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The Stand: GOP plans big Social Security, Medicare cuts   |   Common Dreams: 'Morally Bankrupt': After Tax Cuts for Richest, House GOP Unveils $5.4 Trillion Attack on Nation's Safety Net   |   Working in These Times: Workplace Deaths Are Rising. Trump-Era Budget Cuts Could Make It Worse.   |   The Stand: Labor 2018 kickoff is June 23 in Longview   |   The Nation: At the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate Students Are Organizing to Survive   |   Think Progress: Employees in EPA's Chicago office lead resistance to Pruitt's attacks on environmental regulations   |   HuffPost: The Las Vegas Union That Learned To Beat The House   |   The Stand: Jayapal unveils universal health care bill   |   Working in These Times: Boeing Workers in S.C. Have Finally Unionized. But Trump's Labor Board Could Kibosh It.   |   ILO Director-General: Keep our planet safe, clean and fit for work   |   Equal Times: Regulated working time is a must for all workers, especially those in the informal economy   |   Labor Notes: Labor's New Terrain: Working On the Supply Chain Gang   |   The Nation: Toys 'R' Us Workers Take on Private-Equity Barons: 'You Ought to Be Ashamed'   |   Center for Media and Democracy   |   Working in These Times: Actually, Trump Loves Chinese Goods-So Long as they Make Him Richer   |   American Prospect: Trump Moves to Curb Federal Employee Labor Protections

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World Day For Decent Work

Justice for Fishers - Fishers' Rights Network...
International Transport Workers Federation

Pharmacare: A Plan for Everyone...
Canadian Labour Congress

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

Union Yes

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.

Amnesty International

American Civil Liberties Union


EI welcomes the G20 focus on the contributions of education

22.06.2018:   For the first time in its decade-long existence, the G20, under the Argentinian Presidency, will focus on education. EI has been asked to contribute to the preparatory work of the education minister's working group.

The G20, an assembly of governments created 10 years ago to deal with the financial/economic crisis, will, for the first time, focus on education and include a meeting of Education Ministers in early September. The government of Argentina chairs this year's G20.

EI has been invited to help shape the agenda for the discussions. At the most recent working group meeting, in Geneva, EI was asked to present policy recommendations on "Teacher Training: Professional Development. Skilling and reskilling". The group is also using and making available the EI publication from 2016, "Global Trends in TVET: a framework for social justice"

The OECD provides policy back up for the G20 process. In addition to its involvement with the working group on education, EI is involved in this process through its cooperation with the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC). Joint work helps to address both employment and education issues, which are linked in the G20 work, as well as to ensure that there is a comprehensive and coherent trade union approach.

The Argentinian Presidency will focus on the future of work, infrastructure for development, and a sustainable food future. In the dialogue process, EIs recommendations on the education and training aspects of the future of work will include the future of the teaching profession.

The G20 addresses broad policy issues as well as specific, timely questions. EI will stress the need to implement the sustainable development goals and, especially, goal 4 on education. Although employment aspects and the future of work are important, there are many other elements of education that are relevant to the work of the G20, including building cohesive, tolerant and more equal societies, peace, integration, social justice, and active citizenship.

Source:  Education International--EI uniting 32.5 million education workers in 400 associations and unions in 171 countries and territories


IMF Should Embrace UN Special Rapporteur's Report on Social Protection

Brussels, 20 June 2018:   (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC has expressed support for the findings and recommendations of the report on "The IMF and Social Protection" written by Philip Alston, the UN's Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. Mr Alston will present his report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week.

Noting the IMF's financial power and influence, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: "The Special Rapporteur is right on the mark when he states that real progress in expanding social protection to the majority of the world's population that has none will not happen unless the IMF consistently promotes the creation of fiscal space for social protection."

The ITUC agrees with the report's analysis that too often the IMF has been involved in social protection issues only with the objective of limiting fiscal costs. This focus explains the IMF's frequent hostility to universal protection and its preference for very narrowly targeted programmes, which deprive many low-income households of benefits and weaken political support for social protection.

Alston's report also points out the IMF's limited cooperation with the ILO and other UN agencies specialised in social protection, and the Fund's failure to commit unambiguously to all the Sustainable Development Goals, most notably SDG 1.3 to implement nationally appropriate social protection systems for all, including social protection floors.

"The ITUC endorses the Special Rapporteur's recommendation that the IMF should 'engage seriously and systematically with the Social Protection Floor Initiative of the United Nations, ILO and WHO", said Burrow.

In light of the IMF's initiation of a process to adopt a new "strategic framework" on social protection by February 2019, the ITUC calls on the Fund to embrace the key recommendations of the Special Rapporteur's report: (i) work in support of attainment of the SDGs on social protection; (ii) drop its resistance to universal coverage; and (iii) work in cooperation with other agencies and organisations that support expanded social protection.

