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Fight for $15...Low Pay is Not OK
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International Trade Union Confederation
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three minute web movie overview of the concept of decent work in 29 languages...International Labor Organization
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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.

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Unions in Burkina Faso and Senegal fight back against precarious work

01.12.2016:   The lives of hundreds of precarious workers have been dramatically improved by unions after they were regularized and organized in a campaign against precarious work.

IndustriALL Global Union affiliates from Burkina Faso and Senegal gathered on 30 November and 1 December in Ouagadougou to take stock of the progress achieved through their fight against precarious work. In both Senegal and Burkina Faso, affiliates have actively fought the abusive use of daily and fixed term contracts for years.

Last September, after several months of labour conflict at the mining site of Bissa Gold, owned by Nord Gold in Burkina Faso, 750 temporary, fixed term contract workers won permanent contracts. Two hundred temporary agency workers are expected to be directly employed as permanent workers by Bissa Gold.

This was the result of an active campaign and media exposure lead by IndustriALL affiliate the general union Fédération des Industries Diverses (FID) and their confederation the CNTB, with the support of IndustriALL.

Nord Gold has announced that it will pay workers all unpaid overtime and holidays owed by its sub-contractor, Exterhum, as demanded by the workers. The case of 116 workers illegally retrenched in October 2015 is still at the labour court for a final decision.

In Burkina Faso in 2015, FID and the textile, garment and leather union the Fédération Nationale des Travailleurs du Textile, de l'Habillement et du Cuir (FNTTHC) recruited 548 new members from the precarious workforce. Affiliates will take joint action on 7 December to denounce and demand the revision of a labour law adopted in 2008 that allows for the unlimited renewal of fixed term contract. Since the adoption of this law, the number of fixed term contract workers has exploded.

In 2016 in Senegal, the general union Syndicat Unique des Travailleurs des Industries Diverses du Sénégal (SUTIDS) successfully negotiated the regularization of 218 fixed term contract and daily workers out of 996 precarious workers working in 15 companies in the chemical sector.

The chemical union Syndicat National des Travailleurs des Industries Chimiques et Activités Rattachées du Sénégal (SYNTICS) successfully recruited 316 precarious workers. The lives of the workers who have been regularized have changed completely. Not only have their salaries increased, and sometimes doubled, they now have access with their families to medical care and they benefit from proper protective equipment.

In 2015, the unions launched a campaign to limit the use of day workers in their countries. As a result, in 2016, the unions are negotiating an amendment to the legislation on the use daily work at the national tripartite body.

The amendment aims to ban the use of daily work in core activities and to provide day workers with medical coverage and social protection. Affiliates plan another day of action in December to put pressure on both employers and government. IndustriALL affiliates succeeded in mobilizing several confederations and unions from services and agriculture for this campaign.

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

IUF, Global solidarity with KCTU general strike in Korea

30 November 2016:   Unions around the world showed their solidarity with the general strike in Korea organized by the KCTU on November 30, including over 100 trade unionists from international and national trade union organizations who rallied in Geneva. The Korean union confederation is demanding an end to anti-union repression and the immediate resignation of President Park Guen-hye. Over 200,000 KCTU members took part in the strike.

International union federations based in and near Geneva - IUF, BWI, IndustriAll, PSI and Uni - gathered in front of the United Nations and marched to the Korean Mission to deliver a joint letter supporting the KCTU action, condemning the ongoing crackdown on trade unions and democratic rights and demanding the release of all imprisoned trade unionists. The mission refused to meet a delegation but the letter was nonetheless delivered. Joining other general secretaries in addressing the crowd to demand an end to repression, IUF General Secretary Ron Oswald recalled the death of farmers' leader Baek Nam-gi and the need to hold the authorities accountable.

Source:  International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco, and Allied Workers' Associations --IUF uniting 12 million workers in 416 affiliated organizations in 126 countries

Greece: General Strike Looms as IMF Demands Further Suppression of Workers' Rights

Brussels/Vienna, 30 November 2016 (ITUC OnLine):   Greece's national trade union centre GSEE is calling a general strike on 8 December as details emerge from negotiations between creditors and the government for wholesale removal of workers' rights. Led by the EU and IMF, creditors are demanding removal of restrictions on mass dismissal of workers, new obstacles to trade union organisation and collective bargaining, further restrictions on the right to strike and deeper cuts to pensions.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said "The IMF seems to have little if any understanding of what is really happening in Greece and indeed in the world in general. Six years of imposing the will of financial capital at the expense of workers has been an utter failure, and left the Greek economy with no pathway for a return to growth and job creation. Ideology has again trumped sensible economics with this latest round of demands, which even a beginner economist can tell will drive the economy into deeper trouble and leave even more people in severe poverty."

