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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.
Avianca must cease its attack on Colombian pilots
19 Jul 2019: The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) demands that the Colombian courts dismiss a claim filed by Avianca to have the country's pilot union dissolved.
The Asociaciòn Colombiana de Aviadores Civiles (ACDAC) is facing legal repression at a time when Avianca itself is being investigated for allegedly wiretapping the union during a long-running industrial dispute. If charged, senior managers at the airline could face criminal prosecution. However, if the union is banned before that point the case against Avianca would be substantially weakened.
This latest court filing follows several years in which Avianca has attempted to evade workers' legitimate demands for fair pay and employment conditions. ACDAC pilots began industrial action in September 2017 after reaching an impasse in negotiations with the company, but soon faced a governmental and judicial crackdown for exercising their fundamental rights.
In October 2017 the Colombian supreme court ruled the strike illegal, claiming that air travel is an essential public service - in contravention of advice from the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This opened the door to Avianca disciplining and dismissing union activists, leading to ACDAC filing a complaint with the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association.
Now, in attempting to have the union banned, Avianca is aiming both to resolve an industrial dispute by illegitimate means and to obstruct a criminal investigation against its own management. ITF condemns this action in the strongest terms and calls on the Colombian judiciary to recognise the airline's repressive tactics for what they are. ACDAC has until Tuesday 23 July to respond to the court, with a judgement expected by the end of the month. ITF stands shoulder to shoulder with the Colombian pilots and their union in their struggle for fundamental rights and against managerial corruption.
Stephen Cotton, ITF general secretary, said: "We stand with our brothers and sisters in Colombia against this outrageous attempt to repress free trade union activity. Avianca's attack on our affiliate ACDAC is a transparent distraction from the ongoing criminal investigation into the airline's own management." "We cannot live in a world where, threatened with the consequences of its own misconduct, an employer can have a union legally dissolved. We call on the Colombian judiciary to reject this claim and allow the investigation into Avianca to continue unimpeded."
UNI Global Union and Sherpa send formal notice to Teleperformance--calling on the world leader in call centres to strengthen workers' rights
18 July 2019: French NGO Sherpa and the 20 million-member UNI Global Union formally put Paris-based outsourcing giant Teleperformance on notice today that it must comply with its duty of vigilance regarding human rights. Both organisations filed the warning because they do not believe Teleperformance's vigilance plan meets the minimum requirements of the French "loi sur le devoir de vigilance", the Law on the Duty of Vigilance.
Teleperformance, the world leader in customer relationship outsourcing and one of the largest global French employers, has some of its biggest operations in countries where there is a high risk of human rights violations, such as Colombia, Mexico and the Philippines. Necessary steps to identify and mitigate risks of rights violations in these and other countries have not been included in Teleperformance's vigilance plan.
This is the first time that a formal notice has been sent to a company under this law to defend workers' rights abroad.
Unknown to the general public, Teleperformance operates in the hidden side of the digital economy. A specialist in customer relationship outsourcing, the French company employs more than 300,000 people in its contact centres around the world who are responsible for responding to customer requests via phone, email, social media and live chat for companies like Apple, Uber, Amazon, and U.S. telecommunications company AT&T. Teleperformance also performs visa processing work for the French government in countries like Egypt, Gabon and Uzbekistan. When French consumers call the customer helpline for some of the country's most recognizable companies, they do not know the sometimes deplorable working conditions on the other side of the line.
Last week UNI Global Union released a report on working conditions in Colombia that details insufficient protections for employee rights, including obstacles to freedom of association, alleged wage theft, extreme invasion of privacy, and pregnancy tests for female workers.
The 2017 law on the duty of vigilance requires large French companies to identify the risks of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in their global operations and to provide appropriate measures to prevent such violations. This landmark law, supported by Sherpa and a broad coalition of civil society organizations including some French Unions, aims to force parent companies to prevent violations caused by their activities, even if these breaches take place in their foreign operations, subsidiaries or supply chains.
Despite UNI Global Union raising concerns, Teleperformance did not publish a vigilance plan in its annual report in 2018 and only published a two-page plan in 2019, without involving trade unions as stakeholders. No efforts were made to identify and prevent specific risks of violations to workers' rights in its foreign facilities.
Today, Sherpa and UNI Global Union formally demand that Teleperformance strengthen its vigilance standards and procedures. If the company does not take appropriate measures within the next three months, including involving trade unions as stakeholders, our organisations may take a court action where the company could be ordered to comply with its obligations under the law.
For Sandra Cossart, Sherpa's Director: "The law on the duty of vigilance requires much more than a formal exercise to publish a plan, it is about taking appropriate measures to identify and prevent the risks of serious harm. This law does not only concern French multinationals known to consumers, but also less visible companies, such as Teleperformance, which also operate in high-risk countries. Teleperformance must now do everything possible to prevent violations of workers' rights, or it will be held to account before the courts."
For Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union: "Teleperformance has decided to operate its business in countries which often fail the test of respect for human rights, and in particular for the rights of workers. In light of this, the company has a responsibility to adopt a credible and wholistic plan to prevent these risks from becoming reality, and the plan published so far does not meet this test. The company should also correct the existing problems which have been reported by workers to UNI so that these do not become even more widespread."
International condemnation as repression deepens in Kazakhstan
The ITUC has harshly condemned the sentencing of Kazakhstan trade union leader Erlan Baltabay. Efforts to improve freedom of association for working people are once again jeopardised; but the country's new leadership could still intervene.
17-07-2019: Erlan Baltabay, the leader of the Oil and Energy workers' union based in the southern city of Shymkent, has today been sentenced to 7 years in prison as well as to a 7-year ban on conducting any public activity. The trade union which he led was dissolved by the court amid a broader crackdown on independent trade union activity. The criminal proceedings against Baltabay were opened in retaliation for his trade union activism and principled position in support of other leaders of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (CITUK) condemned to different limitations of their freedoms. These criminal proceedings, as well as those against CITUK's Larisa Kharkova, Amin Eleusinov and Nurbek Kushakpaev, silence and repress leaders of independent trade unions and prevent others from taking an active role in implementing real freedom of association in the country.
"It is an outrage that the independent voices of working people are being systematically smothered. Kazakhstan's repression is internationally recognised, and instead of deepening this crisis, the country's new leadership must step in to build social consensus and resolve the situation by committing to a rights-based approach. This is a defining first test for recently elected President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
International pressure has been mounting for the Kazakhstan government to address the situation. In 2017, Baltabay himself testified at the International Labour Organization's (ILO) about the repressive measures that the government has imposed on independent trade unions in Kazakhstan. At the ILO centenary conference last month, Kazakhstan was singled out and sanctioned for "its persistent lack of progress" towards addressing abuses of core labour standards on freedom of association and the right to organize. The charges against Baltabay have also been condemned by Human Rights Watch.
"The international labour movement abhors this latest abuse and we are ready to defend our fellow workers in their struggle. It is not too late for the government to address the situation, and we are willing to assist, but the government must give a strong signal that it is ready to treat working people, not as subjects to be dictated to, but as citizens, with rights to be respected. Kazakhstan was recently once again recognised by the ITUC rights index as among the top-10 workers' rights oppressors in the world. Kazakhstan's international partners, including EU and OECD countries, are on notice about persistent violations of its international obligations and failure to respect international labour standards" concluded Burrow.
Afghanistan: Radio journalist found murdered after disappearance
16 July 2019: Nader Shah Sahebzadeh, a talk show host for Radio Gardez Ghar, was found killed in the Gardez, the capital of Paktia province in Afghanistan's east. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) stands with its affiliate the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) in condemning his murder and demands Afghanistan's authorities thoroughly investigate the case and bring his killers to justice.
Aminullah Amiri, editor-in-chief of Radio Gardez Ghar, told AIJA that Sahebzadeh went missing after leaving his home for friend's house on the evening of Friday, July 12.
Police found Sahebzadeh's dead body in the early hours of Saturday, July 13. Police chief Mohammad Hosman Jahnbaz said it was not immediately clear if the killing was linked to his work or a personal dispute. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killing. The Taliban and the extremist group Islamic State have both attacked reporters in the past.
Sahebzadeh was employed by Radio Gardez Ghar for three years.
According to AIJA, Sahebzadeh's murder was the seventh media worker death recorded in Afghanistan this year. On July 1, a car packed with explosive devices was driven into an area of Kabul, near private broadcaster Shamshad TV. Five men and two women media workers were injured in the explosion which was reported to be targeting defence and government offices in the area.
IFJ monitoring found Afghanistan was the deadliest place for journalists in the world in 2018. According to the IFJ list of Journalists & media staff killed in 2018, 16 journalists and media workers were targeted for their work in Afghanistan in the year. AIJA has called the Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs for an immediate investigation into the murder of Nader Shah Sahebzadeh and prosecute the perpetrators. The IFJ and its affiliates are campaigning for a Convention on the Safety and Independence of Journalists and other media professionals to protect media workers globally.
The IFJ general secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: "Last year, Afghanistan was the deadliest country in the world for journalists. This lethal carnage only reinforces our duty to act and hold governments responsible for the lack of investigation for journalists' crimes. We strongly demand the authorities to take urgent action to find Nader Shah Sahebzadeh's killers and end the attacks and violence against journalists in the country."
Textile and garment unions in South East Asia build networks
15 July, 2019: Trade union leaders from IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in seven countries in South East Asia resolved to build networks and increase organizing in the textile and garment sector despite threats and harassment.
Sixty trade unionists from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam gathered in Yangon, Myanmar, on 4 and 5 July for IndustriALL's regional textile, garment, shoes and leather (TGSL) meeting on organizing in supply chains.
