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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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American Civil Liberties Union

eSwatini union condemns violence against striking workers

20.09.2018:   Garment and textile union workers are not relenting on their demands for better wages and working conditions despite the use of excessive force by the Royal eSwatini Police which led to the arrest and injury of scores of workers.

On September 19, the police arrested and beat up organizers from the Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA) - affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union - to stop them from protesting. Over 10,000 workers from five garment and textile factories began protesting two weeks ago after negotiations were deadlocked at the Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration Commission. They are frustrated by their employers' refusal to honestly engage in collective bargaining to improve wages and working conditions.

The three-day protest action called by ATUSWA is taking place in Mbabane, Manzini and other places, and is happening in accordance with the country's laws. According to the union, organizers Sbonelo Tsabedze and Nhlanhla Tsabedze were arrested at Nhlangano while mobilizing workers to assemble at the gates of Zheng Yong factory to push for their demands.

The ATUSWA leadership says the police confronted the well-organized workers who were protesting peacefully: "The police resorted, without provocation, to disperse the workers using teargas and started going after union members and beating them up. We are receiving reports that a lot of our members are injured and running for dear lives as they are hounded by the police. Therefore, we call upon our members to remain united despite glaring attempts to disunite them. As this is a battle for workers, we call on government and the police to stop harassing and victimizing the workers for exercising their right to protest. We further make a call for the release of our organizers."

Says Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa: "To build industrial peace, it is important for authorities in eSwatini to respect the workers' rights to protest. These rights are protected in the labour laws and in ILO Conventions. So, we strongly condemn the use of intimidation and violence against protesting workers and support ATUSWA in its struggle for better wages and working conditions."

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

EI on the World Development Report: "One must have a vision to have hope"

19.09.2018:   Education International urges the World Bank to radically change its approach, which is damaging to workers, democracy and the future of our societies

In an open letter to Jim Yong Kim, Director of the World Bank, general secretary of Education International (EI) David Edwards raises the global union's concern about the policy views and values contained in the Draft 2019 World Development report (WDR). The letter, which was sent out today from EI's headquarters in Brussels, raises concerns about the Bank's lack of vision and "warped and damaged thinking", both reflected in the draft of the World Development report to be published in 2019. The letter looks at topics such as the future of work and of enterprises, collective bargaining, taxes and education.

Increasing precariousness in the world of work
Edwards highlights the growth of precarious work, persistently low wages and poor working conditions in many parts of the world as among the biggest threats to prosperity, well-being and growth, and notes that the Bank's proposals in terms of solving these issues tend to repeat the past, which "the same advice [that] is given even if it has not worked".

The result, according to EI, is that "instead of learning lessons from past failures, the Bank seems intent on giving lessons to perpetuate or even aggravate those failures". Education International is particularly critical of the Bank's persistent call to maintain low wages in developing countries, its reliance on flexibility and deregulation and its disregard of formal employment.

Deepening inequality
While the report recognises that development is often hindered by the lack of adequate tax revenue, according to EI it under-estimates the impact of inequality and misses out on the opportunity to suggest a progressive income tax as one solution that would provide sustainable funding for government services like education.

A distorted view of education
The letter focuses on the Bank's view of education and criticises its "narrow understanding of the role of education in society". It states that the institution has a "one-dimensional view related almost exclusively to the needs of the economy - one that can be reduced to limited learning outcomes and misguided measurement and assessment schemes".

According to Edwards, the Bank also seems to continue to under-estimate the importance of teaching as a profession, ignoring the voice of educators as expressed through their organisations. This stands in the way of the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Conclusion: dangerous omissions
Education International considers that the Bank's WDR leaves out many of the key factors that are affecting people's lives and threatening the future. The global teachers' organisation calls for a new social contract based on solid social values, that involves the social partners and that does not separate development from human rights, tolerance and dignity. It expresses its wish to continue to contribute to improving the drafts of the report in the hopes that it will have "a human face; one that considers the compelling and multiple needs of society".

