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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.
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
United Steelworkers files ILO complaint against Quebec government
17 June, 2019: USW Métallos in Canada, whose 1,000 members in Bécancour, Québec, have been locked out from work at the Alcoa plant for nearly 17 months after the company refused to negotiate, has filed a complaint with the International Labour Organization.
The USW complaint stems from Quebec Premier François Legault's interference in negotiations in the 17-month lockout at the aluminum smelter in Bécancour, co-owned by aluminum giants Alcoa and Rio Tinto. "By his statements aimed at discrediting the trade union position by repeatedly describing it as 'unreasonable', the Premier came to put all his weight behind the company in a negotiation in the private sector. This is contrary to international law and we are asking the ILO to take charge of the case," says Alain Croteau, Steelworkers' Quebec director.
The complaint cites violations of ILO Conventions on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work as well as the Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, and lists at least nine public statements by the Premier between 1 April 1 and 3 June.
"By agreeing with the employer and putting undue pressure on workers through public opinion, the Premier has undermined the negotiation and mediation processes. The Premier's interference casts doubt on the government's objectivity on the file, at the very time when the Minister of Labour was filing a proposed settlement and the union is asking for the co-operation of the authorities to enforce anti-scab legislation," says USW Local 9700 president Clément Masse.
The lockout at ABI was triggered by Alcoa and Rio Tinto on 11 January last year, even though the union had indicated it did not intend to exercise its right to strike and that only a few issues remained outstanding at the bargaining table. The employer has since added several new demands, further reducing the prospect of a settlement. On 11 March 11, 82 per cent of union members rejected an employer offer which was inferior to the one made before the lockout was imposed.
"IndustriALL Global Union cannot accept that politicians interfere in such a biased manner with social partner negotiations. It is a serious threat for the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. "Workers are voters and they have the right to be respected by politicians and governments. We fully support our affiliate's concern over this breach of balanced judgment, which leads to a loss of trust in politicians," says Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL base metals director.
ILO Centenary Conference: moving together for a New Social Contract
Unions from around the world have taken to the streets of Geneva to demand an ILO fit for the 21st century. Thousands of trade union representatives, carrying the voice of the millions of workers they represent, showed their commitment to curbing abuse in the world of work and establishing a New Social Contract.
17-06-2019: "We are in the midst of negotiations that could deliver historical progress. An ILO Declaration that sets a floor of rights for all workers, binding rules that effectively tackle violence and harassment at work, these are on the table. I am confident that together with governments and employers we can get these over the line," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
Unions from around the world are in Geneva to negotiate the historic Centennial Declaration of the International Labour Organization (ILO). For the second and final week, negotiations between workers, employers and governments will aim to establish rules to meaningfully address abuses across the world of work. Delegates from over 40 countries participated in the rally under the theme "an ILO for the 21st Century - time for a New Social Contract". The decision to organise the rally was mandated by the ITUC's World Congress in Copenhagen in December 2018.
"From South Africa to Sweden, from Costa Rica to New Zealand we are pushing in the same direction. Establishing rules for everyone is the only way to avoid a race to the bottom, in which we would all lose out. The ILO has played a crucial role in ensuring shared prosperity through setting global labour standards and holding governments to account for implementing them. We are bringing that ambition forward and finding solutions to the challenges of today and the future," said Burrow.
The ILO launched its 100th year with a report on the future of work entitled Work for a brighter future which sets out ambitious proposals to address the challenges of the future. It called for a reinvigorated social contract based on a Universal Labour Guarantee. That Universal Labour Guarantee would provide all working people - whatever their employment arrangements - the core rights of the ILO fundamental principles (freedom from child and forced labour, freedom from discrimination at work, and freedom of association and collective bargaining) as well as the right to a living wage, health and safety at work, and control over working time.
