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ILO Labor Standards
The International Labor Organization (ILO) labor standards take the form of International Labor Conventions which are ratified by member countries. Of the total number of ILO Conventions, eight are considered core labor standards, fundamental to the rights of workers. The ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations.
Eugene Scalia's Nomination Is a Threat to Working People
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Eugene Scalia's announced nomination for secretary of labor: Eugene Scalia has spent his entire career making life more difficult and dangerous for working people. We opposed him in 2002 for solicitor of labor based on his anti-worker record, and his disdain for working people has worsened, not improved.
Scalia has fought ergonomics standards, threatened to destroy workers' retirement savings, challenged the expansion of health care and dismissed repetitive injuries as "junk science." His extreme views are in direct conflict with what America deserves from a secretary of labor.
The secretary of labor needs to be a true advocate for working people. Even when we disagree, we expect a fair arbiter who listens to workers and respects the deliberative process. The Labor Department's work is essential to protecting America's working people and should be subject to less influence from corporate lobbyists, not more. Scalia's views are dangerously outside the mainstream and leave us no choice but to oppose his nomination.
Brazilians protest against reforms on pension and education
15 August, 2019: Protestors in Brazil took a stand on 13 August against the social security reform promoted by the extreme-right president Jair Bolsonaro, and in defense of public education and employment.
13 August was a national day of protest for Brazil's trade union centers and social movements. Protest actions, assemblies and strikes took place in 200 states of Brazil. Unions, student and popular movements carried out a series of actions throughout the day to reinforce their opposition to Social Security reform and budget cuts for public universities.
For a second time on 7 August, the chamber of deputies approved a proposed amendment to the constitution (PEC) No. 006/2019, passing it on to the Senate where it also needs two rounds of approval.
From there, the social and trade union movements reinforced their plan of action because they believe that the reform has very harmful points and therefore must continue their struggle. Part of that plan includes putting pressure on senators to vote against and informing society about the risks. Unions see the pension reform as start beginning of Bolsonaro's agenda to eliminate the rights of the working class, fearing that the promotion of a regressive fiscal reform will follow.
It is necessary to resist and fight back, to reject the constant attacks on the rights of workers and the majority of the population, especially the poorest. Unions are defending a sustainable growth of the economy, and the right to decent work and a decent retirement.
Valter Sanches, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary, congratulated the affiliated unions for an impressive show of resistance all over the country: "This is the only way to stop the reforms against the working people and cuts on social investment. IndustriALL will continue to support our Brazilian affiliates defending their rights."
Nestlé Russia union leaders targeted for early dismissal
9 August 2019: The President and Vice-President of the Sales Force Workers Union have both been laid off in the massive restructuring of Nestlé Russia's sales force. Both are based in the Bryansk facility. This is the only facility to be closed - and its closure took place one month ahead of the other restructuring measures.
Despite multiple calls by the IUF and the union to Nestlé corporate management and Nestlé Russia to immediately and unconditionally cancel all dismissals implemented under duress in connection with the restructuring Russian management moved ahead with the closure of its Bryansk facility on July 31, 2019. The IUF believes that this closure targets the union's leadership and is seeking urgent action from Nestlé to protect union representatives as required by both Russian law and international standards.
Hong Kong: ITUC in Solidarity with HKCTU
The ITUC has expressed full solidarity with its affiliate the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), following the highly effective general strike on 5 August.
06-08-2019: The strike was called to protest at hundreds of arrests and violent repression by police against people participating in mass rallies in recent weeks, after thousands of young people took to the streets to oppose a proposed new extradition law with China. More than 1,000 tear:gas rounds and hundreds of "non-lethal" munitions have been fired by police, who also refused to protect innocent people who were subjected to brutal violence by government-supporting criminal gangs in Yuen Long on 21 July.
The HKCTU set out five core demands in launching the strike action:
More than 300,000 workers took part in the strike, including civil service employees who were threatened by the government to dissuade them from taking action.
