LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns
People Over Profit...
Public Services International
Justice for Fishers - Fishers' Rights Network...
International Transport Workers Federation
Pharmacare: A Plan for Everyone...
Canadian Labour Congress
U.S. Mail Not for Sale...
American Postal Workers Union and National Association of Letter Carriers
Fight for $15...Low Pay is Not OK
One Fair Wage...
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
Committee for Better Banks...
coalition of labor, community and consumer advocacy organizations
Making Change at Walmart...
United Food and Commercial Workers
Robin Hood Tax Campaign...
it's not a tax on the people, it's a tax for the people...United States
Justice for Port Drivers...
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.
Solidarity in the face of BHP's race to the bottom
18 October, 2019: IndustriALL, together with London Mining Network, International Transport Federation, Unite the Union and others, joined forces in a joint demonstration ahead of the mining giant's annual general meeting in London, calling on BHP to stop replacing permanent jobs with less stable, lower paid contract work.
Workers at BHP sites in multiple countries complain of poor health and safety practices, and the company stands accused of treating contract workers worse than their permanent counterparts. Labour hire and contract mine workers are less likely to raise concerns about safety issues due to fears about job security, leading to under-reporting of injuries.
Earlier this year, IndustriALL's BHP global network launched a campaign to strengthen union action and to call on BHP, the world's biggest mining company by market capitulation, to end its bad corporate behaviour at the expense of workers.
Inside the AGM, IndustriALL mining director Glen Mpufane challenged BHP on their policy on outsourcing jobs. In comparison to an industry average of 30 - 40 per cent, at BHP managed sites 60 per cent of the workforce on average are contractors. And on a direct request for BHP to engage with IndustriALL, chairman Ken Mackenzie declined.
BHP is involved in mining projects in Colombia, Brazil and Chile with grave impacts on local communities.
The AGM heard several testimonials on BHP's environmental legacy, including the Samarco dam collapse tragedy in Brazil, in 2015. One speaker from the area said that four years later none of the destroyed houses have been rebuilt, to which BHP replied that all houses will be rebuilt in 2021.
Glen Mpufane said: "BHP is cutting costs at the expense of workers' and ignoring the rights of communities affected by their operations. "There is no separate struggle; together we will continue to fight against their race to the bottom which affects workers, communities and the environment."
Forward together - UNI Europa Commerce ready to organise
18 October 2019: In Bucharest this week, UNI Europa Commerce endorsed an ambitious four-year plan to organise workers around Europe. Under the new leadership of Handels Susanna Gideonsson, the commerce sector will move forward with a strong commitment to organizing commerce workers and building power. The Conference unanimously adopted an action plan aimed at growing union power and influence in Europe. The new Swedish President Gideonsson emphasised a strong focus on youth as a priority for a growing sector.
"Young workers are not only our future, they are our present as well," said Gideonsson. "Across Europe our values of solidarity, decent work and justice bring us together. Now we share a strong action plan and strategy to move forward together."
Rafal Tomasiak from COZZ underlined the groundbreaking work the organizing center has made in building worker power - making collective bargaining and union rights a possibility in Central and Eastern Europe. Erkan Ersoy also highlighted the fundamental role that the new UNI initiative - Europe's Power and Organizing Centre - could make in the fight for bargaining rights and freedom of association in the region.
UNI affiliates shared their successes and challenges whilst looking to examples from other countries as inspiration for their own struggles. Eyup Alemdar, the president of Koop-Is from Turkey told the conference about the great organizing success in Turkey. "We have organized H&M workers in Turkey and concluded the first collective agreement in the fast fashion sector".
One of the issues that has a wide-ranging impact on commerce unions everywhere is the high turn-over rate in the sector. "With such a high turn-over rate, it's absolutely essential to keep organizing commerce workers in order to maintain our power" said Alfred Bujara, President of Solidarnosc from Poland.
The General Secretary of the Romanian Federation of Commerce Workers, Vasile Gogescu discussed the challenges facing Romanian commerce unions, who are trying to grow union power in the sector--despite the 50 percent threshold which represents a huge obstacle to collective bargaining. Gogescu asserted that "UNI's Global framework agreements play a crucial role in organizing and collective bargaining".
Two of the youngest participants at the Conference, Emma Haapasaari of PAM, Finland and Andreas Samuelsson of Handels, Sweden urged delegates to promote and strengthen youth participation in the trade union movement.
Following the adoption of the new structure of the steering committee; the president, 7 vice-presidents and steering committee members of UNI Europe Commerce were unanimously elected.
