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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.

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Rosa Pavanelli's speech at the 23rd Congress of the UGTT in Tunisia

23 January 2017:   Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International (PSI) made the following speech at the 23rd Congress of the Tunisian trade union centre, the Union générale tunisienne du travail (UGTT), held in Tunis on 22-23 January 2017.

Rosa Pavanelli's speech
Dear Comrades, it as an honour to bring you greetings of solidarity from the 20 million public service workers that the PSI represents in the world.

Every day, increasing violence and conflict and the effects of climate change displace millions of people and drive them to migrate in order to survive.

Racism, xenophobia, populism and the various kinds of fundamentalism are not the way to respond to these phenomena. On the contrary, they are a virus that we trade unionists must combat because they are aimed at the weakest and poorest, they divide workers and worsen working conditions to the advantage of capital and multinational companies.

An unprecedentedly voracious economic and financial system is the real global power in the world today and it is capable of influencing all governments in order to protect its interests.

This is the cause of the violent attacks on working conditions that are taking place throughout the world. Workers' rights, including their right to collective bargaining, are threatened, while the right to organise in a trade union and the right to strike are increasingly criminalised. We must respond to this attack by strengthening the unions, making them more representative and recognising their role as social actors. This response must be coordinated at the national and global levels because the challenge is global.

In order to ensure the social cohesion and justice necessary to improve the lives of most people in the world, it is essential to fight for tax justice and against the privatisation of public services, public-private partnerships and free trade treaties that perpetuate the colonial economy. In brief, it is only the solidarity of workers organised in autonomous, independent and democratic trade unions that can challenge the powerful enemies that want to strip us of our dignity.

The UGTT has shown the world that we can achieve this and that the role of the social partners and civil society is crucial to the defence of democracy and justice. And the Nobel Prize 2015 was well deserved.

Thank you colleague Abassi and thank you UGTT for all you have done.

But, with respect, there will be no social justice and no genuine democracy until women are able to share in all aspects of society on an equal basis to men. On Saturday, thousands of women in Washington and other cities joined protests against President Trump, who symbolises the threat to their dignity.

I hope that today the UGTT will take the first steps towards including women at all levels of the organisation and that you will know how to make further progress down that road in the near future.

I am certain that the trade union that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and that has defended Tunisian democracy is not afraid of gender equality.

Long live the UGTT, Long live solidarity, Long live the workers of the world.

Source:  Public Services International--PSI uniting more than 20 million workers in 669 affiliates in 154 countries

Attacks on unions continue as Turkish government bans strikes

20.01.2017:   In the course of a couple of days, the government of Turkey has imposed decrees citing threats against national security, effectively banning thousands of workers from their legitimate right to strike.

A strike planned at Asil Çelik steel mill in Bursa, Turkey, was deemed "prejudicial against national security" and banned at the last minute on 18 January.

Today, more than 2,200 workers in 13 factories owned by ABB, General Electric and Schneider Electric around Turkey received the message that the strike was banned a couple of hours after it had started.

According to current legislation, the decree is followed by a 60-day "postponement period" for negotiations, where the parties have to agree. In practice this means that there is no chance to continue the strike after the 60-day period.

In early 2015, Turkey's government banned strikes in nearly 40 companies. ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association has ruled that suspending a strike on the pretext that the strike would be a threat to national security is in violation of the principles of freedom of association.

"Again, we strongly condemn this blatant violation of the fundamental right of workers to strike, guaranteed by Turkey's constitution," says IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan.

Kemal Özkan says that using the excuse of threat against national security does not have any rational or legal grounds. "On the contrary, this shows the government favouring business interests rather than protecting the rights of the workers.

"IndustriALL will continue to support our Turkish affiliate Birleşik Metal-İş, and urge the Turkish government to withdraw the decree and instead create a proper environment where free collective bargaining negotiations can take place."

Source:  IndustriALL Global Union--IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 600 unions in 140 countries

UNI Global Union IT Organizing Conference vows to organize in the IT Sector

18 January 2017:   At the opening of the UNI Global Union IT Organizing Conference in Berlin, over 150 trade union leaders vowed to prepare for the future and organize in the IT sector.

Trade union leaders agreed that there was a need to work together to strategise and find better ways to organize in this large and rapidly growing sector.

In her opening remarks Deputy General Secretary of UNI Global Union Christy Hoffman said, "The Future World of Work is a top priority for UNI. But our strength - our credibility as unions - is in the world of Work. So only natural that we try to go beyond the question of "What is happening in the new world of work" - to the next step, which is "How can we organize in the new world of Work"?

Hoffman went on to dispel two popular IT sector myths - namely that IT workers and millennials are uninterested in trade unions. For example, IT workers at Accenture in Bangladesh are just as passionate about wanting a union as workers anywhere," said Hoffman. "They also want decent pay, job security and a voice on their conditions through bargaining."