"The international trade union movement fully supports the HKCTU and the people of Hong Kong in their legitimate demands for respect for the rule of law and for democracy. We condemn the use of violence, repression and threats by those in power, and call for the demands set out by the HKCTU to be met in full and without delay. Despite the repression, some millions of people have joined protest actions and it is simply untenable that the authorities could continue to resist the will of the people. The only acceptable way forward is through respecting internationally-recognised human and democratic rights, not through more threats and violence", said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
Don't bulldoze workers' rights in India, says global trade union movement
Trade unions in India are protesting today (Friday 2 August) against the Modi 2.0 government's plans to worsen workers' rights. In the name of rationalizing industrial relations laws, the government is levelling down workers' rights and institutionalizing poverty pay, all in the interests of multinational enterprises. ITUC affiliates INTUC, HMS and SEWA will unite with other unions in India to mobilise millions of workers to oppose low pay, worse rights and privatisation.
02-08-2019: Following mass protests since the beginning of the year against Modi's proposals, Indian unions have responded with unprecedented unity to the new government's plans. They were announced in the 2019 budget put forward by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the beginning of July.
Five days later, Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar announced a new minimum wage of just Rs 4,628 (€60) a month, well below the Central Pay Commission's proposal of Rs 18,000 and the joint union demand of Rs 20,000. The government announcement was based on the report of an 'expert committee' on which there was no union representation. Last week, a new occupational health and safety bill was tabled in Parliament to replace 13 sector-specific laws, but the new bill will cover just 10% of Indian workers.
The ten union confederations in the Trade Union Co-ordinating Council - including the ITUC affiliates INTUC, HMS, SEWA and other confederations and independent unions - announced the day of action on 2 August saying that they "take strong objection and condemn bulldozing of codification of labour laws and other laws in spite of strong objections from the trade union movement." As well as calling for the proposals to be withdrawn and a higher national minimum wage, the unions are calling for a halt to privatization, and the creation of more and better jobs by increasing demand in the economy through higher pay, rather than attracting multinational enterprises by slashing labour protections.
"The government ignored our demands to fix minimum wages as per the International Labour Organisation's guidelines and participation of trade unions in setting other standards," said Sanjeeva Reddy, president of the INTUC.
ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: "The global trade union movement supports the Indian unions in demanding that democracy works for working people. We stand for dignity not exploitation, and we are side-by-side with our affiliates in India who are standing up for workers' rights in every workplace, a national minimum wage that people can actually live on, and a new social contract for every worker. "The world is watching whether Modi's government can override basic principles of social justice and decent work, so the struggle of our Indian sisters and brothers is our struggle too.
"Over 90% of working people still operate in India's mammoth informal sector. Many of these workers are joining unions to have their rights recognised and their conditions improved. The government must be a partner in this effort, yet its measures have created new barriers to formalisation and eroded the rights of formal sector workers. Minimum living wages and social protection for all will support working families' security and build a sustainable economy. The government has left a trail of broken promises in this regard and people have lost hope," she added.
Argentinian aviation workers back airline catering workers in the USA
30 Jul 2019: The ITF-affiliated Argentinian aviation union, Asociación Del Personal Aeronáutico (APA), organised a strong solidarity action on 23 July, Buenos Aires, to support catering workers in the United States. On the same day, catering workers from the Unite Here union demonstrated at Reagan National Airport, Washington DC, as part of the fight by thousands of American catering workers' for better wages and improved working conditions.
Recently, more than 11,000 catering workers in 20 airports across the USA voted to strike by an overwhelming majority. These workers are some of the lowest paid in the USA, making as little as USD8.46 an hour, forcing them into poverty and unable to afford basic living costs.
Unite Here members sent a video thanking the APA. Ashwini Sukthankar, director of global campaigns at Unite Here, said: "We have found the power and commitment of our Argentinian colleagues very inspiring."
Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez, ITF civil aviation secretary, noted: "The ITF always supports its affiliates to take solidarity action with each other. Catering workers occupy a critical position within our globally integrated industry and the APA's action sends a clear message that US catering workers are not alone in their
World's Teachers Condemn Donald Trump over Racist Attacks on U.S. Congresswomen
25.07.2019: 8th Education International World Congress - Unions Representing 32 Million Educators from more than 170 Countries Stand in Solidarity with Women Representatives told to "go back"
Education International, the global body representing the world's teachers, voted unanimously Thursday to condemn U.S. President Donald Trump's racist assault on four women members of the U.S. Congress and pledged to support American unions in their fight to defeat him in 2020. The urgent resolution, brought to the floor of EI's 8th World Congress by the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, took aim at the dangerous and destructive rhetoric by the U.S. president toward four newly elected female, non-white members of Congress: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).
