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coalition of labor, community and consumer advocacy organizations
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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.
IndustriALL and Inditex create a global union committee
13 November, 2019: Renewing the global framework agreement which dates back to 2007, IndustriALL and Inditex, one of the world's largest clothing retailers, have agreed to set up a global union committee, with the aim of sharing best practices across the industry.
IndustriALL general secretary, Valter Sanches, and Inditex executive chairman, Pablo Isla, today renewed the global framework agreement (GFA) at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland. The signing ceremony was attended by the ILO's deputy director-general for field operations & partnerships, Moussa Oumarou.
The new agreement contains provisions for a global union committee to exchange best practices in promoting the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The committee will be made up of union representatives from Inditex's six main production clusters around the world and representatives from IndustriALL Spanish affiliates Comisiones Obreras and UGT.
Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary, says: "This agreement improves the preconditions for real change in working conditions, as an instrument for empowering our affiliated unions, providing them with a new tool to gain bargaining power."
Through the global union committee, local union representatives will participate more directly in how the GFA is applied and have the chance to receive advice from union experts, as was stipulated in the expansion of the agreement agreed upon in 2016. One of the key aspects of the agreement is the establishment of joint training policies and programmes that involve the workers at Inditex factories and suppliers, in order to make progress on the promotion of social dialogue and workplace equality, among other things.
"The agreement reinforces Inditex' firm conviction that the joint work of the various garment industry stakeholders is key to spreading best social and environmental practices throughout the value chain," says Pablo Isla.
Brazil: Lula Released, Judicial System Remains on Trial
The ITUC has welcomed the release of former Brazilian President Lula from prison and called for the judicial persecution against him and other progressive politicians to end. Lula was released after 580 days in prison when the country's Supreme Court decided to respect the Constitution by cancelling imprisonment before all appeals are exhausted.
09-11-2019: "It is a great relief that Lula is able to rejoin his family, friends and supporters and the international trade union movement will continue to stand with him in getting the sham convictions against him thrown out. His imprisonment paved the way for the election of extreme-right President Jair Bolsonaro, whose rule is having catastrophic impacts on Brazil's people and its patrimony," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
Following his release, Lula attacked the policies of Bolsonaro, saying that "people are hungrier, have no jobs and work for Uber or delivering pizzas on a bike." He also pointed to the "rotten side of the judicial system."
The persecution of Lula has been led by former judge Sergio Moro, who has been appointed Justice Minister in Bolsonaro's government. Attention is now focused on Moro's secret collusion with prosecutors in the quest to stop Lula, Brazil's most popular politician, from standing for election in 2018.
On 21 October, a Supreme Court Justice refused an attempt by prosecutors to imprison Dilma Rousseff, who succeeded Lula as President and leader of the Worker's Party.
"Powerful oligarchs have turned Brazil's legal system into a tool of right-wing politics, turning back the clock on the huge gains made by Lula's government and impoverishing millions. The rule of law has been twisted to breaking point, and must be restored," said Burrow.
BWI calls for investigations over killings and arrest of labour leaders
08 November 2019: The BWI has condemned increasing aggression against the trade union movement in the Philippines, which has resulted in a number of recent deaths as well as mass arrests. This includes the killing of a Department of Labor and Employment field officer Helen Dacanay by unidentified assailants in Manila on Monday and simultaneous mass arrests of trade unionists in Bacolod City and Negros. Dacanay was rushed to hospital however was declared dead on arrival. Police are investigating the incident, and Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has condemned the killing, urging police to arrest those responsible.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms these actions and demand an immediate investigation to ensure that justice is done," said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. "Our work as trade unionists defending workers' rights is critical to addressing the chronic inequality that plagues our society, and we must ensure that those people doing this work are safe at all times. This aggression by the Duterte Government must end."
The raids in Bacolod City, which were carried out on the pretense of search warrants issued in Quezon City (some 700 km away on a different island), took place simultaneously at the offices of progressive labour and women's organisations. Fifty-seven leaders and members were arrested, and some were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. The organizations have vehemently denied these charges.
Just last month two members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers were shot while on school grounds. While Ramil Cabañelez was unscathed, his wife Zhaydee was struck by six bullets. She was carried to a hospital; however, union representatives who wanted to visit her were denied entry by eight armed officers guarding her room.
At a June 2019 meeting in the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards during the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Yuson noted that Forty-three trade unionists had been killed in the last three years of the Duterte administration. He stated at the time, "This is a war on workers. They are construction workers, transport workers, vendors, farmers, informal workers and contractual workers who are trying to make a living and a better life for themselves and their families. Enough is enough."
The BWI is appealing to Labour Secretary Sylvestre Bello to accept the ILO recommendation to dispatch a High-Level Tripartite Mission as well as to cooperate with UN Human Rights Council for an independent investigation of the reported killings of trade union leaders, activists and members. "We strongly support the Philippine trade unions' demand to Secretary Bello to convene the concerned Regional Tripartite Monitoring Bodies to look in the killings in different regions and the mass arrests of workers," concluded Mr. Yuson.
The BWI will join the global trade union movement in launching a global day of action to protest the killing of Helen Dacanay on 10 December, International Human Rights Day.
Ukraine: Parliament holds a hearing on journalists' safety
08 November 2019: The parliament of Ukraine held a hearing on November 6 about the safety of journalists in Ukraine. The hearing was a joint initiative of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and aimed to draw the attention of the authorities to the need for improving media workers' safety with a view to ending the impunity for crimes against journalists.
The hearing, entitled "The Safety for journalists in Ukraine: the State of Play, Problems and Solutions," was the first parliamentary debate about journalists' safety and press freedom held in Ukraine in the last 10 years.
