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American Prospect: Democratic Presidential Candidates Are Actually Talking Union   |   Common Dreams: It's a Sure Winner-Except for the Profiteers: 200+ Economists Send Letter to Congress Endorsing Medicare for All   |   Equal Times: Is it time for a four-day work week?   |   Raw Story: Maddow connects the dots on epic financial scandal involving Mitch McConnell and the Russians   |   HuffPost:They Helped Lead Kentucky's Teacher Protests. Now They're Running For Office   |   American Prospect: The Man Who Put Public-Employee Unions on the Map   |   Working in These Times: Scabby the Rat Is Under Attack:And Needs Our Help   |   Truthout: Hospital Workers in Toledo, Ohio, Strike for Safe Patient Care   |   USDA Economists, Analysts Vote Overwhelmingly to Join AFGE   |   The Nation: AOC and Bernie Put Postal Banking Back on the Agenda   |   Jim Hightower: What is the "AI agenda," who's pushing it, and why?   |   Labor Press: Good Jobs, Green Jobs: Green New Deal Advocates Need More Support From Labor   |   USW Quebec: Les lockoutés d'ABI manifestent lors de l'assemblée des actionnaires d'Alcoa   |   The Stand: 'Monumental victory' on jobs, environment   |   EPSU France: Public service unions mobilise to defend jobs, pay and services   |   BlueGreen Alliance Urges Passage of Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act   |   Common Dreams: 'His Legacy Lives On': Pete Seeger Remembered on What Would Have Been 100th Birthday   |   United States House and Senate Democrats Unveil Landmark Legislation to Protect Workers' Right to Organize

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AFL-CIO Now Blog

LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns



Campaign for Postal Banking

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

Union Yes

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.


Amnesty International

American Civil Liberties Union



USW La Grand Marche

Climate-proofing work

The ITUC has launched a global workplace action to demand that employers engage with workers and their unions to set in motion plans to climate-proof their operations. From now until 26 June 2019, the Climate-Proof Our Work (#cPOW) push will see workers start the conversation with their bosses.

16-05-2019:   "It is crunch time, and we need to see employers taking concrete steps and to know what steps they will take. Our future depends on it, and we need every single workplace and enterprise to pull its weight. If employers are serious about climate change, we are with them; if not, then unions will demand that they get serious," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

Working people are on the front lines of climate change. As nine of the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 2005, the urgency is clear. Already 83 million climate-related refugees have fled from disaster and have lost livelihoods. A further 72 million jobs are threatened by temperature increases. Climate action is needed from workplaces to parliaments. Every contribution matters, and urgent and ambitious action is needed.

"We need to take a good hard look at the business models that got us to this point. 'Green washing' will not cut it this time; passing off responsibility will no longer be accepted. The international labour movement is committed to addressing climate change. Working people have a common concern: will their job, as it is, stand the test of the transition? If not, what steps are needed to ensure that it does? If done properly through dialogue and negotiation between employers and unions with the necessary support from governments, this opens the door to realising just transitions and taking on the existential task that is before us. The costs and consequences of inaction are incalculable," said Burrow.

Trade unions know that change starts with dialogue and that workers have a right to know about the sustainability of their job and their workplace. The ITUC has prepared a number of resources to support workers in their efforts to engage their employers. The campaign guide provides advice on who to contact and what to ask. Workers are encouraged to ask about how emissions are tracked and about plans to reduce them.

"Environmental degradation, human exploitation, the root cause is the same: corporate greed. We are seeing a moment of great convergence among movements. It is moments like this in which we can move mountains," said Burrow.

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates


Fresenius: unions launch first-ever global care workers' alliance

15 May 2019:   In parallel with Fresenius' annual general meetings of shareholders, trade unions will launch the Fresenius Global Union Alliance on 16 and 17 May in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. Unions demand that the healthcare giant negotiates a Global Agreement to secure workers' rights in all its operations.

More than 50 workers and union representatives from Europe, North and South America and Asia will converge on 16 and 17 May in Frankfurt/Main, Germany - in parallel with Fresenius' annual general meeting of shareholders. Fresenius directly employs around 280,000 workers in 100 countries.

