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Pharmacare: A Plan for Everyone...
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coalition of labor, community and consumer advocacy organizations
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it's not a tax on the people, it's a tax for the people...United States
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International Brotherhood of Teamsters
ILO Labor Standards
The International Labor Organization (ILO) labor standards take the form of International Labor Conventions which are ratified by member countries. Of the total number of ILO Conventions, eight are considered core labor standards, fundamental to the rights of workers. The ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations.
New law brings paid leave for victims of domestic violence in New Zealand
15 August: New legislation adopted by New Zealand's Parliament provides victims of domestic violence 10 days paid leave to allow them to ensure their personal safety. Under the law, which comes into effect in April 2019, victims will not be required to provide proof of violence and will have access to flexible work arrangements to facilitate their safety.
The law recognizes that domestic violence can impact the workplace, echoing the discussions that took place at this year's International Labour Conference (ILC), where the Standards Setting Committee decided that the fight against harassment and violence require a Convention, supplemented by a Recommendation. The legislation highlights the need for action to address the effects of domestic violence on the world of work at the forthcoming discussion at the next ILC, where union input will be critical.
IUF New Zealand affiliates have greeted the legislation as a significant advance. Unite Union commented that "We had negotiated domestic violence leave for our members at SkyCity casino last year, but were facing many years of bargaining to extend that to all our union agreements. Having it legislated as a basic employment right will ensure all workers have access immediately, and help remove the stigma of asking for, and receiving, support when faced with domestic violence."
First Union said that while they had negotiated domestic violence clauses in many of their collective agreements, "This will make it easier for us to negotiate these terms and conditions into collective agreements so we are very thankful on behalf of our members who have experienced domestic violence, and as an organisation battling to have such clauses included in employment agreements. Employers have a responsibility to protect their workers and this adds additional protective cover to all New Zealanders."
The Meat Workers Union said "Domestic violence affects us all. This legislation offers a pathway for victims who often face financial constraints trying to leave an abusive situation." New Zealand has one of the highest rates of domestic violence among developed countries.
Asia Pacific: No part of the world is immune from the threat of commercialisation of education
13.08.2018: "No part of the world is immune from the threat posed by commercialisation and privatisation, not even the island nations of the Pacific. In the interest of our students, members and quality education for all, this needs to be a priority."
This was the statement of Govind Singh, General Secretary of the Council of Pacific Education (COPE), to the leaders of Education International member organisations gathered in Nadi, Fiji to consider the commercialisation and privatisation of education across the Pacific.
Union leaders from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and the Staff Union of the University of the South Pacific shared their national experiences and developed a deeper understanding of EI's Global Response, during a meeting the on 6 and 7 August.
A research project aimed at mapping the trends of privatisation will be commissioned to inform the development of national campaign plans necessary to confront the threats posed by commercialisation and privatisation in education in their countries and strengthen inclusive and equitable quality free education for all.
EI's Global Response campaign is working with unions in different continents to affront the growing commercialisation and privatisation in and of education as it represents the greatest threat to the achievement of quality free public education for all. The effects of commercialisation and privatisation have a serious impact on students, communities and public education systems. Education International has been using research as a guide to inform the campaign and create an accurate picture of trends, tendencies and outcomes.
IndustriALL and Esprit commit to working together to improve workers' rights
06.08.2018: IndustriALL Global Union has signed a global framework agreement with multinational fashion brand, Esprit, committing to respect, protect and champion the human rights of workers in its supply chain.
The agreement covers 525,000 workers at more than 1,100 suppliers making textile, footwear and apparel products for Esprit in 27 countries.
In the agreement with IndustriALL, Esprit recognizes the crucial role that freedom of association and collective bargaining play in empowering workers and developing well-functioning industrial relations. Through the agreement, IndustriALL and Esprit will collaborate to set up mechanisms to make it easier for local trade unions to negotiate detailed collective agreements with all suppliers to Esprit at the national or local level.
Under the agreement, IndustriALL and Esprit will collaborate to ensure that fundamental International Labour Organization (ILO) standards are applied by their contractors, subcontractors and principle suppliers, including the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work as well as many other ILO Conventions and internationally recognized standards.
In conjunction with IndustriALL, Esprit commits to:
IndustriALL's general secretary, Valter Sanches, says: This is a big step forward for Esprit and for half a million people working in their global supply chain. Esprit recognizes that the best way to empower garment and textile workers is to create an environment where they are free to join a trade union and bargain collectively, while being protected by the highest international labour standards. We look forward to working with our affiliates and using this global agreement to help improve workers' rights.
Esprit is excited about this collaboration. The Esprit Supplier Code of Conduct has always included freedom of association. This agreement will give us new tools to uphold this commitment in a meaningful way, says Lary Brown, VP Head of Global Social Compliance and Sustainability at Esprit.
Esprit has already partnered with IndustriALL as a member of the ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) Initiative, which aims to implement a living wage in garment manufacturing regions by enabling industry collective bargaining in major producing countries. It is also on the Steering Committee of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, set up by IndustriALL and UNI Global Union to improve garment factory conditions after the Rana Plaza factory disaster in 2013.
