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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.
Turkish court sentences Soma bosses up to 22 years in prison over deadliest mine disaster
13.07.2018: After a four-year judicial process, a local penal court in Turkey has handed down prison sentences to the former management of the Soma mine following the killings of 301 people in the country's worst ever mining disaster in May 2014.
The verdict by the Akhisar court, which is 50km from Soma in western Turkey, was announced on 11 July following a trial lasting three years.
The mine's general manager Ramazan Dogru and technical manager Ismail Adali were sentenced to 22 years and six months in prison, and operations manager Akin Celik and technical supervisor Ertan Ersoy were jailed for 18 years and nine months. The mine's CEO, Can Gurkan, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Alp Gurkan, father of CEO Can Gurkan, and chairman of the Soma Mines Company which owned the mine, was acquitted along with 36 other suspects. Out of 51 suspects on trial, nine other mine managers were given jail terms of six to 11 years. Prosecutors had demanded prison terms of 25 years for each of the 301 victims.
However, families of the victims, civil society and trade unions are angry that the suspects were charged with negligence, rather than murder, which had originally been requested by prosecutors when the trial began in April 2015. The 301 miners died needlessly at the Soma mine due to exposure to carbon monoxide and toxic gasses following an explosion at one of the pits. Reports showed that coal had been smoldering for several days before the 13 May 2014 explosion leading to a buildup of deadly gas.
"Public conscience was not relieved," said the Turkish Trade Unions' Confederation (Turk-Is), to which IndustriALL's affiliate Maden-Is affiliated. Maden-Is is the union representing mineworkers in Soma. "When the reasons and results of the disaster in Soma are analysed, we repeatedly underlined that this was not an accident, but a massacre. All the evidences showed that there was a gross negligence at the level of intent much more than imprudence and carelessness." "Justice in Soma has been hammered," said the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DISK) expressing outrage. "Our pains in Soma are still fresh. It is impossible for us to accept this verdict. We will not forget. We will not lie down. We will not forgive."
A damning official report into the Soma disaster showed that the mine was a death trap. Warning sensors were ignored, safety reports fabricated and ventilation systems faulty, among other severe safety breaches.
"This verdict is completely unacceptable as it is far from expectations of the public opinion given the size of this disaster," said IndustriALL assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan, adding: "It is certain that families of the killed miners will be outraged with this decision. Together with key mining trade unions from around the world, we visited them in their villages, and justice was their chief expectation. But, as the Turkish saying goes - the mountain has brought forth a mouse. IndustriALL Global Union will continue to follow this case until there is real justice."
PSI holds two seminars on tax and trade in São Paulo
11 July 2018: With support from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), the seminars discussed free trade agreements, the new methods employed by transnational companies (TNCs) to "capture" international organisations, corporate tax evasion and prospects for progressive tax reform.
The first event on 3 July focused on free trade agreements and was attended by more than 30 Brazilian trade union leaders. The discussion focused on the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) and the new methods employed by TNCs to "capture" international organisations and examined the current state of negotiations on TISA between the European Union (EU) and Mercosur. Although these issues are not a priority in the current political context in Brazil, affiliates thought the seminar was a good initiative, considering the forthcoming elections and the political uncertainty in the country, which requires the trade unions to adopt a clear position on these issues.
PSI affiliates in Brazil decided to:
Corporate Tax Evasion
On 5 July, participants agreed a plan of action that included practical initiatives and policy guidelines for the next period. They agreed to take a gender approach to tax in all project activities; prioritise the issues of state expenditure and tax exemptions; focus on the state and municipal levels; use the arguments formulated in the seminars in collective bargaining; and conduct at least three case studies in Latin America for use in campaigns.
Participants also agreed that the PSI should use existing materials to produce a short pamphlet on the main components of progressive tax reforms in Latin America. There was also a lot of interest in continuing the discussion on corporate power. Finally, participants identified three countries in the region with the most potential for making progress on tax legislation and agreed to focus efforts on these countries.
