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Philippines: Workers' rights trampled by Japanese electronics and auto supplier

26.09.2016:   Japanese-owned company NT Philippines violates labour rights in the Cavite Economic Zone in the Philippines.

NT Philippines is a major supplier to electronics companies including Flextronics and Apple, and automotive companies such as Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Delphi, Jaguar, Kia, Chrysler, and Ford and among others.

The company uses bogus outsourcing and harasses union activists. Despite repeated demands by workers to regularize their status, management refuses comply and continues to harass the NT Phils. Inc. Workers' Union, which fights for the workers' rights. The union is part of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Confederation of Labor and Allied Social Services (CLASS).

Since the union was formed, the almost 900 workers at NT Philippines have struggled for regularization within the company from a bogus in-house agency. The union and CLASS filed a case with the department of labor, who found in favour of the workers, declared the agency illegal and ordered the company to absorb the workers without losing their seniority rights.

The company has failed to comply with this order. Workers are waiting patiently for this and other claims - such as payment of service incentive leave and other benefits as provided by law and past practices - to be implemented.

The company has resorted to union busting tactics and propaganda, and tries to discredit the union by spreading the threat that the company will shut down if their buyers know that the workers are unionizing.

The company has further violated union rights by physically removing the union president, Randy Ramos, from the factory and transferring him to a sister company, where it continues to harass him and isolates him from other union officials and workers.

"I feel humiliated by what our company is doing to us, even myself I was transferred away from my fellow workers, I was assigned to a post doing nothing, I was not even given a locker and a place to stay but instead the management said you can stay wherever you want as we do not care for you anymore", said union president Ramos.

These acts of harassment and intimidation by the company prompted the union and CLASS to file a number of cases against NT Philippines, at the Cavite office of the labor department, at the conciliation and mediation board and at the arbitration unit. They demand the return of the union president to his former assignment and respect for the right to unionize.

"We demand to NT Philippines as well as to its major buyers to respect the right of the workers and uphold their commitment to internationally-recognized labour rights. Moreover, we demand for an immediate dialogue for the company to adhere to the implementation of regularization of its workers", said Concepcion Dodd, CLASS president.

IndustriALL South East Asia regional secretary Annie Adviento said:

"The intimidation, harassment and propaganda by NT Philippines against the union is unacceptable and clearly violates international labour standards. The department of labour has ordered the company to regularize its workforce. The company needs to comply, and recognize the right of its workers to unionize."

NT Philippines is a major supplier to Multek and other big electronics and automotive brands, and produces flexible printed circuits for use in mobile phones, spark plugs and other car parts.

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

ITF unions tackle 'Ubernomics' threat to workers

Trade unionists from around the world explored a common ITF approach to tackling the Uber business model of "deregulation, destabilisation and disrespect for workers", which is increasingly prevalent in the taxi and other transport sectors.

23/09/2016:   The second ITF Uber meeting in Antwerp, Belgium on 20 and 21 September attracted 37 trade unionists from 19 countries, including North America, South America, South Africa and those in Europe. They were joined by the International Road Transport Union (IRU) and a member of the European Parliament.

Frank Moreels, president of BTB in Belgium and vice-chair of the ITF's road transport section, said that Uber and other app-based models promoted themselves to passengers as innovative "but are based on deregulation, destabilisation, disrespect for workers, ignoring legislation, not paying taxes or contributing to social security".

He continued: "Uber acts like a 'hidden' employer. Communicating with clients and workers by mail, text...Uber drivers are selected and fired by e-mail, contracts are signed electronically.

"But traditional taxi operators needed to up their own game in terms of respecting their drivers and innovating to meet passengers' expectations, if they are to meet the challenges of the Uber business model."

The participants shared their experiences of wins against Uber in cities such as Austin, Texas in the USA; Brussels, Belgium; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Copenhagen, Denmark. But they agreed that Uber could influence politicians to find other ways to re-enter cities it had been banned in, and agreed that information-sharing was essential in following the company's global development.

