LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns
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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
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Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
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coalition of labor, community and consumer advocacy organizations
Making Change at Walmart...
United Food and Commercial Workers
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it's not a tax on the people, it's a tax for the people...United States
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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.
Castorama / Poland MUST STOP UNION-BUSTING!
3 December 2019: Castorama/Poland dismissed 10 trade union activists. NSZZ "Solidarnosc" Commerce and UNI Commerce are fighting back for the re-instatement of dismissed workers and respect for trade union rights.
Castorama - owned by British multinational Kingfisher - has operated in Poland since 1997. The company has 80 stores in 60 Polish cities and employs around 12,000 workers.
An affiliate of UNI Commerce, NSZZ "Solidarnosc" Commerce, has been helping Castorama/Poland workers organize - despite the anti-union attitude of the employer. The company has intensified its union-busting activities and recently dismissed 10 trade union activists, including Wojciech Kasprzyk, the union leader there. The company tried to justify dismissals on the ground of "carrying out activities to the detriment of the company" and "damaging the employer's image." However, they were simply using internet platforms and social media to help workers organize around their issues.
Dismissal of 10 trade union activists was the last straw, and now workers are fighting back! With the help of the union, necessary legal action has been taken for re-instatement of the dismissed workers. In addition, public actions such as pickets and leafleting are taking place right outside Castorama markets in Poland, with participation from hundreds of Solidarnosc members.
Mathias Bolton, Head of UNI Commerce, sent a letter to Mr. Thierry Garnier, the CEO of Kingfisher and local management of Castorama/Poland. Underlying that UNI Commerce stands in solidarity with Solidarnosc and Castorama workers, Bolton said "We expect that you will take the necessary actions in order to ensure that Castorama/Poland respects union rights, engages in constructive dialogue with the union, and re-instates employees dismissed for their union activities" in his letter.
UNI Commerce will launch an international campaign to raise solidarity with Castorama workers in Poland.
Australia: strike and solidarity win new agreement for women cheese workers
2 December 2019: Workers at Jindi Cheese in Victoria, owned by French-based dairy transnational Lactalis, have ended their 15-day strike by unanimously voting to approve a new 4-year collective agreement which brings substantial pay increases.
Although the federal government's Fair Work Commission must approve the agreement before the details can be made public, union members are proud of the gains they have won in the struggle for pay equality.
The strikers were supported by United Workers Union (UWU) members at other Lactalis plants in Australia who provided solidarity and material support. The UWU has thanked the IUF and its affiliates for their support which came at a critical time in the dispute.
Anti-union law fails to pass in Australia
28 November 2019: The anti-union Ensuring Integrity Bill has failed to pass the Senate in Australia after a strong response from the Australian trade union movement and widespread public outcry. The news was announced at the conclusion of the BWI Global Health and Safety Representatives Conference in Perth to a group of BWI OHS delegates from across the world, at a CFMEU training centre.
"We welcome the fact that Senate has stood up for the rights of Australian workers rather than the privilege of big corporations,' said Dave Noonan, National Secretary of the Construction Division of the CFMEU and Deputy President of BWI. "Independent unions are a core part of a healthy democracy, and Government interventions in the movement is a step towards authoritarianism."
Delegates from across the Asia-Pacific region attending the Regional Conference had engaged in solidarity actions, and others had written to independent senators noting that workers across the region had traditionally looked up to Australia as a bastion for workers' rights.
"Unions across the country have been vigorously opposing this legislation, which is intended to attack our movement because we defend working people's fundamental rights," said ETU National Secretary Allen Hicks. "We know this won't be the end of the attacks under this right-wing Government, however this victory will galvanise the movement and we will continue to push for a fairer deal for working people.
"The BWI affiliates around the world joined the global campaign to support the Australian union's efforts to defeat this anti-union legislation," said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. "We congratulate them in this fight and we will continue to support them in their fight back against the current right-wing government."
IndustriALL renews global agreement with Siemens Gamesa
26 November, 2019: IndustriALL Global Union has renewed and reinforced its global framework agreement (GFA) with Siemens Gamesa, a world leader in wind turbine manufacturing.
The new agreement, signed on 25 November, covers 23,000 Siemens Gamesa workers around the world and strengthens the company's commitment to human rights, the environment and sustainable jobs.
The new GFA includes some important improvements from the original agreement signed with Gamesa in 2015. These include:
IndustriALL, trade union representatives and management at Siemens Gamesa group will jointly oversee the effective implementation of the agreement, and a series of local committees will be set up to allow for this process.
"We are pleased that today, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we have signed a strengthened agreement with Siemens Gamesa that includes respect for ILO Convention 190 on ending violence and harassment at work, before it has even been ratified by Spain," said Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary. He added: "In a first test of the agreement, as the Siemens Gamesa goes through restructuring in Europe, we expect the company to carry it out in a socially responsible manner and in negotiation with the respective trade unions."
Under the agreement, Siemens Gamesa promises to adhere to UN core human rights as well as fundamental labour conventions concerning freedom of association and collective bargaining, forced labour, child labour and exploitation, and discrimination. The group also treats unions positively and commits to constructively cooperate with workers and their representatives.