The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Volodymyr Borodiansky, the head of the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech Nestor Shufrych, the President of the NUJU, Sergiy Tomilenko, the head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, the project director of the Freedom House NGO in Ukraine Matthew Schaaf as well as a number of MPs, media experts, media lawyers and journalists, participated in the hearing.
Participants made a series of recommendations, including publishing regular reports of law enforcement agencies, appointing officials responsible for investigating crimes against journalists in every law enforcement agency and improving the effectiveness of investigations into crimes against journalists, among others.
The IFJ chose Ukraine as one of the five target countries in its End Impunity 2019 campaign due to the difficulties Ukrainian journalists face every day in their reporting. In Ukraine, 16 journalists have been killed since 1995 but only 3 of these crimes were resolved and workers had been the target of attacks, threats, pressure to disclose their sources and constant surveillance during the last years.
President of the NUJU Sergiy Tomilenko said: "A Ukrainian journalist knows that, faced with threat or attack nobody is going to protect him or her. We need to solve this situation urgently. A free exercise of journalism is not possible when journalists work in unsafe conditions."
Union-made blazers for South Africa's Rugby World Cup champions
6 November, 2019: When South Africa beat England 32-12 in the Rugby World Cup final in Yokohama, Japan on 2 November, the 450 workers at the House of Monatic who belong to the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) celebrated a double victory - that of the Springboks and of their union's "buy local" campaign.
The House of Monatic is a garment factory in Cape Town that specializes in suits and formal wear. It has made suits for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and recently blazers for the Rugby World Cup champions, the Springboks.
Buy local is a campaign initiated by SACTWU, affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, to source textile, garments, footwear and leather products in the country instead of importing. The campaign aims to create jobs in the sectors which are important in a country with high unemployment levels. SACTWU is working with the South African Rugby Union (SARU) to produce, among other things, replica shirts for rugby supporters. The union is also working with the South African Football Association and Cricket South Africa on the local procurement campaign.
Part of the union's victory is that the buy local campaign demands are included in the retail, clothing, textile, footwear and leather masterplan which was signed at the second South Africa Investment Conference in Sandton, Johannesburg on 6 November. Welcoming the signing of the masterplan, which will create 70,000 new manufacturing jobs, the union says that the plan provides "a firm basis for future growth and sustainability" of the sectors. The masterplan was signed by major retailers, manufacturers, labour, and government.
Andre Kriel, SACTWU general secretary, says: "Major retailers will procure more clothing, textile, footwear and leather goods locally, up to 65 per cent, and manufacturers will increase investment in modernizing productive capacity in our industry. We are pleased with the commitments made by the government to help strengthen the inspections and compliance enforcement capacity of the South African Revenue Services to stamp out illegal imports and under-invoicing." "We look forward to the constructive and effective implementation of this new and innovative tripartite social compact; the first of its kind to be signed by our industry's major stakeholders."
Proudly SA, a company that promotes locally manufactured products, is also a partner in the campaign.
Netherlands: Over 4,000 schools close as teachers strike for a sustainable solution to funding crisis and staff shortages
06.11.2019: Schools in the Netherlands are struggling to pay their way, while a teacher shortage is getting worse and worse. The government offered a one-time €460 million boost, but teachers are standing firm for structural increases in funding that can preserve the profession and guarantee quality education for all in the Netherlands.
Like many European countries, the Netherlands is experiencing a slow-motion disaster in its teaching profession. Schools have suffered under grinding austerity for years. Staff shortages have increased enormously. Primary schools struggle to find teachers for their classes, combine classes or just put classes under the surveillance of a parent or other volunteer. Secondary schools are cancelling certain subjects. Burn out rates are rising in all education sectors.
Excessive workloads, a lack of funding and an unjustified pay gap between secondary and primary teachers have pushed many teachers and other education workers to leave the profession altogether. A forward-looking and long-term allocation of funding is vital to fight teacher shortages and make the teaching profession attractive.
After another year of campaigning and a national strike in March, with again no result, the unions called for a new strike on November 6. Last Friday, just a few days before the announced date, the government suddenly offered a one-time €460 million spending boost. But this long-standing crisis needs long-term solutions. Education International member organisation AOb is going ahead with a national strike today.
David Edwards, Education International General Secretary, expressed full solidarity with the strike, explaining that "austerity does not work. Education in the Netherlands is in dire need of a sustainable, long-term funding solution to attract and retain teachers and strengthen the system as a whole. This is not something that can be postponed. The Dutch government needs to act now!"
Currently 4,393 schools have announced they will be closed today. Visit the AOb strike website for the latest updates.
Philippines: government crackdown targets unions
The ITUC has condemned a new wave of police repression of Philippine trade unionists. The offensive was launched when police simultaneously raided three premises of human rights and trade union organisations, arresting and detaining 57 people members of labour and civil society organisations. Repression operations are ongoing.
05-11-2019: In the evening of 31 October 2019, bus workers were holding a union meeting in Bacolod city, capital of the province of Negros Occidental, when the building was raided. Elsewhere in the city, eight people, including four children, were held at gunpoint by police. Witnesses there reported that non-uniformed men entered the property and planted firearms. All 43 adults arrested were charged with the illegal possession of firearms.
Further raids are ongoing, and more trade unionists could be targeted in the coming hours and days. Faced with this abuse of power, trade unions are taking precautionary measures to safeguard their members' safety. "Under the cover of being tough on crime, this government is targeting human and trade union rights defenders as part of a deliberate political strategy that relies on the suppression of people's rights and freedoms," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
This latest crackdown occurs amid a broader climate of government repression in the Philippines. The 'war on drugs' has been responsible for a reported 27,000 extra-judicial killings since it was launch by President Duterte in 2016. Both the ILO and the United Nations' Human Rights Council have resolved to send high level missions to probe the human rights situation following widespread reports of extra-judicial killings and repression of trade-unions and their members.
