International News

ARMENIA: 16 DEAD, 17 MISSING, 62 INJURED IN FIREWORKS EXPLOSION

Sixteen bodies have been recovered from the site of a fireworks warehouse blast in Armenia, while a further 17 people remain missing.The explosion caused parts of the building to collapse and injured at least 62 people. It is not clear what caused the blast, although authorities have ruled out terrorism. Video shared by the emergencies ministry showed a smouldering pile of rubble and twisted metal. "Looking at the footage of the moment of the blast, it becomes obvious that there can be no talk of a terrorist act, because first there is some fire, smoke rises, and then an explosion," the Armenpress news agency quoted Emergencies Minister Armen Pambukhchyan as saying.

Source: OHSIntros on Facebook, ABC News, Reuters 16 August 2022. Picture source: Reuters: Vahram Baghdasaryan/Photolure

NEW ZEALAND: UNION CONCERN OVER SEASONAL WORKER ABUSE

Revelations that seasonal migrant workers are being exploited, forced to live in cold, damp homes and are being threatened against joining unions, must prompt urgent action from the New Zealand government, the Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU) has demanded. “We are simply appalled at reports that Pacific workers have been forced to live in crowded, unhealthy homes in the middle of winter and face other restrictions which amount to a breach of human rights,” said NZCTU president Richard Wagstaff. The revelations follow an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo. The workers are in New Zealand under a Recognised Seasonal Employers scheme. “We need to do more to ensure workers who come to our country in good faith to support their families are treated fairly,” said Richard Wagstaff.

Source: NZCTU news release.

IRAN: UN’S ‘GRAVE CONCERN’ OVER HARASSMENT OF JOURNALISTS

The United Nations (UN) has raised its ‘grave concern” over the harassment of BBC Persian Service journalists and has requested an explanation from the Iranian government. The UN communication came after the BBC filed an urgent appeal to the UN in February 2022 about the online violence and gendered attacks faced by women journalists, as well as increased financial pressure from an ongoing asset freeze, which operates as a blunt financial sanction against BBC News Persian journalists and their extended families. The UN experts expressed their “grave concern over the continuation of reported harassment and intimidation of the BBC News Persian staff and their family members, which appears to be aimed at preventing them from continuing their journalistic activities with BBC News Persian”. They also warned Iran that they intend to raise public concern about the treatment of BBC News Persian staff, stating “the wider public should be alerted” to Iran’s conduct towards journalists.

Source: RISKS -TUC-11 August 2022 UN communication to Iran. NUJ news release.

ARTISTS SPEAK OUT AGAINST BULLYING IN VISUAL EFECTS INDUSTRY

Marvel, the Disney-owned multibillion-dollar franchise, has been accused of placing impossible demands and of bullying its visual effects (VFX) artists. Joe Pavlo, an Emmy award-winning visual effects artist and chair of the animation and visual effects branch of the creative union BECTU, said: “The visual effects industry is filled with terrific people with lots of goodwill who really care but, at the end of the day, there’s nothing in place when their backs are up against the wall and Disney is making crazy demands.” He added: “Disney-Marvel is very famous for wanting multiple versions running parallel so that they can decide what they want. A strong union would be able to reel that in a bit.” Union organising drives are under way at corporate giants such as Amazon and Starbucks, offering a possible blueprint. Pavlo added: “If they can do it, all the bosses and clever people in the visual effects industry can figure out how to do it.”

Source: The Guardian.

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