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coalition of labor, community and consumer advocacy organizations
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it's not a tax on the people, it's a tax for the people...United States
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International Brotherhood of Teamsters
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.
Collective action beats back anti-union aggression by management at AB InBev Honduras
04.06.20: Collective protests and a work stoppage have restored respect for union rights at AB InBev's Cervecería Hondureña plant in San Pedro Sula, which also bottles products for Coca-Cola.
Following the declaration of a public health emergency on March 15, massive numbers of workers stayed away due to the absence of adequate workplace safety measures and a lack of transportation. The company was determine to continue production as usual, and began pressuring workers to return. Workers were ordered to return to work on May 18 but management refused to negotiate anything binding with IUF affiliate Stibys on safety and other concerns.
Stibys members rallied peacefully outside the plant beginning May 27, and the protests became a full-fledged work stoppage when workers learned of the dismissal of union member Alex Murillo after he denounced inadequate safety procedures at the plant on social media. Tension escalated with the arrival of heavily armed police in armoured vehicles at the factory gate.
Stibys called on the labour ministry to intervene, and a May 30 meeting with the ministry, management and the union inside the besieged plant reached an agreement to settle the dispute.
The agreement reinstates dismissed union member Alex Murillo, establishes that there will be no retaliation against union members for the strike, and sets a meeting for June 12 to settle outstanding issues of payment for workers who stayed away out of safety concerns. Stibys has warmly thanked the Latin American regional secretariat for quickly organizing solidarity and support for their struggle.
UNI's Hoffman to U.S. unions: We join your call for justice and support your fight to dismantle racism
2 June 2020: Statement by Christy Hoffman, UNI General Secretary to US affiliates:
Global solidarity means an injury to one is an injury to all, and UNI Global Union joins your call for justice and supports your fight to dismantle racism. As trade unionists, we know that there is no economic justice without racial justice. Our aim is to give voice to the voiceless and to lift and empower all workers, regardless of colour or creed. This cannot happen under the weight of structural racism.
We support those who protest in grief and anger against these horrific acts. We share your alarm at the remarks of President Trump, who has promised to further militarize the suppression of protests, and has called for more aggressive police tactics, in an attempt to inflame, rather than heal.
This is a moment of pain, of sorrow, of rage, and of fear. But this is also a moment for hope, bold actions, profound changes, and renewed determination. As one activist said so eloquently on Friday night, as he urged an end to the violence on the streets, we must "plot, plan, strategize, organize and mobilize" for the racial justice that will bring us peace.
The fight against racism is everyone's fight. This is our call to action. Solidarity.
Cambodian unionist released from jail
29 May, 2020: Cambodian unionist Soy Sros was released on 28 May, after being detained without trial for nearly two months. She was jailed for a post on social media criticizing her employer, Superl Cambodia Ltd, for suspending union members, including a pregnant woman.
Cambodian union Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) fought to have their local union president released, supported by a LabourStart campaign and international solidarity.
CUMW president Pav Sina says: "While we welcome the release, CUMW stresses that the government must drop all investigations on Soy Sros. Superl Cambodia Ltd must immediately reinstate her with full back pay, benefits and damage compensation. "We call on the company to respect the union leader's free speech and her role as a worker representative."
In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak and factory shutdowns, Soy Sros was fighting for the rights of CUMW members, including a pregnant woman, as Superl Cambodia Ltd. announced that their employment contracts would not be renewed on 2 April. Criticizing the company on Facebook for failing to follow the advice of the Cambodian Prime Minister with regards to dismissing workers, Soy Sros was arrested the following day.
IndustriALL Global Union sent letters to Superl Cambodia Ltd and brands producing at the factory, urging all parties to respect CUMW leader's freedom of expression and to withdraw the police report. An international campaign calling for her release was launched on 15 May.
IndustriALL South East Asia regional director Annie Adviento says: "IndustriALL has been very concerned about Soy Sros' deteriorating health while in detention. She now has access proper medical treatment. The right to health is a human right. "We thank everyone around the world for their solidarity actions; Soy Sros' release shows that we can make a change when we are united."
Health and safety is paramount for return to work
Ensuring health and safety in workplaces must be the highest priority as people return to work in many countries emerging from COVID-19 restrictions and closures.
