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Fight for $15...Low Pay is Not OK
Re-Run the Vote: No World Cup Without Workers Rights...
International Trade Union Confederation
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
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
Let's Get America Working...
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
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.
UN Public Services Awards: Paris water win highlights benefits of remunicipalisation
23 June 2017: Seven years ago the City of Paris brought their water supply back into public hands. Today they received one of the highest international public service awards at a special UN ceremony at The Hague.
The award comes on the back of a wave of substantive research on the failures of privatisation and the benefits of public provision.
Just hours before the ceremony, Transnational Insititute, PSI and a wide coalition of partners released a new comprehensive publication - Reclaiming Public Services - which includes the Eau de Paris remunicipalisation as a key case study for how local communities can fight to win back public goods.
The publication explains: "Our research shows that there have been at least 835 examples of (re)municipalisation of public services worldwide since 2000, involving more than 1,600 municipalities in 45 countries...There are many motivations behind (re)municipalisation initiatives: a goal to end private sector abuse or labour violations; a desire to regain control over the local economy and resources; a wish to provide people with affordable services; or an intention to implement ambitious climate strategies."
The decision and processes to create a unified public water operator for the three million users in Paris was deliberate, participatory and transparent. The reasons were both pragmatic and political, in the sense that the public operator needed to control the full water cycle to ensure better service and to fulfil political commitments to implement the human right to water for all Parisians.
Célia Blauel, President of Eau de Paris and Deputy Mayor of Paris said: Bringing local public services under public control is a major democratic issue, especially for such essential services as energy or water. It means greater transparency and better citizen supervision. In the context of climate change, it can contribute to leading our cities toward energy efficiency, the development of renewables, the conservation of our natural resources, and the right to water."The decision process consisted of many public consultations, validated by two elections of the government of Paris. These elements of vision, consultation and validation prior to taking an important decision are too often lacking. The absence of these democratic elements often leads to unsustainable proposals and weaker democratic institutions for implementation.
The merit of the Paris process continued after remunicipalisation. The new structure - Eau de Paris - has a board of directors composed of various stakeholders, which allows different perspectives to inform decisions, in a systemic fashion. The integration of the various components of water supply allows a variety of technical/financial solutions that were not possible in the previous structures. Noteworthy are the programmes relating to the urban poor and disadvantaged, as well as the attention paid to upstream and downstream actors to protect the environment.
The award and new publication serve as both an endorsement and yet further evidence of the failures of privatisation and the benefits of public provision.
Worker safety prioritized by IndustriALL Bridgestone union network
22.06.2017: IndustriALL trade union affiliates from four continents met on 19 to 21 June in Madrid to build on and continue coordination and information exchange at one of the longest standing union networks of IndustriALL.
In line with IndustriALL policy, the home country trade union takes the lead in organizing and driving the work of this network. The Japanese Bridgestone Union is the largest company-level union in the national Japanese Rubber Workers Union, Gomu-Rengo. And in turn, Gomu-Rengo is an important sector-level union in IndustriALL JAF. All three structures are active in the work of the Bridgestone trade union network.
The Bridgestone trade union network steering committee focuses its work around the issue of occupational health and safety. The unions from Europe, South Africa, Brazil and Japan exchange reports, challenges and strategies on health and safety.
Jesus Delgado, from the host union FICA-UGT, is Secretary of the Bridgestone European Works Council. Delgado reported a positive trend in safety and health in European manufacturing at Bridgestone. However the trend is negative in Bridgestone's European retail operations. There is a high level of training on health and safety in Europe.
In Europe the highest levels of Bridgestone's employment by country are, in order, Spain, Poland, France, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Belgium, UK, and Ireland. The average age of employees in Europe is 40 years old, with 10 years the average experience working at the company. While Bridgestone Europe traditionally uses a low level of contract labour, the company is starting to increase it, especially in Poland and France.
In Brazil there are around 30,000 workers in the rubber sector. Bridgestone has two plants, both organized to a high level by IndustriALL affiliates in the Forza Sindical and CNQ-CUT national structures. The São Paulo plant has 3,500 workers, 90 per cent organized. The Bahia plant has 900 workers, 70 per cent organized.
