LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns
People Over Profit...
Public Services International
Justice for Fishers - Fishers' Rights Network...
International Transport Workers Federation
Pharmacare: A Plan for Everyone...
Canadian Labour Congress
U.S. Mail Not for Sale...
American Postal Workers Union and National Association of Letter Carriers
Fight for $15...Low Pay is Not OK
One Fair Wage...
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
Committee for Better Banks...
coalition of labor, community and consumer advocacy organizations
Making Change at Walmart...
United Food and Commercial Workers
Robin Hood Tax Campaign...
it's not a tax on the people, it's a tax for the people...United States
Justice for Port Drivers...
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.
Japan Enacts a Revised Water Supply Act to all for-profit PPPs
14 December 2018: Despite the mounting evidence of the problems of public-private partnerships (PPPs), private concessions, or other forms of turning public water utilities into profit machines for private corporations, the pro-market national government of Japan snuck in a legislative provision to do just that. PSI supports Jichiro, Zensuido and allies opposing water privatisation bill in Japan.
On December 6, a plenary session of the House of Representatives of the Japanese Diet enacted a revised Water Supply Act that promotes the introduction of a concession system in water supply services. The All Japan Prefectural and Municipal Workers Union (JICHIRO) and the All Japan Water Supply Workers Union (ZENSUIDO), both of which are Japanese organizations affiliated to Public Services International (PSI), opposed the bill.
On November 29, on behalf of workers who work at waterworks, Takeo Nikaido, President of ZENSUIDO (read his testimony here), expressed his views as a witness at the House of Councillors Committee on Health, Labour and Welfare.
The ZENSUIDO Headquarters issued a statement (read here) regarding the passing and enactment of the bill. The statement strongly protests the handling of the bill by the government and ruling parties during this period by stating, for example, that "due to the incorporation of the concession system into the bill, deliberations regarding the genuinely necessary infrastructure strengthening measures were totally inadequate".
In addition, the statement puts forward an appeal for the determination of ZENSUIDO to "steadfastly maintain the basic principle of providing a water supply that is safe, stable and of reasonable cost and to further strengthen efforts to promote advances in water policy to protect and develop the water supply as social infrastructure that supports both the daily lives of citizens and company activities".
Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary says: "We will support our affiliates as they resist the implementation at the local level of this distorted legislation. The national government may have used its majority to sneak this through, but it will be at local level that we are best positioned to reveal the real dangers of this policy".
Adds David Boys, PSI Deputy General Secretary: "I am not surprised to see this, as the for-profit sector has been long trying to get its teeth into the Japanese water sector. They have success in China, Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, but Japan has so far protected its quality public water services".
Protestors rally to save Austria's social insurance system
13 December 2018: A mass rally, organised by UNI affiliates GPA-DJP and VIDA, and supported by the Austrian trade union federation Österreichische Gewerkschaftsbund (OGB), brought together over 4000 protestors outside the headquarter of Vienna health insurance. They came with a united message to the Austrian government, that they were prepared to fight for their healthcare system.
They were demonstrating against new social insurance legislation imposed by Austria's right wing government which means less worker participation and a degradation of insurance benefits. The new law forces employees in the private sector to pay for the benefits for those who have private insurance. The only winners from this legislation will be the private insurance companies. What is worse is that the legislation paves the way for 'fast-tracking' ambulances for privately insured people into hospitals, creating a three-class social insurance system.
More than 60 % of Austrians are against the legislation and the unions have vowed to continue the fight until the government backs down and repeals the law. UNI Europa stands in solidarity with their fight and offers its full support to the unions and the workers in their struggle.
Myanmar: Police arrest protest marchers after destroying Hotel Tharabar Gate workers' solidarity camp
12 December 2018: Police acting on the orders of local authorities have destroyed the solidarity camp continuously maintained on public space since October 12 by union members at the Hotel Tharabar Gate together with family members and supporters. A union march to the regional government authority protesting this attack was then dispersed and 13 trade union members were arrested.
The peaceful encampment was established in the course of vigorous public protest actions organized by hotel unions in the Bagan area following the anti-union dismissals by management of the Hotel Tharabar Gate targeting the hotel union chairman, 2 members of the union executive and 7 active union members.
Conciliation meetings involving local and national government representatives have so far failed to achieve reinstatement of the victimized trade unionists. At these meetings, the government authorities have proven ineffectual in the face of management's ongoing refusal to respect the law. The IUF has therefore submitted a complaint against the government of Myanmar to the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association.
The attack on freedom of association has continued. Acting on the order of local authorities, around 100 people, only a few of them in police uniform, destroyed the camp early in the morning of December 11. When the workers attempted to regroup, they were forcibly dispersed. On December 13, HLOB, the union grouping workers in Bagan, attempted to march in protest from the Hotel Tharabar Gate to the Mandalay Region Government Office. Armed police dispersed the rally and arrested 13 people, including 7 union members from Hotel Tharabar Gate.
The struggle for union rights and recognition at Hotel Tharabar Gate continues with the full support of the IUF.
Strong union presence in renewables is key to future
12.12.2018: IndustriALL Global Union affiliates from the mechanical engineering sector met in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 9 and 10 December 2018 to explore organizing in the rapidly growing renewables sector.
Participants from Austria, Belgium, Germany, India, Japan, Poland, Spain, Sri Lanka and Sweden shared their experiences. Development of the renewables industry is uneven across the world, but there is a clear direction of travel, and a lot to learn from countries where development is advanced.
Opening the meeting, Rainer Wimmer, president of Austrian affiliate Pro-Ge and sector co-chair said: "As mechanical engineers and trade unionists, technology is the most important contribution we can make to mitigating climate change. We need wind, we need solar, we need biomass. And we need strong unions to ensure that energy transition is just.
Angelika Thomas of German affiliate IG Metall said: "I was a delegate at COP24. We are very happy with the Silesia Declaration, which is a commitment to address the social dimensions of climate change through a Just Transition."
Equipment manufacturing is an essential part of the renewable energy supply chain, which is why IndustriALL affiliates in the Mechanical Engineering Section are keen to organize employees in this growing sector. The meeting discussed opportunities to use global framework agreements and trade union networks with energy and equipment manufacturing companies.
Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL director for mechanical engineering, said: "This is new work. We're bringing together experts from the mechanical engineering sector who work in renewables to discuss the jobs of the future. This meeting is a laboratory, where we organize learning experiences from each and discover which direction our unions need to move in."
