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Plugging the media
WHILE BP struggles to stem the flow of oil escaping into the Gulf of Mexico it has been more successful in restricting news media coverage of the unfolding catastrophe - assisted by various US government agencies.
According to The New York Times, in one incident, Democrat senator Bill Nelson's attempt to take a small group of journalists aboard a Coast Guard vessel to inspect the oil slick was barred by the Department of Homeland Security.
Other examples of restrictions on news reporting of the disaster include: the Federal Aviation Authority imposing flight restrictions over the affected area, a news reporter denied access to a polluted public beach by the police, and a CBS News crew threatened with arrest for trying to film an oil tarred beach.
World Cup pay
THE UGLY side of the beautiful game was on display at the football World Cup in South Africa when riot police charged security stewards protesting before the Germany vs Australia match over cuts in their already low pay. Tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets were turned on the stadium staff.
"They're giving us 205 rand [£18], we started at 12 noon and worked until midnight", Sikhumbuzo Mnisi, a 44-year-old from Durban revealed. "Different things have been said to people, but we were promised 1,500 rand [around £133] per day". He reported: "We started to protest because we wanted to negotiate."
The attack forced the lockdown of the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban on 13 June with police having to take over stewarding duties.
Further clashes between stewards and the police occurred 24 hours later when stewards in Cape Town walked out prior to the Italy vs Paraguay match, partly in support of their Durban colleagues but also in response to their own bad conditions.
FOXCONN, THE Taiwanese owned, Chinese based electronics company that supplies products to Apple, Dell, Hewlett Packard and Sony, has become notorious for the high number of its workers who have committed suicide (see issue 627 of The Socialist).
Foxconn's city-sized factory in the Shenzhen free trade zone, southern China employs 400,000 mainly migrant workers. They work 70 hours a week for about US 50 cents an hour under a military-style administration and harsh working conditions.
In response to the damaging publicity surrounding the suicides, Foxconn has announced a doubling of its workers' wages from 1 October. However, this cathartic act (and wages should be far higher) will not make much of a dent in the company's mega profits. Staff costs, including pensions, amount to only 7% of the cost of inventories. Moreover, companies like Foxconn can reduce wage pressures by exploiting even cheaper labour further inland or by subcontracting to Bangladesh.
In The Socialist 16 June 2010:
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis