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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.
Asia-Europe Forum: Unions Press Heads of State on Decent Work and Minimum Wages
Trade union representatives from 20 Asian and European countries, meeting in Brussels this week at the Asia-Europe Labour Forum (AELF), have called for their governments to address persistent decent work deficits and ensure minimum living wages in global supply chains and digital businesses.
19-10-2018: ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow and ETUC Confederal Secretary Liina Carr delivered the labour forum's message last night to government leaders at a session of the intergovernmental Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM), which now formally recognises the AELF.
"We called on the ASEM governments to require that business embed due diligence on workers' and other human rights throughout their supply chains and provide legitimate grievance mechanisms and access to remedy in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We also emphasised the new risks that so-called crowd work and digital platform businesses will increase precarious work unless governments fulfil their responsibility to ensure these forms of business are properly regulated. And we stressed the need for governments to act decisively on climate change, to keep the temperature rise under 1.5 degrees by guaranteeing a Just Transition to a low-carbon economy. Immediate action is needed to increase resilience and adaptation," said Burrow.
"Low wages, precarious work, negotiations between employers and unions, trade policy and globalisation are issues for working people in Europe as well as in Asia and on every other continent. The global market needs to be better regulated and companies obliged to offer fair wages and decent work wherever they set up. A global economy based on exploitation and greed will only serve to increase inequalities and instability in our economies. EU and Asian governments have a duty to act if they have any interest in protecting their own citizens," said Carr.
Smurfit Kappa workers protest against union-bashing in Colombia
18.10.2018: On 8 October, IndustriALL affiliate Sintracarcol began a week of protests against Cartón de Colombia S.A., owned by multinational Smurfit Kappa, in a response to the firing of a number of workers, as well as other anti-union actions.
Sintracarcol set up camp outside the company's facilities in Medellin, Colombia, until 13 October. The union was protesting against the firm's violations of international employment standards at its plants across Colombia, particularly those in Medellin, Barranquilla, Bogotá and Cali. The union took action after union leader Yair Giraldo and a number of other workers were unfairly dismissed.
"I'm a victim of union-bashing," said Giraldo. "Smurfit Kappa is playing a brutal game. I was cornered by the head of Human Resources and his supervisors, wanting to discuss union matters. "I told them that such discussions have to be held according to the collective agreement. After that, they started proceedings to have my union protections rescinded, the court ruled in their favour, and I was fired."
The company does not comply with or properly implement the provisions of the collective bargaining agreements. Company management has put huge amounts of pressure on workers in an attempt to stop them from joining the union of their choice. Union members are systematically denied union leave to attend meetings and other union business. And union leaders have been offered money and other benefits to get them to leave the union or in return for information or legal action.
In a letter to Mr Anthony P. J. Smurfit, CEO of Smurfit Kappa Group, Valter Sanches, IndustriALL's general secretary, condemns the company's violations of fundamental union rights: "I call on your office to urgently address the misconduct of Smurfit Kappa's management team in Colombia. Your company's actions constitute systematic union-bashing against our members. "I urge you to work with Sintracarcol to find a fair solution and to build stronger industrial relations with Cartón de Colombia."
Union protests escalate at Accor's luxury Pullman Jakarta Hotel
18 October: 2018 On October 17, the IUF-affiliated independent national hotel and restaurant workers' federation FSPM held its fourth mass protest action in front of Accor's luxury Pullman Jakarta Hotel. Hotel workers from five regions across Indonesia joined the protest calling for Accor Indonesia to reinstate FSPM President Husni Mubarok, who was unfairly terminated by Pullman Jakarta management on July 5.
The IUF-affiliated independent national food and beverage workers federation FSBMM also mobilized members from five cities to join the protest action in solidarity with FSPM's fight to defend workers' human rights at one of the world's largest hotel chains.
While guests ventured out to meet the protesters, management refused to come out to hear the union's demands. With growing support in Indonesia and internationally, FSPM is planning its next mass protest action.
Canadian post workers are fighting for good jobs and better service
16 October 2018: The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is currently in negotiations for a new collective agreement. The ongoing negotiations are crucial for the future of every CUPW member employed at Canada Post Corporation. Job security, wages, benefits, pensions, working conditions - all wil be determined by what happens in collective bargaining.
On September 11, 2018 all members of the CUPW, both the Urban Postal Operations unit and the Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMC) unit, voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action. In the past negotiations, Canada Post issued lock-out notices. There is no doubt this is because the government understands the CUPW members are ready to defend their rights and stand up for better jobs. The CUPW called the members for active support, to stay informed, to participate in union activities because "together we can move forward and make progress".