Source:  Education International--EI uniting 32.5 million education workers in 400 associations and unions in 171 countries and territories

ITUC Meeting of Experts Confirms Social Protection for All Is Affordable

Brussels, 18 September 2018 (ITUC OnLine):   The majority of the world's population is not covered under any type of social protection scheme, and less than 30 per cent enjoy comprehensive coverage. Women, workers in the informal economy and workers in non-standard forms of employment are disproportionately under-protected. This is in spite of the fact that social protection floors are essential tools in eliminating poverty, as well as driving factors in boosting employment, fostering skills development, formalising work, reducing inequality and achieving inclusive economic growth.

Trade unions and social protection experts from around the world have come together in Brussels this week to identify how financing social protection can and should be strengthened. Representatives from over 30 trade unions, along with academics, civil society organisations, government officials and international organisations discussed the range of options that governments have at their disposal to finance the extension of social protection to all people. They agreed that social protection floors for all are financially feasible in all countries and that governments need to get their priorities right to fund them.

Unions and experts emphasised how extensions to social protection are not necessarily very expensive, and can be even self-financing in certain cases. In the short term, 71 countries could achieve social protection floors for all by investing an extra 2% of GDP or less. Numerous ways that governments can increase their budgets for social protection were also presented. Tackling tax evasion could also significantly make up for budget shortfalls. Just 0.23% of global GDP would suffice to provide social protection floors for the entire world population, while currently some 10% of the world's GDP is held in tax havens.

Trade unions are calling for the extension of social protection and the implementation of international commitments, including ILO Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors as well as United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 1.3.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, stressed, "There is no shortage of money to achieve universal social protection - only a shortage of political will. We are also calling for greater support from the international community, through strengthened development assistance for social protection as well as an end to austerity demands from international financial institutions. Social protection is a bedrock for decent standards of living, and also provides an engine for sustainable economic growth."

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

Global Agreement between BNP Paribas and UNI Global Union advances labour rights, gender equality for the company's 200,000 workers worldwide

18 September 2018:   BNP Paribas and UNI Global Union have signed a Global Agreement today that promises paid parental leave, health and life insurance, the ability to join a labour union without fear, stringent anti-harassment enforcement, and other key rights for the bank's 200,000 employees in 73 countries.

UNI Global Union General Secretary Christy Hoffman said, "We applaud the concrete steps that BNP Paribas is taking to deepen its commitment to workers' rights and social responsibility. In the financial sector, it is particularly important for workers to have freedom of association and to raise the alarm on unethical practices, and this agreement is a model we hope other banks will follow.

"We look forward to a productive partnership with BNP Paribas."

The Global Agreement is the first in the financial sector with paid parental leave provisions (14 weeks for mothers and six days for fathers) and the first with guaranteed health, life, and disability insurance. It also outlines a strategy to advance gender equality at the bank including policies on recruiting, training, and promoting.

"The agreement will improve the jobs and the lives of tens-of-thousands of BNP Paribas employees, and more than that, it sets a new standard for the industry," said UNI Finance President Rita Berlofa. "The breakthroughs made in this deal-from gender equality to union rights will reverberate across the banking sector."

Yves Martrenchar, Head of Human Resources, Member of the Executive Committee of BNP Paribas, a signatory to the agreement, said, "This comprehensive and ambitious agreement confirms BNP Paribas' international social commitment and its ambition to be an ever more responsible employer with regards to its employees. It will contribute to improving the quality of life and working conditions within BNP Paribas, while being a source of performance for the Group as a whole."

Antoine Sire, Head of Corporate Engagement and member of the Group Executive Committee, added, "This agreement will enable many employees to contribute - as part of their work - to the efforts of associations for a more inclusive and sustainable world. It is a decisive contribution to BNP Paribas' commitment to society."

Global Agreements are negotiated between global unions and multinational companies. They protect the interests of workers across the operations of multinational companies, setting standards for trade union rights.

The agreement was made possible by the foundation laid by UNI Finance's European members and through the strong tradition of social dialogue at the bank. The bank has previously reached three European agreements, which form part of the its European social charter, covering the essential topics of employment, gender equality and stress prevention.

UNI signed another Global Agreement with the French gaming giant PARTOUCHE earlier in the week.