"We need to harness the potential of digitalisation and automation as well as of the transition to environmentally sustainable modes of production, while dealing with the risks and challenges of digitalisation and new business models that companies use to avoid responsibility for their workforce. We need to adopt measures that meaningfully address gender-based violence, which is at the heart of persistent inequalities between men and women. We need to address the ever-increasing levels of wealth and income inequalities by ensuring people's core freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, and ensure that workers' rights to safe and healthy work are absolute. All these things are possible and from the streets to the negotiations of binding rules, we are moving together," concluded Burrow.
UNI Deputy GS demands social Europe at FIST-CISL conference
13 June 2019: UNI Deputy GS Alke Boessiger used her platform at the FIST-CISL conference to promote a social Europe which puts human and labour rights at the centre of its agenda.
The meeting was hosted in Rome by UNI affiliate FIST-CISL, who have broken through for Italian workers by increasing their membership by 75,000 over the past few years to 420,000 members.
"The European Union must focus its energy on improving working and living conditions for all citizens in the EU," urged Boessiger. "We need to move away from an EU that continues to build an exclusive neo-liberal market the impoverishes existing labour standards." Boessiger called on Italian unions to help restore faith in democracy and reverse the tide of inequality which is blighting Europe.
UNI Global Union's Deputy GS also paid tribute to retiring general secretary Pierangelo Raineri, who has been a stalwart of the UNI family and welcomed the election of the new GS Davide Guarini. As well as welcoming the new leadership team at FIST-CISL, Boessiger called on the newly-elected European Parliament and commission to put people at the centre of their plans.
"We urge a comprehensive and legally binding program to ensure that workers are guaranteed a fair deal at work," said Boessiger. "We have three fundamental demands for the EU - strengthen national and sectoral collective bargaining, make sure that self-employed workers have the right to collective representation and to negotiate decent working conditions for the workers of Europe."
Statement on the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining in the seafood industry
11 Jun 2019: Joint statement from the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) delivered to the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Bangkok.
Worker voice or welfare committee models are not an incremental step toward recognising workers' right to organise. These mechanisms, generally established with company or NGO/CSO support, are viewed by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) or the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) as an effort to sidestep legitimate, independent organising efforts by workers.
Workers' rights to organise and bargain collectively are fundamental rights, as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions 87 and 98, and enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Worker voice or welfare committee models are an affront to the fundamental principles of independent freedom of association and collective bargaining rights that give the illusion of representation. We see this as another opportunity for companies to claim that worker voice represents legitimate worker representation in their CSR reports without truly embracing freedom of association or collective bargaining with a trade union.
Companies can and should now - voluntarily and explicitly - recognise workers' rights to freely associate, form and join their own independent trade unions, and collectively bargain with management. This is a true expression of workers' voices.
Worker voice or welfare committees should not take the place of companies agreeing in writing to support the freedom of association and collective bargaining rights of their employees or their suppliers' employees, in line with accepted international and ILO standards. Companies should recognise legitimate, independent trade unions that represent their workforce and workers throughout their supply chain, and negotiate a binding contract with those workers in good faith covering all wages, benefits and working conditions.
The ITF and ITUC urge the seafood industry to adopt a labor rights-based approach, designed to ensure that seafood workers' rights are protected by law and collective agreements.
Regardless of what the national law of any country says, we are calling on the industry to at a minimum actively support:
Source: International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing 20 million members from 147 countries
'Workers against extradition': Hong Kong's independent unions join massive protest against proposed new law
10 June 2019: One million citizens filled the streets of Hong Kong on June 9 to protest proposed legislation which would allow for political critics and opponents to be extradited and tried on the mainland. IUF affiliates, members of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (the only independent trade union in China), have actively supported the movement to stop extradition and joined the protest. Despite massive public opposition, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who was installed in 2017 with support from Beijing, has pledged to push for rapid adoption of the law.
International Labour Conference celebrates its centenary
07.06.2019: Education International brings the voice of teachers and education personnel to the 108th session of the International Labour Conference.
The Education International (EI) delegation will be composed of education union leaders from Botswana, France, Mexico, Nigeria, Senegal, Turkey and USA. Held every year in June in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Labour Conference (ILC) gathers together representatives of 182 governments and of workers' and employers' national organisations, from 10 to 21 June. The Conference of the International Labour Organisation is the only UN agency with a tripartite constituency. It is the global labour parliament where labour policy priorities are discussed, new standards are adopted and their implementation is supervised.
