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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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Communicators build bridges in Belgrade

09 December 2016:   Communications experts from EI's member organisations are meeting in Belgrade for two days of strategic planning and learning on everything related to communications, from geo-targeting to linking advocacy to effective messaging.

More than 30 participants from five continents are participating in the Education International (EI) Communicators' Network (ComNet), which will unfold from December 8-9 in Belgrade, Serbia.

Sharing strategies

At ComNet, communications directors and PR experts shared best practice experiences on how to improve unions' communications strategies.

This session includes practical examples such as how to restructure a website, build a low-cost awareness-raising campaign, increase the acceptance of unions and their role among the general public, and attract the attention of the media.

Building bridges

The communications team of EI, based in Brussels and led by Timo Linsenmaier, has briefed the participants on EI's current projects and policy priorities. These include the post-2015 Development Agenda, the Global Response against the Commercialisation and Privatisation of Education, the TEN Global Network, a new series of podcasts and EI's soon-to-be revamped website.

Haldis Holst, EI Deputy General Secretary, said that if EI is the voice of the teaching profession, "communicators are crucial and a bridge between the unions and affiliates on the ground", key for the cohesion and coordination of the organisation. She asked participants to build on the networking experience in Belgrade by further developing these communications strategies in their home countries.

Source:  Education International--EI uniting 30 million education workers in 400 organizations in 170 countries and territories

Workers mobilize globally against LafargeHolcim human rights' violations

8 December 2016:   Workers at LafargeHolcim are holding a global day of action in advance of the 10 December International Human Rights Day to draw attention to the world's largest cement maker's widespread violations of workers' rights.

Workers in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas will mobilize, take actions and demand that LafargeHolcim respect workers' rights because "Workers' rights are human rights".

Rights violations that the action will highlight include:

  • LafargeHolcim had 50 workplace fatalities in 2015, and workplace fatalities have dramatically increased in 2016.
  • The company is increasing its use of precarious employment around the world, even though its fatality rate among these workers is higher than with direct employees.
  • LafargeHolcim locked out and illegally replaced workers in British Columbia, Canada during an ongoing dispute after earlier this year illegally replacing workers during a strike in Quebec, Canada.
  • The company was accused this year of using child labour in Uganda, where reportedly it also specifically targeted union members for dismissal during restructuring.
  • LafargeHolcim has not remedied the unfair treatment of families who lost their land due to the development of a plant in the Ambuja region of India that the company now owns.
  • After reducing employee levels and increasing workloads in Indonesia, the company is responding to workplace accidents by disciplining and threatening to dismiss workers. Unions are demanding that LafargeHolcim use less precarious work, cooperate better with trade unions on health and safety and restructuring, and enter into meaningful negotiations with them about the future of labour relations and social dialogue.

"Since Lafarge and Holcim merged last year, there have been numerous workplace fatalities, precarious work has increased, the company has recklessly restructured and management has broken promises to reach a global agreement for a positive relationship with unions. We cannot wait any longer while our brothers and sisters die at work. LafargeHolcim workers around the world are standing up and demanding change," said IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary Valter Sanches.

"The right to decent work, safe working conditions and dignity are basic human rights that workers at LafargeHolcim should have; however, instead of respecting these fundamental rights, the company has repeatedly put corporate interests ahead of the rights of its workers. Today, on this global day of action LafargeHolcim workers will mobilize and show the power of the people by calling on the management to immediately adhere to their demands," said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson.

"We expect that the world number one in the cement sector is not only number one in figures and cement sales, but also in labour standards and workers' rights," said Sam Hagglund, General Secretary of European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW). "We think that this is also part of future benchmarking. LafargeHolcim owes its workers the respect for their rights. We cannot understand why it took nearly one and a half years after the merger to negotiate a new joint European Works Councils Agreement, where European Workers' Rights are defined, especially the right to information and consultation. We call upon LafargeHolcim management to enter into a real social dialogue about the future of this world number one in the cement sector."