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates


IndustriALL Bridgestone trade union network builds on long tradition

19.06.2018:   Leading trade unions at Bridgestone, together constituting the steering committee for one of IndustriALL's longest-standing trade union networks at a multinational company, held the 17th annual meeting on 14-15 June in the company's home city of Kurume, Japan.

Bridgestone is the world's leading tyre company and is organized by IndustriALL affiliates in all continents. The ground rules of the network steering committee were established in 2005 through a protocol agreed by leading Bridgestone unions. The protocol establishes the steering committee constituting representatives from key unions in each continent. The Japanese Rubber Workers' Union Gomu Rengo is the administrator of the network and meetings are chaired by the Gomu Rengo president, who for the last two years has been brother Kasukabe-san.

The network's secretary comes from the Japanese Bridgestone Workers' Union (JBU), which is the largest union inside Gomu Rengo, representing around half of all Gomu Rengo members. The current secretary is sister Sakagami-san, executive board member of JBU. JBU president Watanabe-san facilitated that this year's network meeting be held at the first ever Bridgestone plant, established in 1931 in the western Japanese city of Kurume.

Also represented were Numsa of South Africa, the Bridgestone European Works Council Secretary, and the IndustriAll Europe Coordinator for Bridgestone Europe, as well as IndustriALL-JAF. Accident levels and long term industrial diseases were studied for each region.

Kurume is heavily influenced by the industrial heritage of Bridgestone. The network participants, in conjunction to the meeting toured the factory and facilities related to Bridgestone's founder, Shojiro Ishibashi. Bridgestone was named after its founder - Ishibashi means "Stone Bridge" in Japanese. The Kurume plant is still Bridgestone's key production facility, manufacturing a wide variety of tires for different vehicles and aircraft. The plant also produces the nylon and polyester tyre cord which forms the support structure of its tyres.

Bridgestone's tyre production process begins at its two rubber plantations, in Liberia and Indonesia. The 48,000-hectare plantation in Liberia is twice as large as the Indonesia plantation, and workers there are organized in the IndustriALL trade union affiliate AAIWUL. AAIWUL is preparing to begin collective bargaining with management at the plantation in Liberia and the network sent AAIWUL a message of support for those negotiations.

Gomu Rengo president KASUKABE Yoshinori, chair of the Bridgestone network steering committee said: "This very stable network prioritizes not only worker safety but trust worldwide. Even though we are facing hard times in our industry, it is very important that all the colleagues help each other and we need to set a high standard at Bridgestone to be followed at other companies in the rubber sector. Let's work together to build the strong connection among Bridgestone workers."

Tom Grinter, responsible for the rubber sector at IndustriALL Global Union said: "Building on the long history of this network, our 2018 meeting analyzed the current business and employment conditions at Bridgestone in the different regions. We also studied the history of the network itself as the respective organizations are now represented by new people. We learnt more about the history of the company in its home city. Bridgestone's founding commitments and principles to worker safety and trade union rights are strong in Japan. It is the task of this network to put those principles to the test throughout the company's global operations."

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


Guy Ryder urges trade unions to mobilise to shape the future world of work

19 June 2018:   In the session on the Future World of Work at the UNI World Congress, Director General of the International Labour Organisation Guy Ryder told trade union delegates that they were fundamental in tackling the issues arising from digitalization and artificial intelligence. The world is undergoing an intense period of transformative revolution, with the world of work changing at a hitherto unprecedented pace.

"Trade unions are the bests agents of positive change we have - the key to mobilising, and the core of the alliances which strive for social justice," said Ryder. "However, the challenges we face in the future world of work are too great to ignore." "We tackle these challenges at a time of great danger. Political discourse of public life, which would not be accepted a few years ago. We live in a time when telling the truth in politics is optional - if the faces are inconvenient, change them. If taxes are too high, pay them somewhere else or not at all."

"If the long arc of history does indeed bend towards social justice, there are times when it takes a diversion in the opposite direction, and this is one of them. It is the brutalism of the 1930s and we have no excuse - as organized labour most of all - if we do not learn the lessons and act on those lessons."

"If trade unions do not mobilise with its allies to shape the future world of work, then that future will be imposed by this new extremist and brutal agenda. A future in which all that we have fought for - labour rights, inclusion, social justice, sustainability and democracy - have no place."

Unions have been under attack for decades, but Ryder warned that a defensive stance would be enough to combat the size of the transformation which faces us. "It's up to trade unions and allies to put human beings back in control to shape the future world of work so that the arc of history does indeed bend once more towards social justice."

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


South Africa: Union calls for improved health and safety after four mineworkers are killed at Sibanye Stillwater gold mine

13.06.2018:   The deaths at Sibanye Stillwater operations in 2018 go beyond previous years with 11 killed in 2016, and nine in 2017. This year the death toll is already at 18 showing that the company's operations are increasingly becoming death-traps for mineworkers.

Four mineworkers were killed, and one is still missing in yet another mine accident at Sibanye Stillwater's Kloof Ikamva gold mine, about 60km from Johannesburg. The four are said to have died from heat exhaustion.

Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL director of mining says: The dangerous conditions which Sibanye Stillwater continue to subject workers to are not acceptable and now bordering on negligence. The company must make efforts to always ensure the health and safety of the mine workers before profits.

In a petition to the Chamber of Mines last month, after the death of seven workers at Masakhane mine, a Sibanye Stillwater operation, the NUM urged the company to come up with a plan to implement the Mines Health and Safety Council requirements.

By so doing, the company would make progress towards achieving "zero harm". Further, the mining company must also allow workers to exercise their rights to information, education and training, representation and to refuse to do dangerous work or enter unsafe workplaces. The union also demanded that the South African mining industry must stop recalling full-time health and safety representatives as they are necessary in building worker-control on health and safety issues, as well as reducing the number of accidents and deaths in the mines.

Peter Bailey, NUM health and safety chairperson, calls on the department of mineral resources to take action against the mining company and for inspectors to make compliance visits to the mining company's operations: NUM is highly disturbed and angered by the deaths. It is unacceptable as we don't sell our lives, limbs or lungs to the industry but our labour to provide for our families.

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


ITF and ETF applaud landmark victory for Unite

ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton responds to Unite's announcement that it has won recognition from Ryanair to represent UK cabin crew:

11/06/2018:   "I would like to congratulate Unite on winning this historic recognition deal with Ryanair. For the first time, around 650 Ryanair cabin crew directly employed in the UK will have a union fighting their corner on pay and working conditions.

"The ITF and ETF have been calling on Ryanair to recognise that unions have a legitimate role in their workplaces. This UK deal represents a landmark victory for cabin crew and the ITF and ETF's wider campaign to win a better deal for Ryanair workers.

"However, recognition is only the beginning. Now Ryanair must prove that it plans to negotiate in good faith and listen to the grievances of its workforce. From low pay to draconian sales targets, the company has a long way to go before it can be considered a good employer.

"That is why the ITF and ETF are hosting the first ever summit for Ryanair cabin crew on 3-4 July. Next month, workers from across the company's network will come together in Dublin to formulate a charter of demands on pay and working conditions. This will form the basis of bargaining by unions on behalf of Ryanair cabin crew in every country where the company operates."

Source:  International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing over 19 million transport workers in 670 unions from 147 countries


ITUC Global Rights Index 2018: Democratic space shrinks and unchecked corporate greed on the rise

Shrinking democratic space for working people and unchecked corporate greed are on the rise according to the annual ITUC Global Rights Index. The number of countries with arbitrary arrests and detention of workers increased from 44 in 2017 to 59 in 2018, and freedom of speech was constrained in 54 countries.

07-06-2018:   "Democracy is under attack in countries that fail to guarantee people's right to organise, speak out and take action. Brazil passed laws that denied freedom of association, China restricted free speech and the military was used to suppress labour disputes in Indonesia," said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.

More countries are excluding workers from labour law - from migrant workers, public sector employees to workers in platform businesses, with 65% of countries excluding whole categories of workers from labour law.

"Decent work and democratic rights grew weaker in almost all countries, while inequality continued to grow. This was fuelled by the outrageous behaviour of many multinational companies, such as Samsung whose anti-union practices deny workers freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, as shown in internal company documents seized from their offices in Korea. And the corporate power of Amazon continues to grow unchecked, from treating workers like robots to threatening to halt its expansion in Seattle over tax proposals to create affordable housing," said Burrow.

The ITUC Global Rights Index 2018 ranks 142 countries against 97 internationally recognised indicators to assess where workers' rights are best protected in law and in practice.

The report's key findings include:

  • 65% of countries exclude some groups of workers from labour law.
  • 87% of countries have violated the right to strike.
  • 81% of countries deny some or all workers collective bargaining.
  • Out of 142 countries surveyed, 54 deny or constrain free speech and freedom of assembly.
  • The number of countries in which workers are exposed to physical violence and threats increased by 10% (from 59 to 65) and include Bahrain, Honduras, Italy and Pakistan.
  • Countries where workers are arrested and detained increased from 44 in 2017 to 59 in 2018.
  • Trade unionists were murdered in nine countries - Brazil, China, Colombia, Guatemala, Guinea, Mexico, Niger, Nigeria and Tanzania.

"From attacks on civil liberties, the arbitrary arrest, detention and imprisonment of workers, the erosion of collective bargaining and the increasing criminalisation of the right to strike to the exclusion of workers from labour protection, violations of workers' rights are on the rise. This is a global threat to democracy and security. Governments must act in the interest of working people. They need to change the rules to stop the violations and end corporate greed," said Burrow.