The renewable sector in Sweden is comparatively mature, especially when it comes to hydro-power. IF Metall president Marie Nilsson explained the growth potential, saying: "We're not afraid of new technology - we're afraid of old technology. Gothenburg is the industrial backbone of Sweden, and we are seeing big investment in the region. The population is growing, and Industry 4.0 is changing jobs. Unemployment is at a record low. Our problem is a skills shortage."
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, addressed the meeting by video conference, and said: "We need a network for the renewable sector that works in close cooperation with the energy and electronics sectors. "The network must have a strong focus on organizing, and be able to respond with solidarity support where there is conflict."
The meeting included a visit to the SKF bearing factory, established in the city in 1907. SKF bearings are used in wind and tidal turbines, as well as in transport, robotics, processing and every industrial field that contains moving parts. Slight efficiency improvements in rotation result in cumulatively tremendous energy savings. The SKF factory is highly automated, with the workforce shifting from blue to white collar. But the blue collar union on site, IF Metall, believes that work will change rather than disappear.
"To paraphrase an old saying from the workers' movement", said local IF Metall president, Zarko Djurovic, "the worker of the future will programme a machine in the morning, talk to customers in the afternoon, and develop a new production process in the evening. This is an evolution of work."
2017 was another record-breaking year for renewable energy, characterized by the largest ever increase in renewable power capacity, falling costs, increases in investment and advances in enabling technologies. According to reports, 10.3 million people were working in renewable energy in 2017, with 60 per cent of the jobs in Asia. Of renewable energy jobs, solar power was the largest employer with nearly 3.4 million jobs.
All participants at the meeting agreed to continue with the work and cooperate closely with neighbouring sectors like energy and ICT, Electrics and Electronics to organize and ensure union power in future-oriented workplaces.
UN General Assembly proclaims 24 January International Day of Education
11.12.2018: Education International welcomes the United Nations General Assembly's consensus adoption of a resolution proclaiming 24 January as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.
As representatives of the world education community were gathered in Brussels, Belgium, for the Global Education Meeting, convened by UNESCO and aiming especially to take stock of progress towards the global education targets and commitments in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly voiced on 3 December a strong message recognising the foundational role of education in peace and development.
The adoption of the resolution 73/25 "International Day of Education", co-authored by Nigeria and 58 other Member States, supported inclusive, equitable and quality education for all. By doing so, the international community reiterated that education plays a key role in building sustainable and resilient societies and contributes to the achievement of all other sustainable development goals. In support of the realisation of SDG 4, the resolution calls on member states, organisations of the UN system, and civil society, non-governmental organisations, academic institutions, the private sector, individuals and other relevant stakeholders to observe the International Day of Education.
Introducing the resolution to the General Assembly, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN H.E. Tijjani Muhammad Bande highlighted that the proclamation of 24 January as the International Day of Education clearly shows that "education is not only a human right, but a path for sustainable development".
ITF Dockers' to launch aggressive plan to improve safety: Hutchison first in sight
Today the ITF Dockers' Section Occupational Safety and Health Working Group agreed to launch an aggressive action plan to improve the safety and health of the world's port workers.
10/12/2018: At the inaugural meeting of the working group in Hong Kong, working group members came from Asia, India, Australia, Europe, the Arab World, Africa and the Americas to discuss and implement strategies to fight back against the mounting death and injury toll across waterfront worldwide. Over the past calendar year more than 50 dockers have died in preventable incidents.
During a review of global incidents, the meeting noted the serious accident this week at Jakarta International Container Terminal (JICT) where dangerous chemicals dropped from a Rubber Tired Gantry.
Suryansyah Bahar, deputy president of Serikat Pekerja Jakarta International Container Terminal (SPJICT) addressed Hutchison's atrocious recent record of injuries and deaths in their ports: "We are appalled yet again by Hutchison's callous disregard for life and limb, and stand united in our utter condemnation and preparedness to fight so that every worker goes home safely," said. "Hutchison is the biggest stevedore in the world and has an obvious responsibility to its global workforce to meet occupational health and safety requirements," he said.
A union investigation found equipment failure and an inexperienced operator were the main reasons, and adds yet again to Hutchison's mounting incident record stemming from outsourcing and contracting out work to inexperienced operators. "These are not minor incidents, workers are losing their lives and their families and communities bear the scar from Hutchison's mismanagement for their lifetimes," said Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and Dockers' section chair.
At the JICT, between 2016 and 2018 five workers died, and there have been more than 10 incidents (including near misses) per month in 2018, which means more than one hundred incidents to date this year alone. This is a direct result of the sacking of a hundred experienced and unionised workers, who they replaced with inexperienced workers.
"They chose to bust the union over safety and performance at the terminal, and this has led to injury and death," said Crumlin.
In Sydney last month, under the banner 'Safety through Solidarity' unions including SPJICT in Indonesia, South Asia Port Terminal (SAPT) Democratic Worker's Union in Pakistan and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), came together to protect dockers from the abysmally low safety standards at Hutchison Ports forming the Asia Pacific Regional Safety Committee.
"Dockers from across Hutchison's global operations are united to combat the company's poor safety record. This is also the goal of the ITF Dockers Occupational Safety and Health Working Group, to to support ITF affiliates in building a safety culture and assisting them in working with terminal operators who continue to press workers into dangerous working conditions," said Crumlin.
Sharan Burrow re-elected General Secretary of ITUC
6 December 2018: Sharan Burrow has been re-elected for a third term as General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation at the 4th ITUC World Congress in Copenhagen.
UNI Global Union General Secretary, Christy Hoffman congratulated Burrow on her re-election and called for the ITUC family to unite and tackle the critical challenges facing workers across the globe.
Hoffman said, "We look forward to continuing to work with Sharan and the whole of the ITUC family. She is a fierce advocate for workers around the world and I am proud to have her as the leader of our movement. We will stand united with the ITUC in our common aim to build workers' power, defend democracy and change the rules of our global economy. Together, we can win." "I also congratulate Susanna Camusso for running a strong campaign. She put forward important issues in line with our shared goal of building a better world for workers. Robust debate and democracy are important for unions and I am confident that the ITUC will emerge stronger after this process."
IUF international delegation brings the Coca-Cola Zero Rights campaign to Coke workers in Europe
6 December 2018: An international IUF campaign delegation made up of union leaders representing Coca-Cola workers in Indonesia and the Philippines visited IUF affiliates organizing Coca-Cola workers in Germany, Belgium and Sweden from November 28 to December 3. The delegation included Lutfi Arifiyanto, the victimized leader of independent union SBMCC at Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia, Dwi Haryoto, the National President of Food and Beverage Workers Federation (FSBMM) in Indonesia, and Alfredo De Roja Marañon and Jowen Pasamonte Magcaling, elected leaders of Federation of Coca-Cola Unions (FCCU) in the Philippines. They provided IUF affiliates with first-hand updates of the IUF's ongoing 'Coca-Cola Zero Rights' campaign.