The meeting addressed the industrial conflict at Bridgestone in Indonesia. Bridgestone in Palembang has dismissed six union delegates from the IndustriALL affiliate CEMWU and IndustriALL is seeking their reinstatement. It was recognized that there exists significant gender imbalance throughout the company. Considerably low levels of female workers are present in the manufacturing section. In Brazil for example, women have many protections under the law, so Bridgestone is not alone in choosing to hire men in production jobs.
In South Africa each of the following tire companies employ around 1,100 workers, Bridgestone, Continental, Sumitomo and Goodyear. Bridgestone is increasing production currently after securing an agreement to supply the tires for new Volkswagen cars. All these companies participate in the national industry bargaining council with Numsa.
Dirane Selala, Numsa shop steward from Bridgestone Brits plant in South Africa said, "We can say that this is an important network that brings workers together, to discuss issues of health and safety, at all rubber and tire plants, not only at Bridgestone."
The Japanese union officials reported an improvement over the last four years industry-wide, in terms of frequency and gravity of accidents. Common understanding and commitment was made to reach a situation of zero accidents at all plants, and the importance of training to achieve this.
Marcio Ferreira, São Paulo Rubber Workers' Trade Union President, "We know that little accidents can lead to big accidents. I've seen many colleagues die in this industry in Brazil. There is no worse feeling than losing a friend in a work accident."
Gomu-Rengo President Kasukabe-san, Chair of the Bridgestone network said, "The workers have the right to work in a safe environment. It is very important to set a high standard at Bridgestone that the other companies in the rubber sector must follow. We work in a spirit of respect, and of information sharing. Through our network we learn from each other."
IndustriALL Director for the auto and rubber sectors Helmut Lense said, "This very stable network builds trust and improves the health and safety situation worldwide. All the colleagues will continue to help each other. We need to extend the network in Asia. Thank you for the fruitful collaboration over the years."
IndustriALL research and industry officer, Tom Grinter stated, "The upcoming IndustriALL World conference for the rubber sector will seek to develop our trade union networks across the sector. Through our common commitment to the Bridgestone network we can continue to jointly further workers' interests throughout the company."
The network agreed to hold its next annual meeting in Japan.
IndustriALL celebrates 5 years
20.06.2017: Five years since its founding Congress in Copenhagen, IndustriALL Global Union has kept its promise to be a campaigning organization becoming a powerful force in fighting for workers' rights and social justice worldwide.
On 20 June 2012, three federations merged to form IndustriALL Global Union uniting 50 million workers in 140 countries. IndustriALL has over 600 affiliates in sectors including mining, metals, energy, chemical, textile, and manufacturing.
IndustriALL's general secretary, Valter Sanches, said: "Over the past five years, IndustriALL has shown time and again that we are stronger together. We have made multinational companies accountable, we have made governments listen, we have fought for worker rights and won. IndustriALL is proof that international solidarity works!"
Following the disastrous collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in Bangladesh that killed over a thousand garment workers in 2013, IndustriALL lead the drive in pushing more than 200 global fashion brands to sign the legally-binding Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. The Accord has since inspected more than 1,600 factories improving safety for two million workers. IndustriALL together with its partners and Uni Global Union, also succeeded in securing US$30 million dollars in compensation for victims.
IndustriALL's work over the past five years has been and continues to be guided by its five strategic goals: building strong unions, confronting global capital, ending precarious work, sustainable industrial policy and defending workers' rights.
Defending workers' rights
Building strong unions
Confronting global capital
Stop Precarious Work
Sustainable industrial policy
IndustriALL is a campaigning organization and the campaign for a living wage includes the groundbreaking ACT agreement with major apparel brands to improve wages through industry-wide collective bargaining. "IndustriALL has built solid foundations from which to go forward. The challenges we face are great but we are prepared to meet them. We thank our affiliates for their immense support over the past five years, and we count on them in the future," said Sanches.
International Labor Organization Director-General, Guy Ryder, reflects on the work accomplished at the 106th International Labour Conference
E-Commerce and Digitalization: New Frontiers for the Global Labour Movement
15 June 2017: The growth of e-commerce and the digitalization of retail provide new opportunities for solidarity within the global labor movement. The discussion at the UNI Commerce Global Conference focused on unions' responses to changes in how we work and shop.
