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Working in These Times: How the 'Schedules That Work Act' Could Change the Lives of Millions of Workers   |   NW Labor Press: Musicians Union Hall Goes Solar   |   Think Progress: McDonalds Loses Ability To Shield Itself From Worker Lawsuits   |   The Nation: A Bill to Get the Labor Movement Back on Offense   |   Daily Kos: Fast Food Workers Vow to Use Civil Disobedience in Fight for $15   |   Jim Hightower: Can a $7-Billion Penalty Be a Good Deal

RadioLabour DailyRadio Labour:  International Labour Movement's Radio Service, Bringing Labour's Voices to the World

AFL-CIO Now Blog

LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns

World Day For Decent Work

Fast Food Global...Low Pay is Not OK
Re-Run the Vote: No World Cup Without Workers Rights...
International Trade Union Confederation
Decent Work...
three minute web movie overview of the concept of decent work in 29 languages...International Labor Organization
Making Change at Walmart...
United Food and Commercial Workers
Real Food. Real Jobs....UNITE HERE
Robin Hood Tax Campaign...
it's not a tax on the people, it's a tax for the people...United States
Fix My Job...Working America AFL-CIO
Warehouse Workers United...
Change to Win Coalition
T-Mobile Workers United...
Communications Workers of America


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.
The Union Edge

Workers Independent News

Amnesty International

American Civil Liberties Union

Update: Shahabi Released to Civilian Hospital

30 July 2014:   It has now been confirmed that Reza Shahabi, the imprisoned Iranian trade unionist and prisoner of conscience, has called off his hunger strike following his release on medical grounds to a civilian hospital on 11 July.

Shahabi, the treasurer of the ITF-affiliated Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (or Vahed union) was unjustly arrested in 2010 for his trade union activities. His health has apparently suffered as a result of injuries sustained during his imprisonment, while repeated calls for his release from international organisations including the ITF, International Labour Organization (ILO) and Amnesty International, have yet to be taken up fully by the Iranian government.

Steve Cotton, ITF acting general secretary, said: "We're glad to hear that the Iranian government has released Shahabi to a civilian hospital. The logical next steps are for them to guarantee the long-awaited medical treatment and to act on the ILO's recommendation that Shahabi receive a full pardon."

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

Water is a Human Right, and Not Just in Detroit

July 29, 2014:   The heat is on in Detroit, where the public water utility is cutting off water supply for non-payers. This new policy of water shutoffs, leaving thousands of families without access to running water, has sparked a mobilisation with global implications.

Three experts with the United Nations Human Rights Council commenting on Detroit said, "Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights." The US government may be called to account by the UN for allowing this practice. Detroit is surrounded by the Great Lakes, the biggest source of freshwater in North America. Yet the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is scheduling 3,000 service shutoffs per week and has paid a construction company $5 million to do this dirty work.

The city of Detroit declared bankruptcy in July 2013. The Republican governor of the state of Michigan appointed an Emergency Financial Manager with authority to rewrite Detroit's contracts and liquidate the city's assets 45; which means he can tear up labour contracts, reduce pension pay-outs and privatise city services. Public service workers are once more being made to pay for the corporate-financial sector control of our governments.

On 25 July, Paul Moist, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees - CUPE - and Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians led a group of Canadians from Windsor, Ontario across the Ambassador Bridge to join up with their Detroit, Michigan counterparts. "If Wall Street banks can be bailed out, then Detroit citizens can and should be assisted by their governments," said Paul Moist to rally supporters, assembled at the iconic Spirit of Detroit Statue. "By denying water service to thousands, Detroit is violating the human right to water," said Maude Barlow. "After decades of policies that put businesses and profits ahead of the public good, the city now has a major crisis on its hands. It is shocking and abominable that anyone would be subjected to these conditions."

On 18 July, thousands rallied under the banner "Fight! Fight! Fight! Water is a human right!", including National Nurses United, whose co-president Jean Ross declared: "For optimal health in our daily lives, we need clean water for drinking. Infants, children, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable; they are more susceptible to dehydration, infection, and disease without access to water... We demand the guarantee that all Detroit residents have immediate and full access to clean water." A month earlier, the UN experts were notified of this issue.

Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International (PSI) said: "Water is a human right. The city of Detroit must not shut off water just because people can't afford to pay. There are other solutions and the City, State and National governments must work together to immediately resolve this crisis. PSI applauds the unions and the hundreds of activists who are organising in Detroit. Bringing this struggle for justice and equity to global attention makes all of us stronger." Many suspect that the shutoffs are part of the process to prepare the water services for privatisation. The shutoffs would allow the City to show a stronger financial perspective to potential privateers.