Prior to the solidarity tour in Europe which ended in Sweden with a visit to LIVS members in the Jordbro Coca-Cola plant on December 3, the delegation intervened at the prestigious UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva at the end of November to highlight the failure of The Coca-Cola Company to take any meaningful action to remedy ongoing abuses in Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland, the Philippines and the United States.
The German Food Workers Union NGG, The Belgian Food and Services Workers Union CCAS-CSC and the Swedish Food Workers' Union LIVS have committed to fight in solidarity with workers struggling to access their rights at Coca-Cola operations in those five countries and to spread the word about The Coca-Cola Company's ongoing serial human rights violations.
Iran: Teachers imprisoned for participating in peaceful strike actions
04.12.2018: Confronted with the worsening situation of Iranian educator activists, Education International continues its fight to see jailed education union leaders and members freed, and reiterates its call on its affiliates and concerned citizens around the globe to continue to exert pressure on the Iranian Government to demand the immediate release of the trade union activists.
The Coordination Council of Iranian Teacher Trade Associations (CCITTA) - the Education International (EI) affiliate in Iran- reported that at least 15 teachers were arrested and many others summoned for questioning or threatened by the security services for their participation in a two-day strike action on 13 and 14 November. Teachers were demanding decent wages, free quality education for all, the right to form and join independent workers' organisations, as well as the release of all detained colleagues.
In a letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, EI General Secretary David Edwards condemned the prolonged and severe repression faced by teachers carrying out peaceful protest actions in many cities across Iran and requested their immediate and unconditional release. Urging Iran to abide by its international commitments to respect the rights and freedoms of all Iranian workers and citizens, Edwards invited the Iranian public authorities to engage in a meaningful dialogue with teachers and their representative organisations in order to address their legitimate demands.
The situation of Iranian teacher trade unionist Mohammed Habibi, sentenced to ten and a half years in prison on 4 August, is also extremely worrying. While family members who visited him in prison reported that he had been severely mistreated, public authorities continue to deny him the urgent medical support he needs. Hashem Khastar, a retired teacher and prominent member of the Iranian Teachers' Trade Association (ITTA) in the Khorasan Razavi province, was forcibly hospitalised in a psychiatric facility from 1-19 November. This is an additional, disturbing means of silencing dissident voices in Iran.
Education International, its affiliates and civil society organisations will continue to monitor closely the human and trade union rights situation in Iran. It will also continue to alert appropriate UN human rights bodies of sustained, persistent attacks against educators' rights in cooperation with Amnesty International, the International Trade Union Confederation and other global unions federations.
Unions support Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration
Governments must step up and commit to Just Transition for workers and the creation of decent work and quality jobs if we are to reach the climate ambition needed to stop climate warming at 1.5℃, warned the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) at the opening of COP24 in Poland.
03-12-2018: The ITUC welcomed the initiative of the Polish COP Presidency to present and adopt the "Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration" at COP24 and called on all governments to adopt the declaration.
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation, said: "Unions want decent jobs on a living planet. Building trust through the guarantees of Just Transition measures will make it possible for governments to raise ambition. We need all governments to get behind this declaration so we leave no one behind." By adopting the Silesia declaration, countries are committing to take seriously the impact of climate change and climate policies on workers, their families and communities when they prepare and implement their new NDCs, national adaptation plans and national long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies.
"This declaration means that workers and their unions will have a seat at the negotiating table and workers' voices will be heard when climate policies are developed and implemented. Good social dialogue processes are a crucial factor to make the changes to industries, sectors and national economies that will stop dangerous climate change and unleash a 65 million low-carbon jobs dividend by 2030," said Sharan Burrow.
The governments of Canada, New Zealand, Scotland and Spain have committed to Just Transition and launched national processes to deliver it:
"To meet the climate challenge and stop hothouse earth, all countries need to move further and faster with ambition driven by Just Transition. To get there faster, the principles of a Just Transition for the workforce highlighted in the Silesia Declaration need to be translated and integrated in the Paris Rulebook, the implementing guidelines that must be adopted at the end of COP24," said Sharan Burrow.
The rulebook has to guide and help the countries to implement climate policies that are ambitious in terms of emission reduction commitments, with effective adaptation measures, increased climate finance, a credible loss-and-damage compensation mechanism and appropriate Just Transition measures for workers. "In 2015, unions successfully had Just Transition recognised in the Paris Agreement. Now it's time for COP24 to put these into practice in the Paris Rulebook and create decent jobs on a living planet," said Sharan Burrow.
IndustriALL makes joint declaration demanding Just Transition at COP24
03.12.2018: IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll European Trade Union have issued a joint declaration demanding a Just Transition for workers as the world's nations meet for the United Nations climate change summit in Katowice, Poland - COP 24.
The unions want governments to commit to a Just Transition that makes industrial workers part of the solution to meet climate change emission targets through sustainable industrial policies containing creative labour force adjustment programs, founded on strong social protections.
The declaration states: "The industrial sectors that employ our members are facing enormous challenges linked to the goal of deep decarbonisation, yet it is those very sectors that are essential to deliver the technologies and solutions that will mitigate the impact of climate change while providing the essentials of development, sustainable jobs, and technological progress."
The 24th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is taking place in the heart of Poland's coal country, has been dubbed the 'Just Transition COP'.
Just Transition is incorporated in clear language in the preamble to the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change signed at COP21 in 2015: "Taking into account the imperatives of a just transition of the workforce and the creation of decent work and quality jobs in accordance with nationally defined development priorities". This language appears in the Paris Agreement only as the result of strong trade union pressure in Paris and at previous COPs. Signatory nations must now accept that they have made a political commitment to Just Transition, demand the unions.
"There cannot be an unjust transition to environmental protection, casting untold millions of workers aside. Neither can we ignore the urgent need to deal with climate change - there are no jobs on a dead planet," says the declaration. "It is our hope that COP24 will finally outline a Just Transition to an optimistic future - a future of full employment and decent work for workers, their families, and the communities that depend upon them. All stakeholders must be a part of this discussion - a Just Transition can only be done with us."
IndustriALL Global Union and industriAll European Trade Union, along with the International Trade Union Confederation and the European Trade Union Confederation, also urgently insist that Parties endorse the Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration, submitted by Poland.
