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PNHP: Healing an ailing pharmaceutical system: prescription for reform for U.S. and Canada   |   ILO: 24 million jobs to open up in the green economy   |   Working in These Times: From The Women's March to The Poor People's Campaign, A Call for Economic Human Rights   |   The Guardian: Exclusive: how rightwing groups wield secret 'toolkit' to plot against US unions   |   American Prospect: Trump's Drug Pricing Scam   |   BlueGreen Alliance: Fuel Economy Standards Have Driven Investment, Innovation, and Job Creation   |   Labor Notes: I Work with Mark Janus. Here's How He Benefits from a Strong Union.   |   Common Dreams: Vowing to End Corporate Bullying of Organized Workers, Sanders Unveils Bill to Restore Union Power   |   Daily Kos: Sen. Kamala Harris pulls out of UC Berkeley commencement to support striking workers   |   Labor Press: Food Service Workers, Students, RWDSU Rally For Removal Of CUNY Vendor   |   Common Dreams: 'Worst Mistake I Ever Made': Union Support Nosedives as Workers Express Regret for Trump Votes   |   Equal Times: Can these coders bring unions to Silicon Valley   |   Workday Minnesota: COMMENTARY: Janus decision from Supreme Court will be beginning, not end, of fight

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Pharmacare: A Plan for Everyone...
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coalition of labor, community and consumer advocacy organizations

Making Change at Walmart...
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Robin Hood Tax Campaign...
it's not a tax on the people, it's a tax for the people...United States

Justice for Port Drivers...
International Brotherhood of Teamsters

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.

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DowDuPont: Don't Spin Off Worker Rights!

18.05.2018:   IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliates throughout the world call for support in demanding chemicals giant DowDuPont to respect workers' rights through its current spin-off process.

Members of IndustriALL-affiliated trade unions representing DowDuPont workers in North and South America, Europe and Asia, are facing great upheaval as the newly merged company splits into three separate segments. The demand is to have a seat at the decision-making table through this period of change. The company was formed in August last year after a US$150 billion merger between Delaware-based DuPont and Michigan's Dow Chemicals. The three new spin-off companies will be in these industries: Specialty Products, Material Sciences, and Agriculture. Each of the three is cutting costs by around US$1 billion.

Through this restructuring, management's cost savings goal is $3.3 billion. The company calls this the "cost synergy number". The network argues that this cannot come from employees. DowDuPont is posting massive increases in earnings, with sales up by 13-percent.

United Steelworkers (USW) Local 12075 President Kent Holsing from DowDuPont's facility in Midland, Michigan chairs the DowDuPont North American Labor Council. Kent said: "We are speaking not only for the unionized employees of DowDuPont, but also for the non-union employees who don't have that voice. Our goal is to use this petition as a platform to ensure the employees and their communities are represented and heard."

IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan said: "The DowDuPont merger creates the world's biggest chemical company and has triggered other major restructuring in the industry. Now the company's breakup into three separate segments will again affect working men and women all over the world. The demand from those workers' national unions and international trade union, IndustriALL, is to have their voice heard through the restructuring."

"Workers' representatives must play a central role in the decision making that will affect them and their communities. Our international network of DowDuPont unions is ready to work together in this regard and demands a proper seat at the table."

International trade union networking at DowDuPont has been conducted since the merger, and will continue. A large meeting of the network will take place on 9-12 October.

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

"Stop mounting pressure on countries to privatize water." PSI sends cautionary calls to World Bank.

17 May 2018:   PSI is calling on the World Bank to cease mounting pressure on countries to privatize water and other public services, says Sani Baba Mohammed, PSI Regional Secretary for Africa and Arab Countries.

"The World Bank should heed studies by its own Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) which call into question the results of many years of privatization. Further, Bank Executives should look in their own group of countries to see that water privatizations are increasingly being reversed, having failed to deliver on their promises. They should not export their failed policies to Nigeria and in extension, Africa, whether in hopes on winning contracts for their home companies, or from ideological rigidity."

Sani Baba made these comments following a recent visit by World Bank Executive Directors to Nigeria, ostensibly to study what they call the challenges and expectations of partners in West Africa.