Siemens Wind Power and Gamesa concluded the merger of their wind power businesses in April 2017 providing onshore and offshore services. The united company is based in Zamudio, Spain, and has a presence in over 90 countries. The 2019 GFA was signed by Siemens Gamesa CEO, Markus Tacke, and Valter Sanches from IndustriALL Global Union.
Youth lead organizing drives in Pan Europe
25 November 2019: On 10-11 of November 2019, the first Pan-European Organizing Academy took place in Chisinau, Moldova, where young organizers from Croatia, Macedonia, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova and Ireland came together to share best practices in organizing and they agreed to develop an organizing toolkit for trade unions in the region.
In the past two decades trade unions in Eastern Europe have gone through a serious transformation to find their place in the new labour market system. As a result of the transformation, many unions in the region experienced dramatic membership loss. This was due to the privatization of public companies where unions had strong membership and they were unable to regain its members as the companies refused to recognize the trade union.
To fight these challenges, trade unions launched aggressive organizing campaigns which were showcased by young organizers at the Organizing Academy. These case studies described organizing strategies and tactics in reaching out to workers at national and multinational companies as well as targeting young workers, professional groups and workers of entire sectors.
"It was important that we highlight successful organizing cases for trade unions to learn and emulate. Based on this, we can develop an organizing toolkit, which can serve as a practical guide for trade unions to increase their organizing capacities and stop membership decline," said Coen van der Veer, BWI Regional Representative in Europe.
Our future, our union - IndustriALL Women's Conference demands transformative agenda
21 November, 2019: More than 200 women from trade unions in 60 countries met in Geneva, Switzerland, on 18 and 19 November for IndustriALL Global Union's World Women's Conference and called for a transformative agenda to achieve gender equality in unions and at work.
The women unanimously passed a resolution demanding radical changes to the way their unions operate to ensure women's equal representation, participation and leadership.
"We want to change the status quo. We have been making progress but it's not enough. If we want to transform our unions to be sustainable unions that can recruit and attract women members and members from all diverse groups, we need to change the way we do things," said IndustriALL assistant general secretary, Jenny Holdcroft, outlining the goals of the conference.
The conference took place in a year of historic mobilization in Switzerland. Five hundred thousand women took to the streets on 14 June 2019 to demand equal pay, equal rights and an end to discrimination and violence against women. This has led to a new law that prevents discrimination and a record 40 per cent women elected to parliament.
You strike a woman, you strike a rock
IndustriALL is now including respect for the convention into its global framework agreements with multinational companies.
More than 100 IndustriALL affiliates have taken The Pledge, making a statutory commitment to take action to stop violence against women in unions and at work.
Ruth Ntlokotse from Pledge signatory, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, said femicide in South Africa is increasing on a daily basis. The union is campaigning for companies to do more to ensure the safety of women at work and is providing training for people handling cases of sexual harassment and violence. She said: "Women are scared to report for fear of retaliation. So how the cases are handled is problematic."
Women and the future of work
Lina Andersson of Unionen in Sweden added that women employed in STEM are more likely than men to leave the sector because of a macho "brogrammer" culture; competence not being recognized; and accusations of being emotional when raising technical issues. Jane Ragoo from Mauritius revealed cameras in factories are having a negative psychological impact on workers and called for more research into the impacts of company surveillance on employees.
Participants called for unions to promote lifelong learning, upskilling and capacity building to protect women's jobs in the world of work. However, the flexibility offered by new technology can help women in achieving a better work-life balance and offer new opportunities.
Solidarity with the people of Colombia
20 Nov 2019: The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) today backed the national strike called by workers, unions and civil organisations in Colombia, to protest against corruption and government's economic, social and anti-union policies that threaten Colombia's working class.
The Colombian government has persisted with neoliberal economic policies focused on maximising profits at the expense of workers' rights, while continuing to loot resources and increasing national debt and foreign debt. Labour rights are being eliminated as corruption increases and multinationals corporations - particularly since Colombia signed the USA-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) in 2016 - have increasing chosen to violate labour rights without restriction.
The Colombian people are resorting to strike action after the government has refused to hold any meaningful dialogue over a serious of issues including minimum wages, pensions, privatisation, corruption, tax reform, government compliance, energy prices and the right to protest free from restriction.
"Governments in Latin America must understand that they cannot continue their attempts to advance policy agendas that harm workers. The current protests in Latin America are not unconnected, the voices of the working class are rising and populations are demanding an end to injustice," said ITF president Paddy Crumlin. "We are witnessing large mobilisations across the region, people are rejecting neoliberal policies that only benefit the few at the expense of millions of workers. The ITF and our affiliates send our solidarity to all Latin American transport workers demanding real change in favour of their labour rights," said Crumlin.
ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton also commented on planned strike action: "The Colombian government is refusing to listen to its own people. The ITF calls on the government to step back from its neoliberal policies and have a meaningful dialogue with the unions and civil society organisations to protect rather than threaten the social and economic security of its people," said Stephen Cotton, ITF general secretary. "We fully support the actions of the Colombian people, and will continue to back their cause with solidarity from transport workers from around the world," said Cotton.