On October 10, 2018, the CUPW announced their members will deliver pension and social assistance cheques to ensure pensioners and those with low-income not to suffer if the union is locked out or forced to strike.
"Over the last decade, the working conditions of all our members has deteriorated, leaving many overburdened, with little time for their home life," says Mike Palecek, National President, CUPW. "This ends now. Our members have spoken - this is the time to address serious workplace problems. Postal workers are also bargaining for the future - future employees and everyone who relies on the postal service," says Palecek. "Expanded public services at the post office will help our communities thrive, which is why we have put new services for all at the front and centre of our negotiations."
There have already been some successes. On September 21, 2018, after years of struggle, Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMC) won their long battle for pay equity. The majority of RSMCs are women and earn 28% less than the male dominated urban carriers. CUPW established a process to permanently close the wage gap between the RSMCs and the letter carriers of the urban bargaining unit.
UNI Global Union supports CUPW members in ongoing negotiations for a fair agreement for all Canadian postal workers. The CUPW wants to improve working conditions and expanded postal services, benefitting everyone on Canada.
Philippines: thugs, army and police attack striking Sumitomo banana workers
15 October 2018: On October 10, thugs accompanied by members of the army and police again attacked striking packing house workers on picket lines at Sumitomo's Sumifru Philippines Corporation (Sumifru) operations in Compostela Valley in Mindinao. The union has been on strike since October 1 over the company's refusal to engage in collective bargaining negotiations for more than a decade.
Despite a Supreme Court ruling last year confirming earlier legal decisions that Sumifru is the responsible employer for packing house workers employed through a labour contractor, the company continues to assert that it has no legal obligation to enter into collective bargaining with the workers' union NAMASUFA.
The latest violence against workers on the picket lines, accompanied by armed intrusions into workers' homes, follows similar violence by thugs, army and police personnel on October 3.
Coal mining unions demand Just Transition
15.10.2018: IndustriALL Global Union's network of coal mining unions met in Delhi, India, to escalate efforts to achieve a 'Just Transition' in order to defend coal miners' interests in the face of challenges from climate change, Industry 4.0 and dangerous working conditions.
IndustriALL coal mining affiliates from Australia, Botswana, Bulgaria, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Spain, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam took part in the meeting held on 11 and 12 October 2018.
Unions held frank discussions over the implications of an alarming IPCC Special Report that calls for limiting global warming to 1.5℃, as well as union strategies towards 24th Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 24) to be held at Katowice, Poland. Participants expressed frustration over governments' and employers' failure to develop social plans to protect coal workers' interests in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.
However, Michael Vassiliadis, president, German Mine, Chemical and Energy Workers' Union (IG BCE) said: "In Germany, even though we have plenty of coal reserves, a political decision has been taken to end industrial coal mining by this year. The IG BCE always considered this decision to be wrong, nevertheless we supported it and we guaranteed that not a single mine worker is left at the bottom of the pit without employment. IG BCE and the entire German public are interested in implementing Paris Climate decisions and outcomes of forthcoming COP 24. This debate is directly about jobs and the livelihood of our members and their families. And it is also about affordable supply of electricity to the population and for the industry."
Unions emphasized that a Just Transition, which ensures strong social protection programmes and sustainable industrial policies, is the answer to ensure coal workers' jobs as part of measures to meet carbon emissions targets. Participants said governments and employers must invest and deploy adequate resources in research and development of clean coal technologies.
Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL's director for mining, said: "Climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts should be fair and take into account the capabilities and vulnerabilities of countries with different levels of economic development."
Unions underlined the need to assess the technological transformation that is already underway in the coal industry to better guard workers' interests.
Union leaders reported deplorable health and safety conditions and fatalities in the industry. Many employers and governments remain indifferent and negligent towards health and safety, and workers continue to face treacherous working conditions in coalmines around the world. Underlining IndustriALL's global campaign for safe mining in Pakistan, the meeting issued a statement in solidarity with unions in Pakistan in their struggle. The meeting also called for intensifying the campaign to ratify ILO C 176 in more countries.
Addressing the participants, IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said: "The coal mining industry is facing massive transformation with major social, economic and political challenges. A strong global coal mining unions network is needed to influence policy decisions, strengthen international solidarity to defend coal mining workers' rights and to ensure Just Transition."
Unions also expressed discontent over privatization of public sector coal mines in India and elsewhere. Almost every case of privatization around the world has resulted in the exponential increase of precarious work and criminal disregard to occupational health and safety in coalmines leading to accidents and loss of workers lives.