Colombia: stop the wave of violence and harassment targeting education unionists!
10.07.2018: Education International supports its affiliate, the Federación Colombiana de Educadores, in denouncing and firmly condemning assassinations and threats targeting Colombian educators, trade unionists, and social leaders.
Several teachers have been assassinated, threatened and targeted by violent groups in Colombia.
Colombia's Human Rights Ombudsman, Carlos Alfonso Negret, has deplored the fact that between 1st January 2016 and 30 June 2018, 311 social leaders and human rights defenders have been killed in the country. In May alone, four teacher unionists in different regions have been killed - Holman Mamián Mamián, in Cauca; Evelia Atencia Pérez and Hernando Manjarrez Escudero, in La Guajira; and Delmayro Reyes González, in Valle del Cauca - while six others have been attacked, resulting in one being wounded, in a truck in Arauca.
Deyanira Ballesta, a teacher from Bolivar, also received a death threat which was recorded, shared online and become a topic of national news. The chilling manly voice tells her: "You have to leave this region, or I will murder you. You know that we have the power to kill whomever we want. Do you understand? I will alert those who are in charge of education that they will have to pick you up dead." Ballesta has since been put under protection and is now in hiding.
On 3 July, six social leaders were killed during the World Cup game Colombia vs. England in Chocó, in Palmar de Varela. Among them were Ana Marãía Cortés, murdered in Cáceres, Antioquia; Luis Barrios Machado, in Palmar de Varela, Atlántico; Felicinda Santamaría in the municipality of Quibdó, Chocó; and Margarita Estupiñÿn in the El Recreo neighborhood, Vaquerío. On 7 July, teacher Frank Darío Rincón was stabbed to death in the center of Pitalito, in Huila.
Deaths still under investigation
In a communiqué dated 26 June, the trade union demands "respect for the life of each and every educator in the country. We vehemently reject these crimes being deployed against teachers as political weapons." Standing in solidarity with the teachers' families and friends, the union categorically rejected the political use of these terrible events. It also explains that "it is a known fact that situations such as trafficking, criminal organisations, regional violence and other actors represent a constant threat for the country's teachers and education institutions." As educators, "we are under constant threat," FECODE deplores. "We are exposed and defenceless."
Stressing that in some cases, the Colombian authorities have already found the perpetrators but have not provided more information on the reasons for these crimes, FECODE further calls on the authorities to investigate these deaths and establish security measures to protect teachers who have been threatened and reminded everyone that "schools are territories of peace".
On 5 July, the United Nations' Office for Colombia also released a statement in which they "vehemently condemn the assassinations of human rights defenders and social leaders." The same day, the Colombian trade union confederation (CUT) released a statement rejecting "these abominable acts," demanding "immediate action from the authorities," and inviting Colombians to join the mobilisations "for peace and life" to be organised on 7 August nationwide "to stop and denounce these waves of violence".
In May 2017, EI sent out an urgent action appeal calling for international solidarity with Colombian educators after an explosive device detonated in front of a FECODE headquarters in Bogotá resulted in significant material damage, both to the headquarters and to neighbouring houses. At that time, Education International had urged the Colombian authorities to deepen the investigation in search of the perpetrators of the attack and propose real and lasting solutions in order to sustain and promote free quality public education. It also stressed that "the Colombian school community deserves that the authorities protect and respect the teaching and education work force as a whole and value their effective contributions to the construction of roads for peace, tolerance, respect and coexistence."
eSwatini: Four Trade Unionists Severely Injured by Police during Peaceful Demonstration
Brussels, 4 July 2018 (ITUC OnLine): More than 500 protestors at a peaceful march organised by the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) last week were brutally dispersed by the police with rubber bullets and stun grenades, simply for raising workers' demands.
The march was organised to deliver a petition to the Deputy Prime Minister's office, calling for the introduction of a minimum wage, amendments to the employment act, forbidding the replacement of workers during strike action, banning of labour brokers, as well as demanding an end to abuses of sugarcane workers.