The unions will launch the first international union network for a multinational healthcare corporation. Their aim is to negotiate a Global Framework Agreement with Fresenius to ensure that it respects fundamental rights of all employees in its operations worldwide. The 21 participating unions in the coalition are, in part, reacting to anti-trade union practices by Fresenius especially in the United States, Peru and South Korea.

The alliance is being coordinated by Public Services International (PSI) and UNI Global Union, two global union federations representing workers in public and private services.

"On 16 and 17 May, not only are Fresenius' shareholders converging in Frankfurt, but also workers and unions from around the globe. We demand an improved social dialogue between Fresenius and its workforce -including negotiating a global framework agreement on trade union rights," says Alke Boessiger, Deputy General Secretary of UNI Global Union. "The company must ensure that employees have the right to organize a union without fear and intimidation."

David Boys, Deputy General Secretary of PSI, points out that the German health company is accused of serious labour rights violations in a number of countries. "The company must take comprehensive measures to guarantee that it upholds the human rights of workers" demands Boys. "A company which has grown so quickly needs strong due diligence mechanisms to ensure that it meets its commitments to the health and finance regulators, to the tax departments, and mostly to the patients. Our global coalition will strengthen solidarity between Fresenius workers to hold the company accountable."

Global Framework Agreements are negotiated between global unions and multinational companies. They protect the interests of workers across the operations of multinational companies, ensuring respect for international labour standards. According to the unions, Fresenius has not always followed these labour standards. For example, in dialysis clinics of Fresenius Medical Care in the United States, union activists report a long, bruising anti-union campaign to stop workers from organizing to gain collective representation.

Samantha Anderson, an RWDSU member and Fresenius worker in Alabama since 2006, reports: "We began this fight because we have seen a downward trend in our workplace and felt that no one was listening. Fresenius needs to respect our desires to organize a union and gain a collective voice to ensure that our patients lives and those that care for those patients are the top priority for Fresenius going forward."

Another U.S. Fresenius employee, Emerson Padua, who has worked for 19 years at Fresenius in California and is a leader on the SEIU-UHW Organizing Committee said: "We should be allowed to decide about our union without management's scare tactics and union-busting. All we want is a union and a voice to improve our standard of living and the quality of care for our patients."

Sylvia Bühler, member of the federal board of the German service workers union ver.di clarifies: "The right to organize unions to improve pay and working conditions is a universal human right. It is disgraceful that the German health company Fresenius stops workers from using their fundamental rights to union representation." Bühler continues, "ver.di together with the members of the works councils will stand with every demand for a global framework agreement to secure workers' rights worldwide."

Fresenius
Based in Bad Homburg, Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA is a German health care company providing products and services for dialysis, hospitals and clinics for inpatient and outpatient medical care. In addition, the company focuses on hospital management as well as on engineering and services for medical centers and other health care facilities. It has around 280,000 employees in more than 100 countries around the globe. In Germany, Fresenius Helios is the biggest hospital provider with more than 60,000 employees.

Source:  Public Services International--PSI uniting more than 20 million workers in 154 countries


IUF Climate Workshop: Secure, stable employment requires action on global warming

14 May 2019:   The role and responsibility of unions in agriculture, meat and dairy faced with global warming was the issue confronting participants from 18 countries in an IUF climate change workshop hosted by the North American UFCW in Omaha, Nebraska May 6-7. These industries are among the key drivers of climate change, and workers face major challenges to the foundations of production and to the future of employment.

Participants recognized that significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions &#$0;GHG) are needed to secure sustainable jobs in agriculture, meat and dairy production, and that unions must begin organizing to shape a transition to sustainable production which secures rights, livelihoods and sustainable communities. The focus of the workshop was on the contribution of intensive livestock production to climate change. Agriculture contributes up to 40% of all emissions and meat and dairy are the principle drivers within agriculture.

Intensive monoculture, subsidized overproduction, reliance on oil-based fertilizers and hazardous pesticides, and trade and investment deals which serve the interests of corporate agribusiness are the foundations of a system that deprives agricultural workers of their basic rights and consigns millions to poverty. But this socially and environmentally destructive system delivers jobs to union members in meat and dairy processing.