28-05-2020: "Drastic public health measures were, and in many cases still are, needed to tackle the initial waves of COVID infections around the world. Re-opening workplaces is much more complicated than closing them, and it is crucial that occupational health and safety regulations, procedures and systems provide the basis for return to work, as well as in situations where work has continued. Social dialogue and negotiations between employers and unions are central to this. Arrangements which are simply imposed on workers without consultation and union involvement pose a much higher risk, both to working people and to the public in general. All the evidence shows that workplaces, whether health and care facilities, transport systems, public venues and other places where workers come into contact with the public, or processing facilities, offices and other places where significant numbers of workers are together, are major vectors for the spread of the virus. Good occupational health and safety protects workers, members of their households and the public," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
Important guidance on return to work has been issued by the International Labour Organization, which stresses the need for a rights-based approach, embedded in occupational health and safety frameworks.
Protecting health and safety is one of the primary responsibilities of unions, which have important expertise and often have specialised research and training functions. In the UK, agreements have been reached with several major companies that union health and safety representatives will provide advice and guidance to companies in their supply chains, while in Scotland, the government, health and safety authorities, local governments and the police are recommending that the specialist union representatives have access to all workplaces so that all workers and employers can benefit from their expertise.
"Others should follow these examples, which recognise the scale and complexities of the return to work, and mobilise capabilities that are needed in every workplace. This is all the more important where workers for platform businesses such as app-based personal transport are wrongly classified as 'independent' or 'gig' workers and thus deprived of employment status and union protections. And we cannot assume that COVID-19 will be gone tomorrow. It will be with us for a long time, and resilience, both for people's health and for regenerating and sustaining economic activity, is dependent on safe and healthy workplaces," said Burrow.
The ITUC is also calling for COVID-19 to be classified as an occupational disease under national regulatory frameworks with an official occupational disease reporting and recording requirement, both for preventative reasons and for workers' compensation.
Brazil: Trade union manifesto urges different approach from Bolsonaro
26.05.2020: In Brazil, the Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Educação (CNTE) has issued a manifesto of measures to safeguard public health and workers' lives.
CNTE leaders have strongly criticised President Jair Bolsonaro's reaction to the COVID-19 epidemic spreading in the country. Their manifesto includes demands to public authorities to ensure the health and safety of education workers and students. "The seriousness of the current moment calls for everyone's solidarity," the union underlined. Speaking on behalf of "the forgotten, forsaken, and invisible crowds", the education union explained that "through this Manifesto, educators from Brazil publicly defend human life with the deepest altruistic feelings".
Collective and supportive actions needed
The CNTE leaders condemned the Bolsonaro government's neoliberal policy of undermining the role of the state and its public workers, which "is proving to be an absolute failure daily". In the face of the current public health crisis, the Brazilian government"s "contradictory actions" are allowing it to dodge "the true dimension of the problem."
Epidemic will worsen
Trade union Manifesto
More solidarity, quality public health and education
Reform the IMF and World Bank to re-build better from COVID-19
To build a stronger and resilient world from the economic, health and social devastation of COVID-19 and the crises of inequality and climate change which preceded it, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund must move beyond structural reforms driven by market fundamentalism. Two new reports catalogue decades of failed policies that weakened the social contract and left countries vulnerable to the pandemic and economic crisis.
21-05-2020: In an unprecedented global crisis, millions of people are losing their jobs and being pushed into poverty. This comes on the heels of a fragile and incomplete recovery from the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, in which a rapid shift from stimulus to austerity and attacks on working people fatally undermined initial progress. ""The IMF's renewed supply-side push: Four decades of structural adjustment and austerity conditionality" traces the central role of the Fund in these destructive decisions following the global financial crisis as part of a longer arc of failed policies.
"After a crisis in 2008 caused by the financial sector and bailouts for those responsible, working people became the target of an all-out attack on collective bargaining, labour rights and public services. As we plan economic recovery plans from the damage caused by COVID-19, we cannot repeat the same mistakes of prematurely ending stimulus and pursuing harsh spending cuts that undermine growth" said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
In 2015, the UN Sustainable Development Goals presented an opportunity to turn the page with a universal agenda for decent work, gender equality, social protection and more. However, energy has been redirected to promoting the interests of private investors as the only way to finance sustainable development. The World Bank has been at the forefront as detailed in "Market fundamentalism and the World Bank Group: from Structural Adjustment Programmes to Maximizing Finance for Development and beyond". The Maximizing Finance for Development approach adopted by the Bank shifts the institution away from catalytic investments and towards policy reforms to benefit private foreign investors, or even financial engineering to protect their investments.
