Monday, 29 August 2011

Good Riddance to a Bad Apple

Back from a fantastic holiday with my family and, apart from the need to catch up on the background/extent of the UK riots, I have been trying to get my head around the many global developments in issues related to labour and workers’ rights.

One of the more eye-catching was the breathless praise poured over the sickly (quite literally) outgoing CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs.

Any trade unionist with an ear to the ground will know that Apple’s success under the reign of Jobs has rested primarily on the outsourcing of production to anywhere that Apple could quickly grow phenomenal profits at the expense of workers’ rights in a number of Asian countries, particularly China.

Our friends at SACOM ( have maintained an excellent job of uncovering the brutality of working lives at Foxconn for example and Talking Union (blog of the US DSA - are documenting well the range of contemporary grievances of thousands of Chinese workers including those of workers alleging poisoning at Wintek – see the story posted by Debby Chan on 28 Aug.

In the past Jobs has not disguised his particularly vulgar views on trade unions in the US, so it is not surprising that he would care less about workers’ rights outside of the States. On a number of occasions ( he has fallen into the typical hard-right blackhole of condemning teaching unions for alleged poor standards in schools.

The highly rated ZDNET ( was one of many electronic sources which, despite its usual support for Apple products, quickly saw through Jobs’ blather, “He's right that the ideal would be to only have great teachers, but blaming the bad teacher syndrome totally on the unions isn't going to solve the problem. Paying teachers a better wage to attract more talent (they don't get those nice back-dated stock options) and keeping the good teachers from seeking other employment because they can't afford to teach would be a good start.”

It is also worth documenting that this has all occurred against a backdrop of nascent labour organisation in Jobs’ backyard. With the news earlier this year ( that some Apple had got together to form the Apple Retail Workers Union what better way to raise two fingers up to the ailing Jobs as he exits stage left.

The union has a hesitant web presence currently with a web-site that it principally collecting contact details (www.appleretailunion) and attempting – for justifiable reasons – to gather the details of potential recruits amongst what Apple staff. A more buoyant Facebook page exists and is worth a visit not least to express solidarity.

Even The Observer yesterday had a praiseworthy piece on Jobs, which is probably the catalyst for this post. What a pity, I thought, that in examining the global growth and reach of a corporation, the media cannot ask at what price for the workers involved?

Comments, additions and questions welcome.

In Solidarity


Monday, 1 August 2011

Αλληλεγγύης (Solidarity)


I am just heading off to Crete for a break with my family.

And, I am very pleased to report that, in addition to the strong protest movements on the Greek mainland in full swing, there is plenty of militant trade union action evident in Crete also.

It also transpires that not all of the unrest is linked to the Greek government's response to the debt-crisis.

A quick round-up indicates the following:

The Hellenic Seamen’s Union (PNO) is kicking up a fuss because of planned changes to T&Cs and is currently doing a sterling job blockading a number of ports. I hope to get myself to the port closest to where I am staying and, with my dire Greek, send a message of solidarity.

The taxi drivers' union in collaboration with the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) must be causing mayhem with their blockade of Iraklio Airport. I derive great pleasure from the angst of fuming Brits when they encounter striking sisters and brothers on the continent. These gits think they have avoided Bob Crow and his heirs and saunter off to Crete to avoid him only to find his kindred spirits in equally feisty mode!

Even the dentists are threatening to down their tweezers, or whatever it is they tap your teeth with. Apparently the government want to allow those without a degree in dentistry to set up in practice - and they wonder why the tooth doctors are getting all uptight -much gnashing of teeth!

There is a full round-up of all disputes in Greece and across the islands at:

All being I will make it back without being arrested or joining some form of insurrection!

In Solidarity