The Our Water Our Right Coalition, which comprises the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE, a PSI affiliate), Corporate Accountability, Child Health Organisation, among others, has questioned the timing of this visit, throwing into play the secrecy surrounding it.

Already, pressure has been mounting in Nigeria from trade unions in the water sector against the Lagos State's decision to hand over the management of water into the hands of private multinational firms, with many calling on the State government to rescind its decision. The Our Water Our Right Coalition has recently been holding series of activities and campaigns against in attempts to get the governor of the Lagos, Akinwunmi Ambode, to pull back from the decision to privatize water, describing such a decision as another form of corruption that will only rob the people of Lagos of their rights.

Last week, World Bank Executive Directors from Switzerland, France, Italy, Denmark, Peru, Germany and South Africa (representing Angola, Nigeria and South Africa) were in Nigeria for a meeting.

ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, in a statement, said: "Not only was the World Bank visit concealed until the team arrived, the caliber of directors on the entourage showed that they were only in Nigeria to consolidate on schemes contrived behind closed doors to financialize critical sectors of the economy, including water." Oluwafemi pointed out that the timing of the visit would seem to explain why the World Bank and its private arm - International Finance Corporation (IFC), were in heavy attendance at the recent Global Water Summit held in France where discussions with the Lagos Water Corporation (LWC) tilted towards financializing Lagos water.

The Coalition, as well as PSI, hereby calls on the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, to be careful of this deal with the World Bank as already, there have been statements alluded to Ambode on the Bank's budget support initiatives in the water sector for the country as having supposedly resulted in "stronger ties with the institution." "We have said it time and again that Lagos and other states of the federation can fund water sustainably if they build the political will to prioritize water for the people and come up with a comprehensive plan that invests in the water infrastructure necessary to provide universal water access, create jobs, and improve public health," the Coalition statement said.

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

Council of independent unions at Coca-Cola Indonesia rejects the national collective agreement, demands reinstatement of dismissed union leaders

15 May 2018:   The fight for freedom of association at Coca-Cola Amatil's operations in Indonesia has escalated with the formation of the Coca-Cola Indonesia Workers Council, bringing together four independent unions and challenging the company's collusion with SPSI, the national union structure originating in the New Order military dictatorship (1967-1998). Management refused to recognize the Coca:Cola Indonesia Workers Council and continues to harass union members while refusing to reinstate the terminated independent union leaders Atra and Lutfi.

This follows mass protests against the recent renewal of the national collective agreement imposed by the company in collusion with SPSI. The national collective agreement undermines workers' rights in the face of restructuring and mass layoffs while slashing workers' benefits. On May Day workers at the bottling plant in Semarang boycotted work on a public holiday to protest the terms and conditions of the national agreement, prompting management to visit workers at their homes in an effort to harass them into returning to work. They refused. Subsequently management continued this harassment through threats of disciplinary action.

On May 3, the Coca-Cola Indonesia Workers Council wrote to Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia stating that: "The national collective agreement was negotiated against a background of violations of the right to freedom of association by the Company, including terminating union leaders, and as a result genuine collective bargaining rights cannot be realized. In this situation workers work every day in a climate of fear and intimidation, and this greatly affects the outcome of any such negotiation."

The Council observes that the majority of workers refuse to accept the national agreement despite management attempts to implement it, and reaffirms that, as independent trade unions formed through the exercise of the right to freedom of association, "we refuse to recognize or abide by any collective agreement concluded in a climate of fear and intimidation."

Source:  International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco, and Allied Workers' Associations--IUF uniting 10 million workers in 429 affiliated organizations in 130 countries

In Meeting with Algeria, EU Should Insist on Independent Trade Union Rights

Algeria should drop charges against independent labour leaders and allow independent trade unions to freely organise, say the ITUC and the ETUC on the occasion of an EU-Algeria meeting today.

14-05-2018:   Judicial persecution of trade union leaders is intensifying, and hundreds of workers have been fired or suspended for their trade union activities, or are facing civil charges. Meanwhile, the government continues to deny legal status to independent trade unions.