More than $100 billion has left emerging market countries since the onset of COVID-19, in the largest and most rapid case of capital flight in history. These two reports describe how World Bank and IMF policy recommendations on capital markets and financing for development contributed to fragility, financialization and inflows of speculative private capital. Simultaneously, the institutions have frustrated the creation of quality employment, public services, and policies to raise wages.
Left unchecked, the ravages of the current crisis will compound three decades of lost progress on development. The reports document a shift at the World Bank and IMF in the 1980s, when the Reagan administration pursued ideological agenda that changed the operations of the international financial institutions. This shift initiated the era of structural adjustment programmes that imposed a strict set of deregulatory supply-side policies labelled the Washington Consensus. Although this straitjacket was abandoned in the early 2000s, the reports document that since then the international financial institutions have continued to be guided by market fundamentalism, with many changes being cosmetic rather than substantive reforms to the institutions.
"Massive capital flight, severe debt burdens and the effects of failed policies are dragging down developing countries at a time when they need to prepare inclusive stimulus and reconstruction plans. Now is the time to commit to an extension of debt relief for two years with an end to austerity measures as conditionality and an alignment with investment in SDGs and put an end to loan conditions and policy advice promoting failed approaches. This is especially necessary in World Bank Development Policy Loans and the standard IMF loan agreements that will follow the current round of emergency response financing. International financial institutions need to change more than just their rhetoric by aligning their operations with international labour standards, evidence-based policies for growth with shared prosperity, and the Sustainable Development Goals."
"Multilateralism will need reform to ensure global coordination for economic recovery plans that deliver global social protection funds for poorer countries, realigns debt relief with conditionality for SDGs, provides investment not austerity, rebalance trade rules with fundamental labour rights and environmental standards, see a treaty on business and human rights that mandate due diligence and reforms taxation rules to eliminate tax havens. The IMF and World Bank must not be a barrier to the New Social Contract on which recovery must be built," said Sharan Burrow.
Iraq: protest at Basra Gas Company/Shell over non-payment of salaries
20 May, 2020: Workers at Basra Gas Company, a joint venture where Shell holds a major stake, launched a protest on 18 May over the company's failure to pay salaries. Around 5,000 workers seconded from South Gas Company (SGC) to Basra Gas Company (BGC) have yet to receive their salaries.
Despite being faced with mass demonstrations in many places of the country, road closures and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, workers have continued to provide liquified natural gas for Iraq's electricity and petrochemical plants.
But at the end of every month, the seconded workers remain uncertain as to when they will receive their salaries due to SGC and BGC issues around the payment. The workers have repeatedly asked BGC to find a way to make sure salaries are paid regularly and on time, but as the end of May approached with no change in sight, workers launched a protest at the site of operation.
Hassan Juma, president of Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, says that the workers should not have to pay the price of any financial problems between SGC and BGC: "The two companies must resolve matters between themselves, as the workers are not implicated in the administrative and contractual frameworks. Since the affected workers were seconded from the SGC, their salaries and allocations are settled by BGC."
After the protest, union leaders and representatives of the protesting workers addressed the management of the company, urging them to expedite the payment of salaries.
Kemal Özkan IndustriALL assistant general secretary, says: "The workers' efforts to maintain essential production during the pandemic should be appreciated. But Shell in Iraq are forcing workers to protest and take further risks to demand what is owed them. It is unacceptable and the workers' wages must be paid immediately."
Basra Gas Company is a joint venture where South Gas Company holds 51 per cent and Shell 44 per cent. The remaining 5 per cent are held by Mitsubishi Corporation.
UNI Global Union launches campaign to promote safe fashion retail post Covid-19 pandemic
18 May 2020: As shops around the world roll up their shutters and open their doors, UNI Global Union's Commerce sector is kicking off a campaign for the safe return to work at fashion retail shops post pandemic.
The campaign supports a new set of guidelines to help UNI's member unions, from Argentina to Australia, negotiate in-store measures to protect retail workers, customers, and external vendors in the wake of Covid-19. The guidelines cover cleaning and disinfecting, personal protective equipment, scheduling, customer behaviour, and social distancing in stores. They also emphasize the vital role of union health and safety committees in enforcing these standards.