Trade union leaders beaten and arrested during Zimbabwe austerity protests
11.10.2018: Police have beaten and arrested two leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), as thousands of workers took to the streets in cities across Zimbabwe on 11 October to protest against austerity measures.
In an attempt to stop a march from taking off in Harare, the police surrounded the offices of the ZCTU, beating up and arresting the federation's president Peter Mutasa and secretary general, Japhet Moyo, according to unions. About 20 protesting workers were arrested in Mutare and 13 in Masvingo.
Five IndustriALL Global Union affiliates took part in the marches in solidarity with other unions.
Recently, the Zimbabwean government announced monetary and fiscal policies to remedy the economy arguing that the reforms were "painful and necessary". But the opposite happened as the economy nose-dived. The austerity policies are wiping out the value of wages and workers can no longer afford basic necessities.
Following announcements to increase taxes on mobile money transactions to two per cent per dollar, and that bank deposits made in US dollars would now be converted to local currency, people went into panic mode buying basic goods out of fear of the return of hyper-inflation. Food prices skyrocketed as goods disappeared from the shelves. Businesses closed for "stock taking" and "renovations" or simply increased prices for their goods and services.
While the government maintains that the exchange rate for the local currency to the US dollar is 1:1, the reality is that on the parallel market one US dollar is 4.85 Zimbabwe dollars, called bond notes. This makes the panic understandable. In 2008 workers lost wages including pensions when their retirement benefits and savings could not even buy a loaf of bread due to hyperinflation.
Says Christian Ranji, secretary for the IndustriALL Zimbabwe Youth Committee: "Workers have no option but to fight austerity. We can't be taxed to fund wasteful government spending. Companies are closing, and workers losing jobs. The announcement caused instability as grocery shops increased prices and citizens started buying in bulk to get value for their money."
Valter Sanches, IndustriALL General Secretary, says: "We call upon the government of Zimbabwe to respect the rights of workers to protest against the austerity measures and condemn the acts of violence and intimidation. The arrest of the ZCTU leadership, comrades Peter Mutasa and Japhet Moyo, and the protesting workers is unacceptable. We call for their immediate release, and for the government to seek social dialogue with the unions."
Climate IPCC Report 2018 - PSI Reaction
11 October 2018: PSI welcomes the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on global warming released on 8 October 2018.
As suspected, the report shows that:
Says Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of PSI: "The current commitments made by governments under the Paris climate accord will see the world heat to 3℃, which is untenable. The latest report from the IPCC shows the need to act decisively and urgently. The labour movement must be part of the solution, and this will require some deep soul-searching on the part of union leaders and activists."
"We need an honest discussion about our current model of capitalism. Our addictions to fossil fuels, to consumption and to never-ending growth need to be examined. Labour needs a real 'just transition' for those affected by the shift away from fossil fuels. But I suggest that we need much more. We need a new model for society, one that gives priority to people and planet over profit."
Climate chaos will require more efforts to adapt, to create "resilient societies". The first place this needs to happen is in our cities. Mayors and city councils are becoming aware and taking action. Municipal workers need to be involved, along with inhabitants, to design local adaptation measures. Climate chaos will create more climate migration, as people are forced out of their homes and off their lands. Governments need to anticipate these movements of people, preferably by investing in adaptation through public infrastructure and services, such that people are not forced to move, or by preparing to receive the victims of climate chaos in ways that ensure their dignity, in respect of their human rights.
More climate chaos inevitably means more emergencies and disasters. PSI represents most emergency workers. These professionals are under increasing levels of stress as they are called on more frequently to deal with more intense weather events. This applies to first responders, but also to a range of public services: municipal workers; utilities of water, energy and transport; health and social service workers...
Says PSI vice president Annie Geron from the Philippines, "Emergency workers deserve all the support and respect that we can give them. These are people who must leave their families work in the most dangerous zones to protect and save other people. The inevitable climate chaos will put more demands on our emergency services, they will become even more central to protecting our communities."
"I encourage all unions to read the ILO Guidelines on Public Emergency Services, as well as the PSI guidelines. These two documents are the result of years of trade union work and provide the bases for union strategies in emergency services."
Governments Should Back Binding UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights
Brussels, 11 October 2018 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC is calling on governments to support a United Nations Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights in negotiations underway at the UN Human Rights Council. A "Zero Draft" of the Treaty will be the basis for a further round of talks starting on 15 October in Geneva.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said: "The world is crying out for multinational corporations to be held responsible for their international operations, to end the abuse and violations of workers' and other human rights in global supply chains. Today, companies can flout international law at will outside their home bases, and workers are paying a heavy price with poverty wages, oppressive working conditions, unacceptably long working hours and death, injury and sickness caused by work. This treaty should close a massive loophole which allows corporations to flout international labour and human rights standards."