"A strong and independent labour movement is vital to democratic society. The Algerian government should stop harassing our affiliates. Healthy bilateral relations cannot be built on repression and systematic abuse of international conventions," said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC.

Raouf Mellal, President of SNATEGS union, faces a range of charges over his legitimate trade union activities, while in January 2018 hundreds of union members were rounded up by police during a peaceful demonstration and detained in remote areas for ten hours after their phones were confiscated and evidence of the police action was deleted from them. SNATEGS is affiliated to the Independent General Confederation of Workers in Algeria (CGATA), which the government refuses to recognise.

The ITUC and ETUC say the European Union should press Algeria to halt its anti-union policies when EU officials meet with Algerian officials during the EU-Algeria Association Council today. "EU-Algerian relations are important to both sides, and those ties should include support of labour as well as human rights," said Luca Visentini, ETUC General Secretary.

The ITUC and the ETUC are also demanding that the Algerian government recognise the CGATA labour confederation as well as the SNATEGS independent union of gas and electricity workers, which was unilaterally and unlawfully dissolved by the government in December. To read the joint ITUC-ETUC letter sent to EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates

TUC leads 10,000s marchers to demand a new deal for working people

14 May 2018:   Rain couldn't dampen the TUC's passion this weekend as the union and tens-of-thousands of steelworkers, teachers, midwives, carers, retail staff, posties, civil servants, firefighters, and activists took to London's streets to demand a new deal for workers.

The TUC's General Secretary, Frances O'Grady, said: "There is a new mood in the country. People have been very patient, but they are now demanding a new deal for decent jobs, fair wages, to fund public services and for strong trade unions. "You can't hand out bumper dividends to shareholders and cut workers' wages. You can't fill your boots in the boardroom and tell workers to tighten their belts, and you can't build world-class companies on the back of second-class rights. The greed has to stop."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn echoed this sentiment, "This demonstration today is about workers rights, it is about collective endeavour but above all, it's a declaration that we're around to campaign as long as it takes, to bring about that social justice and that decency in society."

The TUC presented a clear outline of their new deal:

  • A minimum wage of £10 an hour, now.
  • A ban exploitative zero hours contracts.
  • Adequate funding for the NHS and public services.
  • A repeal of the trade union act which makes it harder for us to stand up for working people.
  • A crack down on tax dodgers who starve our schools and hospitals of funding.

"This massive demonstration shows the hunger for economic justice that is spreading throughout the U.K., across Europe, and in the rest of world," said Philip Jennings, UNI General Secretary. "A new deal is clearly needed to beat back right-wing populism, attacks on worker organising, and the erosion of the social safety net."

More than just a one-day demonstration, the TUC is building a sustained campaign.

"Together," O'Grady said, "we can build a growing economy for the many not the few. Together - we can nurture a society free from sexism, racism and discrimination. And together - we can win the New Deal working people are crying out for. Let's get to it." UNI's World Congress will be held in Liverpool in June, where Corbyn and O'Grady will be featured speakers. Learn more about the new deal here:

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

Ukraine: ArcelorMittal workers fight for their rights

09.05.2018:   Workers at the ArcelorMittal-Kryvyi Rih steel plant with the support of the IndustriALL affiliate Trade Union of Workers of Metallurgical and Mining Industries of Ukraine (PMGU) want to sign a new collective agreement ensuring wage increases and safe working conditions.

After 26 hours of negotiations, the union and the company management signed an agreement to create a conciliation commission on 4 May. The stumbling block was the issue of public reporting. Management wanted the discussions to be held behind closed doors, which the union refused. When the union instead demanded a meeting with the CEO of ArcelorMittal-Kryvyi Rih, they were stopped by security and police.

Around 400 workers gathered in front of the plant management building to support the union. Both parties agreed to include a pledge to make a joint statement at the end of each meeting in the agreement. Otherwise, the media is to publish the two statements side by side so that employees can see the differences. The conciliation commission will hold its first substantive meeting in six days.

Natalia Marinyuk, chair of the PMGU trade union committee at ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih, says: "We are not asking for illegal action to fulfil our demands. Therefore, I urge the employer to stop evading conciliation procedures and to start negotiations with the union to develop and to make a joint decision on the labour collective demands".