Cambodian affiliates condemned the dirty tactics used by Cambodian employers to thwart unions' effort in organizing supply chains, including termination of union leaders. Nenden Hirawati from National Industrial Workers Union Federation (SPN) said Indonesian employers were equally hostile to trade unions. She added that employers often hire thugs to intimidate unions' organizing efforts and workers were fearful that factories would be shut down and relocated to other regions. Nonetheless, affiliates also highlighted their successes in building worker power in the supply chain.
Unionists shared a variety of organizing strategies to overcome obstacles, including direct negotiation with employers, mediation with the assistance of global brands, and the use of ILO conventions.
"Outsourcing is a common phenomenon in the TGSL sector, that's why IndustriALL has four key strategies to build industrial relations in the supply chain. We need to create networks amongst our affiliates that support organizing in the sector," said Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL's director for the textile and garment industry. She gave a briefing on how IndustriALL's affiliates could be active in holding brands accountable for the business practices through the OECD's Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear Sector. Trade unions should also use global framework agreements to establish relationships with brands and resolve disputes within supplier companies.
Another key strategy to building union power across the supply chain is the creation of trade union networks. The meeting also hosted the first South East Asia network gathering for the Coats and Birla networks. Further steps will now be taken to expand these networks regionally and globally.
"Currently, IndustriALL has 10 union network meetings in the region every year and we have many successful stories. In solidarity with their counterparts in other countries, our regional affiliates shared useful information about multinational companies, such as wage structure, health and safety issues, and direct dialogue strategy with employers," said IndustriALL's South East Asia regional secretary, Annie Adviento. The meeting also included a presentation on how to use Fashion Revolution, a movement to improve sustainability and working conditions in the garment sector, to increase union visibility in global supply chains.
Resistance and Solidarity: Amazon workers demand a better deal this Prime Day
15 July 2019: This Prime Day, scores of Amazon workers across Europe will be protesting and striking to win safer working conditions, living wages, and collective agreements with their unions at the e-giant's warehouses. Amazon employees and supporters will be taking action in Germany, the UK, Spain, and Poland. Warehouse workers in the United States will be walking off the job as well.
Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union, said: "Amazon workers want change at the company. In recent weeks, we've seen employees challenge Amazon's response to our climate crisis and condemn its unethical use of facial recognition technologies. Today, workers are demanding an end to Amazon's brutal conditions and to its ongoing attack on their rights. "Amazon's incredible wealth and enormous global footprint has been built on the backs of its workers, and this employee uprising is calling for greater accountability and responsibility."
Stuart Appelbaum, President of UNI Global Commerce and President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) in the United States, commented: "Amazon needs to understand that human beings are not robots. By doubling Prime Day's duration and halving the delivery time, the company is testing hundreds of thousands of workers' physical limits as though they were trained triathletes. This is plain wrong. "Operating at these speeds for this duration means Amazon needs to hire more workers, under more sustainable speeds that don't put workers' lives in jeopardy. Instead, we are seeing a callous indifference to worker safety.
In Germany, ver.di strikes to demand that Amazon "stop discounting workers' wages"
In the UK, the GMB holds nationwide protests
Spanish workers will demonstrate Madrid
Polish unions launch ongoing protests
Court confirms #TheCargill14 were fired for forming a union
11 July 2019: A local Turkish court determined on July 10, 2019 that workers at Cargill's Bursa-Orhangazi factory were dismissed in April 2018 solely as a consequence of their union activity. The expert report, which informed the court's decision, confirmed that the company's justifications for dismissal were groundless. The workers were fired because they had joined Tekgida-Is.
Despite this court finding, Turkish law does permit employers under these circumstances to offer compensation as an alternative to reinstatement.
Since April 2018, the workers unfairly dismissed by Cargill have marched, picketed and rallied to demand their full reinstatement with the support of the IUF, Tekgida-Is, and Cargill unions around the world. Together, we will continue to fight for their reinstatement and the right of workers at Cargill Turkey to freely form or join a union without fear of victimization.
Solidarity with Hong Kong education unionists' protest actions
09.07.201: Education International firmly supports its affiliates in Hong Kong and Taiwan who are protesting against the legislative change which would facilitate extradition to mainland China.
The Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union (PTU), joined by the National Teachers' Association of Taiwan (NTA), demand the withdrawal of the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 proposed by the Hong Kong authorities.
More than one million protesters took to the streets on 9 June, and two million on 16 June, to demand that the government withdraw the bill which would allow virtually anyone to be picked up and detained in mainland China. As the NTA President Hsu-Cheng Chang puts it: "It is feared that the new law would target not just criminals but political and human rights activists as well, which will eventually lead to the erosion of civil liberties in Hong Kong."
The Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union launched class boycotts across Hong Kong starting 12 June. Teachers were invited to explain the significance of the anti-extradition protests while ensuring the safety of their students. PTU criticised the government for pushing forward the legal amendments by all means. The union also denounced Hong Kong police using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters. Many students and a teacher were injured during the clashes.
