Tag Archives: working class

South Africa News | Poor & Working Class

South African president announces free higher education for poor and working-class students
  • The change affects students from households making up to 350,000 South African rand (~USD26,715) enrolled in the country’s TVET (Technical Vocational Educational and Training) colleges.
  • President Jacob Zuma has pledged to implement the shift from loan- to grant-based subsidies in a “fiscally responsible manner,” with aid to higher education institutions set to increase from 0.7% to 1% of GDP over the next five years.
  • Critics continued to question the financing for such a sweeping initiative, with the finance minister indicating details will be deferred to the 2018 budget unveiling in February.
Read

Zuma announces free higher education for poor and working class students” (News24 | December 2017)

Gigaba: How government will fund free education to be clarified at 2018 budget” (The Mail & Guardian | December 2017)

Zuma says South Africa’s free higher education to be done in a fiscally sustainable manner” (Reuters | December 2017)

South Africa Feature | Black Youth

The Fall Before the Rise in South African Higher Education

Over the last two years, a new set of student movements has situated the South African university as the site of a contentious conflict over higher education’s role in the perpetuation of racial and economic inequality. As the battle has shifted from public representation to economic access in the transformation of Rhodes Must Fall into Fees Must Fall, black South African students have taken on the deeply entrenched systemic and institutionalized inequality of South Africa’s higher education system. But beyond education, the struggle has called on South Africans to examine the “unfinished business of apartheid,” as one scholar has described it. BuzzFeed News investigates the emergence of the new student movements in South Africa and the stories of those driving its evolution.

Read

Poor, Gifted, and Black” (BuzzFeed News | May 2017)

Additional

The faces behind South Africa’s Fees Must Fall movement” (CNN | October 2016)

(Image Credit: Alon Skuy/The Times/Getty Images, via BuzzFeed News)

South Africa Feature | Low-Income & Working-Class Black

The Entrenched Legacy of Housing Segregation in Cape Town

Like many global metropolises, Cape Town faces conflicts over how to secure housing rights for low- and middle-income households inflected by histories of racist social engineering. Cape Town’s situation is complicated by the legacy of housing apartheid in South Africa, which continues to render historically white-only neighborhoods financially inaccessible for many black households and threatens to uproot others as the high tide of gentrification approaches. A number of media outlets have recently examined the persistence of housing segregation in the city and political and guerrilla efforts to promote inclusive urban planning and secure affordable housing rights for black Capetonians.

Read

‘End spatial apartheid’: why housing activists are occupying Cape Town” (The Guardian | May 2017)

Profile: How gentrification is creating a new apartheid in South Africa” (The National | May 2017)

We must end Cape Town’s housing ‘apartheid’ – think-tank” (The Thomson Reuters Foundation | May 2017)

(Image Credit: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp, via The Guardian)

France News | Workers & Police

Massive protests against French labor reform bring about violence, arrests, strikes
  • Demonstrations have been ongoing since March, when labor and student unions organized against government proposals perceived as decreasing job security and negotiating power for workers.
  • More than 1,000 have been arrested during clashes with police in cities like Paris and Nantes that have seen more than 300 officers injured as protesters have alleged instances of police brutality, with police unions organizing counter-protests against anti-police violence.
  • After President François Hollande’s government survived a no-confidence vote, union leaders planned rolling strikes and continuing demonstrations across the country.

Read more:
Une semaine de grèves et manifestations pour relancer le mouvement contre la loi travail” (Le Monde, in French)
French police hit back at ‘anti-cop hatred’ after protest violence” (The Guardian)
French government shrugs off no-confidence vote, faces new strikes” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)

May Day || Global

Global May Day 2016

One of the few truly global holidays, International Workers’ Day (May Day) is both a worldwide celebration of the working classes as well as a day to draw attention to ongoing insecurities workers around the world face. May Day has historically had a twofold purpose: a day for workers to voice their concerns over contentious labor policies and for governments to reaffirm their commitments to workers’ rights and just labor practices. At times little more than public relations campaigns and at others violent clashes between governments and workers, global May Day events have highlighted the diverse relationships between labor, employers, and government around the world. Here are the highlights of May Day 2016 in more than 30 countries:


Asia Pacific

Bike rallies were held in Pune as Indian PM Narendra Modi saluted workers on Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas, a public holiday. Pakistan‘s major labor unions convened in Lahore to speak out against poor working conditions, violations of international labor conventions, and ongoing privatization in the country. As Bangladeshi officials addressed labor relations and welfare reforms amidst a day of union-organized programming, in Kathmandu, Nepali workers marched while awaiting the ratification of the Labour Act, which guarantees greater social security for workers. Across the Indian Ocean, Australian union leader singled out penalty rate protection and tax reform as major Labour Day issues, with the date of the holiday having been a point of contention as well.