According to the current collective agreement, negotiations on salary increase were to begin in the fourth quarter of 2017. However, the management has so far evaded them. Moreover, on 27 March, management tried to disrupt a union general assembly by announcing another venue. However, the conference managed to approve the employees' demands, as well as the structure of the body authorized to represent their interests in dispute.

Workers are demanding wage increases from 400 to 1,000 euros per month. Currently, an appeal to the CEO has been signed by almost 12,000 people; more than half of the employees. The workers also insist on carrying out a detailed inspection of all buildings and constructions because of the tragic incident on 3 March when a roof collapsed, killing a 25-year-old contractor employee.

In addition, they demand an end the to anti-social and anti-union policy implemented by the management, especially by the HR-director. IndustriALL Global Union and affiliated unions representing tens of thousands of ArcelorMittal workers around the world sent a solidarity letter to PMGU in support of their struggle.

Valter Sanches, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, and leaders of these unions stated: "We fully support PMGU's demands that ArcelorMittal Kryviy Rih management end its union-busting, replace Olena Pylypenko as head of human resources, end its bad faith negotiations over wages and other issues, improve safety and enter into genuine social dialogue."

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

Pakistan's deadly mines - 23 workers killed in one day

07.05.2018:   In separate incidents on the same day, a staggering total of 23 mine workers were killed and 11 injured in horrific mine accidents in Pakistan's Balochistan province on 5 May.

According to reports, 16 workers were killed in a mine in the Marwar area when the mine collapsed at the exit point following a methane gas explosion. A private company called Pir Ismael was operating the coal mine, and 25 to 30 workers were believed to at work at the time of the accident. In an another accident on the same day, seven workers in a state-owned mine run by the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) in the Sur-range area were killed by a mudslide.

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, says: This massacre could have been avoided. During a mission to Pakistan in March, IndustriALL met with the government and urged them to ratify ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines. At the same time, we launched a campaign for health and safety in Pakistani mines. The government must take immediate action to improve mine safety and stop fatal accidents.

Condemning the deaths and protesting against the negligence and apathy of the mine owners and the government, Pakistani trade unions, including IndustriALL affiliate PCMLF, organized protest actions in Quetta the following day. Trade unions called for immediate action to hold those responsible to account and for appropriate compensation for the victims. The unions also called for strict implementation of mines safety laws and immediate ratification of ILO C176.

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

What is the ILC?

04.05.2018:   The 187 member states of the International Labour Organization meet every year in June at the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Who goes to the International Labour Conference (ILC)?
Every member state can send a delegation consisting of:

  • Two government delegates
  • One worker delegate
  • One employer delegate

Each delegate has one vote in the Conference plenary. Delegations also include advisers but they do not have voting rights. The worker delegates are invariably drawn from national trade union centres, while government delegates are often Ministers of Labour. Heads of State or Prime Ministers also visit the Conference. International organizations, such as IndustriALL Global Union, attend as observers.

Setting standards
The International Labour Conference adopts ILO Conventions and Recommendations, which are drawn up by representatives of governments, workers and employers. Conventions are legally-binding international treaties that can be ratified by member states. Recommendations are non-binding guidelines. A Convention needs majority support of two-thirds of voting parties at the Conference for it to be adopted. Once adopted, member states are required by the ILO Constitution to submit them to the relevant authority, usually their parliament, for consideration for ratification.

Supervisory role
All member states must issue a report to the Conference detailing how they are complying with the ILO's core Conventions and Recommendations (ratified or not) every three to five years depending on the Convention.

The Committee of Experts was set up in 1926 to examine the growing number of these reports. The Committee is made up of eminent jurists appointed by the Governing Body for a period of three years. The annual report of the Committee of Experts is usually adopted in December and submitted to the Conference in June, were it is examined by the Conference Committee on the Application of Standards.

What is the Conference Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS)?
The CAS is an essential part of the ILO's supervisory system in that it checks how ILO standards are being applied by member states. The CAS is made up of representatives of government, employer and worker delegates and is a standing committee of the International Labour Conference.

