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AFL-CIO Now Blog

LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns

World Day For Decent Work

Fight for $15...Low Pay is Not OK
Re-Run the Vote: No World Cup Without Workers Rights...
International Trade Union Confederation
Decent Work...
three minute web movie overview of the concept of decent work in 29 languages...International Labor Organization
Making Change at Walmart...
United Food and Commercial Workers
Robin Hood Tax Campaign...
it's not a tax on the people, it's a tax for the people...United States
Fix My Job...Working America AFL-CIO
Warehouse Workers United...
Change to Win Coalition
T-Mobile Workers United...
Communications Workers of America
Let's Get America Working...
International Brotherhood of Teamsters


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.

The Union Edge
Workers Independent News

Amnesty International

American Civil Liberties Union

UNI Global Union supports World Day of Social Justice

20 February 2017:   UNI Global Union, and its 20 million members, support the United Nations World Day of Social Justice and this year's theme, "Preventing conflict and sustaining peace through decent work."

UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings said, "UNI works every day in the cause of social justice because we understand that decent work is at the core of a peaceful and prosperous world. At a time of record levels of inequality, we must do everything we can to promote the rights of migrants and remove the barriers faced by people because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability."

The United Nations' statement released to mark the World Day of Social Justice said, "The pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system's commitment to social justice. The Declaration focuses on guaranteeing fair outcomes for all through employment, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles and rights at work.

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

Trade union rights in Liberia: PSI meets the Ambassador to the UN in Geneva

17 February 2017:   On February 17, PSI Deputy General Secretary, David Boys, Health Officer, Baba Aye, and Trade Union Rights Officer, Camilo Rubiano, met with the Ambassador of Liberia to the UN organizations in Geneva, Mr. Paul Wolokollie Tate, to discuss the situation of Joseph S. Tamba and George Poe Williams, President and General Secretary of NAHWAL, respectively.

It's been 3 years since Joseph and George were dismissed following a nationwide strike against poor working conditions that caused hundreds of deaths amongst health workers fighting against Ebola.

On February 18, 2014, 22 union leaders across the country were fired without any hearing by the Health Minister of Liberia. Following an intervention by nearly all stakeholders, 20 were reinstated, except for Joseph and George, from the the National Health Workers' Association of Liberia (NAHWAL).

PSI has repeatedly requested the reinstatement of Joseph and George and that Liberia amends its legislation in line with ILO Conventions 87 and 98. On 24 March 2016, PSI filed a complaint with the Committee on Freedom of Association of the ILO to denounce the violation of trade union rights in Liberia. Other trade unions have joined the complaint, including ITUC Africa, UNISON, and SEIU.

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

IndustriALL affiliates rally in support of Georgian workers

15.02.2017:   On 14 February, an international solidarity action with workers of the Rustavi Azot chemical plant, and the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia (TUMMCIWG), took place in Rustavi, Georgia.

The rally was held under the banner of IndustriALL Global Union to protest the dismissal of 350 workers from the plant. Representatives of affiliates from Armenia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan participated, and TUMMCIWG received letters of support from trade unions in Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.

Gocha Aleksandriya, deputy chairman of the Georgian Trade Union Confederation, told participants about steps made by unions to resolve the conflict. He said that the government had ignored the company's violation of the law, and that the owner, Efrem Urumashvili, was lobbying in the corridors of power.

Tamaz Dolaberidze, chairman of TUMMCIWG, read letters of solidarity from IndustriALL affiliates and reported on the results of a media investigation on violations of sales procedures at Rustavi Azot.

Vadim Borisov, regional secretary of IndustriALL, stated that Georgia had recently signed an association agreement with the European Union. He said: "This socially irresponsible behaviour by the employer is completely unacceptable because it undermines the basic values of the European social charter and violates ILO conventions 87 and 98."

Gennady Fedynich, chairman of Belarusian Radio and Electronic Industry Workers' Union, warned of the danger of short-term employment contacts: "This system is widespread in Belarus, and is in fact 21st century slavery, because workers depend entirely on the whims of employers."

Eduard Pahlevanyan, chairman of Branch Union of Trade Union Organizations of Miners, Metallurgists & Jewellers of the Republic of Armenia, and Taalajbek Kudusov, member of the Presidium of Mining and Metallurgy Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan, also expressed support for the workers' demands.

Tamaz Dolaberidze attempted to enter the company premises, but he was denied access.

As a result of trade union action, the employer cancelled the scheduled dismissal of another 350 employees. Benefits for the 350 employees already fired were increased from three to four months. However, the union's main demands were ignored:

  • To extend the previously signed collective agreement;
  • To cancel one-year contracts that replaced previous permanent contracts;
  • To sign new contracts in the presence of a union representative.

The owner stated through the Ministry of Labour that there would be no other positive steps. The company appears to be hiding from the union. Union representatives are unable to find a legal address to send official letters. The administration does not accept letters at the director's office, stating that a company is not registered here.

The union will probably only be able to formally interact with the employer in court. The authorities, who act as mediators, seem to unofficially support the employer.

The owner claims that mass lay-offs are due to the high price of natural gas that has made production unprofitable. Instead of negotiating with government about possible tax incentives for saving jobs, the authorities and the owner resolved the situation in the most convenient way, firing workers and shifting the burden onto them and their families.

Kemal Ozkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, stated: "We understand the economic difficulties of the employer, but it is unacceptable that he abandons social dialogue with the union which aims at joint problem solving. Our affiliate in Georgia will struggle to lead the resolution of the conflict in a civilized fashion, and IndustriALL will support it."

