LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns
Fight for $15...Low Pay is Not OK
Re-Run the Vote: No World Cup Without Workers Rights...
International Trade Union Confederation
three minute web movie overview of the concept of decent work in 29 languages...International Labor Organization
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
Fix My Job...Working America AFL-CIO
Warehouse Workers United...
Change to Win Coalition
T-Mobile Workers United...
Communications Workers of America
Let's Get America Working...
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.
ITF joins commemoration of Tolpuddle martyrs
The ITF joined many of its UK affiliates at this year's Tolpuddle festival in Dorset, UK on 17 July to commemorate the six farm workers who were cruelly punished when they attempted to organise in 1834.
20/07/2016: Joe Katende, the retiring ITF Africa regional secretary, marked the ITF's first participation in the annual trade union festival by laying of a wreath at the grave of James Hammond, one of the martyrs, in the village churchyard. Nine members of staff, including from the ITF's regional offices in Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America, held a banner on the march through Tolpuddle village bearing the message 'Workers' Solidarity has No Borders'.
The wreath laying and march are key elements of the family festival to commemorate the historic struggle of the Dorset farm workers whose attempt to organise in response to harsh working conditions and continual pay cuts was ruthlessly crushed.
ITF assistant general secretary Stuart Howard said: "ITF UK unions have always been at the heart of the festival and the ITF was very proud to be represented there this year as a global union federation.
"The courageous actions of the Tolpuddle martyrs in many ways launched the modern British trade union movement. It is important that we remember and honour those who paved the way for future generations of workers to have the rights to join a union and demand respect and justice at work."
In 1834, unions were lawful and growing fast but six leaders of the newly-formed farm workers' union were arrested and sentenced to seven years' transportation to Australia for taking an oath of secrecy. Despite massive public protests, the men were transported but after three years, during which the trade union movement sustained the men's families by collecting voluntary donations, the government relented and the martyrs returned home with free pardons and as heroes.
Greece Braces for New Troika Onslaught on Workers' Rights
Brussels, 20 July 2016 (ITUC OnLine): Greek workers are preparing for yet more attacks on their fundamental rights as the IMF/EU/European Central Bank 'Troika', at the urging of the IMF, prepares to impose a new round of cuts to minimum wages, weakening of laws protecting workers facing dismissal and further erosion of trade union rights as creditors position themselves in advance of an Autumn review of the "adjustment programme" for Greece.
Greece's national trade union centre GSEE has learned that a 21-page directive sent to Greek officials includes measures that would cut the minimum wage for skilled and experienced workers by around 30% as from 2017. Other measures include increasing the voting threshold for strike action, new "lock-out" provisions for employers even though the Greek employer organisations have not sought such a measure, interference in the collection of membership dues by unions, and changing the rules for union representation. On 19 July, an agreement was reached between the GSEE and the country's three employer organisations http://www.ituc-csi.org/joint-statement-of-the-greek following up on a 2014 agreement reached between them in Geneva with the assistance of the ILO. The Geneva agreement called for a "stable and uninhibited disbursement system of workers' contributions", identified key areas of common ground between the unions and employers, and included a commitment to social dialogue on issues where agreement had yet to be reached.
ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said "The austerity measures already inflicted upon Greece's workers have been a fiasco from an economic point of view, and have meant impoverishment and hardship for millions of Greek people, with the unemployment rate at 24%. The prescription has already failed, but the IMF seems to think that administering even more toxic medicine will somehow bring the economy back to health. Despite its assertions that it would consult with unions, the IMF has not done so. It simply seems intent on driving yet more destructive deregulation which would drive domestic demand further downwards and do nothing to help Greece onto a pathway of sustainable and equitable growth. Instead of dictating change based on outdated economic thinking, the IMF and the European institutions should engage in a constructive and serious dialogue with the Greek government, unions and employers, to build a positive pathway for recovery and prosperity."
Turkey: thousands of public workers arrested and removed from their jobs
20 July 2016: It is with much concern that PSI has received news from Turkey indicating that thousands of public workers have been arrested, suspended and removed from their jobs over the last few days, as a follow-up to last weekend's attempted coup.
The government's "clean-up" started with the imprisonment of military personnel and the suspension of 6,000 members of the police force. Added to these are 13,000 members of the Ministries of Justice, Interior and Finance, and more recently another 15,000 members of the Ministry of Education. In addition, more recent reports indicate that 21,000 teachers working in private institutions have had their licence revoked, and that 1,577 university deans have been ordered to resign, all due to alleged links with the coup leaders.
While recognising the government's right to investigate these incidents and bring to justice those responsible, PSI expresses its concern and condemns the speed at which it has taken these measures, which rather makes one suspect a purge orchestrated to silence all signs of dissent in the country.
PSI General Secretary, Rosa Pavanelli, refers to these facts, pointing out that:
"The Turkish government must respect the rule of law and ensure it has all the evidence before taking any action that could violate the civil rights of its citizens. We ask for restraint and that the government does not use the coup as an excuse to silence critical voices. Therefore, we urge the government to lift the suspension and removal of these officials and that they be reinstated in their positions in the absence of evidence against them."