The right to strike is a fundamental human right
17 Oct 2019: On the 16-17 October 2019, representatives from the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) attended a hearing at the Canadian Industrial Labor Relations Board (CIRB) regarding the right to strike at the Port of Montreal, Canada. The case that was brought forth by the Montreal Employers Association (MEA) against ITF Dockers affiliates, CUPE 375 and ILA 1657, is trying to infringe on the dockers right to take legal industrial action.
ITF President Paddy Crumlin and representatives from ver.di (Germany), International Longshoremen's Association (USA), International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada, 3F (Denmark), Swedish Transport Workers' Union (Sweden) and the ITF Dockers' Section attended the hearing to show support and solidarity for our Canadian sisters and brothers in this crucial case. The ITF's strong and diverse delegation highlights the significance this case has, not only for dockers in Canada, but for all workers globally.
MEA is attempting to weaken and restrict the dockers' fundamental right to strike by claiming that their work is an "essential service" and if dockers were to strike it could jeopardise public health and safety. This is another outrageous and unfounded attack on workers' fundamental human right, the right to strike. CUPE 375, represented by attorney Marie Christine Morin, and ILA 1657, represented by attorney Ron Pink, presented strong arguments against MEA's allegations and demonstrated that their real concern is the financial impact a strike would have on their business.
The ITF Executive Board pledges all necessary resources in support of CUPE 375, ILA 1657 and all Canadian dockers, to resolve this matter and protect the right to strike - which is fundamental human right - as clearly and objectively stated by Mr. Maina Kiai, the former UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association on 9 March 2017:
"The right to strike is also an intrinsic corollary of the fundamental right of freedom of association. It is crucial for millions of women and men around the world to assert collectively their rights in the workplace, including the right to just and favourable conditions of work, and to work in dignity and without fear of intimidation and persecution. Moreover, protest action in relation to government social and economic policy, and against negative corporate practices, forms part of the basic civil liberties whose respect is essential for the meaningful exercise of trade union rights. This right enables them to engage with companies and governments on a more equal footing, and Member States have a positive obligation to protect this right, and a negative obligation not to interfere with its exercise.
Moreover, protecting the right to strike is not simply about States fulfilling their legal obligations. It is also about them creating democratic and equitable societies that are sustainable in the long run. The concentration of power in one sector - whether in the hands of government or business - inevitably leads to the erosion of democracy, and an increase in inequalities and marginalization with all their attendant consequences. The right to strike is a check on this concentration of power. I deplore the various attempts made to erode the right to strike at national and multilateral levels."
Kyrgyzstan: Union vows to remain united despite pressure from government
16 October 2019: On 4 October 2019, the Forestry Workers Union of Kyrgyzstan held its 10th statutory National Conference in in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan. The aim of the Conference was to report on the union's activities of the previous four years, to discuss strategy for the next period, and to elect the leadership of the organization.
The conference took place at a turbulent time for the trade union movement in Kyrgyzstan. The National Parliament is steadily pushing forward a new anti-union legislation, despite continuous protests from the national and international trade union movement. According to the draft law, all trade unions of Kyrgyzstan should be transformed into controlled and according to the government "accountable" structures of the Federation of Trade Unions of Kyrgyzstan (FPK). The FPK would then act as a state authority in the area of labour rights protection.
From the very beginning the Forestry Workers Union of Kyrgyzstan opposed the government's attempts to limit the fundamental right of freedom of association. Together with other industrial unions the Forestry Workers Union of Kyrgyzstan participated in numerous meetings with members of Parliament, conduct interview with mass media, and organize press conferences, pickets and demonstrations to oppose the bill.
The union's public position against the new law made it challenging to prepare and organize their statutory National Conference. As the forestry industry in Kyrgyzstan is public, the State Agency for Environmental Protection and Forestry, which is the employer, intervened by preventing elected delegates to participate in the Conference. Many delegates reported that they had been threatened with dismissal if they were to take part in the National Conference. Despite all these threats, the majority of the elected delegates attended the Conference where they committed to continue the fight against the anti-union law. Kanatbek Osmonov was re-elected as President of the union.
"I am very proud of my union comrades who are not afraid to stand up for our union values and protect fundamental rights. This Conference demonstrated that we are united and strong. We are ready to continue the fight," said Kanatbek Osmonov, the Forestry Workers Union president.
Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI extended his support and solidarity to the delegates at the National Conference. "We are deeply concerned by the actions of the government to undermine fundamental trade union rights in Kyrgyzstan. The 12 million members of BWI will continue to support your fight to stop the anti-trade union law become a reality."