The zero draft includes crucial provisions which would represent a big step forward in ensuring corporate accountability throughout global supply chains:
The ITUC is calling for improvements to the draft, including:
The ITUC is also seeking to remove ambiguous language from the draft, and for the treaty to limit the use of "forum non conveniens", a legal doctrine which corporations use to have cases against them heard by courts in countries where the law is weak.
"Governments at the G20 and other fora have been making pledges to stop the undermining of ILO standards as a way to get a competitive edge in global markets. It's time these words are put into action through a binding UN Treaty," said Burrow. To read the ITUC/Global Union Federations position paper for the negotiations.
Decent Work's 10th anniversary - JUST DO IT!
06 October 2018: On 7 October 2018 we "celebrate" the 10th anniversary of the World Day for Decent Work (WDDW): 10 years that unions across the world have been fighting to place decent work at the centre of government policies, to bring back economic growth that puts people first - people over profit.
In the past 10 years, decent work has been echoed in major global instruments, such as the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017), the Conference on Sustainable Development (2011) and during the UN General Assembly in September 2015 - decent work and the four pillars of the ILO Decent Work Agenda are central elements of the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Goal 8 of the 2030 Agenda calls for the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
But this decade also witnessed the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, one of the worst ever. World leaders responded with austerity recipes that led to unemployment, informal and precarious jobs, privatisation and deregulation, all of which increased the gap between the richest 1% and the rest of the planet. Decent work took a heavy blow.
Add to this the changes in the world of work brought about by internet technology, where apps drive the gig economy and digitalisation is causing turmoil in work relations, and the decent work agenda is further strained.
The emerging forms of capitalism which were born from the crisis confront us with new working relationships, such as the "Uberization" of work - which certainty is not the future of work we want. In public services, we are seeing more proposals to privatise, and to financialise and securitise the assets of these services - basically turning them over to the financial sector's speculations. Public coffers were emptied to prop up the financial institutions that were on the edge of failure, but workers and trade unions are fighting back.
In public services, PSI
In all of these struggles, PS's messages are clear: "Unions must be able to fight on many fronts and work with community allies to defend the decent work agenda, which forms the basis for just and equitable workplaces and strengthens families and communities", says Rosa Pavanelli, PSI's General Secretary.
From these rather limited but persistent successes we learned that the access to universal quality public services is essential for a better world. We celebrate the 10th anniversary of the World Day for Decent Work with that in mind and call for all workers to join with unions to fight for Decent Work for All!
Unions unite to defend workers' rights
04.10.2018: Over 80 delegates representing 40 IndustriALL affiliates from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) met on 1 - 3 October in Baku, Azerbaijan, to discuss effective trade union response against the challenges in the regions.
The meeting was an important platform for exchanging of information and experiences, with participants united in defending and advancing workers' rights. One whole day was devoted to discussing gender issues and how the unions can work together to improve women's rights and participation.
Discussing developments since the last meeting in Yerevan, Armenia in 2017, many delegates spoke about the difficulties they face, including falling living standards, low level of wages and attacks on trade union rights.
Kemal özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, said: "I believe this was a very good and productive three days of work. Like in many other countries, our affiliates here are facing serious challenges, but we are confident we can cope with them. "The alarming trade union rights' violations in Kazakhstan and Belarus are upsetting, but with the support of our affiliates we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in these countries."
As part of a strengthened relationship between the countries in the region and the European Union (EU), IndustriAll Europe general secretary Luc Triangle, reported on the EU, its institutions and social policies.
Industry 4.0 will soon impact the region, and unions are preparing themselves for challenges that will affect production and work in the industries dominating the economies in the region.
The meeting's third day was dedicated to gender policy and future actions in the region to implement decisions taken during IndustriALL's Congress in Rio in 2016, according to which, "all affiliates should strive towards a minimum of 40 per cent women representation in their delegations". The unions welcomed the opportunity for men and women to come together to better understand the challenges faced by women in unions and in the workplace. Affiliates agreed that the best way to make improvements is through addressing the issues at a leadership level with the participation of women and men.
Jenny Holdcroft, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, said: "I was very pleased to be part of a stimulating discussion that highlighted the different perspectives of men and women of the situation of women workers. It is through discussions like these that we can reach a better common understanding a drive change in our unions."