The report ranks the ten worst countries for workers' rights in 2018 as Algeria, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Haiti, Kenya, Macedonia, Mauritania and Spain have all seen their rankings worsen in 2018 with a rise in attacks on workers' rights in law and practice. The Middle East and North Africa was again the worst region for treatment of workers, with the kafala system in the Gulf still enslaving millions of people. The absolute denial of basic workers' rights remained in place in Saudi Arabia. Conflict in Libya, Palestine, Syria and Yemen has led to the breakdown of the rule of law and the denial of the right to find a decent job. Peaceful protests were violently repressed and attempts at forming an independent labour movement were systematically crushed by the authorities in Algeria and Egypt.

Conditions in Asia-Pacific have deteriorated with an increase in violence, criminalisation of the right to the strike and a rise in arrests, detention and imprisonment of labour activists and trade union leaders. All 22 countries in the region violated collective bargaining and the right to strike. Mass dismissals of workers for exercising their rights were found in Indonesia, where 4,200 workers were laid off by mining operator PT Freeport; Myanmar, where 184 union members were made redundant; and Cambodia, where 558 workers were fired after a strike at the Gawon Apparel Factory.

In Africa, workers were exposed to physical violence in 65% of countries in the region. Protests in Nigeria were violently repressed by the army, and one worker was killed by unknown gunmen during a strike. In Europe, 58% of countries violated collective bargaining rights, and three quarters of countries violated the right to strike. The Americas remain plagued by the pervasive climate of extreme violence and repression against workers and union members; in Colombia alone 19 trade unionists were murdered last year - a dramatic rise from 11 in the previous year.

The ITUC has been collecting data on violations of workers' rights to trade union membership and collective bargaining around the world for more than 30 years. This is the fifth year the ITUC has presented its findings through the Global Rights Index, putting a unique and comprehensive spotlight on how government laws and business practices have deteriorated or improved in the last 12 months. The three global trends for workers' rights identified in the 2018 Global Rights Index are shrinking democratic space, unchecked corporate influence and the importance of legislation.

"The power of democracy to change the rules was shown with newly elected governments in Iceland, Canada and New Zealand acting in the interests of working people, with laws to close the gender pay gap, provide paid domestic violence leave and increase wages for care workers. The challenge for governments is to govern for people, not for corporate interests, and make laws that respect international labour standards and keep open the democratic space that gives workers a voice in their community and workplaces. Without this we face an insecure and fractured world," said Burrow.

The 2018 ITUC Global Rights Index rates countries from one to five according to 97 indicators, with an overall score placing countries in rankings of one to five.

  • 1 Sporadic violations of rights: 13 countries including Ireland and Denmark.
  • 2 Repeated violations of rights: 23 countries including France and Estonia.
  • 3 Regular violations of rights: 26 countries including Spain and Macedonia.
  • 4 Systematic violations of rights: 38 countries including Haiti and Kenya.
  • 5 No guarantee of rights: 32 countries including Honduras and Nigeria.
  • 5+ No guarantee of rights due to breakdown of the rule of law: 10 countries including Burundi, Palestine, Syria and Yemen.

Read the report: ITUC Global Rights Index 2018 - The World's Worst Countries for Workers

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates


Ericsson unionists strengthen network in South and South East Asia

06.06.2018:   The Ericsson trade union network of South and South East Asia met in New Delhi on 1 June to discuss the trade union situation, challenges and critical issues faced by workers at Ericsson plants in the region.

Aiming to strengthen trade union networks at the telecommunications multinational in South and South East Asia, union representatives from Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and Sweden along with representatives from IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union met in New Delhi.

Karin Aberg, from Swedish affiliate Unionen, provided an overview of how the Ericsson European works council (EWC) works, and said: Proactive engagement in Ericsson EWC is key to defending workers rights in Europe. We extend solidarity to Ericsson workers around the world in their efforts in defending workers rights.

When explaining the network's strategic plan, Kan Matsuzaki, IndustriALL director for ICT, Electrical and Electronics sector said: Ericsson trade union network is a key initiative at the global level. While Ericsson is one of the progressive employers, we are still witnessing the cases of union busting, hurdles for freedom of association and rampant precarious work at various levels including at Ericsson's suppliers. We are looking to empower unions and ensure common rights and standards globally.

Participants agreed on the cross-border cooperation and solidarity actions to develop organizing strategy in respective countries and decided to explore the possibility for effective use of Global Deal to achieve decent work for Ericsson workers in the region.

The Ericsson trade union network was formed in April 2016, aiming to bring unions together in a network to address global challenges, engage with the company in global dialogue, support union organizing and collective bargaining efforts, and ensure respect for workers' rights.

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


Exxon bars workers from joining shareholders' meeting

01.06.2018:   Members of IndustriALL Australian affiliate AMWU travelled to Dallas, Texas in the US, to attend ExxonMobil's annual shareholders' meeting on 30 May to raise concerns over the long-running conflict at the company's subsidiary Esso Australia. However, once there the four workers were denied entry despite having the necessary documents.