An EI representative will address the ILC Plenary on the 14 June. 2019 will mark the Centenary of the ILO and the adoption of the Declaration on the Future of Work.
Respect of labour standards
The EI delegation will ensure that a spotlight is shined on the rights situation in the education sector, especially where teachers are deprived of trade union rights, including mechanisms for collective bargaining. EI welcomed the inclusion of Turkey as an automatic case for discussion. In Turkey, over 130,000 workers have been dismissed after the failed coup in July 2016, and among them, 28,000 teachers and academics. Between September 2016 and August 2017, 1,620 teachers, members of the EI affiliate Egtim Sen, have been dismissed, including 48 members of the teacher union Committee.
Other items on the agenda:
New standard on Violence and harassment in the world of work: The discussions on a new standard on Violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work will continue this year, prior to its adoption.
ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work: The Commission has produced an landmark report on how to achieve decent and sustainable work opportunities for all at a time of unprecedented change and challenges in the world of work. The report will be discussed at the ILC in view of the adoption of a Declaration on the Future of Work.
Young unionists hold second international exchange in Brazil
6 June, 2019: Young unionists from Latin America, the Caribbean and Germany organized their second annual international exchange meeting in Brazil. They shared and debated their plans of union building, organizing and training for youth in their unions.
The second year of the International Youth Exchange and Training Project of IndustriALL Global Union and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) felt like a genuine reunion. Having held their previous meeting in Argentina in 2018, the participants held their next exchange week with enthusiasm on 27 to 31 May in Curitiba, Brazil.
Young Brazilian activists involved in coordination of the work in previous months organized an exhibition of their previously prepared educational materials. They started with an artistic performance and music about resistance.Before the sessions, the hosts presented relevant characters illustrating different struggles experienced by Brazilian people: former President Lula da Silva, Marielle, Dandara, Paulo Freire and Dorothy Stang.
They presented the history of the trade union movement in Brazil, the structure of trade union organizations, as well as the situation of collective bargaining and labour agreements. The objective is that at the end of the three-year project, the participants will be able to compare union density in each country. The main speakers were young people from Brazil, but they also invited activists and specialists in education, gender, communication and research. A whole afternoon was dedicated to debating with representatives of the Brazilian social movements.
The moment of greatest emotion and convergence of international solidarity was the #LulaLivre vigil camp organized just a few meters next to the prison where ex-president of Brazil, Lula, is unjustly detained. The young people marched to the place where numerous social and union organizations meet to greet Lula three times a day and demand his release. On his 417th day of incarceration, participants shouted their "good afternoon" in three languages (Portuguese, Spanish and German) and wrote a letter about support from young people around the world.
After a week of numerous exchanges and debates, on the final day, each participant presented their union action plan or project, which would be implemented before the next meeting in 2020 in Germany. The purpose of these plans is to organize and empower working youth, and to respond to the challenges faced by young people in their countries.
Among other things, the participants proposed training courses to organize young workers, international educational exchange programs for young people from Germany and Argentina, workshops for young people on issues such as addictions, workshops on rights for young pregnant women and congresses for young women. They also presented communication projects and campaigns against violence at the workplace, research and assessment projects about young people in Brazil, sports meetings for young people to attract them to the union and strategies to form youth committees in the unions.
"This exchange and training programme empowers young people so that they can act to renew and strengthen their unions. We focus on union practice and action. The commitments they all took on are inspiring,'
UNI affiliates protest at Orpea's illegal dismissal of union representative in Poland and its anti-union behaviour
4 June 2019: As part of an International Day of Action, unions are gathering today in Warsaw, Poland, outside of the headquarters of Orpea to protest at the healthcare provider's treatment of its workforce, and in particular the illegal dismissal of Anna Bacia.