Kenya: No Exploitation for development in Infrastructure Projects
03 December 2018: From 27 to 29 November 2018, 25 Unions' Research Experts for Organising in International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and Multinational Corporations (MNCs) met in Nairobi, Kenya to share the results of a study made by a research team of Profundo on a sample selection of five IFIs projects in East Africa.
Over the years, much effort has been put into training activities by BWI and its affiliates in organising MNCs but there is need to build a strong pool of experts to spur union activities starting with East Africa where there are big infrastructure projects.
The first study assessed workers' conditions and the contractors' levels of compliance with international and national labour standards. In total four projects funded by IFIs and one government-funded project in Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia were selected based on a number of selection criteria, but without prior knowledge of the labour conditions at the sites.
The research conducted by Linnea Wikström with a team from Profundo Netherlands has shown the need for the affiliates to face challenges and overcome the workers' fear of employers' reprisal during organizing campaigns in hostile environments of MNCs, by acquiring innovative skills and having union campaign activists, researchers to tackle the huge number of unionised areas/IFIs funded infrastructure projects.
The three-day workshop helped to strengthen the BWI East Africa affiliates with a pool of experts in view of "No Exploitation for development in Infrastructure Projects in East Africa" by focusing on IFIs funded Public Infrastructure Projects (PIPs). Unions provide the avenue for legal advice on employment and personal issues and defend members at the courts on job-threatening and interdiction issues.
The results of the unions' research experts acquired through labour inspections will be used for campaigns and lobbying at Companies, Government and IFIs levels for compliance to national labour laws and the International Labour Organisation core labour standards. The unions' researchers adopted their work plan for 2019 and will start from December 2018 mapping the IFIs projects to be inspected in their respective countries.
G20 Summit Buenos Aires: Co-ordinated action for global growth with decent jobs and wages needed to rebuild trust in G20
G20 leaders are meeting in Buenos Aires for their annual summit ten years after the financial crisis as unions warn people still feel betrayed by their taxes having saved a speculation-based economy that their political leaders then did not reform. Having failed to deliver social justice and decent work for all, the multilateral system that governs globalisation is now at risk.
30-11-2018: The Labour 20 Statement to the G20 sets out policy recommendations for leaders to take action to reduce inequality, raise minimum wages and strengthen collective bargaining and to make the digital economy work for all.
The roadmap for the G20 has been set by the G20 Labour Ministers Declaration, but it remains for G20 leaders to implement commitments to:
"Globalisation is no longer assured as the travesty of the current economic model has subjected people to low-wage and insecure jobs and has shattered the trust in politics and democracy. Minimum wages, even when they are in place, often do not cover basic living expenses, and people in work are struggling to get by. 94% of the supply chain workers who make massive profits for multinational corporations are a hidden workforce in low-wage, unsafe and insecure jobs," said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.
"The digital economy brings challenges and opportunities which require global cooperation and cross-border social dialogue. Challenges like workers' data privacy, data ownership, surveillance, platform employment, and competition laws that prevent organising and bargaining for non-standard workers require governments to uphold laws to protect workers. G20 commitments to training, skills and strengthening social dialogue provide the foundation for the just transitions required for the workplace changes from digitalisation." Pierre Habbard, General Secretary, Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC).
The Labour 20 is calling on G20 leaders to commit to:
Clean up global supply chains, delivering on commitments to take labour rights out of competition, bringing an end to forced labour, child labour, precarious work, low wages and hazardous working conditions. G20 Leaders should support the negotiation of the UN Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights and ensure that multinational enterprises address and provide redress for violations within their supply chains.
Raising minimum wages and strengthening collective bargaining will do much to reverse the fall in the labour income share experienced in most countries, thus addressing inequality and providing the increase in global demand needed to sustain economic recovery.
Make the digital economy work for all. The G20 leaders should be preparing the workforce for the future of work with redeployment strategies, wage and working time readjustments, skills development and social protection. We also call on governments to establish effective governance and regulatory structures so that digital enterprises respect the labour and human rights of platform workers. Action is also urgently needed to connect the billions of people who do not yet have internet access.
Climate Action and Just Transition. G20 governments must revise climate policy and goals to keep global warming below a 1.5℃ change, and take action to achieve the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement including promoting and implementing strategies for a Just Transition to a net zero-emissions economy.
"Today's global risks need global solutions and global policies. The G20 can drive policies to create jobs, respect workers' rights, tackle climate change and ensure the global economy complies with decent work standards. A joint meeting between Employment and Finance Ministers in 2019 can provide the co-ordination between and within countries needed for growth, jobs and wages. The UN Agenda 2030 must be the guide for G20 policy coordination that should be taken up by the Japanese Presidency in 2019," said Sharan Burrow.
Unions worldwide express support for Goodyear workers in Mexico
30.11.2018: Representatives from Goodyear unions in Germany, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, South Africa and the United States have shown their support for workers fired from the Goodyear plant in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, and have agreed on joint actions to ensure they are reinstated.
Two of the 58 workers that were dismissed by Goodyear Mexico held a meeting with an international delegation of union workers in Mexico City on 28 November. They explained that Goodyear had violated an agreement not to take retaliatory measures after it fired workers who went on strike in April. The workers had taken industrial action to demand better health and safety conditions, and protest against the employer protection contract imposed by Goodyear through the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM), headed by Tereso Medina.
"Goodyear violated their commitment when they fired us on 9 July," said Pablo, one of the dismissed workers. "We want them to explain their decision. Many people were told that they lost their jobs because of a reorganization, but they told me and other union leaders that it was because they wanted to get rid of the democratic and independent union movement that was forming at Goodyear." The political advisor to the dismissed workers, Francisco Retama, said that the workers still want to form a democratic and independent union at Goodyear Mexico. For this, they are looking to get exclusive rights to negotiate a union contract at the company.
"It's not easy to bring in a genuine collective agreement in Mexico. We're hoping that the workers will be able to file their request to get exclusive rights to negotiate a collective agreement with Goodyear in the first half of next year. The new government will take up office on 1 December, so the conditions are ripe for this legal process to be a success. Millions of workers across the country have their hopes pinned on the soon-to-be president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and his government. Goodyear could be a landmark case for Mexico, and that's why this campaign is so important."
IndustriALL's industry director, Tom Grinter, added: "At IndustriALL, we have followed the union campaign and the events at the Potosi plant closely. Goodyear violated its commitment not to dismiss workers when it fired the employees who went on strike. We sent them a letter but they ignored us. All of us here need to show our support for and solidarity with the Goodyear Mexico workers, as their labour rights are clearly under attack."