"We cannot reopen our shops and our economies without taking steps to minimize the risk of another outbreak," said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. "For retail to successfully rebound, workers and customers must feel safe while shopping, and these guidelines, enforced by unions on the ground, help secure a safe and sanitary retail environment."
UNI Commerce's push for a safe return to work is particularly needed where government requirements or sectoral standards are weak to non-existent. For example, following the controversial re-opening of shopping malls in Turkey, Turkish trade unions will use the guidelines to promote better protections for the thousands of fast fashion workers employed in the shopping malls.
In Peru, membership for the newly established union for H&M workers (Sindicato Unico H&M Perú) has doubled in recent months, as many H&M employees were seeking advice and more protections against the risk of Covid-19 infections. This union will use the campaign for return to work to help grow their ranks and establish demands for the weeks and months ahead.
"These guidelines incorporate best practices from around the world, including what we have learned from essential food and medicine retail workers during the pandemic as well as the return to work protocols negotiated with employers like Zara," said Stuart Appelbaum, President of UNI Commerce and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in the United States. "But we know that engaged, trained workers are the best way to ensure that these guidelines are followed, and we will continue working with UNI affiliates to enact them."
UNI developed these standards for a safe return to work in fashion retail based on criteria set by several unions, particularly those in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, and Spain.
UNI Commerce represents millions of retail workers the world over. It has previously published guidelines for food retail workers, and along with some of the largest food and grocery companies, it has established a set of principles for safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. UNI also has global agreements with Inditex and H&M, securing fundamental rights for retail workers globally.
Police intimidation, management threats and rights violations at Arcor Argentina
15.05.20On: May 4, police entered the Bagley biscuit factory in Arroyito, Córdoba and attempted to arrest workers and union representatives preparing a meeting on safety measures to deal with the coronavirus hazard. Héctor Morcillo, the general secretary of the IUF-affiliated foodworker federation FTIA, who came to the Córdoba plant to stop police from harassing union delegates, strongly condemned the use of the police against union representatives "defending the wages, safety, and lives of our fellow workers."
According to the union, Bagley has not been paying the obligatory bonuses and premiums and refuses to pay wages to workers legally entitled to stay home to care for their children during the pandemic. The union has filed for and won the involvement of the Labour Ministry in the dispute, but Arcor has violated the terms of the conciliation order and continues to threaten union representatives. According to the union, Bagley has still not implemented necessary health and safety protections.
Argentina-based confectionery maker Arcor has some 40 plants across Latin America.
Through the Latin American regional secretariat, Latin American unions representing Arcor workers have demonstrated their solidarity with the FTIA; the dispute continues.
Profiting from pandemic: State governments in India move to eliminate trade union rights and worker protections
13.05.20: In India, the attack on fundamental rights at the workplace is accelerating under cover of promoting economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 emergency. The state governments of Uttar Pradesh (India's most populous state), Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra are rolling back or suspending laws to allow for:
The government of Uttar Pradesh has announced plans to suspend 30 laws and regulations for 3 years, including laws regulating the settlement of industrial disputes, workplace health and safety, the maintenance of facilities including water and sanitation, canteens and crèches, trade union rights and the employment of contract workers.
Madhya Pradesh will allow employers to hire contract workers for a longer duration, bypass union recognition and collective bargaining in key industries and release new firms from collective bargaining and dispute settlement mechanisms.
The demolition of hard-won trade union and worker rights and the protections set out in ILO Conventions is unfolding within the national government's ongoing attacks on the secular basis of Indian democracy. The IUF affirms its full solidarity with our members in India and the wider labour movement struggling to defend fundamental rights against an authoritarian onslaught, and will do all we can to support them.
UK: Teacher union gives international solidarity award to Filipino trade union leader
11.05.2020: UK teacher union NASUWT has presented its International Solidarity Award 2020 to Raymond Basilio, Secretary General of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers in the Philippines, and member of the Education International Executive Board. The NASUWT International Solidarity Award recognises the bravery and commitment of individuals around the world who work tirelessly to promote human rights and to defend the rights of teachers, and who are committed to the trade union values of solidarity, equality, and democracy and to challenging violence, injustice, bigotry, and hatred.
Subject to threats and harassment
He added that, along with Amnesty International, Education International, and the International Trade Union Confederation, NASUWT and teachers throughout the UK would continue to press the Government of the Philippines to allow Basilio and ACT members to carry out their legitimate trade union activities without fear of harassment or imprisonment.