Worker group representatives negotiate with employer representatives to establish a list of around 20 countries where there are serious violations of ILO Conventions they have ratified. Governments are invited to respond and provide information on the issue in question and the cases are discussed in the plenary of the Conference.

The preliminary list of 40 cases for possible discussion at the 2018 CAS (long list), as prepared by the social partners, is now available on the ILO website. Out of those cases, 24 will be selected for the CAS discussion. The CAS makes recommendations to governments to take action to resolve issues, and can advise the ILO to carry out fact-finding missions or provide technical assistance. The CAS publishes its conclusions every year in a report.

Global Report
The International Labour Conference examines the Global Report, which is prepared by the International Labour Office as a requirement of the Declaration of Fundamental Principles of Rights Work. Over a four-year cycle, the Global Report examines the ILO's four fundamental rights which are:

  • Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining (Conventions No. 87 and 98)
  • The elimination of forced or compulsory labour (Conventions No. 29 and No. 105)
  • The abolition of child labour (Conventions No. 138 and No. 182)
  • The elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation (Conventions No. 100 and No. 111)

Setting policy and a forum for discourse
Delegates to the International Labour Conference pass resolutions to provide guidelines for ILO policy and activities. Every year, the Director-General of the ILO (currently Guy Ryder) presents a report to the Conference, which is often the basis for discourse. In 2017, the theme is: Working in a changing climate: The Green Initiative.

Why is the ILC important for trade unions?
The International Labour Conference brings together workers, governments and employer representatives on an equal platform. Through the workers group, national and global trade unions can influence government and employers' policies, for example in the drafting of Conventions, and also in the monitoring of their implementation in member states. The Conference is also important to trade unions because:

  • It is a chance to hold governments to account for labour abuses in their countries.
  • It gives cases of labour rights abuses an international platform.
  • It can help to resolve violations by making recommendations for action to governments and through sanctioning technical assistance to member states.

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

Workers unite to take action against General Electric

03.05.2018:   General Electric workers on both sides of the Atlantic took action against the multinational conglomerate on 25 April, as the company prepares to slash thousands of jobs.

Timed to coincide with the General Electric (GE) annual shareholders' meeting, workers in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK took part in a European Action Day to demonstrate against the plant closures, as well as plans to shut down R&D centres and cut innovation investments.

"With over 125 years of activity in Europe and the high-level expertise and technical know-how GE workers have developed, GE has become a key player in equipping Europe's energy production", stressed Luc Triangle, industriAll Europe General Secretary. "It is highly disappointing that GE seems ready to scrap everything they and their workers have achieved for the sole purpose of generating short-term cash and shareholder value."

In North America, more than 150 General Electric workers and retirees represented by IndustriALL Global Union affiliates, Unifor in Canada and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE), formed a picket outside the shareholders's meeting which took place near Pittsburgh, USA.

General Electric has announced that it will cease operations in Peterborough, Ontario later this year, eliminating approximately 358 good manufacturing jobs. Bill Corp, President of Unifor Local 524 in Peterborough, Ontario said: "GE has walked away from the workers and communities that the corporation was built upon, leaving illness clusters, environmental damage and devastated local economies behind."

Unifor and UE have united to launch the 'General Electric Commit to our Communities' campaign to transform the labor movement based on democratic, social unionism and international cooperation between American and Canadian workers.

Kan Matsuzaki, Director ICT Electrical&Electronics IndustriALL, said "GE management has intensified its attacks on sustainable jobs in many countries and disrespected the long-term commitments made with employees and communities where it operated. GE management must work together with trade unions representing GE workers with a view to achieve a fair and just social business model."

GE unions around world will get together at the IndustriALL Global Union Meeting of the General Electric Trade Union Network in Toronto, Canada on 7-8 May 2018 to increase workers' collective power and discuss strategies to engage with the company at the global level.

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

UNI backs US writers' union in dispute with ITV

3 May 2018:   ITV is in the hot-seat as it heads into its May 10th Annual General Meeting amid concerns about diversity and the treatment of women employees within its production operations in the U.K., as well as in America. Members of BECTU and the Writers Guild of America East will be joining forces next Thursday 10 May in a protest at the ITV Shareholders' Meeting in central London.