Bhairavi Desai from the New York Taxi Workers' Alliance commented that it was vital to make workers' voices central in the economic clashes in the taxi industry and to win the trust of taxi workers to develop union campaigns. Unions needed to share global strategies based on universal principles to protect workers against the predatory 'Ubernomics' business model, which was destroying full time work and replacing it with 'sub-minimum poverty gigs'.

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

UNI Finance: "Give workers a seat at the table to avoid Wells Fargo-type scandals"

22 September 2016:   In the aftermath of the Wells Fargo scandal, the US banking giant has announced that they will be removing sales targets in order to make sure that their employees are focused on the best interests of customers.

This concession comes after a campaign to change the banking sector carried out by the Communication Workers of America (CWA), the Committee for Better Banks and UNI Global Union over the past 3 years.

Wells Fargo was handed the biggest ever fine (100 million dollars) by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after it was revealed that employees illegally opened over 2 million unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts in order to hit sales targets. Over 5300 employees have lost their jobs at Wells Fargo because of the scandal. While Wells Fargo is blaming the 5300 low paid front line workers for the scam it is refusing to recognize that many employees who did the right thing were terminated for failing to meet excessive sales goals or for speaking up about unethical sales practices.

UNI Finance says it is essential that workers have a collective voice and can represent their interests without retaliation. This will create an early warning system to sound the alert on bad behaviour. In order to build sustainability in the finance sector, it is necessary to have strong unions, collective bargaining and social dialogue.

"Exorbitant sales targets can take a huge toll on workers' mental health and lead to desperation," said Head of UNI Finance Angelo Di Cristo. "Forcing workers to meet excessive goals can cause dangerous bank practices. Eliminating product sales goals is a positive first step. "Bank workers should not be intimidated and scared to lose their jobs for standing up against an abusive and dangerous system. They have shown that it's possible to change big banks such as Wells Fargo, and we hope that workers at other banks can follow suit."

Oscar Garza, a former personal banker at Chase Bank, who spoke in a congressional briefing CWA, UNI and the Committee for Better Banks held in June, explains that they have been sounding the alarm about the harm that abusive sales targets can cause companies, employees and customers.

"The enforcement action and the decision to eliminate sales quotas for Wells Fargo are a victory for workers and consumers," said Garza. "However, predatory sales targets are widespread across the US banking system - bank workers need a collective voice and protection against retaliation for whistleblowing. We will continue to organise to end the pervasive and out-of-reach sales goals across the industry."

Khalid Taha, a former Wells Fargo personal banker who also provided testimony in the congressional hearing, told the New York Times that he received a multitude of complaints from clients about dubious accounts right up until he left the bank this summer.

"They warned us about this type of behaviour and said, 'You must report it', but the reality was that people had to meet their goals," said Taha to the New York Times. "They needed a paycheck."

US Senator Elisabeth Warren told Bloomberg news, "Something is badly broken at Wells Fargo. Even after the events of 2008, the culture at this giant bank is still about profits - even if it means cheating people and breaking the law."

Speaking to the CEO of Wells Fargo at the hearing in Senate Banking Committee, the Massachusetts Senator said, "You haven't resigned. You haven't returned a single nickel of your earnings. You haven't fired a single senior executive."

"Instead, your definition of being held accountable is to push the blame to your low-level employees who don't have the money for a fancy P.R. firm to defend themselves. It's gutless leadership."

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

IUF Bangladesh affiliate rallies to demand justice for victims of factory fire disaster

21 September 2016:   The IUF-affiliated Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation (BAFLF) organized a mass rally and human chain in Gazipur near the capital Dhaka on September 21 to demand the arrest of the owner of the Tampaco Foils Factory and proper compensation to the families of those who perished in the September 10 explosion and fire. At least 34 people are known to have perished in the explosion and blaze at the factory, which manufactured packaging materials for local and multinational companies including Nestle and British American Tobacco (BAT).

Speakers at the rally called for swift action to arrest and prosecute the fugitive owner, a former MP, and all those bearing responsibility for the loss of life. The factory's construction provided no adequate safety protection to workers and no access for effective firefighting. Following the rally, a BAFLF team submitted a memorandum to the local authority calling for the arrest and punishment of all those responsible for the deaths and action to ensure compensation.

