LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns
Fight for $15...Low Pay is Not OK
Re-Run the Vote: No World Cup Without Workers Rights...
International Trade Union Confederation
three minute web movie overview of the concept of decent work in 29 languages...International Labor Organization
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
Fix My Job...Working America AFL-CIO
Warehouse Workers United...
Change to Win Coalition
T-Mobile Workers United...
Communications Workers of America
Let's Get America Working...
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.
Care in the Future World of Work: creating millions of new jobs
26 April 2017: Predictions suggest that jobs will be cut in the future because of advances in technology but this is not the case in the Care sector, according to a new UN report.
Representatives of the ILO, WHO and OECD heard that by 2030 40 million new jobs would be needed in the Care sector. The UN High-Level Commission Report (ComHEEG) calculated that if we include all multipliers there will be more than 100 million jobs, a point noted by the Director of the Health Workforce Department at the WHO, Jim Campbell.
The ComHEGG report found that there was the need for more investment in the care sector, to reach this jobs target and create decent work.
"Investment in health employment cannot be seen as a cost to society, rather it's a driver of inclusive economic growth and decent work", said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder about the need to invest more in the care sector.
UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings said, "Its crucial that governments and employers respect the recommendation of the ComHEEG on national tripartite social dialogue for the care sector. Social dialogue and collective bargaining are the only ways to make the care jobs decent jobs. Unions are important and play an important role in the future of care."
UNICARE supports the ComHEEG 5 year action plan and calls the ILO to create a tripartite commitment to fulfil its aims.
Kazakhstan: Statement of the ITUC Pan-European Regional Council
24 April 2017: The 11th Executive Committee of the Pan-European Regional Council debated the continuing trade union rights violations in Republic of Kazakhstan and unanimously condemned repression against leaders of the Confederation of the Independent Unions of Kazakhstan, its forced deregistration and blatant non-respect of the fundamental principles of freedom of association in the country.
It is without precedent in regional and global practice that a trade union leader is condemned in this way simply for calling for a strike. Nurbek Kushekbaev, a leader of the Confederation, was sentenced to 2.5 years of imprisonment and a fine of US$ 80,000.
Emin Eleusinov, shop steward of LLP 'Oil Construction Company' faces false criminal charges while Larisa Kharkova, CNTUK President, is under ongoing interrogation. Other activists are under pressure from government officials, employers and the police. With these attacks, the government places the country among the ranks of worst violators of trade union rights.
The PERC Executive Committee called on Kazakhstan's President Nazarbaev to immediately stop violations of the freedom of association and, in particular, to revoke the deregistration and suspend any further deregistration procedures in relation to the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan and its affiliates. It called on him to immediately and unconditionally release the trade unionists facing arrest and criminal charges for trade union activities.
The Committee appeals to all affiliates to express solidarity and support with detained, harassed and repressed union leaders and to convey the trade union position of non-acceptance of trade union rights violations by democratic countries to the governments that cooperate with Kazakhstan and to businesses that operate in the country.
ITUC Calls on Apparel Brands to Join Transparency Pledge
21 April 2017: The ITUC has called on garment companies to sign a new supply chain Transparency Pledge launched today by a coalition of trade union organisations and NGOs.
Of 72 companies contacted by the coalition, 17 are expected to have fully implemented the pledge by the end of 2017, meaning that they will have published information that will enable consumers, workers and advocacy groups and others to find out where the company's products are made. A report prepared by the coalition sets out the details of the pledge, and includes information on the extent to which each of the 72 companies have responded to the call to join it.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said "With a hidden workforce of 94% in global supply chains, transparency is a crucial step towards due diligence on workers' rights in every aspect of a company's operations. With the Rana Plaza tragedy and other workplace disasters in recent years, the global apparel industry has become identified with exploitation and abuse of workers. We call on all companies in the sector to join this pledge, as a step towards ensuring safe work, living wages and decent working conditions throughout their entire operations."
The Transparency Pledge establishes a floor for supply chain transparency, through companies publishing important information about supplier factories and authorised subcontractors. This is especially important in garment-producing countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia, where governments continue to suppress workers' rights and hold down minimum wages at the behest of powerful factory owners.