While the government has recently pledged to investigate the killings of 43 trade unionists in a meeting with the ITUC in August, no progress has been reported and the government is yet to accept the ILO mission to the country, while the violence against activists continues with impunity. "The rule of law is paramount and security services must treat everyone with impartiality. What we are seeing in the Philippines is a blatant appropriation, by the ruling party, of government forces to undermine labour organising and, more generally, to attack voices of dissent in order to consolidate its political power.
"The international union family will not let this go. We are demanding that the government stop the killing and repression of trade unionists and receive the ILO mission to investigate the situation as a matter of urgency," said Burrow.
Trade union renewal, a global challenge
30.10.2019: Research on the current state of unions in the world, commissioned by the Bureau for Workers' Activities on the occasion of the International Labour Organisation's Centenary celebration, shows that trade unions have enormous challenges ahead of them.
Important changes in the economy and labour market impact trade unionism
Among the challenges facing trade unions, the paper highlights persistent poverty, inequalities and injustices, conflict, disasters and other humanitarian emergencies that shape the world of work of today and constitute a threat for the workforce of tomorrow. The ILO Centenary Declaration for the future of work stresses the urgency to act in shaping a fair, inclusive and secure future of work with full, productive and freely chosen employment and decent work for all.
The first part of the paper describes the current 'state of the unions' and explores developments in union membership and union density in regions of Africa, America, Asia and Europe since 2000. The second part suggests future scenarios for trade unions: marginalisation, dualisation, replacement and revitalisation. The future will tell which of these scenarios will become reality.
EI: trade unions are crucial vectors of democracy
EI agrees with the ILO-ACTRAV paper that trade unions have to further assess their organising and advocacy strategies. Efforts have to be made to organise and represent new forms of employment, including those workers that fall outside the employment relationship or workers in the informal economy. And young workers must be convinced to join unions and must be integrated in the union's governance structure.
In the Resolution on education union renewal: the new imperative adopted at the 8th EI World Congress, education unions affiliated to EI recognise that education unions across all sectors play an invaluable role advocating for high quality public education for all, and defending the rights and conditions of education workers.
Trade union organising is made increasingly difficult by attacks such as the introduction of anti-trade union laws that limit the rights of trade union members to act collectively, continued austerity and the associated growth of precarious employment. Often those most affected by precarious labour are those who are already most vulnerable in the labour market, and therefore those most in need of trade union support.
The resolution underlines that at precisely the time when education workers face some of their biggest threats, the trade union capacity to resist these challenges is being deliberately undermined. This requires education unions to find new ways to respond to changed circumstances. For EI and its affiliates, the status quo and 'no change' are not an option.
Also approved during the 8th EI World Congress, the Resolution on quality public education and free trade unions are the cornerstone of democracy affirms that democracy is necessary for working people and unions to secure our economic livelihoods, to ensure a decent standard of living, to have voice and rights in the workplace, to elect government representatives who are committed to a fair economy and the interests of working people, and to freely advocate for a progressive agenda on behalf of the many, and not just the wealthy few.
Furthermore, noting that a vibrant and robust system of public education is an essential component of democracy and is crucial for its survival, the resolution insists that authoritarian governments have always sought to suppress unions and other free institutions of civil society perceived as threats to their rule.
Aerospace unions aim to take global solidarity to next level
29 October, 2019: The world's most powerful aerospace unions, affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, met in Singapore from 23-25 October 2019 and developed a comprehensive global strategy to take solidarity to the next level.
The aerospace industry is worth almost US $850 billion, employs five million workers, and is expanding to new countries. Expansion is driven by a desire for an increased global presence, by local content requirements of states, as well as a drive to increase profit margins through lower labour costs.
"We expect continued strong growth for the industry, particularly in Asia. The big players have all put strategies in place to develop into real global companies. This will lead to rapid growth of new locations of all types - manufacturing, research, maintenance, training - mainly outside Europe and the US," said IndustriALL assistant general secretary Atle Høie.
The president of the Machinists' Union (IAMAW) Bob Martinez spoke about union busting at Boeing in the US, saying these tactics were now spreading across the world. "The global aerospace industry finds itself at a crossroads. One direction takes it down a path that ignores the simple fact the workers are the most valuable factor in the company's success. This is a path that leads to failure. Unless the world's aerospace unions take action now, more and more companies will go down the anti-union path. "The industry must choose a path that recognizes that a proud union workforce is the engine that drives a company's success."
While the industry is dominated by manual operations, it is starting to apply new production technologies based on digitalization and artificial intelligence. "The race for lower costs and the increased use of precarious employment is extremely dangerous in an industry where safety standards that are only at 99 per cent can have severe consequences for people's lives," said Georg Leutert, IndustriALL Aerospace director.
Unions committed to cooperate to ensure decent working conditions and pay everywhere, and to stop workers being pitted against one another due to global competition.
They plan to:
At its meeting in January 2020, the steering committee will develop these commitments by defining measurable criteria with objectives and timeframes to ensure sufficient progress is made by the time of the next global meeting in 2021.
Caribbean region plans strategy to build workers' power
28 Oct 2019: Union leaders from countries across the Caribbean have come together to develop a strategy for building transport workers' power in the region.
