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Global Unions Converge in Mongolia in Campaign for Rio Tinto Workers' Rights

Oct 21, 2014:   Leaders of IndustriALL Global Union's Rio Tinto Network will gather in Mongolia on 22 October to plan the next moves in the worldwide campaign to improve worker rights at the mining giant.

The meeting, in the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator, will bring together IndustriALL affiliates from around the world. It follows a two-day conference in the city where unions, government officials and civil society groups gathered to discuss the labour agenda for socially sustainable mining in the global south. The Network is focusing support in Mongolia, where Rio Tinto has invested billions and mine workers are particularly vulnerable.

The company has a US $6 billion investment in the vast Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in the Gobi Desert. Workers there are represented by IndustriALL affiliate the Federation of Energy, Geology and Mining Workers' Trade Unions of Mongolia (MEGM).

Last year, Rio Tinto was condemned by the Supreme Court in Mongolia for wage discrimination against Mongolian nationals and unfair dismissal. The company also faced international criticism for sacking thousands of workers in the country without adequate consultation. Rio Tinto's blind pursuit of profit at any cost in Mongolia has caused disputes with unions as well as environmental, community and indigenous groups. Together with its mining trade union affiliates, IndustriALL Global Union has an ongoing campaign calling for an end to bad corporate behaviour at the expense of workers at Rio Tinto operations around the world.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan says that with the campaign, IndustriALL Global Union aims to build union power at Rio Tinto plants around the world, uniting workers in the struggle for decent work: "Rio Tinto has extensive experience in causing one conflict after another with trade unions, indigenous organizations, environmental groups and other key community stakeholders. Unions and civil society are coming together in an unprecedented way to push back against Rio Tinto for the benefit of workers, the environment and communities." "For far too long, Rio Tinto has systematically put profits before people, sometimes with fatal consequences like the recent deaths at the Grasberg mine in Papua New Guinea. Workers are saying enough is enough," says Kemal Özkan.

The Network meeting follows a global day of protests on 7 October as as part of IndustriALL's campaign to demand a new era at Rio Tinto. In a coordinated day of defiance workers from Rio Tinto sites in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe and North America demanded safer workplaces, secure jobs and respect for workers' rights. Events included rallies, stop work meetings and other worksite actions. The 7 October action against Rio Tinto coincided with the World Day for Decent Work, when unions mobilize against precarious work - jobs that are temporary, casual, contracted-out and often low-wage, low-benefit, unsafe and insecure.

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

EI Executive Board Meets to Prepare for World Congress

21 October 2014:   When Education International's Executive Board members meet for the 43rd time today in Brussels, a number of important decisions will have to be made, including about next year's Seventh World Congress and an evaluation of the Unite for Quality Education campaign.

From 21-23 Oct., Education International's (EI) Executive Board members convene in the "capital of Europe" to delve into the upcoming year's business.

As planning for next year's Seventh World Congress continues to ramp up, every detail of the event, confirmed for 21-26 July, 2015 in Ottawa, Canada, will be given close attention by EI's governing bodies. Representatives of the hosting organisations, EI's affiliates in Canada, will join the meetings to discuss the evolving planning.

One year after the Unite for Quality Education Campaign's official launch, the EI Executive Board will assess its impact to date and plan how it will be taken further during the lead-up to the United Nations' decision on the post-2015 development agenda.

Other items on the agenda to be addressed will include issues in global current affairs, such as the developing situation in Ukraine, the Ebola crisis in West Africa, as well as upcoming world conferences on education, including the International Summit on the Teaching Profession, to be held next March in Banff, Canada.

Source:  Education International--EI uniting 30 million teachers and education workers in 401 organizations in 171 countries and territories

Open TISA to Public Debate, say Experts at First Global Forum

October 17, 2014:   From education to transport, from finance to health. The new Trade In Services Agreement (TISA) is posing serious threats to quality standards in various public sectors that affect the lives of citizens.

This is what has emerged from the first Global Trade in Services Forum, in Geneva on 17th October 2014, co-organised by Public Services International (PSI), Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and Our World Is Not For Sale (OWINFS) network. Leading experts and over 140 representatives from trade unions, civil society and governments, expressed their concerns about the new trade agreement, which is being negotiated in secrecy by a small group of governments and supported by a coalition of corporations.

