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Dissent: Belabored Podcast #169: Shutting it Down, with Sara Nelson   |   Common Dreams: So How's Your Tax Refund? Thanks to GOP Tax Scam, Big Banks Made Extra $28 Billion Last Year   |   Working in These Times: "Out Here Because I Love Teaching": The Oakland Teachers Strike, In Photos   |   Think Progress: U.S. banks raked in record profits thanks to GOP tax bill   |   NNU: Nurses Applaud Introduction of Federal Legislation to Prevent Workplace Violence in Health Care, Social Service Settings   |   Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO: Now That Government Is Funded, Here Is What Workers Want to See   |   Common Dreams: Flooding State Capitol, West Virginia Teachers Save Public Education From Privatization Scheme   |   Working in These Times: Labor Unrest Is Erupting on Honduran Plantations--And Rattling the Global Supply Chain   |   ILRF: Future of Fashion: Worker-Led Strategies   |   The Stand: After Janus, unions got even stronger in state   |   Confined Space: Today in Workplace Safety: Imperial Sugar and Kleen Energy   |   Workday Minnesota: The Fight Against Labor Trafficking Expands

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LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns

Campaign for Postal Banking

People Over Profit...
Public Services International

Justice for Fishers - Fishers' Rights Network...
International Transport Workers Federation

Pharmacare: A Plan for Everyone...
Canadian Labour Congress

U.S. Mail Not for Sale...
American Postal Workers Union and National Association of Letter Carriers

Fight for $15...Low Pay is Not OK

One Fair Wage...
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United

Committee for Better Banks...
coalition of labor, community and consumer advocacy organizations

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

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.

Amnesty International

American Civil Liberties Union

Bangladesh: long struggle wins collective bargaining rights for workers at transnational confectioner Perfetti Van Melle

22 February 2019:   After 160 days of struggling for recognition and overcoming management efforts to undermine the right to freedom of association, the union of workers at Dutch-based global confectioner Perfetti Van Melle was granted legal collective bargaining status on February 17.

Workers and their union representatives came under sustained management pressure after a large majority of workers at the company's Gazipur factory formed the Perfetti Van Melle BD Pvt. Ltd. Employees' Union and applied for legal registration of their organization on November 11 last year. With strong support from the IUF in the region and internationally, the union secured legal registration on January 14 and continued the fight for collective bargaining rights.

The union is now preparing to bargain a first ever collective agreement for workers at the factory, and has warmly thanked all those who supported them in their long, tough struggle.

Source:   International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations--IUF uniting 10 million workers in 421 affiliated organizations in 128 countries

International support for Indian unions over destruction of worker protections

Brussels, 22 February 2019 (ITUC OnLine):   The ITUC has delivered a letter of protest to India's Brussels Embassy over plans by the Modi government to eviscerate the country's labour legislation, leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation and depriving them of rights. Some 200 million workers took part in a nationwide protest strike on 8 and 9 January against the government's plans, which would remove labour-law protections from tens of millions of workers, impose heavy restrictions on workers' organising and collective bargaining rights, expose workers to excessive working hours and to dismissal without proper recourse, and weaken laws aimed at stopping child labour.

"Prime Minister Modi is turning India's labour laws into a blank cheque for multinationals and India's super-rich. No self-respecting government should allow the American Chamber of Commerce and other corporate lobby groups to write the laws that should protect workers. If Mr Modi won't govern in the interests of the Indian people, then he should go. With 1% of the population controlling nearly 60% of the wealth, India is already one of the most unequal countries in the world, and these laws would make the gap even wider," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Following the January strike, India's ten major trade union centres, including the ITUC-affiliated INTUC, HMS and SEWA, have pledged to work to defeat the Modi government in forthcoming national elections unless the government abandons its plans and enters constructive talks about reforms that would actually improve the situation of Indian workers and genuinely tackle unemployment and guarantee a national minimum wage of US$250 per month.

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

Collective bargaining the cornerstone of our democracies and trade unions

21 February 2019:   At the 2nd UNICARE World Conference in Rome, trade union delegates from around the world reiterated their demand to establish or reinforce collective bargaining for all care workers as a cornerstone of basic workers' rights.

According to UNI Europa Regional Secretary Oliver Roethig, trade unions have taken collective bargaining for granted for far too long. "Collective bargaining is one of our biggest assets - the key element to stablising our societies and democracies," says Roethig. "We need to use our collective strength through collective bargaining, global framework agreements and social partnerships to push multinationals at the national and international level."

"We need to organise, and we need to talk about collective bargaining. Digitalisation is changing the labour market at a frantic pace. At this unique place and time, we are presented with the opportunity to ensure that the labour rights of all workers are enshrined in this new era through collective bargaining."

Pierangelo Raineri, the General Secretary of FIST-CISL talked about the collaborations which formed the foundations for strong collective bargaining in the Italian care sector. "We've always had strong relationships with employers and use them to collectively bargain," explains Raineri. "Together with other organisations, we can make sure that there are provisions for some of the things we value most: lifelong learning, training, safe working conditions and fair wages." In Italy, this has been made possible by creating bilateral instruments and agreement between employers and unions who can safeguard the welfare of workers.

Thanks to a long history of trade union activism Japanese workers cannot be ignored. The 1.7 million strong UA Zensen, which represents over 82,000 workers in the health sector has established a good relationship between social partners and achieved strong collective bargaining agreements. Masanobu Furukawa from UA Zensen told delegates that with the exploding elderly population in Japan, the need for collective bargaining agreements in the health sector is dire. Overcrowded care homes, burnout, stress and dangerous conditions are rife and unions are looking for solutions. The relationships built up through collective bargaining are a way to make sure that workers lives are improved.

Katha Fortier, from Canadian UNI affiliate UNIFOR, told the UNICARE conference that their multisector union has made its collective power felt by running a campaign together with other unions to help organise hospital workers. Through innovative social media campaigns such as the "Six-Minute Challenge" (a challenge asking people to try and get ready in the same six-minute period that care workers have to get their patients ready every day), UNIFOR has been able to galvanise public support for care workers against the might of for-profit organisations and the local government.