Spotlight on government
Kinross Gold Corporation must ensure workers' health and safety during Covid-19 crisis
8 May, 2020: Workers at Tasiast gold mine in Mauritania, owned by Canadian Kinross Gold Corporation, launched an indefinite strike on 5 May over non-compliance with labour laws and workers' safety during Covid-19.
Workers are demanding that the company complies with the Mauritania's labour law, especially regarding staff representatives, legal duration of work, overtime, weekly rest and the respect for the 2019 collective agreement. In addition, the union is stressing the need to follow the safety instructions established by the authorities related to Covid-19 on quarantine and isolation for 14 days for anyone arriving on site.
On 18 April, the union sent a letter to management stating their demands and concerns, but the company failed to respond. On 4 May, the union convened a meeting with the company management to negotiate, but when no agreement was reached, the workers went on an indefinite strike.
Laghdaf Dia Sanghare, general secretary of IndustriALL affiliate Feédeération nationale de l'eénergie, des hydrocarbures, des mines et de l'industrie (FNEHMI) says: "The FNEHMI is urging Kinross to show flexibility during this pandemic and to engage in negotiations with the union with the aim to find a solution to their legitimate claims. The FNEHMI is inviting the government to play a role in finding a way forward in this conflict which has gone on for too long, and help reach a durable solution."
In a letter to Kinross CEO, J. Paul Rollinson, IndustriALL is urging the company to immediately intervene and respond to the workers' demands, guarantee workers' health and safety, and strictly abide by the labour law provisions.
IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan says: "We stand in solidarity with our affiliate and support the demands. Health and safety measures must be respected during this pandemic and management must enter into negotiations in good faith over the workers' legitimate demands. It is imperative that Tasiast immediately complies with safety instructions in the workplace."
Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, Kinross Gold is one of the leading gold mining companies in the world with mines and projects in the United States, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Mauritania, and Russia employing approximately 9,000 people worldwide.
Unions demand enforceable safety standards as US President Trump orders meat plants to remain open
02.05.20: A US executive order issued on April 27 declares meat and poultry processing plants 'critical infrastructure' and enjoins state and local authorities from taking any action to close them due to health and safety concerns. The order comes in response to heavy lobbying by the industry following recent closings of plants belonging to the major meat companies, which have become hot spots for viral contagion across the country. According to the IUF-affiliated UFCW, at least 20 meat workers have died from COVID-19 and over 5,000 have been hospitalized or show symptoms.
Protection from legal liability from work-related claims of illness or death is a key industry concern. The federal Center for Disease Control and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have issued safety guidelines for the industry, but the guidelines are voluntary.
IUF affiliates responded to the government's action by insisting on enforceable measures to ensure worker safety. Marc Perrone, President of the UFCW, North America's packinghouse union, called on the administration "To immediately enact clear and enforceable safety standards that compel all meatpacking companies to provide the highest level of protective equipment through access to the federal stockpile of PPE, ensure daily testing is available for workers and their communities, enforce physical distancing at all plants, and provide full paid sick leave for any workers who are infected. Additionally, to protect the food supply and ensure these safety standards for workers are enforced, these plants must be constantly monitored by federal inspectors and workers must have access to representation to ensure their rights are not violated."
Prior to the executive order compelling the plants to remain open, the UFCW had called on the federal Coronavirus Task Force to prioritize essential safety measures for workers in the meatpacking industry.
Stuart Appelbaum, President of the RWDSU which represents many poultry workers, said "We only wish that this administration cared as much about the lives of working people as it does about meat, pork and poultry products. When poultry plants shut down, it's for deep cleaning and to save workers' lives. If the administration had developed meaningful safety requirements early on as they should have and still must do, this would not even have become an issue. Employers and government must do better. If they want to keep the meat and poultry supply chain healthy, they need to make sure that workers are safe and healthy."
OSHA currently has only 862 inspectors for enforcing workplace safety across the country - 58% of the number employed in 1980. Earlier this month, OSHA announced changes to enforcement rules that would in most cases free employers from recording whether workers with COVID-19 were exposed on the job.
The executive order was announced the same day that the IUF and unions around the world called for official recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational disease by governments and national health and safety bodies. This recognition would require employers to take necessary measures to protect workers against the risk of exposure, keep mandatory records on infection, establish liability for failure and provide compensation to workers and their families sickened and killed by COVID-19.