Standing together against discrimination and unequal pay
In the U.S., ITV's management received a letter from a group of diverse employees who painted a disturbing picture of how the company treats women and people of color. Tiffany Magby, one of the letter signees who has since left the company, explained, "We wrote ITV management as a group of women of color to inform them about what we consider systematic discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and overtime violations that we experienced while working on two of the company's most prominent programs. We called for both equal pay with our white male colleagues and opportunities for growth at ITV, specifically at the field producer level, which is currently almost exclusively held by men."

Our Fight for Freedom of Assoctiation
Ms Magby and staff of the Writers Guild of America, East, as well as members of BECTU and the Writers Guild of Great Britain, will protest at ITV's Annual General Meeting on May 10th. The action calls on ITV enter a collective bargaining agreement with the WGAE, just as other U.S. nonfiction TV production companies have done. The Guild has proposed contract terms that would directly address the concerns raised by Ms. Henry and her former colleagues at the company.

Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, noted that "ITV's new CEO Carolyn McCall and investors should be deeply troubled by its production operations in the United States, which have been touted as one of the company's key sources of profit and growth. In the U.S., ITV employees overwhelmingly voted to unionize because they believe the best way to get management to address their pressing concerns is a collective bargaining agreement. Unfortunately, ITV has done nothing but stall and resist as employees' concerns about working conditions and protections continue to mount.

Global Solidarity Support for US Writers and the WGAE
Gerry Morrissey, head of the BECTU Sector of Prospect and President of UNI's Media and Entertainment Sector, said: "We have appealed on several occasions to ITV plc to develop a constructive relationship with WGAE to echo the relationship the company has with BECTU here in the UK. We believe the company's resistance to engaging with the WGAE reflects badly on the company's management.

UNI Global Union and its media, entertainment sector support WGAE in its campaign. UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings recently wrote ITV CEO McCall, saying, "UNI Global Union believes that multi-national media companies such as ITV must honour the labour standards in the nations in which it conducts operations. This includes honouring the provisions of the standard collective bargaining agreements negotiated by the unions in those nations. Unfortunately, in the United States ITV has taken the opposite path, at least in its unscripted/nonfiction television units. This is simply not the way to do business in an industry that relies on its professional employees to create and distribute content."

The Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO (WGAE) is a labour union representing writers in motion pictures, television, cable, digital media and broadcast news. The Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members; conducts programmes, seminars and events on issues of interest to writers; and presents writers' views to various bodies of government.

The BECTU Sector of Prospect is the UK's media and entertainment union and has recognition agreements with employers across the creative sectors. The union represents staff and freelancers working in broadcasting, film, theatre and live events and allied areas. BECTU has a long-standing collective bargaining agreement with ITV plc.

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

International Workers Day

ITUC May Day Statement 2018

One hundred and fifty years ago, workers in Britain came together to create the world's first national trade union centre, the TUC, in the city of Manchester. They, and working people in many other places at that time, laid the first foundations for the global trade union movement of today, more than 200 million strong. Ever since those early steps, men and women organising together have built and grown their unions and changed the course of history.

Today, May Day 2018, we pay homage to all those who have given so much in fighting for the basic rights that so many today can take for granted - freedom of association, the right to bargain collectively, protection from discrimination and exploitation and safety at work. We also stand in solidarity with those who are denied these rights and who, in a world where the rules that enshrine these rights do not apply to all, are fighting just the same struggles against exploitation and abuse that the mothers and fathers of our movement had to fight a century and a half ago.

We know as well that formidable forces are at work to eliminate those rules for everyone. Corporate power is running out of control, democracies are being hijacked by the 1%, and too many governments are standing by instead of standing up for working people. The future of the planet and its people are in the balance as the greed of a tiny elite preys on the living standards of people and the economic model they impose depletes the finite resources of the earth. Demagogues and xenophobes are taking power, exploiting popular discontent fuelled by the inequality and insecurity that are the hallmarks of today's failed model of globalisation.

