeking to recruit an additional 100,000 temporary staff to cope.

Italian metalworkers strike over companies operating despite COVID-19 pandemic

Metalworkers in Lombardy and Lazio in northern Italy held a 24-hour strike on Wednesday. They were protesting having to work at companies not considered essential during the coronavirus outbreak. The region has been hard hit by the epidemic, with over 5,000 having died from the disease.

Textile and chemical workers were also due to take part in the strikes.

Walkouts at two UK postal delivery sites

Postal workers at Southwark in London and Bridgewater in Somerset walked out on Monday over safety fears related to the coronavirus epidemic. The members of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) were concerned at lack of hand sanitisers and social distancing measures.

Jail threat to Hungarian journalists exposing government inaction over coronavirus

On Monday, as part of emergency powers related to the COVID-19 outbreak, Hungary’s right-wing government led by Viktor Orban brought in legislation to imprison journalists for up to five years for spreading “fake news”.

The legislation will be used against independent journalists publishing stories exposing government inaction over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Walkout by library workers in London over coronavirus concerns

Staff at 10 library sites, working for Lambeth council in south London walked out on March 20. The Unison union members were protesting the lack of protective measures against the spread of coronavirus. There are no hand sanitisers or disinfected wipes for keyboards and screens.

Unlike many local authority libraries, Lambeth council has not closed its libraries to slow the spread of the disease. Local libraries in the London borough of Bromley are also open, although the central library has been closed. The libraries are run by the social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited.

Irish construction workers call for sites to be closed

Around 150,000 construction workers in Ireland forced to work on construction sites around the country are demanding sites be closed due to the COVID-19 threat. The Unite union representing many construction workers called on the Irish government to close all but essential sites, but is not organizing a mass walk out.

Construction workers are unable to maintain safe social distance measures either at work or travelling to work.

Africa

Zimbabwe doctors and airport workers strike over lack of protection against coronavirus

Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association members walked over lack of protective equipment to deal with COVID-19.

A letter was sent to the Mnangagwa government on Monday demanding the distribution of personal protection equipment (PPE).

Workers have also walked out at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZRA) at the Robert Mugabe International Airport, over similar concerns. Staff at ZRA are worried passengers have gone through the airport and have later died from COVID-19. Broadcaster Zororo Makamba, attended by workers at the airport, went on to die from the virus.

The Zimbabwe Revenue and Allied Workers Trade Union sent a letter to the government complaining they have no testing equipment to alert its members to infection.

Workers, including medical staff, have taken months of strike action to demand wages are paid in US dollars. With inflation at 600 percent, they cannot afford to travel to work.

Striking South African munitions workers’ jobs taken by untrained scab labour

Striking workers at South African munitions plant, Rheinmetall Denel Munition, are being replaced by scab labour.

The National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) members are demanding the right to withdraw from an expensive medical scheme. Workers are expected to pay for a company imposed medical scheme they cannot afford.

The strike began February 11, and untrained scab labour is being employed under conditions hazardous both to the workers and the public.

Rheinmetall Denel Munition is a joint venture between South African and German arms companies producing naval guns, mortars and other artillery.

Kenyan nurses strike threat over lack of coronavirus protections

Kenyan health workers have threatened to walk out if they are not properly equipped for the coronavirus pandemic. The Occupation Health and Safety Act stipulates workers can refuse to work if their lives are at risk.

A Kenya National Union of Nurses spokesperson said hospitals are under-resourced and confronting an overwhelming number of patients with inadequate equipment. Nurses are expected to work excessive and exhausting hours without protective gear.

Doctors complain every county is being left on its own, with no national strategy.

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