By calling on the representatives to "go back to where you came from," the president once again employed racist, xenophobic and sexist tropes to try to disparage and divide American citizen from American citizen.
Over 1,400 delegates resolved by a show of hands that the attacks represented a dangerous tipping point that undermines democracy and pluralism and must be called out. Educators are at the frontline of the defense of democracy, nurturing students' rights and freedoms in classrooms and schools--and often have to deal first-hand with the fallout from Trump's divisiveness. By telling the congresswomen to "go back," Trump enshrined his status as a clear and present danger to the ideals of democracy and universal human rights upon which EI was founded.
The resolution-introduced by AFT President Randi Weingarten and seconded by NEA President Lily Eskelsen García-noted Trump's broadsides served to embolden fellow strongmen, who sow prejudice and hate to wage wars on their own people and to promote, like Trump, a politics of greed that elevates cronyism and corruption over the common good.
The AFT's Weingarten said: "Donald Trump fires off racist tweets and sickening insults without a second thought. In so doing, he not only tears at the fabric of American democracy, but also foments and legitimizes a cruelty that is heard around the world. Dictators everywhere are given succor by Trump's rants, and the world's educators are left to clean up the mess.
"With his latest attack on U.S. congresswomen of color, the very future of democracy is at stake. That's why unions representing 32 million educators took the lead to condemn him before his virulence further stains the international community. President Trump's actions and words stand in direct opposition to our shared values of decency, democracy, and human and civil rights. And today, the world's teachers let him know we won't stand idly by while our common humanity is trashed."
Delegates formally resolved to support the work of EI's U.S. affiliates to ensure the president's defeat in 2020 as a victory for democracy and a blow against authoritarianism across the globe. They urged his replacement with a pro-public education president who believes in decency, democracy, and human and civil rights.
The NEA's Eskelsen García said: "American democracy is built on the notion of E Pluribus Unum - from many, one. Our nation's founders felt so strongly about this that they made it our country's original motto. So Donald Trump's tweets targeting Congresswomen of color are not only racist and wrong, but also are an attack on one of the central tenets of our democracy. Trump's words echo the language of despots and dictators, used to scapegoat and oppress across the globe and throughout history. That is why educators from across the globe are standing together today to condemn Trump. And along with our allies, we will redouble our efforts to replace him in 2020 with someone who will fight for our public schools and democratic ideals - a leader our students and educators can be proud of.'
Delegates further called on the U.S. to rejoin the U.N. Human Rights Council and use its position to stop oppressive regimes, rather than give them greater license.
EI General Secretary David Edwards said: "We cannot stand by and watch as democracy is torn down one divisive tweet at a time. The Education International Congress made it clear that educators from around the world are not only aware of the threat that Trump and his rhetoric pose to democracy, but we are ready to act and support our American colleagues in their fight against authoritarianism, racism, sexism and prejudice of any kind. We are taking the lead to ensure that the world does not regress into division and intolerance, but moves forward toward respect and equity for all."
Sudan: Free detained African journalists' leader
26 July 2019: The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the African regional organisation of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), joins in solidarity with its Sudanese affiliate, the Sudan Journalists Union (SJU), to condemn in the strongest possible terms the arrest of Sadiq Ibrahim Ahmed (Sadiq Rizaigi), President of SJU and FAJ President.
FAJ has been informed by the Sudan Journalists Union (SJU), that Sadiq Rizaigi was arrested on Wednesday, 24 July 2019, and is still being detained incommunicado by Military Intelligence services for unrevealed reasons.
The Steering Committee of FAJ is convinced that Sadiq Rizaigi is detained illegally due to his legitimate action of advocating for journalists' rights, carrying out his appropriate trade union activities and peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. His principled fight for journalists made him increasingly an enemy of oppressive forces within the political quagmire of Sudan today.