Ecuador: Government represses strike
13 October 2019: Trade unionists, Indigenous people, students, peasants, teachers and public workers are protesting in Quito and other cities across Ecuador against austerity measures announced by President Lenin Moreno. 700 have been detained, at least four killed and dozens injured.
The Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), expressed its outrage at the recent repressive measures taken by the Ecuadoran government against its people who have taken to the streets in cities across the country since 3 October. The daily mobilizations are in protest of the efforts of President Moreno's government to implement economic, fiscal and structural adjustment measures, which will have dramatic consequences to the most vulnerable and marginalized populations in the country.
Measures included elimination of 100 percent fuel subsidies, an annual reduction of the public budget by US$100 million and cuts in social security budgets of US$50 million, and cuts in benefits for public sector workers. Economic measures and labour reforms were announced after an agreement with the International Monetary Fund that provides $4.2 billion to reduce its deficit.
The government reacted to the demonstrations by declaring a state of emergency. They called out riot police and tanks were deployed in the Capitol. At least four people have been killed and dozens injured. More than 700 people are currently in jail and dozens have been injured. President Moreno moved the government away from Quito to Guayaquil to avoid the protests.
One of BWI affiliates in Ecuador, the Workers Confederation of Public Sector of Ecuador (CTSPE), which groups workers from State services, electricity sector, transportation, industrial maintenance and teaching, cited, as dangerous, the Governmental Exception State Decree. They judge it to be a mechanism for repression and violence, as it is demonstrated through brutal repression against Ecuadorans who have been on the streets since 3 October. President Moreno has systematically opposed public sector trade unions while in office. He boasted that 23,000 public workers had been dismissed during his term and that non-permanent contracts in the public sector would be renewed with 20 per cent lower pay.
Representatives of FEDESOMEC and CTC, BWI's two other affiliates, which represent heavy machinery operators and construction workers, are also calling for the end to the repression and violence.
Ecuadorans are waiting for constructive dialogue and a meeting between government and representatives of a coalition of organizations leading the protests to immediately resolve the situation.
The BWI joins the rest of the international trade union movement calling on the Ecuadorian Government to dismantle repressive measures, undergo full consultations with the people of Ecuador on economic policies and reforms and engage in dialogue with all parties. These policies severely impact workers and their families and, in particular, the vulnerable sectors of the population.
BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson stated: "Democracy is about more that elections. Being elected does not give anybody the right to be a dictator. President Moreno clearly prefers violence and repression to reason and discussion. BWI calls on the President to immediately stop the attacks on his own people and, rather, make peace with them".
Violent repression in Ecuador as workers resist IMF package
Disastrous IMF policies are wreaking havoc on the country's economy by eliminating social and labour rights. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) demands an end to the state-led political violence and also demands the release of protestors.
09-10-2019: The president of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, has sparked massive protests after announcing a series of far-reaching cutbacks. The measures include a slate of regressive measures that would hit working communities hardest. He boasted that 23,000 public workers had been dismissed during his term and that non-permanent contracts in the public sector would be renewed with 20 per cent lower pay.
Moreno, however, underestimated the reaction of working people. Hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorians have taken to the streets across the country since last week. The protests are being organised by indigenous organisations, students, farmers and the United Front of Workers (FUT) that includes the ITUC affiliate CEDOCUT.
Meanwhile, the government responded by declaring a state of emergency and employing heavy-handed riot police against the protesters. Hundreds of people have been arrested and at least one person was reportedly killed. On Tuesday, as military tanks were deployed in the capital, Quito, Moreno moved the government away from the capital to the city of Guayaquil in fear of the demonstrations.
"The ITUC had warned the government that the IMF loan would impoverish people and damage the country's economy. Moreno, however, seems to be oblivious to the concerns of real people, while being submissive to the country's elite and the diktats of IMF technocrats," said ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow.
The IMF quickly spoke out in favour of the anti-worker legislative package, consistent with its past advocacy for the weakening of labour protections in Ecuador.
The social and economic situation is similarly dire in Argentina, where identical policies were introduced under the conditionalities of the IMF. At the outset of its loan to Argentina, the Fund praised the policies of President Macri as seeking "to foster growth and job creation, while reducing poverty". The country, however, now records the worst rates of unemployment, poverty and inequality of the last 18 years.
"The IMF policies place an overwhelming burden on working people while bailing out corrupt financial elites and corporations. Argentina and Ecuador need the space to implement economic recovery by investing in people - not by imposing a failed model that drives countries into deeper economic and social crisis," said Burrow.