Workshop participants agreed that negotiating for new jobs and changing methods of production is needed to secure the rights and interests of meat and dairy workers in the future. This requires the development of education and communication resources for affiliates and their members and collective bargaining demands for a fair transition to climate friendly jobs.

IUF climate policy will be integrated with ongoing work on defending democracy, the right to food and fundamental rights at work. The IUF will identify allies in the fight for climate-friendly production and will strive to work with the growing movement of young people who are demanding a just and sustainable world.

Further work in other IUF sectors is planned with the objective of achieving a consistent and coherent climate policy and program.

Source:   International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations--IUF uniting 10 million workers in 416 affiliated organizations in 128 countries


Global union pledges support to Ukrainian rail union campaign

14 May 2019:   The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has given its full support to seven demands made by the Trade Union of Railwaymen and Transport Construction Workers of Ukraine (TURTCWU).

The TURTCWU is calling on the government to respect the collective agreements of the railways and take urgent action to maintain the Ukrainian railway system.

On 14 May, the workers of the TURTCWU will rally in Kiev to make their demands heard, and ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton has sent this statement: "On behalf of the 18.5 million members of the ITF in 147 countries, including millions of railway workers, I would like to express our solidarity and full support for the seven lawful demands of our affiliate, the Trade Union of Railwaymen and Transport Construction Workers of Ukraine.

"The rally in Kiev today has been called in connection with non-respect of the current sectoral and collective agreements by the JSC Ukrzaliznytsya. A keystone of the demands is the increase of hourly tariff rates and official salaries for the employees of the company, except senior management, of not less than 25 percent from 1st April 2019.

"The impoverished Ukrainian railwaymen can no longer be ignored and their voices cannot be silenced! Together we are strong! Long live solidarity of the workers! The ITF will always stand by the Ukrainian railwaymen."

Source:  International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing 20 million members from 147 countries


Cuba: Building trade union unity

14 May 2019:   A BWI delegation participated in the May 1 celebration in La Habana, Cuba under the slogan: "Unity, commitment and victory". Representatives of the Construction Workers Union (Norway), NUM (South Africa), SINTRAPAV (Brazil), SUNTRACS (Panama) and CFMEU (Australia) joined more than 1400 international delegates, including delegations of UNITE (United Kingdom) and CGT (France) as well as other delegations from workers' organizations from Europe, North America, Central and South America, Africa and Asia.

The National Trade Union of Construction Workers, SNTC affiliated to CTC, Cuba invited and accompanied the BWI delegation during the visit. The delegation also participated in the International Colloquium of Solidarity with Workers and Cuban People at the International Convention Center of Havana, on May 2.

The SNTC and BWI delegation shared the advantages of mutual international cooperation, which has contributed to improving communications between the two organizations and SNTC's visibility during the past two years.

Source:  Building and Wood Workers International--BWI uniting 12 million members in 334 trade unions in 130 countries


Global agreement on sustainable employment in Unilever manufacturing

13 May 2019:   On May 10 in London, the IUF, IndustriALL and Unilever signed an agreement to ensure that the rights of all workers in Unilever manufacturing operations are adequately protected from the potential adverse human rights impacts stemming from the use of non-permanent employment contracts.

The Joint Commitment on Sustainable Employment in Unilever Factories is a rights-based commitment based on the recognition that "Temporary contracts and third-party agency employment relationships can potentially deprive workers of the protections and worker rights outlined in the International Labour Organisation's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises." The agreement enumerates the human rights risks inherent in non-permanent employment, whether workers are hired directly by Unilever or through a third-party agency, including risks to union representation and collective bargaining rights, equal treatment, access to social security and the right to a safe workplace.

The agreement strictly limits the use of non-permanent manufacturing employment to non-recurring tasks, and emphasizes that it cannot be used in ways which undermine permanent employment. The use of 'zero-hours contracts' is excluded: the Joint Commitment stipulates that "Temporary workers will be informed of their work schedules with sufficient notice, and not be retained on call without pay, such that they are unable to take alternative work."