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

Border Crisis Spurs AFL-CIO, Honduran Labor Movement to Call for Renewed Attention to Labor Rights Violations in Honduras

07/25/2014 - Cathy Feingold:   As thousands of unaccompanied minors have arrived at the United States' southern border in recent weeks, right-wing politicians and activists have used the refugee situation to push their anti-immigrant agendas, roll back protections for potential trafficking victims and stoke xenophobia among the general public by focusing on gang violence and disease. Republicans have asserted that this new crisis is proof we should continue to deport hardworking people who have been contributing members of our society for years, while ramping up militarized border enforcement. What is striking-and tragic-in the current political debate is that there is such urgency among our politicians to deport children but no urgency at all to protect workers and create decent work in Central America.

This week AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and the three general secretaries of the major labor confederations in Honduras jointly called on U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and his counterpart in Honduras, Minister of Labor and Social Security Carlos Madero, to address long-standing complaints of violence and workers' rights abuses in Honduras. For more than two years, the U.S. Labor Department has failed to act on a Central America Free Trade Agreement complaint alleging serious violations of workers' rights by the Honduran government. Under the provisions of CAFTA, the U.S. government must respond to complaints and issue a report on findings within six months, which begins a process to remedy the violations.

Had it acted promptly to address the failures of the Honduran government to protect workers, the U.S. could have already been on the way to solving this problem. Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world and, more than other Central Americans, Hondurans are leaving their homes to seek a better, safer life. These families face an acute lack of decent work that is exacerbated by violence, which their own government has perpetuated by failing to stem rampant abuse, intimidation and corruption, and failing to protect its citizens' rights to join together in trade unions and collectively improve their working conditions. In the 2012 complaint and in additional cases gathered by Honduran unions since, workers and their allies have documented an ongoing crisis in workers' rights. It is urgent that the Labor Department issues its report so that the U.S. and Honduras can work together to begin to address the widely recognized failures to defend workers' rights and promote decent work that are key among the root causes of the current refugee situation.

A decade ago, when Congress debated CAFTA, workers were assured it would help countries such as Honduras develop their economies, raise wages and create jobs. Instead, workers continue to struggle to find good jobs and face oppression for exercising their rights. The drug trade thrives because of the lack of meaningful employment. It's time we learn from our mistakes and stop forcing countries to accept a model of globalization that puts profits before people and does nothing to solve long-term social problems. We need a new sustainable development agenda that delivers equity, social inclusion and decent work-so that migration becomes a choice and workers retain a "right to stay" in their communities. The United States must shift its foreign policy in the region to focus on decent work and the meaningful protection of labor and human rights, or this crisis will surely continue for years to come.

Source:  American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations Blog--AFL-CIO is a National Trade Union Center in the United States of America representing 12 million workers

Safety Must be a Priority for FIFA

23 July 2014:   For 32 days, 32 national teams competed in 12 stadiums throughout Brazil for the honour of being named the winner of the 2014 World Cup. As Germany won its 4th title over Argentina 1-0, the names that will be etched on the minds of the close to one billion fans are Lionel Messi, Jaime Rodriguez, Mario Gotze, and Neymar da Silva Santos. These players will be remembered for their skill, power, artistry, and finesse.

Other names that these fans of the beautiful game should remember are the nine workers---Mohamed Ali Maciel Afonso, Fabio Hamiltin da Cruz, José Afonso de Oliveira, Fábio Luiz Pereira, Ronaldo Oliveira dos Santos, Raimundo Nonato Lima da Costa, Marcleudo de Melo Ferreira, Antônio José Pita Martins, and José Antônio da Silva Nascimento---who were tragically killed in the construction of the stadiums where the games took place. These workers will be remembered for their hard work, dedication to their families, and living a tragic legacy that calls for safe working conditions.

FIFA has boasted on the success of the 2014 World Cup as they move towards Russia; however, as they do this they must not forget the deaths of these construction workers who are essential in the construction of the stadiums and other infrastructure projects related to the World Cup must have safe and decent working conditions. One loss of life is too many. Unfortunately as Russia prepares to host the 2018 World Cup, 5 workers have already died and hundreds are predicted to die in the preparations for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. If FIFA wants to avoid further tragedies, they must put into place a mechanism that will ensure safety and decent work in all countries that host the World Cup.

As part of BWI's global Sports Campaign for Decent Work, the BWI calls on FIFA to do the following:

  • Adopt the principles of the ILO Core Conventions, United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprise and include them in the criteria for bids by countries wishing to host the World Cup.
  • Adopt a mandatory policy of "Decent Work Stadium and Infrastructure Standards."
  • Include respect for workers rights, decent work, binding provisions for safety and health and independent labour inspections in the "FIFA Law."
  • Conduct joint labour inspections with BWI to ensure international labour rights and international standards are adhered to in host countries.