"Neither our planet, nor our jobs:" Turkish union bolsters efforts to fight climate change
9 October 2019: Turkish UNI Commerce affiliate Tez Koop-Is is ramping up its fight for climate justice and is encouraging other unions to do the same.
This week, the union held the first international trade union gathering on climate change in Turkey to help mobilize the country's labor movement to push for a just transition, ensuring the protections for the planet, employment, and workers' rights.
"We will keep working on climate crisis. We will inform and mobilize our members through union trainings on climate change" said Haydar Ozdemiroglu, the president of Tez Koop-Is. In addition to worker mobilization, the union also urged Turkish parliament to immediately sign Paris Climate Agreement.
Participants at the meeting in Ankara heard from labor leaders as well as academics, engineers, biologist, geologists, economists, environmental activists, lawyers, representatives of the ILO Turkey Office and the EU Delegation in Turkey.
The Deputy General Secretary of IndustriALL, Kemal Ozkan and the Coordinator of UNI Commerce, Onur Bakir pointed out the role of global union federations in the fight for climate justice and highlighted the importance of a just transition that aims protection of the earth and climate justice on the one hand and the protection and promotion of employment on the other. The DGB from Germany joined the discussion through a video on the transition process of German mining industry. "A just transition that will not push workers to make a choice between jobs and the planet," said UNI's Bakir.
UNI Global Union's resolution on climate, adopted in the 5th World Congress, was also quoted in the final declaration as a part of the future action plan of the union.
Tez Koop-Is represents tens of thousands of commerce workers -mainly employed by multinational hypermarkets in Turkey.
World Teachers' Day: EI takes the stage at UNESCO Conference and proposes five measures to make teaching a more attractive profession
07.10.2019: During the conference celebrating World Teachers' Day at UNESCO headquarters, Education International proposed five key measures that should be taken by governments to attract and retain young people into the profession.
World Teachers' Day is held annually on 5 October since 1994. It commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This year, World Teachers' Day focused on "Young teachers, the future of the profession". The official celebration of World Teachers' Day was held on 7 October at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The conference revolved around two panel discussions: "How to attract young people to the teaching profession" and "How to retain young and novice teachers to the profession".
Speaking at the event, Education International's (EI) Dennis Sinyolo reminded that "research evidence is very clear: teachers are the most important in-school determinant of educational quality. Your being here today is clear testimony to the important role teachers play in preparing young people for life and work."
Aging teacher population in many developed countries, persistent teacher shortages, particularly in developing countries, and high levels of teacher attrition around the world, demand immediate and concrete action by governments to ensure that every child is taught by an empowered, highly-trained, professionally-qualified, well-supported and motivated teacher.
Sinyolo put forward five key measures that EI calls on governments to implement in order to attract young people and retain them in the profession:
Sinyolo also stressed that social dialogue is a precondition for successful education policies, decent working conditions and harmonious relations between the government as employer and teacher unions. Therefore, social dialogue, including collective bargaining, should be guaranteed through truly inclusive and functional legislation. "As we celebrate this year's World Teachers' Day, let's remember to not just talk about the importance of our teachers, but let's walk the talk by taking concrete measures to make teaching a first choice and sought-after profession," Sinyolo concluded.
Making use of global agreements in the garment industry
3 October, 2019: Over 80 trade union leaders from Turkey, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Mauritius and Morocco met in Cesme, Turkey, to see how global framework agreements (GFA) can be better used to boost union organizing, collective bargaining agreements and social dialogue.
Global fashion brands, ASOS, ESPRIT, H&M, Inditex and Tchibo, which have signed GFAs with IndustriALL Global Union, also joined the meeting on 23 and 24 September. GFAs are becoming a stronger tool for improving labour relations in the supply chain and there was a call for IndustriALL to negotiate such agreements with more global brands.
Participants discussed how GFAs and social dialogue could be used to promote the new ILO Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 on Violence and Harassment in the garment sector. Gender-based violence, and particularly sexual harassment, is prevalent in the industry. Most garment workers are women and many are young and migrant workers, who are not aware of their rights. They have little access to safe housing and transportation, while the fashion industry generates excessive overtime, low pay, and long working hours.
The meeting concluded that it was urgent for trade unions and brands to promote the ratification of the new Convention. Trade unions should also push to review existing collective agreements and GFAs, to ensure they are in line with the Convention 190.