It prescribes a process of continuous human rights due diligence through engagement and negotiation with IUF and IndustriALL and their members, representing the vast majority of unionized Unilever workers world-wide. The agreement establishes a platform for negotiations at all levels on rights impacts arising from the use of non-permanent employment in manufacturing should unions seek to raise them with management. The evolution of employment and the application of the agreement will be subject to continuous review.

Source:   International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations--IUF uniting 10 million workers in 416 affiliated organizations in 128 countries


Polish Amazon workers escalate push for better wages, working conditions

10 May 2019:   Days after German Amazon workers went on strike, Polish employees of the commerce giant have intensified their drive for higher pay and safer jobs this week. The unions representing Amazon's Polish workers, NSZZ Solidarity Union (Solidarność) and Workers' Initiative (Inicjatywa Pracownicza), have announced a collective dispute that could eventually lead to a strike.

"The situation of Amazon Poland employees is dramatic, so we've decided to unite and act together to change it. We want to talk about how the work at Amazon looks like and present our solutions," said Grzegorz Cisoń, chairman of Solidarity Union at Amazon Poland.

One of the unions' key demands is a reduction of extremely high performance targets. Last year, the State Labor Inspectorate found that the grueling pace of the workload in Poland's Amazon warehouses often exceeded the permissible norms specified in the country's labor law. Workers are also requesting a significant pay rise in all the warehouses owned by the company in Poland.

"The salaries of ordinary employees are currently only slightly higher than the country's minimum wage in the country. Almost all goods from the Polish storehouses are sent to the German market. But an employee of the Amazon warehouse in Germany earns over 3 times more than a Polish employee, even without working at night and on Sundays," said Maria Malinowska, a member of the Presidium of the Workers' Initiative.

A collective dispute is a formal process in Poland, that triggers negotiation between the company and the unions. If they do not result in the agreement, the next step will be the mediation conducted by a mediator appointed by the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy. If that fails, workers can then call a strike vote at the company.

The American company that runs the world's largest mail order sales network employs roughly 16,000 Polish employees and another several thousand through external companies. The dispute was announced during an action in front of the American embassy in Warsaw on May 9.

Source:  UNI Global Union--UNI represents more than 20 million workers from over 150 countries


Law amendment will rid sham cooperatives from South Africa's textile sector

8 May, 2019:   Taking advantage of loopholes in the laws governing cooperatives, employers in the garment and textile sector have been turning their factories into fake cooperatives to avoid paying decent wages and benefits.

The previous law treated workers in cooperatives as self-employed and exempt from paying minimum wages and conforming to labour standards. However, this will change with the Regulations for the Cooperative Amendment Act (2013) which came into effect on 1 April. According to the new regulations, cooperatives must comply with labour laws and demonstrate their protection of members' interests - a requirement that will make it difficult for false coops to exist.

"In the clothing industry alone, an estimated 15,000 workers are abused by such cooperatives that are exploiting workers. They are established through threats by factory owners to retrench workers unless the workers become members of the cooperative, which remains under the control of the factory owner who decides on working hours and conditions of work.

"If workers raise concerns about anything they are disciplined and fired on the spot," says Andre Kriel, general secretary of IndustriALL affiliate Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU).

Paule-France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa said it is commendable when legal gaps that allow worker exploitation are closed. "It is important for laws to continue strengthening workers' rights to living wages and decent working conditions. Allowing environments where workers' rights are trampled upon with impunity is unacceptable."

Garment factories in Isithebe, in the KwaZulu-Natal province, are infamous for using bogus cooperatives and paying low wages, and have been accused of human rights abuses including human trafficking. In February, 100 undocumented workers from Lesotho and Eswatini were found living in squalid conditions at textile factories in New Castle during a provincial government exercise to check business compliance with regulations. The workers lived in a small unventilated room at the factories which were built with high walls to conceal the shocking living conditions.

Source:  IndustriALL Global Union--IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 140 countries


Ecuador: ITUC warns of IMF agreement's attack on workers

Ecuador's agreement with the International Monetary Fund will impoverish people and damage the country's economy, with its strategy of deep cuts to the public sector and changes to labour law that will make employment more precarious.

