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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.
International unions help French campaign against rail privatisation
An international delegation of ITF railway unions has joined their French colleagues to discuss the next stage of the campaign to keep a single, integrated public company on France's national rail system, the SNCF.
14/02/2018: The 20 trade unionists from Norway, Japan, the UK, Spain, Hungary and Belgium met with members of France's CGT federation railways section in Paris on 8 February. Laurent Brun, the newly-elected general secretary of the CGT rail section, addressed the meeting and Oystein Aslaksen chair of the ITF railways section, also took part.
Laurent Brun told the delegates: "The French government has failed to reduce the huge debt in the railway system. It has already reduced the French rail network and is now trying to create an open market and reduce workers' social protections as a solution to the debt. We believe that the government intends to fully privatise the SNCF and create a new economic model.
"The CGT can and will mobilise public service rail workers to protest against the government's plans. We welcome the solidarity and support of the ITF's family of railway unions."
Since France's freight market was opened up in May 2006, freight traffic has fallen by 30 percent. In 2006 the SNCF carried 40 billion tonne-kilometres (t.km) - by 2017 the 15 rail companies between them carried only 28 billion t.km. This accounted for 10 percent of the overall freight market in France, down from 20 percent in 2000.
Mr Aslaksen commented that the ITF stood by the CGT and its members, as part of its campaign for public transport based on public ownership, public investment, secure jobs and union rights for workers. Next month the CGT will distribute 500,000 copies of a free newspaper to metro passengers across France to alert them to the planned reforms. It is also organising a national public demonstration on 22 March, after bad weather forced the cancellation of the one planned for 8 February.
A new dawn for public hospital services in Burkina Faso as government signs agreement with health sector workers
09 February 2018: The protracted dream of Public Hospital Service reform in Burkina Faso, that will ensure improved funding of the system and enhanced remuneration of health workers, is soon becoming a reality.
This follows a common ground agreement reached on 31 January 2018 by workers in the public sector with government, represented by Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thieba, which will allow for the implementation of an enhanced and systemic Public Hospital Service scheme. The meeting, which took place in Ouagadougou, is to help operationalize new measures, which, according to Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thieba, reflects the willingness of the Burkinabe government to provide quality public healthcare to its people.
"This agreement is a balanced agreement that will motivate the staff involved and thus provide quality care. The government is delighted with this agreement which will bring serenity and motivation to the health staff. The Prime Minister added, "he ambition is to continue, through social dialogue, to ensure that the social partners meet to find a compromise, in the interests of Burkina Faso."
Health unions present at the signing included, the two PSI affiliates the Syndicat des Sages-femmes, Maïeuticiens d'Etat et des Accoucheuses du Burkina (SYSFMAB) and the Fédération des Services Publics du Burkina (FSPB), the Syndicat National des Médecins du Burkina (SNMB) and the Syndicat des travailleurs de la santé humaine et animale (SYNTSHA). They expressed great satisfaction at the outcome, being positive that this is the beginning of great things to happen in the Burkinabe health sector.
"This is a great day for the people of Burkina Faso because this reform will make all the hospitals viable. We want to urge the government to implement this reform well," said Dr. Alfred Ouedraogo, General Secretary of SNMB.
According to him, the operationalization of the Public Hospital Service Scheme was a campaign promise of the country's President, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, in 2015 and it is such a great relief that it is finally seeing the light of day.
This agreement, which covers the salary scales and indemnity gates of the hospital public service, will be retroactive from 1 January 2018. In terms of the salary scale, there is an increase of 20% spread in two installments for payment: a first in 2018 and the second in 2019. The same is to apply to the indemnity grid as well i.e. a first installment in 2018 and the other in 2019.
UNI affiliate CWA unites wireless workers to form new sectoral network
8 February 2018: Wireless workers in the United States from AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile are uniting. Workers from all over the country met in Orlando to discuss plans for improving job security and pay, ending unrealistic and unhealthy sales goals, and curbing offshoring and outsourcing of their stores, call centres and technical work. Workers announced that they were forming a new network, Wireless Workers United, to protect their jobs and provide quality customer service.
The new network, launched by UNI affiliate CWA, released a statement of Principles founded on:
Head of UNI ICTS, Alke Boessiger, who attended the meeting said, "This is a huge step in the right direction for ICTS workers in the United States. Uniting workers across 3 of the biggest companies in the Telecoms industry in the US shows that we are on the right path to improve workers' lives at a sector-wide level." "This new network has the full support of UNI ICTS and we look forward to working closely with them over the next few years."
Participants at the meeting took to the streets in support of AT&T Mobility workers across the Southeast who are currently fighting for a fair contract. Workers rallied together in front of an AT&T Mobility store in downtown Orlando as well as a Verizon Wireless store.