Unions exchanged experiences on the best ways to monitor global framework agreements and there was strong support for production country trade unions to play a greater role. National unions are essential in ensuring that the GFAs are implemented in the global brands' supplier factories.
Christina Hajagos-Clausen, IndustriALL director for the textile and garment industry, said: "The increase of unionization rate in GFA supplier factories is key to enable trade unions to monitor the agreements and to ensure that workers' rights are respected in the global garment supply chain."
The meeting is part of IndustriALL Global Union's programme on GFA implementation, which is supported with the assistance of the DGB Bildungswerk. Since the beginning of the work, trade unions in Turkey and Bangladesh have organized over 50 new GFA supplier factories. Global framework agreements are negotiated at a global level between trade unions and a multinational company. They put in place the very best standards of trade union rights, health, safety and environmental practices, and quality of work principles across a company's global operations, regardless of whether those standards exist in an individual country.
UN calls for stronger protections for workers exposed to toxic substances
The ITUC has welcomed the adoption by the United Nations Human Rights Council of a resolution backing stronger protections for workers exposed to toxic substances. Every 11 seconds a person loses their life because of lethal working conditions, and many of the deaths and serious non-fatal diseases are caused by chemicals.
01-10-2019 : "Every worker must be protected from toxic chemicals. Yet for firefighters, hairdressers, manufacturing workers and people working in many other occupations, the risk of cancer and other work-related diseases caused by toxic products is real, and it is costing lives. We salute the work done by UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Toxics, Baskut Tuncak, and welcome this important UN decision," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
According to Tuncak, "global instruments only ban or restrict the use or emission of less than 0.1% of toxic industrial chemicals and pesticides of global concern to which workers and communities are exposed".
The ILO Centenary Declaration, adopted last June, sets out a labour protection floor which guarantees all workers respect for fundamental rights, adequate minimum wages, maximum limits on working hours and safety and health at work. The Declaration also calls upon the ILO to elevate occupational health and safety into the ILO's framework of fundamental principles and rights at work. The labour movement is fully committed to achieving this goal urgently and welcomes the echoing of a previous call by UN experts for the ILO to move forward with this.
"We know what is needed for safe working environments to ensure that people can lead a healthy life. We need the institutions whose role it is to protect people to recognise just how fundamental this is. The time has come to drive forward solutions for a world of work with zero cancer, and that means proper regulation including of the corporations which make so much profit from products that result in human misery. The right to health does not stop at the factory gate or the office door," said Burrow.
Korean Air cleaners declare victory in industrial dispute
30 Sep 2019: Aircraft cleaners at Korean Air have ended a 53-day strike after winning key concessions from their outsourced employer, EK Manpower.
The cleaners, represented by the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers' Union (KPTU), committed to an indefinite period of industrial action in July after negotiations broke down with EK Manpower. In response, the company sued 12 union activists for a combined total of KRW 110 million (USD 930,000) and these activists had their bank accounts frozen.
The new agreement struck with the company means the lawsuit will now be withdrawn. The company has also accepted demands for pay above the minimum wage and improved working conditions, and the manager responsible for the breakdown in industrial relations will be replaced.
The ITF family provided support to the cleaners and KPTU throughout the dispute. Along with many unions around the world, ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho Rodriguez wrote to the chief executives of both EK Manpower and Korea Airport Service (a Korean Air subsidiary), demanding that they cease the repression of union activists and informing them that the ITF will support any escalation the workers and KPTU deemed necessary.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has repeatedly warned South Korea over its employers' extensive use of outsourcing and their tendency to pursue legal action against union activists. The country has yet to ratify the fundamental ILO conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining which would mark a commitment to fair labour practices across its economy.
Although KPTU has signed an agreement with EK Manpower, Korean Air - the cleaners' economic employer - has not been directly involved in the process. The next step will be to ensure that the airline takes full responsibility for labour standards in its supply chain.
The 2nd Hypermarket Trade Union Alliance Meeting in Milan focuses on solidarity and organizing
30 September 2019: From 24-26 September, more than 90 trade unionists from over 20 countries participated in the Second Hypermarket Trade Union Alliance Meeting of UNI Commerce in Milan. The meeting participants shared experiences and strategies to grow worker power in the hypermarket sector globally.
The meeting started with the opening remarks of hosting Italian commerce unions and Mathias Bolton, Head of UNI Commerce. In the first day the recent trends in commerce sector, Amazon and its effects on conventional retailers, new alliance structure and mapping strategy of UNI Commerce, draft document on responsible restructuring and future targets of the alliance were covered by presentations and discussions.