Throughout East Asia, workers rallied to draw attention to labor conditions and call for reforms, from ending contractualization in the Philippines to protecting job security in South KoreaHong Kong saw thousands take to the streets to demand fair and standardized working hours along with a universal pension program. In Malaysia, PM Najib Razak took the day to announce an increase in the national minimum wage and an insurance scheme proposal.

Europe & Eurasia

In cities across France, tens of thousands marched in protest against proposed labor reforms that would loosen the country’s controversial employment and job security policies. Jeremy Corbyn became the first U.K. Labour party  leader to attend a May Day rally in a half-century when he spoke to a crowd of thousands in London, reaffirming solidarity against anti-immigrant sentiment and addressing anti-Semitism accusations that have plagued his party recently. Spain saw thousands across its cities gather, many protesting ongoing austerity measures. An estimated 800,000 gathered in Rome‘s San Giovanni Square, with this year’s event dedicated to slain Italian student Giulio Regeni.

Some 2,000 convened in rain-soaked Zagreb to hear labor leaders protest the increased retirement age and ongoing poverty in Croatia. Moscow hosted a mass demonstration in the city’s Red Square estimated in size from the tens of thousands to 100,000, while thousands gathered in Istanbul’s Bakirköy district under a heavy police presence in the wake of urban suicide attacks and ongoing violence across Turkey.

The Americas

From New York to Los Angeles, demonstrations in the U.S. highlighted widening economic inequality in the country and an election season marred by racist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic sentiment. While most protests took place without incident, a peaceful march turned violent in Seattle, leading to five injured officers and nine arrests. A similar outbreak in Montreal led to one injury and 10 arrests.

In Latin America, Brazil‘s embattled president and Workers’ Party leader Dilma Roussef rallied alongside hundreds of thousands across the country as her impeachment proceedings continue and workers fear the inauguration of her center-right vice president. Cuba‘s May Day parade continued the national tradition of expressing support for the Castro regime rather than directly celebrating labor or expressing concerns over labor conditions. In Argentina, President Mauricio Macro backed employers and touted labor proposals that had spurred mass demonstrations only days before. Elsewhere in the region, minimum wage increases were announced in Venezuela and Bolivia and a march took place in Santiago as Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced a review of her labor reforms after the Supreme Court rejected a key provision granting exclusive negotiating rights to unions.

Middle East & Africa

Police in Egypt blocked hundreds of workers from assembling in a Cairo office as labor leaders and international organizations called for the government to decriminalize independent union organization. In Israel, more than 5,000 youth marched in Tel Aviv, while a Palestinian trade union renewed its call for the establishment of a minimum wage and the dismantlement of the Gaza blockade. A government-sponsored event in Dubai reportedly drew nearly 200 workers, though labor practices in the UAE continue to draw international scrutiny.

South of the Sahara, events popped up across South Africa as politicians sought to address the country’s high unemployment rate and appeal to workers ahead of August elections. In Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari spoke to thousands of workers in Abuja, touting his anti-corruption campaign. A Mozambique labor leader addressed a crowd in Maputo about the debts of state-owned companies and the need for wage and workplace reform. As the decline of oil prices has created economic hardship throughout Angola, the country’s two labor unions marched to draw attention to deteriorating worker conditions and the need for infrastructure maintenance. Workers in Ghana protested the privatization of the management of the state-owned Electric Company of Ghana, while the government insisted the company was still run by the state. Meanwhile, Ethiopia sidestepped Sunday commemorations altogether by moving May Day to May 3, when labor leaders plan to highlight ongoing struggles to organize Ethiopian workers.

Argentina News | Workers

Thousands from Argentina’s main unions protest economic policies in Buenos Aires
  • Demonstrators took to the streets to protest currency devaluation, inflation, and massive layoffs stemming from new President Mauricio Macri’s economic policies.
  • Union leaders delivered speeches accusing the government of shifting the burden of economic stabilization onto workers and demanding measures to protect job security.
  • The mass demonstration took place ahead of International Workers’ Day, with leaders threatening to strike if the government ignored their concerns.

Read more:
All five umbrella unions hold massive demonstration against Macri’s policies” (Buenos Aires Herald)
En un multitudinario acto, las centrales obreras reclamaron por los despedidos, inflación y Ganancias” (La Nación, in Spanish)
Argentine unions flex muscle in anti-government street protest” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: via La Nación)

France Feature | Working Class, Immigrants & Racial Minorities

Estates of Emergency

France’s notorious housing estates–akin to housing projects in the U.S.–have long existed as symbols of an unintegrated France. Though President François Hollande has pledged to address the long-standing segregation that divides Paris’s poor banlieues from its more affluent city center, rampant unemployment, limited educational opportunities, crime, and stigmatization continue largely unchecked. The Guardian reflects on conditions in Paris’s most notorious estates a decade after riots forced what one banlieue mayor has called “social and territorial apartheid” into the national consciousness.

Read more:
‘Nothing’s changed’: 10 years after French riots, banlieues remain in crisis” (The Guardian)

(Image Credit: Ed Alcock/The Guardian)