Esprit, which is headquartered in Germany and Hong Kong sells clothing, footwear, accessories and homeware in 41 countries. All its products are made by suppliers with the majority of production carried out in Bangladesh and China. There is also sizeable production in Turkey, Vietnam, India and Pakistan.
Zimbabwe Elections: Military unleash violence on peaceful assembly of protesters, gunshots fired at trade union offices
Brussels, 2 August 2018 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC condemns the post-election violence by the Zimbabwean military and security forces, including gunshots fired at the offices of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), following spontaneous assemblies of protesters expressing fears about potential stealing of the election and democratic mandate of the people of Zimbabwe. The country's Electoral Commission has declared that the ZANU-PF party won the elections with a substantial majority but has refused to release results, drawing criticism from the opposition and international observers.
Zimbabwe's military has in recent past stood between the people of Zimbabwe and their realisation of democracy, stability, prosperity and the protection of their human rights. The Labour Movement harbored cautious optimism that Zimbabwe, in the lead up to this elections, had turned the corner but the deplorable recourse to violence against peaceful citizens yesterday is a continuation of the culture of impunity that keeps setting back the hopes of the Zimbabwean people. The ZCTU had repeatedly expressed concern over the role of the Electoral Commission in the lead-up to the elections.
"The Zimbabwean people have struggled for too long for basic human rights, decent treatment and democracy to build a resilient, stable and prosperous society for all. With the departure of Robert Mugabe an opportunity beckons to realise this and nothing should be done to undermine the aspirations and mandate of the people expressed through this critical election, said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
The ITUC calls on the Government to guarantee peace for all Zimbabweans and to stand with the people against impunity and unaccountable use of force against the citizens of Zimbabwe. The Government must hold the military to account.
"We urge the Electoral Commission to ensure that the counting of the ballot is transparent, inclusive and credible. Election is not only about peacefully casting a ballot. The remaining processes must meet the same test of being free, fair, transparent and reflecting the true wishes of the people. We call on all stakeholders in the political process, especially political leaders, the security forces and civil society to act with utmost restraint and a great burden of responsibility to ensure that the rule of law, human rights and democracy prevail at this critical juncture and in the future, said Burrow.
Justice for DHL workers in Turkey - the power of international solidarity
30 July 2018: UNI Global Union welcomed news that DHL Turkey and UNI affiliate Tümtis have finally started negotiations on a collective labour agreement (CLA), after a year of struggle.
UNI which, along with its sister global union the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), has a protocol with DP-DHL, praised the workers for their courage but said DHL Turkey should have agreed to the demands for a CLA much earlier.
UNI Global Union General Secretary, Christy Hoffman said, "This should not have taken almost a year of struggle, DHL should have adhered to the protocol and come to the negotiating table months ago. However, we finally have justice for workers at DHL Turkey and we have witnessed the power of international solidarity." Head of UNI Post & Logistics, Cornelia Broos added, "DHL workers in Turkey finally have the opportunity to be represented by their union of choice. The strong will and resilience of the Turkish union Tümtis and international solidarity have finally won through. Now, Tümtis can start to build a just relationship with the management in the best interests of its workforce."
Tümtis President Kenan Öztürk thanked UNI and the ITF for their support, "This is what global solidarity can achieve. The support we received from the around the world gave us the strength to carry on and win justice for our members at DHL. Thank you to everyone who supported us."
AMR, Superbugs and the workplace
26 July 2018: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) - the development of 'superbugs' resistant to antibiotic treatment - has emerged as a major global threat to public health, killing hundreds of thousands of people annually. Health authorities predict that without concerted action millions more may soon succumb to infections which are successfully treated today but whose carriers are mutating to defy prevention and treatment. Yet worker health and safety has been almost completely ignored in the global fight against AMR.
Workers involved in raising and processing meat and poultry are routinely exposed to AMR pathogens due to the reckless overuse of antibiotics in the meat production chain and the contamination of farms and processing facilities. Once exposed, they in turn become potential vectors for transmission. Sustained efforts to limit the spread of AMR therefore requires that it be recognized as a workplace hazard and appropriate measures are implemented by governments and employers to minimize the impact on worker health. Unions representing the workers who are in the frontline of exposure must be involved in the development and implementation of these measures at every stage.
The IUF has produced a trade union briefing on antimicrobial resistance as a workplace issue - where it comes from, how it spreads, and what must be done to fight it. CLICK HERE to download Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) - A Workplace Hazard
Energy unions demand Just Transition at world conference
26.07.2018: Energy trade unions from 50 countries are united in demanding a Just Transition to protect the rights and living standards of workers as the energy industry experiences massive change.
More than 200 representatives from 70 trade unions gathered in St Petersburg, Russia, on 25 and 26 July for IndustriALL Global Union's world conference for the sector, under the theme "Building Union Power in Energy Industries". The energy sector is facing rapid changes in national energy policies and structures to meet climate change emission targets and adapt to new technologies that substantially change the skills required of energy workers. This is taking place against the background of a growing demand for energy, privatization and increasing precarious work in the sector.
Just Transition, in the context of sustainable industrial employment, is needed to ensure changes to the energy sector are implemented with fairness and justice to workers and their families and communities.