"While transparency is a foundation for accountability, companies still need to do more. Due diligence requires identifying the risks of violating human rights. Most importantly, they should ensure that workers' rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining are respected throughout their supply chains, and also make agreements with Global Union Federations to ensure that local practices match commitments which they have made," said Burrow.
The coalition consists of Clean Clothes Campaign, Human Rights Watch, IndustriALL Global Union, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, the International Labor Rights Forum, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Maquila Solidarity Network, UNI Global Union, and the Worker Rights Consortium.
Johannesburg: Statement of Africa Region GUFs Forum
21 April 2017 Global Union Federations (GUFs) in the Africa Region met in a Forum from 10-12 April 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa to deepen their understanding of the African Labour Market and Trade Union Development, and to exchange ideas and formulate strategies on how to strengthen the African Trade Union Movement.
The meeting was attended by representatives of BWI, IFJ, IUF, ITF, IndustriAll, UNI, PSI, ITUC-Africa, with the participation of trade union movements of OTUWA, EATUC, SATUCC, COSATU, FEDUSA, NALEDI, 3F, SASK and with the support of the FES.
In strengthening the structure of the Africa Forum, the meeting adopted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the "Structure, Functioning, Meaning and Future of the annual African GUF Forum".
Participants at the forum agreed to improve coordination amongst GUFs in the region through joint campaigns and strengthening relationships of GUFs and ITUC-Africa. They also discussed strategies of improving the capacity of Africa Trade unions to better pursue decent work, sustainable development and democratic governance.
The forum lamented the lack of sufficient media coverage of activities and developmenents in the trade union movement in Africa, and called on journalists' unions and their members to give more attention to trade union development issues in the region.
The forum received insightful presentations including Chinese Investments in Africa. It was noted that these investments are in all sectors of the economy, and that GUFs together with ITUC-Africa and Sub-Regional movements should cooperate on monitoring the effects of Chinese investments. The meeting was briefed on the South African trade unions federations and their role at the BRICS Labour Forum, and the Campaign for the ratification and implementation of the ILO Core Conventions by China.
In view of the changing labour market and on the future of work presented by the ILO it was agreed to look at future of work from a sectoral perspective and develop strategies for change.
The forum welcomed the offer of support from FES for the establishment of an organising labour academy and was agreed to explore the modalities for such a Trade Union organising academy driven and led by GUFs.
Global Unions urge IFIs to contribute to a fair and sustainable global economy
20 April 2017: The ITUC and its Global Unions partner organisations call on the Washington-based international financial institutions to adopt strategies that challenge the trend of increased income and wealth inequality in much of the world. The ministerial-level "Spring Meetings" of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank begin this Friday in Washington.
The IMF's latest economic growth forecasts, released on Tuesday, predict a slight increase in global growth but also highlight to threats to economic stability posed by policy uncertainties in many countries. In several countries, governments have announced contradictory and frequently harmful initiatives involving protectionist measures, victimisation of migrants and refugees, and tax cuts and deregulation for corporations.
ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow stated: "Rolling back regulations and tax-financed social protection are false solutions for addressing the problems of working people and will, in fact, worsen income inequality. The IFIs must take a clear stance in favour of improved living standards for workers and improved social protection coverage as essential ingredients for building a fair and sustainable global economy."
Burrow took particular issue with the IMF's promotion of labour market deregulation in several countries, leading to a decline of standards such minimum wages, job protections and access to collective bargaining. While the Fund has announced its willingness to address issues of women's economic empowerment, inequality and climate change, serious progress cannot take place if the dominant message is one of austerity and deregulation.
The ITUC has welcomed statements made by the World Bank's president in support of universal social protection and healthcare. It urges the Bank to ensure that all of its country initiatives support the goals, and questioned the consistency with them of Bank support for some private healthcare investments and the use of extreme targeting mechanisms for social programmes. Burrow also invited the Bank to support free, equitable and quality education in all of its work in that sector.