Source:  Building and Wood Workers International--BWI uniting 12 million members in 328 trade unions in 130 countries

Municipal workers' unions in Ecuador back on track to unity and a role in local development policies

05 December 2016:   The International Meeting of Municipal Trade Unions, held in Quito on 22 October 2016 and sponsored by the PSI through its IMPACT project in Ecuador, provided an opportunity for municipal trade union representatives that participated in PSI's international delegation to Habitat III to meet representatives of Ecuadorian municipal trade unions and professional organisations.

The event was attended by 134 people, including 81 men and 53 women, from 22 first tier and six second tier Ecuadorian organisations and trade union representatives from Jamaica, Nepal, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. It formulated joint positions on the key role of trade unions in local development and the need to avoid their exclusion, in accordance with the New Urban Agenda approved at Habitat III. Delegates agreed to continue multiple campaigning strategies with allied trade unions and social movements to maintain public ownership of municipal services and denounce the failures of privatisation.

The meeting endorsed the important and tenacious work being done by Ecuadorian trade unions and professional associations to revitalise their organisations and take an active role in developing local policies after setbacks caused by political and labour reforms during the last ten years as well as the earthquake that devastated the country's coast in April 2016.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to present the Confederation of PSI Municipal Workers in the Americas (CONTRAM-PSI) in Ecuador. This is a new model of organisation - a regional federation of public service trade unions affiliated to PSI - that includes local and national organisations. The meeting discussed CONTRAM's position on the current political context, the state and public services in the Americas and the strategic advantage of having a PSI Global Network of Local Government Workers.

Finally, Ecuadorian organisations, with the support of the PSI, agreed to resume work to promote the unity of municipal workers and to present a proposal to initiate social dialogue to the Association of Ecuadorian Municipalities (AME).

Source:  Public Services International--PSI uniting more than 20 million workers in 669 affiliates in 154 countries

Unions in Burkina Faso and Senegal fight back against precarious work

01.12.2016:   The lives of hundreds of precarious workers have been dramatically improved by unions after they were regularized and organized in a campaign against precarious work.

IndustriALL Global Union affiliates from Burkina Faso and Senegal gathered on 30 November and 1 December in Ouagadougou to take stock of the progress achieved through their fight against precarious work. In both Senegal and Burkina Faso, affiliates have actively fought the abusive use of daily and fixed term contracts for years.

Last September, after several months of labour conflict at the mining site of Bissa Gold, owned by Nord Gold in Burkina Faso, 750 temporary, fixed term contract workers won permanent contracts. Two hundred temporary agency workers are expected to be directly employed as permanent workers by Bissa Gold.

This was the result of an active campaign and media exposure lead by IndustriALL affiliate the general union Fédération des Industries Diverses (FID) and their confederation the CNTB, with the support of IndustriALL.

Nord Gold has announced that it will pay workers all unpaid overtime and holidays owed by its sub-contractor, Exterhum, as demanded by the workers. The case of 116 workers illegally retrenched in October 2015 is still at the labour court for a final decision.

In Burkina Faso in 2015, FID and the textile, garment and leather union the Fédération Nationale des Travailleurs du Textile, de l'Habillement et du Cuir (FNTTHC) recruited 548 new members from the precarious workforce. Affiliates will take joint action on 7 December to denounce and demand the revision of a labour law adopted in 2008 that allows for the unlimited renewal of fixed term contract. Since the adoption of this law, the number of fixed term contract workers has exploded.

In 2016 in Senegal, the general union Syndicat Unique des Travailleurs des Industries Diverses du Sénégal (SUTIDS) successfully negotiated the regularization of 218 fixed term contract and daily workers out of 996 precarious workers working in 15 companies in the chemical sector.

The chemical union Syndicat National des Travailleurs des Industries Chimiques et Activités Rattachées du Sénégal (SYNTICS) successfully recruited 316 precarious workers. The lives of the workers who have been regularized have changed completely. Not only have their salaries increased, and sometimes doubled, they now have access with their families to medical care and they benefit from proper protective equipment.

In 2015, the unions launched a campaign to limit the use of day workers in their countries. As a result, in 2016, the unions are negotiating an amendment to the legislation on the use daily work at the national tripartite body.

