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coalition of labor, community and consumer advocacy organizations
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it's not a tax on the people, it's a tax for the people...United States
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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. Relevant NEWS and ARTICLES
International year for the elimination of child labour: New social contract is crucial to end exploitation of children
The United Nations (UN) has declared 2021 the international year for the elimination of child labour. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) believes that decent jobs for adults, full respect for workers' rights, universal social protection and free, quality education for all children are the keys to achieving the elimination of child labour and meeting UN Sustainable Development Goal 8.7 by 2025.
21-01-2021: Mandating due diligence in global supply chains, including in agriculture, where more than 70% of child labourers work, is also essential to ending the scourge of child exploitation.
"Progress has been made in recent years, but even before the economic and social destruction of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were still more than 150 million children at work instead of in school. Yet child labour still exists in every region, due to the failure to ensure jobs for adults, insufficient investment in education and the lack of social protection for households.
"Children's right to protection from exploitation is enshrined in International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 182, which has been ratified by every ILO member state. Just 14 countries are yet to ratify the ILO minimum working age Convention 138, and pressure for them to do so will intensify this year. We call on all countries to meet the obligations of these Conventions, to protect children and enable them to build their future," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
Existing faults in the global economy have been brutally exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic, and reconstruction and resilience must pay attention to getting the tens of millions of child workers out of work and into school. Continued failure to guarantee decent wages for adults and to ensure respect for rights at work will risk undoing the progress that has been made and leaving behind another generation of at-risk children.
Many governments have stepped-up their social protection systems in response to the crisis, but efforts have been uneven, with many low-income countries lacking the fiscal space to do enough. That is why establishing a global social protection floor is crucial, with the establishment of a global fund for social protection as an urgent first step to avoid a surge in child labour in developing countries.
The vast majority of child labour can be found in agriculture, where most work is informal, labour inspection is often non-existent, fundamental rights are denied and wages and working conditions frequently dismal. Targeted efforts from governments are urgently needed to promote inclusive rural development through the promotion of decent work in agriculture and the expansion of the scope of services provided by the state, such as accessible and quality health care and schooling.
"The 14 remaining governments that have not ratified ILO Convention 138 on the Minimum Age should do so this year, and all governments should resolve not to allow the world to slide back into 19th century exploitation. A new social contract will provide the hope and the pathway to realising the aim of the UN Year for the Elimination of Child Labour," said Sharan Burrow.
Usdaw wins landmark pay deal for Morrisons supermarket workers
15 January 2021: UNI Global Union affiliate in the UK, Usdaw, has negotiated wages of at least £10 an hour for all Morrisons retail workers, setting a new high for supermarkets in the country.
The milestone deal with Morrisons, a major supermarket chain in the UK, is a big win for Usdaw and its New Deal for Workers campaign, which includes the key demand for a minimum pay threshold of £10 per hour.
Usdaw General Secretary, Paddy Lillis, said: "The last ten months have been a tough time for food retail staff who have worked throughout the pandemic in difficult circumstances. They provide the essential service of keeping the nation fed and deserve our support, respect and appreciation. Most of all they deserve decent pay and this offer is a welcome boost.
"This offer is great news and a credit to the hard work of all our reps in Morrisons stores. This hourly rate is now the leading rate of the major supermarkets. It is a big step forward and we hope the rest of the retail sector will follow Morrison's example. Usdaw wants a new deal and a living wage for all retail workers.
The pay rise is a much-needed boost for Morrisons workers who continue to serve as the UK struggles with a more virulent strain of coronavirus and this week tallied a record number of daily deaths from Covid-19.
The Usdaw victory is a good example for UNI's campaign for essential rights for essential workers, which demands that frontline workers receive a wage with dignity, access to PPE, sick pay, union rights and special status during a crisis.
UNI General Secretary, Christy Hoffman, said: "We congratulate Usdaw on this significant win, which sets a new benchmark for supermarket pay in the UK. It is vital that we keep up the fight for essential rights for frontline workers - the pandemic is far from over and we must ensure that retail workers are getting the pay they deserve, the safety measures they need, and be prioritized when it comes to getting a vaccine."
Attack on political transition in the US is a disgrace
The aggressive attempt by some supporters of the defeated US president, Donald Trump, to block the formal process in the US Congress to confirm the election of Joseph Biden is a disgrace and an affront to democracy.