Sharan Burrow asked the World Bank to fully cooperate with trade unions and the International Labour Organisation in the implementation of the Bank's new labour safeguard, adopted in August 2016 and scheduled to go into effect in 2018.
The statement submitted by the ITUC and its Global Unions partner organisations to the April 2017 Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank is available here
MEPs demand respect for labour rights in Sri Lanka
19.04.2017: A fact finding mission to Sri Lanka, including Members of the European Parliament, has concluded that workers must have the right to organize and bargain collectively if the country is to be granted preferential trading conditions by the European Union.
"We are willing to give preferences to Sri Lanka, but only if we are sure that the benefit also goes to the workers," said MEP Lola Sánchez Caldentey in a statement following the mission.
Participants in the mission, which took place between 10 and 12 April, were invited by the IndustriALL Sri Lanka Council to assess the country's progress in human and labour rights compliance in relation to the re-application by the Government of Sri Lanka for the EU's Generalized System of Preferences Plus status (GSP+). The status offers trade incentives to developing countries that implement core international conventions on human and labour rights, sustainable development and good governance.
However, after more than ten meetings in Sri Lanka, Sánchez Caldentey said: "If the European Union consumers knew the abusive conditions under which the women make the cloth that they buy, they would be ashamed."
MEP Anne-Marie Mineur added: "The government must ensure that these workers can organize themselves through trade unions, because otherwise they will keep on being exploited."
The European Union is due to assess Sri Lanka's application for GSP+ status over the next month.
The delegation, which also included representatives from trade union 3F of Denmark, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITWF) and Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC), met workers and trade union leaders who have been subject to harassment, illegal dismissal, sexual harassment and labour rights violations in the Free Trade Zones of Sri Lanka.
The delegates expressed their concerns about the extensive use of manpower agencies for co-working arrangements, which have undermined freedom of association and collective bargaining in Sri Lanka. They were also worried that the judiciary has been increasingly interfering in labour disputes and collective bargaining to the detriment of trade unions.
In response to the fact finding mission's statement, IndustriALL's assistant general secretary, Jenny Holdcroft, said: "It is good that EU Parliamentarians have been to Sri Lanka to see for themselves the conditions for workers. We hope that this will encourage the EU to put proper protections in place to ensure that the benefits of trade are passed on to Sri Lankan workers. Full respect for the rights to freedom of association and to bargain collectively is essential."
South East Asia intensifies campaign to stop precarious work
12.04.2017: Twenty-one representatives of IndustriALL affiliates from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Philippines gathered in Malaysia for the Stop Precarious Work Project Coordination meeting on 3-4 April 2017.
The purpose of the meeting was to share successes and challenges, and develop common action. Despite success in organizing contract workers and influencing government policy, precarious work is growing because employers do not abide by the law.
In Indonesia, core activities should be performed by permanent, direct employees - but employers define what is core and non-core. Indonesian affiliates organized around 19,000 precarious workers last year. In some instances, new unions were formed to negotiate collective agreements separately for outsourced workers. Unions in some companies such as Quantum in Tangerang City pushed for permanent employment status of contractual workers.
Malaysian labour law is good, but enforcement of is ineffective. Unions work to safeguard not only Malaysian workers but also migrants. In some companies, 90 to 95 per cent of contract workers are migrant workers from Nepal, Bangladesh, Vietnam and sometimes Thailand. Although the law prohibits the employment of workers through temporary work agencies, companies still employ migrant agency workers with lower wages and benefits. In some cases, employers withhold workers' passports. Migrants are reluctant to join unions because their contracts may be immediately terminated.
The National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industries Workers negotiated permanent employment for 400 contract workers at DENSO and Robert Bosch.
In Myanmar, there have been no changes despite a new government, because the practices set by the previous government are still implemented. Foreign investors do not follow the law. Land grabbing is rampant in the mining industry, with promises of regular employment and good wages to farmers whose land was confiscated. However, promises are not fulfilled. Often only one member of the family will get a permanent contract, while others have agency contracts with no holidays or no paid overtime.
Through dialogue with the government, improvements are slowly taking place. Since 2014, the 1952 and 1959 labour laws have been reviewed. A new employment contract was introduced in September 2015 by the government. The final version is in the process of endorsement by the Ministry of Labour, and will become the standard contract to be used for making employment contracts nationwide.