Two hundred workers have been on strike for about a year against a maintenance contractor that works for ExxonMobil's Australian subsidiary, Esso Australia. The contractor has slashed wages and benefits and imposed a more burdensome work schedule.

Steven Soloman, one of four Australian workers who travelled to Dallas attended the meeting, ready to challenge the company over the hundreds of millions of dollars it has spent on union-busting efforts. Company officials, however, refused to allow him to speak. The company also took the extreme step of banning the other three Australian workers from admittance to the meeting, despite remarks from ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods acknowledging that the company would need its world-class work force to reach its goal of doubling productivity in downstream and chemical sectors and tripling productivity in upstream activities by 2025.

The company stated that the workers were barred in order to protect shareholder safety. However, none of the three banned union members have been charged with any crimes related to their legal strike in Australia. The three barred union members were able to make their presence known outside the meeting by handing out leaflets to shareholders detailing their struggles and by speaking to a crowd of other organizations in attendance.

IndustriALL energy director Diana Junquera Curiel says that Exxon banning four trade unionists with the required documentation to enter the meeting is unacceptable.

There are no ongoing negotiations with ESSO/UGL and the 200 striking workers, and their families, deserve better. IndustriALL is calling on Exxon to find a solution to this conflict that has been going on for a year, to establish a dialogue with unions and to stop outsourcing.

Members from IndustriALL US affiliate USW joined the shareholders' meeting to confront Exxon on the treatment of the Australian contractors and to advocate for greater transparency from the company on its political spending with the company. USW member and ExxonMobil employee Ricky Brooks, president of Local 13-2001, presented shareholders with a proposal, on behalf of the USW and 25 co-filers, that would require ExxonMobil to file a report detailing the company's spending on political lobbying, both individually and through industry groups, each year. The proposal received 26 percent of shareholders' votes.

In addition to advocating for the transparency proposal, Brooks spoke out about safety issues at his Baytown, Texas, facility and brought attention to the unjust actions ExxonMobil has supported against the striking union members in Australia.

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


ITF statement in solidarity with truck drivers in Iran

The International Transport Workers' Federation, on behalf of the 20 million transport workers worldwide that our organisation represents, stands in full solidarity with the truck drivers of Iran as they enter a tenth day of strikes.

31/05/2018:   Truckers in Iran are taking mass action over low wages and rising expenses, as well as for workers' rights and road safety.

Their action has been strongly supported by the ITF's road transport affiliate the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, also known as the Vahed Syndicate. The strike first affected the Qazvin, Lorestan, East Azerbaijan and Mazandaran areas and has now been reported to have spread to all provinces and more than 250 cities. Road transport is vital to Iran's supply chains, so the action is having a significant impact. At the same time, there are reports that the truckers have received wide public support.

The ITF head of inland transport, Noel Coard, said: "Truckers' wages are not enough to cover their expenses. Together with the vast majority of ordinary Iranians, they have been suffering the impact of ongoing inflation and price hikes. They can't make a decent living." At the same time, many trucks are in poor condition, needing spare parts and repairs. Alongside poor weather conditions, border area security problems and a general lack of road safety, Iranian truckers endure unacceptable working conditions.

"Workers' rights, including the right of independent trade unions to represent their members, are key to resolving these issues."

Noel Coard added that the problem of low wages and safety in road transport supply chains has been prioritised by the ITF's road transport section. In December 2016, the ITF adopted a supply chain accountability initiative, currently being rolled out by the ITF road transport section with truck driver trade unions.

Source:  International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing over 19 million transport workers in 700 unions from 150 countries


"Internationalism is about sharing struggles" - Interview with Theodore Gnagna, Côte D'Ivoire

31 May 2018:   Thousands of young people make the perilous journey from Cote d'Ivoire across the Mediterranean to Europe every year. Theodor Gnagna, President of the National Platform for Public Sector Workers, says that establishing better work conditions in the country is an essential step in bringing an end to the exodus.

On the sidelines of the International Labour Conference, PSI is hearing stories of unionists from across the world, fighting for workers' rights.

Interview with Theodor Gnagna, President of the National Platform for Public Sector Workers.

The Platforme Nationale is the newest incoming member of PSI - what sorts of issues would you like to see worked on?

In joining this International, one of the key issues we want to examine is migrant work. Many of our workers, - our people - are fleeing the country, looking for better work elsewhere. They travel to Libya where they are treated as slaves. When they arrive in Europe they often do not have the same rights - this is something we seek to work with European workers to achieve. In the past, migration was not much of an issue for us. We had work, things were more stable. If we can bring quality work back to the country, and improve our education and professional training is improved, we can give young people hope - and a reason to stay.

In your analysis, what factors are contributing to the continuing instability?

Unfortunately there is still an element of colonialism. The French still have a very strong control over our country. When our previous government attempted to open up beyond French interests, the French backed a rebel group which started a civil war.

Can you describe to us the union activity which you have worked to establish?