The police refused access to the main streets to demonstrators, and by using water cannon and tear-gas canisters prevented them from reaching the Deputy Prime Minister's office. They also attacked demonstrators with batons. Four members of TUCOSWA were severely injured and taken to hospital, while one was taken by the police for questioning and later released."We strongly denounce the brutal suppression of this peaceful demonstration. The government of eSwatini should fully align the Public Order Act with the provisions of ILO Convention 87 to ensure respect for freedom of association, and to follow the Code of Conduct which was developed with the assistance of the ILO," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
Swaziland is ranked 4 in the ITUC Global Rights Index. Read the protest letter send by the ITUC to the Prime Minister of eSwatini.
National Women's Network launched in Argentina by FOECYT
3 July 2018: On Thursday June 28th, the National Women's Network was launched in a brand-new meeting room of the Federation of Workers and Employees of Posts and Telecommunications of Argentina, FOECYT. More than 60 women from all over the country met to consolidate the National Network which seeks to confront gender issues and lead the fight towards equality in trade union structures.
The Secretary General of the Federation, Alberto Cejas, who is also the Vice-President of UNI Americas' Post and Logistics sector, opened the meeting and expressed his strong commitment to break through against gender bias and promote growth of the National Network of Women. He also emphasized the will to implement policies favouring equal participation and inclusion. Cejas said, "This isn't just a statement, the Federation is committed to implement all our policies. We need you to help us to help you, do not be afraid. This will be done organically - with the help of this network, we can make it happen for gender equality".
Head of UNI Equal Opportunities Veronica Fernandez Mendez was present to promote the UNI campaigns which are empowering women around the world to break through. Fernandez Mendez explained the strong role of the forty percent women's representation rule in all UNI structures, the Break the Circle campaign against violence, the fundamental need for affiliating more women in the union and training new leaders. Fernandez Mendez said that women are occupying more and more jobs in high positions in trade unions, "We are using these new positions to work together and protect our rights in a more unified manner."
"This new network has been formed to sustain a society with more equality and justice. Together we can put words in to action, together we can make it happen!"
Public service unions stand in solidarity with Nepalese civil servants' rights at regional meeting in Kathmandu
29 June 2018: Public sector trade union representatives from across the Asia Pacific region met from 27-29 June in Kathmandu, Nepal. The meeting is part of the global union federation PSI's five-year strategic planning to achieve a better world for all, one that places people over profit.
In addressing the meeting, PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli stressed that "Workers and their communities around the world are experiencing the negative impacts of globalisation. We are seeing public service provision undermined because governments lack adequate funding for quality public services. Yet at the same time we see multinational corporations making record profits year after year. This shows why we need to ensure, at a global and national level, tax justice laws. Our communities have a right to quality public services so that we can fulfil our fundamental human rights."
Talking of the successful struggles of public services workers, PSI Regional Secretary for Asia Pacific, Kate Lappin, celebrated a union campaign that led to the Government of Philippines ratifying the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 151 on Labour Relations of Public Services Workers, giving public sector workers the right to unionise. In contrast the meeting was deeply concerned to learn of the proposed Civil Servants Bill in Nepal. The proposed Bill would effectively deny public servants the right to organise and bargain collectively. The right to strike is also curtailed in this context.
"Nepal has been the site of the struggle for democracy and unions are pillars of this struggle," said Kate Lappin. "Yet, their rights are under threat. PSI will support its affiliates in Nepal to lobby for the withdrawal of the Bill." A resolution was passed to this effect.
For international members of the delegation, the meeting was an opportunity to understand the working conditions of Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHVs). "FCHVs play a fundamental role to provide basic health services where there are existing healthcare system gaps. Despite being called volunteers, they have targets, reports and their work is supervised. They are the radar of the healthcare system in the community. They deserve their rights as workers and PSI will support and amplify their struggle for justice unconditionally", said Annie Geron, PSI's Asia Pacific Regional Executive Co-Chair. mThe delegation met FCHVs at their work place during a field visit.
