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The International Labor Organization (ILO) labor standards take the form of International Labor Conventions which are ratified by member countries. Of the total number of ILO Conventions, eight are considered core labor standards, fundamental to the rights of workers. The ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations.

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UNI Americas meeting with the Minister of Labour and Social Security of Uruguay

17 April 2015:   On April 15th, a large delegation of UNI Americas was received by the new Minister of Labour and Social Security of Uruguay, Ernesto Murro. UNI's brothers and sisters travelled to Montevideo to attend the Regional Steering Council, which was held the day before.

Given his life experience, Ernesto Murro is an example to follow: School teacher, imprisoned for five years by the military dictatorship, timber factory worker for 15 years and union leader of the sector. For nine years (throughout the government of "Pepe" Mujica) he was the head of the Social Security Department. Less than two months ago he was appointed Minister of Labour and Social Security of the Republic.

The Minister provided ample information to the delegation. He explained that since the victory of the first government of the Frente Amplio, collective bargaining in Uruguay became mandatory by sector and by industry. Today, 95% of negotiations are tripartite. Recently included were the sectors of domestic and rural workers.

Ernesto was interested in the various sectors represented in UNI, and pointed out the importance of the postal service in Uruguay which is the only entity with the power to certify digital signatures. He also spoke of the significant development of the audiovisual and information industries in the country, and advised UNI to conduct research in these areas.

"The No a la baja campaign (no to lowering the age of criminal responsibility) carried out by youth was a moving experience; a thought-provoking youth campaign across political parties" said Ernesto while speaking to representatives of UNI Americas Youth Committee present at the meeting, also referring to plans on Youth Employment and Training.

The Minister expressed special interest in the bilateral agreements that Uruguay has been discussing with the United States on social security, with the objective of protecting the 50,000 Uruguayan workers living in the United States and also the growing presence of American professionals who come to work in Uruguay, stressing that the labour movement should have a key focus on migration.

Adriana Rosenzvaig thanked the Minister for his direct intervention in the Enjoy-Conrad conflict. "Given his involvement, most of the workers were reinstated to their jobs," said the Regional Secretary.

"Our meeting with the Minister was extremely interesting. Considering Ernesto's bond with the Uruguayan labour movement and his knowledge, experience and commitment, any country would be proud to have a Minister of Labour like him," stated Jim Sauber, President of UNI Americas Post & Logistics. "I am particularly interested in the efforts being made in Uruguay to ensure the protection of social security for workers who have spent part of their lives working outside their countries of origin. Undoubtedly, the American unions are going to support this initiative for a bilateral agreement with the United States to ensure the protection of thousands of Uruguayans and American workers in the respective countries" he added.

The delegation left the Minister's office with great satisfaction and key points to develop further.

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

Rio Tinto shamed by unions

16 Apr 2015:   World leader in workers' rights abuses, Rio Tinto was targeted today in London by an angry coalition of campaigners calling for the company to clean up and act responsibly.

IndustriALL Global Union's network of unions at Rio Tinto took their raft of grievances to the annual shareholders meeting today. The mining giant was shamed by its failures on union rights, worker safety, damage to the environment, and indigenous peoples and other communities.

A number of trade unions from all over the world along with NGOs and groups of indigenous people rallied outside the venue of the Rio Tinto AGM 2015. With chanting and delivering a defiant message that the IndustriALL campaign will continue.

Inside the AGM, IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan delivered the joint message of the union network. Kemal Özkan says: "Our campaign will continue until Rio Tinto becomes the social actor it describes itself to be. All we seek is respect for workers, indigenous peoples, communities and the environment."

Ron Thomas, USW president at Rio Tinto's operations in Labrador City, Canada, said to the AGM: "I'm asking Rio Tinto to treat our members with respect and to stop using contract workers. We want to work with Rio Tinto and get our jobs back."

Strong criticism came from the floor of the AGM, holding Rio Tinto to account for its arrogant disrespect of other affected stakeholders.