Hoffman also referenced a recent a campaign where young workers joined in large numbers. "But young workers won't join just because their fathers joined. Or their mothers.

Just like any organizing, there should be issues that they care about, objectives that the union can help to achieve, and these issues will be different for IT workers than for those in retail. And unions may need to "freshen" their image. But the labor movement is a big tent which can make space for all kinds of unions, this is not one "style" fits all."

Michael Jäkel, head of the IT department at ver.di, "IT is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. As Telecommunications fades, big data and IT grows - this is the sector of the future and we must ensure that we remain relevant."

Hans-Joachim Völker from Ver.di presented on IT "Ecosystems" and how they can influence employees and unions. Völker, who has worked for IBM for 36 years, urged unions to invest in new forms of organising, strategizing and communicating. "If unions are not able to break in to these personal ecosystems and reach workers, they will become obsolete. The tools are here, and many unions are taking steps in the right direction - that's why I'm so excited to see the results of this conference."

Research was also presented on the state of play in the IT sector around the world by Emmanuel Reich before Alex Högback outlined the new forms of building worker power and organising strategies in the IT industry.

Source:  UNI Global Union--UNI represents more than 20 million workers from over 900 trade unions worldwide

MLC abandonment provisions coming into force: ITF comment

The ITF (International Transport Workers is giving a warm welcome to the major new Maritime Labour Convention provisions on crew abandonment that come into force tomorrow.

17/01/2017:   ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: "From tomorrow the mechanisms will be in place for a huge change that will finally treat the running sore of crew abandonment. At last the fundamental idea that those who send seafarers to sea have a responsibility for them is enshrined in regulation."

He continued: "This provision has been a long time coming, and, just as with the MLC itself, the ITF is proud to have been involved since its conception, working alongside the ILO, governments and shipping organisations."

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton commented: "These new provisions are deeply significant, and a worthy addition to the hugely significant MLC itself. All parties must now work together to ensure that they are put into action, and address those areas in the world where there's an absence of MLC ratification."

He concluded: "It's important that seafarers understand what the changes mean. We recommend that they check that there is a valid insurance certificate on board and realise that if abandonment does occur that they must raise the alarm right away. To help spread this message we've set up dedicated web pages in multiple languages, and we are making available simple A4 instruction posters for use in missions and on ships."

Source:  International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing over 4.5 million transport workers in 700 unions from 150 countries

Workers' rights are never out of fashion!

13.01.2017:   Half a million textile, garment, and footwear workers in Italy are on a general strike today, 13 January, demanding the renewal of the national labour contracts. A demonstration was held in Florence, coinciding with one of Italy's major fashion events, Pitti Uomo.

Negotiations on the renewal of labour contracts for Italy's garment industry for the period of 2016 - 2019 have been delayed for more than ten months.

Trade unions are calling on the employers to return to the negotiating table and agree on the renewal of the labor contracts, which should comply with national and international labor standards.

Union representatives say that is imperative that employers refrain from trying to impose conditions, such as a wage model that would only contemplate salary increases after the expiration of the three-year contract period, or contractual flexibility, that would seriously impinge on fundamental workers' rights.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Valter Sanches says that IndustriALL fully supports the legitimate demands of the Italian workers: We stand firm in solidarity with the 500,000 textile, garment, and footwear workers in Italy on their general strike. We urge the employers to speedily engage in a meaningful dialogue with the unions, ensuring that their rights are met.

Source:  IndustriALL Global Union--IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 600 unions in 140 countries

Kazakhstan: Government Action Against ITUC Affiliate

11 January 2017:   The ITUC is deeply concerned at the withdrawal by the courts in Kazakhstan of the registration of the ITUC-affiliated Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (CNTUK) and two of its member organisations, the Domestic and Social Workers Union and the Healthcare and Social Development Workers Union.

In a sudden move this week, the authorities have launched further actions against the CNTUK and its President, Larisa Kharkova, including the seizure of documents of the organisation, effectively paralysing the CNTUK's activities.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: "We call upon the Kazakhstan government to cease the actions against the CNTUK and fulfil its obligations to respect ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association which, under the country's Constitution, has prevalence over national legislation. We are following this case closely, and will support the CNTUK and its affiliates in every way."

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 180 million workers in 162 countries and territories and has 333 national affiliates

UK: Teacher unions unite to demand salary boost

09 January 2017:   Six education unions from the UK have made a joint submission to the national review body calling for a "significant" salary increase for teachers, whose pay has been frozen or capped since 2011.

In a single submission to the UK's School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the National Union of Teachers, both affiliated to Education International (EI), together with the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Association of Head Teachers, Voice and the Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru in Wales called for a "significant pay increase" for teachers to address a "crisis" in recruitment and retention.