Online campaign on ILO Conventions 190 and 183 in Cambodia
20 May, 2020: IndustriALL South East Asia office and Cambodian affiliates have joined forces in an online campaign, creating awareness on ILO Convention 190 on violence and harassment and Convention 183 on maternity protection.
Since ILO C190 was adopted in June last year, IndustriALL's office in South East Asia has prepared leaflets and posters in various languages for affiliates in the region.
IndustriALL regional secretary Annie Adviento says: "The pandemic has significantly restricted the movement of trade unionists and our ability to create awareness on the convention has also been restrained. So we have to find creative ways to continue the campaign on ratification of C190 and C183. "People reduce outdoor activities and communication is concentrated on online platforms. So sharing the message on social media is very effective."
Even though the Cambodian government has expressed its commitment to women's rights by ratifying United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination of All Women (CEDAW), the current maternity protection falls short of international standards. Currently, women workers are entitled to 90 days maternity leave with half wages.
Annie Adviento says that ratifying C183 to realize 14 weeks maternity leave is crucial: "Women workers must receive full wages during maternity leave. C183 clearly states that the maternity benefit shall ensure women and their children to remain healthy and enjoy adequate standard of living; the current 50 per cent of the national minimum wage, US$190 per month, is not enough for mothers and babies."
IndustriALL urges Madagascar to ratify C176
24 March, 2020: IndustriALL Global Union and its affiliates in Madagascar are intensifying demands for the ratification of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 176 on safety and health in mines.
Last year, the affiliates wrote to the Minister of Labour, Employment, Public Services, and Social Legislation urging the government to ratify C176. None of the ILO conventions signed by Madagascar protects mine workers safety and health. The concerns regarding the regulation of the state of health and safety in the mining industry came under the spotlight at a well-attended panel discussion organized by IndustriALL in Antananarivo on 11 March.
Mining in Madagascar, which has vast deposits of ilmenite, graphite, limestone, gypsum, dolomite, silica, mica, titanium, quartz, gold, platinum group, silver, iron, copper, zinc, nickel, cobalt, chromite, is a huge source of foreign direct investment. Considering the magnitude of the mining sector, mining's contribution to the country's GDP and the growth of the extractives relative to the primary, secondary or tertiary sector, Madagascar is potentially a resource-rich country.
Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL director of mining, diamonds, gems, ornaments and jewellery production, said: "Occupational health and health and safety in mining in Madagascar is hopelessly unregulated which is inconsistent with mining's role in the economy."
Brian Kohler, IndustriALL director of health, safety and sustainability concurred: "Convention 176 provides the necessary basis for a sustainable mining industry that ensures that its workers return to their workplaces safe and healthy."
The panel discussion event, moderated by Hanta Andrianasy from Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Madagascar, followed a two-day training workshop on 9-10 March for IndustriALL affiliates. Kohler ran the training workshop.
The panellists included the IndustriALL directors and representatives from the two major global multinational mining companies, Rio Tinto's QMM ilmenite mine and Sheritt International's Ambatovy Sherritt Madagascar. Government of Madagascar representatives from the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Public Service and Social Legislation, director-general, Jerson Razafimanantsoa and Yvan Rakotomalala, the director of health and social action also presented.
The panellists were unanimous on the importance of ratification to ensure the safety and protection of mineworkers. Razafimanantsoa made a positive contribution to the panel discussions, committing the government of Madagascar to eventual ratification of C176. The ratification due process will include a gap analysis of the legislative occupational health and safety regime and will involve all tripartite stakeholders.
Mexico must ratify ILO C176
18 February, 2020: On 19 February 2006, 65 workers died following a methane gas explosion at the Grupo Mexico mine in Pasta de Conchos, Mexico. Only two bodies were recovered before the company sealed the mine. As the 14th anniversary of the mining tragedy approaches, IndustriALL is calling on the Mexican government to ratify ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines.
At the time of the tragedy, the leader of Los Mineros, Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, accused Grupo Mexico of "industrial homicide". In response, the authorities unleashed a campaign of political persecution that forced Gómez into exile. In 2018, Gómez was elected to the Mexican Senate on the ticket of the Morena party led by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and returned to Mexico where he is now President of the Senate Labour Commission.