The Innu Nation of Quebec made a strong symbolic gesture by addressing the AGM in their native language, before stating: "We came here in peace. When will Rio Tinto negotiate and sign an agreement with us. You are taking out the resources without sharing the profits with us. The time has come to pay the rent to the real owners of that land."

Political funding in the US, non-transparency in numerous deals including in Myanmar, and environmental degradation were strong issues raised.

The Chairman and CEO were required to explain recent events around Rio Tinto workers being killed on the job in Madagascar, Canada, South Africa and Indonesia.

Directly following the AGM, the IndustriALL-led group demonstrated outside two jewellery stores owned by Signet, who source their diamonds from Rio Tinto. Customers of the H. Samuel and Ernest Jones shops on Oxford Street, in the heart of London's busy shopping area, were told about how Signet's diamonds are dirtied by Rio Tinto's unethical behaviour.

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

Women activists win major breakthrough in Indian road union

Women activists have achieved a major breakthrough in the overwhelmingly male-dominated MSTKS union in India.

13/04/2015:   After three years of attending the all-male executive committee meetings as an observer and raising women members' concerns about workplace rights and lack of union representation, Sheela Naikwade became the first woman ever to be elected to the 31-strong committee and attended her first meeting as an executive member on 5 April. At that meeting, the committee unanimously decided to reserve two seats for women at every level of the organisation, from depot to state.

Speaking from the MSTKS annual general meeting on 5 April, Sheela Naikwade said: "With only male activists in MSTKS, it was too difficult for women to speak openly about the issues they were facing at work, and if they did they were often not taken seriously.

"I felt strongly that I must step forward and provide a voice for women workers. Our success for women in leadership is an extremely rewarding step towards justice for women workers after years of difficult struggle."

Hanumant Tate, MSTKS general secretary, who has been an active promoter of women's rights and union activism, commented that women still faced too many barriers. Having more women leaders would, he said, help the union make real progress on women's issues and make it stronger to fight for and win rights for all workers at the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC).

Working on the buses in India is relatively new for women. Currently only 8,000 of the 110,000 workforce are women but the MSRTC has committed to employing 30 percent women across the corporation.

Prior to the AGM, Naikwade and ITF assistant women's co-ordinator Jodi Evans ran a donor-funded, week-long course on boosting women's activism in the union's fight against privatisation and gender-based violence.

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

Zimbabwe: ITUC Supports ZCTU Protest Action

Brussels, 09 April 2015 (ITUC OnLine):   The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is organising demonstrations on 11 April 2015 involving its six regional centres of Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo and Chinhoyi. The demonstrations aim to highlight a range of issues affecting workers, including the decision to freeze and cut salaries, introduce labour market flexibility, the non or late payment of workers' salaries, and the failure to pass on membership subscriptions to the unions - all contrary to existing collective agreements.

Police in the cities of Bulawayo, Mutare and Masvingo initially refused to grant permission for the demonstrations, but reversed their decisions after the Harare police agreed to allow the demonstration there. A High Court decision on a ZCTU legal challenge was also expected on Thursday afternoon.

The Herald, a pro-government newspaper, has also released an article denouncing the ZCTU protest action claiming it is driven by external forces such as the Movement for Democratic Change.

An ILO Commission of Inquiry of 2010 found serious government interference in ZCTU meetings and demonstrations, especially through the requirement that trade unions seek police permission to hold such gatherings. This interference is a violation of ILO Conventions 87 on freedom of association and 98 on collective bargaining. The Government pledged to the ILO that police and security forces would receive training and education to prevent such violations in the future, but five years later the interference continues.

The government of Zimbabwe must respect the international conventions it has ratified as well as the provisions of its own Constitution. Structures of collective bargaining and social dialogue exist in the country, and instead of repressing union activity, the government should allow these to be used to help ensure social peace and economic development.

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 176 million workers in 161 countries and territories and has 325 national affiliates

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