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 50 Global Agreements across its 12 sectors. UNI Finance represents 3 million banking and insurance workers worldwide.

BNP Paribas is the largest French banking group and the largest bank in the Eurozone. It is one of the ten largest banks worldwide.

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

Belong Be Strong Be Union

UK: Employers misuse data rules to stifle workers' rights

14.09.2018:   Some employers in the UK are discriminating against employees and undermining education unions after the adoption of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations). That's according to the NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers).

The union, an affiliate of Education International, says that some employers are attempting to manipulate the recently introduced GDPR to try to pursue exploitative and discriminatory employment practices and to deny trade unions their right to represent their members. The claim is contained in a report by the NASUWT that was presented at the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Manchester earlier this week.

According to the NASUWT, some employers are misusing GDPR to seek to deny trade unions access to legitimate information on issues such as redundancy and equal pay. The NASUWT has called on the TUC to press the British national data protection authority to issue statutory guidance to employers stating that trade unions have a legitimate right to be provided with information necessary to represent and support their members.

Attempt to prevent union advocacy

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary, denounced that "more and more examples are emerging of employers in the education sector seeking to withhold workforce data, designed to identify discriminatory practices and inequality, thereby preventing trade unions representing their members' interests. These actions are nothing to do with protecting people's personal data and everything to do with employers trying to pursue exploitative working practices and prevent trade unions fighting for decent pay and working conditions for members".

Source:  Education International--EI uniting 32.5 million education workers in 400 associations and unions in 171 countries and territories

IUF members from around the world protest Coca-Cola's rights violations at company-sponsored human rights conference

14 September 2018:   Led by the IUF, unions representing Coca-Cola workers around the world held a spirited demonstration on September 13 outside The Coca-Cola Company-sponsored conference on business and human rights at the company's global headquarters in Atlanta.

The IUF, which represents the vast majority of union workers in the global Coca-Cola system, declined an invitation to participate in a conference designed to put a positive spin on the company's operations at a time when Coke is systematically violating the rights of its own employees and those employed by its bottlers in Indonesia, Haiti, The Philippines, the U.S. and Ireland.

Through the IUF, The Coca-Cola Company is fully aware of these ongoing rights violations, yet refuses to take any significant action to rectify them. This human rights conference, a platform for promoting the Company's increasingly threadbare real-world rights record, and Coke's deliberately evasive recent human rights report, are Coke's attempt to substitute public relations for genuine responsibility when it comes to respecting rights", said IUF general secretary Sue Longley.

The IUF sent advanced information of ongoing right's abuses at Coca-Cola to speakers at the conference so they were aware of the issues and asked them to raise these with TCCC. A number of speakers stopped to speak with demonstrators before they went into the conference.

The action concluded with an IUF alternative human rights briefing in a local university where trade union speakers from the USA, Indonesia and the Philippines described the reality of working for Coca-Cola. Following the Atlanta conference protest, an international IUF delegation including trade union representatives from Haiti, Indonesia and The Philippines will be visiting North American Coca-Cola unions in the coming weeks.

Source:  International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco, and Allied Workers' Associations--IUF uniting 10 million workers in 416 affiliated organizations in 128 countries

Argentina: General Strike Planned over Government-IMF Austerity Plan

Brussels, 14 September 2018 (ITUC OnLine):   The ITUC's affiliates in Argentina, CGT, CTA-A and CTA-T have announced a general strike for 24-25 September in opposition to expected sweeping austerity measures being developed by the government and the International Monetary Fund. Protesters took to the streets in Buenos Aires this week, warning of extreme hardship for families already hit by spiralling inflation, prior to the return of an IMF mission to negotiate a possible rescheduling of disbursements from the Fund's $50 billion loan.

The lending agreement was approved in June after the Argentine currency lost a third of its value in the first six months of 2018. Two weeks ago, President Mauricio Macri released a video in which he stated that the IMF had consented to a speeding-up of its loan payments. The peso promptly plunged a further 15 per cent when it transpired that no such agreement existed.