The BWI will continue to pressure FIFA, host countries, and construction companies to ensure decent work, safe working conditions and trade union rights for all workers including migrant workers.

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

Workers' Health and Safety to Be Addressed by G20

22/07/2014:   No week passes without terrible news about yet another occupational accident, or with media articles on workers' losing their health and lives due to substances they were exposed to in their workplaces. In the aftermath of the Rana Plaza disaster where more than a thousand people working for the textile industry died when the unsafe factory building collapsed, the G20 governments launched an evaluation process to identify ways by which they could contribute to safer workplaces. Almost a year after, this initiative is starting to take shape, and G20 governments have invited unions within the L20 to provide ideas on the way in which G20 could contribute to healthy and safe workplaces.

From the trade union side, there has been a strong emphasis given to the role of further regulation and enforcement of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) laws at the national level, as well as along the supply chains through influencing business behavior in non-G20 countries. The L20 has therefore suggested diverse options which could be taken immediately by the G20 and its member states and could have a decisive impact on workers' lives and health. These measures include the development of country roadmaps for promoting safer workplaces, including the recognition of workers' right to safety and health, and therefore the right to information on OHS, right to receive OHS training, right to refuse dangerous work, whistleblower protection, protection from victimization or 'blacklisting', among others.

The G20 Roadmaps should also detail actions such as:

  • Effective enforcement of OHS legislation, the need for adequate resourcing of OSH enforcement by governments -including labour inspectorates- and to increase the cost for negligent employers ignoring OSH, as well as forthe imposition of explicit legal safety duties on owners/directors of companies.
  • The ratification, implementation and enforcement of all relevant ILO Conventions and Recommendations.
  • Better address the OHS protection for workers in non- standard forms of employment such as temporary workers as well as for workers with greater vulnerability owing to their status as migrants, as members of minority groups or workers who are otherwise considered socially disadvantaged.
  • Address OSH in highly hazardous sectors, such as mining, agriculture, fisheries, docks and construction as well as in textile and garment factories, in particular those related to fire risks and building integrity.
  • Take action on unsafe/unhealthy exposure to carcinogenic substances, including asbestos, cadmium, mercury, and risks related to nanotechnologies and other emerging but poorly studied substances/processes.
  • Address psychosocial risks, including stress, harassment, bullying or mobbing and other forms of violence at work.

The L20 is also asking G20 to have a deeper discussion on promoting safer workplaces across global value chains, building on government, business and labour experiences, and considering the role of multilateral instruments developed to date, such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Trade unions also think that G20 governments could contribute to building healthier and safer workplaces by sharing information on important issues such as better ways of working (better design of work to reduce or eliminate physical, biological, chemical, psychosocial and other hazards), elimination of hazards (bans, restrictions and controls on toxic substances and hazardous processes), emerging hazards (legislative and control strategies including precautionary approaches), recognition and prevention of occupational diseases (collation of consolidated lists of recognised occupational diseases at a national/state level, for example for compensation purposes), among others.

These proposals will be made in the framework of the upcoming meeting of the G20 Task Force on Employment, which will take place in Brisbane, Australia this week on 23-24 July.

Source:  Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Strike: Moroccan Postal Workers Out to Defend New Colleagues

22 July 2014:   Members of UNI Post & Logistics affiliate FNPL-UMT Morocco will strike July 23-25 to ensure their colleagues in two subsidiaries of Poste Maroc are treated fairly and can freely exercise their trade union rights.

For months, FNPL have negotiated with Poste Maroc and the Moroccan government to ensure that newly-hired workers in Barid-CASH and Barid-MEDIA are covered by the existing collective agreement for all postal workers. Poste Maroc have denied the rights of these workers to be represented by FNPL and have subjected them to low pay and a precarious employment situation.

"The treatment of the workers in Barid-CASH and Barid-MEDIA is unacceptable," said UNI Head of Post & Logistics Stephen DeMatteo. "These are postal workers and they deserve the same rights as their colleagues across Poste Maroc - fair pay, decent work and the right to be represented by their union. UNI supports FNPL in their strike this week and calls upon Poste Maroc to hear the union's demands." FNPL are calling for a unified operational structure, whereby all postal workers are covered by the collective agreement. The Post should stop attempting to divide workers and limit the rights of newly-hired workers.

UNI has sent letters of protest to postal management and to the Moroccan government condemning the current situation. UNI affiliates around the world have offered their support to the workers and stand in solidarity with the striking workers.

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

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