PTU demands an independent investigation on the police's use of force on 12 June and that protesters not be prosecuted.
Djibouti: ITUC demands an end to repression against teachers and railway workers
The ITUC is demanding an end to the detention and suspension of workers in Djibouti, in the education and railway sectors, following the arrest and imprisonment of six teachers and the suspension of 37 railway workers.
09-07-2019: Six teachers, members of the country's teachers' union, have been detained over the past month, following their arrest on unfounded accusations of disclosing the contents of a 2019 baccalaureate examination. Despite a provisional court order for their release, they are being kept in detention. Another teacher was sentenced to three months in prison on defamation charges after she expressed support for her colleagues on social media. That sentence has been suspended, due to the fact that she is eight months pregnant.
The railway workers, employed by the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), have been suspended for several weeks after protesting against low wages, insecure jobs and poor working conditions including a lack of drinking water, toilets and accommodation. The Chinese state-owned company has refused to abide by Djibouti's labour code and has not responded to a request from national trade union centre UDT to discuss and resolve the problems. China is channeling hundreds of millions of dollars of investments into Djibouti, including the construction of one of the world's largest ports, a new airport and a military base. Djibouti already hosts US and Japanese military bases.
"Djibouti has a very poor track record on workers' rights, with workers who seek trade union representation often subject to rights violations, as well as ongoing repression against the leaders of the trade union centres UDT and UGTD. The ITUC calls on the government to immediately release the detained teachers and drop the fabricated charges against them. It must also ensure that the railway workers are reinstated and compensated, and that the Chinese conglomerate that employs them pays fair wages and provides decent working conditions. China, and indeed any country investing, also needs to ensure that labour and other human rights, as well as environmental standards, are upheld," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
A briefing on the situation in Djibouti was given to international and regional trade union representatives at a conference jointly organised by the ITUC, ITUC-Africa and the Horn of Africa Confederation of Trade Unions (HACTU) last week in Addis Ababa, on the role of trade unions in peace-building and democracy. "Denial of fundamental workers' rights represents a serious threat to democracy and peace. Ensuring that these rights are respected is all the more important in an area such as the Horn of Africa, which has been riven by conflict over the years," said Burrow.
Myanmar unions call on brands to join ACT in fight for living wage
8 July, 2019 IndustriALL's Myanmar affiliates are committed to continue the fight for a living wage through building union power and industry wide collective bargaining, and called on global brands and retailers to support the ACT initiative.
The call was made at a living wage strategy meeting in Yangon on 2-3 July. The unions said that working families could not make ends meet with the new minimum wage of 4,800 Kyat (US $3.60) announced by the government in March 2018. The trade union leaders welcomed the commitments of the nineteen global brands, including H&M, Zara and Calvin Klein, who have agreed to work with IndustriALL and national trade unions to improve wages for garment workers.
They acknowledged the need to change how business is done in the global garment supply chain, and called on major global brands and retailers to join ACT so that workers can be paid a living wage. The global sports brand Adidas was identified by several trade union leaders as a key brand that needs to join this global effort.
Explaining living costs, members of the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM) said that accommodation, food, transportation, education, clothes and utilities were costly, and any notion of building savings was an unattainable dream. "I need at least 8,600 Kyat a day for the survival of my family. My parents are old and I am the only bread winner in the family. I have no idea how to find more money for my family and I worry about tomorrow. I want a living wage to secure our lives in the future," said one trade union president.
Key obstacles to achieving a living wage in Myanmar include the reluctance of employers to share profits, and the role of brands in setting prices. Unions cited the government's failure to protect workers' right when employers violate the minimum wage.
IndustriALL's garment and textile industry director, Christina Hajagos-Clausen, said: "Reforming the purchasing practices of the global brands and retailers that have the greatest negative impact on wages and working conditions is a major step forward in achieving a living wage. I look forward to working with the IWFM to establish industry-wide collective bargaining." She added that other major global brands and retailers now need to make the same commitments as ACT brands to ensure that their purchasing practices facilitate the payment of a living wage.
The IWFM leaders developed a comprehensive campaign plan that includes calling on non-signatory brands to join ACT, and a communication plan to educate national stakeholders on the importance of raising wages in the sector for workers.
Calls for sustainable mining after 43 artisanal miners killed in DRC landslide
4 July, 2019: The death of 43 artisanal miners at a Glencore-owned Kamoto Copper Company mine in Kolwezi, Lualaba Province, highlights the vulnerable situation of artisanal miners in Sub Saharan Africa.
A landslide at an open excavation pit at KOV mine on 27 June killed 43 miners, with others still missing. The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has responded by sending the army to the mine where over 2,000 artisanal miners dig for cobalt.
"IndustriALL condemns the decision of the government to deploy the army and regards this as mistaken and unfortunate as it only worsens an already volatile situation and could lead to further bloodshed and loss of life. "It is a short-term solution to a complicated problem and reflects policy failure on the part of the government and the mining industry in the DRC," said Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary.