Over 20 activists from nine countries met in Antigua. They agreed to focus on building power through working to organise transport workers in tourism, maritime infrastructure, and the oil and gas industry. The group also reaffirmed their commitment to providing close solidarity for each other in the region, as well as internationally with other ITF unions.
David Massiah, chair of the ITF tourism section, led the event: "Just the fact that so many people gathered here, from so many unions and countries, proves how committed we are to working closely together to build power for our members. "The event also shows that the ITF's renewed commitment to the region is real, and as we start turn our strategy into action it will soon start to bear fruit for transport workers."
UNI Finance - organizing strong unions to tackle the changing world of work
28 October 2019: At the UNI Finance Conference in Torremolinos, over 400 union activists and delegates exchanged their local and international experiences of the changing world of work and the challenges facing workers and unions. Digitalisation and AI are reshaping the way we work, and the finance sector has been one of the first to feel the changes. Delegates heard stories from unions all over the world about how they are facing up to both the issues, and the opportunities presented by a rapidly changing world of work.
Delegates vowed to combat the negative impacts of digitalisation on workers, but also to capitalize on the potential afforded by digitalization to organize workers and collectively bargain. Unions agreed that collective bargaining and global agreements must be used as tools to make sure that that workers have access to reskilling and upskilling rather than facing rampant retrenchments.
UNI Finance's Brazilian World President, Rita Berlofa, was unanimously re-elected by an energetic conference. "We will continue to strengthen our 3 million-strong membership," said Berlofa. "Together, we can face the challenge of digitalisation, we can keep fighting for peace and democracy, we can grow worker power and we can build strong finance unions." "Complicated problems require simple solutions. Our solution is to organize, organize, organize! We will continue to grow union power and fight for democracy and human rights in this changing world of work."
From all over the world, the stories of retrenchment, job losses and inhumane sales targets were clear. However, UNI Finance and its affiliates' message to banking companies was also clear - stop putting profit above people.
"Workers are not being future-proofed. As usual the management plan - instead of offering reskilling and upskilling programmes - is to cut costs and to boost profits, always at the cost of workers," said Julia Angrisano from FSU Australia. "As unions, we will have to fight tooth and nail and bargain collectively for policies that provide dignity and justice for our members."
"Job losses have serious repercussions," said Joe Kokela General Secretary of SASBO, who called for a national strike in September in response to the concerning trend of dismissals and job losses. "We're facing over 10,000 redundancies in the finance sector in South Africa - this means thousand of families going to bed hungry. We must show companies the human impact of their callous actions and make sure our members are protected. It's essential that workers are brought along in to the company's future, rather than simply being discarded and laid off."
Gareth Murphy from FSU Ireland gave a powerful presentation on the innovative work his union was doing on the right to disconnect and on bargaining over digital transformation. The constant connectivity of smartphones has extended the working day for working people, and many unions are advocating the "right to disconnect" as the solution to the detrimental mental health effects of always 'being on'.
The changing world of work presents many challenges for the finance sector on work-life balance, retrenchments and recruitment, but in the middle of every difficulty, lies opportunity. UNI Finance and its affiliates are determined to break through and seize the chance to organize strong finance unions for today and tomorrow in a changing world of work.
"We must be united and work together," said Angelo Di Cristo, Head of UNI Finance. "If we want strong finance unions, we can't forget the struggle and the fights of the past, and we will never give up so we are strong in the future."
UNI Finance thanked the Spanish affiliates CC.OO and UGT for making the conferences possible in Torremolinos.
Syria: Education union reports terrible toll of Turkish military aggression in Northeastern Syria
24.10.2019: According to one of Education International's affiliates in Iraq, the Kurdistan Teachers Union, the Turkish attack in Northeastern Syria has already caused immense loss, with 18 teachers and 22 students killed, 810 schools damaged, 22 schools destroyed, and 86,000 students unable to attend classes. 5,000 refugees are reported to have arrived in the Kurdistan region of Iraq over the past few days, with no humanitarian support in place.
David Edwards, Education International General Secretary, stated: "We strongly denounce this unconscionable violence and join the global community in calling for the immediate end to these attacks on civilians, students and teachers. We express our solidarity with the Kurdish people in this dark hour."
Education International has mobilised in support of those affected by the military aggression. An Urgent Action Appeal was sent to Education International's 391 member organisations in over 170 countries and territories, encouraging them to contact the Turkish embassies in their countries and call for an immediate end to the destructive military intervention. EI and its members urge Turkey to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration and to implement the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.
Schools and all education institutions must not be targeted or used in any way in military operations. Students, educators and all civilians who have already witnessed the horrors of war must not be victimised again. They must be allowed to rebuild their lives and communities.
Spanish union leaders occupy Endesa offices
22 October, 2019: Union officials have occupied the offices of Spanish energy company Endesa to protest against the company undermining rights and benefits by failing to conduct collective bargaining in good faith.
The energy company Endesa, Spanish subsidiary of the Italian multinational utility company Enel, has dragged out negotiations for a new collective agreement for so long that the terms have lapsed. The agreement should have been renewed two years ago, but Endesa has stalled negotiations to force through changes that are unacceptable to its employees. Workers have not been covered by a valid collective agreement since 1 January 2019.
This includes retired Endesa workers, who will lose the subsidized electricity they currently enjoy.
In protest, the general secretaries and other leaders of IndustriALL Global Union affiliates Comisiones Obreras de Industria (CC.OO. de Industria), Federación de Industria, Construcción y Agro de Unión General de Trabajadores) (UGT-FICA) as well as Sindicato Independiente de la Energía de Endesa (SIE), have occupied Endesa offices in Madrid, across Andalucia and other cities.