Hundreds of workers from Nestlé Germany protest at company headquarters in Switzerland with international support
3 October 2018: On 2 October, busses carrying a total of 400 Nestlé workers from across Germany travelled to Vevey, Switzerland for a mass protest at Nestlé headquarters.
The protest targeted measures threatening the employment of some 600 workers in Germany, which are intended to meet Nestlé CEO Ulf Mark Schneider's call for increasing profit margins up to 18.5%.
In recent months, Nestlé has announced the closure of its factory in Lüdwigsburg, which produces coffee substitutes and employs 107 workers; the closure of its quality assurance laboratory in Weiding, which analyses baby food products and employs 85 workers; the halting of production lines in Lüdinghausen (Maggi) and Biessenhofen (infant cereals) affecting 170 workers; and job cuts to the sales force and back office workers affecting another 200 workers. Furthermore, the company has launched an attack on collective agreements, demanding cut-backs on salaries and working conditions.
At a meeting with representatives of Nestlé corporate human resources management, union representatives from the affected factories handed over petitions signed by 17,000 Nestlé workers and supporters in Germany. The protest was organized by their union, the German Food Workers Union, NGG, with assistance from the IUF and the Swiss union, UNIA. The Nestlé workers were joined by representatives from the IUF international secretariat and Latin American regional organization and unions representing Nestlé workers in Switzerland, France, the UK and Australia.
Amazon responds to union pressure with wage increase, but still denies workers' rights
Brussels, 2 October 2018 (ITUC OnLine): Trillion-dollar corporate behemoth Amazon's announcement that it will increase wages of its lowest paid workers shows that pressure from national and international unions is having an impact. However the company shows no sign yet of ending its systematic global anti-union strategy.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary said "Amazon is a top-predator in the corporate greed stakes, and treats the men and women who work for it with no respect. From Jeff Bezos at the top, down to middle management, the company uses every trick in the book to stop its workers organising into unions to improve working conditions and bargain collectively for decent conditions and pay that reflects the full value of the work they do. Amazon has an appalling record on workers' health and safety, and imposes work practices on them that would have been unacceptable 100 years ago, let alone today. Trade unions will keep up the pressure on this company until it changes its feudal corporate culture."
While Amazon has announced wage increases for UK and US workers, unions are calling for increases for its entire global workforce.
Mozambique: International support in new union creation
02.10.2018: In Mozambique, significant progress is being made in creating a new education union, with the help and support of Education International and its affiliates.
ONP started the process to move from a professional association to a trade union in 2014. It has received support in its transformative journey from Education International (EI) and its affiliates from South Africa, Brazil, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, and Canada. It has also received more concrete assistance from EI's Solidarity Fund in logistics, coordination and a democratic structure that will see it become a trade union in June 2019.
The process that will transform ONP from a professional association into a trade union will involve motivating teachers to become involved in union politics, gathering enough delegates, informing them of the constitutional process, and ensuring that the foundations of the new union comply with the highest standards of democracy, transparency, and independence.
Status of profession
Argentina: private interests are critically undermining public education
28.09.2018: A new study reports on the worrying expansion of private interests in the public education sector in Argentina and its undermining effects on equity and quality education.
"The privatisation of education in Argentina" a report by Education International (EI) and EI member Confederación de Trabajadores de la Educación de la República Argentina (CTERA) was launched today during a public event in Buenos Aires. The report was written and edited by local researchers and a team from the University of Cambridge. It provides an overview of the processes driving the privatisation of education and their impact on quality and equity in Argentina's public education system.
Lack of transparency and shifts in funding
There has also been a decrease in public funding of key areas necessary for quality education such as teacher training, the budget for which has been cut by almost one full percentage point since just last year. The report reveals that these policies are the result of increased influence by the private sector-corporations, non-governmental organisations, philanthropic organisations-in government infrastructure and policy development.
Growing presence of private actors
Trade union response
Angelo Gavrielatos, Project Director at Education International, added: "Governments have a collective responsibility to provide their citizens with quality public education. Intelligent governments examine the evidence and take it into consideration for their policy-making decisions. This report only adds to the mounting body of evidence that shows that application of market principles in education does not improve student results". Gavrielatos also regretted the absence of delegates from the governing party during the presentation of the study at the National Congress on the eve of the launch.
Unions file OECD complaint against IKEA's international pattern of workers' rights abuses
THE HAGUE, Sept. 27-In a scathing complaint filed today with the government of the Netherlands, an international coalition of labour unions is calling for an investigation into wide-ranging violations of workers' rights at IKEA.