In the second and third day of the meeting, sessions were devoted to global dialogue with global hypermarket employers Metro, Carrefour, and Auchan. Following presentations of the company representatives; UNI Commerce and its affiliates discussed the current issues for each company with the top human resources managers.
The Alliance Meeting ended with Lidl Working Group Meeting which underlined UNI Commerce's and its affiliates' determination in organizing all different types of hypermarkets including Lidl.
The participants of the meeting gave statements of solidarity with fellow Colombian trade unionists who are fighting for workers' rights despite accelerating death threats and with the Chilean commerce union that launched a campaign to reduce weekly working hours from 45 to 40.
Algerian unions need solidarity
27 September, 2019: Leaders of IndustriALL Global Union's trade union affiliate in Algeria, SNATEG, fear they will be imprisoned any day, as the more than a hundred activists, journalists and political opponents have been detained in Algeria in recent months.
The military has extended its control on virtually every area of society in Algeria after the ailing 82-year-old president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was forced to stand down in April following mass protests.
The arrests are an attempt to crush independent unions and the civil society movement for democracy in Algeria. Internet access is restricted to stop protestors communicating and organizing rallies, while social media has been flooded with fake news and electronic trolls targeting the protest movement. Freedom of the press is severely restricted and a major news website has been shut down.
"It's a terrible time for hundreds of activists locked up for demanding freedom and democracy in Algeria, and it could be my turn tomorrow. For that reason, solidarity matters now more than ever. The world must listen to the voice of political prisoners in Algeria. The world must demand respect for human rights in Algeria," says Raouf Mellal, who is president of gas and electricity union, SNATEG, and trade union confederation, COSYFOP.
Mellal has been sentenced to prison in abstentia on numerous convictions and suffers daily harassment from the military. In April 2019, he was arrested, detained and tortured by police, and he has been forced to change address and telephone number in attempt to evade threats and intimidation. Just this month, Mohamed El Amine Slimani, a youth leader at SNATEG and COSYFOP, was sentenced to prison at a court in Algiers for filming a march by their members.
Nasser Hamitouche, a COSYFOP member from Algiers, has suffered a mental breakdown after being interrogated by security forces for ten hours on 18 September. He was threatened with prison for violating the 'unity' of the country and was told to leave the confederation if he didn't want to have 'any more problems'.
IndustriALL Global Union general secretary, Valter Sanches, said: "We call on the Algerian government to immediately release the political prisoners and drop all charges against trade unionists. Trade union rights have become virtually non-existent in Algeria. The government must stop the harassment of trade unionists, and guarantee the right to freedom of association, free from violence and threats."
While new presidential elections have been announced for 12 December, leaders of opposition parties, who have shown support for SNATEG and COSYFOP, are incarcerated. Louisa Hanoun, President of the Workers' Party has been locked up since last April, while Karim Tabou, president of the newly formed Democratic and Social Union party was detained on 11 September, released over a week later, before being seized again. Weekly demonstrations continue in Algeria and there are plans for a workers' march on 5 October. "We are united by one goal - democracy," says Mellal.
From Leipzig to Lima to Los Angeles, the Fresenius Global Union Alliance demands an end to workers' rights abuses
25 September 2019: The Fresenius Global Union Alliance, representing more than 50 unions around the world, is standing together to expose workers' rights abuses at the German healthcare giant.
From the floor of German union ver.di's congress in Leipzig to shows of solidarity across the world, members of the Alliance are taking action on the job and online. The Alliance is calling for Fresenius to enter into a global agreement to address its track record of failing to follow international labor standards in countries like Peru and the United States.
In the United States, Fresenius has a long history of using third party consultants to stop employees from forming a union at its clinics. The company has paid out more than $400,000 to "union busters," who often use fear tactics and other questionable methods to stop organizing efforts. U.S. workers have been forced to attend anti-union indoctrination sessions, and others report "one-on-one" interactions to pressure them from supporting a union.
In Peru, workers have filed complaints that the company is unlawfully using temporary contracts for 258 workers. In addition, workers allege that the regional management at the company's hospital management division, Quirónsalud, have harassed and targeted union activists. It recently terminated the employment of five activists, and last year, it fired two union leaders-who have since been ordered to be reinstated.
Sofia Espinoza, national leader of the Fresenius union in Peru said, "After we handed out information about the union to colleagues, management told me I would have to 'assume the consequences' of leading the union."
Unfortunately, workers around the world report similar problems throughout Fresenius' operations. This behavior is especially troubling because Fresenius announced an expansion of its operations in Colombia, a country with notoriously bad protections for labor unions.