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

After TTIP deal upended, leaks call TiSA into question

19 September 2016:   Greenpeace has joined trade unions and civil society in condemning the Trade in Services Agreement after new leaks released by Greenpeace Netherlands office showed the deal would restrict governments' ability to implement climate change action.

The new leaks confirm fears, outlined in PSI's recent report TiSA vs The Climate, that the Technical Neutrality clause would inhibit governments from prioritizing clean energy technology, like solar and wind, over dirty fossil fuels. This and other recent leaks include material that points to limits on Governments' ability to reverse privatization or to regulate the finance industry, despite deregulation playing a central role in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

"It is unacceptable that citizens must rely on leaked documents to find out what laws their governments are negotiating on their behalf," says Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of PSI.

"We now know that TISA will undermine COP21, further deregulate the financial sector, stop failed privatisations being brought back into public hands and undermine data privacy laws. What else are our governments keeping secret from us?"

The 50 countries involved in the negotiation of this little-known trade deal cover 70& of the world's services sector. In an attempt to avoid public outcry, such as that expressed over CETA and TiSA, the negotiations are being conducted in secrecy in the back-rooms of Geneva and the parties refuse to release the negotiating text.

"Google and Facebook should not determine privacy rights, banks should not regulate banks and having the fossil fuel industry involved in environmental policy is as senseless as the tobacco industry having a say in health policy. Let those decisions be made by the people via the governments they elect," said Susan Cohen Jehoram, a trade campaigner with Greenpeace.

The Greenpeace analysis of the most recent leaks adds to PSI reports which show that TISA would prohibit failed privatisations being brought back into public hands, and restrict governments from implementing public interest laws to protect workers, consumers, small business and the environment.

Growing concerns

TiSA is fast becoming a mainstream issue thanks to PSI and its allies' work. Over the weekend, over 300,000 people took to the streets of Europe to speak out against regressive trade deals such as TTIP, CETA and TiSA. As a result of such public pressure, European leaders have begun to express doubt about these large trade deals and campaigners are hoping that these further alarming revelations will see TiSA join TTIP in the dodgy-deal-dustbin of history.

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

STMicroelectronics trade union network will develop cross-border union cooperation and solidarity action

16.09.2016:   Trade unions of STMicroelectronics from France, Italy, Malaysia, Malta and Morocco met for the first time and launched the trade union network on 15-16 September at IndustriALL head office in Geneva, Switzerland.

The union representatives discussed the common issues they face at STMicroelectronics, a French-Italian multinational, headquartered in Switzerland. The company is a major player in the electronics industry, and is one of leading semiconductor chip manufacturers in the world. The company employs more than 43,000 worldwide, with manufacturing sites in China, France, Italy, Malaysia, Malta, Morocco, the Philippines, and Singapore.

The semiconductor industry is highly competitive, innovative, fast changing and with short production cycles. At the same time, many of semiconductor companies are trapped into a short-term profit cycle, fuelling a rise in precarious work. STMicroelectronics is no exception. In 2016, the company announced mass-layoffs worldwide without long-term planning and strategy to maintain its business.

The company also operates in the countries where fundamental workers' rights are not respected, such as China, Malaysia, and the Philippines. In those countries, workers do not have enough collective bargaining power to negotiate with the local management, resulting in precarious working conditions such as low wages and long working hours, for instance 12-hours shift for four consecutive days.

Given the situation, the participants agreed that the company needs to fully comply with international labour standards, especially freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, covering all company operations throughout the world without exception.

In the meeting, the participants actively discussed the following objectives:

  • To learn about importance of the trade union network and Global Framework Agreement
  • To share and exchange information on the current workplace situation and union activities
  • To discuss how to develop the trade union network with a harmonized and coordinated structure

The unions attending the meeting adopted a statement to unite STMicroelectronics trade unions around the world to increase our collective power and engage with the company at the global level. The network will develop cross-border union cooperation and solidarity action to monitor and implement fundamental workers' rights at all workplaces and to achieve fair and just working conditions for all the workers.

The participants also appointed a contact person from each union to achieve effective and constructive communication among the network and confirmed actions for the next step.

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

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