07-01-2021: "The threat and actual use of violence to attack the democratic process is totally unacceptable. The international trade union movement absolutely rejects it and is saddened by the loss of life that has resulted from this attack. We express our solidarity with all those who defend democracy, in particular our US trade union colleagues, including the first responders who helped defuse the egregious assault on the US Congress and enable the transition to a new government to proceed," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States, condemned the violence: "We are witnessing one of the greatest assaults on our democracy since the Civil War. This attempted coup has been years in the making as Donald Trump consistently spews venom, conspiracies, hate and lies to his supporters.
"They are carrying out his wishes, and far too many Republican lawmakers have enabled and even encouraged this violent threat to our republic. This is an effort to violate the constitutional rights of every law-abiding American, and the labor movement will not stand for it. Not today. Not ever."
Sharan Burrow added: "We look forward to a new US administration, one which respects democracy and human rights, in particular the rights of working women and men at home and abroad. The outgoing government and its political allies have undermined the duty to protect people everywhere. We look forward to moving past what has been a dark period in the US, reminiscent of the actions of dictators in other countries."
The AFL-CIO released this statement about the attack on the US Capitol building.
IndustriALL Global Union statement on the attempted coup in the USA
7 January, 2021: The labour movement will defend democracy in the USA and around the world.
On 6 January, supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building and entered the Senate chamber in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. Trump's supporters attempted to overturn the result of a democratic election, unfavourable to them, with a spectacle of violence and intimidation. This is both a predictable escalation of the violent rhetoric that has flourished under Trump, and a shocking attack on democracy.
IndustriALL Global Union stands in solidarity with all those fighting to defend democracy in the US, and in particular with the US labour movement. We note that the rightwing protestors - despite openly calling for civil war in the days prior to the incident - were met with little opposition from the police, in stark contrast to Black Lives Matter protestors in June 2020. This gives further impetus to calls by many US unions to reform policing.
Trump's presidency has been a sustained assault on not just democracy, but on truth itself, along with fundamental human and workers' rights. His supporters have turned lies into propaganda weapons, highlighted by the spread of conspiracy theories about the election result. However, Trump's supporters' assault on the Capitol failed: Congress confirmed Joe Biden's win, officially certifying the result today.
Attempting to overthrow a democratic election through violence is fascism. The labour movement has always been and remains an implacable opponent of fascism and defender of democracy. As one of the world's largest democratic organizations, representing more than fifty million manufacturing, energy and mine workers worldwide, IndustriALL Global Union, together with its affiliates and allies, will always defend democracy.
The workers of the world won democracy through their blood. The anti-democratic and post-truth poison spread by Trump has infected democracies around the world. The global labour movement, with IndustriALL as one of its key actors, joins democrats everywhere to unite to push back against this assault on our hard-won rights.
The world needs genuine democracy. For workers and unions, democracy is the environment that enables us to live and survive. Democracy and its institutions must be rebuilt. We also seek to advance democracy into the economic sphere, and by supporting democratic movements in repressive countries.
Governments must sieze on satellite tech in fisheries forced labour fight
23 Dec 2020: Fisheries representatives from the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), a global voice for the world's millions of fishers, say that a new study from US-based researchers using satellite data helps reveal both the extent of labour violations in the industry, and how law enforcement can use technology to crack down on modern slavery and human trafficking on ships.
Rossen Karavatchev, the ITF's Fisheries Section Coordinator, said that while the ITF was not surprised to learn researchers identified as many as 100,000 workers potentially in the clutches of forced labour on board large industrial fishing vessels, the study offered new tools for law enforcement. Researchers combined satellite data from Global Fishing Watch with machine learning and knowledge from human and workers' rights organisations to map the behaviours of ships likely to be engaging in human rights abuses. 26 percent of the 16,000 vessels they tracked exhibited behaviours consistent with having crew at high risk of forced labour.
"We are not surprised that yet another study has given the world an indication of the sprawling, unacceptably large epidemic of human rights abuses in the global fishing industry. However, this research not only shows the scale of the problem; but also how governments can deploy technology to fight forced labour and human trafficking, to clean up the fishing industry and end the misery of those hundreds of thousands of workers on ships," said Karavatchev.
"This study puts more pressure on governments to use their resources to fight the widespread labour violations, human rights abuses, human trafficking, and incidences of slavery, that we know are taking place on board industrial fishing vessels. Governments have the tools - why aren't they using them?"
Chair of the ITF Fisheries Section, Johnny Hansen, said fisheries exploitation was not just a problem for developing countries, but was often happening hundreds of meters off the coasts of the world's richest countries.