In a joint statement, the union leaders say they will occupy the company's offices "indefinitely", and accuse the company of "arrogance" and "genuine contempt" for its workers. The unions claim that the company is trying to "blackmail" workers into accepting a considerable increase in job insecurity and a reduction in the social benefits won in previous years, disguised as modernity and flexibility. In addition, Endesa is adding to the insecurity by unbundling parts of the company that it identifies as non-core. They demand that the company negotiates in good faith by making a reasonable offer.
IndustriALL Global Union has a global framework agreement (GFA) with Enel that defines a series of guidelines for social dialogue. In this agreement, Enel commits to collective bargaining as a tool for determining the terms and conditions of its employees, and regulating the relationship between management and the unions.
IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches sent a solidarity letter to the Spanish affiliated unions, as well as a letter of protest to the chief executive officer of Enel, calling on the company to honour the global commitment it had made and use the mechanism of the GFA to resolve the dispute.
"We urge you to ensure that Endesa changes its uncompromising attitude in the negotiations and makes an offer that enables the renewal of the collective agreement. "We hope that Endesa not only resumes negotiations, but does so with an open spirit that allows for the concerns and proposals of the workers to be taken into account, to achieve labour relations that benefit both parties."
Solidarity in the face of BHP's race to the bottom
18 October, 2019: IndustriALL, together with London Mining Network, International Transport Federation, Unite the Union and others, joined forces in a joint demonstration ahead of the mining giant's annual general meeting in London, calling on BHP to stop replacing permanent jobs with less stable, lower paid contract work.
Workers at BHP sites in multiple countries complain of poor health and safety practices, and the company stands accused of treating contract workers worse than their permanent counterparts. Labour hire and contract mine workers are less likely to raise concerns about safety issues due to fears about job security, leading to under-reporting of injuries.
Earlier this year, IndustriALL's BHP global network launched a campaign to strengthen union action and to call on BHP, the world's biggest mining company by market capitulation, to end its bad corporate behaviour at the expense of workers.
Inside the AGM, IndustriALL mining director Glen Mpufane challenged BHP on their policy on outsourcing jobs. In comparison to an industry average of 30 - 40 per cent, at BHP managed sites 60 per cent of the workforce on average are contractors. And on a direct request for BHP to engage with IndustriALL, chairman Ken Mackenzie declined.
BHP is involved in mining projects in Colombia, Brazil and Chile with grave impacts on local communities.
The AGM heard several testimonials on BHP's environmental legacy, including the Samarco dam collapse tragedy in Brazil, in 2015. One speaker from the area said that four years later none of the destroyed houses have been rebuilt, to which BHP replied that all houses will be rebuilt in 2021.
Glen Mpufane said: "BHP is cutting costs at the expense of workers' and ignoring the rights of communities affected by their operations. "There is no separate struggle; together we will continue to fight against their race to the bottom which affects workers, communities and the environment."
Forward together - UNI Europa Commerce ready to organise
18 October 2019: In Bucharest this week, UNI Europa Commerce endorsed an ambitious four-year plan to organise workers around Europe. Under the new leadership of Handels Susanna Gideonsson, the commerce sector will move forward with a strong commitment to organizing commerce workers and building power. The Conference unanimously adopted an action plan aimed at growing union power and influence in Europe. The new Swedish President Gideonsson emphasised a strong focus on youth as a priority for a growing sector.
"Young workers are not only our future, they are our present as well," said Gideonsson. "Across Europe our values of solidarity, decent work and justice bring us together. Now we share a strong action plan and strategy to move forward together."
Rafal Tomasiak from COZZ underlined the groundbreaking work the organizing center has made in building worker power - making collective bargaining and union rights a possibility in Central and Eastern Europe. Erkan Ersoy also highlighted the fundamental role that the new UNI initiative - Europe's Power and Organizing Centre - could make in the fight for bargaining rights and freedom of association in the region.
UNI affiliates shared their successes and challenges whilst looking to examples from other countries as inspiration for their own struggles. Eyup Alemdar, the president of Koop-Is from Turkey told the conference about the great organizing success in Turkey. "We have organized H&M workers in Turkey and concluded the first collective agreement in the fast fashion sector".
One of the issues that has a wide-ranging impact on commerce unions everywhere is the high turn-over rate in the sector. "With such a high turn-over rate, it's absolutely essential to keep organizing commerce workers in order to maintain our power" said Alfred Bujara, President of Solidarnosc from Poland.
The General Secretary of the Romanian Federation of Commerce Workers, Vasile Gogescu discussed the challenges facing Romanian commerce unions, who are trying to grow union power in the sector--despite the 50 percent threshold which represents a huge obstacle to collective bargaining. Gogescu asserted that "UNI's Global framework agreements play a crucial role in organizing and collective bargaining".
Two of the youngest participants at the Conference, Emma Haapasaari of PAM, Finland and Andreas Samuelsson of Handels, Sweden urged delegates to promote and strengthen youth participation in the trade union movement.
Following the adoption of the new structure of the steering committee; the president, 7 vice-presidents and steering committee members of UNI Europe Commerce were unanimously elected.
The right to strike is a fundamental human right
17 Oct 2019: On the 16-17 October 2019, representatives from the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) attended a hearing at the Canadian Industrial Labor Relations Board (CIRB) regarding the right to strike at the Port of Montreal, Canada. The case that was brought forth by the Montreal Employers Association (MEA) against ITF Dockers affiliates, CUPE 375 and ILA 1657, is trying to infringe on the dockers right to take legal industrial action.