The ideological nature of the IMF's demands has been underlined by their insistence on "lock-out" provisions for employers, even though the Greek employers have not asked for this. The ITUC General Council, meeting in Vienna today, expressed its solidarity and support to the Greek workers and their unions.

"We call on the IMF to cease and desist from these destructive policies in Greece which are causing immense pain to workers and their families and are creating economic devastation," said Burrow.

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 180 million workers in 162 countries and territories and has 333 national affiliates

Egypt: IFJ / NUJ delegation urges release of journalists

29/11/2016:   A delegation of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), have urged Egyptian parliamentarians to do all they can to secure the release of 29 jailed journalists.

The demand to free the journalists, many of whom have been detained for years, came during a meeting at the UK House of Commons.

The delegation, formed by the IFJ Honorary Treasurer Jim Boumelha and the NUJ's President and General Secretary, Tim Dawson and Michelle Stanistreet respectively, met with the Egyptian Parliamentary Delegation to the UK to express its deep concerns following two year jail sentence handed down by a court in Egypt for the leaders of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate (EJS) and its consequences for journalists and independent journalism in the country.

"We are calling on you, on behalf of 600,000 journalists from 140 countries around the world, to do your utmost to secure the release of our colleagues who are currently in jail and to make sure that union leaders will not be sent to jail," said Boumelha.

Michelle Stanistreet added: "Our union, the IFJ and all its members around the world are very worried by this ruling and stand by our sister union in Egypt. Respecting freedom of association and independent trade unions is fundamental for democratic transition."

The IFJ/NUJ delegation also discussed the draft media law currently being reviewed by the government which includes several positive developments including reforming the current Egyptian Radio and Television Union into the National Media Commission and establishing it as a public broadcaster with an independent governing body beyond government control.

On the other hand, the current draft also contains some worrying articles that may allow for the jailing of journalists as well as imposing a narrow definition of online media and unnecessary restrictions on its licensing and working modules.

The Egyptian Parliamentary Delegation assured the IFJ that the future law will not criminalize press offences and will prohibit detaining journalists for their professional work. They also accepted the IFJ's request for it to have a chance to register its comments on the final draft when the parliament starts discussing it.

The meeting was hosted by All-Party Parliamentary Group on Egypt and it was chaired by Helen Goodman, head of the NUJ's Parliamentary Group.

Source:  International Federation of Journalists--IFJ represents around 600.000 members in 140 countries

Global unions to rally in support of Korean general strike

28.11.2016:   Global unions representing tens of millions of workers will rally in support of the general strike in South Korea, starting at Place des Nations, Geneva on 30 November.

Global unions BWI, IndustriALL, IUF, PSI and UNI will rally then hand deliver a letter to the South Korean mission in Geneva supporting the general strike and condemning the persecution of trade unionists in the country.

The strike is being organized by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). KCTU's president, Han Sang-Gyun, is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for his role in organizing a people's protest of 100,000 people in 2015.

For the last two years, trade unionists have been engaged in a bitter struggle against South Korea President Park Geun-hye's government reforms, designed to lower wages and make work more insecure. In retaliation, scores of trade unionists have been arrested, trade union offices have been ransacked and unions stripped of their legal status.

IndustriALL Global Union's General Secretary, Valter Sanches, says: IndustriALL members around the world are mobilizing in support of the general strike. Workers in Korea are not only under attack from the government but also from the all-powerful chaebol conglomerates that do everything in their means to crush trade unions and labour rights. Korean unions together with the global trade union movement are fighting back.

Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI says: The time has come for President Park to step down. The current corruption scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. Our brothers and sisters in the KCTU have been locked the last two years in a bitter struggle to resist the Park Government's neoliberal labour reforms. The attack which the Park Government has unleashed on the trade union movement for simply pursuing their democratic rights is a throwback to the military dictatorship era. Hundreds of trade unionists have been arrested and many subjected to arbitrary political prosecutions including Han Sang Gyun, President of the KCTU.

IUF General Secretary, Ron Oswald, states: The IUF is here to show our active solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Korea demanding the President resign and fighting the government's escalating attacks on trade union rights and basic civil liberties. Trade unionists are being condemned to prison for opposing casualization, defending the right to strike and opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Together with our members in Korea and around the world, we demand that the government be held accountable for these ongoing human rights violations.

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

The future world of work in Finance

25 November 2016:   The effects of digitalisation in the finance sector was the focus of the day at the UNI Europa Finance meeting on 22 November. With a diverse selection of speakers representing fintech, consumer protection, watchdog organisations and of course European trade union affiliates, the discussions of the day centred around what solutions trade unions could offer in the future finance sector and what skills were important for finance employees to possess going forward.

