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IDC and ITF meet to defend dockers' rights

Representatives of the International Dockworkers' Council (IDC) and International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) met in Barcelona, Spain, today to explore how to work together to defend dockers' jobs and rights.

05/02/2016:   The one-day meeting agreed the following statement of intent:

Representatives of the International Dockworkers' Council (IDC) and International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) meeting in Barcelona today 5th February 2016 have agreed to find ways of working more closely together with the aim of strengthening solidarity between dockworkers' globally and supporting each other in fighting back against attacks on their working terms and conditions, and job security.

These common challenges faced by our members are the result of significant changes in maritime transport, and some employers and governments pursuing a neo-liberal agenda characterised by union busting including through automation, the casualisation of jobs and deregulation of labour standards and protections. Collective agreements are increasingly being violated and we are concerned over health and safety conditions in ports, as well as attempts to limit dockworkers' ability to exercise their trade union rights.

We have established a joint committee to develop a strategy and plan actions urgently to tackle the key challenges and issues faced by dockworkers globally.

In particular, our organisations will cooperate on:

Campaigning and solidarity support to secure and maintain dockworkers' rights internationally, especially in the global terminal operating companies (GNTs); and Managing the impact of automation, securing lashing work and respect for dockworkers' jurisdiction.

We anticipate an active and fruitful collaboration between our two organisations to build dockworkers' power around the world.

Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and chair of its dockers' section, commented: "This has been a landmark event. Both organisations are now best placed to do promote the rights and roles of this vital workforce."

Jordi Aragunde, IDC general coordinator, added: "Today's meeting was designed to further our joint efforts to aid and represent dockers worldwide. It is a pleasure to see it result in such concrete outcomes."

Torben Seebold, ITF vice chair and ETF (European Transport Workers' Federation) dockers' section vice chair, added: "Dockers do hard and often dangerous work which is rarely given the recognition it deserves. The ITF and IDC are committed to changing that."

IDC European zone coordinator Anthony Tetard concluded: "Dockers face common challenges, which demand a united response. Today we have agreed one."

Source:  Joint press relaese of the International Dockworkers' Council and the International Transport Workers Federation

Solidarity with unions and activists opposing the TPPA signing

3 February 2016:   As trade ministers from 12 Asia-Pacific nations gather to sign off on the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) on Thursday the 4th of February in Auckland (New Zealand), thousands of concerned citizens will voice their opposition to this undemocratic corporate trade and investment deal.

In New Zealand, BWI's affiliate FIRST Union has been at the forefront of the campaign to stop the TPPA, working with the umbrella organisation It's Our Future a series of protest actions around the signing ceremony.

"We have already seen the detrimental impact that similar agreements have had on democratic policymaking in areas like labour and occupational health and safety laws, public health measures, and environmental and financial regulations", said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson.

"This agreement is designed to lock in failed economic policies of the twentieth century, shifting power towards multinational corporations and away from working people", said Yuson.

FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid notes that the union and its predecessors have been involved in struggles against undemocratic free trade and investment agreements since the late 1980s.

"We have been organising to stop the TPPA since it first appeared on our radar, because we've seen what these agreements do to working people: creating unemployment, increasing inequality and making work more insecure" said Reid.

There has been a huge outpouring of solidarity from unions, global union federations and other organisations around the world in support of the opposition to the TPPA.

A joint statement from the Asia Pacific Regional Offices of four global union federations (the Building and Woodworkers' International, Industriall Global Union, the International Transport Workers' Federation, and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations) commended the organising work of FIRST Union and outlined reasons for opposing the agreement. The statement continued, "[w]e wish to add our voices to that call, and to join your struggle to stop the TPPA."

Another statement from the Latin American Council of Global Union Federations saw the struggle to stop the TPPA and its sister agreements TTIP and TISA in the context of the defeat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, appealing to the unions of the Americas that united in that struggle to position themselves against these agreements. It concluded that, "[t]he unions of the Americas are united in the fight."

BWI's partner trade union organisations from Australia - ETU and CFMEU - have also both signed on to a statement from the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network expressing their grave concern over the agreement, and calling for an independent assessment of the economic costs and benefits and independent health, environment, human rights and labour rights assessments.

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

Union struggles for decent work building at Rio Tinto

01.02.2016:   Struggles are building in a number of countries against attempts by Rio Tinto to increase the use of precarious labour.

In Namibia, Rio Tinto Rossing uranium mine management finally met with the Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) on 28 January, nearly four months after workers rallied and demanded dialogue about ending exploitation of contractors. This includes paying some contractors only one-seventh as much as regular workers, forcing them to work longer hours with less job security and victimisation of union members.

"Rio Tinto says that freedom of association is one of its priority human rights issues," stated IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Ozkan. "The company must take responsibility for its Namibian contract employees being denied this right."

Although MUN's continuing pressure forced Rio Tinto management to agree to a meeting, the company recently announced it intends to outsource all conveyor maintenance jobs. MUN plans to keep up pressure on the company and awaits a response to its demands.

In Iceland, unions have worked for over a year without a collective bargaining agreement. They are resisting Rio Tinto's plan to outsource a large fraction of the aluminium smelter's workforce to contractors paid significantly less than direct employees. The company has refused to agree that the outsourced jobs be paid the same as direct employees.

The unions in Iceland continue discussions with the company and have recently networked with the Rio Tinto Global Union Network to develop strategy.

In Australia, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) held a rally on 29 January to protest Rio Tinto replacing a vessel represented by MUA with one whose workers' pay and conditions are far inferior. The workers transport alumina from a Rio Tinto refinery to a Rio Tinto aluminium smelter.

The vessel Rio Tinto plans to now charter is Greek owned, with a Liberian flag and a full Filipino crew.

"We are being replaced by the most exploited workers in the world. Workers who have no say, workers who can't go to the boss and say, 'No, I'm not going to do that job because it's unsafe,' said MUA assistant national secretary Warren Smith.

Unions representing workers at Rio Tinto in fourteen countries sent a letter to Rio Tinto's CEO on 7 October requesting to work collaboratively with the company to address problems related to the company's increasing use of precarious labour.

"The current disputes at Rio Tinto in Australia, Iceland and Namibia are part of a global problem," said Kemal Ozkan. "We're ready to work together with the company to seek a global solution."

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

Disinformation campaign against the ITUC

29 January 2016:   The ITUC has for some time been facing a disinformation campaign by unidentified persons, in connection with our campaign to defend the rights of migrant workers in Qatar including those preparing infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.

The ITUC has for some time been facing a disinformation campaign by unidentified persons, in connection with our campaign to defend the rights of migrant workers in Qatar including those preparing infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup. This campaign has included the dissemination of fake videos and other materials, setting up of fake social media accounts and various other techniques aimed at the ITUC and at individual people.

This week the ITUC received confirmation that ITUC email accounts have been hacked, and falsified material inserted into emails. We anticipate that this campaign may intensify in the coming weeks with the election of a new FIFA President due on February 26 and important discussions in UN institutions including the ILO in the first quarter of this year. These methods will not deter the ITUC from standing up for the rights of working people in Qatar or in any other place.

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

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