ITF President Paddy Crumlin and representatives from ver.di (Germany), International Longshoremen's Association (USA), International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada, 3F (Denmark), Swedish Transport Workers' Union (Sweden) and the ITF Dockers' Section attended the hearing to show support and solidarity for our Canadian sisters and brothers in this crucial case. The ITF's strong and diverse delegation highlights the significance this case has, not only for dockers in Canada, but for all workers globally.
MEA is attempting to weaken and restrict the dockers' fundamental right to strike by claiming that their work is an "essential service" and if dockers were to strike it could jeopardise public health and safety. This is another outrageous and unfounded attack on workers' fundamental human right, the right to strike. CUPE 375, represented by attorney Marie Christine Morin, and ILA 1657, represented by attorney Ron Pink, presented strong arguments against MEA's allegations and demonstrated that their real concern is the financial impact a strike would have on their business.
The ITF Executive Board pledges all necessary resources in support of CUPE 375, ILA 1657 and all Canadian dockers, to resolve this matter and protect the right to strike - which is fundamental human right - as clearly and objectively stated by Mr. Maina Kiai, the former UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association on 9 March 2017:
"The right to strike is also an intrinsic corollary of the fundamental right of freedom of association. It is crucial for millions of women and men around the world to assert collectively their rights in the workplace, including the right to just and favourable conditions of work, and to work in dignity and without fear of intimidation and persecution. Moreover, protest action in relation to government social and economic policy, and against negative corporate practices, forms part of the basic civil liberties whose respect is essential for the meaningful exercise of trade union rights. This right enables them to engage with companies and governments on a more equal footing, and Member States have a positive obligation to protect this right, and a negative obligation not to interfere with its exercise.
Moreover, protecting the right to strike is not simply about States fulfilling their legal obligations. It is also about them creating democratic and equitable societies that are sustainable in the long run. The concentration of power in one sector - whether in the hands of government or business - inevitably leads to the erosion of democracy, and an increase in inequalities and marginalization with all their attendant consequences. The right to strike is a check on this concentration of power. I deplore the various attempts made to erode the right to strike at national and multilateral levels."
Kyrgyzstan: Union vows to remain united despite pressure from government
16 October 2019: On 4 October 2019, the Forestry Workers Union of Kyrgyzstan held its 10th statutory National Conference in in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan. The aim of the Conference was to report on the union's activities of the previous four years, to discuss strategy for the next period, and to elect the leadership of the organization.
The conference took place at a turbulent time for the trade union movement in Kyrgyzstan. The National Parliament is steadily pushing forward a new anti-union legislation, despite continuous protests from the national and international trade union movement. According to the draft law, all trade unions of Kyrgyzstan should be transformed into controlled and according to the government "accountable" structures of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan (FPK). The FPK would then act as a state authority in the area of labour rights protection.
From the very beginning the Forestry Workers Union of Kyrgyzstan opposed the government's attempts to limit the fundamental right of freedom of association. Together with other industrial unions the Forestry Workers Union of Kyrgyzstan participated in numerous meetings with members of Parliament, conduct interview with mass media, and organize press conferences, pickets and demonstrations to oppose the bill.
The union's public position against the new law made it challenging to prepare and organize their statutory National Conference. As the forestry industry in Kyrgyzstan is public, the State Agency for Environmental Protection and Forestry, which is the employer, intervened by preventing elected delegates to participate in the Conference. Many delegates reported that they had been threatened with dismissal if they were to take part in the National Conference. Despite all these threats, the majority of the elected delegates attended the Conference where they committed to continue the fight against the anti-union law. Kanatbek Osmonov was re-elected as President of the union.
"I am very proud of my union comrades who are not afraid to stand up for our union values and protect fundamental rights. This Conference demonstrated that we are united and strong. We are ready to continue the fight," said Kanatbek Osmonov, the Forestry Workers Union president.
Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI extended his support and solidarity to the delegates at the National Conference. "We are deeply concerned by the actions of the government to undermine fundamental trade union rights in Kyrgyzstan. The 12 million members of BWI will continue to support your fight to stop the anti-trade union law become a reality."
Ecuador: Government represses strike
13 October 2019: Trade unionists, Indigenous people, students, peasants, teachers and public workers are protesting in Quito and other cities across Ecuador against austerity measures announced by President Lenin Moreno. 700 have been detained, at least four killed and dozens injured.
The Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), expressed its outrage at the recent repressive measures taken by the Ecuadoran government against its people who have taken to the streets in cities across the country since 3 October. The daily mobilizations are in protest of the efforts of President Moreno's government to implement economic, fiscal and structural adjustment measures, which will have dramatic consequences to the most vulnerable and marginalized populations in the country.
Measures included elimination of 100 percent fuel subsidies, an annual reduction of the public budget by US$100 million and cuts in social security budgets of US$50 million, and cuts in benefits for public sector workers. Economic measures and labour reforms were announced after an agreement with the International Monetary Fund that provides $4.2 billion to reduce its deficit.
The government reacted to the demonstrations by declaring a state of emergency. They called out riot police and tanks were deployed in the Capitol. At least four people have been killed and dozens injured. More than 700 people are currently in jail and dozens have been injured. President Moreno moved the government away from Quito to Guayaquil to avoid the protests.
One of BWI affiliates in Ecuador, the Workers Confederation of Public Sector of Ecuador (CTSPE), which groups workers from State services, electricity sector, transportation, industrial maintenance and teaching, cited, as dangerous, the Governmental Exception State Decree. They judge it to be a mechanism for repression and violence, as it is demonstrated through brutal repression against Ecuadorans who have been on the streets since 3 October. President Moreno has systematically opposed public sector trade unions while in office. He boasted that 23,000 public workers had been dismissed during his term and that non-permanent contracts in the public sector would be renewed with 20 per cent lower pay.