"Fresenius' track-record is deeply troubling," said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. "The company has a pattern of disregarding the rights of workers--and international standards--and must immediately take concrete steps to address these systemic problems."
Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International, agreed, "The problems in the United States and Peru are not isolated. They are structural problems with the company and must be addressed on a global level through negotiations with unions and involvement with other stakeholders. Our goal is to ensure that profits are not made from driving down wages and lowering working conditions and patient care.
"IndustriALL Global Union joins the calls on Fresenius to ensure respect for the core labor rights of all employees, everywhere,' added IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan.
In May 2019, more than 50 representatives of employees and trade unions from Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia met in Frankfurt to launch the Fresenius Global Union Alliance. The Alliance is coordinated by global unions IndustriALL, UNI, and PSI. The unions seek a global agreement with the company covering its 280,000 workers in 100 countries.
Just Transition for climate ambition
Trade unions, social movements and climate activists across the world are embarking on an historic week of mobilisations to demand climate action, starting on 20 September. Millions of people are set to stop work, engage in workplace actions and take to the streets and put pressure on governments to commit to the ambitious measures necessary to address the climate crisis.
20-09-2019: "People everywhere recognise that the world must act, urgently and together, to stop catastrophic global warming. We are facing a climate emergency, and governments need to take ambitious and comprehensive action. They must heed the demands of the young people who are at the forefront of the campaign for action, and they must understand what the science tells us. Time is short to keep the global temperature rise under 1.5 degrees, but the transition to a zero-carbon, zero-poverty world can be achieved," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
"It's a matter of political will. The economic transition must be just, to ensure that the working people who made economic development possible and whose livelihoods are on the front lines of climate change are not left alone to face the crisis. Unions everywhere are proactively reaching out to governments and employers to find climate solutions that bring everybody along. Now is the time for real and ambitious commitments," said Burrow.
Working people will be participating in climate demonstrations in unprecedented numbers. Unions in workplaces and at the sectoral, national and international levels have come out in support.
This global week of climate action comes three months after the 'Climate-Proof Our Work' day of workplace action in which workers and their unions reached out to employers in a bid to jointly build emissions-reduction into the business models of companies. The mobilisations are intended to exert maximum pressure on the United Nations' Climate Summit on 23 September. Governments are being called upon to increase the ambition in their emissions targets, which they must review over the next six months.
"This is a wake-up call to the world. Young people have shown us the much-needed ambition, and it is our common duty to all future generations that we act decisively. Just Transition must be at the heart of tackling the climate emergency, which is already destroying livelihoods and communities and which will only worsen in the absence of decisive action," said Burrow.
Why unions around the world are supporting the Global Week of Climate Action
20 September 2019: Climate change is a present crisis and one that begs for an immediate response. Today, members of the global trade union movement are heeding that call.
During the Global Week of Climate Action, running from 20-27 September, many of UNI Global Union's 20 million members will be standing shoulder to shoulder with students, families, and workers from across different industries. We will protest, march, and demand change from our employers and governments for a sustainable planet.
"We've got to hear the call of the youth," said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. "If the labor movement wants to be relevant in the future, if it wants to be the voice for young workers, we can't sit this one out. I urge everyone to take a step over the next week to show support for climate justice. We must join this fight for our survival."
Trade unions have the collective global power to help shape what happens next. To demand the creation and development of sustainable jobs. To push for investment into renewable energy. To negotiate collective agreements that secure a just transition. For any of this to happen, workers must have a seat at the table.
The International Trade Union Confederation is calling on its 200 million members to take concrete steps to "Climate Proof Our Work." The TUC is calling for UK-wide participation in climate protests - including a 30 minute walkoff for the Climate Strike. In Germany, ver.di Chair Frank Bsirske has shown leadership in supporting the strike, and in Italy, so has the CGIL. UNI affiliate SETCa-BBTK members in Belgium havekicked off an effort to get employer Ageas Insurance Group to cut emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050.
Unions in the United States, Colombia, Canada, New Zealand, and beyond are organizing to lower emissions. And globally, employees at some of the largest tech companies are collectively demanding climate accountability. This climate activism within the union movement is growing, not least among our young unionists who recognise the urgency of this situation and are taking ownership of the response to it.
It's a phrase we use often and one that union members understand all too well - there are no jobs on dead planet. This week is not symbolic. It's not the time to talk about what we intend to do moving forward. This is the time for action, and UNI and its members are ready to take it.