Leo Gerard, president USW, summed up the discussions: "It's not just an attack against the Goodyear workers in Mexico but against Goodyear workers worldwide. They have to work in dire conditions, and what Goodyear pays them is disgraceful. We stand ready to support these workers by bringing in experts who can provide training and by campaigning for better health and safety conditions and for fair wages. We call on IndustriALL to help us take this campaign worldwide."
Finally, the workers reiterated their commitment to help the Goodyear workers and signed a banner as a symbol of their solidarity.
Tenaris/Ternium: Unions escalate struggle as chairman indicted in bribery case
28.11.2018: IndustriALL Global Union affiliates from around the world developed a plan to counter Tenaris and Ternium workers' rights violations as the billionaire chairman of both companies was indicted in a bribery case.
Unions from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Romania and USA participating in the Tenaris-Ternium Workers' World Council met outside of Mexico City on 26-27 November. It was the tenth anniversary of the council.
SINTRATUCAR President Walberto Marrugo updated the council on Tenaris attacks on workers in Colombia. Tenaris has terrorized leaders of SINTRATUCAR and illegally filmed union activities, potentially putting union members' lives at risk in the world's most dangerous country for trade unionists.
Sitraternium described the slow progress being made in discussions with Ternium in Guatemala. Ternium sacked dozens of Sitraternium leaders and refused to negotiate after the union was registered in 2012. IndustriALL together with USW and Sitraternium filed an OECD complaint against Ternium in September 2017. The company began talks with Sitraternium in March 2018.
METAROM reported that Tenaris recently increased pressure on the union in Romania. METAROM organized a series of protests that received national media attention after Tenaris refused to make a fair wage offer. The union achieved a wage agreement but many disputes remain.
Tenaris and Ternium, which are both held by Techint, are violating workers' rights, provoking wage disputes and threatening to relocate plants to lower wage countries despite earning over US$1.5 billion in profits in 2017. On the second day of the meeting, Tenaris and Ternium chairman and majority shareholder Paolo Rocca was indicted as part of a bribery case in Argentina. The judge in the case charged Rocca after Rocca testified that one of his company's executives paid cash to government officials from 2009 to 2012 in order to speed up compensation for a unit nationalized by Venezuela. Rocca claimed he was not involved in the payments. Techint has also been implicated in the massive Lava Jato corruption scandal in Brazil and has a history of avoiding taxes by moving its headquarters and establishing offshore companies.
"Companies that abuse workers are often irresponsible across the board, and Tenaris and Ternium are no exception," said IndustriALL Global Union base metals director Adam Lee. "The Tenaris-Ternium Workers' World Council demands that the companies change course and enter into social dialog with unions globally." The unions committed to raise concern about Tenaris and Ternium anti-union practices with shareholders and customers to pressure the companies to live up to their claims to being socially responsible.
The Council dedicated the meeting, which was hosted by IndustriALL affiliate Los Mineros, to UOM member Gabriel Palermo, who was fatally injured at Ternium's plant in Rosario, Argentina the previous week. The unions discussed ongoing health and safety problems at the companies' operations and resolved to make improving health and safety a key priority of the world council.
Education International calls on European education unions to keep democracy and solidarity alive
28.11.2018: Education International's General Secretary David Edwards has asserted his firm conviction that "the future of democracy is Europe," and that "the future of solidarity is Europe."
Addressing delegates at the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) Special Conference, Education International EI General Secretary David Edwards underlined that "it is undeniably a great deal of pressure to put on Europe and by extension Europeans". But, "where else in the world are nation states so dedicated to a common project anchored in equal parts in rights and responsibilities as they are in Europe?" he asked.
He also noted that "the United States is undergoing an identity crisis and flirting with ruthless, authoritarian populists," and that, "deep down," citizens "know that the recovery of their own democratic health is dependent on a strong democratic Europe holding together in a mutually assured construction".
Reminding participants that the topic of the conference is about Shaping the Future of Europe and affirmatively assuming the role education trade unions have therein, Edwards emphasised that "reclaiming and reshaping the future democratic world lies here in Europe".
That is why he stressed that "the campaign to ensure that the Parliamentary elections next May see a groundswell of support for an inclusive, democratic and pro-labour platform is fundamentally critical. Linked to that must be a powerful push to revitalise a type of liberal, liberating education that empowers the disenfranchised and builds alliances of hope of shared purpose."
The future of democracy is Europe
The future of social dialogue and union renewal is Europe
The future of solidarity and sustainable development is Europe
"You better than all others understand solidarity is not some transactional arrangement for which one seeks any return; it is a principle of the highest order," he told participants. "This is what distinguishes us as unionists committed to greater, better today and tomorrow. A future based on the values and principles of democracy, multiculturalism and respect for diversity."
Acknowledging that "we are confronting challenges the size and breadth of which we had never envisaged some years ago," Edwards concluded his intervention by saying that "one thing that I am sure of is that together, the proud EI global union movement will rise to challenge and reverse the current dangerous trajectory we find ourselves on. We will and must organise and mobilise like we have never done before."
Indonesia: Coca-Cola workers resisting anti-union dismissals take their struggle to company headquarters
27 November 2018: Members of the independent union at Coca-Cola in Bandung took their fight for rights to the company's national office in Jakarta on November 19 following a week-long collective refusal by victimized workers to leave the factory. The five workers who were dismissed on November 12 after rejecting a 'voluntary' retrenchment scheme targeting union members only left the plant and travelled to Jakarta in a union caravan organized by the independent foodworkers' federation FSBMM. The caravan joined other workers in a vigorous protest action at Coca-Cola Amatil's Indonesia head office in Cilandak, Jakarta.
On their return to Bandung, the victimized union members, who have not signed their termination letters, were refused entry to their workplace. FSBMM and the IUF will continue to organize solidarity and support to the victimized union leaders and members of the independent Coca-Cola workers union at Bandung (SPMCC) and across Indonesia.
Hundreds of thousands of Tunisian workers strike for decent pay
26 November 2018: Last week in Tunisia, hundreds of thousands of public sector workers staged a walk-out demanding better wages in light of growing inflation and deteriorating purchasing power. Protestors also called for an alternative to the IMF-prescribed government plans for austerity and greater protection for public services threatened by privatization.
UNI affiliate UGTT called the strike which was observed by 90% of workers and saw over 650,000 public sector workers walk out on their jobs. Workers protested outside parliament buildings in the centre of the capital, Tunis. The UGTT is calling for a second strike on January 17, 2019.
Deputy General Secretary of UNI Global Union, Alke Boessiger said, "We stand in full solidarity with Tunisian workers and the UGTT striking for fair pay and conditions!" "Tunisian workers deserve a pay rise in line with inflation and must be treated with respect."