Trade unions will always stand up for our central values of equality, dignity, development, democracy and peace. It is the realisation of these values, through the strength of collective action and solidarity, that provides the promise of a better world. A world where the rules work for people.

It's time to change the rules, to cast off the shackles on democracy and human rights. It is unions organising to build workers' power, in the cities, towns and countryside, in workplaces and communities across the world, that will make that hope a reality. We celebrate May Day with confidence and determination to ensure that the founding tenets of our movement are the cornerstones for the future.

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates

Cameroon Water Back in Public Hands

01 May 2018:   On May Day 2018, Cameroon celebrates not only the gains made by workers and trade unions over the years, but can also celebrate the end of a ten-year experiment with privatisation of water services management. May 1st 2018 is the day that the government of Cameroon regains control of its water utility.

The PSIRU brief traces the genesis and terminus of this privatisation, which of course involves the IMF and the World Bank as instigators and facilitators. Strangely enough, neither of the French companies got the concession, even though at least one of them tried. Stranger still, the PPP was accorded to a public utility from Morocco - which experimented with a for-profit model.

Needless to say, the for-profit model did not suit, the results were not as expected, so there was no contract renewal - which did not stop the Moroccan utility, in fine for-profit behaviour, from claiming damages.

Rebuilding the public utility starts today. PSI suggests that Cameroon look for public-public partnerships, perhaps under the UN Habitat Global Water Operators Partnership Alliance, which does not allow profit-making. Many public utilities are prepared to help on the basis of solidarity.

PSI also advises that management involve the workers and their union in the rebuilding. There are a number of grievances outstanding from the privatisation, and they need to be resolved. More important is the workers' knowledge and expertise, which must be applied to the process of rebuilding.

Management can also learn from the hundreds of examples of return to public hands, including the importance of giving the community a role in oversight of the utility. Public participation in decision-making can help to avoid mistakes caused by lack of transparency and accountability.

Finally, PSI recommends keeping a close eye on the contracts given to UK's Biwater and France's Suez and Veolia.

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

International Transport Workers' Federation President Paddy Crumlin's message to all workers on International Workers' Day 2018

International labour rights prize awarded to independent unions in Kazakhstan

26.04.2018:   The Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights has been awarded to the independent trade unions of Kazakhstan represented by Larisa Kharkova, Nurbek Kushakbaev and Amin Eleusinov.

The prize was established by IndustriALL affiliate Industri Energi, and includes both a cash award and support for union projects.

IndustriALL Global Union supported the nomination and celebrates the decision of the prize committee, made up of prominent members of the Norwegian trade union movement. Unfortunately, none of the three union leaders will be able to travel to Norway for the award ceremony.

The prize committee stated, "The three union leaders have shown great courage in continuing their involvement. The precarious situation of the laureates is only an example of the fierce reality faced, by not only workers in Kazakhstan, but also many the working people all over the world."

Trade union rights are rapidly declining in Kazakhstan. In 2017 IndustriALL and the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ITUC) brought the case of workers' rights violations in Kazakhstan to the ILO's International Labour Conference in Switzerland.

On 25 July 2017, Kharkova, former chairperson of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (KNPRK) was sentenced, on false charges, to four years of restriction of her freedom of movement, 100 hours of forced labour, and a five-year ban on holding any position in a public or non-governmental organization. Chairman of the oil service company OCC workers trade union, Amin Yeleusinov, and labour inspector Nurbek Kushakbayev were arrested and tried earlier the same year following a peaceful mass protest of workers in the Mangystau region, demanding the restoration of their federation KNPRK.

In an attempt to control independent trade unions after the 2011 massacre in Zhanaozen, the authorities adopted a repressive law limiting union freedom. The criminal prosecution of the three leaders is based on this legislation.

Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary, said: "We welcome the award this year of the International Prize for Trade Union Rights to independent unions in Kazakhstan. We supported their rightful cause in the past and will continue doing so in the future, until all workers of this country enjoy their human and trade union rights in full."

Previous winners include the South African Commercial, Stevedoring, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (2017), LabourStart (2016), Bahrain Teachers Association (2015), Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, General Secretary of Los Mineros, the National Miners' and Metalworkers' Union of Mexico (2014).