Jean Piet Bauwens from SETCA BBTK Belgium explained that due to a very high union density of over 50 %, trade unions have been able to sign collective agreements at the national, regional, sectoral and company level. This has ensured that workers' voices are heard and agreements around stable schedules, maximum working hours and minimum leave have brought hope to workers.

Source:  UNI Global Union--UNI represents more than 20 million workers from over 150 different countries

International Labour Organisation - 50 for Freedom

Malta has become the 30th country worldwide to ratify the ILO Protocol on Forced labour, thereby committing to take effective measures to prevent all forms of forced labour, including trafficking in persons, protect victims and ensure their access to justice and compensation.

The Government of Malta has ratified the legally-binding treaty that requires countries to take new measures to tackle forced labour and modern slavery with a keen focus on protection, prevention and compensation.

"As the International Labour Organisation (ILO) celebrates its Centenary, we are faced with the realisation that the work and values that the organisation stands for remain relevant and applicable more so in today's world", Ambassador Olaph Terribile, Permanent Representative of Malta to the UN Office and other International Organizations in Geneva said. "Malta shall continue to seek and promote the enhancement of labour conditions both at a national level as well as within the appropriate multilateral platforms, confident in the belief that decent work is undeniably linked to sustainability and prosperity", he added.

The Government of Malta has taken significant measures to develop the legal and institutional framework for combatting trafficking in persons, including by criminalizing all forms of trafficking as well as forced labour, with penalties of four to 12 years imprisonment. Malta has also strengthened its efforts towards the protection of victims of trafficking in persons by enacting the "Victims of Crime Act" in April 2015, which includes provisions regarding access to assistance services and compensation. Moreover, the Anti-Human Trafficking Monitoring Committee was set up in 2011 for drawing up and monitoring the implementation of anti-trafficking policies. A National Referral Mechanism has also been active in Malta since 2013 and is mainly involved in the identification of victims or potential victims of trafficking.

The ILO Director-General, Mr. Guy Ryder, welcomed the step: "With the ratification of the Protocol, Malta once again confirms its commitment to promoting and implementing fundamental rights and principles at work".

This ratification supports the effective promotion of the ILO's Decent Work Agenda and achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Target 8.7 to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour, and represents a significant contribution to mark ILO's centenary. The ILO estimates that about 24.9 million people worldwide are victims of forced labour, with 16 million people exploited in the private sector in activities such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million in forced labour imposed by state authorities. The ILO also estimates that this exploitation generates some US$150 billion a year in illicit profits.

In November 2017, during the Global Conference on child labour and forced labour in Argentina, the European Union pledged to "promote actively swift ratification of the Forced Labour Protocol among EU members". Malta is the 14th EU member state to ratify the ILO Protocol on Forced Labour.

Source:  Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, 50 for Freedom Campaign

Contact centre workers launch the first new Albanian labour union in more than 80 years

  • The union represents the 30,000-worker contact centre sector-one of the fastest growing segments of the Albanian economy
  • The workers, who provide customer service for companies like Amazon, Apple, and Lottomatica in the Italian market, were joined by Italian telecoms unions at the launch
  • This breakthrough in Albania is the latest sign of a trade union resurgence in Central Europe

Tirana, Albania, February 18-   Albanian contact centre workers who provide customer service for some of the world's biggest companies-have created the country's first new trade union since 1939, before the start of the Second World War. The union, called the National Union of Contact Centers - "Solidarity", represents the 30,000-worker-and-growing Albanian contact centre sector, which primarily services Italian-language markets.

Workers held a foundation assembly last night to launch the union and filed papers with the Albanian courts this morning to legally establish it. Contact centres are increasing their footprint in the Albanian economy, and it is estimated that 7 percent of formalized workforce is employed in the Italian-language contact centres. "We are the voice that customers hear when they need support, and now, with our union, we have a voice at our jobs," said Teleperformance worker leader. "Forming our new union is a historic step towards raising standards in our industry, and our employers should immediately begin negotiating a sector-wide collective agreement."

Citing issues such as degrading working conditions, arbitrary account assignment, and unjust disciplinary practices, contact centre employees at French outsourcing giant Teleperformance helped launch the sector-wide organising campaign in 2018. Teleperformance is the largest contact centre employer globally, and in Albania, more than 2,000 of its employees provide outsourced customer service for companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Lottomatica. The company was previously fined by the Albanian labour ministry after workers notified authorities about incomplete social security payments.

Other key employers in the sector include Alba Call and IDS.

The workers' organising efforts were supported Albanian non-governmental organization the Institute for Critique and Social Emancipation (ICSE) and UNI Global Union, a federation of 20 million service workers in 150 countries.

"Given the rapid growth of the contact centres in Albania, we have to make sure that these new jobs have good working conditions and pay a living wage. We cannot let global outsourcing companies like Teleperformance undermine standards for Albanian workers," said ICSE spokesperson Bora Mema. "Now, we call on the employers to bargain a fair sector-wide agreement with workers' union."

"The globalisation of services should not mean a global race to the bottom, and this new union in Albania will have a ripple effect throughout Europe and throughout the world," said UNI Global Union spokesperson Teresa Casertano.

Leaders from Italian telecommunications unions SLC-CGIL and FISTEL-CISL stood with the Albanian counterparts at the launch. "We can no longer only think about Italian contact centre workers and Italian working conditions because this is a global industry. Workers' problems in Albania and workers' problems in Italy are closely tied together, and a multinational approach is the only way we will solve these issues," said Marco Del Cimmuto and Giorgio Serao for Italian unions SLC-CGIL and FISTEL-CISL.

Source:  UNI Global Union--UNI represents more than 20 million workers from over 150 different countries

Seafarers stand united in the Arab World

18 Feb 2019:   Seafarers calling in Arab world ports will receive greater support and assistance following a commitment to ongoing education for affiliated unions by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF).

In early February, the ITF with the ITF Arab World regional office, organised a four day seminar in Tangiers, Morocco, bringing together representatives from affiliated unions in Morocco, Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Sudan and Tunisia. The seminar aimed to strengthen and enhance the capacity in the region to provide greater assistance to seafarers calling in Arab World ports and to explain the benefits of collective bargaining for ITF affiliated unions who organise seafarers.