The complaint, delivered to the Dutch OECD National Contact Point, details failures by IKEA's global management to curb vicious anti-union campaigns in the United States, Ireland, and Portugal. IKEA is domiciled in the Netherlands.
UNI Global Union along with the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) from North America; the FNV from the Netherlands; the Mandate trade union from Ireland; and the SITESE trade union from Portugal submitted the filing based on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
"IKEA knows what it means to have sound industrial relations, and yet it is simply not playing by the rules that govern global corporations," said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. "The company's top management repeatedly ignored the red flags that workers and unions have raised about violations of rights in its stores around the world. So we've asked the Dutch government to step in to ensure that we can end these unacceptable practices." IKEA employees in several countries have sought unionisation to address serious workplace issues such as stressful working conditions, erratic or unfair scheduling, sick leave polices, sexual harassment, and other forms of adverse treatment of workers.
Based on an extensive review of legal filings and dozens of worker interviews, the complaint describes IKEA management's sophisticated strategies to keep workers from joining or establishing labour unions, in violation of OECD guidelines, including:
U.S. management's threats and false claims. After workers began organising with the UFCW in 2016, IKEA management in the Stoughton, Massachusetts, store repeatedly misrepresented the economic realities of union membership-giving workers the impression that their wages and conditions would be significantly worse if they voted to form a union. The company also told workers' that their job security "could be worse" if they unionised. These false claims were regularly made in mandatory captive audience meetings at the workplace, for the purpose of spreading fear and anti-union propaganda.
The US federal government issued a complaint in 2017 against IKEA management's conduct at the goods flow unit in the Stoughton store, and it scheduled a trial to further adjudicate the matter. However, the trial was cancelled earlier this year as part of the Trump administration's anti-labour turn-showing the increased need for these problems to be corrected under OECD guidelines.
IKEA's Irish management creates a repressive, anti-union environment. In 2009, IKEA workers began organising with Mandate in the company's Dublin store. Management's response was to create a "repressive and threatening anti-union environment" and denying Mandate staff access to the facility-even physically removing them. Workers-the clear majority temporary employees-were kept in a state of total uncertainty about their hours, the real duration of their employment contracts, and their employment stability in general. According to workers, senior store management were advising them not to align with the union, and employees were genuinely frightened of management retaliation if they joined Mandate.
Portuguese management's campaign of surveillance and retaliation. In 2013-2014 and again in 2017 until the present, workers at IKEA's Alfragide store in Lisbon have been organising with the SITESE labour union to gain a collective agreement. However, management has created a climate of fear among workers that they will suffer reprisals if they support the union. Workers claim that the company has retaliated against union supporters by giving undesirable schedules to union supporters or by blocking supporters' ability to advance professionally.
"The result from all of the badmouthing of unions was clear. A lot of people got scared. After the company's anti-union scare tactics, people began to flip-even those who went on strike to win union representation," said Chris DeAngelo, a union supporter at IKEA's Stoughton store. "It was just too much pressure." DeAngelo's experience is echoed by IKEA employees in Ireland and Portugal. Unions in each country raised concerns with the company's global management.
The unions filing this complaint say that IKEA is continuing its pattern of labour rights violations in countries throughout the world, and mediation by the Dutch OECD National Contact Point is necessary to make the company live up to its proclaimed principles and international human rights standards.
"This complaint shows that IKEA is failing to operate by its values of 'honesty,' 'respect,' 'fairness,' and 'integrity'," said Mari Martens, Head of the Commerce Sector of the FNV. "Because repeated requests to the company's global management have been disregarded, the Dutch government should use its authority under the OECD guidelines to intervene in this situation and stop the ongoing violations of workers' right to have a union."
Governments are obliged to ensure that multinationals based in their country respect the OECD guidelines, which include the freedom of association and other labour rights. A determination that the company has violated the guidelines will be taken very seriously by the investment community as a violation of commonly accepted social responsibility standards.
Mongolia: IndustriALL and Rio Tinto conduct joint mission at Oyu Tolgoi mine
26.09.2018: Global social dialogue between IndustriALL Global Union and Rio Tinto took a significant step forward when both parties undertook a joint mission to Rio Tinto's massive Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold operations and underground expansion in the remote South Gobi desert of Mongolia.
The joint mission took place from the 17th - 22nd September 2018. Michael Gavin, Rio Tinto's group head of employee relations, and Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL's mining director, led their respective delegations. The IndustriALL delegation included regional staff, representatives of local unions, and journalists from Dagens Arbete, the magazine of Swedish affiliate IF Metal.