The African federation regards this arrest as the final nail in the terminal decline of media freedom in Sudan, and holds the transitional military authorities responsible for anything that happens to the life and well-being of Sadiq Rizaigi. FAJ is particularly appalled by the barbaric behaviour of the Sudanese military authorities who, since coming to power, have been waging war against journalists, harassing, detaining and arresting them for the sole crime of freely exercising their professional duties.
TMC must immediately and unconditionally release Sadiq Rizaigi, and guarantee his safety. FAJ and IFJ along with their affiliates all over the world will work tirelessly to secure the safety and freedom of Rizaigi who is also the President of Eastern Africa Journalists Association. FAJ also reaffirms its unequivocal support for the demands of SJU and calls upon global labour organisations and media freedom groups to stand by Sadiq and other fellow journalists and activists in Sudan so they can advance and sustain the decisive struggle for freedom of expression in Sudan.
Striking Korean Air cleaners have the full support of the ITF
25 Jul 2019: The cleaners, represented by the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers' Union (KPTU), have been engaged in a campaign of intermittent work to rule and strikes after negotiations with their management broke down. On Tuesday the workers began an indefinite period of industrial action, facing significant repression for asserting their fundamental rights.
In response to these actions, the cleaners' employer has sued 12 union activists for a combined total of KRW 110 million (USD 930,000). These activists have also seen their bank accounts frozen, despite the fact that the lawsuit is still pending.
Although responsible for cleaning Korean Air cabins, the workers are employed by an outsourcing company, EK Manpower, which has a contract with Korean Airport Service, a subsidiary of the airline. Engaged for the minimum wage and exposed to poor working conditions, this is a clear example of how outsourcing and privatisation are damaging labour standards in the aviation sector.
Last week, ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez wrote to the chief executives of both EK Manpower and Korea Airport Service, demanding that they cease the repression of union activists and informing them that the ITF will support any escalation that the workers and KPTU deem necessary. Since then a number of ITF affiliates - including the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Toronto Airport Workers Council - have also written to the chief executives expressing solidarity with the South Korean workers.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has repeatedly warned South Korea over its employers' extensive use of outsourcing and their tendency to pursue legal action against union activists. The country has yet to ratify the fundamental ILO conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining which would mark a commitment to fair labour practices across its economy.
Avianca must cease its attack on Colombian pilots
19 Jul 2019: The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) demands that the Colombian courts dismiss a claim filed by Avianca to have the country's pilot union dissolved.
The Asociaciòn Colombiana de Aviadores Civiles (ACDAC) is facing legal repression at a time when Avianca itself is being investigated for allegedly wiretapping the union during a long-running industrial dispute. If charged, senior managers at the airline could face criminal prosecution. However, if the union is banned before that point the case against Avianca would be substantially weakened.
This latest court filing follows several years in which Avianca has attempted to evade workers' legitimate demands for fair pay and employment conditions. ACDAC pilots began industrial action in September 2017 after reaching an impasse in negotiations with the company, but soon faced a governmental and judicial crackdown for exercising their fundamental rights.
In October 2017 the Colombian supreme court ruled the strike illegal, claiming that air travel is an essential public service - in contravention of advice from the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This opened the door to Avianca disciplining and dismissing union activists, leading to ACDAC filing a complaint with the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association.
Now, in attempting to have the union banned, Avianca is aiming both to resolve an industrial dispute by illegitimate means and to obstruct a criminal investigation against its own management. ITF condemns this action in the strongest terms and calls on the Colombian judiciary to recognise the airline's repressive tactics for what they are. ACDAC has until Tuesday 23 July to respond to the court, with a judgement expected by the end of the month. ITF stands shoulder to shoulder with the Colombian pilots and their union in their struggle for fundamental rights and against managerial corruption.
Stephen Cotton, ITF general secretary, said: "We stand with our brothers and sisters in Colombia against this outrageous attempt to repress free trade union activity. Avianca's attack on our affiliate ACDAC is a transparent distraction from the ongoing criminal investigation into the airline's own management." "We cannot live in a world where, threatened with the consequences of its own misconduct, an employer can have a union legally dissolved. We call on the Colombian judiciary to reject this claim and allow the investigation into Avianca to continue unimpeded."