In the joint statement, the unions stress that "we are not recruiting enough teachers and too many are leaving the profession, worn down by relentless overwork, stress and pressure".

They link this recruitment and retention crisis to declining pay, where teachers' and school leaders' salaries have been cut by 11.5 percent in real terms between 2010 and 2016 "as a result of six years of pay freezes and pay caps," according to their evidence.

Issues ignored

Claiming that this has made the profession less attractive to potential entrants, they underline that Education Secretary Justine Greening "failed to recognise" these issues in her submission to the STRB, which said any rise in teacher pay should continue to be capped at one percent overall.

The six unions argue that a "significant pay increase" is now "imperative" to meet existing demand for teachers and to respond to the 750,000 growth in pupil numbers forecast by 2025.

Cost of living increase

They are, however, "totally opposed" to pay awards being based solely on performance, arguing that all teachers should get a cost of living increase so wages can keep pace with inflation.

Increases to pay in September 2017 must also be "fully funded" to save schools from having to pay for salary rises out of their own stretched budgets, the unions add.

The STRB will issue its recommendations later this year, although the government is not obliged to accept them.

Source:  Education International--EI uniting 32.5 million education workers in 396 organizations in 171 countries and territories

Labour 20: High expectations for the German G20 Presidency

9 January 2017:   This Monday, shortly after the start of the German G20 Presidency, trade union representatives from the G20 countries officially kick off the accompanying Labour 20 (L20) process.

The L20 will set out its joint positions and demands ahead of the G20 summit in Hamburg in early July 2017. The main emphasis will be on fair globalisation, focusing on growth and employment, income distribution and corporate responsibility along supply chains. The German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) and the international trade union movement have high expectations of the German Presidency, seeing it as an opportunity to revive the international coordination of economic and employment policies.

Reiner Hoffmann, Chairman of the DGB: "If the G20 takes its motto 'Shaping an interconnected world' seriously, it cannot avoid new rules for a fair globalisation. Germany is in a unique position with its G20 Presidency: Chancellor Angela Merkel has already publicly stated on several occasions - both to the trade unions and at the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau - that she believes companies must take greater responsibility for working conditions along their supply chains. Now she has to act on this demand."

John Evans, General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC): "The G20 needs to follow up past commitments by action and agree on coordinated policies and ensure practical outcomes to create jobs and achieve a more equitable distribution of the income and wealth delivered by trade and growth, through collective bargaining, redistributive taxation, investment in skills, and strategies for achieving the sustainable development goals, climate transition and an inclusive diffusion of technological change."

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC): "It is time to end the scandalous oppression of millions of workers in our supply chains. Germany has shown important leadership on this question and we need other governments to reaffirm their commitment to wage mechanisms that ensure a minimum living wage and collective bargaining, along with responsibility of business for the due diligence required by the UN business and human rights principles."

On 16-17 May 2017, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend a Dialogue Forum with trade unions in Berlin as part of the L20 summit. There are also plans for a statement on digitalisation with the Business 20 (B20) group of business organisations, to be presented to the heads of state and government at the G20 summit.

Background: The Labour 20 (L20) represents the interests of workers at G20 level. The group brings together trade unions from the G20 countries as well as global union federations (GUFs), and is coordinated by the ITUC and TUAC.

Since the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008, the L20 has been involved in the G20 inter-governmental process to ensure inclusive and constructive dialogue on 'Jobs and Growth' as one of the official outreach groups together with the Business 20 (B20), Civil 20 (C20) and Youth 20 (Y20).

The L20 conveys the key messages of trade unions at consultations with the Employment Task Force and Sherpa meetings, Labour and Finance Ministers meetings and G20 summits. Joint social partner consultations with heads of state and government and Finance and Labour Ministers are an integral part of the G20 process.

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 180 million workers in 162 countries and territories and has 333 national affiliates

Morocco: workers from throughout the country march in Agadir in support of rights for DOHA fish workers

7 January 2017:   Union activists from around the country travelled to Agadir on December 31, 2016 to show their support for the more than 500 workers dismissed by the DOHA fish canning company following a strike and lockout in 2015 and to denounce the court-ordered seizure of the union leader's apartment.

Members of the national center CDT and their supporters, men and women from Agadir, came out to welcome the protest demonstration that stretched for several kilometers from the city outskirts to the city central square. The 'march of anger' then advanced along the main avenue and towards the beach area where protestors formed a human chain facing the lines of policemen who had been put on full alert, to demand justice for union President Abdullah Rakhmoun and the DOHA workers and an end to the use of the courts to curtail fundamental rights.

DOHA, a major exporter of processed fish products, is part of the wealthy BICHA Group.

Source:  International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco, and Allied Workers' Associations --IUF uniting 12 million workers in 416 affiliated organizations in 126 countries

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