Finally, a workshop on Emergency Service Workers discussed the situation of first responders and public emergency workers. Subodh Devkota, PSI Nepal Coordination Committee Chair said, "Public sector workers are sometimes named as heroes when they lose their lives. We do not need heroes, we need workers with dignified lives and working conditions."
To conclude, Pavanelli shared, "In Italy, like in Nepal, we face earthquakes regularly. I am impressed how 3 years after the massive April 2015 earthquake, the reconstruction is so advanced. We need to recognise the efforts of the government, the authorities and the workers that have ensured that lives were saved and reconstruction is taking place."
US Supreme Court Decision a Victory for Corporate Greed
The decision by the US Supreme Court on the "Janus" case on 27 June, which allows public sector workers who are not union members to benefit for free from union-negotiated collective bargaining, is a victory for corporate greed.
28-06-2018: The case is the culmination of a campaign financed by right-wing billionaires such as the notorious Koch brothers, aimed at suffocating unions to drive down wages and working conditions.
"This is a decision that aims to please the rich and powerful, and will further undermine collective bargaining in the US. The one-seat conservative majority in the Supreme Court has made a political judgement intended to undermine unions. It is doubtful that the Supreme Court would force any business to provide services to people for free - unions are being singled out because they stand up for rights and decent living standards and against the corporate greed that is driving unprecedented inequality and fracturing communities and countries," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
Richard Trumka, President of the ITUC's US affiliate the AFL-CIO, said: "In this case, a bare majority of the court, over the vigorous dissent of four justices, has conceded to the dark web of corporations and wealthy donors who wish to take away the freedoms of working people. Until it is overturned, this decision will be a political stain on what is intended to be the most honorable, independent body in the world. But more importantly, it will further empower the corporate elites in their efforts to thwart the aspirations of millions of working people standing together for a better life."
The Janus ruling is an effort to manipulate the rights of working people
27 June 2018: The U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a misguided attack on American public employees in its recent Janus vs. AFSCME Council 31 ruling, overturning legal precedent and long-established labor relations practice.
A decision of this nature will obviously have harmful repercussions for public employees in the United States and beyond, encouraging corporate sponsors to continue their attacks on worker rights around the globe. PSI affiliates around the world stand in solidarity with American public employees who will now redouble their efforts to build even stronger unions and continue their advocacy for quality public services despite the obstacles created by this ruling.
The Janus case is a blatantly political and well-funded attack by a wealthy network of right-wing anti-union "think tanks" to further rig the economic rules against American working people. The billionaire CEOs and corporate interests behind this case, and the politicians who respond to their funding, have teamed up to deliver yet another attack on working people by striking at the freedom of public employees to come together in strong unions. The forces behind this case know that by joining together in strong unions, working people are able to win the power and voice they need to level the economic and political playing field. These corporate forces want to put an end to this and do everything they can to weaken the unions that give power to working people.
The case was started as a clear political scheme by the billionaire governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, to use the courts to attack public service workers. And, in a letter to supporters exposed by The Guardian, the CEO of the corporate-funded State Policy Network (SPN) explains the true intent of their support for the Janus case and their nationwide campaign: to strike a 'mortal blow' and 'defund and defang' America's unions. The background of this case is clear and well established. Since 1977, a Supreme Court case known as Abood has effectively governed labor relations between public sector employees and employers in the United States, allowing employers and employees the freedom to determine labor policies that best serve the public. This new Janus ruling overturns that history and undermines the well-established precedence of the last 40 years.