"Seafarers' requests for assistance in the Arab World region is increasing so the ITF is focussed on adding financial and educational support to affiliated unions to be better able to support seafarers calling in Arab World ports," said Steve Trowsdale, ITF Inspectorate Coordinator. In 2017, the ITF handled 79 cases in the region and collected more than $600,000 USD in owed wages. In 2018, the ITF dealt with more than 100 cases following requests from crew and collected wages back claims of almost $2,000,000 USD.

"The recent seminar was necessary to ensure that all ITF contacts in the region have full knowledge and are updated on the Maritime Labour Convention and other skills required to provide quality assistance to seafarers calling in the region's ports, particularly taking account of the difficulties in dealing with abandoned cases - a notorious practice in Arab ports," said Mohamed Arrachedi, ITF Arab World Network Coordinator.

"The seminar is just one part of a strong signal to the maritime industry that the ITF and its affiliated unions in the Arab World stand together with the rest of the world's seafarers, and as a result are better prepared to respond to all kinds of abuses and bad practices. We stand united to send a clear and strong message that there is no place in the Arab World for abuse of seafarers calling in our ports," said Arrachedi.

A second seminar is due to take place in June in Beirut, Lebanon, which will bring together participants from Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Oman and Jordan.

Source:  International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing 19.7 million transport workers in 670 unions from 140 countries

Battle for Australian seafarers jobs spreads globally

12 Feb 2019:   The fight to defend Australian seafarers is spreading internationally as Canadian unions today joined to rally in solidarity to support their Australian counterparts who are battling to have legislation implemented at home to protect their jobs.

On the back of the recent sacking at sea of Australian seafarers by BHP and BlueScope facilitated by the Morrison government, workers and the Maritime Union of Australia have set up a 'Save Australian Shipping' jobs embassy on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra. Live-streamed to the Canberra gathering from rallies across Canada, Canadian seafarers and dockers collectively called on the Australian government to enact cabotage laws that will ensure domestic maritime workers are protected while working in their domestic waters.

"Today's demonstration shows the strength of seafarers across the globe," said James Given, chair of the ITF Cabotage Task Force and president of the Seafarers' International Union of Canada (SIU of Canada). "Whether from Australia, Canada or elsewhere, we are the brothers and sisters of the sea, and we fight to protect our own." "Earlier today we met with the Australian High Commission and gave them a clear message to take back to their government: Australian waters, Australian jobs. The world is now watching, this isn't just in Australian anymore, this is now on our shores and we're going to take it across the world," said Given.

The SIU of Canada joined by the ILA and CUPE 375 on the east coast, and the ILWU Canada on the west coast, demonstrated in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver to show support for Australian seafarers. The protests were held in conjunction with rallies held in Canberra, Melbourne and Port Kembla. The Canadian unions collectively called on the Australian government to enact cabotage laws that will ensure domestic maritime workers are protected.

Last month, 80 Australian seafarers were laid off without notice from two vessels that carried iron ore from Port Hedland in Western Australia to steelworks in Port Kembla in favour of cheaper foreign labour. Without cabotage laws, these practices are perfectly legal, and maritime workers are concerned layoffs will continue. In January, a delegation from Australia visited Canada to learn about Canada's domestic maritime policy, which is regarded as one of the best in the world. The unfortunate situation in Australia demonstrates the importance of ensuring these laws are protected across the globe.

"The Canadians have just met with the Australian High Commission (in Canada) and they sent a message loud and clear that this is an international struggle and seafarers the world over are uniting in standing up to fight for their rights to work in their own domestic industries. We're here in Canberra today to send that message to the politicians and to the Morrison Government loud and clear who are responsible for the sacking of these workers behind me, in collaboration with BHP and BlueScope," said Warren Smith MUA assistant national secretary.

"They (BHP and BlueScope) have invested in areas where you don't pay taxes, where you've got no legal rights, where you've got no labour rights - We're fighting for (those workers) too, and their right to work in their own country, in their own shipping lines, on their own roads, in their own trucks, in their own manufacturing. It's not a nationalist thing, it's the right of Australians, of every Australian, to recognise and be due the respect as the people who built this wealth of this country," said Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and MUA national secretary.

"This is a turning point for us in this country. We want to build a country of fairness, a country that makes things, a country where big corporations - pay their way, a country of full employment, of universal healthcare. Only one group is going to deliver that and that is the working men and women," said Crumlin.

Source:  International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing 19.7 million transport workers in 670 unions from 140 countries

Over 11,600 Bangladesh garment workers lose jobs and face repression

11.02.2019:   A massive wave of protesting garment workers demanding an increase of minimum wages swept across Bangladesh' garment industry in December 2018 and January 2019. State repression following the protest has resulted in arrests and mass terminations of workers in more than a hundred garment manufacturing units.

According to an estimate provided by the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC), the national coordinating body of affiliates of IndustriALL Global Union, over 11,600 workers have lost their jobs. Many of them, particularly senior grade workers, were forcefully made to resign, for the companies to avoid paying higher wages and social security benefits. The terminations came in the wake of marginal wage increases announced after protests by garment workers.

Employers and the police have filed cases against over 3,000 unidentified workers and about 70 workers have been arrested, some of them released on bail. Earlier this year, one worker was killed and many injured in the protests. Still weeks after the protests, many workers fear being arrested on false charges. Large numbers of workers have faced threats of physical violence by hired goons if they continue to demand higher wages. It is difficult for terminated workers to find new employment, as the biometric data linked to their employment records are used to identify workers and deny employment, based on their involvement in trade union activities and protests.

Valter Sanches, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary said: "We are shocked to see the false cases, arrests, terminations and violent threats against workers unleashed by the employers and the state machinery. "Employers and brands need to end the climate of fear among workers and establish a work environment which respects workers' right to freedom of association and effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining."

Salauddin Shapon, secretary general of IBC, said: The arrests targeted union leaders and office bearers with the tacit support of employers in order to cripple union activities. The harassment needs to stop immediately. Employers and the government should withdraw all false cases against workers, and all unjust terminations and suspensions should be withdrawn. Employers should pay wages as announced by the government."

