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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.
Public Services for All: International Human Rights Day
December 09, 2013: Human Rights Day is commemorated on 10th December to mark the date the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaiming its principles as the "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations". Human rights are indivisible and cover political, civil, economic and social rights.
Public Services International mourns and honours Nelson Mandela, one of the most recognizable human rights advocates of the twentieth century, a man whose dedication inspires people throughout the world. Mandela's life epitomized the fight for freedom, equality, and justice, all core human rights ideals. Nelson Mandela said: "Just and lasting solutions to the problems of humankind can only come through the promotion of democracy worldwide...To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In these twenty years, our understanding has evolved significantly concerning the challenges to implementing human rights for all, especially in relation to poverty, racism and migration. At the same time, the private sector - including financial institutions, multinational and other business entities - is taking a growing role in delivering or mediating human rights. We are seeing accelerating privatization of public services around the world. We are witnessing how big business is actively appropriating common goods and public interests. Putting corporate interests before all others will have a major impact on generations to come. Though trade agreements include clear references to human rights, these clauses are not applied in real terms.
Impunity continues at all levels, so that those who commit human rights crimes escape accountability for their deeds. Contraventions of human rights include discrimination on the basis of gender, age, and sexual orientation, crimes of corruption, tax evasion and economic mismanagement, and the refusal to recognize trade unions and collective bargaining. The right to collectively bargain is recognized by Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; this identifies the ability to organize trade unions as a fundamental human right. PSI is outraged over the actions of the United Nations and its Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for disregarding the legal collective bargaining rights of its own staff.
Public Services International works to end impunity in cases of violence against trade unionists around the world, from Guatemala to South Korea. PSI General Secretary, Rosa Pavanelli, says: "We call for social and economic rights and justice through collective bargaining and freedom of association, and we call for an end to the senseless privatization of public services that fuels inequality and corruption". Hand-outs and subsidies to the working poor will not solve poverty - only decent wages will. Most low-income countries lack even a minimum living wage. In a majority of high-income countries the economic crisis and accompanying austerity measures have had a major impact on women, young people and migrant workers - many of whom are being pushed into precarious employment.
We say NO to austerity which is an outright attack on human rights, and we call on the international institutions to recognize how severely austerity has undermined human rights. In the past five years, austerity measures have rolled back generations of social progress and increased inequality and social exclusion. PSI calls on all of our affiliates to demand funding for equality policies and more investment in public education, social and health services. We are committed to achieving human rights, supported by quality public services, for all people.
"Time to Consign Old Iraqi Labour Laws to the Dustbin of History"
09.12.2013: IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina delivered this message to the Iraqi Ambassador to the UN in Geneva today. It is the latest stage of on-going dialogue with the Iraqi authorities to ensure an urgent passing of ILO-compliant labour and trade union legislation in the country.
In the meeting at the Iraqi Embassy this morning, 9 December, constructive discussions were conducted to support the legislative process of new labour and trade union laws to replace the Saddam Hussein era repression of workers' rights to organise. General secretary Jyrki Raina explained to Ambassador Mohammad Ismail that IndustriALL Executive Committee member Hashmeya Muhsin al-Saadawi and other affiliate leaders are unable to freely organise workers or exercise their basic rights while an ILO-compliant labour law remains pending.
While Iraq's Constitution sets out protections of workers' right to organise into a trade union of their choosing, the Saddam era laws 150 and 151 have removed that legal protection since 1987. The IndustriALL Iraqi National Council has campaigned together with their national centres and others in a unified effort to repeal the draconian laws. See the report on November discussions on the labour law in Iraq which included the ITUC and the US Solidarity Center, as well as IndustriALL and ITF here. A clear bottom line for the unions is that such a trade union law must apply to workers and employees throughout what is classified in Iraq as the public sector (over 80% of the economy) and it must also recognise the present day reality of trade union pluralism.
IndustriALL today also urged the importance of ending legal attacks such as the continual ones on Hassan Juma'a and other union leaders. Presently, although Hassan has again been acquitted the vice president of the Iraq Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) appealed the fine levied against him that came to almost US$30,000 and succeeded in getting it dismissed only to have the Ministry appeal and ultimately succeed in re-imposing the draconian levy. He has now exhausted his administrative appeals and faces the possibility that the Ministry will demand a lump sum payment. Failure to pay could lead to loss of his job, seizure of his private property and even prison. Sixteen other workers face fines totaling more than US$600,000. Workers are being held personally responsible for the value of all lost production resulting from work stoppages. The Ambassador today denied that these charges were persecution for trade union activities but promised to investigate.
IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina told the Ambassador: Iraq is described by many as the cradle of civilisation. It is time you took the high ground. Iraq could be a beacon of change in the Middle East & North Africa, and we would very much like to see that. Ambassador Ismail told IndustriALL: There is no doubt that Freedom of Association legislation will be enacted in Iraq. People in Iraq have the right to protect themselves. We are ready to cooperate with everybody. But there are many important decisions pending in the parliament. The process takes time, and the security situation is very serious.
IndustriALL and its six Iraqi affiliates will continue to publicise the present appalling situation and press for ILO-compliant legislation to be passed in this parliamentary period in Iraq.
PSI Pays Tribute to Nelson Mandela
December 06, 2013: On the day that Madiba has left us, we express our profound sadness to all of PSI's affiliated unions in South Africa and to all of your members. Words are not enough to celebrate the greatness of Nelson Mandela. Today we have lost the very last hero of the world's recent history.