PSI, together with its affiliates, will continue to monitor closely the situation in Turkey and defend the rights of public sector workers in the country.
Indonesia: low wages in the textile and garment industry undermine workers' rights
20.07.2016: A planning meeting was held in Bogor, Indonesia, from 12-18 July, as part of a project to support affiliates in the Indonesian textile, garment, shoe and leather sector.
IndustriALL's Indonesian affiliates in the textile, garment, shoe and leather sector, Serikat Pekerja Nasional (SPN) and Garteks, as well as Belgian affiliate SETCA-BBTK, who are supporting the project, participated in the event.
The meeting found that the biggest obstacle to enhancing workers' rights in Indonesia is low wages. There is a perception that Indonesian workers have the highest wages in South East Asia, after China, but the reality is quite different.
The minimum wage is legally fixed and resolved at the district level, ranging from US $80 to US $200 per month. However, the minimum wage is not applied in many factories, which request exemption for financial reasons. Many also use second and third tier subcontractors. Workers are hired on a daily basis, and report earning much less than the minimum wage, and far too little to cover their basic needs.
Big brands sourcing from Indonesia increasingly use suppliers that subcontract the work to factories that do not comply with legal labour standards, ILO Better Work or the Freedom of Association Protocol that Indonesian unions have signed with sportswear brands and their suppliers. The longer the supply chain, the worst the working conditions in the factories, and the more difficult for unions to reach the workers and bargain for better conditions.
Hence, the struggle is focused on increasing the wage.
Wages are not the only issue: health and safety is not addressed properly, with factories failing to take measures to prevent the inhalation of dust and fibre, one of the most obvious risks in the sector.
Furthermore, sexual harassment is rampant in the industry. Women workers are pressurized to respond positively to sexual demands for fear of demotion or in hope of a promotion. Many chose to leave their jobs.
Women workers in Indonesia are faced with many difficulties, including those forced on them by regulations. For example, they receive a lower tax cut when having a family compared to their male counterparts. The social situation also prevents them from fully engaging in trade union work.
IndustriALL affiliates in Indonesia resolved to address occupational health and safety and sexual harassment at factory level. They will pay special attention to women's issues in bargaining with employers. They also resolved to design a strategy to promote the participation of women and young people, including in union leadership.
IndustriALL programmes officer Fanja Rasolomanana said: "Our affiliates in Indonesia are fighting hard for workers in the sector. It is very important to empower women in our unions so they can win better wages and conditions, and to tackle the long supply chains that undermine collective bargaining."
Global unions agree protocol with DP-DHL
19 July 2016: The ITF, UNI and DP-DHL have today agreed to a protocol, which commits them to continued dialogue on employment and industrial relations. The parties will meet four times a year and attempt to resolve issues in a mutually acceptable manner to avoid future problems.
Philip Jennings, the general secretary of UNI Global Union, said: "We acknowledge and welcome the central role of the German government in making this important protocol possible. This commits DP-DHL to the OECD Guidelines and to building a more productive relationship with the global unions. It is now incumbent upon all parties to make it work and deliver results for DP-DHL workers around the world."
Stephen Cotton, the general secretary of the ITF, said: "This is a new phase in the relationship between the global unions and DP-DHL. All of us have a joint responsibility to convert this into something meaningful for DHL workers. What this agreement gives us is a more progressive industrial relationship that includes dispute resolution mechanisms, supply chain responsibility and reaffirms the right of workers to a collective voice at work without fear of retaliation. We will work with our unions to ensure that this agreement succeeds."
Andrea Kocsis, the deputy national chair of ver.di (Germany's United Services Union), has also welcomed the agreement with Deutsche Post DHL: "Based on the agreed protocol, the relationship between Deutsche Post-DHL and the global unions must grow so that we can use this dialogue to improve employees' working conditions around the world."
IndustriALL challenges major lifts and escalators companies over safety
19.07.2016: IndustriALL has laid down the gauntlet to four of the world's biggest lifts and escalators companies demanding better safety in the sector.
IndustriALL has written to ThyssenKrupp, Otis, Schindler and Kone with a detailed list of objectives to improve safety in the installation and maintenance of lifts and escalators, and an offer for joint talks about how to achieve the goals.
A resolution of demands, adopted by representatives of IndustriALL affiliates from the sector at the Mechanical Engineering Conference in Bern last year, has been developed and now published. Entitled 'Work and Technical Security in the Lifts and Escalators Sector', unions demand employers in the sector work with them to ensure the safety of workers, technicians and customers.
IndustriALL's mechanical engineering sector chair and chair of Austrian affiliate PRO-GE, Rainer Wimmer, said:
"Safety first, that goes without saying, for lifts and escalators technicians and installers, but also for users and customers. We must do everything in our power to avoid accidents and fatalities in the sector. That is why we are calling on employers for a joint approach. Among other things, we demand that in the future only certified and approved companies and technicians are allowed to install and maintain lifts and escalators. Only professionally trained experts should be employed as technicians. Outsourcing to subcontractors without technical expertise, who then in return employ non-qualified contract workers, has got to stop."