"After reviewing the history of this case, it is clear that the new Janus decision is an effort to manipulate the rights of working people, prevent them from joining together for better working conditions and diminish their advocacy for quality public services. I know that, despite this decision, American public employees will continue the fight for their rights and will build strength through their unions despite the obstacles that the court has placed in their way. Public employees around the world stand with them." - Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary, PSI
"Unions will always be the most effective force and vehicle to propel working people into the middle class. Despite this unprecedented and nefarious political attack - designed to further rig the rules against working people -- nothing changes the fact that America needs unions now more than ever. We are more resolved than ever to fight like hell to win for our members and the communities they care so much about. AFSCME members don't do this work to get rich. They do it because it's a calling -- and for that service, they deserve respect. They deserve the same freedoms as the CEOs and billionaires who continue to rig the rules against everyone else. The American labor movement lives on, and we're going to be there every day, fighting hard for all working people, our freedoms and for our country." - Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME
"The dissenting justices saw this case for what it really was-a warping and weaponizing of the First Amendment, absent any evidence or reason, to hurt working people. Not only was Abood well within the mainstream of First Amendment law, it has been affirmed six times and applied to other cases upholding bar fees for lawyers and student activity fees at public colleges." - Randi Weingarten, President, AFT
"This decision is yet another example of how billionaires rig the system against working people, but SEIU members won't let the extremists behind this case divide us. We will stay united, help workers who are fighting to form unions, and call on our elected leaders to do everything in their power to make it easier for working people to join together in unions."- Mary Kay Henry, President, SEIU
"The Supreme Court's ruling is at a time when so many Americans are struggling just to make ends meet. The Teamsters and our allies in the labor movement will redouble our efforts to ensure that working men and women have a voice on the job through strong unions." - Jim Hoffa, General President, Teamsters
"The architects of this decision have a far larger goal than just hamstringing public unions and workers. They want to remove any opposition to their agenda of eliminating all protections on public health and safety, in healthcare, environmental pollution, clear air and water, food safety, and workplace standards, that they see as an impediment to their profits and authoritarian power. "Nurses will never be silent in the face of this ruling, or in any other threat to our patients, our members, and our communities," - Bonnie Castillo, Executive Director, NNU
"On behalf of the wealthiest one percent and special interest groups, the Supreme Court has attempted to strike the death knell for public-sector unions, but the workers themselves will ultimately decide their own fate. Workers know the importance of unions in the workplace and they will survive. When union members pay to negotiate a contract for their workplace, everyone who's covered by that contract takes home higher pay and benefits, has greater job security, enjoys improved health and safety standards, and gets help in settling workplace disputes." - J. David Cox Sr., National President, AFGE
"Cette décision de la Cour supréme est une gifle en pleine figure pour le personnel de tout le secteur public des États-Unis : le personnel de l'éducation, de la santé et des services sociaux, des services municipaux, etc.", déplore Louise Chabot, présidente de la CSQ
Unions vow to remain strong despite Janus ruling
27.06.2018: The Supreme Court of the United States just delivered a painful blow to working people and to the unions which stand up for their rights. In a narrow 5 to 4 vote, the justices decided in the Janus v. AFSCME case that public sector unions must use their resources to represent and protect employees who are not members and who do not contribute to the union.
This ruling is the culmination of decades of attacks on working people by corporate CEOs, the wealthiest 1% and the politicians that do their bidding to rig the economy in their favor.
In the United States, public sector unions are required by law to represent all workers in their unit even if they are not members. Before this ruling, non-members had to pay a fair-share fee, less than full union dues, for the protections and benefits they received from the union. Post Janus, non-union employees or "free-riders" will still receive protections and services, but do not have to pay one cent for these benefits. The case is a clear attempt to cripple the power of unions, by slashing their financial resources.
The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is a large public sector union, but the impact of the decision will go far beyond AFSCME and its members. Affected unions will include the two US affiliates of EI, the AFT and the NEA.
"We stand in solidarity with our union brothers and sisters in the U.S. as they face the corporate interests who want to silence them. We know you will stand strong and continue to raise your collective voice," stated EI's General Secretary, David Edwards. "The Janus case is not just about the United States. Around the world unions use our collective voice to advocate for policies that benefit all working people. That includes education professionals collectively- fighting for quality public education open to all," he added.