Anti-union tactics at Google contractor
20 September, 2019: United Steelworkers (USW) is calling on HCL Technologies to stop trying to defeat the workers' campaign to organize and bargain collectively for better, more secure jobs at Google's Pittsburgh offices, after the Google contract workers announced their intention to join USW in August.
Last month, more than 66 per cent of around 80 eligible Google contractors at HCL signed cards in favour of union representation by IndustriALL US affiliate United Steelworkers. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has scheduled a representation election for 24 September, when the votes will be counted and results available immediately.
As the election approaches, HCL has responded to the workers' intention to join a union by enlisting a controversial management consultant who played a role in defeating a union organizing campaign at Fuyao Glass in Ohio, in 2018. The USW is condemning HCL for pressuring workers into mandatory meetings, aimed at defeating the campaign to unionize.
"We have vast experience after decades of negotiating fair contracts for many thousands of members who work for multinational corporations," said USW International President Thomas M. Conway, "but in its drive to avoid bargaining in good faith with its employees in America, HCL, like Fuyao, is resorting to the same tactics employers have used for 100 years."
According to the USW, employees at HCL have been coerced into attending meetings where managers talk about how they prefer to resolve conflicts "within the family" and without a union to advocate on the workers' behalf. Generally, the company's behaviour evolves into bullying individuals or groups of workers if support for the union persists.
IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches says: "We stand in solidarity with the workers wanting to join the union and call on HCL to not interfere with the fundamental right of freedom of association The vote for union representation at HCL is an important step for the workforce, as it would allow the USW to negotiate for a collective agreement and improved conditions, and it also shows a growing movement to organize."
Unions: we must back the Climate Strike!
Now is the time to show the next generation that unions are the force for progressive change in the 21st Century.
Sep 16, 2019: In 1968, workers around the world joined students in taking to the streets to challenge injustice and the complacency of the political establishment. Now, once again, students are leading the way - this time to prevent climate disaster. They ask adults - and unions - to support them. We must respond by showing that the labour movement is willing to stand for broader interests and support popular movements for change. The fight for climate action is a fight to put people and planet over profit.
For years, labour focused on the concept of Just Transition: to ensure that workers and communities are not negatively impacted in the shift to a zero-carbon world. Yet, in many cases, these programs have morphed into yet another public-funded subsidy for corporations, giving big polluters a chance to green-wash while leaving the system of production which has created the problem largely untouched. What we really need is for the union movement to fight for a Global Green New Deal: a wide scale shift in our economies to boost the power of working people and communities and to ensure that our governments protect our natural resources, whether on land or at sea.
Despite the evidence, the neoliberal ideologues who have dominated the discourse for decades would have us believe that the market will save us. Those who created the problem obscure the debate and avoid blame by telling us individual consumer choices and the entrepreneurial spirit will save the day. Corporate green-washers use full page spreads to convince the public they've seen the light - despite spending decades and millions of dollars burying the truth. They have captured our institutions through obscene political donations and a poisoned revolving door between big business and government. Hence, we have toothless climate agreements which will see species fry.
Deregulation has slashed environmental standards and enabled big polluters; privatisation has handed our energy production over to private interests who extract quick (fossil) profits. Ironically, many of these same ideologues continue to support outrageous public subsidies for the fossil fuel industry and oppose government spending on clean energy solutions.
Meanwhile, corporations such as Exxon and Chevron have been pumping their profits through offshore tax havens, avoiding paying their fair share and depriving governments of the revenue needed to mitigate and adapt to increasing climate catastrophes.
It is too late to tinker around the edges. To avoid climate catastrophe, we need system change. This is about more than climate. This is a struggle to recover democracy and make our governments serve the people, not the powerful. We will only win if we exert our collective strength, if we grow our power by building strong coalitions between students, campaigners and the labour movement.
For many people, unions are seen as an increasingly defensive or reactive force. Under sustained attacks from the right across the world, we were forced to fight to preserve our achievements rather than expand social justice. The Climate Strike provides an opportunity to break out of our constraints, to reinvigorate our movement, to learn from young people on the front lines and to redefine what is possible. Already unions are taking action. From Germany to New Zealand to South Africa, the labour movement is backing young strikers.
Public Services International - the Global Union Federation of Workers in Public Services - is calling on our affiliates and unions across the world to do all in our power to support the week of action on Climate, including by taking strike action where possible. To build the political will needed to change the system, we must be bolder than ever. We cannot let the vital idealism of this new generation be poisoned by cynicism and doubt. This is our last chance. They are our last chance. We must stand with them.
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.