Since then, Macri and his Finance Minister have announced additional austerity measures with the objective of eliminating the primary fiscal deficit by next year rather than in 2020, as the Fund had initially demanded. The mandate of the Fund's mission is to discuss "strengthening the IMF-supported programme", which could include rescheduling of payments. The IMF has not announced a timeline for a possible revised agreement but government officials have told local media that they hoped to conclude by the end of this month.

The Argentine economy is already in recession and a further round of austerity measures is likely to prolong it into 2019, contradicting the government's forecast that GDP growth will return next year. If the IMF endorses deeper austerity in Argentina, it may lead to a repetition of the downward-spiral scenarios that it contributed to in several European countries earlier this decade. Drastic "fiscal consolidation" measures supported by the IMF set off multi-year recessions in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus and Croatia.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said "The government and the IMF look ready to impose devastating measures which will fall most heavily on workers and low-income people, and stifle any potential for sustainable development of the country's economy. The international trade union movement stands with our Argentinian trade union colleagues in rejecting failed austerity and demanding solutions which will help the real economy rather than simply doing the bidding of financial markets".

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

Unions at the Global Climate Action Summit - making the case for a Just Transition

Unions leaders and representatives from Australia, Canada, Norway, South Africa, the USA, are advocating for national and city ambition on climate action and Just Transition at this week's Global Climate Action Summit in California.

13-09-2018:   The Summit brings together political leaders of cities, state and provinces, trade unions, companies, investors and civil society organisations, on 13-14 September in San Francisco, California.

Worker representatives include ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow putting forward Just Transition measures, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, calling for protection of displaced workers, and Stephen Cotton, General Secretary International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) joining with the C40 group of cities in driving clean energy mass transit in the interests of jobs and climate along with the Just Transition Centre.

Burrow said, "Working people and their families are on the frontlines of the devastation of climate change. Yet as we head towards the UN Climate Conference (COP 24) in Poland in December too many countries are failing to meet emission reduction targets and too many are still in denial. Lack of ambition and lack of action is the fuel for our own destruction.

Commitments to Just Transition measures for workers and communities affected by the shift away from fossil fuels are essential. Just as measures which will see investment in low carbon infrastructure, manufacturing and services will both ensure jobs and sustainability in cities or rural areas. Just Transition can be the driver of ambition."

Stephen Cotton said: "I'm here at GCAS to make the case for massively expanding public transport now, to fulfil the ambition of fossil-fuel-free city streets by 2030. If this transition is done properly is will mean good jobs, reduced inequality and healthier cities for all. The time to act is now, and the 20 million transport workers we represent are ready to play their part. If we act now and act together, dangerous climate change can be averted."

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

Interview: Napoleón Gómez Urrutia's return to Mexico a triumph for freedom of association

11.09.2018:   After 12 years of self-imposed exile in Canada, the leader of the Los Mineros union, Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, has finally returned to Mexico, where he will take on a new role as senator for the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party led by President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Do you see your return as a victory for independent trade unions in their fight for democracy, and a positive step for union rights

Yes, absolutely. It's a real triumph for us in our fight for democracy. And it's not just a victory for the workers at Los Mineros - it's a victory for the working class across Mexico, Latin America and the entire world.

We've managed to withstand 12 years of political persecution and cowardly attacks and fight back with dignity. We're very proud of that. Now we have to work hard to restore workers' rights, which have been bulldozed by corrupt corporations, businesses and governments, undermining both our freedom of association and our democracy.

As senator-elect, what will you do to restore workers' rights?

From the moment I'm sworn in, I'll be fighting to change the country's labour policies. They are behind much of the exploitation of workers because they put the interests of domestic companies and multinationals first.

We are going to reform the Employment Act and draw up a new national labour policy to make sure that workers receive fair pay, that they can do their jobs with dignity and that their rights are respected. We have to put an end to illegitimate collective bargaining agreements. That will be included in the reforms we put forward to make the labour market more democratic, freer and fairer. We also want to take steps to ensure that the North American Free Trade Agreement recognizes and protects the employment rights of workers across the United States, Canada and Mexico. We are looking to make real changes that will help to build a future in which the wellbeing of the working class is ensured.

