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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
New Report: Pandemic places long-term care work among world's most dangerous jobs
24 February 2021: UNI Global Union, which represents 2 million care workers worldwide, today said the COVID-19 pandemic has made nursing homes some of the most hazardous-and even deadly-worksites in the world.
In a new report released today--The Most Dangerous Job: The Impact of COVID-19 on Long-Term Care Workers in the US, UK, Canada, Ireland, and Australia--UNI reveals how similar issues across the long-term care sector in five countries contributed to COVID-19 contagion and deaths not just for residents but also the vulnerable workers in the industry. In some countries, the job can be as dangerous as mining, timber, and police work.
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the first of the global lockdowns, the situation in nursing homes globally remains critical, and while much of the world's attention has fallen on residents, the report shows the high costs workers have paid. In the United States alone, nearly 500,000 long-term care workers have been infected. From mid-December 2020 to mid-January 2021, nearly four of these U.S. care workers died a day.
The report makes clear that the business model for nursing homes in all the countries examined is responsible for much of the suffering and death: workers in the long-term care sector have historically faced difficult and unsafe conditions, earning low wages with few benefits, and often without the protections of a union. In 2020, essential long-term care workers found themselves on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, caring for the elderly and aiding the most vulnerable, and becoming vulnerable themselves. Hundreds of thousands of workers contracted COVID-19 in the countries studied and so far, at least 1,385 died in the US, 469 in the UK and 25 in Canada.
The physical and emotional toll on workers, who have seen their residents and coworkers get sick and know they could be next, is immense.
"We are already facing tragedy of an unspeakable scale, but I fear that much more loss is in store," said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. "We do not know the impact that COVID will have on workers over time, and unless the working conditions that helped the virus spread like wildfire through care homes-the lack of PPE, low wages, no paid sick days, no union representation-are fixed, serious problems will persist after vaccinations and after this pandemic."
UNI is calling for the following urgent changes to save lives in the industry:
The ongoing global public health crisis has exacerbated the injustices care workers have endured for decades, and now it is costing them their health and their lives. UNI supports its member unions who are pushing for changes that will protect long term care workers and make fundamental changes in the sector.
"COVID-19 has brought to the fore many of the core issues that workers in the long-term care industry have been fighting to improve for years," said Adrian Durtschi, Head of UNI's Care sector. "When workers have a voice on the job through their union and collective bargaining, they can raise the standard of care and help keep everyone in their facility healthier and safer. These changes will save lives during the pandemic and in the years to come."
Amazon Workers on Strike in Italy Over "Frenetic Pace of Work"
16 February 2021: Hundreds of Amazon drivers have gone on strike in Vigonza, Italy, in protest over what many consider "unsustainable and frenetic pace of work, deficient protections against COVID-9, and poor wages."
"The reasons [behind the strike] are attributable to the unsustainable working conditions in which these employees work-they earn poor salaries and are subjected to intolerable pace. They are forced to respect roadmaps that constantly put their own and others' safety at risk," said Massimo Cognolatto and Romeo Barutta leaders of the CGIL in the Padua and Veneto regions.
Since April 2013, Amazon has faced worker unrest in multiple countries, particularly in Europe where workers in Spain, Germany, France, and Italy have walked out over a dozen times. The protests have intensified during the pandemic as Amazon failed to listen to workers' demands to make their workplace safer.
"Once again, workers are forced to strike to make their voices heard-a situation that could easily be avoided if Amazon took employees concerns seriously," said Christy Hoffman General Secretary of UNI Global Union." We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Italian brothers and sisters going on strike against Amazon to demand fair pay and realistic goals during this brutal pandemic."
Other global actors are also raising questions about Amazon anti-union behaviour. Just this Monday, UNI Global Union Amazon Alliance called on the tech and commerce giant to stop its dishonest anti-union campaign and allow workers to vote for a union in the United States without the aggressive and constant pressure from the company to vote no.
In Memoriam: Labor and Folk Singer Anne Feeney July 1, 1951 - Feb. 3, 2021
ITF statement on the murder of ICTSI union leader Leonardo Escala
09 Feb 2021: The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is outraged and dismayed at the murder of Leonardo Escala, the president of the union for dock workers at ICTSI's Manila terminal, Nagkakaisang Manggagawa sa Pantalan Incorporated (NMPI)-ICTSI.
Leonardo Escala and his his four-year-old niece were shot multiple times by assassins at around 7.20 pm on Sunday, 7 February outside his home in Tondo, Manila. His murderers escaped on scooters. Escala died an hour later at a hospital, where his niece remains for treatment after being shot at in the back.
ITF President and ITF Dockers' Section chair Paddy Crumlin said the perpetrators of Escala's murder should feel the full force of the law.
"What has happened here is the assassination of a trade union leader in full view of the public at his family home. It would appear Leonardo Escala was murdered because he dared to stand up for working people, his union and help them organise for a better future. We stand in solidarity with the members of NMPIV-ICTSI," said Crumlin.