"This University of California study highlights the regions the ITF has been urging action in, such as South East Asia and the South Atlantic, but it also adds evidence of the growing human rights abuses we've been seeing off the coasts of Canada, New Zealand and northern Europe." "We need governments to understand that this is a global industry where large vessels from countries like Taiwan, China and Portugal travel across the world engaging in labour practices that would have employers locked up back home. They They recruit, traffic or trick fisheries workers from countries in the global South to board these floating prisons and then head to waters, deep and coastal, all over the world."
"This report makes plain that fighting fisheries exploitation is every government's responsibility," said Hansen.
The ITF has been supporting fisheries projects in both Europe and South East Asia to combat exploitation in the industry and empower local fishers to voice their concerns to governments.
Unions celebrate victory for French XPO workers
18 Dec 2020: The ITF XPO Global Union Family is this week celebrating the victory of French Union CGT after 10 days of strikes over poor pay, management and disciplinary behaviour.
XPO had subjected workers at the Labastide-Saint-Pierre site to constant and dangerous pressure to fulfil the contract of its client, Action. According to CGT representatives, Labastide-Saint-Pierre is the most accident prone of 85 XPO sites in France. There were over 40 accidents in 2020 alone and three investigations are currently underway with the labour inspectorate. Some workers had been subject to physical abuse by XPO management while others were reduced to tears, CGT reported.
In protest, 80% of workers went on strike. This ended after a deal was reached to address inappropriate management, improve poor working conditions, and increase pay and bonuses. Having previously served 15 summonses on strikers, management also agreed not to impose penalties on strikers and not to pursue legal action.
"The ITF family salutes the CGT and all workers who were right to protest against appalling working conditions," said Noel Coard, ITF Inland Transport Section Secretary. "Action by CGT has demonstrated just how much power workers have when they stand together to challenge exploitation."
CGT's victory comes after a global report in October revealed XPO inaction on poor working practices, despite pressure from unions globally. "It is clear the only thing this company will respond to is profit and so it is to XPO Customers and Clients that the Global Union Family will now take their concerns," said Coard.
ITF affiliates have meanwhile shared their concern regarding XPO's recent announcement that it plans to split the road and logistics parts of the business. The announcement is just the latest indication of how XPO continues to put profit for shareholders before the wellbeing of its workers. The newly formed European Works Council will be affected by the move, in a blow to union workers who spent years to bring it to life.
Young trade unionists from Building and Wood Workers International Africa and the Middle East channelled their musical talents and creativity by offering this beautiful music video that draws attention to the situation of workers in the region amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Through rap and soulful singing, the young trade unionists narrate the challenges and hardships of workers and what are the things needed to be done to build a better future for all.
Alarming attacks on labour laws during Covid-19 in South Asia
18 December, 2020: Across South Asian countries labour laws are facing increased attacks undermining workers' rights including freedom of association and collective bargaining. IndustriALL South Asia affiliates call for building national and international solidarity to protect workers' rights.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the containment measures have seriously affected workers in South Asia. Across the region, governments' mixed response to the crisis have let workers suffer wage theft, leave without pay, non-implementation of labour laws, loss of livelihood and in many cases cynical retrenchment of precarious workers with no hope for the future.
The regional webinar organized by IndustriALL South Asia office on 4 December highlighted that the trade unions across region fought tooth and nail to defend workers' rights. IndustriALL executive committee members Sanjay Vadhavkar, Steel, Metal & Engineering Workers' Federation of India, and Anton Marcus, Sri Lanka Free Trade Zones and General Services Employees Union took part in the meeting.
In India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh as well as Nepal there were attempts to change labour laws with negative implications for workers' rights.
Sanjay Vadhavkar explained, "The Indian government's labour law changes have been passed without due parliamentary norms and process. Sweeping labour law changes encourage precarious work, limit recruitment of permanent workers, affect collective bargaining and almost eliminate the right to strike and make Indian workers more vulnerable to social and economic shocks caused by the pandemic. These labour law changes fall short of India's commitment to fundamental principles of workers' rights in international forums."
Anton Marcus added, "Employers in Sri Lanka proposed many anti-worker and anti-women workers labour law changes including increasing working hours, changed working conditions, unilateral termination of employees without government approval and even called for suspension of labour laws."
Both Indian and Sri Lankan trade union movement vehemently opposed the anti-worker policy proposals. In India the unions held nationwide strikes and protests. Sri Lanka affiliates fought to ensure payment of wages to workers for the lockdown period. But the government and employers are continuing to call for labour law changes. Both leaders called upon the affailites of South Asia to extend their solidarity support and defend workers' rights.
Pakistan union delegates expressed concern over proposals to stop labour inspections, lack of labour law implementation and underlined the need to progressively integrate labour laws across the provinces and institutionalize national level social dialogue.