"The secrecy of these trade agreements neglects any democratic participation" says Jane Kelsey, professor of law at the university of Auckland, New Zealand. "Services are fundamental to people's daily lives, and what we see in these agreements is an attempt to turn them into commercial products, in ways that benefit just the biggest companies in the world."

According to Herta Däubler-Gmelin, former Minister of Justice of Germany, trade agreements should be discussed by national parliaments and within the European Parliament in full transparency, or they will just foster protest and not deliver the results their supporters keep promising. In the United States, "the industry and trade lobbies represent the lion's share in the trade advisory committee, reaching 85 per cent of the total members" revealed Celeste Drake, trade and globalisation policy specialist at AFL-CIO.

The forum represented a unique opportunity to examine the negative impact of TISA and the darkest side of its privatisation and deregulation agenda, but also to start and elaborate alternatives and solutions to the ongoing process. "The interest and participation in the forum reflects the growing concern about these secret talks," says Daniel Bertossa, Director of Policy and Governance at PSI. "It's clear from today that trade unionists and civil society are angry about what is being negotiated in their name."

Source:  Public Services International--PSI representing 20 million workers in 150 countries

Pressure Increases on Prosegur to Honour Human Rights Commitment

15 October 2014:   The pressure is mounting on Spanish security company Prosegur to honour its human rights commitments following a series of complaints about the firm's conduct in Latin America. Prosegur stands accused of rights and labour violations over several years including the alleged harassment and dismissal of trade unionists and activists.

Prosegur, the largest private security company in Latin America and the third largest in the world, employs more than 200,000 workers in 17 countries. It is a member of the United Nations Global Compact - a group of businesses that says it is committed to human rights, labour rights and anti-corruption. Despite this, UNI Global Union has had to file complaints about Prosegur's conduct to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the OECD after attempting, unsuccessfully, to resolve issues over the last few years.

The situation in Latin America worsened recently following acts of harassment and intimidation directed at specific union leaders and activists. UNI says the company has tolerated a work environment with promotes fear and that potentially fostered violence. This may have contributed to an unprovoked violent attack on a trade union leader in Peru in August which led to the worker's hospitalization and stitches to his head.

Pamphlets falsely accusing trade union leaders of corruption have been distributed by anonymous individuals in secure Prosegur worksites in Colombia and Peru. UNI fears that certain union leaders may face imminent harm and has written to Prosegur's CEO and President in Madrid five times since April 2014 to express concerns about the increase in attacks on union leaders. UNI wants Prosegur to respect human rights, country labour laws and global labour standards and to be clear about not tolerating violence. Workers have a right to a safe and secure workplace everywhere.

Source:  UNI Global Union--UNI represents 20 million workers from 900 trade unions in 150 countries

Italy: BWI and Italian Affiliates Sign IFA with Salini Impregilo

14 October 2014:   "This Italian construction multinational company is important worldwide and this new international framework agreement will contribute to promote labour standards and workers' rights all over the world." said Ambet Yuson general secretary of the BWI from Milano Italy on 13 October 2014. The BWI and its Italian affiliates Feneal-Uil, Fica-Cisl, Fillea-Cgil renegotiated the IFA with the Italian construction company Impregilo S.p.A. as the company merged with the Italian company Salini to Salini Impregilo.

For Vito Panzarella, general secretary of Feneal-UIL, "This new IFA is much better than the one signed previously in 2004 as workers' rights are now guaranteed in all operations of the group around the world." This IFA promotes good industrial relations worldwide and best practice language regarding trade union rights, including full respect for International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions on freedom of association and the right to organise and collective bargaining, and a number of other international instruments.

"The challenge for this multinational consists in globalising the promotion and respect of workers' rights in all country operations of the group." says Domenico Pesenti, general secretary of FILCA-CISL.

Salini Impregilo pledges to facilitate access to employees by trade unions or workers' representatives in a spirit of cooperation and transparency. Also addresses key issues like health and safety and training. For instance in 2013, the group offered 372.000 hours of training to its employees and spent over 50% on health and safety in 2012. "There is no other possibility to move forward for Italy and the rest of the world than by guaranteeing workers' rights." Walter Schiavella, general secretary of Fillea-CGIL.

Salini Impregilo is an industrial group specializing in the construction of major, complex projects. Operating in over 50 countries with over 31,000 employees and a turnover of around € 4 billion.

Source:  Building and Wood Workers International--BWI represents 12 million workers in 328 affiliated unions from 130 countries

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