Source:  IndustriALL Global Union--IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 600 unions in 140 countries

Solidarity works! Sri Lankan workers vote for union

09.02.2017:   Setting a strong standard for other workers in the Sri Lankan free trade zones, workers at industrial gloves manufacturer ATG voted to establish their union on 7 February.

IndustriALL Global Union has been celebrating a good win for workers this week after the multinational gloves company failed in its attempt to kick out the union from its two factories in Sri Lanka.

IndustriALL Executive Committee member Anton Marcus who heads the FTZ&GSEU union was able to shake hands with the ATG management for the first time on 7 February when the election result became clear. The union was forced by the company to struggle for over two years simply to win the right to bargain on behalf of the workers.

Abuses included intimidation, suspensions, threats, attempts to rig the list of voting workers, and promoting a worker in exchange for her lodging a police complaint against the union leader.

Now that the FTZ&GSEU is affirmed as the lawful bargaining agent at both ATG factories it can start to address the problems of health and safety, sexual harassment and employment conditions. The union is confident that these changes will improve the business performance of ATG. The vote had a 95 per cent turnout and comfortably achieved the required 40 per cent in favour.

International support and solidarity included calling on ATG corporate customers, regional partners, and Sri Lankan politicians. IndustriALL also requested the intervention of the G20 countries' ambassadors to Sri Lanka. The German and the European Union Ambassadors to Sri Lanka played a vital role in demanding a free workplace ballot.

Workers in the other factories of the Katunayake Free Trade Zone do not have the luxury of exercising their right to freely decide on union representation. This ballot was conducted under the spotlight of international and domestic pressure.

IndustriALL General Secretary, Valter Sanches, congratulated the FTZ&GSEU: We won't forget the excellent help from Ambassadors Rohde and Margue, but this win was achieved by the ATG workers standing together in the face of threats and intimidation from their bosses. Let's now look to replicate this victory and change the working conditions in ATG's neighbouring factories.

FTZ&GSEU leader Anton Marcus said: This is also a lesson for the employer to learn, that in the global economy it is not only profit and investments that travel across geographical boundaries, but also worker solidarity and organisational unity.

Source:  IndustriALL Global Union--IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 600 unions in 140 countries

Authorities violently disperse chemical workers in Georgia

03.02.2017:   Workers protesting against their illegal dismissals at the fertilizer plant Rustavi Azot in Georgia suffered broken ribs and other injuries after they were violently removed from the company building by police.

The protest on 2 February, by the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia (TUMMCIWG), an affiliate IndustriALL Global Union, took place outside the management's in support of 350 workers who have been fired illegally. In solidarity with workers' demands for reinstatement, leaders of almost all branch trade unions, members of other unions, students and NGOs joined the protest action.

Frustrated at having no reaction from Rustavi Azot to their protests at the unfair dismissals for almost week, workers decided to enter the management office to get clarifications from the director about the solution to the conflict. Guards used force and tried to prevent protestors from entering the building. Soon after that a big number of police surrounded the building and violence broke out. Eyewitness say the police beat participants disregarding their age or gender.

Some protesters got their ribs broken, and other face and body injuries. The police also beat up journalists who were reporting live from the protest. This is despite the fact that workers and their supporters had started to leave the building.

Later on the same day, a four-hour meeting took place initiated by the Ministry of Labour, with participation of the representatives of dismissed workers, including Irakli Petriashvili, president of Georgian trade union confederation. Commenting on the results of the meeting, Petriashvili said that management refused to fulfil workers' demands and therefore protests would continue.

In January 2017, new management at the Georgian chemical plant, which is the largest fertilizer producer in the Caucasus, began a process of mass dismissals.

On 30 January, production at the plant stopped due to the high price of natural gas. According to information provided by the TUMMCIWG, the dismissals were carried out in violation of the law. According to the trade union the number laid-off could be twice as big if the protests had not taken place. Following the demonstrations, the company stopped further dismissals and announced severance pay of three monthly payments of 500GEL (US$185) to all the dismissed. The offer only came after TUMMCIWG's meeting with the representatives of municipal authorities, Ministry of Labour and chairman of the parliamentary Committee on human rights.

In parallel with the dismissals, Rustavi Azot is breaking the law by forcing remaining workers to sign new contracts seriously undermining their working conditions. Management is threatening to make workers redundant if they do not sign the contract.

TUMMCIWG's chairman, Tamaz Dolaberidze, states: "The management summons the workers and insists they immediately sign a new labour contract, which is a document of five pages in small print. Even its plain reading would take several hours. Proper understanding and consultation with lawyers would probably take a few days. The company doesn't provide workers with this opportunity."

According to Dolaberidze, the new labour contract radically deteriorates the employment status of workers compared to the previous one. For instance, the new contract is valid for only one year, while earlier contracts were open-ended. Workers are also being imposed to carry out new duties not related to their work, and could be fined if they fail to fulfil these new duties.

IndustriALL General Secretary Valter Sanches deplored the violence towards workers, in a letter sent to president of Georgia before the protest on 2 February he stated: "It is imperative that the government of Georgia intervene immediately to guarantee the immediate reinstatement of the 350 workers, who were unlawfully dismissed; demand the cancellation of all the contracts that were signed under duress, and ensure that the new contracts be signed in the presence of a union representative; demand that Rustavi Azot abide by the earlier concluded collective agreement; as well as guarantee the effectiveness and fairness of the mediation process, under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour, which has unfortunately stalled."

Source:  IndustriALL Global Union--IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 600 unions in 140 countries

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