"This is more than a court case, it's about CEOs and billionaires who have spent their money and influence trying to destroy the collective power of unions. They want to drive down wages, defund public education and silence democratic voices. We will challenge them at every turn."
Americans are increasingly working longer hours for less money and fewer benefits, despite being more productive than ever. Too often they have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. No matter how hard they work, many are finding it more and more difficult to get by and provide for their families. This is true for hundred of thousands of teachers and support personnel who in many cases barely make a living wage.
The Janus case is not an accident. It was financed by powerful economic interests who know that when working people have the freedom to speak up together through unions, progress is made that benefits everyone. Despite these attacks, unions in the United States vow to remain steadfast and to renew their efforts to organise. The power unions represent for working people has been recently on display in West Virginia, Arizona and other areas, where tens of thousands of teachers stood their ground to win changes for themselves and their students.
EI welcomes the G20 focus on the contributions of education
22.06.2018: For the first time in its decade-long existence, the G20, under the Argentinian Presidency, will focus on education. EI has been asked to contribute to the preparatory work of the education minister's working group.
The G20, an assembly of governments created 10 years ago to deal with the financial/economic crisis, will, for the first time, focus on education and include a meeting of Education Ministers in early September. The government of Argentina chairs this year's G20.
EI has been invited to help shape the agenda for the discussions. At the most recent working group meeting, in Geneva, EI was asked to present policy recommendations on "Teacher Training: Professional Development. Skilling and reskilling". The group is also using and making available the EI publication from 2016, "Global Trends in TVET: a framework for social justice"
The OECD provides policy back up for the G20 process. In addition to its involvement with the working group on education, EI is involved in this process through its cooperation with the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC). Joint work helps to address both employment and education issues, which are linked in the G20 work, as well as to ensure that there is a comprehensive and coherent trade union approach.
The Argentinian Presidency will focus on the future of work, infrastructure for development, and a sustainable food future. In the dialogue process, EIs recommendations on the education and training aspects of the future of work will include the future of the teaching profession.
The G20 addresses broad policy issues as well as specific, timely questions. EI will stress the need to implement the sustainable development goals and, especially, goal 4 on education. Although employment aspects and the future of work are important, there are many other elements of education that are relevant to the work of the G20, including building cohesive, tolerant and more equal societies, peace, integration, social justice, and active citizenship.
IMF Should Embrace UN Special Rapporteur's Report on Social Protection
Brussels, 20 June 2018: (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC has expressed support for the findings and recommendations of the report on "The IMF and Social Protection" written by Philip Alston, the UN's Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. Mr Alston will present his report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week.
Noting the IMF's financial power and influence, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: "The Special Rapporteur is right on the mark when he states that real progress in expanding social protection to the majority of the world's population that has none will not happen unless the IMF consistently promotes the creation of fiscal space for social protection."
The ITUC agrees with the report's analysis that too often the IMF has been involved in social protection issues only with the objective of limiting fiscal costs. This focus explains the IMF's frequent hostility to universal protection and its preference for very narrowly targeted programmes, which deprive many low-income households of benefits and weaken political support for social protection.
Alston's report also points out the IMF's limited cooperation with the ILO and other UN agencies specialised in social protection, and the Fund's failure to commit unambiguously to all the Sustainable Development Goals, most notably SDG 1.3 to implement nationally appropriate social protection systems for all, including social protection floors.
"The ITUC endorses the Special Rapporteur's recommendation that the IMF should 'engage seriously and systematically with the Social Protection Floor Initiative of the United Nations, ILO and WHO", said Burrow.
In light of the IMF's initiation of a process to adopt a new "strategic framework" on social protection by February 2019, the ITUC calls on the Fund to embrace the key recommendations of the Special Rapporteur's report: (i) work in support of attainment of the SDGs on social protection; (ii) drop its resistance to universal coverage; and (iii) work in cooperation with other agencies and organisations that support expanded social protection.