Of note, was the presentation about the Copenhagen Fintech Lab, which is an initiative run by FSU Denmark in cooperation with banks and legislators, creating a space for fintechs to grow and for trade unions to keep a close eye on how the sector is developing. During this presentation, Simon Ousager developed upon the current uses of blockchain technology and their future applications, which could severely change the way the finance sector operates. Most importantly, Mr Ousager dispelled the myth, that fintechs only wish to disrupt the sector and that fintechs don't need banks and bankers.

Other presentations focused on the importance of adjusting vocational training to future needs and using bargaining power to force employers to enable this training, as well as detailing the way new technology is already being used in the sector.

Michael Budolfsen, President of UNI Europa Finance said: 'We will lead the way for our members. It is important that digital solutions always serve people and help to improve social standards and working conditions.'

Throughout the day, many affiliates wished to contribute with their observations and several valuable points were raised. One of them questioning if digitalisation could lead to increased inequality, as the gap between people with good and lacking IT skills will grow ever wider, leading to income inequality and general possibilities in the workplace. While another emphasised that digitalisation must never replace good personalised advice by a competent human advisor.

The topic of the meeting was very well received by the audience and it is clear that event was only the very start of discussing this topic, both on a European and on a global level.

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

ITF congratulates Colombian union on CBA

ITF union the SNTT (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de Rama, Servicios de la Industria del Transporte y Logística de Colombia) has negotiated the first collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with major transport company Transcaribe in Cartagena, as part of an ongoing project in Colombia supported by the ITF.

24/11/2016:   Transport workers - supported by SNTT dock workers - staged a peaceful public demonstration in October to denounce the company's 'dishonest recruitment process'. Transcaribe had promised economic benefits to compensate wages cuts for those who had worked for other, smaller transport systems.

The demonstration resulted in a meeting between SNTT and Transcaribe representatives to negotiate in good faith a CBA, to include labour rights such as union recognition and a wage rise.

This CBA is the 22nd achieved by the SNTT as part of the ITF project, which involves the FNV, SASK and 3F unions and aims to organise workers employed by the numerous transport companies in Colombia and negotiate fair collective agreements. The CBAs cover more than 4,700 workers, with the numbers growing daily.

SNTT president Esteban Barboza commented: "The SNTT is faithful to its mission and vision, and will continue to be committed to improving working conditions for all Colombian transport workers through collective agreements.

"We will continue to increase our organization with direct campaigns to organise all transport workers, in all transport sections. Freedom of association is one of the objectives of the peace agreement we are fighting for in Colombia so that we leave a legacy of peace to our children and future generations."

ITF Americas regional secretary Antonio Rodríguez Fritz congratulated the SNTT on its successes in what is considered to be the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionism. He praised the support of the port workers, adding that this exemplified ITF family solidarity. He pledged the ITF would continue to support Colombian and regional transport workers in their fight for human and labour rights.

Source:  International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing over 4.5 million transport workers in 700 unions from 150 countries

BWI and CFMEU unite for working people

24 November 2016:   BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson has addressed the CFMEU Conference in Brisbane, Australia, looking forward to a close relationship in the future.

Yuson expressed the BWI's solidarity with CFMEU's struggle against the Turnbull Government's attacks on CFMEU and the Australian trade union movement. Yuson condemned the passage of the Registered Organisations Bill, which imposes red tape regulation on unions in an attempt to control the movement, and moves to revive the Australian Building and Construction Commission as direct intimidation tactics against union officials. "I believe Turnbull's strategy is not working, because each day the CFMEU gets stronger", he said.

"Despite a rise in anti-immigrant and anti-working class rhetoric", said Yuson, "working class people across the Asia-Pacific region were rising up and demanding their rights." He noted the enormous mass movement in South Korea that is undermining attempts by the Government to impose neoliberal labour reforms and the Bersih 5.0 protest in Malaysia demanding free and fair election and an end to corruption in politics.

Discussing the South Korean Government's brutal attacks on the trade union movement, Yuson secured support from CFMEU to participate in the Global Day Action on 30 November. He said: "It's been an honour to be part of the international delegation who attended the demonstration of one million people demanding the resignation of President Park, and I ask for your solidarity to support our South Korean brothers and sisters in the upcoming general strike."

Source:  Building and Wood Workers International--BWI uniting 12 million members in 328 trade unions in 130 countries

"We will fight for our jobs" declare unions amidst steel crisis

24.11.2016:   Some 100 delegates from 32 unions in 24 countries organizing in the base metals industries met in Duisburg, Germany, to develop an action plan to tackle the crisis in the industry.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Valter Sanches stressed that Duisburg, in the industrially important Ruhr area, was an important symbolic choice of meeting place: a major steel city that had seen a decline in the industry, and managed a Just Transition.