The National Platform is a federation of unions in all of the sectors of public services - health, education, administration. Over 100 unions are affiliated. In January 2017 we carried out a general strike - for one month - for the first time in the history of the country. The goal was to stop the reduction of our pensions by over 30%. We stood up for older and retired workers who would face significant hardship as a result of these cuts. The strike ended after the government agreed to reduce the cuts from 30% down to 10%.

Another key victory we achieved was tackling precarious work in the public sector. There were nearly 2000 workers employed in public services, through informal contracts without basic rights to pensions and other benefits. This year we convinced the government to make them official workers, guaranteeing them the same rights and respect.

What are some of the benefits of joining PSI for you?

WE are looking for international partners in our fight - we need to have our struggle known, shared - and we look to learn from other similar fights. WE seek to exchange with others, to benefit from workshops and trainings and to help reinforce our leadership to bring new techniques of unionism to our country. With PSI's position at the UN and ILO , we believe that they can help end the oppression and intimidation that we sometimes suffer.

Persecution is a real issue. Four of our comrades have had their salaries suspended as a result of their legitimate trade union activities. The government will not let them return to work. We hope that by joining PSI we will dissuade the government from these forms of mistreatment. We also want to push for an end to sexual harassment in the public services. Women face higher tax burdens and less salary. We hope that at this round of the ILC, a Convention on this issue will be achieved.

The reality is that workers are organizing to fight back against the suffering our country is facing. This is the path to progress and we look forward to travelling with PSI on this.

Source:  Public Services International--PSI uniting more than 20 million workers in 154 countries


IndustriALL and PSI sign global responsible employer agreement with EDF

29.05.2018:   Today, global unions IndustriALL and PSI signed a global responsibility agreement with French electricity company EDF, covering all of EDF's activities in 24 countries, combining compliance with international labour conventions. The agreement is designed to guarantee the development of a shared set of standards for the Group's 160,000 employees whilst consolidating international social dialogue.

Today, Jean-Bernard Lévy, CEO and Chairman of the EDF Group, along with IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches and Rosa Pavanelli, Public Services International general secretary, signed a new global responsibility agreement covering human and labour rights at the International Labour Organization in Geneva and in the presence of Guy Ryder, ILO Director General. IndustriALL French affiliates CFE-CGC and CFDT were also present.

The global agreement exists thanks to the commitment of all negotiating parties. It is the result of a collaborative negotiation process involving 11 national union federations for companies within the EDF Group and global union federations, IndustriALL Global Union and PSI. The 13 federations are signatories to the agreement which encompasses a number of significant and innovative commitments to social responsibility.

These include:

  • fiscal transparency
  • protection for whistle blowers
  • combating corruption and fraud
  • combating violence and harassment in the workplace
  • the duty of vigilance when it comes to subcontractors and suppliers
  • equality between women and men; and combating discrimination related to sexual orientation

More generally, this agreement promotes human rights, diversity, health and safety, skills development and social protection for the company's employees and subcontractors wherever the Group is based as well as the principle of a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies for all.

This new Group agreement replaces a previous agreement on social and environmental responsibility signed by EDF in 2005 and renewed in 2009. The purpose of this new text is to incorporate new social requirements for employees and support EDF's international development in keeping with the company's public service values. It complements the 6 corporate responsibility targets set by EDF in favour of the energy transition and the Group's Cap 2030 strategy. Implementation of the agreement will be overseen by an international supervisory committee.

After signing the agreement, Jean-Bernard Lévy announced: I am sure that our CSR strategy is a key factor in the EDF Group's sustainable performance, as demonstrated by this agreement. The Group is reiterating its commitment to the balanced development of its activities around the world. Human rights, diversity, health and safety, skills development and social protection for the company's employees and subcontractors form the foundations of this commitment.

Valter Sanches, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union explained: The negotiation process of the global framework agreement with EDF was done in a frank and transparent manner. The GFA is an achievement where all parties have been involved, resulting in clear commitments on supply chain management, as well as active implementation and monitoring of the global agreement. Now we need to put it into action and ensure that the GFA is beneficial to all parties.

Rosa Pavanelli, general secretary of Public Services International, declared: With this renewed agreement, EDF Group commits itself to uphold a high standard of human and labour rights wherever it operates. The next step is to effectively implement these commitments to the shop floor and secure local management ownership of the agreement, in cooperation with trade union representatives. This renegotiated text also marks one of the first corporate commitments to country-by-country tax reporting.

This agreement also includes provisions for trade union involvement in the company's programmes to ensure the protection of whistleblowers. We will closely and relentlessly scrutinize the effective implementation and follow-up of all commitments in this agreement, working with our global membership and allies.

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


First-ever agreement between Amazon and unions halts inhumane work hours in Italy

23 May 2018:   Amazon employees in Italy have made history. Workers are announcing today the first-ever direct agreement between unions and the company anywhere in the world. The Italian agreement tackles inhumane scheduling, one of the core labour problems at Amazon fulfilment centres globally.