Terminated and suspended workers were working for companies producing for global brands including H&M, Inditex, KiK, Tchibo, Voegele, LIDL, Inditex, Mango, Next, Matalan, VF, Takko, ALDI, Marks & Spencer, Puma, Espirit, Wal Mart, JC Penny, Tesco, Stanley Stella and many others.

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

Algeria-independent unions challenge repression

11 February 2019:   Independent trade unions in Algeria continue their long fight for rights in the face of ongoing repression. On February 3, police forcefully broke up a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Employment, Labour and Social Security by independent unions, including the IUF-affiliated SNATEG, demanding the reinstatement of trade union representatives dismissed from their jobs at the state electricity utility SONELGAZ. Four demonstrators were arrested and held but later released.

On December 27, 2018, police dispersed a demonstration in central Algiers, arresting over a dozen representatives from 3 independent unions, including SNATEG.

Since 2017 SNATEG has campaigned for the reinstatement of nearly 50 union members and representatives dismissed from their jobs at SONELGAZ. Over the course of the campaign, some of them have been allowed to return to work at a lower pay grade provided they dropped all claims and pledged in writing to renounce their union membership. SNATEG continues to demand the unconditional reinstatement of 11 union leaders who have refused the blackmail, at the cost of blacklisting and extreme hardship. SNATEG leaders, including the president and general secretary, collectively face years of prison time after being repeatedly convicted for 'defaming' SONELGAZ in farcical legal proceedings.

The unions are also calling on the government to implement the repeated recommendations of the ILO to cease its attacks on independent union organizations and respect the right of all workers in Algeria to organize independently of the state-controlled union organizations.

Source:   International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations--IUF uniting 10 million workers in 421 affiliated organizations in 128 countries

Hakeem saved: A historic moment for the sport and human rights movement

11 February 2019:   The World Players Association welcomes the news that Hakeem al-Araibi has been released from a Thai prison today, following the withdrawal of the Bahrain Government's extradition request.

We are overjoyed that the Thai court has acknowledged that there was no case for Hakeem to answer. This is an historic moment for the sport and human rights movement, which so many have been building for the past three years. We will not rest until Hakeem is safely returned to Melbourne and reunited with his wife and football family, particularly those at Pascoe Vale FC, whose support has been unwavering.

Hakeem al-Araibi stood a chance of survival because he is a football player who has the unrelenting support of his union, Professional Footballers Australia. As a human rights defender, he is part of a movement which has been working to embed human rights in sport.

We would like to thank every person involved in securing Hakeem's release, led by Craig Foster, and including Professional Footballers Australia, the Australian Government and the Consulate Staff in Thailand, the ACTU, Football Federation Australia, Football Victoria, FIFPro, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, BIRD, GIDHR, the Sport and Rights Alliance, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, the many professional player associations and affiliates of World Players, football players and fans from all over the world and, of course, Hakeem's legal team in Thailand led by Nadthasiri Bergman. We also thank FIFA and the International Olympic Committee for making it clear that the only permissible solution to this matter was Hakeem's safe return to Australia in accordance with international law.

Craig Foster has been tireless in his advocacy and diplomacy. He is a leader of immense intellect and character. We look forward to continuing to work with Craig as the campaign has not finished with Hakeem's return. The fact that Hakeem has had to endure more than 70 horrific days in unlawful and unjust detention highlights how much work still needs to be done to ensure global sport is a force for good, not just for profit and political gain. There are many questions arising from this ordeal which must be answered and we will not stop until they are.

Source:  Brendan Schwab, Executive Director, World Players Association, UNI Global Union, Nyon, Switzerland

Brazilian metalworkers announce global action against General Motors' threats

08.02.2019:   Brazilian metalworkers came up with a plan of action at their meeting in São Paulo on 1 February. They agreed to take global action against the threats made by General Motors and to participate in campaigns in support of retirement and the victims of the Brumadinho dam disaster.

Leaders from all of the unions within the Brazilian Metalworkers' Movement (O movimento Brasil Metalúrgico), uniting all the federations, unions and confederations of metalworkers of Brazil including IndustriALL affiliates CNM/CUT and CNTM/Força Sindical, agreed on a plan of action to protect the rights of metalworkers at carmakers and throughout the supply chain and to support the working class as a whole. The Movement was formed in 2017 with the aim to defend workers' rights and fight against precarious work among others.

One of the key decisions was to organize a global day of union action against the threats made by General Motors (GM), with unions in Canada and the United States invited to take part. Even though sales are on the rise, GM leaders issued a memo threatening to shut down operations in South America unless they could find ways to return to profit.

Workers at the GM plant in Gravataí recently led a demonstration condemning the cost-cutting measures put forward by the company, which include a reduction in the wage floor and a 44-hour work week. At the meeting, union leaders discussed these threats to undermine workers' rights. They also talked about the impact of the blackmail that GM had conducted in the United States and Canada when it announced the closure of five plants across the two countries.

Members of the Brazilian Metalworkers' Movement also decided to publish a newsletter to inform people of their struggle against the threats made by GM and other manufacturers. In addition, they agreed to support other campaigns, such as the demonstration of solidarity with the families of the victims of the Brumadinho tragedy on 7 February, and the national day in support of retirement scheduled for 20 February.

The discussions were chaired by Mónica Veloso, vice president of CNTM and co-chair of the IndustriALL Global Union women's committee. She said that it was essential to reclaim respect for the working class in order to face these intensely aggravating times. Finally, members of the Movement agreed to set up a group that would come up with a proposal for a national collective employment agreement to help protect workers and their rights.

IndustriALL's general secretary, Valter Sanches, joined the meeting via video call and said: "GM is blackmailing unions. We are going to coordinate a global struggle with unions in Canada and the United States in order to show solidarity at this time. We'll make sure that unions worldwide take action against this blackmail."

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

Belgium: Massive student rally on climate change

08.02.2019:   Belgian teacher unions have declared their support for the young people who have been demonstrating in the streets of Belgium - and internationally - every Thursday for nearly a month to demand that decision-makers take urgent measures to tackle climate change.