Bangladesh union representatives highlighted the shrinking rights of working people including in readymade garment sector. Workers' representatives in government tripartite committees dealing with labour laws are often side-lined to the detriment of the social dialogue in the country.
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, said "We are witnessing a big attack against democracy and democratic institutions. Covid-19 is a natural disaster, but how governments are responding is a product of their politics. Governments in collusion with employers are trying to dismantle all the gains of workers' rights and legal protection. Laws related to wages, social security, occupational health and safety and industrial relations are modified in such a way that workers are denied fundamental workers' rights. IndustriALL Global Union is committed to work strategically with other global union federation to support affiliates' efforts to build unity and solidarity and resist the attacks on workers' rights together at the national, regional and international levels."
South Asia affiliates decided to strengthen inter-regional communications, evolve joint strategies and take further actions to defend workers" rights.
Turkish unions unite to build power in auto industry
14 December, 2020: A workshop on 8-9 December brought together participants from IndustriALL's three Turkish affiliates in the metal sector, Türk Metal, Özçelik-Iş and Birleşik metal-Iş, as well as from the US, France, Italy and Germany, to discuss using global framework agreements and other international instruments as tools for organizing.
Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are constitutional rights in Turkey, but trade union activities face many barriers. The road to organizing and achieving union recognition is riddled with hurdles. Turkey is regularly criticized by the ILO and the EU for failing to ensure that fundamental workers' rights are respected.
To that end, IndustriALL organized a workshop on building union power through global framework agreements (GFAs) and other developing instruments for regulating supply chains in the automotive sector in Turkey, bringing together the three affiliates in the country's metal sector. GFAs serve to protect the interests of workers across a multinational company's operations. GFAs put in place the very best standards of trade union rights, health, safety and environmental practices, and quality of work principles across a company's global operations, regardless of whether those standards exist in an individual country. IndustriALL has GFAs with Renault, MAN, Daimler, Volkswagen and Ford, all of which have major operations in Turkey.
"Because of the systemic violations of fundamental labour rights in Turkey, we as a global union have a responsibility to tell the world about. We must make sure multinational companies are aware and can act on the information," said IndustriALL auto director Georg Leutert.
"We need to make sure that workers' voices play a more prominent role in the due diligence process of multinational companies. Trade unions must be recognized as their primary source of information."
The Turkish union leaders shared their challenges, experiences and cases of conflict in the automotive supply chain.
"We face serious difficulties when we organize and as a union, it is important to preserve and further strengthen our rights. We need support, and international solidarity is crucial for us," said Yunus Degirmenci, Özçelik-Iş president, mentioning the union busting at Sampa.
Türk Metal's president Pevrul Kavlak reiterated the problems unions face when organizing. "Even when we have the majority in the workplace and the right to organize, the employer can still take us to court. This happens regularly, which makes it almost impossible to organize workplaces. We all know we can't fight on our own; we need to unite."
Adnan Serdaroğlu, Birleşik Metal-Iş president, underlined the need for unity: "Faced with a government that pass anti-labour laws, union busting and layoffs of workers who protest against violations, it is clear that we don't have the luxury of disagreeing with one another. We must join forces to win."
Representatives from car manufacturers Volkswagen, MAN and Mercedes joined the workshop and told participants about how they ensure sustainability and respect for workers' rights in their supply chains.
Philipp Bleckmann from VW said that the German company requires all suppliers to guarantee freedom of association, labour and health protection and non-discrimination. With tens of thousands of suppliers and sub-suppliers Volkswagen performs a high number of audits worldwide and keep a database with self-assessments. Mustafa Iskifoğlu from MAN Turkey talked about the need to have a dialogue before problems arise, and to that end the company has a charter signed by both the union and the employer. Yiğit Özgünel, Mercedes-Benz Turkey, explained how their intervention played a role in unionization efforts by Türk Metal at their supplier Bodo Bode in the city of Bursa.
Meeting participants recognized the need for and importance of global solidarity. Forced to protect the basic right of unions, the international movement must be strong. Solidarity support for Turkish autoworkers was offered from US union UAW, organizing Ford workers, as well as from French unions FGMM-CFDT and FTM-CGT, IG Metall, Germany, and FIM-CISL, Italy.
Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, stressed the need to build union power in Turkey's automotive sector. "We have come together at a critical time when the entire supply chain is affected by Covid-19. This workshop is a good and important starting point; the next steps involve mapping, workshops, transnational organizing. "Industrial relations in Turkey are complicated, but by building union power and showing international solidarity, we have the strength to fight for a new system."