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

April 28: International Workers' Memorial Day

Brussels, 24 April 2018 (ITUC OnLine):   On 28 April, International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers, trade union events around the world will underline the vital role that unions play in protecting workers from work-related accidents and disease. More than 2.5 million workers lost their lives to workplace injuries and illness in 2017, with many more deaths going unrecorded.

"Worldwide, poor working conditions kill a worker every 11 seconds. All these deaths are avoidable, yet the body count is increasing. Unions, and laws which are effective and enforced, provide vital protection to workers, and with labour laws being weakened and workers' right to organise being undermined in every region of the world, it is little surprise that the death toll is so high. That is why global unions are launching a reinvigorated and urgent organising campaign to demand safety, justice and accountability," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

This year, unions will also be focusing on the scourge of occupational cancer, which is responsible for a large proportion of the 2.4 million deaths due to occupational disease annually. More than 10 per cent of cancer cases are a result of workplace exposure to hazards.

"Cancer caused by work is a major killer, and where workers are not allowed to organise and governments fail to regulate effectively and ensure compliance, the risks skyrocket. There are too many examples like the case of Samsung in Korea, which has used 'trade secrets' as a way to hide the toxicity of chemicals which production line workers have to use," said Burrow.

The union movement is also calling for occupational health and safety to be recognised as one of the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of the International Labour Organization, alongside existing fundamental standards on forced labour, child labour, discrimination at work and freedom of association and the right to collectively bargain.

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates

At Wells Fargo's annual meeting, workers and community allies protest employee and consumer abuses

25 April 2018:   Wells Fargo bank workers and customers gathered at the company's shareholder meeting on Tuesday to call out the bank for anti-worker tactics, continued offshoring of jobs, and total failure to end predatory consumer practices that devastate the lives of millions of working families. At the same time, Wells Fargo bank workers in the Committee for Better Banks held sister protests at banks in major cities across the United States.

Bank workers called for a base wage of $20/hour, an end to the aggressive sales culture, and the appointment of a worker representative to the bank's Stakeholder Advisory Council. In line with this recommendation, the practice of giving workers seats on the boards of major corporations is extremely common in other countries, and enjoys wide support across the political spectrum in the U.S.

"When I became a Wells Fargo team member in early 2017, several ethics problems at Wells Fargo had just been exposed to the public," said Alex Ross, one of the bank workers who spoke during today's meeting. "The process of rebuilding the community's trust in Wells Fargo is far from over, and Wells Fargo team members must be at the center of that process. Team members must be given adequate resources - including time, training, and manager support - to execute our responsibilities and safeguard our customers."

Bank workers and shareholders mobilized investors nationwide to demand that Wells Fargo fire its board of directors and CEO Tim Sloan, break up the bank, pay restitution to those whose finances have been devastated by unethical and illegal practices, and respect workers' right to organize without retaliation. According to a CBB survey last fall, 54 percent of worker respondents stated that they had not been able to provide constructive feedback to their managers, and 12 percent said they feared retaliation for raising concerns.

"As bank workers and customers continue to pay the price for the Wells Fargo's reckless and predatory practices, the bank is enjoying billions in tax giveaways," said Erin Mahoney, an organizing coordinator for the Communications Workers of America. "On the heels of the account fraud scandal, Wells Fargo should be investing in U.S. customers, workers, and communities - not cutting corners."

Across the country, bank workers at every major U.S. bank have been mobilizing to hold financial institutions like Wells Fargo accountable to workers and consumers - investigating discriminatory lending practices and advancing legislation intended to increase bank transparency. "From Wells Fargo to Santander, we've seen banks in America run roughshod over consumers and not respect workers' rights. We know that when workers have unions, they are able to report unethical consumer practices without retaliation," said Angelo Di Cristo, Head of UNI Finance. "It's time for Wells Fargo to live up to the standards followed by banks around the world and let their employees form a union without fear."

The Committee for Better Banks is supported by the Communications Workers of America, a UNI affiliate; Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE); New York Communities for Change (NYCC); Jobs with Justice and local affiliates, and UNI Global Union.

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

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