CSC-Enseignement: Students provide valuable lesson

The community committee of the CSC-Enseignement union saluted the fact that "in the last three weeks, a number of students have demonstrated on Thursdays, calling on authorities to bring in radical measures to combat climate change. On 10 January 3,000 of them took part, on 17 January there were between 12,000 and 15,000 of them, and on 24 January 35,000 took to the streets. The success of these demonstrations gives us cause for satisfaction, for several reasons." On 31 January, 30,850 young demonstrators were again involved in climate-related protests in numerous cities across Belgium.

The Belgian teachers union expressed delight at "the maturity of these young people, who have taught us a valuable lesson", which was "far removed from the lack of action by certain politicians". In addition, the organisation noted that "while the movement originated in the north of the country, it expanded to the south from the second demonstration onwards. Unity between the forces of progress on fundamental issues is therefore still possible in this country, much to the displeasure of the separatists and confederalists."

"At a time when there is much talk, quite rightly, of the importance of citizenship education," continued the CSC-Enseignement, "here is a great example of it being put into effect on the ground. What could be more citizen-like than collectively getting to grips with a problem that affects us all, particularly them?"

The CSC-Enseignement has therefore called on all teachers to "support any possible action on the part of their pupils. We hope, at the very least, that no young demonstrators will receive punishment of any kind for their activism. We are hopeful that the movement will expand even further so that the courageous measures needed can be taken to protect the common good, which has been abused for far too long by our economic system, which places profit above all else, and by the inconsiderate exploitation of natural resources."

The students who make up the Youth for Climate movement intend to continue their demonstrations every Thursday until the Belgian elections in May. Eventually, actions of this type could be organised throughout the country, as the "Youth for Climate" network is currently spreading - towards Wallonia in particular.

ESU: Education and sustainability go hand in hand

The European Students' Union (ESU) is of the firm belief that "education and sustainability go hand in hand" and its policy is, therefore, aligned with the objective of these school walkouts.

As stated in the body's latest resolution on climate change, European decision-makers must make a substantial effort to build a more sustainable society. The ESU said that it was "terrified to see that, instead of standing by the deadline of 2030 set by the Paris Declaration, the EU seems to have unambitiously postponed reaching their goals to 2050."

Its members were "also disappointed that, within the areas the EU has highlighted as essential to achieving a climate-neutral economy, education is not mentioned at all. Education is both a catalyst for research and innovation, as well as a precondition of access to social rights and fairness. Both furthering climate change awareness and empowering citizens to stand together against climate change can be achieved through formal, non-formal and informal education."

Consequently, the ESU was delighted "to see students coming together in the name of democracy and the environment. Students represent the current and future generations, and so it is crucial that we act as catalysts for change, especially as regards these issues, at a time where the decision-making authorities appear to differ on their importance and urgency."

EI: Role of education and research in leading the debate on climate change is particularly important

For its part, Education International (EI), during its 6th World Congress in 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa, adopted a resolution on education unions mobilising on climate change.

In it, EI and its member organisations recognised that "human-induced climate change has serious environmental, economic and social consequences for all countries and all peoples and represents one of the most serious global challenges facing governments and civil society in the 21st century." They also confirmed "the particularly important role of education and research in leading the debate on climate change, particularly in ensuring that the debate takes place on the basis of sound, scientifically based information."

The resolution noted that "members of EI-affiliated education unions have an important role to play in educating students about the causes and the effects of climate change, and the necessary structural changes for the transition to low greenhouse-gas production and distribution systems, and in implementing carbon emission reduction measures in education institutions, particularly in the more energy-intensive higher education and research sector."

For that reason, the document encouraged "all member organisations to raise awareness of environmental issues by demanding that the curricula of all courses in educational institutions include specific sessions on climate change, and by urging all educators to teach future generations about the importance of sustainable development, bio-diversity and climate change through awareness-raising with regard to indigenous ecosystems."

EI, at its Congress in 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, reaffirmed the vital connection between education and sustainable development in the environment. It adopted a resolution on "Education for sustainable development".

EI supports the "Youth for Climate" movement, as well as global campaigns and initiatives by international union bodies and intergovernmental organisations to promote a transition to industries based on renewable energy produced at local level and which create environmentally and socially sustainable jobs with fair and equitable working conditions.

Source:  Education International--EI uniting 32.5 million trade union members in 400 organizations in 170 countries and territories

Zimbabwe: key education unions embark in joint action to defend teachers' conditions

04.02.2019:   For the first time ever, the two largest teacher unions in Zimbabwe have come together to defend the teaching profession and call for a teachers' strike to obtain a salary increase from the government.

In a joint statement signed and dated 31 January, the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) General Secretary Tapson Nganunu Sibanda and the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA) General Secretary Raymond Majongwe have called for industrial action. They deplore the lack of any real possibility to engage in dialogue with public authorities to solve issues raised by their unions' members, including the erosion of purchasing power and the increase of prices of basic commodities and services.

They also deeply regret that the government is only "offering meagre salary adjustment" and hardly increasing allowances, which they compare to "a slap on the face of our membership as they are far from addressing the economic challenges faced".

Noting that "the industrial dispute has escalated without any final resolution", as well as "the need to restore the teachers' dignity and to enable teachers to be empowered in every aspect of their lives by obtaining salaries which are decent and above the poverty line", the union leaders have called on their members to exercise their right to strike and not report to work as of 5 February.

Source:  Education International--EI uniting 32.5 million trade union members in 400 organizations in 170 countries and territories

Société Générale renews global agreement with UNI Global Union

Paris, 04.02.19:   Société Générale and UNI Global Union renewed their global agreement at a ceremony in Paris today. Christy Hoffman, UNI Global Union General Secretary and the Société Générale Group's Director of Human Resources, Caroline Guillaumin signed the agreement, which deepens the bank's commitments to labour and human rights.

The renewed agreement applies to all the Société Générale Group's entities and its 147,000 staff worldwide and explicitly addresses the role of UNI in the company's due diligence process. The renewed agreement builds on the three-year agreement signed in 2015 which was the first of its kind in the French banking sector.

UNI Global Union General Secretary, Christy Hoffman said, "This new agreement improves upon the previous version in several important ways and reaffirms Société Générale commitment to social dialogue, freedom of association and collective bargaining. We look forward to working with the bank to ensure that all workers can exercise their right to organise, have safe jobs, and enjoy workplaces free of discrimination."

