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Pushing workers to produce more Besides lowering wages, companies can make higher profi ts by producing more. Therefore companies try to make workers work longer hours, over more days, with fewer breaks. It is estimated that on average workers in Australia work close to 8 hours a week in unpaid overtime. In Japan, workers being pushed to the limit gave rise to a new word - Karoshi - which means ‘death by overwork’. In production lines all over the world, compulsory overtime is used to push workers to produce more. Cutting back on Occupational Health and Safety For workers, Occupational Health and Safety is a matter of life and death. For companies it is a cost that affects their profi ts. The appalling massacres of garment workers at Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2013 and of coal mine workers in Soma, Turkey in 2014 happened because profi ts were put before lives. In China, an estimated 6,000 workers die every year in the mining industry for the profi ts of mining bosses. Many hundreds of thousands more workers get sick or die every year due to chemical or toxic substances, and many other problems at work. Importing migrant workers Employers import migrant workers on precarious contracts and low wages. All over the world, migrant workers have often been at the forefront of worker organising, but this is made massively more diffi cult by the use of “temporary” visas which tie the workers’ immigration status to the whim of the boss. In many countries, they are not even legally allowed to join unions. So companies and governments are able to super-exploit migrant workers. Countries like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia have millions of migrant workers, and they lack independent unions. In Qatar, hundreds of migrant workers have been killed while constructing the stadiums for the upcoming soccer world cup. What can be done to counter company tactics in their global race to the bottom? Global Picketline - Asia Workers Organising - aawl.org.au 7


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