All the leaders of the world will celebrate Mandela's greatness today. We must be grateful to him for the extraordinary lessons that he taught the world. He suffered and fought for ending apartheid, he struggled to establish democracy through dialogue. He succeeded in being a great President for South Africa, a respected and inspirational political leader for the whole world, a champion for anti-discrimination, social justice and solidarity.
But his greatest lesson has been that of dignity, human dignity above all. As many other countries, South Africa may face difficult times in the future, but Madiba's legacy will give your country the powerful strength to overcome the problems. PSI stands with you today to mourn the loss of Madiba, but will be with you tomorrow to keep his lessons alive.
New National Industrial Union Takes Shape in Chile
03.12.2013: At the eighth national conference of the Chilean metalworkers' confederation (CONSTRAMET) on 21-23 November, delegates made progress in discussions on the organization of a new national industrial union. This was a significant step forward in the task of creating a union that will negotiate at sector level and cover all manufacturing and extractive industries where Industriall represents workers at the global level.
The conference opened at the offices of the Chilean central union CUT and was attended by the CUT president, Bárbara Figueroa, who described CONSTRAMET's work in promoting unity and strengthening the union as visionary. Horacio Fuentes, CONSTRAMET president, said: Chile is changing and the people have gone out on to the streets to protest. Chilean society is more aware of its rights and is prepared to protest and raise its voice in support of structural changes in education, health, labour rights, environment, social welfare and the need to recover natural resources, to such an extent that all candidates in the presidential election had to respond to the demands made by the people.
At the opening of the conference Marino Vani, IndustriALL Global Union Assistant Regional Representative, who attended the entire conference, congratulated CONSTRAMET for its work on the four-year project to strengthen the union. He highlighted the need to organize outsourced and non-unionized workers and to increase trade union membership and the number of workers covered by collective employment contracts. Our priority is to eradicate precarious work. Together we are strong, divided we are atomized, he concluded.
The conference formed part of a trade union strengthening programme in Chile aimed at building a new trade union structure and developing new collective bargaining strategies, a process that is being spearheaded by CONSTRAMET, an IndustriALL affiliate. The project aims to strengthen the trade union movement by merging manufacturing industry unions in Chile. The union's eighth conference was attended by 135 leaders from 67 CONSTRAMET affiliates in all areas of the country and aimed to create the conditions and make the changes necessary to create a new trade union structure and develop collective bargaining at sector, sub-sector, geographical and holding company levels.
The second day of the conference was held at Mantagua, 149 km from the Chilean capital, where working groups discussed the statutes and structure of the new organization. Delegates met again in plenary on 23 November to finalize the conference's conclusions. The new union will have nine departments, including ones for retail, women, youth, metalworking, mining, chemicals, forestry and textiles and will be organized on an area and regional basis (North based in Antofagasta; South in Concepción).
CONSTRAMET said the conference's main achievements were as follows:
CONSTRAMET said it will draft a work plan in January 2014, focusing mainly on developing coordination with other industrial organizations, including the Private Sector Federation (Federación de la Minería Privada), Unionisation Mining Confederation (Confederación Minera de Sindicalización), FTC, Mining Contractors (Contratista de la Minería) and all those who want to be part of the new national union. The union added that it will circulate the conference resolutions and that these resolutions made provision for ratification of the creation of the national union and its organization during 2014 in most towns where the main industries are located.
Ukraine: Call for Restraint and Inclusive Democracy
Brussels, 2 December 2013 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC has called for restraint by the authorities and an end to provocation in Ukraine, as violence has flared around protests against the government's about-turn over relations with the European Union. "We are deeply concerned at what is happening in Ukraine, with violent repression of demonstrations further polarising the country. We call on the government to stop the repression immediately, and open a broad and inclusive dialogue about Ukraine's future," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
Ukraine's trade union movement has pointed to the damaging role played by the International Monetary Fund, which has been pushing economic and social policy 'reforms' which are further weakening the economy. The IMF's demand for freezes in public sector wages, social benefits and pensions, as well as for higher utility costs, are strengthening the position of powerful oligarchs whose dominance over the economy would be threatened by closer ties with Europe.
World AIDS Day: BWI Affiliates Affirm Continued Support and Collective Actions
1 December 2013: HIV/AIDS and equality for women has been among the top ten global priorities for the BWI. At the BWI ongoing 3rd World Congress at Bangkok, Thailand - women leaders from the affiliated unions across the globe strongly reaffirmed their continued commitment and support to the cause of HIV/AIDS and Persons Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHAs).
On the World AIDS Day, Chair of the BWI International Women's Committee, Edna Opoku Boackye remarked, "HIV/AIDS is to be recognized not only as a workplace issue but also a gender issue as it affects women workers disproportionately due to their marginal status in society and limited access to resources". At the regional, national and local level - affiliated unions have been carrying out awareness actions, education trainings, influencing policies for social protection including right to care and treatment; and also inclusion of HIV/AIDS clause in Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs).
Speaking on this occasion, Ambet Yuson, General Secretary, BWI urged BWI affiliates to continue to give priority to HIV/AIDS and undertake programs and activities for awareness generation and upholding the rights of PLHAs in all negotiations and bargaining to ensure that they are not subjected to discrimination and lead a life of dignity and respect.
The latest United Nations data indicates that 35.3 million people are living with HIV/AIDS globally. Worldwide efforts at various levels by different stakeholders have resulted in decline in AIDS related deaths by 30% since the peak in 2005. This year, the theme of the World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero" echoing the UNAIDS vision of achieving "zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths."