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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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Unions picket government building in Kiev

28 May 2015:   On 27 May, Ukrainian unions picketed the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. The 1,000 participants demanded that the government stop their anti-social policy and take action to resolve social and economic problems.

Apart from the full payment of wage arrears and compensation to the workers for the delayed wages, the unions raised a number of important demands:

  • Increase minimum wage as of 1 July in order to reach the actual living wage, which is twice as high as the official calculation
  • Carry out wage indexation until 1 July 2015 according to the inflation rates in 2014-2015
  • Prevent the adoption of unconstitutional laws that limit the rights and freedoms of the Ukrainian citizens
  • Restore the social rights and guarantees of workers, retirees and Chernobyl veterans as of 1 January 2016, which were suspended or cancelled in 2015
  • Ensure reliable state control over legal compliance in labour relations, and firm measures on overcoming illegal employment and "shadow" pay
  • Carry out effective social dialogue.

On 27 April the Joint Representative Body of Ukrainian Trade Unions decided at a meeting to enter into a collective labour dispute at a national level with the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Joint Representative Body of the Employers. The government has previously avoided solving workers' social and economic problems with social dialogue. Instead unions' demands have been ignored, resulting in a national collective labour dispute.

Several IndustriALL Global Union affiliates participated in the picket.

The picket on 27 May was in support of the demands, and several IndustriALL Global Union affiliates participated. The next pickets are scheduled for 3 and 10 June.

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

IMF should stop attacks against pensions and workers' rights in Greece

27 May 2015):   The ITUC has attacked the IMF over its hard-line stand on Greece, including its demands that the Greek government should dismantle workers' rights. The global union body expressed its strong support to its affiliated organisation in Greece, GSEE, at a moment when unreasonable austerity and deregulatory reform demands could force the country to default to the IMF as early as next month.

In June, the government will have to choose between maintaining vital public services and pension payments, and carrying out loan reimbursements to the international lender largely responsible for Greece's current predicament.

ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow stated: "The ITUC finds unacceptable that the IMF has taken a hard-line stance within the Troika, or 'Brussels Group', and is pressuring EU lenders not to make loan disbursements unless Greece cuts pensions such that the basic level will be €360 per month, below the subsistence level. With more than a quarter of the labour force out of work, a large share of households have come to rely on pensions as their only stable source of income and will be pushed into poverty if pensions are further reduced."

The IMF has also made demands that would intensify the dismantling of rights of Greek workers, most of whom have already lost collective bargaining coverage, by fully liberalising collective dismissals, abolishing the law that protects trade union activities and placing new restrictions on the right to strike. "Greece's labour laws are consistent with EU norms," said Burrow. "The IMF's apparent intent to eliminate workers' collective voice in Greece will do nothing to achieve recovery but may succeed in ensuring that inequality will grow by leaps and bounds. The IMF should show some consistency with its own research on the negative impacts of inequality. It should respect workers' rights and support an equitable tax reform in Greece."

The ITUC pointed out that when the IMF concluded its first loan agreement with Greece in May 2010, it predicted that its programme would restore economic growth within two years, with unemployment peaking at less than 15 per cent and public debt at less than 150 per cent of GDP. In reality, unemployment has exceeded 25 per cent since 2012, and the debt-GDP ratio currently stands at 180 per cent despite a partial debt write-down three years ago.

"Given the IMF's utterly inept performance in failing to predict the level of depression and indebtedness that its loan conditions caused, it is understandable that the Greek electorate was sceptical of Troika promises of prosperity around the corner when it elected a new government in January," said Sharan Burrow. "After five years of destructive austerity and structural adjustment, the IMF and other international lenders should stop their obstructionism, make loan disbursements on the previously agreed extensions and support the Greek people's efforts to rebuild their economy through policies that give priority to employment creation. We call on the IMF to desist in its mindless attack on workers' wages, rights and pensions."

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 176 million workers in 162 countries and territories and has 328 national affiliates

UMT launches election campaign for recognition in Morocco

26 May 2015:   The UNI affiliate UMT (Union Marocaine du Travail) has today officially started its campaign for recognition in the rapidly expanding Contact Centre sector in Morocco. On June 3rd over 70,000 workers will be balloted, both nationally and seperately, on whether or not they wish to have UMT representing them in social dialogue with the national government and at work place level in their works councils. It is a massive undertaking but the young activists of UMT are determined to give it their very best. Leaflets, t shirts and caps are in evidence all over Morocco as the workers set out to win the elections.

Morocco has been nicknamed the 'Call Centre Capital of Europe' as French and Belgian companies have outsourced their businesses from Europe to Morocvco. Although the government have included nearly 70,000 workers in this ballot, estimates now claim there are already over 100,000 workers in the sector, many of them in the so called informal sector. Many of the comapnies have been established in specially constructed tax free zones, with purpose built offices and facilities. One such centre - Casanearshore outside Casablanca, employs approximately 10,000 workers on one site.

UMT has been training activists on organising networks, the laws relating to elections and on how to campaign. The campaign, in this new sectior for the union, is taking place alongside elections in all industrial sectors for works councils and social dialogue and so the union is at it speak organising time. Nevertheless this sector is recognised as an important one, with a young, mostly female, workforce and an expanding area of business. Jobs in the sector are in demand but there are still concerns about the length of working shifts and respect in the workplace.

UMT has been supported by both UNI and the Solidarity Centre (AFL-CIO) in training, planning and resources.

The elections take place on June 3rd with the results due sometime between then and the 10th.

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

Cambodian Government Set to Further Weaken Labour Rights and Export Workers to Qatar

Brussels, 22 May 2015 (ITUC Online):   Cambodia's plans to further reduce its weak labour protections have come under attack from the ITUC and Global Union Federations. A series of new measures, being developed behind the scenes by the government, would further restrict rights for the country's impoverished workforce. The new legislation would exclude large segments of the workforce from labour law protection, set unreasonably high membership thresholds for union registration, give the government sweeping powers to suspend unions, undermine collective bargaining rights and allow government officials to ban strikes or lock-outs without proper recourse to the courts.

Cambodia is also believed to be preparing to export a first batch of workers to Qatar, following a 2011 agreement between the two countries. A Cambodia-based recruitment agency has confirmed that the authorities have now issued it a permit to send workers to Qatar, where the "kafala" system enslaves workers to their employers and where unions are banned for foreign workers. At least one migrant worker dies each day in Qatar.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary said, "Cambodia's labour laws are already seriously deficient, and these measures would tilt the balance further in favour of employers, leaving workers more vulnerable to exploitation and unjustified sanctions by government officials. On top of that, the government is now preparing to allow Cambodian workers to be sent to Qatar, where the brutal reality of work belies the promises that recruitment agencies frequently give to unsuspecting migrant workers."

The ITUC and Global Union Federations IndustriALL and UNI have written to Prime Minister Hun Sen calling on the government to shelve the plans and instead introduce a law that complies with ILO standards. Major international clients of Cambodia's garment industry have also been calling for the country's labour laws to be brought up to international standards, and the latest government risk further undermining investor confidence in how Cambodia's government treats its own people.

Referring to this week's tragic accident where 21 Cambodian garment workers died and several more were injured when the truck they were being transported in collided with a bus, Burrow said "Workers are too often treated as expendable commodities in Cambodia. The government needs to strengthen labour laws rather than leaving people vulnerable to employer negligence and exploitation."

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 176 million workers in 162 countries and territories and has 328 national affiliates

First hotel workers' conference in Myanmar calls for union recognition and respect

21 May 2015:   The historic first conference of hotel workers in Myanmar was held in Mandalay on May 20-21, bringing together 55 delegates from hotels in three major tourist destinations: Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay. The conference promoted sustainable jobs, safe work and respect for worker and trade union rights as integral to "Responsible, Ethical & Sustainable Tourism" in Myanmar.

As part of the conference the IUF-affiliated Phuket Federation of Hotel and Service Labour (FHSL) from Thailand and the National Union of Hotel, Bar and Restaurant Workers (NUHBRW) from Malaysia provided training on the structure, role and functions of national hotel unions and federations, collective bargaining agreements, service charge and wages.

The main demand arising from the meeting was union recognition by both international and domestic employers in the hotel industry and respect of collective bargaining rights. Conference delegates, which included hotel housekeepers, also committed to joining the IUF Global Housekeeping Campaign.

Source:  International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations--IUF uniting 12 million workers in 397 affiliated organizations in 125 countries

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