The deal, which is supplementary to the nationwide sectoral collective labour agreement, ensures fairness in scheduling through reductions in mandatory night shifts and distributing weekend work in a just way. Amazon is notorious for long hours, punishing quotas, and little break time during shifts. In some facilities, workers say they do not have time to even use the restroom.

Italian union Filcams Cgil Nazionale played a leading role in the negotiations. "We are pleased with this result which is currently unique in Europe," said Massimo Mensi, a leader in Filcams Cgil Nazionale's Amazon campaign. "We hope it will pave the way for many other negotiations in all the countries where Amazon has its operations." "The agreement provides that night work is initially carried out only by voluntary employees, providing, among other things, an increase of 25% of the compensation under the employment contract," Mensi continued.

Workers are guaranteed four consecutive free weekends every eight weeks and shifts alternate between Saturdays and Sundays.

The win in Italy comes after months of protests and organising by workers. With UNI's help, Italian and German workers coordinated strike activity in November 2017.

"This deal is important in light of the strikes and protests of last November, when on Black Friday many employees demanded reasonable workloads and less of an impact on their family life. This agreement that can now pave the way for new corporate relationships on issues of health and safety of the workplace," said Maria Grazia Gabrielli, General Secretary of Filcams Cgil Nazionale.

The agreement, approved by a large majority of voting workers, will run for one year starting June 17, and the union will closely monitor the results. "It's clear that Amazon must negotiate with workers who have organised into unions, and with Amazon's labour practices under fire throughout Europe and the U.S., the agreement will be the first of many that will reform the company's model of exploitative labour relations," said Mathias Bolton, Head of UNI Commerce.

UNI Global Union is working to build alliances between national unions who represent Amazon workers. Currently, its Amazon Worker Alliance is made of from unions from countries including, the US, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Poland, and Czech Republic.

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


Russia: Dissolution of ITUWA overruled

23.05.2018:   The Supreme Court of Russia overruled the verdict of the Saint Petersburg city court which on 10 January ruled to liquidate IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Interregional Trade Union Workers' Association (ITUWA).

On 22 May, the second session of the Supreme Court was held to judge ITUWA's appeal against its dissolution.

During the hearing, the union reported that the prosecutor's office of Saint Petersburg had never sent the list of violations with possible remedies. The prosecutor's office insisted on the most extreme measure, demanding ITUWA's dissolution, instead of the suspension of the activities of the union. Prosecutors argued that there were irreparable violations which lead to the dissolution: Firstly, the union statutes do not specify which constituent regions of the Russian Federation are covered by the organization, which they claimed is in violation of its legal status as an interregional public organization.

Further, the prosecutor's office claimed that members of the union should be united by occupation, and ITUWA includes temporarily unemployed people, retired workers and students as well as workers. According to the union, this is not contrary to existing legislation. Finally, the prosecutors argued that ITUWA violated the law on foreign agents in connection with political activities, such as the publication of materials against tax increases for truckers, and collecting signatures online in support of modifications to the Labour Code, and assistance from abroad.

The union pointed out that it was not subject to the legislation on foreign agents, that the publication of materials on socially significant issues was its right, and funding from IndustriALL was targeted and carried out within the normal practice of cooperation with the international trade union movement. ITUWA has been affiliated to IndustriALL since 2007.

The prosecutor's office tried to convince the Supreme Court judges that the liquidation of ITUWA was not a violation of workers' rights, but would aid the creation of a new organization that would meet all the legal requirements. The judges did not credit these arguments and overruled the earlier decision.

ITUWA will hold a congress in autumn to develop a new position on union activities, and may consider changes to the statutes.

Alexey Etmanov, president of ITUWA, says, "My congratulations to all for the victory! This is the victory for the entire trade union movement, including IndustriALL, the Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR), as well as the affiliates of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), which supported us. But we have won a battle, not a war. A luta continua! We will not allow the destruction of trade unions, our strength is in unity and solidarity".

In January, eight FNPR affiliates of IndustriALL issued a joint statement, declaring that the Saint Petersburg city court decision not only blatantly violates the rights of workers and the trade unions representing their interests, but it also moves the proper regulation of trade union activities in Russia out of national and international legal frameworks. IndustriALL affiliates in CIS countries also expressed solidarity with ITUWA.

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, comments, "We welcome this decision of the Supreme Court, which confirms that the activities of ITUWA have always been genuine, legitimate and legal trade union work. However, this is not enough. We expect the Russian authorities to amend the current law on non-profit organizations to avoid such attacks against trade unions and guarantee a legal framework for their activities".

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


Unions at Gerdau recommit to global struggle for workers' rights

22.05.2018:   Gerdau workers will escalate their coordination to achieve respect for workers' rights at the company's operations around the world.

This was the decision of the Gerdau workers' world council, which brings together unions representing Gerdau workers across the Americas, at its recent meeting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Gerdau, the largest steel company headquartered in the Americas, is reducing employment levels through digitialization and pursuing debt reduction through stripping workers' benefits.