Delegates were welcomed by mayor Sören Link: "We thought our fires would never go out, but they burned low, and we lost many thousands of jobs. With innovation and commitment, we have been able to transform our city.

Two issues overshadowed the conference: the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, and the overcapacity in the steel market due to Chinese dumping.

Valter Sanches said: "We have political polarization and the rise of the populist right: Trump and Brexit, the coup in Brazil, and worrying signs for the next election in France. "We need to build the strength and unity of our unions to face this threat."

The conference discussed a powerful declaration on the global steel crisis. Steel is the world's second largest industry, and has driven 100 years on industrial development. Many other industries depend on it, and steel consumption is projected to increase.

And yet the industry is in its worst crisis in a generation. Chinese steel production, with state support, has increased five fold in 15 years. As the Chinese economy slows and domestic demand weakens, excess steel is being dumped on the world market, severely distorting it, and creating a crisis of sustainability in the industry.

The declaration calls on global institutions and governments to develop strategies to prevent dumping. China should not be granted market economy status while it refuses to play by global rules.

The declaration also notes that Chinese workers suffer from the economic contraction, and calls on China to allow free trade unions. Instead of a downward spiral of unfair competition, the declaration calls for massive investment in infrastructure and in training, so that the industry can meet the demands of the future.

Section co-chair Thomas Conway of the United Steelworkers was clear: "State support for Chinese producers means they are able to sell steel at below cost. This distorts the market. There is a fundamental overcapacity, and we are losing thousands of jobs as a result."

In a powerful sessions about how strong unions are able to bring about change, Jörg Hofmann, president of IndustriALL and IG Metall, spoke about how IG Metall have defended jobs in the base metals sector. He stressed the importance of well organized, strong unions being in a good bargaining position to work with employers to manage changes to the sector.

The solution is to embrace innovation and the rising productivity it brings. Unions should fight for industrial investment and vocational training to provide new jobs for highly skilled workers.

"A powerful union can influence policy and co-determine the future of the sector. "Innovation is key. It's a golden opportunity. And it needs qualified labour. Vocational training is very important." "We need stable and rock solid union organizations. There are challenges ahead."

The importance of having a strong bargaining position internationally was reinforced in a session on global framework agreements introduced by assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan.

"These are not just paper agreements: workers' rights are a red line. And creating trade union networks is the key to building that strength internationally."

The conference adopted an action plan calling for unity in the face of the challenges ahead, and commitments to fight precarious work and for a Just Transition. The plan involves strengthening trade union networks, and calls on the base metals sector to work more closely with the mining sector to develop better coverage of the supply chain. Unions will lobby international institutions for a just global framework on steel producers, free of market distortions.

Thomas Conway and Sanjyot Vadhavkar of SMEFI in India were elected co-chairs for the next four-year period.

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

ITF port experts work to improve ILO safety code

The ITF and its dockers' unions have been putting their proposals for safe working environments for dockworkers to the ILO (International Labour Organization).

22/11/2016:   The workers' group was participating in a meeting of experts in Geneva to adopt a revised ILO code of practice on safety and health in ports.

The workers' group is hoping to improve the code of practice in relation to safety committees, personal protective equipment, first aid coverage, amenities, protection from nefarious substances, considerations for an increased female workforce and establishment of a workplace harassment policy. It also wants to introduce new language for safe lashing of containers.

In its opening statement to the ILO on 21 November the group's spokesperson, Albert Le Monnier, said: "The port industry is undergoing significant changes. New technology, the growth of shipping alliances, overcapacity in many regions plus a volatile global economy are exerting downward pressure on working terms and conditions. Demands for unsustainable levels of productivity and cost cutting are a lethal combination for dockworkers, literally.

"Our deliberations take place within this context, and what we decide will have a significant impact on the lives of men and women who work in ports around the world. Their health and safety is our collective responsibility as governments, employers and unions."

He added that it was "paramount" for the ILO to participate in discussions at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to amend SOLAS (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) and its accompanying guidelines, which aim to establish criteria for the installation, inspection, examination, testing and maintenance of lifting appliances.

The review of the ILO code is a priority for the occupational health and safety programme of the ITF dockers' section. Other important initiatives include the publication in September of independent, landmark research commissioned by the ITF and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health on the health, safety and welfare of workers in the global container port industry.

The study identifies continuing dangers, causes for concern, and flaws in the behavioural management systems commonly employed by operators; and offers clear pointers to improvement.

Source:  International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing over 4.5 million transport workers in 700 unions from 150 countries

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