Representatives of FEDESOMEC and CTC, BWI's two other affiliates, which represent heavy machinery operators and construction workers, are also calling for the end to the repression and violence.
Ecuadorans are waiting for constructive dialogue and a meeting between government and representatives of a coalition of organizations leading the protests to immediately resolve the situation.
The BWI joins the rest of the international trade union movement calling on the Ecuadorian Government to dismantle repressive measures, undergo full consultations with the people of Ecuador on economic policies and reforms and engage in dialogue with all parties. These policies severely impact workers and their families and, in particular, the vulnerable sectors of the population.
BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson stated: "Democracy is about more that elections. Being elected does not give anybody the right to be a dictator. President Moreno clearly prefers violence and repression to reason and discussion. BWI calls on the President to immediately stop the attacks on his own people and, rather, make peace with them".
Violent repression in Ecuador as workers resist IMF package
Disastrous IMF policies are wreaking havoc on the country's economy by eliminating social and labour rights. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) demands an end to the state-led political violence and also demands the release of protestors.
09-10-2019: The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, has sparked massive protests after announcing a series of far-reaching cutbacks. The measures include a slate of regressive measures that would hit working communities hardest. He boasted that 23,000 public workers had been dismissed during his term and that non-permanent contracts in the public sector would be renewed with 20 per cent lower pay.
Moreno, however, underestimated the reaction of working people. Hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorians have taken to the streets across the country since last week. The protests are being organised by indigenous organisations, students, farmers and the United Front of Workers (FUT) that includes the ITUC affiliate CEDOCUT.
Meanwhile, the government responded by declaring a state of emergency and employing heavy-handed riot police against the protesters. Hundreds of people have been arrested and at least one person was reportedly killed. On Tuesday, as military tanks were deployed in the capital, Quito, Moreno moved the government away from the capital to the city of Guayaquil in fear of the demonstrations.
"The ITUC had warned the government that the IMF loan would impoverish people and damage the country's economy. Moreno, however, seems to be oblivious to the concerns of real people, while being submissive to the country's elite and the diktats of IMF technocrats," said ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow.
The IMF quickly spoke out in favour of the anti-worker legislative package, consistent with its past advocacy for the weakening of labour protections in Ecuador.
The social and economic situation is similarly dire in Argentina, where identical policies were introduced under the conditionalities of the IMF. At the outset of its loan to Argentina, the Fund praised the policies of President Macri as seeking "to foster growth and job creation, while reducing poverty". The country, however, now records the worst rates of unemployment, poverty and inequality of the last 18 years.
"The IMF policies place an overwhelming burden on working people while bailing out corrupt financial elites and corporations. Argentina and Ecuador need the space to implement economic recovery by investing in people - not by imposing a failed model that drives countries into deeper economic and social crisis," said Burrow.
"Neither our planet, nor our jobs:" Turkish union bolsters efforts to fight climate change
9 October 2019: Turkish UNI Commerce affiliate Tez Koop-Is is ramping up its fight for climate justice and is encouraging other unions to do the same.
This week, the union held the first international trade union gathering on climate change in Turkey to help mobilize the country's labor movement to push for a just transition, ensuring the protections for the planet, employment, and workers' rights.
"We will keep working on climate crisis. We will inform and mobilize our members through union trainings on climate change" said Haydar Ozdemiroglu, the president of Tez Koop-Is. In addition to worker mobilization, the union also urged Turkish parliament to immediately sign Paris Climate Agreement.
Participants at the meeting in Ankara heard from labor leaders as well as academics, engineers, biologist, geologists, economists, environmental activists, lawyers, representatives of the ILO Turkey Office and the EU Delegation in Turkey.
The Deputy General Secretary of IndustriALL, Kemal Ozkan and the Coordinator of UNI Commerce, Onur Bakir pointed out the role of global union federations in the fight for climate justice and highlighted the importance of a just transition that aims protection of the earth and climate justice on the one hand and the protection and promotion of employment on the other. The DGB from Germany joined the discussion through a video on the transition process of German mining industry. "A just transition that will not push workers to make a choice between jobs and the planet," said UNI's Bakir.
UNI Global Union's resolution on climate, adopted in the 5th World Congress, was also quoted in the final declaration as a part of the future action plan of the union.
Tez Koop-Is represents tens of thousands of commerce workers -mainly employed by multinational hypermarkets in Turkey.
World Teachers' Day: EI takes the stage at UNESCO Conference and proposes five measures to make teaching a more attractive profession
07.10.2019: During the conference celebrating World Teachers' Day at UNESCO headquarters, Education International proposed five key measures that should be taken by governments to attract and retain young people into the profession.
World Teachers' Day is held annually on 5 October since 1994. It commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This year, World Teachers' Day focused on "Young teachers, the future of the profession". The official celebration of World Teachers' Day was held on 7 October at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The conference revolved around two panel discussions: "How to attract young people to the teaching profession" and "How to retain young and novice teachers to the profession".
Speaking at the event, Education International's (EI) Dennis Sinyolo reminded that "research evidence is very clear: teachers are the most important in-school determinant of educational quality. Your being here today is clear testimony to the important role teachers play in preparing young people for life and work."
Aging teacher population in many developed countries, persistent teacher shortages, particularly in developing countries, and high levels of teacher attrition around the world, demand immediate and concrete action by governments to ensure that every child is taught by an empowered, highly-trained, professionally-qualified, well-supported and motivated teacher.
Sinyolo put forward five key measures that EI calls on governments to implement in order to attract young people and retain them in the profession:
Sinyolo also stressed that social dialogue is a precondition for successful education policies, decent working conditions and harmonious relations between the government as employer and teacher unions. Therefore, social dialogue, including collective bargaining, should be guaranteed through truly inclusive and functional legislation. "As we celebrate this year's World Teachers' Day, let's remember to not just talk about the importance of our teachers, but let's walk the talk by taking concrete measures to make teaching a first choice and sought-after profession," Sinyolo concluded.
Making use of global agreements in the garment industry
3 October, 2019: Over 80 trade union leaders from Turkey, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Mauritius and Morocco met in Cesme, Turkey, to see how global framework agreements (GFA) can be better used to boost union organizing, collective bargaining agreements and social dialogue.
Global fashion brands, ASOS, ESPRIT, H&M, Inditex and Tchibo, which have signed GFAs with IndustriALL Global Union, also joined the meeting on 23 and 24 September. GFAs are becoming a stronger tool for improving labour relations in the supply chain and there was a call for IndustriALL to negotiate such agreements with more global brands.
Participants discussed how GFAs and social dialogue could be used to promote the new ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 on Violence and Harassment in the garment sector. Gender-based violence, and particularly sexual harassment, is prevalent in the industry. Most garment workers are women and many are young and migrant workers, who are not aware of their rights. They have little access to safe housing and transportation, while the fashion industry generates excessive overtime, low pay, and long working hours.
The meeting concluded that it was urgent for trade unions and brands to promote the ratification of the new Convention. Trade unions should also push to review existing collective agreements and GFAs, to ensure they are in line with the Convention 190.
Unions exchanged experiences on the best ways to monitor global framework agreements and there was strong support for production country trade unions to play a greater role. National unions are essential in ensuring that the GFAs are implemented in the global brands' supplier factories.
Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL director for the textile and garment industry, said: "The increase of unionization rate in GFA supplier factories is key to enable trade unions to monitor the agreements and to ensure that workers' rights are respected in the global garment supply chain."
The meeting is part of IndustriALL Global Union's programme on GFA implementation, which is supported with the assistance of the DGB Bildungswerk. Since the beginning of the work, trade unions in Turkey and Bangladesh have organized over 50 new GFA supplier factories. Global framework agreements are negotiated at a global level between trade unions and a multinational company. They put in place the very best standards of trade union rights, health, safety and environmental practices, and quality of work principles across a company's global operations, regardless of whether those standards exist in an individual country.
UN calls for stronger protections for workers exposed to toxic substances
The ITUC has welcomed the adoption by the United Nations Human Rights Council of a resolution backing stronger protections for workers exposed to toxic substances. Every 11 seconds a person loses their life because of lethal working conditions, and many of the deaths and serious non-fatal diseases are caused by chemicals.
01-10-2019 : "Every worker must be protected from toxic chemicals. Yet for firefighters, hairdressers, manufacturing workers and people working in many other occupations, the risk of cancer and other work-related diseases caused by toxic products is real, and it is costing lives. We salute the work done by UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Toxics, Baskut Tuncak, and welcome this important UN decision," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
According to Tuncak, "global instruments only ban or restrict the use or emission of less than 0.1% of toxic industrial chemicals and pesticides of global concern to which workers and communities are exposed".
The ILO Centenary Declaration, adopted last June, sets out a labour protection floor which guarantees all workers respect for fundamental rights, adequate minimum wages, maximum limits on working hours and safety and health at work. The Declaration also calls upon the ILO to elevate occupational health and safety into the ILO's framework of fundamental principles and rights at work. The labour movement is fully committed to achieving this goal urgently and welcomes the echoing of a previous call by UN experts for the ILO to move forward with this.
"We know what is needed for safe working environments to ensure that people can lead a healthy life. We need the institutions whose role it is to protect people to recognise just how fundamental this is. The time has come to drive forward solutions for a world of work with zero cancer, and that means proper regulation including of the corporations which make so much profit from products that result in human misery. The right to health does not stop at the factory gate or the office door," said Burrow.
Call for ratification of ILO C87 in Malaysia
16 September 2019: Together with other unions in the country, IndustriALL's affiliates in Malaysia are calling on the government to immediately ratify ILO convention 87 on freedom of association and the right to organize.
Unions are saying that since the new government has taken steps to reform the Trade Union Act (1959) and the Industrial Relations Act (1967) by removing restrictive provisions that violate the principle of freedom of association, there are no obstacles for the government to ratify the convention, as domestic laws will soon be in compliance with the convention.
"The Malaysian union movement has been been urging the government to ratify the convention, and past leaderships of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) have tirelessly campaigned for its ratification. Saying that unions don't support the ratification is wrong and the call for a ten-year moratorium doesn't make sense," said Gopal Kishnam, general secretary of IndustriALL affiliate National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industry Workers (NUTEAIW) and Labour Law Reform Coalition (LLRC) co-chairperson at a press conference during an LLRC Symposium on Freedom of Association on 8 September. Around 100 national union leaders and worker organization representatives attended the meeting.
"There is a misunderstanding that C87 promotes multiplicity of trade unions in workplaces and would add to disunity among Malaysian workers, but in fact the convention is instrumental in protecting workers' right to organize without interference from governments and employers. Effective and democratic unions will definitely have the unanimous support of workers," added Gopal.
"We believe that with the implementation of C87, Malaysian workers will prefer to join industrial union rather than enterprise union, as industry-wide bargaining has greater leverage safeguarding workers' interest and general well-being."
The LLRC was established in the wake of the first regime change at federal level in Malaysia in 2018, and is a coalition of 58 trade unions and NGOs and formerly known as the decent work working group. The coalition organizes consultation meetings with union leaders on reforming the Employment Act, Trade Union Act and Industrial Relations Act.
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.