IndustriALL affiliate UOM reported that Gerdau recently built a new, technologically updated plant in Argentina that produces nearly the same amount of steel with half the workers of the old Gerdau plant. United Steelworkers said that Gerdau has reduced its number of plants in North America from 24 to 12 while still servicing the same customers. "Our new plant manager wants to get rid of coffee and water in the break rooms to cut costs," said SITRAGMETAL President Ariel Acevedo, who represents workers at Gerdau in the Dominican Republic. "We hear war drums, and we will not allow Gerdau to rip away our benefits."

Unions from Dominican Republic, Canada and Brazil reported that Gerdau misrepresents its health and safety performance. Employees injured on the job must still report to work so that Gerdau can avoid reporting lost-time injuries.

Gerdau workers' world council coordinator and CNM-CUT general secretary Loricardo de Oliveira reported progress in discussions with Gerdau to achieve a national agreement in which Gerdau commits to respect workers' rights and uphold high health and safety standards in Brazil. Said Oliveira: "This national agreement, which would also include the Brazilian Steel Institute, would be the first of its kind in the metal sector in Brazil. We hope it will also open space for dialog with the company about international workers' concerns."

Loricardo thanked Jorge Garcia-Orgales of United Steelworkers for his many years of service as the Gerdau workers' world council coordinator. Garcia-Orgales is retiring from USW in 2018.

Unions in the council committed to numerous actions to respond to current challenges. These include educating Gerdau workers about Industry 4.0; involving more women and youth in their unions and in the Gerdau workers' world council; more frequent communication among unions in the council through regular conference calls and online platforms; a coordinated effort to improve health and safety standards across the company's operations; and rapid solidarity responses when Gerdau abuses workers or provokes conflict in bargaining.

"Workers at Gerdau are confronting numerous challenges, including the company's anti-union practices in many countries," said IndustriALL base metals director Adam Lee. "IndustriALL applauds Brazilian unions for achieving progress toward a national agreement with Gerdau. The Gerdau workers' world council will work to build on that progress to ensure Gerdau respects workers' fundamental rights around the globe."

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


Union calls for "real" increase in global seafarer wage

The ITF and Nautilus International will call for an increase in monthly pay for the world's lowest paid seafarers.

22/05/2018:   The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and Nautilus International, the maritime professionals trade union, are set to tell the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that the time has come for a significant rise in the global minimum wage for seafarers - the only internationally-agreed pay floor applied to an entire industry.

In June, Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson will lead the seafarers' delegation on behalf of the ITF at talks within the Joint Maritime Commission - an ILO standing body that has brought together ship owners and seafarer representatives since 1920. The Commission is responsible for setting the global minimum wage for seafarers - currently the equivalent of approximately USD614 per month.

Mr Dickinson believes this is scant reward: "Crewing the world's roughly 52,000 ships are approximately 1,647,000 seafarers, many of whom work dizzyingly long hours, in dangerous conditions, and for far too many, in return for a pittance."

Seafarers commonly work over 90 hours a week, and are away from home for up to eight months at a time.

"When you consider what seafarers endure at work and the efficiencies that the merchant navy has achieved in recent years, as well as the importance of cargo carrying to the global community, it is clear that the time has come for a significant rise," said Mr Dickinson. "The case I will be making in Geneva is fundamentally a moral one - seafarers deserve a pay rise. Seafarers deliver for us every day, it is time we delivered for them."

Source:  International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing over 19 million transport workers in 700 unions from 150 countries


ITUC Welcomes release of Korean Trade Union Leader Han Sang-gyun

The ITUC has welcomed the announcement by the Korean Ministry of Justice that Han San-gyun, President of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions will be released from prison on parole. Han was imprisoned for organising union protests under the corrupt regime of former Korean President Park Guen-hye almost three years ago.

21-05-2018:   "For the past three years, millions of workers across the world called for the release of Han Sang-gyun former President KCTU after he was jailed after leading mass mobilisations against the repressive labour law changes of the former government. Today Han Sang-gyun is out of prison. He will be welcomed home not only by the people of Korea, but by workers worldwide.

The arbitrary arrest and detention of union leaders around the world is on the rise. Repression of workers at peaceful protests is becoming more brutal. This is democracy under attack.

From workplace activists tackling corporate greed to trade union leaders demanding justice for working people, there are courageous women and men in every village, in every city. But today we honour Hang Sang-gyun for his sacrifice in defending the rights of working people. The government of Korea has taken an important step today. The fight for freedom does not end here, former KCTU general secretary Lee Young-joo remains in detention for her role in the peaceful protests that brought down the former government and we call for her immediate release.

Repression of workers' rights and regressive labour policies mean exploitation of working people. We are tremendously pleased that Han will be able to rejoin family, friends and colleagues, and carry on his work for social justice," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates


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