UNI Global Union and Sherpa send formal notice to Teleperformance--calling on the world leader in call centres to strengthen workers' rights
18 July 2019: French NGO Sherpa and the 20 million-member UNI Global Union formally put Paris-based outsourcing giant Teleperformance on notice today that it must comply with its duty of vigilance regarding human rights. Both organisations filed the warning because they do not believe Teleperformance's vigilance plan meets the minimum requirements of the French "loi sur le devoir de vigilance", the Law on the Duty of Vigilance.
Teleperformance, the world leader in customer relationship outsourcing and one of the largest global French employers, has some of its biggest operations in countries where there is a high risk of human rights violations, such as Colombia, Mexico and the Philippines. Necessary steps to identify and mitigate risks of rights violations in these and other countries have not been included in Teleperformance's vigilance plan.
This is the first time that a formal notice has been sent to a company under this law to defend workers' rights abroad.
Unknown to the general public, Teleperformance operates in the hidden side of the digital economy. A specialist in customer relationship outsourcing, the French company employs more than 300,000 people in its contact centres around the world who are responsible for responding to customer requests via phone, email, social media and live chat for companies like Apple, Uber, Amazon, and U.S. telecommunications company AT&T. Teleperformance also performs visa processing work for the French government in countries like Egypt, Gabon and Uzbekistan. When French consumers call the customer helpline for some of the country's most recognizable companies, they do not know the sometimes deplorable working conditions on the other side of the line.
Last week UNI Global Union released a report on working conditions in Colombia that details insufficient protections for employee rights, including obstacles to freedom of association, alleged wage theft, extreme invasion of privacy, and pregnancy tests for female workers.
The 2017 law on the duty of vigilance requires large French companies to identify the risks of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in their global operations and to provide appropriate measures to prevent such violations. This landmark law, supported by Sherpa and a broad coalition of civil society organizations including some French Unions, aims to force parent companies to prevent violations caused by their activities, even if these breaches take place in their foreign operations, subsidiaries or supply chains.
Despite UNI Global Union raising concerns, Teleperformance did not publish a vigilance plan in its annual report in 2018 and only published a two-page plan in 2019, without involving trade unions as stakeholders. No efforts were made to identify and prevent specific risks of violations to workers' rights in its foreign facilities.
Today, Sherpa and UNI Global Union formally demand that Teleperformance strengthen its vigilance standards and procedures. If the company does not take appropriate measures within the next three months, including involving trade unions as stakeholders, our organisations may take a court action where the company could be ordered to comply with its obligations under the law.
For Sandra Cossart, Sherpa's Director: "The law on the duty of vigilance requires much more than a formal exercise to publish a plan, it is about taking appropriate measures to identify and prevent the risks of serious harm. This law does not only concern French multinationals known to consumers, but also less visible companies, such as Teleperformance, which also operate in high-risk countries. Teleperformance must now do everything possible to prevent violations of workers' rights, or it will be held to account before the courts."
For Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union: "Teleperformance has decided to operate its business in countries which often fail the test of respect for human rights, and in particular for the rights of workers. In light of this, the company has a responsibility to adopt a credible and wholistic plan to prevent these risks from becoming reality, and the plan published so far does not meet this test. The company should also correct the existing problems which have been reported by workers to UNI so that these do not become even more widespread."
International condemnation as repression deepens in Kazakhstan
The ITUC has harshly condemned the sentencing of Kazakhstan trade union leader Erlan Baltabay. Efforts to improve freedom of association for working people are once again jeopardised; but the country's new leadership could still intervene.
17-07-2019: Erlan Baltabay, the leader of the Oil and Energy workers' union based in the southern city of Shymkent, has today been sentenced to 7 years in prison as well as to a 7-year ban on conducting any public activity. The trade union which he led was dissolved by the court amid a broader crackdown on independent trade union activity. The criminal proceedings against Baltabay were opened in retaliation for his trade union activism and principled position in support of other leaders of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (CITUK) condemned to different limitations of their freedoms. These criminal proceedings, as well as those against CITUK's Larisa Kharkova, Amin Eleusinov and Nurbek Kushakpaev, silence and repress leaders of independent trade unions and prevent others from taking an active role in implementing real freedom of association in the country.