Do you think you can get the Government of Mexico to ratify the International Labour Organization's Convention No. 176 concerning Safety and Health in Mines?

It's one of my aims, and my responsibility as senator to do so. I'm going to put pressure on the Government to sign the agreement, because we have to make changes from within. It's really important - mining companies still make their employees work in truly unbearable conditions. Workers in our country shouldn't have to put their lives and their health at risk, no matter what they do and where they work.

In the press conference you said that you would seek to get the investigation into the fatal blast at the Pasta de Conchos mine reopened. Do you think you can obtain justice for that terrible tragedy?

I'm been saying that Grupo Mexico committed industrial homicide from the very beginning. Our three demands are: for the bodies of the workers who lost their lives during the explosion to be recovered; for the families to receive decent and fair compensation; and for the investigation to be reopened in order to determine the cause of the tragedy and bring those who committed such negligence to justice. I think Andrés Manuel López Obrador's new government will support these demands.

For the first time, women now make up 50 per cent of Mexico's cabinet. Do you think that's an important step? And what about 31-year-old Luisa María Alcalde as the new Minister of Labour and Social Welfare?

I think it's really great. I've always tried to support and defend women's participation in manufacturing, politics and union work. My wife, Oralia, has been an amazing colleague in that regard, and together we have created groups like the "Women of Steel" in Mexico. My colleagues at Los Mineros are also very happy about these developments.

Alcalde is very smart and well prepared. I'm sure that she will play a key role as Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, communicate effectively with us and build a respectful dialogue in support of our initiatives, which can be advanced by both the Government and those of us in Congress.

I'm confident that we'll succeed. We hope that we'll be able to move forward together to forge a new society that will enhance the wellbeing and prosperity of both the working class and the broader population.

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

ITF President calls for new Ryanair chairman at shareholder meeting

Ryanair must find a new chairman to take the company forward sustainably, President of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) Paddy Crumlin has told an international meeting of major global pension fund trustees.

11/09/2018:   Addressing the annual conference of the Committee on Workers' Capital (CWC) in San Francisco, Mr Crumlin has highlighted the need for fresh leadership at the low-fare airline. This comes ahead of the company's AGM in Ireland on 20 September.

Mr Crumlin said: "It's clear that Ryanair's corporate governance model needs to change. Nine months on from announcing it would recognise unions, the company's progress has been erratic and contradictory. While recognition deals have been signed in some countries, in others workers have been driven to industrial action to make their voices heard. Ryanair doesn't know whether it's coming or going."

"The role of a chair is to hold the company management to account and keep them on track. Instead, in David Bonderman we have a close friend of the chief executive who has kept the same job for 22 years. There is no semblance of independent challenge at boardroom level." "Ryanair needs a chair who works in the interests of all the company's stakeholders - workers, passengers and investors - and doesn't just prop up a cosy management club. That would all give us the confidence that Ryanair can transition to a sustainable business model."

The CWC brings together unions and union trustees from around the world. Attendees include trustees from some of the world's largest pension funds, a number of which are Ryanair shareholders. The ITF will also be talking to US investors, who control almost half of Ryanair's shares.

Last week, ITF and the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) wrote to shareholders asking them to oppose the re-election of Mr Bonderman and overhaul the company's corporate governance practices. Over the following days this call was repeated by shareholder advisory groups Glass Lewis and ISS, both of whom want to see a new Ryanair chairman.

Mr Bonderman has chaired Ryanair since 1996, overseeing a corporate culture which for two decades was virulently anti-union. Concerns about Ryanair's corporate governance model are long-standing, and a number of shareholders have also previously voted against his re-election. This year, Ryanair has gone to the unusual lengths of banning media from its AGM, indicating a fear of public scrutiny consistent with its aversion to independent challenge in the boardroom.

Tomorrow (12 September) Ryanair workers in Germany organised by ITF/ETF affiliate ver.di will be taking industrial action. This is another clear sign of workers' discontent and the inability of the company management to develop a good social dialogue. There are also further plans for major strike action in several European countries later this month.