Researcher Harvey McKeon from Peterloo Research described a digital landscape in which the largest online companies have only gotten larger-both in market capitalization and in employment footprint-while traditional brick-and-mortar enterprises are shrinking in many markets. McKeon stated that the workforce growth at retailers like Amazon comes from workers employed by the company directly and from huge subcontracting networks that often operate in legal gray areas regarding workers' rights.
His research points to the need for more policy protections for e-commerce workers, and greater union density in this sector.
Unions from around the globe are heeding these recommendations. Barbara Nebart from Australia's SDA discussed organizing victories in that country's gig economy and the need for creativity in this new sector. "Union organizing must match innovation with innovation," she said.
Peter Hellberg from Sweden's Unionen spoke about the possibilities for e-commerce to create quality jobs, but "only if unions are there to shape the process." Hellberg sees his union as vehicle to "raise the skill level in the commerce sector" in part by emphasizing lifelong learning. "If you have more skills, that can lead to a higher salary and better job," he said.
Linda Palmetzhofer of Handels union in Sweden describe a three-year e-commerce organizing project generating significant results. In the first year alone, the union reported a huge jump in both membership and collective agreements.
Claudio Sagardia from Chile's Contracops union cautioned about the rapid expansion of online shopping, which has grown 165 percent since 2012 in that country.
Daniel Lovera from the Argentinian labour movement told the crowd that "we need to create a new culture for sustainability at work." Lovera hammered home the need for political organizing as well. "We need legislation to protect digital workers and their rights irrespective of where they are working. The unions need to reach broad global agreement. We need continuous political work."
ITUC Global Rights Index 2017: Violence and repression of workers on the rise
13 June 2017: The number of countries experiencing physical violence and threats against workers has risen by 10 percent in just one year, according to the annual ITUC Global Rights Index. Attacks on union members have been documented in fifty-nine countries, fuelling growing anxiety about jobs and wages.
The report shows that corporate interests are being put ahead of the interests of working people in the global economy, with 60 per cent of countries excluding whole categories of workers from labour law.
"Denying workers protection under labour laws creates a hidden workforce, where governments and companies refuse to take responsibility, especially for migrant workers, domestic workers and those on short term contracts. In too many countries, fundamental democratic rights are being undermined by corporate interests," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
The ITUC Global Rights Index 2017 ranks 139 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:
"We need to look no further than these shocking figures to understand why economic inequality is the highest in modern history. Working people are being denied the basic rights through which they can organise and collectively bargain for a fair share. This, along with growing constraints on freedom of speech, is driving populism and threatening democracy itself," said Sharan Burrow.
The report ranks the ten worst countries for workers' rights in 2017 as Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.
The Philippines, South Korea and Kazakhstan have joined the ten-worst ranking for the first time this year.
Once again the Middle East and North Africa was 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. In countries such as Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, conflict and breakdown of the rule of law means workers have no guarantee of labour rights. In conflict-torn Yemen, 650,000 public sector workers have not been paid for more than eight months, while some four million private sector jobs have been destroyed, including in the operations of multinationals Total, G4S and DNO, leaving their families destitute. The continued occupation of Palestine also means that workers there are denied their rights and the chance to find decent jobs.
Conditions in Africa have deteriorated, with Benin, Nigeria and Zimbabwe being the worst performing countries - including many cases of workers suspended or dismissed for taking legitimate strike action.
The International Trade Union Confederation 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 fourth 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.
In South Korea, Han Sang-gyun, President of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, has been imprisoned since 2015 for organising public demonstrations during the candlelight revolution, to prevent the now deposed Park government from passing anti-worker labour laws.
Trade union leaders in Kazakhstan were arrested merely because they called for strike action. In the Philippines, the climate of violence and impunity, which has proliferated under President Duterte, had a profound impact on workers' rights.
Working conditions also worsened in other countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Myanmar.
Argentina has seen a spike in violence and repression by the state and private security forces - in one case, 80 workers were injured during a stoppage for better pay and conditions. The build up of the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil saw a significant increase in labour exploitation, and the dismantling of labour legislation by the new Brazilian government last year caused a sharp decline of labour standards. In Ecuador, union leaders were forbidden from speaking out and their offices were ransacked and occupied by the government. Problems in the garment sector in Myanmar persist, with long working hours, low pay and poor working conditions being exacerbated by serious flaws in the labour legislation that make it extremely difficult for unions to register.