Mexico is now working with international experts to attempt the recovery of the 63 workers whose bodies remain in the mine. Grupo Mexico continues to control its Mexican workforce through company-imposed protection unions; it also faces a four-month strike by unions at its US subsidiary Asarco in response to the company's unfair labour practices. In November 2018, the Mexican Senate approved a point of agreement presented by Senator Gómez requesting the Executive to submit ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines for ratification, but this has yet to be acted on.
IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches says: "IndustriALL and its predecessing organizations have supported Los Mineros' fight for the families' right to rescue the bodies of the 65 mineworkers that were killed in Pasta de Conchos. Although we recognize that the Mexican government has made important progress on workers' rights, many challenges still remain. This is the case for the mining industry, dominated by corporations like Grupo Mexico with a long history of violating workers' rights, including the right to secure and safe workplaces at its operations around the world.
"IndustriALL is calling on Mexico's government to ratify ILO Convention 176 as soon as possible in order to guarantee occupational safety and health in the mining industry."
Uruguay becomes first country to ratify ILO Convention 190
16 January, 2020: Uruguay is the first country in the world to ratify the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Convention 190, which recognizes that violence and harassment in the world of work can constitute a human rights violation.
The new Convention and Recommendation were adopted at the International Labour Conference in June, 2019. The Convention recognizes that violence and harassment are a threat to equal opportunities and are unacceptable and incompatible with decent work.
The government of Uruguay submitted the ratification bill to Parliament in September 2019, and the House of Representatives unanimously adopted the bill on 17 December 2019, making Uruguay the first ILO Member State to ratify C190.
"As it has now ratified the ILO Convention, Uruguay will have to adopt an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach to preventing and eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work. This will apply to both the private and public sectors, to the formal and informal economy, and in both urban or rural areas," said an official statement released by the Office of the President of Uruguay. The statement also said that legislation will require employers to take appropriate steps to prevent violence and harassment in the world of work.
The ratification process was facilitated by the fact that Uruguay already has laws in place to address some of the issues covered by C190, such as legislation on sexual harassment in the workplace and concerning student-teacher relationships, as well as on gender-based violence against women.
In November last year, IndustriALL Global Union launched a campaign to encourage affiliates to work together to ensure the ratification of the Convention and incorporation into domestic law. Through the gender office of Uruguay's central union PIT-CNT, IndustriALL's affiliates in Uruguay were actively involved in the tripartite talks on the ratification process.
Gender office representative and UNTMRA member Fernanda Ceballos says on the recent ratification: "We promoted the ratification of C190 in Uruguay from the gender equality and diversity office of PIT-CNT. We have worked on the issue of sexual harassment and zero tolerance of violence in the workplace for a long time, and we are very aware of the issue of raising awareness with the different unions through workshops on gender violence.
"In turn, we work on gender clauses, in conjunction with companies and the labour ministry. Once C190 was ratified, we held assemblies with UNTMRA to inform people of its scope. Many workers affiliated with UNTMRA have faced of sexual harassment at work, so we believe that ratification is very important to fight for a world of violence-free work."
IndustriALL's regional secretary, Marino Vani, says: "Convention 190 is an important tool for fighting discrimination and inequality in the workforce. We congratulate our affiliates in Uruguay for their tireless efforts to tackle gender-based violence, and the government for ratifying the new convention, which will help to create a world of work that is free of violence and harassment."
190 reasons and more for ratifying ILO C190
25 November 2019: Today we commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The strongest message and best possible way of celebrating this International Day would be the announcement by several governments of the ratification of ILO Convention C190 on Violence and Harassment.
This new international instrument - Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 - on violence and harassment in the world of work was adopted at the Centenary International Labour Conference in June 2019.
Much progress has been made but we still have a long way to go. It is exactly two decades since the United Nations officially designated 25th November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in memory of the three Mirabal sisters, assassinated in 1960 in the Dominican Republic. Public Services International (PSI) celebrates the adoption of Convention 190 as a major milestone and strongly urges all ILO Member States to ratify and implement it.
Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary: "Violence and harassment is not part of life, it is not something you have to go through because you are a woman. The campaign for C190 was initiated by women trade unionists many years ago, fighting for the elimination of gender-based violence at work. It gathered momentum and obtained global consensus culminating with adoption of a new international instrument for everyone, dealing with violence and harassment in the world of work. This goes to show that the struggle for women's rights can advance the rights for all".
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.