By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | September 2, 2012

South Africa Drops Murder Charges against Striking Miners

Murder charges against hundreds of striking miners will be dropped, pending further investigation, the country’s top prosecutor announced Sept. 2. The murder charge against the current 270 suspects, which was provisional anyway, will be formally withdrawn in court on their next court appearance.

Lawyers for the miners called last week’s decision to charge them with murder "bizarre in the extreme." and the country’s justice minister called it shocking and confusing. She said the law in question was sound, but that more evidence was required.

There are at least three separate investigations into the incident, one by police, one by the watchdog independent Police Investigative Directorate and a judicial commission of inquiry set up by President Jacob Zuma.

Irish Unions Are Told to Accept Cuts or Face Job Losses

Unions face major battles with the government after it made a new threat to impose redundancies if they do not accept cuts. The government is hoping that its actions will reduce the country’s budget deficit.

A government spokesman has warned that "immediate punitive action" will be taken against any unions or any body that fights changes that have already been rubberstamped by state mediation bodies. Internal union correspondence reveals that the government has threatened to act against those who fail to cooperate by imposing job losses and who refuse to deploy to understaffed areas.

A Trinity College spokesperson said it could not implement the court’s recommendation, which it does not believe to be binding, due to the precedent it would set and the risk of ensuring unsustainable costs."

Air France Expected to Plan Chinese Maintenance Sites

Air France-KLM plans to extend its growing maintenance business to China to tap a booming Asian aviation market, a union source said. The French carrier told worker representatives it would launch construction at two sites during the first quarter of 2013, with a view to opening for business in 2014.

The French company would own a plant located in Xian, specializing in mechanical maintenance and half of a plant in Shanghai in a joint venture with a Chinese partner. The latter will provide maintenance to onboard electrical equipment.

Air France-KLM plans to cut 5,000 jobs to turn around its short and medium-based business, which lost roughly 500 million euros last year.

Indonesia’s Goal: Universal Health Insurance by 2019

A senior Indonesian minister said over the weekend that health insurance would be available for all Indonesians eligible for the program by 2019. The Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister, Agung LAksono, said health insurance would be implemented in stages, starting in 2014 and that in the next five years, all Indonesian citizens would have health insurance, as required by the 2004 Natonal Social Security System.

Wealthier people will have to pay for their own insurance premiums or be covered by their employers. The government will cover premiums for poor and low-income families.

One crucial question that is still being discussed is the cost of the total program and how it will be paid for. The government has finally decided that a monthly premium of $2.33 per person will be applied to those eligible for the program.

Kenya Teachers’ Strike Begins Sept. 3

The Secretary General of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), David Okuta Oslany ,said members of his group will embark on a nationwide strike on Sept. 3 to press home their demands for better pay. This comes despite an industrial court ruling declaring the strike action unconstitutional.

Oslany said the strike was necessary after the government refused to negotiate with teachers in spite of repeated appeals. He said the strike will continue until the government meets their demands. What we demand are the allowances as contained in legal notice 543 of 1997, Oslany said.

In February, we started writing to our employer to give us an avenue of negotiations. We have written letters and letters, but none has been replied to. Oslany told the government that if they don’t want to negotiate with us, then we shall have no option but to call our teachers out on strike.

Norway Oil Strike Averted after Last-Minute Deal

A costly Norwegian oil strike by workers was averted after a last-minute deal on wages and working conditions won agreement from both unions and employers. If the strike had been called, up to 150 workers at two fields operated by drilling services company KCA Deutag would have walked off the job this Sunday.

Both sides said the only workers who were party to the dispute were KCA Deutag employees. The latest conflict closely followed a two-week strike from the Northern by offshore oil workers that shut in 15 percent of daily oil production and about 7 percent of gas output from the Norwegian North Sea.

Norway is the world’s eighth largest oil exporter and the second biggest gas supplier in Europe after Russia. The deal cut Sunday between Industri Energi and the OLF involved a general pay raise of 4.5 percent, backdated from June 1, 2012.

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