The agreement includes:

A clearer articulation of rights to freedom of association and bargaining, including clauses guaranteeing good faith bargaining and ensuring that the company will remain neutral during organising efforts.

  • A more robust dispute resolution process;
  • A commitment that UNI will be consulted during the company's assessment of risks required by the French "loi de vigilance" and will be involved in the development of remedies when necessary.
  • New language on fighting discrimination;
  • New protections for workplace health and safety.
  • The application of due diligence to suppliers.

"We are proud to be taking our agreement with UNI Global Union even further. It confirms our commitment to respecting human rights as set out in our Code of Conduct and our recognition of the International Labour Organisation's Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, including the freedom of association. All Societe Generale Group's Human Resources teams around the world worked hard together to finalise the agreement, which reflects the constructive social dialogue we have with employee representatives at Societe Generale," said Caroline Guillaumin, Group Head of Human Resources at Societe Generale.

Amongst those present at today's signing were, Cristina Arzani, UNI Europa Finance Coordinator of the European Trade Union Alliance in Société Générale Ali Atoud Zakaria, UNI Finance Trade Union Alliance Coordinator; Angelo di Cristo, Head of UNI Finance; and UNI Finance coordinator, Anna Harvey. Today's agreement is the eighth UNI has either signed or renewed since its Liverpool World Congress in June 2018, including five in the finance sector.

UNI Finance, the global union for all finance and insurance workers represents 3 million employees in 237 trade unions worldwide. UNI Global Union, based in Nyon, Switzerland, represents more than 20 million workers from over 150 different countries in the fastest growing sectors in the world - skills and services.

IFJ Holds Workshop on Strategic Union Building

01 February 2019:   The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) under the Union to Union Project held a two - day workshop from 30 - 31 January in Dakar, Senegal on Strategic Union Building under the theme, "The Digital Economy and African Journalists Unions; Developing strategies for Survival and Sustainability".

The workshop brought together 14 participants from the Youth Working Group, union leaders from Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Angola and Somalia as well as members of the FAJ Steering Committee. The workshop deliberated on pertinent issues concerning African journalists' unions noting with concern that membership in the unions has dropped sharply in the past few years mainly because of the continuous loss of jobs in the media sector, particularly in the newspapers.

The Secretary General of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), Omar Faruk Osman, noted that the unions lack an organizing strategy and must put in place measures and strategies that will enhance recruitment and retention especially among the young journalists entering the profession as well as digital journalists.

The President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Christopher Ikechukwu Isiguzo, expressed that as union leaders "We must begin to look at the commitment of our members critically. As journalists and trade unionist we must demonstrate an unflinching commitment to our unions' particular in the payment of our dues".

While deliberating on the roles of the Youth Working Group which comprise of members from Botswana, Ghana, The Gambia, Kenya, Angola and Uganda the young journalists at the workshop opined that there is need to involve youths in the decision making the process at all levels. They called on the unions to ensure that young journalists in the unions are involved in the designing of policies and programmes. The unions they said must create platforms to ensure that young people in the media come together to play a more effective role in the unions most particularly in the recruitment of young journalists working online. The Youth Working Group called on the leadership of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) to ensure that all its affiliates across the continent develop a youth policy.

In a declaration issued at the end of the workshop, union leaders and members of the Youth Working Group expressed the need to modernize union tactics, structures, and organizing methods and to develop effective negotiation strategies to win collective bargaining rights as well as to address the issue of contracts and long working hours in the digital media industry. The Declaration also called for the commitment of the unions to translate principles into actions.

Source:  International Federation of Journalists--IFJ represents around 600,000 members in 187 unions and associations in 140 countries

Trade unions win minimum wage increase in Nigeria

Brussels, 31 January 2019 (ITUC OnLine):   The ITUC has welcomed progress towards a minimum wage increase of sixty-six per cent in Nigeria. Trade unions won parliamentary support for the improvement amid last minute attempts to dilute the terms of the jointly agreed increase. "This is great news, and coming from Africa's most populous country, it provides inspiration for the whole region and beyond. Workers mobilised, through their unions, to stop the agreement reached with the government and employers from being undermined," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

The new national minimum wage in Nigeria is set to increase to NGN 30,000 (approximately USD 87 per month). While it covers a majority of workers, unions oppose clauses that exclude workers in smaller companies. This was initially agreed through negotiations between workers', employers' and government representatives. Subsequently, however, the government threatened to undermine the negotiations by unilaterally reducing the amount to NGN 27,000.

In response, the Nigerian trade union movement mobilised working people in protests at state level and called for a general strike. Finally, union lobbying at the House of Representatives led to support for the agreed amount, which now needs only the ratification of the Senate. "In this battle for the new national minimum wage, all of us are winners, nobody is a loser," said Ayuba Wabba, President of the ITUC and President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, the country's largest trade union centre.

"This increase will have an immediate impact on spreading the benefits of Nigeria's expanding economy, not least because the money will be spent in local communities, producing a positive effect that resonates through society and stimulates the economy,' said Burrow.

Minimum wages play a key role in sharing prosperity. By building purchasing power, they have an important multiplier effect at a local level, which is not picked up by crude economic indicators such as GDP. Furthermore, when they are delivered through tripartite negotiations, evidence shows they build the social consensus and reinforce the institutional stability that are crucial components of sustainable development.

"This agreement is an important step in the right direction, and we congratulate our Nigerian colleagues on the result. We encourage other countries where minimum wages are insufficient to heed this example and negotiate a living minimum wage with unions," said Burrow.

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

We want living wages and collective agreements

30.01.2019:   Romanian textile unions met in Bucharest to debate the road towards an organised workforce with living wages and collective agreements, together with global brands H&M and Inditex, their key suppliers, employer associations and the government.

Romania is the biggest textile, garment, leather and footwear producing country in South-East Europe with 250,000 workers in almost 10,000 factories. Salaries are close to the national minimum wage of 2,080 leis (euro440) per month. The government has raised the minimum wage in the past years, but moving the payment of social security contributions from companies to workers in 2017 has had a negative impact on workers. With a deduction of over 40 per cent, workers are left with a monthly net pay of around 250-300 euros.