The union movement has campaigned for a better contract that promotes security of tenure and is against short-term contracts. The Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar (CTUM) has encouraged both employers and workers to use the CTUM draft contract as a guideline.
Philippine affiliates have been active in fighting contractualization, making representations in tripartite councils. During his presidential campaign and at the start of his administration, President Duterte promised an end to contractualization, saying that it is anti-people, and warning employers that they will be punished.
However, despite dialogue with the Department of Labor and Employment and the president, and protest rallies, no improvements were made. The situation has got worse with the new Department Order no. 174-2017 of 6 March 2017, which legitimizes the employment of contract workers through contracting agencies.
Trade unions are calling on the president to issue an Executive Order prohibiting the use of contractualization in the country, and will mobilize continually, particularly during May Day.
The meeting adopted a five-year action plan of continuous education, campaigning and organizing, with a gender-balanced regional coordination group to implement it. Target companies were identified. The group will build alliances with other global unions, governments and civil organizations, and conduct skills trainings, organizing and advocacy activities.
Panama: SUNTRACS starts April 28th Campaign
11 April 2017: In April, many trade unions affiliated to the Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI) are active to pay tribute to workers who died at work, but also those who have been injured and ill due to poor working conditions in the construction and wood industries.
This is why, on April 3rd, the Union of Construction Workers (SUNTRACS) of Panama, through its Occupational Health and Safety Secretariat, started activities with a press conference and a march to the Public Ministry as part of their struggle to seek the criminalization of work accidents. The slogan adopted by SUNTRACS to this 2017 April 28 Campaign is "A Death...A Stoppage", a slogan adopted by BWI in Latin America and the Caribbean region for the past seven years.
Among the actions planned by SUNTRACS this month: project inspections, a health and safety forum, seminars, pickets, posters, placards and meetings with health and occupational safety institutions.
IndustriALL campaign against asbestos targets Rotterdam Convention
11.04.2017: IndustriALL Global Union continued its campaign to end the deadly asbestos trade in a meeting with a top official from the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on 10 April.
IndustriALL met Rolph Payet, the Executive Secretary of the Rotterdam Convention, a UN treaty that facilitates information exchange on hazardous chemicals on its list, and provides for a national decision-making process on their import and export.
At the meeting, IndustriALL expressed strong support for a proposal from a group of 12 African nations to amend Article 22 of the Rotterdam Convention, so that no single country could veto the listing of a dangerous substance on Annex III of the Convention.
In the meeting, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan, said: It is IndustriALL's goal to achieve a global ban on asbestos. We lose hundreds of thousands of workers to asbestos every year. We see this proposal to amend the Rotterdam Convention as a real opportunity and we are here to express our wish that it is passed.
The proposal seeks to change the decision-making process so that a dangerous substance could be listed with 75 per cent majority support from voting parties.
Chrysotile asbestos has been repeatedly blocked from the list by countries with financial interests in the asbestos trade, despite it meeting all the scientific criteria for it to be recommended for listing, and having overwhelming support for listing from a majority of parties to the Convention. Two million tonnes of chrysotile asbestos is still mined and sold every year, mostly to the developing world.
"It is the health and safety of workers versus the interests and profits of big groups. It is our mission to do everything in our power to change the situation," said Özkan.
Payet emphasized that the Rotterdam Convention does not aim to ban the use or trade of chemicals listed in Annex III, but offers a regulatory framework for countries to decide, for such chemicals, whether they wish to restrict, and to what extent, their future import. Such decisions taken by individual countries trigger the "prior informed consent" procedure embedded in the Convention and require adequate disclosure of a material's hazardous properties. These decisions are then communicated to all Parties and must be respected.
The Chrysotile Institute (formerly named the Asbestos Institute), a lobby group for the asbestos industry, has cited the repeated failure of the Rotterdam Convention to list chrysotile asbestos as being somehow proof that it can be used safely.