"It was only by firmly standing together that our Mobility co-workers won a precedent-setting contract for wireless and retail jobs with first-time job security protections and better, more stable pay," said Nilda Meadows, an AT&T wireless worker from South Carolina. "Now, we're heading to the bargaining table to win for our families and communities. We are standing strong to make sure the industry operates with integrity and protects and preserves good jobs for our communities."
IG Metall sets work-life balance precedent with major victory
06.02.2018: German affiliate to IndustriALL Global Union, IG Metall, have won a victory in the metal and automotive sectors that sets a precedent for workers' right to determine their work-life balance.
IG Metall has won its key demand that workers should have the right to reduce their working week from the standard 35 hours to 28 for a period of up to two years, for family and caring responsibilities. It is the first major union agreement that prioritizes working hours over wages.
The two-year, sector-wide collective agreement was signed between the union and the employer's organization for South West Germany, Südwestmetall, after several rounds of tense negotiation, and a series of 24-hour "warning strikes" - the first of their kind in 34 years. The strikes cost producers like Porsche, Daimler, BMW and Airbus almost €200 million in lost production. IG Metall threatened to ballot its members for extended industrial action if the employer body did not make a serious offer.
The agreement covers 900,000 workers in Germany's industrial heartland. It is likely that employer organizations in other regions will sign up to the same terms, covering a total of 3.9 million workers. The agreement will see a wage increase of 4.3 per cent over 27 months, as well as some supplementary payments. IG Metall had demanded a six per cent increase, while employers initially offered 2.3 per cent. The union turned down a subsequent offer of a 6.8 per cent increase in favour of the demand to reduce hours.
The agreement heralds the end of a decade of wage restraint in Germany, against a backdrop of strong economic recovery and the lowest unemployment since German reunification in 1990. Employers and the European Central Bank have anxiously awaited the results of the negotiations, which will affect wage settlements and economic forecasts across the continent.
"The collective agreement is a milestone on the way to a modern, self-determined working world," said IG Metall chairman and IndustriALL president, Jörg Hofmann.
IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches said: "In the past, companies demanded flexibility from workers, not the other way around. This has been turned on its head. Giving workers the right to shorten their working hours and determine their own work-life balance is an excellent union response to Industry 4.0. "New technology means that productivity continues to rise, without necessarily creating new jobs. The right to work fewer hours, while still earning enough, is an essential response. The productivity gains from Industry 4.0 must be shared with society and workers, and reducing working time is a way to avoid greater concentration of wealth in the pockets of a few. "The wage increase will also stimulate the German economy from below."
IG Metall, with almost three million members, is one of the world's biggest and most powerful unions.
ITUC and GUFs Protest against Trial of Independent Trade Unions in Algeria
5 February 2018: Today, the ITUC together with IndustriALL, PSI and IUF have delivered a joint letter to the Algerian Embassy in Geneva to protest against the imminent trial of trade union leaders affiliated to the General and Autonomous Confederation Workers in Algeria (CGATA).
The general secretary of SNATEGS, Mr Abdelkader Kawafi, and the national coordinator of SESS, Mr Kaddour Chouicha, will be tried tomorrow 6 February 2018 under accusations of "defamation" and "incitement to unauthorized gathering", merely for their legitimate trade union activities.
Trade union leaders of CGATA continue to face intimidation and be subjected to legal procedures, fines and prison sentences in retaliation for their defense of the freedom of association of their members. "We express our full solidarity with these persecuted trade union leaders. In June 2017 the ILO Committee on the Applications of the Standards urged the Algerian government to halt all practices of intimidation and police violence against trade union leaders, as well as to proceed immediately with the registration of the independent unions, as well with the reinstatement of the dismissed workers based on their trade union activism. We expect the government to deliver," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
Korea: ITF unions take action for union leaders
ITF unions have stepped up their campaign in support of two persecuted Korean union leaders to coincide with the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
05/02/2018: KCTU president Han Sang-gyun has been imprisoned since July 2016 for his role in the people's rally on 14 November 2015, and KCTU general secretary Lee Young-joo is also facing charges for the protest.
ITF unions are writing to President Moon Jae-in calling for the release of Han Sang-gyun and the withdrawal of the charges against Lee Young-joo. Furthermore, on 9 February, to coincide with the opening of the Winter Olympics, ITF unions will stage protests at their local Korean embassy.
ITF general secretary Steve Cotton said: "All Han Sang-gyun and Lee Young-joo did was exercise their democratic right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly when they protested against former president Park Guen-hye's government's repressive labour law reform to further casualise labour.
"The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the ILO have both called on the government of Korea, led by president Moon Jae-in, to take any measures to release of Han Sang-gyun and drop all charge. ITF unions need to make themselves heard now, when the eyes of the world are on Korea."