"The challenge is for governments to accept their responsibility to govern for people, not just in the interests of big business, by making laws that respect international labour standards. Even under the most oppressive circumstances, workers will continue to organise unions, and it's time that politicians stood up for them instead of trampling on their rights," said Sharan Burrow.
The 2017 ITUC Global Rights Index rates countries from one to five according to 97 indicators, with an overall score placing countries in one to five rankings.
5+ No guarantee of rights due to breakdown of the rule of law: 11 countries including Burundi, Palestine and Syria.
Read the report: ITUC Global Rights Index 2017
BWI Statement of support for the GFBTU Bahrain
6/12/17: The BWI issues its deep support for members of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GBFTU), who have been subjected to the arbitrary deprivation of the freedom of movement. On 3 June 2017, members of the GBFTU were stopped from leaving the Bahrain International Airport, surprised to find that a prohibition had been placed on their departure. They were on their way to the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva.
"We are deeply concerned and shocked by the ban that has been placed on the departure of the head of the GFBTU from leaving Bahrain", said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. "The GBFTU has played an active role in raising labour standards in Bahrain, and demonstrating leadership in the MENA region."
"GFBTU officials have always worked to democratically organise workers in accordance with the rules and recommendations of the Bahraini Ministry of Labour. All members' names are enlisted according to national regulations. The decision to arbitrarily deprive the GFBTU of their freedom of movement was implemented without warning and without justifiable explanation.
"We will stand by the leadership of the GFBTU in their fight to throw off this ban and continue to improve labour standards in Bahrain. At the same time, we demand that the Government of Bahrain immediately revoke this ban and issue a formal apology."
Southern African garment unions to collaborate on supply chains
12.06.2017: During a meeting on supply chains in Cape Town, IndustriALL affiliates in the textile, garment, shoes and leather sectors from Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland, agreed to campaign for better wages and working conditions, build union power, and confront aggressive employers.
Countries in Southern Africa are involved in all points of the supply chain in the garment sector: producing raw materials, garment making and retail. For example, cotton lint was sourced from Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Garment factories and distribution and retail networks were found in most of the countries.
Recognizing the importance of the supply chain, the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland, the Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho and the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu) all representing over 110,000 workers agreed to fight for equal-pay-for-equal work across the national borders. This could be achieved by sharing collective bargaining agreements. Additionally, exchange programmes between unions allowed for learning from each other's experiences.
South African brands that came under scrutiny included Edcon, Foschini, Mr Price, Truworths and Woolworths. These brands bought goods from factories that relocated production from South Africa to Lesotho and Swaziland, where wages are lower.
The factories also ignored bargaining rights, and freedom of association. Enforcement of labour laws was also weak in the two countries. When workers demanded better conditions, the employers threatened to close shop. But in South Africa, Sactwu organised the factories, watched errant factory owners and took action when workers' rights were threatened.
The meeting adopted a plan based on ACT - the IndustriALL initiative with global brands for living wages in garment supply chains. It also drew from the Bangladesh Accord, setting health and safety standards for workers in factories.It is important for unions to strengthen their power along the supply chain by working together in coalitions said Paule-France N'dessomin from IndustriALL's Sub Saharan regional office.
The meeting was supported by the German Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and was attended by 21 union leaders and shop stewards including ten women.
Our jobs, our planet - Trade unions confirm their commitment to climate action ahead of the G7 environment summit
09/06/2017: Ahead of the G7 environment ministers' meeting, trade unions have released a declaration confirming their commitment to mobilise and support climate action at all levels, including through the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
"Pulling out of the Paris climate agreement from ambitious climate pathways equals abandoning a cleaner future powered by good jobs" states the Declaration "Our Jobs, Our Planet", supported by all trade union centres from G7 countries and endorsed by the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
Trade unions repeated their call for protecting and empowering those who need support in the transition: "We know millions of workers and families still depend on a fossil-fuel-based economy for their jobs and livelihoods. They have generated the energy required for today's prosperity. Governments and employers, with workers and their unions, must sit together and commit to protect our future through a Just Transition strategy; a plan which guarantees decent work for all".