Later this week, Mr Crumlin and CWC participants will be attending the Principles for Responsible Investment annual conference - also in San Francisco - and he will reiterate the call for shareholders to vote against Mr Bonderman's re-election.

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

UNI Global Union and IndustriALL Global Union condemn Kimberly-Clark's lack of respect for workers

6 September 2018:   Following a global trade union meeting the leading paper and graphical unions from around the world publically condemn the current unacceptable behaviour of Kimberly-Clark towards its workers worldwide.

Despite consistently branding itself as a family company, Kimberly-Clark is developing more of a reputation as an anti-union, anti-worker employer. The irresponsible announcement from the company in January 2018 that over 5,000 jobs would be cut from its global staff over the next three years means all Kimberly-Clark employees, their families and communities, are worried for their future.

Local management in different regions now uses the threat of plant closure to try to push through concessions in bargaining. At Kimberly-Clark's Millicent mill in South Australia, 265 CFMEU members took rolling industrial action challenging the constant threat of mill closure and job losses. The Company has also used heavy-handed tactics and the threat of closure in negotiations at a profitable flagship plant in Wisconsin, USA.

In Europe, the lack of consultation with unions is in fact illegal under European law, as it contradicts the European Works Council Agreement, unions have political recourse available through the German courts. Unions have not yet opted to open this case. Unions in Europe and throughout Kimberly-Clark's operations must urgently be informed and consulted on the company's restructuring plan.

This behaviour is an attack on modern labour relations. Ultimately the treatment of employees will spill over to the company's iconic brands and the global labour movement is united in calling on Kimberly-Clark to begin an honest dialogue with its global trade union partners to meet to resolve the expanding controversy about the company's lack of authentic consultation and heavy-handed tactics.

Following a 6 March meeting at Kimberly-Clark's Atlanta headquarters, the unions made a written proposal of a structured dialogue before any restructuring takes place, as was agreed in the meeting. We stand by that proposal and urge the company to agree and implement the dialogue urgently.

The IndustriALL Global Union Pulp and Paper Work Group, and the UNI Global Union Graphical and Packaging Sector resolve to prepare a global campaign at Kimberly-Clark to be launched if the company continues its hostile union relations, refuses to consult workers on its restructuring plan, and continues its threat of mass dismissals. Kimberly-Clark is turning its back on dedicated employees in North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as Australia. This is not a sustainable business model, jeopardising the company's FSC certification, while damaging the high-quality family brand that has been built up over decades.

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

ITUC, BWI and ITF Welcome End of Exit Permits for 1.5 Million Migrant Workers in Qatar

Brussels, 5 September 2018 ITUC OnLine:   The ITUC, the Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI) and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) have welcomed the announcement by Qatar on 4 September of new legislation which means migrant workers covered by the Labour Code will not have to seek their employer's permission to leave the country.

Law No. 13 of 2018 amends provisions of Law No. 21 of 2015 and Law No. 1 of 2017, which regulate the entry and exit of expatriates.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, "Today marks a huge step for workers' rights and the end of the kafala system for migrant workers in Qatar. An estimated 1.5 million workers will now have the freedom to leave Qatar without their employer's permission with this elimination of a central part of the kafala system of modern slavery, which is still in place in other Gulf countries. Fundamental reforms are underway, and this latest move sets a distinctive example for the region.

"Qatar's next step is to change the law for domestic workers so that they have the same freedom as all other workers. That up to 5% of migrant workers who will require a 'no objection certificate' to leave the country is an interim measure while new systems are put in place. We will monitor the situation of those workers to make sure no exit permits are denied without a proper chance of appeal."

Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary, said, "This is a significant advancement of workers' human rights in Qatar. Now the next step is for the effective implementation of the new legislation so that it will have definite impact on the ground for migrant workers working in Qatar, many of them in construction. In addition, we will continue to seek changes to ensure that all workers including domestic workers have freedom of movement."

ITF General Secretary Steven Cotton said, "Qatar is reforming. Implementing the new law will be a genuinely historic breakthrough for migrant workers, who will no longer be bound by the exit permits, bringing to an end a central feature of the kafala system of modern slavery. For the ITF this means a potential sea change for transport workers and those in aviation, in ports, and in public transport. We are working to build protections for them as workers, recognising international standards and best practice, and will be monitoring any employers who seek to flout these new workers' rights."