Payet said that the decision to amend Article 22 is in the hands of the parties to the Convention and will be discussed when they meet in Geneva, Switzerland from 24 April to 5 May.
Concern has been expressed that a change to the current method of decision-making could derail the whole Convention. However, Brian Kohler, IndustriALL's director for health, safety and sustainability, who also attended the meeting, questioned: The Convention is dysfunctional now, what is there to break?
IndustriALL has called on its affiliates to write to their governments supporting the proposal and is lobbying decision-makers to support the amendment of Article 22.
Chad: tentative progress on trade union rights
10 April 2017: Since 2012, trade unionists in Chad have been struggling to obtain trade union rights for their members. Their hard work is starting to pay off.
When news on bad governance in Chad broke in 2012, the President of the Republic announced his displeasure and in particular his desire to "finish" with Chadian trade unions. From then on, violations of trade union rights have not ceased - in April 2016, civil society and trade union leaders were arrested and detained for four months in the Amsinéné prison. In private companies, especially Chinese-run enterprises operating in Chad, it's common for trade union representatives to be banned.
Since June 2016, the Government of Chad has fallen behind in the remuneration of many civil servants, paving the way for a general strike that lasted several months. On September 2016, the government announced a 16-measure plan to reduce the country's financial crisis. However, the union's proposals were not taken into account.
On 10 October 2016, the Union des Syndicate du Tchad (the most representative trade union confederation to which all ISP affiliates in the country are members), the Independent Confederation of Trade Unions of Chad (CIST), and the National Union of Teachers of Higher Education (SYNECS), formed a platform to facilitate discussions with the government. However, the creation of this platform initially led to a one-way dialogue due to the lack of cooperation by the government - following the Prime Minister's demands for a one-year social truce as a condition to participate in this platform.
A PSI mission visited Chad from 13 to 19 February 2017. The PSI delegation formed by Charlotte Kalabani (representative for PSI Sub-regional Secretary for French-speaking Africa) and Jean Marie N'di (representative for French-speaking Africa on the PSI Executive Board) met with affiliates, the President of the National Commission for Social Dialogue (CNDS), the National Council of Chadian Employers, the Minister of Labour and Social Dialogue and the Prime Minister, and made recommendations to each of the parties.
Following the PSI mission, the platform engaged in a dialogue with the government and reached an agreement that led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, on 6 March 2016. Among other things, this MoU provides for the reopening of negotiations on Law 032, Decree 687, and on "any other matter under consideration". MoU also provides that the government will make efforts to pay the overdue wages and that it will set up a Technical Committee, which will conduct its business under the umbrella of the CNDS. This Technical Committee held its first meeting on 17 March 2017, and will continue meeting twice a week.
Yet it is important to recall that despite the fact that social dialogue has been reestablished, it is imperative for the government to respect the international standards to which the state is a party, as well as the national laws of Chad. For instance, the procedure for the promulgation of Law 032 did not comply with Articles 162, 167 and 168 of the Constitution of the Republic of Chad. At international level, Law 032 is contrary to ILO Conventions 87 and 98. So more efforts should be made to bring national legislation in conformity with ILO standards, consenting the free exercise of trade union rights.
Swedish hotel workers prepare for national strike
10 April 2017: The IUF-affiliated hotel and restaurant workers' union Hotell- och Restaurangfacket (HRF) has given notice for a national strike targeting 19 hotels in 6 cities across the country beginning April 19, 2017. The strikes involve all hotel staff and a ban on new hiring and the use of temporary workers.
HRF called the strike following the employers' refusal to increase the wages of the lowest-paid workers in line with the increases won for other sectors in this year's national sectoral negotiations. The employers have also refused demands for increased job security.
The employers' organization Visita has instructed its members to distribute questionnaires regarding union membership to all employees in the hotels that have been selected for strike action.
More information on the strike, including the names and locations of the nineteen hotels, is available in a HRF press release here.
The IUF General Secretary pledged the full support of the IUF and its members around the world, saying "The employers' rejection of a pay increase for the lowest paid workers in this low-wage sector, coupled with the outrageous employer questionnaire on union membership, are an attack on collective bargaining in Sweden and on workers everywhere".