The Social Dialogue Law reform in 2011 destroyed collective bargaining in the country; with a high threshold to conclude agreements, there are practically no sectoral collective agreements left. At the company level, 90 per cent of the "agreements" are signed by "worker representatives", mostly appointed by the employers. The law requires 15 workers to form a union. As over 90 per cent of companies have less than 15 employees, in practice a quarter of the workforce is deprived of the fundamental right of freedom of association, guaranteed in the Romanian Constitution and ILO Convention 87.

But after an increase of inequality and in-work poverty, the Romanian government and European institutions seem to be changing their views on collective bargaining. A difficult process is underway in the Romanian parliament, with a strong business lobby against any changes. However, some textile employers see it differently: "We want to promote a sectoral collective agreement, linked with increased productivity. Young people do not want to work in our industry, unless the wages go up, but that requires a focus on high quality production", said Irina Mihai from the FEPAIUS textile employers' federation.

Doru Lascu, president of the union Confpeltex, agreed: "Raising the minimum wage is useful, but a sectoral collective agreement is a better tool for addressing salaries and a lot of other issues. For achieving that, we need stronger unions and more representative employer associations."

Dan Nastase, president of Uniconf union, said that global framework agreements (GFA) guarantee the right for workers to join a union: "Union density is very low, and we will work on an organizing plan together with other unions. However, we need protection. Too often workers are fired when they try to organize," said Nastase.

Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL textile director, showcased how unions work with global brands; the Bangladesh Accord, how GFAs can be used in organizing, and the Action - Collaboration - Transformation (ACT) initiative to achieve living wages. Representatives from GFA partners H&M and Inditex, also members of ACT, explained how they in cooperation with unions solve problems when they occur and promote functioning labour-management relations and collective bargaining.

IndustriAll Europe's general secretary, Luc Triangle, said: "We ask the Romanian government to reinstall the sector collective bargaining structures destroyed in 2011. It is only through good sector collective bargaining wages and working conditions can be improved and create a future for this important sector in Romania. We also ask that global brands and local allow union access. Stronger unions are key to higher wages."

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said: "Together with our affiliates we will continue to put pressure on the government to restore union bargaining rights. Global framework agreements are important tools for promoting social dialogue and organizing, and we will use that leverage to support our Romanian affiliates in their efforts to build strong unions and achieve better conditions."

The seminar in Bucharest on 22-23 January was part of an EU-funded project "Strengthening the capacity of trade unions in South-East Europe to improve wages and working conditions in the garment and footwear sectors", carried out in cooperation between industriAll Europe and IndustriALL Global Union. The project targets seven countries; Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia.

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

Netherlands court confirms food delivery couriers are workers with collective rights

26 January 2019:   Two recent decisions by an Amsterdam court mark a victory in the ongoing fight for worker rights in the 'platform economy'.

In two cases brought by the FNV on behalf of workers at the food delivery company Deliveroo, the court ruled on January 15 that the company's delivery couriers are employees, not self-employed contractors. According to the court, Deliveroo's elimination of employment contracts and the legal transformation of couriers to self-employed status last year had not altered the fundamental relationship of authority and dependence: the couriers remained in an employment relationship as defined in Dutch law.

The court's conclusion validated the FNV's right to represent the workers, whose Riders Union has been contesting the company's phony 'freelance' scheme through strikes and militant protest actions. In January an FNV Riders Union solidarity delegation travelled to Belgium to support Deliveroo workers fighting a similar self-employment scam. In a separate decision the same day, the court determined that Deliveroo's activities fell within the scope of the national collective agreement for the goods transport sector, and applied to its delivery couriers.

In Germany, the IUF-affiliated food and allied workers' union NGG, which has given strong support to food delivery workers, will hold a second national 'Riders Day' February 7-8.

Source:   International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations--IUF uniting 10 million workers in 421 affiliated organizations in 128 countries

USA: AFL-CIO: End the Government Shutdown

End the government shutdown

Canadian union blockades GM HQ to protest plant closure

24.01.2019:   Members of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate Unifor formed a blockade outside General Motors' (GM) headquarters in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada on 23 January 2019 to protest the company's plan to shut the local assembly plant.

GM made a commitment in the 2016 collective agreement to keep the Oshawa plant open. Despite this, no production has been allocated past 2019, meaning the plant will close. Two assembly plants in the US will also close, with production shifting to Mexico. The union sees the closure as a "betrayal" after both the Canadian and US governments bailed GM out when it went bankrupt after the financial crisis. Vehicles produced in Mexico will be predominantly for the US and Canadian market.

"Workers in Canada will not forgive GM if it continues with the plan to close the Oshawa Assembly Plant and decimate the wider community," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.

"For more than 100 years Oshawa has built and supported General Motors. Today's actions by Unifor members send the message that GM must reverse the decision to close the plant." GM committed in the 2016 collective agreement to keeping the plants open. Under the terms of the agreement, GM has an obligation to keep the Oshawa plant open until at least September 21, 2020, after which restructuring plans will be negotiated. The economic activity of the Oshawa assembly plant is responsible for 30,000 jobs in the wider economy.

IndustriALL director for the automotive industry, Georg Leutert, said: "GM says it wants to move toward new technology, with more electric and autonomous vehicles. But this closure shows that the company isn't focused on a shining future, but on pursuing an outdated vision based on cheap labour and short-term profit."

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

International Day of Education: educators matter!

24.01.2019:   Education International and education unions worldwide celebrate the first ever International Day of Education, calling on governments to make quality public education for all a reality.

On 3 December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted, with consensus, a resolution (Resolution 73/25), proclaiming 24 January as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development. This resolution, co-authored and proposed by Nigeria and 58 other Member States, calls on all stakeholders, including UN Member States, UN agencies, and civil society, non-governmental organisations, academic institutions, the private sector, individuals and other relevant stakeholders to observe the International Day of Education. UNESCO, as the specialised UN agency for education, was tasked with facilitating the annual observance of the Day, in close collaboration with main education actors.

"We warmly welcome the first ever International Day of Education," stressed Education International (EI) General Secretary David Edwards. "It is timely and overdue at the same time, as we are very much concerned about slow and uneven progress towards the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs)."