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is legal in the DRC. Miners dig for copper and cobalt, which is in high demand for use in batteries for electric vehicles and smart phones. The miners, locally known as creuseurs, use basic tools such as picks, shovels and panning equipment. In some cases, they mine the same concessions as large multinational companies. However, the companies are favoured by the government whilst the artisanal miners are ignored and blamed for damaging the environment and operating illegally. They work without support in dangerous conditions.
IndustriALL regional secretary Paule Ndessomin said: "In the DRC, the miners are arbitrarily and sometimes violently moved from one place to another after concessions they previously mined are sold to multinational corporations and Chinese companies. The cobalt they mine is sold in an unfair formal market exploited by traders who operate in a shady supply chain."
Said Isaac Kiki, the chairperson of IndustriALL Lualaba Province, a committee of IndustriALL affiliates OTUC, UNTC and CDT: "We are saddened by the death of so many miners; our brothers that we live with in the same community who died while trying to find means to escape poverty. The government must put in place measures to make artisanal mining safe."
The unions support the revised Mining Code which promotes mining as a source of inclusive development. There are over 12 million artisanal miners in the DRC who mine 30 per cent of the country's cobalt.
Despite ASM being ostracized and laws to formalize it being unclear in some countries, the African Union's African Mining Vision recommends transforming "ASM communities from vulnerable and marginal enclaves of unorganized groups of miners and other actors into integrated and functionally sustainable and resilient communities."
Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL director of mining concurs that ASM should be transformed using the International Labour Organization's fundamental principles and rights at work.
"We recommend responsible mining which considers the ILO principles and national labour laws and support due diligence in the mining supply chain to ensure that sourcing of the minerals respects the human and labour rights of miners. Governments should also formulate policies that formalize and recognize ASM, especially its importance to social and economic development. ASM shouldn't be marginalized as it contributes to poverty reduction."
At the Alternative Mining Indaba in Cape Town, South Africa in February, one of the recommendations was for multinational companies to work with ASM for sustainable mining that is inclusive and beneficial to marginalized communities.
Amazon shuts down talks with Polish unions
4 July 2019: Yet again, Amazon is refusing to negotiate better conditions with its employees.
On July 2, the second meeting between Amazon Fulfilment Poland and two unions representing warehouse workers broke down when the company walked away from the table. During the discussions, mediated by Pawel Galtz, Amazon rejected key proposals by NSZZ Solidarity Union (Solidarnosc) and Workers' Initiative (Inicjatywa Pracownicza) on how workers are assessed by the company.
Despite Amazon's outright dismissal of the issues, the unions were willing to continue the dialog, but the management broke off all discussions. "Amazon has a history of walking away from true, constructive dialog with unions and workers in Poland and beyond," said Mathias Bolton, Head of UNI Commerce. "This is why workers are organizing to make sure their voices are heard and their issues are addressed."
The unions will decide on their next steps in the next few days. In May, they announced a collective dispute that could eventually lead to a strike.
After the break down of mediation, they released the following statement: "We oppose the increase of indicators (standards) as a result of increased personal contribution of employees regardless of the prevailing technical or organizational conditions (treatment of labour standards in accordance with Article 83 of the Labour Code). In our opinion, exceeding the standards does not constitute a basis for their change if it is the result of an increased personal contribution of an employee or his or her professional fitness, and not the result of organisational or technical improvements. "We proposed extending the period taken into account in the employee appraisal."
"We oppose the application of one standard regardless of the psychophysical features of the employee - currently Amazon does not include, among others, the categories of gender, age, and employment for a fixed and indefinite period, referred to in Article 18 (3a) of the Labour Code. In our opinion, the criteria for evaluation according to the indicated standards should look different in the case of women and older workers, and the evaluation itself should not affect the conclusion or non conclusion of employment contracts with employees for an indefinite period of time. "We demanded the participation of the social side in the procedure of setting the objectives and their verification."
The unions also want to see changes to the company's abuse of temporary workers.
Honduras: Social crisis affects the country
28 June 2019: Honduras is facing a worrying political crisis marked by intense protests actions against President Juan Orlando Hernández. To date, three people have been killed and twenty injured.
Mobilizations began at the end of April, when Congress approved specific decrees intended to implement changes in health and education areas, declare an emergency state, review of country's economic situation, evaluate health and education professionals and create commissions to achieve a restructuring process of these sectors. Trade unions oppose these initiatives which they view as an attempt to privatize these services. Privatization would not only impact on much-needed services for workers and their families, but it would also undermine benefits for doctors and teachers. At the same time, fraud allegations involving the current President was another reason for the strike.
Due to the massive protests, the Government was forced to repeal the decrees. Nevertheless, Honduran people are continuing their fight. With the brutal deployment of the Army against the people in strike on 19 June Hondurans are now demanding for the immediate resignation of President Hernández. Additionally, hundreds of police officers showed their dissent to the government's action also went on strike on 19 June. The strike was intended to send a message to Hondurans that the police officers do not want to be used to repress and attack people who are in the streets engaged in the strike.