A major objective of the mission was to evaluate Rio Tinto's environmental, social and governance strategies. The operation has not been without controversy. During the mission, consultation was held with the herder community and their elders, the local community, the governor of Khanbogd sum, permanent and contractor employees, and NGOs critical of the operation.
Mongolia is richly endowed in natural resources and is heavily dependent on mining for its economic prospects. Oyu Tolgoi is the jewel in Rio Tinto's crown, providing the company with an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to responsible mining. Rio Tinto took the opportunity provided by the results of the Responsible Mining Index (RMI) to invite IndustriALL to Oyu Tolgoi.
IndustriALL participates in the RMI, which defines responsible mining as "...mining that demonstrably respects the interests of people and the environment, and contributes discernibly and fairly to broad economic development of the producing country." Rio Tinto achieved one of the ten strongest results in four different areas: economic development, business conduct, working conditions and environmental responsibility.
IndustriALL held a workshop with Mongolian affiliate, the Federation of Energy, Geology and Mining Workers' Unions, for the leadership and over 40 representative shop stewards.
There are 16,117 workers at Oyu Tolgoi, split between a permanent Mongolian workforce of about 3,000 and a largely Mongolian and expatriate contractor workforce, involved in the underground expansion project. A major skills transfer from expatriates to Mongolians is a defining feature of skills development and training. A large percentage of the Mongolian contracted workforce is set to be made permanent when the underground production comes on line. Evidence of the skills transfer is the large percentage of women operating massive hauling trucks at the open pit mine, and Mongolians holding critical senior management positions.
Glen Mpufane observed: "The social license to operate is not a given, but must be earned, through transparency and trust in dialogue. Responsible mining is the pathway to obtaining that license".
The conversation with Rio Tinto over its sustainability performance continues to include other global operations, for example QMM in Madagascar, RBM in South Africa, and the Rössing Uranium mine in Namibia.
UN General Assembly and UN Global Compact Summit call for a new social contract
25 September 2018, Brussels (ITUC Online): The UN General Assembly (UNGA) opened in New York this week with Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés saying, "The world needs a social contract based on shared responsibility, and the only forum that we have to achieve this global compact is the United Nations."
The UN Global Compact Summit taking place alongside the UNGA brought unions, business leaders and investors together with heads of government to explore how to work together to build and invest in peace for all and advance the Global Goals (SDGs). It is calling on stakeholders everywhere, including business, to put people at the heart of sustainability strategies and practices - ensuring a future where no one is left behind. The UN Global Compact was established by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000 with the first Leaders' Summit held in 2004. Its membership is based on support for ten principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.
Speaking at the summit in New York, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: "Today's fractured world requires a new social contract - a commitment to ensure that full employment, rights and safety are respected by every business along with universal social protection, a minimum living wage and collective bargaining to guarantee wealth distribution with equality, the elimination of tax evasion and secure public services. And we cannot compromise on climate action with Just Transition measures for working people and their communities.
"The UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights with a mandated requirement for due diligence, grievance and remedy is essential to eliminate modern slavery and the oppression of the low-wage, precarious and unsafe work of today's corporate supply chains. "The SDGs are a pathway for social justice - a zero-poverty, zero-carbon world - but if we want to restore faith in democracy and create the enabling environment for peace and prosperity, economic models must have people, decent work and environment at the centre of development."
Sharan Burrow and Philip Jennings, former General Secretary of UNI Global Union, are UN Global Compact Board members.
Major win for Mexican workers as senate approves ILO organising and collective bargaining treaty
The decision by the Mexican Senate on 20 September to ratify ILO Convention 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining is a major victory for Mexican workers, following a sustained campaign by the national trade union centre UNT, the ITUC and its regional organisation for the Americas TUCA and Global Union Federations.
21-09-2018: Bringing Mexico's law into line with the Convention will mean that workers will no longer suffer from the decades-long use of so-called 'protection contracts' where bogus unions make corrupt agreements with employers on behalf of workers without their knowledge or consent.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary said "the system has been stacked against Mexican workers for many years, and now the rules are changing. We congratulate the Senate on this decision, and look forward to the government following through so that the rights of working people to freely organise unions and engage in collective bargaining are fully respected. This will lift wages, help improve safety and working conditions, and stimulate the economy."
Mexico is currently rated among the worst countries for workers in Category 5 of the ITUC Global Rights Index and implementing the Convention will allow it to improve its ranking.
The only other country in the Americas region which has not ratified the Convention is the USA. In Asia and the Middle East, Bahrain, Iran, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Afghanistan, Brunei Darussalam, China, Cook Islands, India, Korea, Laos, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, Palau, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vietnam have yet to ratify it. All African and European countries have ratified it.