EI to governments: progress on SDG is too slow, act now!

He went on to note that SDG4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all - is key to achieving all other SDGs.

"We as education unionists and professionals have the deep-rooted belief that education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility," Edwards explained. "Investing in quality public education is investing in the future! That is why today, on International Day of Education, we reiterate our call for governments to invest in education and teachers: qualified educators make quality education for all possible. We also urge governments to take urgent action and make gender equality and inclusive education a reality!"

He added that EI is carrying out an assessment of SDGs and will be releasing a shadow report in July 2019 at the High-level Political Forum, the United Nations' central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs.

On International Day of Education, EI is also broadcasting a webinar featuring EI Deputy General Secretary Haldis Holst and EI's Dennis Sinyolo, emphasising the global union federation and its affiliates' role as education experts, leaders and advocates in the field.

Source:  Education International--EI uniting 32.5 million trade union members in 400 organizations in 170 countries and territories

UniCredit signs global agreement ensuring labour rights, discrimination-free workplaces, and responsible sales practices for its 147,000 employees worldwide

23 January 2019:   Leading Italian financial services company UniCredit has signed a global agreement with UNI Global Union on January 22 that secures human and labour rights as well as responsible, sustainable sales practices for the bank's 147,000 employees in 22 countries.

The agreement, the first of its kind by an Italian financial services multinational, demonstrates UniCredit's commitment to corporate accountability and rights at work by:

  • Ensuring that employee sales goals and products offered are fair, transparent, and sustainable while meeting customers' needs. This is the first financial sector agreement with these important protections, and they echo the principles of UNI Finance's Charter of Responsible Sales.
  • Observing the United Nations Guidelines on Business and Human Rights and striving to remedy any harmful effects of its activities and businesses on human rights.
  • Allowing employees to exercise their freedom of association, particularly the right of all employees to organise, join a trade union of their choice and undertake collective bargaining.
  • Combatting discrimination and promoting diversity, equal opportunities, recruitment and retention of disabled workers and respect for equality between women and men.
  • Providing healthy and safe working conditions for all employees.

Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, speaking from Davos, said, "This agreement sets a new standard for how our financial institutions should behave-elevating the rights of employees and customers. UniCredit has long been a leader in financial services, and is now showing great leadership as an employer and commitment to its global workforce."

UniCredit CEO Jean Pierre Mustier commented: "At UniCredit, we believe that to do well, we must also do good, and always acting ethically is a core part of this. Our success depends on respect: an open culture which allows each and every one of our people to actively add value to our business."

Angelo Di Cristo, Head of UNI Finance, stated, "Along with financial services unions in Europe, we worked with UniCredit to reach a strong, thorough agreement that sets many benchmarks for the industry. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the company."

The agreement is valid for two years, and it has a robust enforcement mechanism to resolve any disputes over its implementation. The agreement was made possible by the foundation laid by UniCredit's European Works Council, the UNI Finance Trade Union Alliance of UniCredit and the bank's commitment to social dialogue.

UNI Global Union, based in Nyon, Switzerland, represents more than 20 million workers from over 150 different countries in the fastest growing sectors in the world - skills and services. It has more than 56 global agreements across its 12 sectors. UNI Finance represents 3 million banking and insurance workers worldwide.

Source:  UNI Global Union--UNI represents more than 20 million workers from over 150 different countries

Belarusian trade union case raised with the EU

18.01.2019:   Through a meeting with high-level officials on 16 January 2019 in Brussels, Belgium, IndustriALL Global Union, IndustriAll European Trade Union, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) through its Pan-European European Regional Council (PERC) and European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) brought concerns of deteriorating environment for democracy and fundamental rights in Belarus to the European Union authorities.

Representatives of the international trade unions were received by Luc Devigne, Deputy Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia and Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia and OSCE and his team. The union delegation expressed their anger and concerns over absence of democratic standards in Belarus resulting in demolition of civil society, including independent trade unions.

Belarussian authorities systematically deny registration of structures of independent trade unions under invented pretexts in violation of national legislation as well as international standards. For years Belarus remains under special scrutiny almost at every International Labour Conference. The ILO Committee on the Application of Standards cited Belarus in special paragraph of its report a number of times. This is a procedure reserved for consistent and serious violations of labour rights, including those enshrined in core labour standards.

"We expect that the European Union will continue to put human, trade union and workers' rights first in their conversations with the Belarusian government. The situation in Belarus is highly critical and the European Union has the key in hand to change the reality for Belarusian people and workers", said Luc Triangle, General Secretary of IndustriAll European Trade Union.

The international organizations raised the "Trade union case" where in an unfair trial and in the absence of convincing evidence, two union leaders from Belarus Radio & Electronics Industry Workers' Union, Gennady Fedynich and Ihar Komlik, were convicted for large-scale tax evasion and ordered to pay a large fine. Both are subjects to a four-year suspended imprisonment, and a ban on holding senior positions for five years.

In their joint letter, ITUC, IndustriALL, ETUC and IndustriAll Europe wrote to Vice-President Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union condemned this court's verdict, and the decision to reject the appeal. The international union organizations believe the verdict is politically motivated and done in retaliation to the union for its active stance within the society. The verdict is an attempt to seed fear among activists and block them from resisting the inhuman Decree "On promotion of employment of population" also known as the Decree on social parasites.

Fedynich and Komlik became prisoners in their flats, their moving around is undermined, and certain hours of the day, on weekends and public holidays they cannot go out.

"They are clearly political prisoners of conscience," said Kemal Özkan, "We once again urged the EU to raise the issue of political prisoners in Belarus with the authorities of the country and support our demand to review the verdict, and provide a full and unconditional acquittal for Fedynich and Komlik." The international unions expect that respect to democracy, human and trade union rights must be part of the priorities of the intended Partnership between the EU and Belarus, and jurisprudence of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights must be among the references.

In the meantime, as of 1 January 2019, the notorious Decree 1 entered into force. It contains elements of forced labour and creates supplementary ways to manipulate workers' rights in addition to fixed-term contracts system. In order to implement the new decree a special data base was set up, however a lot of concerns are risen due to its non-transparency.

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

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