The International Labour Organization has been working with the State of Qatar on a three-year programme on working conditions and labour rights for migrant workers.

"The ILO welcomes the enactment of Law No. 13, which will have a direct and positive impact on the lives of migrant workers in Qatar. This first step towards full suppression of exit permits is a clear sign of commitment by the Government of Qatar to labour reforms and a key milestone in the process. The ILO will continue to work closely with the government of Qatar on these reforms," said Houtan Homayounpour, the Head of the ILO Project Office for the State of Qatar.

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

Unions warn of rising inequality if growth without jobs and decent wages continue

The vast majority of the world's people are still waiting for increased job security, higher wages and access to universal social protection, warn unions ahead of the G20 Labour Ministers meeting in Argentina 6-7 September.

03-09-2018:   "Inequality is at an historic high and is rising with no sign of abating and workers' wages are stagnating while productivity and profits soar. Global economic growth is not reaching the pockets of working people. Meanwhile, the concentration of wealth is increasing, with 50 companies holding a combined wealth equivalent to 100 countries. The dominance of digital businesses whose massive stock prices are not based on real profits is a risk to workers, competition, tax revenues and the economy as a whole," said Pierre Habbard, General Secretary, Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC).

The current economic model has contributed to the decline in the labour share of income across the world, and to wages systematically falling behind productivity growth - a model that denies workers their fair share of the fruits of economic progress.

Ninety-four per cent of workers in the world's supply chains are in low-wage, insecure and often unsafe work. Seventy per cent of the world has no or inadequate social protection while at least USD 21 trillion is stashed away in tax havens.

"Raising wages, strengthening social protection, enhancing collective bargaining and reducing inequality can lift employment, reduce informality, strengthen aggregate demand and promote overall economic development and growth," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

However, five-year trend data from the ITUC Global Rights Index shows the decline of collective bargaining and workers' rights, between 2014 and 2018:

  • exclusion from freedom of association has increased by 15% (80 countries to 92 countries);
  • violations of collective bargaining has increased by 32% (87 countries to 115 countries);
  • violation of the right to strike has increased by 41% (87 countries to 123 countries).

Trade unions are calling on the G20 Labour Ministers to commit to a nine-point plan, which deepens and goes beyond past commitments:

  • Ensuring minimum wages are based on and adjusted according to the cost of living;
  • Promoting freedom of association and collective bargaining, particularly on wages;
  • Reinforcing and investing in universal social protection systems;
  • Purging global supply chains of precariousness, informality, slavery and child labour and ensuring that companies take responsibility for their obligations towards workers including by incorporating human rights due diligence throughout their operations;
  • Dealing with climate change and contributing to the realising of the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement by promoting and implementing strategies for a Just Transition to a low-carbon economy;
  • Preparing the workforce for a Just Transition to a digital future of work;
  • Promoting gender pay equality and anti-discrimination in the labour market; investing massively in the care economy and training to create new jobs and lift millions of others out of informality; also, violence in the workplace must be addressed including with legislation on domestic violence leave;
  • Addressing the persistent high youth unemployment levels including through active labour market policies and investment in formal training; and
  • Planning for the integration of refugees and migrants and lifting barriers to social inclusion.

The G20 must not lose sight of commitments made on the labour income share, fair wage policy principles, workers' rights throughout and inside global supply chains, the equal participation of women and men in employment and wages, youth inclusion, occupational health and safety and skills development.

"Last years' G20 Labour Ministers declared that violation of workers' rights could not be part of the competition. This needs to be made real. All employers must take responsibility for decent work for all their workers, whether directly employed or through contractors in supply chains," said Sharan Burrow.

The latest findings from the 2018 Walk Free Slavery Index make delivering on this commitment an imperative. G20 countries annually import over USD 354bn 'at risk' products, produced from sectors in countries where people are subjected to forced labour. According to Walk Free, twelve G20 countries are yet to formally enact laws or policies to stop businesses sourcing goods from forced labour. Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, UK and US have all introduced or are taking steps to introduce laws that would tackle modern slavery - others need to do the same.