"We are not surprised that Honduran people continue expressing their historic discontent by taking to the streets. Lack of services in education, health, security and other essential public services are associated with poverty in this country. The BWI supports the Honduran workers in their just demands and we are willing to provide assistance to our affiliates in the country," said Saúl Méndez, President of the BWI Regional Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean.
According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Honduras is the poorest country in the region. 65.7 percent of its citizens are in a precarious situation in 2019. It should be noted that when President Hernández won his re-election, the Organization of American States (OAS) stated, "electoral process was characterized by irregularities and deficiencies, whose allows to be classified it as having very low technical quality and lacking integrity".
Taking action to climate-proof our work #CPOW
People from around the world are participating in today's international day of action to "climate-proof our work". Together with their unions, workers from over 1,000 workplaces from dozens of countries are getting involved in the first event of its kind.
26-06-2019: "Workers recognise the existential threat that is before us and the need for action. We are challenging business models and providing the momentum to align them with the transition effort. Amid the growing anxiety, we are reaching out to businesses to build together a net-zero future from the ground up," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
Climate scientists have given the world until 2030 to stablise the planet with a maximum 1.5 degree temperature rise. More than 83 million climate refugees are now on record as fleeing from disaster or loss of livelihoods.
"Workers and employers want a sense of security, and climate change is a driver of a more uncertain future for us and our families," read the initial letters sent to employers. People were encouraged to ask their bosses three questions: Do you measure CO2 emissions? Will we have net-zero emissions by 2050, or have a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030? What will we do to get there?
"Getting all hands on deck to face off the climate crisis requires a just transition. That means planning, with short-, medium- and long-term objectives as well as a robust monitoring framework. It means consultation, with workers having the right to know about how and when the transition will take place at their workplace level. It means training, so that people build on their skills and are equipped to contribute to a sustainable world of work," explained Burrow.
While feedback from the ongoing action continues to come in, initial indications suggest that employers have been receptive to meeting on the issue. Dialogue is the first step for unions, who are committed to achieving sustainable jobs on a living planet. A number of global mobilisations will take place around the UN Climate Summit on Monday 23 September, starting with a global student strike on Friday 20 September and culminating with a global day of action on Friday 27 September.
Trade union repression continues in Algeria
20 June, 2019: Independent Algerian trade union leader, Raouf Mellal, was at the International Labour Conference in Geneva this week to highlight the human rights abuses he and his fellow trade unionists have suffered at the hands of the Algerian authorities.
It is the third year running that Algeria has been under scrutiny by the Committee on the Application of Standards at the Conference for violations of fundamental ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association.
Raouf Mellal, who is president of IndustriALL Global Union gas and electricity affiliate, SNATEG, addressed the Committee on 17 June alongside representatives of independent trade unions from other global unions, IUF and PSI. He called on the Algerian government to stop repression of trade unionists. Raouf explained how treatment of trade union leaders in Algeria, who are threatened, harassed and pursued through the courts, is deteriorating further. On 23 April this year, Raouf was violently arrested at a peaceful demonstration and taken to the police headquarters where he was undressed, abused and forced to sit on an iron chair while he was interrogated.
Following the hearing, the Committee on the Application of Standards published its draft conclusions on 19 June. It called on the Algerian government to:
A high-level ILO mission to the country on 21 to 23 May this year, made several recommendations calling on the Algerian government to recognize and register independent unions; immediately reinstate illegally dismissed trade union leaders such as Raouf Mellal; and allow contract workers to join trade unions.
Phillipines: BWI condemns murder of Trade Union Organizer
19 June 2019: The Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI) has condemned in the strongest possible terms the murder of Leonides "Dennis" Sequeña, a veteran trade union organiser and vice-chairperson of the Cavite Chapter of Partido Manggagawa (PM), the latest victim in a growing list of assassinated trade unionists in the Philippines.
"Our deepest sympathies go to Dennis' family, friends and co-workers for this immeasurable loss." said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. "We condemn all parties involved in this horrific tragedy, and demand that a full independent investigation is under taken and justice is done."
Mr. Sequeña was shot and killed by a gunman riding in a tandem motorcycle on 2 June while meeting a group of workers in Cavite. He was immediately brought to the General Trias Maternity and Pediatric Hospital, but doctors failed to revive him. Sequeña was in the process of making petitions for certification elections in three companies working within the Cavite Export Processing Zone.
Since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 the Philippines has been shaken by a so-called 'war on drugs' that Philippine police claim has killed 5,000 people, but activists claim the figure is more like 27,000.
"Increasingly we are seeing that the conflict opened up by Duterte's drug war is being expanded to a war on the poor and workers," Yuson continued. "Trade unionists, peasant leaders, environmental and human activists are all falling victim to these brutal killings, and there seems to be no end in sight. Far from making the Philippine safer, these killings are putting trade unionists directly in the firing line and is hacking away at the very basis of Philippine society."