"It is an outrage that the independent voices of working people are being systematically smothered. Kazakhstan's repression is internationally recognised, and instead of deepening this crisis, the country's new leadership must step in to build social consensus and resolve the situation by committing to a rights-based approach. This is a defining first test for recently elected President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
International pressure has been mounting for the Kazakhstan government to address the situation. In 2017, Baltabay himself testified at the International Labour Organization's (ILO) about the repressive measures that the government has imposed on independent trade unions in Kazakhstan. At the ILO centenary conference last month, Kazakhstan was singled out and sanctioned for "its persistent lack of progress" towards addressing abuses of core labour standards on freedom of association and the right to organize. The charges against Baltabay have also been condemned by Human Rights Watch.
"The international labour movement abhors this latest abuse and we are ready to defend our fellow workers in their struggle. It is not too late for the government to address the situation, and we are willing to assist, but the government must give a strong signal that it is ready to treat working people, not as subjects to be dictated to, but as citizens, with rights to be respected. Kazakhstan was recently once again recognised by the ITUC rights index as among the top-10 workers' rights oppressors in the world. Kazakhstan's international partners, including EU and OECD countries, are on notice about persistent violations of its international obligations and failure to respect international labour standards" concluded Burrow.
Trade Unions in South Korea for Ratification of ILO Core Conventions
15 April 2019 Today the Korean Construction Workers' Union (KCWU) affiliated to the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions (KFCITU) held a rally demanding the government guarantee construction workers basic labor rights in front of Namdaemun on April 13th. Then they marched to join more than 20,000 at the main rally organized by its national center, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). The key demands of the main rally included ratify ILO core conventions including conventions 87 and 98; amend Article 2 of the Labour Union Act; and guarantee specially-employed workers such as self-employed, contractor, and "misclassified" workers basic labor rights."
In addressing the protesters, KCTU Chairman Kim Myeong Hwan stated, "President Moon Jae-in promised to guarantee specially-employed workers basic labor rights even before he took office, but he has failed to do so after three years from in office and now he is attempting to eliminate the right to association for specially employed workers. We call on President to keep his promise to workers in South Korea."
Lee Young Cheol, Chair of the Specially Employed Workers' Association and the Vice President of the KCWU added, "We must not forget the martyrs who sacrificed themselves for the rights of workers for the past two decades. We will continue to fight and mobilize until the ILO General Assembly in June to ratify the ILO core conventions and revise the labor union law. The specially employed workers, will take the lead in this important struggle."
Following the rally, participants marched to the Presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
The BWI along with UNI and ITF sent letters to the South Korean government this week calling for the immediate ratification of the ILO core conventions to ensure basic labor rights.
In the letter, BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson urged President Moon Jae In to live up to his campaign promises to South Korean workers. He stated, "This is the 100th anniversary of the ILO. It would be only fitting that South Korea shows its commitment to abide by international standards by ratifying the core ILO conventions."
PSI supports KCTU's general strike for ratification of ILO Core Conventions without regression
05 March 2019: Social dialogue towards ratification of ILO Core Conventions 87 (freedom of association) and 98 (collective bargaining) in the Republic of Korea appears to be moving in the direction of actually weakening fundamental labour rights.
Public Services International (PSI) expresses its support for the KCTU General Strike and concern that social dialogue towards ratification of ILO Core Conventions 87 (freedom of association) and 98 (collective bargaining) in the Republic of Korea appears to be moving in the direction of actually weakening fundamental labour rights.
Discussions on ratification of ILO conventions and revision of labour law are currently taking place in the Committee on Improvement of Labour Relations Law and Practice of the Economic, a subcommittee of the Social and Labour Council (ESLC), a social dialogue body established by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The committee is scheduled to issue recommendations on labour law revision on March 7.
Public interest members of the committee have already issued recommendations on labour law revision, which fall well below international standards by failing to guarantee trade union rights for self-employed workers, maintaining restrictions on freedom of association and political activities for government employees and teachers, and calling for new concrete limitations on the participation of dismissed and unemployed workers and officers of unions formed above the company level. Legislation based on these recommendations, but that is even more restrictive, has already been proposed in the National Assembly.