Global unions demands charges against union leaders dropped
23 November 2018: The BWI-Asia Pacific, along with the Asia-Pacific Regional Offices of four other global union federations, have released a statement calling on the Government of Cambodia to drop charges filed against six independent trade union leaders from the garment sector. The civil and criminal suits were filed by garment manufacturer for their participation in minimum wage protests.
"There is no evidence suggesting that these leaders called for, caused, provoked or condoned such actions", said BWI Asia-Pacific Regional Representative Apolinar Tolentino. "This clearly demonstrates the politicisation of the judiciary in Hun Sen's Cambodia."
At the BWI World Congress in December 2017 a resolution was passed calling on the Government to suspend the 2016 Trade Union Law and implement the recommendations of the ILO Direct Contact Mission. Since then, however, Cambodia's fragile democracy has deteriorated significantly. With the help of a pliant judiciary, President Hun Sen banned the major opposition parties from politics, securing victory in this year's election (his Cambodia Peoples' Party won all seats).
Independent unions - including BWI affiliate the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia (BWTUC) - remain critical social actors in protecting democratic space in Cambodia.
European Court of Human Rights Re-affirms Right to Strike in Key Decision
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has issued, on 20 November, a key ruling in defence of the right to strike in the railway sector in a case concerning a train driver in Russia.
23-11-2018: Anatoly Ognevenko, a member of the Russian locomotive railway union RPLBZh, was dismissed from his job in Moscow on April 28 2008 after he participated in a one-day strike over wages. While the Russian courts did not challenge the legality of the strike, they nevertheless refused to declare his dismissal unlawful. The case, which was opened at the ECHR in 2009, was based on an analysis of formal compliance with the relevant Russian laws. It concluded with the finding that the dismissal was a disproportionate restriction on Ognevenko's right to freedom of association.
The Court once again confirmed that the right to strike falls under the protection of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights as an important aspect of the right to freedom of association by basing itself on the ILO supervisory bodies, which consider the right to strike as an indispensable corollary of the freedom of association.
The Court also noted that the ILO regularly criticised Russian legislation banning railway workers' right to strike. It declared that there is no reason to reject the existing international approach to the definition of an essential service and to consider the railway transport as such.
"The right to strike is fundamental, and as with other basic workers' rights, it is under attack in many parts of the world. This decision from the ECHR re-affirms the right to strike based in international law with the jurisdiction of the International Labour Organization. We welcome the decision, in the full knowledge that the rule of law means that the right to strike must be respected," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
Global Glass Alliance and Owens-Illinois glass network launched in Perrysburg, Ohio
15.11.2018: Over 150 delegates gathered in Perrysburg, Ohio, on 12 and 13 November 2018, and held the first ever meeting of the Owens-Illinois network in conjunction with the global glass alliance of the Glass, Molders and Pottery (GMP) council of the United Steelworkers (USW), and the USW glass workers.
The GMP was formerly a separate union which joined the USW through merger. Joint work in the glass sector is organized in the alliance, representing over 90 per cent of the unionized glass workers in the USA. Participants from North America, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France gathered at the invitation of IndustriALL Global Union and its North American affiliate the USW for the Perrysburg meeting, near the Owens-Illinois headquarters.
On the first day, USW International Vice President Fred Redmond addressed the conference, honouring the USW global glass alliance and the Owens-Illinois global union network.
The participants had exchanges over global networking and social dialogue and the importance of cross-border solidarity. They also discussed the different systems of workers' representation worldwide. They adopted a resolution, demanding global social dialogue in Owens-Illinois and a solidarity position on Brazil. In addition, the delegates set up a steering committee for the Owens-Illinois global network. On the second day, company representative Gary Morgan, Owens-Illinois director of labour relations for the Americas, addressed the meeting and discussed global social dialogue with the international guests.
The global glass alliance also invited representatives from other glass companies and discussed their needs and questions.
Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL director for the mechanical engineering and materials industries, stated: "This is a historical meeting - not only for the USW global glass alliance, where GMP and USW glass makers come together in one organization, but also for the Owens-Illinois global union network - we made a huge step forward and also sent a strong signal to Owens-Illinois' management that we want social dialogue. Let's hope that the management responds accordingly."
Bruce Smith, GMP council chairman, USW, said: "The USW GMP council local unions and staff are very proud and appreciative of having the opportunity to participate in this historic global glass container conference with our sisters and brothers from the USW glass conference and our global labour partners as we continue working together to improve our reach, sophistication and preparation to match and exceed that of our employers with whom we bargain."
And Tim Tuttle, chairman of the USW glass industry conference, added: "I'm proud to have been a participant at such a historic conference. Where glass workers from around the world joined together, building power and taking action that is sure to provide a higher degree of dignity and respect for the sisters and brothers of our global family."
Owens-Illinois, one of the world's leading glass container companies, is based in Perrysburg, Ohio and employs over 26,000 workers in the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
India: Alarming Erosion of Labour Laws
The ITUC has expressed alarm at a wholesale erosion of labour laws initiated by the Indian government, and pledged full support for a general strike in protest against the changes planned for 5 January. The global trade union body has also condemned the government's exclusion of major national trade union organisation INTUC from key tripartite processes.
16-11-2018: Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said "the Indian government is removing important protections for working people, and exposing workers to exploitation by employers and to greater risks of death, injury and illness at work. The exclusion of the INTUC from tripartite processes, on spurious grounds, is aimed at punishing them for criticising government policies, and at breaking the strong solidarity between the Indian national trade union centres and their unity in opposing these regressive measures. With our Regional Organisation ITUC-AP, we will continue to stand with our Indian trade union brothers and sisters in pressing the government to change course, to defend decent work instead of undermining it."
The legal changes being pushed by the government include:
"The Indian government should focus on lifting people out of poverty and informality, rather than undermining workers' rights and giving employers, including multinational companies, a completely free reign to exploit at will," said Burrow.
Turkish Trade Union Leader Abdullah Karacan Murdered, Two Union Representatives Wounded
The ITUC has condemned the murder of Turkish trade union leader Abdullah Karacan, and the wounding of two other union representatives in Adapazari, Turkey, today. According to reports received by the ITUC, a gun-wielding assassin fired at the union officials while they were meeting workers at a Goodyear tyre factory.
13-11-2018: Karacan was president of the rubber and chemical workers' union Lastik-İş. The union's regional president Mustafa Sipahi, and shop steward Osman Bayraktar, were also shot. Bayraktar remains in a critical condition.