ITUC Global Rights Index 2019: Democracy in crisis as brutal repression used to silence age of anger
New technology allows employers to avoid paying minimum entitlements and exclude workers from labour laws.
Brussels, 19 June 2019 (ITUC OnLine): The systematic dismantling of the foundations of workplace democracy and the violent repression of strikes and protests put peace and stability at risk, according to the annual ITUC Global Rights Index. Extreme violence against the defenders of workplace rights saw large scale arrests and detentions in India, Turkey and Vietnam.
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation said, "From Hong Kong to Mauritania, the Philippines to Turkey, governments are attempting to silence the age of anger by constraining freedom of speech and assembly. In 72% of countries, workers had no or restricted access to justice, with severe cases reported in Cambodia, China, Iran and Zimbabwe."
"The breakdown of the social contract between workers, governments and business has seen the number of countries which exclude workers from the right to establish or join a trade union increase from 92 in 2018 to 107 in 2019. The greatest increase took place in Europe where 50% of countries now exclude groups of workers from the law, up from 20% in 2018. Decent work is being affected and rights are being denied by companies avoiding rules and regulations."
"No worker should be left behind because their employer chooses to adopt a business model that obscures employment responsibility or their government refuses legislation to enforce workers' rights. More and more governments are complicit in facilitating labour exploitation because workers are forced to work in the informal sector of the economy," said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC.
Attacks on the right to strike in 85% of countries and collective bargaining in 80% of countries undermine the role of trade unions. All strikes and demonstrations were banned in Chad, while court orders were used to stop strike actions in Croatia, Georgia, Kenya and Nigeria. Europe, traditionally the mainstay of collective bargaining rights, saw companies in Estonia, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain undermine workers' rights.
"Companies who have systematically attacked workers' rights now face global protests. Uber is battling strikes and regulatory battles from Australia to South Korea, Mumbai to San Francisco. Workers in Amazon warehouses in Europe and the USA engaged in protest and strike actions and unions across Europe staged the biggest strike in Ryanair's history. Corporate greed may be global, but workers' actions are unified on a scale not seen before," said Burrow.
The ITUC Global Rights Index 2019 ranks 145 countries against 97 internationally recognised indicators to assess where workers' rights are best protected in law and in practice. The report's key findings include:
"Trade unions are on the front lines in a struggle to claim democratic rights and freedoms from the corporate greed that has captured governments such that they act against workers' rights. We need a New Social Contract between workers, governments and business to rebuild trust as people lose faith in democracies. It's time to change the rules," said Burrow.
The report ranks the ten worst countries for workers' rights in 2019 as Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Zimbabwe. Brazil and Zimbabwe entered the ten worst countries for the first time with the adoption of regressive laws, violent repression of strikes and protest, and threats and intimidation of union leaders. Belgium, Brazil, Eswatini, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Thailand and Vietnam have all seen their rankings worsen in 2019 with a rise in attacks on workers' rights in law and practice.
The Middle East and North Africa was again the worst region for treatment of workers, with the kafala system continuing to exclude migrants, the overwhelming majority of the workforce, from any labour protection, leaving 90% of the workforce unable to access their rights to form or join a trade union. The absolute denial of basic workers' rights remained in place in Saudi Arabia where an Indonesian worker was secretly executed.
Conditions in Asia-Pacific deteriorated more than any other region with an increase in violence, criminalisation of the right to the strike and violent attacks on workers. Ten trade unionists were murdered in the Philippines in 2018. In Africa, workers were arrested or detained in 49% of countries. Attacks on workers reached unprecedented levels in Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, Ghana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe as security forces fired live ammunition at protesting workers.
The Americas remain plagued by the pervasive climate of extreme violence and repression against workers and union members; in Colombia alone, 34 trade unionists were murdered in 2018 - a dramatic rise from 15 in the previous year. In Europe, workers were arrested and detained in 25% of countries. Trade union leaders were murdered in Turkey and Italy.
The ITUC has been collecting data on violations of workers' rights to trade union membership and collective bargaining around the world for more than 30 years. This is the sixth year the ITUC has presented its findings through the Global Rights Index, putting a unique and comprehensive spotlight on how government laws and business practices have deteriorated or improved in the last 12 months. The three global trends for workers' rights identified in the 2019 Global Rights Index show that democracy is in crisis, governments are attempting to silence the age of anger through brutal repression, but legislative successes for workers' rights are still being won.
"After four years of campaigning by Dunnes Stores workers and union activists, the Irish government brought in legislation to ban zero hours contracts and strengthen the regulation of precarious work. The New Zealand coalition government too, has continued to repeal regressive labour laws and restore protections for workers and strengthen the role of collective bargaining in the workplace," said Burrow.
The 2019 ITUC Global Rights Index rates countries according to 97 indicators, with an overall score placing countries in rankings of one to five plus.