The resolution contains eight core demands from IndustriALL unions in the sector:
Cooperation between management and workers in the Lifts and Escalators sector is crucial to achieve these goals. Management needs the expertise of their employees, while employees and customers need the commitment of management that goes beyond lip service.
The resolution has evolved from a 2014 meeting in Austria, where IndustriALL outlined demands in its Vienna Declaration.
Matthias Hartwich, director in charge of the sector at IndustriALL, said:
"We did not just discuss and adopt another resolution. What we have achieved is an in-depth discussion between trade union representatives and works councils around the world about the future of the lifts and escalators sector as a whole. We know what we want and need. It is a great pleasure having such an active group that has managed over the years to create such a working relationship. Now it's up to the companies to take up our offer and enter into a social dialogue, to really profit from the knowledge and dedication of their employees and trade unions. I do hope they use this unique chance."
Organising for Decent Jobs - Formalising Informal Work
Brussels, 14 July 2016 (ITUC OnLine): The power of workers' organising to fight the desperation of the informal sector is revealed in a new report published by Equal Times with case studies from 17 countries documenting union action to formalise informal jobs. The report outlines the success of union organising to transform the lives of waste recycling workers in Brazil, moto-taxi drivers in Rwanda, domestic workers in Belgium and Lebanon, street vendors in Ghana, artists in Uruguay and workers from many other sectors in many other countries. The work of the Indian Self-Employed Women's Association SEWA is highlighted in a country where 92 per cent of the economy is informal, while in the USA, worker-focused alternatives to the so-called "gig" economy, where internet platforms are being used by businesses to break down the employment relationship, are examined.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: "While debate rages about the future of work at high-level meetings and conferences around the world, people are getting on with the job of shaping the future by organising unions and building workers' power to lift the more than 40 per cent of the world's workforce into formal, decent employment. Anyone who doubts the effectiveness of workers exercising their fundamental right to organise should be convinced of its value once they have read the hard evidence that this report shows."
A common strand through the report is the use of an international instrument, ILO Recommendation 204, which sets out how countries should formalise informal economic activity.
"This is a clear example of the benefits that international labour standards can bring, when governments fulfil their responsibilities and workers are free to organise. With swathes of the global labour market outside the scope of regulation and worker protection, and dangerous informality trends in developing and industrialised countries, there is an urgent need for the lessons from this report and so many other examples of successful union organising to be spread far and wide. The world is experiencing huge levels of inequality and insecurity which are having severe impacts on families and communities, and posing a real threat to a sustainable economy and to democracy and human rights. All of the great advances in history have been made by people working together, and this report shows how the power of workers' organising can deliver decent work now and in the future," said Burrow.
Global recession risk requires coordinated G20 action on wages and jobs
Brussels, 12 July 2016 (ITUC OnLine): Trade union leaders at the Labour 20 Summit have called on G20 Labour and Employment Ministers meeting in Beijing to put the urgency for jobs and growth back on the agenda, with a focus on women and young people, as well as supporting social dialogue and collective bargaining.
The 2016 ITUC Frontline Poll found 45 per cent of working families can't participate in the economy - nearly half the population in nine G20 countries (Argentina, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, South Korea, the UK and USA) have no money to spend.
One in ten of people find their families are falling through the cracks, without enough money to cover their basic needs: housing, food and electricity.
"Mid-year forecasts showed that global GDP growth has stalled. There is now a real risk of a Brexit-led recession compounding the situation.
"Workers in the G20 and beyond cannot afford a recession and a renewed rise in unemployment. For young people, in many G20 countries the risk of a 'lost generation' is real.
"Governments now have to undertake the coordinated action to raise public investment and wages that even the international institutions are beginning to realise is necessary," said John Evans, General Secretary, Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC).
G20 leaders have agreed to three, high-profile targets among nearly one thousand policy commitments:
L20 Policy Tracking conducted over three year shows a persistent gap between commitments and government action on quality jobs, fairer wages and raising aggregate demand.
The 2016 L20 Tracking Survey found that 88 per cent of L20 members think that policy commitments need to be deepened by the G20 to achieve the 2.1 per cent growth target. Forty-three per cent of L20 members call on Ministers to revise existing employment policies completely and another 43 per cent would add several new policies.
"We must have minimum wages on which workers can live with dignity, we must rebuild collective bargaining to ensure both skilled wages and distribution of productivity and we must end tax evasion so we can boost universal social protection with the foundation of the social protection floor. This is both a tool of social cohesion and family security but also a vital economic stabiliser. When baby formula for one baby can take a day's wages in some countries, families are in trouble," said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
L20 recommendations to the G20 Labour and Employment ministers meeting in Beijing include:
"We desperately need infrastructure to drive jobs and enable a greener economy, but there is no point in building more malls when they are merely air conditioned meeting places because working people have no capacity to purchase products. And we desperately need investment in the care economy to formalise jobs with high social value, and to create new ones, for women and men," said Sharan Burrow.
The L20 Summit in Beijing brings together trade union leaders from G20 countries for a two-day summit to co-ordinate trade union activities with the G20 to improve wages and employment conditions for working people.