"This is a devastating attack, and our condolences and thoughts are with the family of Abdullah Karacan and those who were wounded during the attack, as well as with the workers who witnessed the shooting. We call on the Turkish authorities to ensure a thorough investigation and bring all those involved in this atrocity to justice," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
A highly respected union leader, Karacan managed to win a significant victory against precarious work by persuading multinational tyre companies to end outsourcing at their operations in Turkey. Lastik-İş is a member union of the ITUC affiliate DİSK and of Global Union Federation IndustriALL, which has also expressed shock at the attack.
Global framework agreements are strategic tools
12.11.2018: IndustriALL's global framework agreement (GFA) working group met at the International Labour Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, on 8 and 9 November to report on how GFAs are being implemented, and look at ways of strengthening them.
IndustriALL Global Union currently has 49 global agreements, which are negotiated at a global level between trade unions and multinational companies, and serve to protect the interests of workers across a company's supply chain. The GFA working group, which includes representatives from all continents and sectors, reviews IndustriALL's proposed and current GFAs, and provides comments and recommendations on GFAs to the Secretariat and Executive.
Claudia Rahman, co-chair of the working group, called for more pro-active implementation of the agreements which must have a local agenda. "A GFA should prevent violations of workers' rights and not simply be a remedy to violations that have already happened," she said. She called for GFAs "to be integrated into the operational activities of a multinational company and into the management system."
IndustriALL's general secretary, Valter Sanches, said company management and unions require training on GFA implementation, while unions must monitor GFAs.
Participants at the meeting recounted how the agreements are being used to assist organizing, with case studies on how to use GFAs in organizing in textile and garment sector in Bangladesh and Turkey as well as using the union power in auto companies in organizing campaigns in supply sectors. An example from Tunisia revealed how the GFA has helped to stop union busting at one particular factory and to improve the union structures, with the aid of German affiliate IG Metall. The meeting held deep discussions on the strategic use of GFAs in reaching trade union objectives through buzz-groups. Involvement of host unions, organizing in supply chains through GFAs and roles of different actors in GFA processes were elaborated and some conclusions were drawn up.
On the second day of the meeting, officials from the International Labour Organization (ILO), gave presentations about the role of GFAs in social dialogue, which led to extensive debate. It was obvious to all that without freedom of association, a key right, it is impossible to implement GFAs or basic ILO principles. It was suggested GFAs could make use of strong language on due diligence, outlined in the ILO's guidelines for multinational enterprises, and present it to companies as language that has already been agreed at the tripartite level. The working group was also called to think about how to better use ILO tools and mechanisms, smartly and politically, to get strong agreements.
The meeting also heard case studies of how GFAs are being used to improve workers' rights, enable organizing and resolve disputes with examples including chemical company, Solvay, energy giant Total, global fashion brand H&M and German conglomerate, Siemens.
"IndustriALL Global Union has made significant progress in its policies and practices with global framework agreements and the working group has played an important role," said Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL's assistant general secretary, who is in charge of the working group. "However, we still have long way to go in our global mission to advance the rights and working conditions of our members on the ground, particularly at multinational companies. IndustriALL will continue to be a champion in the development of global labour relations, particularly through global framework agreements.
Unfair dismissal of union officials by Firestone Liberia condemned
09.11.2018: Liberian unions are condemning the unfair dismissal of two union officials, Abel Ngigie and Edwin Fallah, by Firestone Liberia. This defies the Decent Work Act and the existing collective bargaining agreement between the multinational and the unions.
The officials, who are a chairperson and a grievance officer from a local branch, are protected by the law on the right to organize and to engage in collective bargaining. The dismissed union officials are leaders in the campaign for better living and working conditions at Firestone Liberia's rubber plantations. By dismissing the officials, the company is victimizing the leaders to weaken the union.
The officials from the IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, Agricultural, Agro-Processing and Industrial Workers Union of Liberia (AAIWUL), were dismissed clandestinely, and the union wants justice and for the dismissals to be nullified. The United Workers Union of Liberia, another IndustriALL affiliate, also condemns the dismissals in solidarity with AAIWUL.
Says Edwin Cisco, secretary general of AAIWUL: "We are currently engaged with the national government through the Ministry of Labour, the House Standing Committee on Labour, the Margibi Legislative Caucus and the Liberia Labour Congress to prevail on the management of Firestone Liberia for the reinstatement of the two union executives. AAIWUL, therefore urges management to desist from carrying out any further action that will be tantamount to inflaming the situation."
The union urges workers not to be distracted by the intimidation and to focus on the "bigger picture of the upcoming collective bargaining agreement which is crucial for the upliftment of the lives of thousands of workers and their families on the plantations."
Industrial relations between the workers and Firestone Liberia have been turbulent. In August, workers went on strike to have the wages of rubber tappers increased from US $8.36 to US $12.50 per day. The company is yet to meet the workers' demands. In October, the company retrenched 76 workers from its rubber wood factory, who are now struggling to look after their families. Firestone has been producing rubber from Liberia since 1926 and has received support from the government. However, the working and living conditions of the workers have remained appalling.
Young African trade unionists unite to develop ways to strengthen unions
05.11.2018: The first Education International regional seminar for young and early stage education unionists has clearly shown the young African education unionists' commitment to not only increase their involvement in their own unions but also support education policies that promote quality education for all in the region. This activity was held on 4 November ahead of the 9th Education International (EI) Africa Regional Conference and is an outgrowth of the Resolution on young and early-stage teachers, researchers and support personnel adopted at the 7th EI World Congress in 2015.
Thirty young activists from fifteen Anglophone as well as Francophone African countries gathered in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, for the seminar. Overall, the seminar had three objectives:
The programme of the seminar was therefore centered around a thorough and specific discussion on young people's specific contribution and importance to unions, while also working to identify bottlenecks and solutions.
As the result of the seminar, participants have drafted and delivered a communique to the EI Africa Regional Conference. The communique, which contains recommendations to their unions and to EI at the regional and global levels, aims to increase young members' participation in all structures of the unions, and especially boost their role in decision-making and union leadership.
Global agreement with Unilever on rights and recognition
1 November 2018: IUF General Secretary Sue Longley, IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary Valter Sanches and Unilever CEO Paul Polman signed a joint memorandum on union rights and recognition with global consumer goods maker Unilever on October 31 at the regular bi-annual meetings with the company which have taken place since 2010. The Memorandum of Understanding formalizes the engagement process and establishes a permanent platform for "ensuring that throughout Unilever's worldwide operations workers can freely exercise their internationally recognized rights and in particular their rights to union membership and collective bargaining without fear of retaliation, repression or any other form of discrimination." In the Memorandum, "Unilever recognizes its obligation to act to ensure that these rights are similarly respected by enterprises and their subcontractors providing products, operations and/or services to Unilever."