Joint statement to Royal Thai government on ILO Convention 188 ratification
Joint statement from the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC), State Enterprise Workers' Relations Confederation (SERC) and Fishers' Rights Network (FRN) to the Royal Thai Government on ILO Convention 188 Ratification.
21/09/2018: Migrant fishers from Cambodia and Myanmar working in the Thai fishing industry continue to experience labor and human rights abuses, are at times forced to work for owners and captains that fish illegally or participate in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) activities, and are routinely denied access to legal remedy because of their immigration status.
Ratifying C188 - Work in Fishing Convention will send a strong message to IUU operators and unscrupulous vessel owners that exploitative, unsustainable and illegal fishing practices will not be tolerated, and that all fishers' rights must be protected, regardless of their nationality. Ratifying C188 will also send a strong message to the European Union (EU) and the broader international community that Thailand is making the necessary and essential reforms needed to lift the yellow card and release any EU market restrictions on Thai seafood.
The Thai Government should also take further steps to ratify ILO Conventions 87 and 98 concerning freedom of association and collective bargaining. All workers, regardless of where they come from or what immigration status they have, should have the right to form unions and collectively bargain. The right to form unions is an enabling right that makes it possible to promote and realise decent conditions at work in the fishing sector.
Large private sector seafood companies, including Thai Union, have already begun to implement changes throughout their Thai supply chains in anticipation of C188 provisions because their consumers and markets demand high labor and environmental standards. By implementing and effectively enforcing C188, Thailand will send a strong message to both the international community and major seafood buyers/markets that Thai seafood products are ethically sourced with labor standards that meet international standards.
For example, UK retailers have recently stressed both the need to change the Thai labour law-to allow migrant workers to form unions-and the strict implementation of the Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention (P. 29), as being conditions for doing business with Thai suppliers. The Thai Government should be commended on its recent efforts to pass the Forced Labor Act and rid the industry of exploitation, but strict and effective implementation and enforcement will be the main challenge moving forward.
In addition to ratifying and effectively implementing C188, the Thai government should also work to ensure that:
The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is a global trade union federation that supports 670 affiliate trade unions in 140 countries, representing over 19.7 million workers.
The Fishers Rights Network (FRN) is the only independent trade union for fishers in Thailand, and is an ITF Asia-Pacific regional project.
SERC is a national trade union confederation, affiliate to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), representing 180,000 members across Thailand from 47 unions from state-owned enterprises and the private sector.
The Thai Labor Solidarity Committee (TLSC) is a labor organization network from state-owned enterprise and private sector unions, labor NGOs and labor academics in Thailand.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is a democratic, voluntary federation of 55 national and international labor unions that represent 12.5 million working men and women.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is the global voice of the world's working people, representing 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories with 331 national affiliates.
eSwatini union condemns violence against striking workers
20.09.2018: Garment and textile union workers are not relenting on their demands for better wages and working conditions despite the use of excessive force by the Royal eSwatini Police which led to the arrest and injury of scores of workers.
On September 19, the police arrested and beat up organizers from the Amalgamated Trade Unions of Swaziland (ATUSWA) - affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union - to stop them from protesting. Over 10,000 workers from five garment and textile factories began protesting two weeks ago after negotiations were deadlocked at the Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration Commission. They are frustrated by their employers' refusal to honestly engage in collective bargaining to improve wages and working conditions.
The three-day protest action called by ATUSWA is taking place in Mbabane, Manzini and other places, and is happening in accordance with the country's laws. According to the union, organizers Sbonelo Tsabedze and Nhlanhla Tsabedze were arrested at Nhlangano while mobilizing workers to assemble at the gates of Zheng Yong factory to push for their demands.
The ATUSWA leadership says the police confronted the well-organized workers who were protesting peacefully: "The police resorted, without provocation, to disperse the workers using teargas and started going after union members and beating them up. We are receiving reports that a lot of our members are injured and running for dear lives as they are hounded by the police. Therefore, we call upon our members to remain united despite glaring attempts to disunite them. As this is a battle for workers, we call on government and the police to stop harassing and victimizing the workers for exercising their right to protest. We further make a call for the release of our organizers."
Says Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa: "To build industrial peace, it is important for authorities in eSwatini to respect the workers' rights to protest. These rights are protected in the labour laws and in ILO Conventions. So, we strongly condemn the use of intimidation and violence against protesting workers and support ATUSWA in its struggle for better wages and working conditions."