The protest is being organised by OPZZ Konfederacja Pracy with the full support of the Orpea Union Alliance and UNICARE, the UNI Global Union sector which represents care workers in private healthcare. The unions are calling on Orpea to immediately reinstate Anna Bacia who was dismissed on trumped up charges, solely because she became a union representative. Anna, a physiotherapist with 16 yearsservice at Orpea, and a single mother of two children, was sacked on 10th April.
Head of UNICARE, Adrian Durtschi said, "What's especially hypocritical is that Orpea Poland responded to a letter from UNI raising concerns about their behaviour just days before Anna's dismissal, saying they were committed to social dialogue and engaging with the unions!"
UNI Deputy General Secretary, Alke Boessiger, said, "Orpea's behaviour towards Anna and its cynical anti-union behaviour is unacceptable. We urge Orpea management to engage with UNI and its affiliates. Orpea projects itself as a caring company of the future, whilst treating its loyal staff like disposable units and seeking to ban unions from its workplaces. Unions from around the world are sending the same message - this must stop now."
World Environment Day: Calling on governments to protect the planet
03.06.2019: For World Environment Day, June 5th, Education International calls on governments to address climate change and help beat air pollution, the biggest public health crisis on the planet.
Educators and students to 'beat' air pollution
Urgent measures must be taken to address climate change
The Paris Agreement, ratified by UN member states in September 2016, committed to reduce carbon emissions and global warming to well below 2% above pre-industrial levels, but meaningful efforts are yet to be made to meet the emission targets.
EI strongly believes that education can be a powerful tool for combatting climate change. Therefore, it is necessary to include climate change education in education policies, plans, programmes and curriculum. EI insists that the Paris Agreement should be implemented as a matter of urgency. As part of that effort, governments should provide the necessary financial support for climate change education, teacher training, professional development and research.
EI General Secretary David Edwards urges governments to take immediate steps to address this urgent crisis. "Teachers and educators are crucial to the delivery of climate change education, and they are doing their best to protect the planet. Students have rallied around the world to stress the importance of action on all fronts. It is time for political leaders to act, not just talk". "Governments should take immediate policy, legislative and practical measures to combat climate change", he stressed. "It is of utmost importance that governments update and improve curricula, ensure the professional development of teachers and provide teaching and learning materials to address the climate change emergency", he concluded.
Unionist elected Member of Parliament in South Africa
3 June, 2019: It is rare for garment workers to leave their factory machines and swop work clothes for the formal dressing of a country's parliament. This is the story of a Durban garment worker who recently got elected to South Africa's sixth parliament.
After working for more than four decades as a sample machinist, Beauty Zibula rose from being a shop steward to become the first vice president of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU), affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union. She is also an executive and women's committee member of the IndustriALL Sub Saharan Africa region, and on 22 May she was sworn in as MP.
The Sub Saharan Africa region welcomes her election as one of the ruling African National Congress' members of parliament for the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
Like most South African unionists, she became politically active in junior school and got her first job in the sector in 1978. Her history in the labour movement is illustrious. Active in the Garment and Allied Workers' Union (GAWU) in Durban during the 1980s, she is part of a collective that turned the union into a militant organization that fought against apartheid. She became chairperson of the Durban North local of GAWU from 1987 to 1989 and retained that position when SACTWU was formed. Other positions she has held include: SACTWU's Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) regional treasurer, the KZN regional deputy chairperson, the KZN regional chairperson and first deputy president of SACTWU.
"We congratulate comrade Beauty Zibula, a trade unionist who has risen through the trenches of working class struggles. Having been a regional executive member, she knows how to fight for workers' rights against precarious work and is a staunch defender of workers' rights in the garment and textile and other sectors. We are confident that she will take the fight to the South African parliament as well," said Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary.
SACTWU has over 100,000 members that make up 85 per cent of the textile and garment sector including shoe and leather. It organizes workers in spinning mills, wool washeries, factory shops, clothing factories, cut make and trim operations, small businesses, footwear factories, cotton gins, laundries, tanneries, weaving sheds, finishing operations, dye-houses, retail outlets, and warehouses.
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.