Source: International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates
Trade Unions in South Korea for Ratification of ILO Core Conventions
15 April 2019 Today the Korean Construction Workers' Union (KCWU) affiliated to the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions (KFCITU) held a rally demanding the government guarantee construction workers basic labor rights in front of Namdaemun on April 13th. Then they marched to join more than 20,000 at the main rally organized by its national center, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). The key demands of the main rally included ratify ILO core conventions including conventions 87 and 98; amend Article 2 of the Labour Union Act; and guarantee specially-employed workers such as self-employed, contractor, and "misclassified" workers basic labor rights."
In addressing the protesters, KCTU Chairman Kim Myeong Hwan stated, "President Moon Jae-in promised to guarantee specially-employed workers basic labor rights even before he took office, but he has failed to do so after three years from in office and now he is attempting to eliminate the right to association for specially employed workers. We call on President to keep his promise to workers in South Korea."
Lee Young Cheol, Chair of the Specially Employed Workers' Association and the Vice President of the KCWU added, "We must not forget the martyrs who sacrificed themselves for the rights of workers for the past two decades. We will continue to fight and mobilize until the ILO General Assembly in June to ratify the ILO core conventions and revise the labor union law. The specially employed workers, will take the lead in this important struggle."
Following the rally, participants marched to the Presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
The BWI along with UNI and ITF sent letters to the South Korean government this week calling for the immediate ratification of the ILO core conventions to ensure basic labor rights.
In the letter, BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson urged President Moon Jae In to live up to his campaign promises to South Korean workers. He stated, "This is the 100th anniversary of the ILO. It would be only fitting that South Korea shows its commitment to abide by international standards by ratifying the core ILO conventions."
PSI supports KCTU's general strike for ratification of ILO Core Conventions without regression
05 March 2019: Social dialogue towards ratification of ILO Core Conventions 87 (freedom of association) and 98 (collective bargaining) in the Republic of Korea appears to be moving in the direction of actually weakening fundamental labour rights.
Public Services International (PSI) expresses its support for the KCTU General Strike and concern that social dialogue towards ratification of ILO Core Conventions 87 (freedom of association) and 98 (collective bargaining) in the Republic of Korea appears to be moving in the direction of actually weakening fundamental labour rights.
Discussions on ratification of ILO conventions and revision of labour law are currently taking place in the Committee on Improvement of Labour Relations Law and Practice of the Economic, a subcommittee of the Social and Labour Council (ESLC), a social dialogue body established by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The committee is scheduled to issue recommendations on labour law revision on March 7.
Public interest members of the committee have already issued recommendations on labour law revision, which fall well below international standards by failing to guarantee trade union rights for self-employed workers, maintaining restrictions on freedom of association and political activities for government employees and teachers, and calling for new concrete limitations on the participation of dismissed and unemployed workers and officers of unions formed above the company level. Legislation based on these recommendations, but that is even more restrictive, has already been proposed in the National Assembly.
Further, PSI has learned that employers' representatives involved in the ESLC process have called for further revisions of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Adjustment Act (TULRAA), which put even greater restrictions on trade union rights, particularly the right to strike, while granting employers new powers, such as to make claims of 'unfair labour practices' against unions. The Moon Jae-in government has indicated willingness to accept many of these demands, claiming this is necessary to win support for ratification of ILO conventions.
PSI is particularly concerned that throughout committee discussions, guarantees for self-employed and precarious workers are being side-lined. The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association has, on several occasions, recommended that the South Korean government take the necessary steps to protect the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining for these workers. The European Commission, which is currently engaged in formal consultation over the Korean government's failure to live up to obligations under the EU-ROK FTA, has also raised the issue of the exclusion of self-employed, unemployed and dismissed workers from the right to freedom of association as an essential issue the South Korean government must address.
The question of a system of minimum services in line with ILO standards has been left out of the discussion. As it now stands, the broad and vague definition of 'public interest businesses' in South Korean labour law means that many public institutions and other sectors not considered 'essential services in the strict sense of the term' have set excessively high levels of minimum services to be maintained during strikes and that employers may freely use replacement workers to break strikes.
The ILO has also recommended on several occasions that restrictions on the right to strike in workplaces that are not 'essential services in the strict sense of the term', such as railway, airlines and energy companies be keep to a minimum and that unions be granted the right to participate on equal footing with employers in deciding these minimum levels.
PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli has expressed her concern over these developments, stating: "Since 1996 when South Korea joined the OECD, the government has made repeated promises to the international community to ratify ILO Core Conventions and improve the legal framework on trade union rights. PSI welcomed President's Moon promise to live up to these commitments when he first took office, but has been disappointed by what has followed since. The current discussions that tie regressive revision of the labour law to ratification of ILO conventions and ignore past ILO recommendations are unacceptable. Dialogue concerning ratification of ILO conventions should take place following a strict commitment to the principle of non-regression in existing laws and with a view towards actually improving the rights of workers in South Korea."
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.