Further, PSI has learned that employers' representatives involved in the ESLC process have called for further revisions of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Adjustment Act (TULRAA), which put even greater restrictions on trade union rights, particularly the right to strike, while granting employers new powers, such as to make claims of 'unfair labour practices' against unions. The Moon Jae-in government has indicated willingness to accept many of these demands, claiming this is necessary to win support for ratification of ILO conventions.
PSI is particularly concerned that throughout committee discussions, guarantees for self-employed and precarious workers are being side-lined. The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association has, on several occasions, recommended that the South Korean government take the necessary steps to protect the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining for these workers. The European Commission, which is currently engaged in formal consultation over the Korean government's failure to live up to obligations under the EU-ROK FTA, has also raised the issue of the exclusion of self-employed, unemployed and dismissed workers from the right to freedom of association as an essential issue the South Korean government must address.
The question of a system of minimum services in line with ILO standards has been left out of the discussion. As it now stands, the broad and vague definition of 'public interest businesses' in South Korean labour law means that many public institutions and other sectors not considered 'essential services in the strict sense of the term' have set excessively high levels of minimum services to be maintained during strikes and that employers may freely use replacement workers to break strikes.
The ILO has also recommended on several occasions that restrictions on the right to strike in workplaces that are not 'essential services in the strict sense of the term', such as railway, airlines and energy companies be keep to a minimum and that unions be granted the right to participate on equal footing with employers in deciding these minimum levels.
PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli has expressed her concern over these developments, stating: "Since 1996 when South Korea joined the OECD, the government has made repeated promises to the international community to ratify ILO Core Conventions and improve the legal framework on trade union rights. PSI welcomed President's Moon promise to live up to these commitments when he first took office, but has been disappointed by what has followed since. The current discussions that tie regressive revision of the labour law to ratification of ILO conventions and ignore past ILO recommendations are unacceptable. Dialogue concerning ratification of ILO conventions should take place following a strict commitment to the principle of non-regression in existing laws and with a view towards actually improving the rights of workers in South Korea."
International Labour Organisation - 50 for Freedom
Malta has become the 30th country worldwide to ratify the ILO Protocol on Forced labour, thereby committing to take effective measures to prevent all forms of forced labour, including trafficking in persons, protect victims and ensure their access to justice and compensation.
The Government of Malta has ratified the legally-binding treaty that requires countries to take new measures to tackle forced labour and modern slavery with a keen focus on protection, prevention and compensation.
"As the International Labour Organisation (ILO) celebrates its Centenary, we are faced with the realisation that the work and values that the organisation stands for remain relevant and applicable more so in today's world", Ambassador Olaph Terribile, Permanent Representative of Malta to the UN Office and other International Organizations in Geneva said. "Malta shall continue to seek and promote the enhancement of labour conditions both at a national level as well as within the appropriate multilateral platforms, confident in the belief that decent work is undeniably linked to sustainability and prosperity", he added.
The Government of Malta has taken significant measures to develop the legal and institutional framework for combatting trafficking in persons, including by criminalizing all forms of trafficking as well as forced labour, with penalties of four to 12 years imprisonment. Malta has also strengthened its efforts towards the protection of victims of trafficking in persons by enacting the "Victims of Crime Act" in April 2015, which includes provisions regarding access to assistance services and compensation. Moreover, the Anti-Human Trafficking Monitoring Committee was set up in 2011 for drawing up and monitoring the implementation of anti-trafficking policies. A National Referral Mechanism has also been active in Malta since 2013 and is mainly involved in the identification of victims or potential victims of trafficking.
The ILO Director-General, Mr. Guy Ryder, welcomed the step: "With the ratification of the Protocol, Malta once again confirms its commitment to promoting and implementing fundamental rights and principles at work".
This ratification supports the effective promotion of the ILO's Decent Work Agenda and achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Target 8.7 to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour, and represents a significant contribution to mark ILO's centenary. The ILO estimates that about 24.9 million people worldwide are victims of forced labour, with 16 million people exploited in the private sector in activities such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million in forced labour imposed by state authorities. The ILO also estimates that this exploitation generates some US$150 billion a year in illicit profits.
In November 2017, during the Global Conference on child labour and forced labour in Argentina, the European Union pledged to "promote actively swift ratification of the Forced Labour Protocol among EU members". Malta is the 14th EU member state to ratify the ILO Protocol on Forced Labour.