The amendment aims to ban the use of daily work in core activities and to provide day workers with medical coverage and social protection. Affiliates plan another day of action in December to put pressure on both employers and government. IndustriALL affiliates succeeded in mobilizing several confederations and unions from services and agriculture for this campaign.

Source:  IndustriALL Global Union--IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 600 unions in 140 countries

IUF, Global solidarity with KCTU general strike in Korea

30 November 2016:   Unions around the world showed their solidarity with the general strike in Korea organized by the KCTU on November 30, including over 100 trade unionists from international and national trade union organizations who rallied in Geneva. The Korean union confederation is demanding an end to anti-union repression and the immediate resignation of President Park Guen-hye. Over 200,000 KCTU members took part in the strike.

International union federations based in and near Geneva - IUF, BWI, IndustriAll, PSI and Uni - gathered in front of the United Nations and marched to the Korean Mission to deliver a joint letter supporting the KCTU action, condemning the ongoing crackdown on trade unions and democratic rights and demanding the release of all imprisoned trade unionists. The mission refused to meet a delegation but the letter was nonetheless delivered. Joining other general secretaries in addressing the crowd to demand an end to repression, IUF General Secretary Ron Oswald recalled the death of farmers' leader Baek Nam-gi and the need to hold the authorities accountable.

Source:  International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco, and Allied Workers' Associations --IUF uniting 12 million workers in 416 affiliated organizations in 126 countries

Greece: General Strike Looms as IMF Demands Further Suppression of Workers' Rights

Brussels/Vienna, 30 November 2016 (ITUC OnLine):   Greece's national trade union centre GSEE is calling a general strike on 8 December as details emerge from negotiations between creditors and the government for wholesale removal of workers' rights. Led by the EU and IMF, creditors are demanding removal of restrictions on mass dismissal of workers, new obstacles to trade union organisation and collective bargaining, further restrictions on the right to strike and deeper cuts to pensions.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said "The IMF seems to have little if any understanding of what is really happening in Greece and indeed in the world in general. Six years of imposing the will of financial capital at the expense of workers has been an utter failure, and left the Greek economy with no pathway for a return to growth and job creation. Ideology has again trumped sensible economics with this latest round of demands, which even a beginner economist can tell will drive the economy into deeper trouble and leave even more people in severe poverty."

The ideological nature of the IMF's demands has been underlined by their insistence on "lock-out" provisions for employers, even though the Greek employers have not asked for this. The ITUC General Council, meeting in Vienna today, expressed its solidarity and support to the Greek workers and their unions.

"We call on the IMF to cease and desist from these destructive policies in Greece which are causing immense pain to workers and their families and are creating economic devastation," said Burrow.

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 180 million workers in 162 countries and territories and has 333 national affiliates

Egypt: IFJ / NUJ delegation urges release of journalists

29/11/2016:   A delegation of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), have urged Egyptian parliamentarians to do all they can to secure the release of 29 jailed journalists.

The demand to free the journalists, many of whom have been detained for years, came during a meeting at the UK House of Commons.

The delegation, formed by the IFJ Honorary Treasurer Jim Boumelha and the NUJ's President and General Secretary, Tim Dawson and Michelle Stanistreet respectively, met with the Egyptian Parliamentary Delegation to the UK to express its deep concerns following two year jail sentence handed down by a court in Egypt for the leaders of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate (EJS) and its consequences for journalists and independent journalism in the country.

"We are calling on you, on behalf of 600,000 journalists from 140 countries around the world, to do your utmost to secure the release of our colleagues who are currently in jail and to make sure that union leaders will not be sent to jail," said Boumelha.

Michelle Stanistreet added: "Our union, the IFJ and all its members around the world are very worried by this ruling and stand by our sister union in Egypt. Respecting freedom of association and independent trade unions is fundamental for democratic transition."

The IFJ/NUJ delegation also discussed the draft media law currently being reviewed by the government which includes several positive developments including reforming the current Egyptian Radio and Television Union into the National Media Commission and establishing it as a public broadcaster with an independent governing body beyond government control.

On the other hand, the current draft also contains some worrying articles that may allow for the jailing of journalists as well as imposing a narrow definition of online media and unnecessary restrictions on its licensing and working modules.