07-05-2019:   "Ecuador's strategy of public-sector-led growth reduced poverty by more than a third between 2007 and 2016. That successful approach is now being trashed with the IMF insisting on austerity as a condition of a $4.2 billion loan to the country. Wages will go down, unemployment will rise, and the prospects for economic growth will stall or decline," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

A detailed analysis of the IMF agreement undertaken by the ITUC9Global Unions Washington office documents the questionable projections made by the IMF, which are used as justification to cut tens of thousands of public sector jobs, reduce wages and undermine Ecuador's adherence to ILO standards. Recommendations to deregulate labour laws are drawn from the widely discredited World Bank "Doing Business" report.

During a meeting in Ecuador with Labour Minister Andrés Vicente Madero Poveda, ITUC Deputy General Secretary Victor Báez warned of the negative impact similar agreements have had on workers in Greece, Egypt, Tunisia and Argentina. He pointed out that even if the government were contemplating measures which would be beneficial to workers, government decisions would need to be "vetted" by IMF staff members.

The IMF claims that reducing labour costs along with other measures to liberalise the economy will attract private investment and lead to recovery. However, similar programs that have applied this model have consistently lead to the failure of unrealistic growth projections to materialise, while social indicators have worsened.

"The IMF should stop clinging on to policies that cause long-term damage to economies and that put the burden on working people. It should support a strong and viable public sector, and programmes that ensure the economy works for people, not for international financial interests and multinationals that are continuously looking for the cheapest, most 'flexible' labour without regard to people's livelihoods and living and working conditions," said Báez.

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 207 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 331 national affiliates


Mexico's labour reforms set to bring greater union democracy

2 May, 2019:   The Mexican Senate has approved a new Labour Bill. While the new legislation will be a step forward for union democracy, it does not cover key issues such as outsourcing.

The House of Deputies passed the reform on 11 April, and the bill was approved by the Senate on 29 April. The new act represents a complete overhaul of labour relations and will give workers better access to labour justice and greater freedom of association; it will also make it easier for them to form democratic unions. Under the reforms, workers will be free to choose which union to join and will be able to elect their union leaders through an individual, free, secret and direct ballot.

For many years, when elections did take place, the vote was by show of hands. This meant that workers were often forced to vote in front of corrupt, pro-employer unions that had their henchmen at the ready. This put a lot of pressure on workers and prevented them from freely electing their leaders.

Workers will have to be consulted both when the collective agreements are drafted and during the re-negotiations that will be take place every two years. This will also involve an individual, free and secret ballot, which will help to eliminate the so-called employer protection contracts. Furthermore, a federal office for conciliation and union registration will be created. This decentralized public entity will be tasked with keeping a national register of all collective agreements and all trade unions.

For many years, the federal government, employers and corrupt unions used the conciliation and arbitration boards to decide which unions should be included in the register. As a result, political and economic interests took precedence over those of workers. These boards will now be replaced by labour tribunals within the judicial branch, and proceedings should be shorter, more open and more efficient. Despite this progress, the labour reform has been the subject of much debate within unions, as it does not take into account certain issues that are crucial for Mexico's workers. In particular, there has been no amendment of the provisions concerning outsourcing, which are especially problematic for workers and their rights.

According to Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, Mexican Senator, leader of IndustriALL affiliate Los Mineros, as well as IndustriALL regional co-chair, the Senate intends to review these outstanding issues in consultation with business and union leaders, lawyers and other experts.

"We would like to stress to our affiliates throughout the world that this is a huge opportunity to bring democracy to the union movement in Mexico. With this reform, it will be practically impossible to set up employer protection agreements, as all collective agreements will have to be voted on by workers," said IndustriALL Global Union's general secretary, Valter Sanches.

Source:  IndustriALL Global Union--IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 140 countries






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."

Source:  Building and Wood Workers International--BWI uniting 12 million members in 334 trade unions in 130 countries


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."

Source:  Public Services International--PSI uniting more than 20 million workers in 154 countries


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.

Source:  Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, 50 for Freedom Campaign


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