"Inequality, unemployment, modern slavery, historic levels of displacement of people, violence against women, marginalised young people, increasing military conflict with an escalation of spending on armaments - we live in a fractured world and it is the G20 must who show the leadership to effect change. The rules of the global economy must be rewritten to grow sustainable economies," said Burrow.

The Labour 20 holds a two-day summit in Mendoza, Argentina, on 4-5 Septemb
er ahead of a consultation with the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers. Read the Statement to the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers' Meeting

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

Union leaders in Colombia face threats and violence

29.08.2018:   Colombia is one of the ten most dangerous countries in the world for workers and trade union leaders, where 19 trade union members have been murdered so far this year. IndustriALL Global Union and other federations have expressed their concerns to Colombia's president, Iván Duque.

19 trade union members have been murdered in Colombia so far in 2018, according to the ITUC Global Rights Index, which ranks Colombia among the ten worst countries for workers. Another report, "Anti-union violence, impunity and protection of trade unionists in Colombia", published by NGO Escuela Nacional Sindical, states that there were 2,220 violations against the life, freedom and integrity of Colombian trade unionists, including 143 murders, between 2012 and 2017.

Social leaders are also targets of violence. The Ombudsman's Office of Colombia has reported that 343 social leaders and human rights activists were murdered across the country between 1 January 2016 and 22 August 2018. The increase in threats and violence against both social and trade union leaders has prompted representatives of the international trade union federations in Latin America to write to President Duque to express their concern.

They denounce the fact that, although the peace process began two years ago, it has not led to greater stability at a national level, in economic terms or with regard to human rights and social justice.

The letter says: It goes without saying that a country that cannot safeguard the lives of its citizens when they themselves are fighting for their human rights cannot possibly achieve social justice.

Calling for measures to improve security and thus better protection of Colombia's citizens, they also said that judicial procedures need to be reviewed in order to end impunity for these crimes.

The federations joined the recent statement made by the United Nations Organization in Colombia condemning the killings of human rights activists and social leaders, and urging the Colombian government to strengthen prevention, protection and investigation measures to guarantee the right to life and integrity of all Colombians.

The unions reaffirmed their commitment to fostering an honest, ongoing and constructive dialogue with the government. Their aim is to create a programme that will promote decent working conditions, establish inspection mechanisms to bring an end to informal working arrangements and lay the groundwork for collective bargaining by sector.

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

Minnesota: AFSCME Local 2822 members working for Hennepin County held an informational picket

UNI and APWU say: the U.S. mail is not for sale!

24 August 2018:   At its convention held in Pittsburgh earlier this week, the American Postal Workers' Union sent a clear message to the Trump administration: The U.S. mail is not for sale!

In June 2018, the Trump administration's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published a proposal to privatise the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). OMB claims that "like many European nations, the United States could privatize its postal operator while maintaining strong regulatory oversight to ensure fair competition and reasonable prices for customers."

Head of UNI Post & Logistics Cornelia Broos underlined in her speech at the convention that: "only a hand full postal companies have been privatized worldwide (within of the EU, only 6). The consequences of privatisation always mean the downsizing of the network, the cut of employment )in average 25%) and a raise in prices by 20-30%. Privatisation was never, ever successful in history, nowhere! Not successful for the citizens, nor for the workers."

The convention's theme of "Fighting today for a better tomorrow" was put into reality with a rally of hundreds of postal workers from all 50 states showing that postal workers are clearly against the privatisation of the service.

"This White House, the Heritage Foundation, and their billionaire backers, the Wall Street investors, they want their greedy hands on the public till and the public good - but they've started something that they're not going to be able to stop," said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. "They think this is their time...We're going to show them this is truly our time."

UNI Global Union pledges full support and solidarity with the postal workers and their unions in their fight to protect this vital public service. "UNI Post & Logistics represents more than 2.5 million postal workers in 160 trade unions all over the world," Broos said. "We will work together, and we will fight together, and we will win together! The post must remain public! US Mail Not for Sale!"

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

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