The Egyptian Parliamentary Delegation assured the IFJ that the future law will not criminalize press offences and will prohibit detaining journalists for their professional work. They also accepted the IFJ's request for it to have a chance to register its comments on the final draft when the parliament starts discussing it.

The meeting was hosted by All-Party Parliamentary Group on Egypt and it was chaired by Helen Goodman, head of the NUJ's Parliamentary Group.

Source:  International Federation of Journalists--IFJ represents around 600.000 members in 140 countries

Global unions to rally in support of Korean general strike

28.11.2016:   Global unions representing tens of millions of workers will rally in support of the general strike in South Korea, starting at Place des Nations, Geneva on 30 November.

Global unions BWI, IndustriALL, IUF, PSI and UNI will rally then hand deliver a letter to the South Korean mission in Geneva supporting the general strike and condemning the persecution of trade unionists in the country.

The strike is being organized by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). KCTU's president, Han Sang-Gyun, is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for his role in organizing a people's protest of 100,000 people in 2015.

For the last two years, trade unionists have been engaged in a bitter struggle against South Korea President Park Geun-hye's government reforms, designed to lower wages and make work more insecure. In retaliation, scores of trade unionists have been arrested, trade union offices have been ransacked and unions stripped of their legal status.

IndustriALL Global Union's General Secretary, Valter Sanches, says: IndustriALL members around the world are mobilizing in support of the general strike. Workers in Korea are not only under attack from the government but also from the all-powerful chaebol conglomerates that do everything in their means to crush trade unions and labour rights. Korean unions together with the global trade union movement are fighting back.

Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI says: The time has come for President Park to step down. The current corruption scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. Our brothers and sisters in the KCTU have been locked the last two years in a bitter struggle to resist the Park Government's neoliberal labour reforms. The attack which the Park Government has unleashed on the trade union movement for simply pursuing their democratic rights is a throwback to the military dictatorship era. Hundreds of trade unionists have been arrested and many subjected to arbitrary political prosecutions including Han Sang Gyun, President of the KCTU.

IUF General Secretary, Ron Oswald, states: The IUF is here to show our active solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Korea demanding the President resign and fighting the government's escalating attacks on trade union rights and basic civil liberties. Trade unionists are being condemned to prison for opposing casualization, defending the right to strike and opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Together with our members in Korea and around the world, we demand that the government be held accountable for these ongoing human rights violations.

Source:  IndustriALL Global Union--IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 600 unions in 140 countries

The future world of work in Finance

25 November 2016:   The effects of digitalisation in the finance sector was the focus of the day at the UNI Europa Finance meeting on 22 November. With a diverse selection of speakers representing fintech, consumer protection, watchdog organisations and of course European trade union affiliates, the discussions of the day centred around what solutions trade unions could offer in the future finance sector and what skills were important for finance employees to possess going forward.

Of note, was the presentation about the Copenhagen Fintech Lab, which is an initiative run by FSU Denmark in cooperation with banks and legislators, creating a space for fintechs to grow and for trade unions to keep a close eye on how the sector is developing. During this presentation, Simon Ousager developed upon the current uses of blockchain technology and their future applications, which could severely change the way the finance sector operates. Most importantly, Mr Ousager dispelled the myth, that fintechs only wish to disrupt the sector and that fintechs don't need banks and bankers.

Other presentations focused on the importance of adjusting vocational training to future needs and using bargaining power to force employers to enable this training, as well as detailing the way new technology is already being used in the sector.

Michael Budolfsen, President of UNI Europa Finance said: 'We will lead the way for our members. It is important that digital solutions always serve people and help to improve social standards and working conditions.'

Throughout the day, many affiliates wished to contribute with their observations and several valuable points were raised. One of them questioning if digitalisation could lead to increased inequality, as the gap between people with good and lacking IT skills will grow ever wider, leading to income inequality and general possibilities in the workplace. While another emphasised that digitalisation must never replace good personalised advice by a competent human advisor.

The topic of the meeting was very well received by the audience and it is clear that event was only the very start of discussing this topic, both on a European and on a global level.

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

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