"We condemn the cowardly killing of Leonardo Escala and the shooting of his four-year-old niece. Our sympathies are with his family and loved ones at this distressing time. We express the heartfelt condolences of the entire ITF global family who can scarcely believe such an act of terror has taken place." "We call on the authorities to rapidly identify the perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice without delay. It is imperative that the Government of the Philippines take appropriate action immediately to secure justice for Leonardo and his family."
"Local and national law enforcement authorities must urgently reconsider their approach to protecting these workers and their union leadership from any further attacks in order to combat impunity and promote a climate free from violence, intimidation and fear in which freedom of association may be fully exercised," said Crumlin.
In response to the murder, and the numerous decisions and observations of the ILO in relation to extra-judicial killings of trade unionists in the Philippines, the ITF repeats the call on the Government of the Philippines to accept an ILO high-level tripartite mission as soon as possible.
The 2020 ITUC Global Rights Index listed the Philippines as one of the worst countries for working people due to the risk of violence, intimidation and murder that union members face. The murder of Leonardo Escala has brought the number of assassinated labour rights defenders under the Duterte administration to at least 44.
"Being a trade unionist is not a crime. Every worker has the right to join and form trade unions, no matter where they live. Leonardo Escala was supporting his fellow dock workers to realise that right, and it seems for his leadership he has been murdered in cold blood. We cannot let violence and repression stand." There must be justice, said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.
Global unions ramp up pressure on governments and corporations to isolate Myanmar military junta
Ten Global Unions representing more than 200 million workers from across the world call on unions globally to ramp up pressure on governments and corporations to target the commercial interests of the Myanmar military junta.
09-02-2021: We urge trade unions and workers around the world to organise, unite and stand with the people of Myanmar and isolate the Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and other military leaders responsible for the coup.
In line with the Global Union's vow to confront global forces that work against the interests of working people, leaders of the global union movement today:
We call on our affiliated unions worldwide to support the measures outlined above and to:
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said that trade unions are appalled at the seizing of power by the military in Myanmar and will do all within our power to stop the coup succeeding.
"For the people of Myanmar, this is an extremely ominous time as the military attempt to rewrite the rules on the ground. We stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar and pay tribute to those brave workers taking action defend their fragile democracy and reject the military takeover. The global trade union movement will fight to ensure the release of all those detained and bring an end to the violence and harassment of the people. The perpetrators of the coup must be isolated," said Burrow.
Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers' Federation, said now is the time for the global trade union movement to stand shoulder to shoulder with the workers in Myanmar who continue to protest across the country in defiance against the coup and attempts to stifle dissent by internet blackouts. "In the wake of the military coup we must unite and ramp up pressure on the UN Security Council, governments and corporations around the world to sanction, target and isolate the military regime until we secure the unconditional release of all detainees, the lifting of state of emergency and the return to civilian rule," said Cotton.
The Global Unions signing this joint statement are:
Source: International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates
Union victory in Norway!
2/4/2021: The BWI-affiliated Norwegian Elevator Constructors' Union (HMF) emerged victorious against Schindler, a Swiss multinational company which manufactures escalators, moving walkways, and elevators worldwide.
The union said that the company withdrew all its attempts to undermine the rights of its members, including the reinstatement of its Vice-President, Alexander Jordnes. "This is a complete victory for our union," HMF President Markus Hansen said.
Hansen said that solidarity and support from both the international and domestic levels pressured the company to give in to the union's just demands. "The pressure on the company resulted in its customers choosing other companies instead. Several of its best elevator constructors have also left the company and started working with its competitors in protest of the bad treatment of its shop stewards," he explained.
Hansen said that it was a challenging new experience for the union to lead the campaign amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. "We strengthened our union by rethinking our strategy several times over and maximising the opportunities offered by different social media platforms to communicate with one another. Even with the pandemic, we proved that the labour movement cannot be stopped. Unions will always prevail if we stand together," Hansen said.
On November of last year, HMF's vice president was summarily dismissed by the company after its members refused to use a software application without prior consultations.
As a response, BWI issued an action alert to its affiliates worldwide to protest the company's union-busting activities. It said that the company violated international labour standards long recognised by Norway, particularly International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise and ILO Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining.
New Social Contract: Five workers' demands for recovery and resilience
The ITUC is setting out five key demands from working people to build recovery and resilience, putting people and the environment at the centre of the new social contract.
25-01-2021: Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, outlined the demands during the World Economic Forum, with an ITUC session on the subject taking place at the World Social Forum on the 26 January and a detailed blog on the issues: "The choices made by world leaders and by business in 2021 will either heed the call of workers and civil society to reform the economic model and help create a just and sustainable future or maintain business as usual and see a model of corporate greed entrench inequality, exclusion and despair perpetuating instability for our communities and our planet."
The five demands are:
"Along with the tragic loss of so many lives from the pandemic, almost 500 million jobs have been lost and two billion people are struggling in informal work, including in new internet mediated businesses. People need a New Social Contract that delivers recovery and resilience based on the security that these five critical demands guarantee," said Sharan Burrow.
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.