The memorandum also highlights the importance of the ongoing work achieved through working groups focusing on sustainable employment and gender equality within this rights framework.
"We have been working successfully on these issues with Unilever for a number of years", said IUF General Secretary Sue Longley, "and we look forward to deepening our engagement. Now that the process has been formalized we need to continue working together to ensure that the principles set out in the Memorandum are firmly anchored regionally, nationally and locally throughout Unilever's global operations." CLICK HERE TO READ the text of the Joint Memorandum.
Global coalition backs campaign for UN action on impunity
31 October 2018: Journalists groups, editors, media owners and press freedom campaigners will join forces on 2 November to demand urgent action by the United Nations to tackle impunity for crimes against journalists.
With figures showing the number of killings of journalists rising in comparison to the same period last year and impunity in 9 out of 10 cases, the unprecedented coalition of professional journalists' organisations is calling on UN member states to back media industry demands for a convention on the protection of journalists.
Representatives of the International Federation of Journalists, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA), the European Broadcasting Union and UNI-MEI, the organisation representing media professionals launched the initiative for a UN Convention at the United Nations in New York in October.
The Convention aims to address gaps in international law and introduce binding norms establishing safeguards for journalists and media workers specifically, recognizing the increasingly hostile environment in which they operate across the world.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: "This unprecedented coalition of owners, journalists, media workers, public broadcasters and press freedom campaigners is sending a clear message to the international community - Enough! It is time to act to tackle impunity.
"Too many of our colleagues have been killed, jailed, attacked, abused and forced into exile. We can no longer just pass wishful resolutions, we need action and for international mechanisms that both protect journalists and media workers and, which by tackling the impunity which gives rise to growing self-censorship protects the right of citizens and societies to information and enhances democracy".
End corporate greed and reduce precarious work, unions tell LafargeHolcim
25.10.2018: Around 60 representatives of the World Union Council from 26 countries came to Houffalize, Belgium on 22 to 24 October to discuss problems faced by workers and unions at multinational cement and construction materials company, LafargeHolcim.
The participants had a detailed exchange over challenges existing at national and international levels at LafargeHolcim, and expressed serious concerns at a lack of genuine social dialogue with the company after the changes in leadership in 2017 and 2018. Trade union relations with LafargeHolcim went downhill at the end of 2017, when the new CEO reneged on a Memorandum of Understanding to sign a global framework agreement with IndustriALL Global Union and Building and Woodworkers International.
Meanwhile, rampant use of precarious work, namely outsourcing of up to 80 per cent in some sites, poses an enormous threat to workers' rights and working conditions. LafargeHolcim proceeds with its policy of a shrinking business for the sake of increasing dividends paid to shareholders at the expense of workers creating all the company's wealth. Contract workers at LafargeHolcim are less qualified, have no access to training and promotion, and are not properly trained on health and safety. Consequently, three out of four victims of reported fatal accidents at work are contract workers.
The World Union Council issued a statement demanding that LafargeHolcim ends corporate greed and drastically reduces precarious work.
While welcoming the creation of a European Works Council inside the group, workers at the European level are worried their concerns are not being heard by top management. Moreover, participants reported cases of increased pressure on trade union activists from local management. Social dialogue and freedom of association are at risk, as several incidents show, such as in El Salvador.
Participants were able to pose all of these and many other questions to management representative Vincent Giard, head of labour relations and social policies at LafargeHolcim and Yonca Atac responsible for health and safety in Europe, who attended the second day of the meeting.
Pierre Cuppens,Vice-President of Building and Woodworkers International, said: "This was a very useful meeting, especially because it was attended by management representatives. There is no reason for LafargeHolcim to stay away from a global framework agreement. We are on the same line on many issues, and I believe we need to continue our actions aimed at conclusion of such an agreement. We are willing to negotiate, but if the company continues rejecting it, we must be ready to exert our pressure on behalf of global union movement."
Matthias Hartwich, director for materials industries in IndustriALL Global Union said, "The group's economic strategy is strange: more earnings with less assets and promises for increasing dividends for shareholders. The management is undermining LafargeHolcim's industrial basis. At the same time, they talk of moving the social dialogue to the national local level. We fully disagree with this approach as it will undermine good faith and fruitful dialogue in the future."
Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, summarised the discussions: "Through open discussions, fair exchange and concrete action plans, the World Union Committee of LafargeHolcim underlined important challenges in the operations of the company throughout the world, including violations of fundamental rights, lack of genuine social dialogue and excessive use of precarious work. We raised all these issues with representatives of the management. We want to resolve the problems through industrial relations mechanisms. We want to hope that LafargeHolcim management reciprocate in a similar way. Otherwise we will continue to conduct our campaign for justice and fairness."
First-ever strategy meeting of global care union federations focuses on organising
23 October 2018: Labour leaders from around the world came together at UNI Global Union's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, this week to shape a new strategy for raising standards in the care economy. The leaders discussed a myriad of challenges they face across six continents and many types of work, but care unions saw a common solution: organising.
"The home care sector is frequently referred to as an 'invisible' one - professional work is being done in private homes and casualization of labour is rife. This makes organising workers much more difficult, as the workplace is mobile and subject to frequent change," said Carlos West Ocampos, President of UNICARE and General Secretary of Argentine care union FATSA. "But organising all care workers is fundamental to our ambitions for decent work, wages and collective agreements in this growing sector."
Meeting participants heard several inspiring stories of care unions making it happen. Luz Fany Zambrano Soraca, of SINTRASALUDCO in Colombia, desribed persevering to victory, despite death threats and hostile employers. International solidarity is critical, she said, because of the reality of the care economy.
"Many employers have merged and gotten bigger, and they have gone into new countries. They are only interested in profit wherever they go, and through the international support--through UNI's support--we have made workers aware that they are not in this fight alone."
Rojila Karki Basnet, of UNIPHIN in Nepal, agreed. She told how support and training from UNI helped her union organise two private hospitals in the past year. Not content with those successes, UNIPHIN will continue to push a sectoral agreement for the private health industry. Other unions detailed successful anti-privatisation campaigns and their ongoing struggles to establish formal workplace protections in home care, a sector that is often regarded as "informal labour."
"Right now, we have a unique opportunity for unions and our allies to change the rules of the game," said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. "This meeting is an important step in intensifying our cooperation and improving the lives of workers in one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world - the care sector."
In addition to UNI Global Union/UNICARE, the meeting was organised by the ITUC, Education International, PSI, IUF, and IDWF.