Alexander Korchagin, president of the host union, the Russian Oil, Gas and Construction Workers' Union, said that during this very important time for the energy industry, trade unions are the best way of protecting workers' interests. Speaking at the conference, IndustriALL general secretary, Valter Sanches, said that energy is a basic right, but as a result of privatization, multinational companies have commercialized energy and created monopolies. "The most common electricity model is run by private companies with poor public regulation," said Sanches. "Multinational companies are so powerful and governments are afraid of confronting them."
Discussions at the conference highlighted the growing problem of precarious work, which affects all countries but is particularly acute in countries like Nigeria, where nearly all operational workers are on indirect contracts. Other countries, such as Ivory Coast, cited the large differences in pay, working conditions and benefits between permanent and non-permanent workers. Unions must increase efforts to organize precarious workers, and include precarious workers in collective bargaining agreements where possible, said participants.
Increasing cooperation in trade union networks was cited as key to building union power through solidarity support and the exchange of information amongst unions across borders. The energy network in Latin America has been particularly successful in helping to set up new trade unions in the sector. Participants discussed IndustriALL campaigns in the sector, including Shell, which tries to play workers at different locations against each other and refuses to negotiate with IndustriALL on a global level. It also noted the severe trade union violations in Algeria, as well as the ongoing campaign to ensure rights for DNO workers in Yemen.
In a lively discussion on Industry 4.0, lifetime learning, education and training - paid for by the company - was highlighted as vital to workers. Trade unions need to be partners in the decision making process when it comes to the technological transformation of energy production.
Participants approved a new action plan for the sector, identifying strategies to; produce a Just Transition; build union power; stop precarious work; increase women's participation and representation; improve health and safety; confront global capital and create sustainable industrial policy.
The conference also offered deepest condolences to Greek workers and people affected by deadly forest fires in Greece, as well as communities affected by a lethal dam burst during the construction of a hydroelectric plant in Laos. The conference also made solidarity statements in support of worker struggles at ExxonMobile in Australia, National Grid in the United States and Total in the UK.
Frode Alfheim from Industri Energi (Norway) and Apsorn Krissanasmit from PTT LU (Thailand) were re-elected as co-chairs of the Energy Section at IndustriALL. Gwenne Farrell from MOVE-UP (Canada) was elected vice co-chair for the Electricity Section and Valeriy Matov from Atomprofspika (Ukraine) was elected vice co-chair for the Nuclear Section.
IndustriALL's general secretary, Valter Sanches, said: "The energy sector goes through the same problems as other sectors such as violations of rights, union busting and precarious work. What is particular to the sector is energy transition. We must build union power so we can have a seat at the table with governments and companies to create sustainable industry policies at the national level that guarantee Just Transition."
Iraqi unions condemn violence against protestors
25.07.2018: Iraqi unions are playing a crucial role in an uprising against corruption and poor services that is sweeping Iraq. On Saturday, unions issued a statement condemning violence against protestors and calling on the government to meet protestors' demands.
Mass protests broke out two weeks ago in Basra, the city in southern Iraq central to oil production, and soon spread to other provinces. Protests were sparked by high unemployment, poor public services and corruption. There is increasing outrage that huge amounts of oil wealth is extracted from the country while people live in poverty. Protestors demand that the government provide them with water, electricity, and other essential services, reject the current confessional political system and demand a representative national government. Under the current system, power is shared through a quota system between the major groups in society, the Shi'a, Sunni and Kurds. The protestors believe the system leads to sectarian divisions and corruption.
The protests have been brutally suppressed by the security forces, with 13 people killed and 81 arrested. The government cut off access to the Internet, which has made it difficult for Iraqi activists to spread news of the situation.
Speaking on Iraqi national television, IndustriALL executive committee member and president of the Basra Trade Union Federation, Hashmeya Alsaadawe, said: "Against whom are these military troops and arms directed? To the unarmed citizens who call for their legitimate demands of a dignified life! They only need water, electricity and job opportunities.
"Who should we address our demands to? The local government doesn't respond! I called for peaceful protest. There is no hidden agenda. However, we don't exclude the possibility that some may misuse the situation."
In a statement signed by a number of IndustriALL Global Union's Iraqi affiliates, the Conference of Iraqi Federations and Workers Unions said: "The public protest ongoing in many provinces in our country is a consequence of the grave crisis affecting our society, which is a result of racism, sectarian conflict and the wrong economic and social policies.
"The protest demands not only drinking water, electricity to protect from summer heat and winter cold, an end to unemployment, hunger, the deprivation of services and life below the poverty line. It also demands justice against the rule of oligarchs who break down the national and social fabric of the Iraqi people by force and cruelty."
IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches said: "Iraq is a tremendously wealthy country, and its people are entitled to a fair share of that wealth. The powerful Iraqi trade union movement has thrown its weight behind the demand for a decent life and an end to corruption. The international movement is proud to stand by them."
Recently, the Iraqi elections were won by the Sairoon (Progess) alliance, which includes left wing parties and was propelled to power by the same forces that are now in the streets. The alliance has not yet been able to form a government.