Edgar Díaz, acting regional secretary added: "The ITF will always be fighting shoulder to shoulder with our affiliates in defence of human and labour rights."
More women, more inclusion, more equality: historic agreement between Banacol, Sintrainagro, and IUF Latin America
15 November 2019: On November 13 in Medellín, Banacol, Colombia's largest banana producer, the IUF-affiliated agricultural workers union SINTRAINAGRO and IUF Latin America signed a Letter of Commitment pledging to employ an additional 400 women workers on Banacol's plantations by 2020, boosting women's participation in the company's employment from the current 10.7 percent to 19.90 percent. The agreement reaffirms their joint commitment to promoting the principle of equal opportunity by increasing the participation of women in the company's operations, and follows on the collective agreement signed in September.
In a region where the political violence of past decades has left a large number of homes with a female head of household, this change will greatly enhance the quality of life for 400 families. IUF Latin American regional President Norberto Latorre, who was unable to travel to Medellín for reasons beyond his control, warmly welcomed this historic initiative.
The decision to increase the number of women workers highlights the excellent relationship between the company and the trade union, but also marks a clear trend toward the growing inclusion of women in all aspects of life, in the workforce and in social, political, and union life.
Hong Kong: Educators stand with democracy defenders
15.11.2019: In the face of the on-going violence against protesters and democracy defenders in Hong Kong, Education International (EI) and its members are mobilising to show support for those who defend the values of democracy, justice and liberties.
The violence in Hong Kong continues to escalate. Police forces are using indiscriminate brutality and torture against youth and protesters who are steadfast in their demands for the genuine enforcement of the one-country-two-systems principle and universal suffrage. Nearly four thousand people have been arrested or injured.
This is an intolerable breach of human rights. EI and its members organisations, representing over 32 million educators from across the work, are gearing up to demand the authorities of Hong Kong to respect the rights and freedoms of citizens as guaranteed by international standards, to engage in a genuine dialogue with civil society and to investigate the use of violence against students and peaceful protestors.
The situation in Hong Kong was prioritised in July 2019 by the EI World Congress, with representatives of millions of educators adopting an urgent resolution expressing solidarity with the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union and the people of Hong Kong. Meeting in Brussels next week, the EI Executive Board will analyse the situation further and decide on the best avenues to lend support to the democracy defenders of Hong Kong.
IndustriALL and Inditex create a global union committee
13 November, 2019: Renewing the global framework agreement which dates back to 2007, IndustriALL and Inditex, one of the world's largest clothing retailers, have agreed to set up a global union committee, with the aim of sharing best practices across the industry.
IndustriALL general secretary, Valter Sanches, and Inditex executive chairman, Pablo Isla, today renewed the global framework agreement (GFA) at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland. The signing ceremony was attended by the ILO's deputy director-general for field operations & partnerships, Moussa Oumarou.
The new agreement contains provisions for a global union committee to exchange best practices in promoting the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The committee will be made up of union representatives from Inditex's six main production clusters around the world and representatives from IndustriALL Spanish affiliates Comisiones Obreras and UGT.
Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary, says: "This agreement improves the preconditions for real change in working conditions, as an instrument for empowering our affiliated unions, providing them with a new tool to gain bargaining power."
Through the global union committee, local union representatives will participate more directly in how the GFA is applied and have the chance to receive advice from union experts, as was stipulated in the expansion of the agreement agreed upon in 2016. One of the key aspects of the agreement is the establishment of joint training policies and programmes that involve the workers at Inditex factories and suppliers, in order to make progress on the promotion of social dialogue and workplace equality, among other things.
"The agreement reinforces Inditex' firm conviction that the joint work of the various garment industry stakeholders is key to spreading best social and environmental practices throughout the value chain," says Pablo Isla.
Brazil: Lula Released, Judicial System Remains on Trial
The ITUC has welcomed the release of former Brazilian President Lula from prison and called for the judicial persecution against him and other progressive politicians to end. Lula was released after 580 days in prison when the country's Supreme Court decided to respect the Constitution by cancelling imprisonment before all appeals are exhausted.
09-11-2019: "It is a great relief that Lula is able to rejoin his family, friends and supporters and the international trade union movement will continue to stand with him in getting the sham convictions against him thrown out. His imprisonment paved the way for the election of extreme-right President Jair Bolsonaro, whose rule is having catastrophic impacts on Brazil's people and its patrimony," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
Following his release, Lula attacked the policies of Bolsonaro, saying that "people are hungrier, have no jobs and work for Uber or delivering pizzas on a bike." He also pointed to the "rotten side of the judicial system."
The persecution of Lula has been led by former judge Sergio Moro, who has been appointed Justice Minister in Bolsonaro's government. Attention is now focused on Moro's secret collusion with prosecutors in the quest to stop Lula, Brazil's most popular politician, from standing for election in 2018.
On 21 October, a Supreme Court Justice refused an attempt by prosecutors to imprison Dilma Rousseff, who succeeded Lula as President and leader of the Worker's Party.
"Powerful oligarchs have turned Brazil's legal system into a tool of right-wing politics, turning back the clock on the huge gains made by Lula's government and impoverishing millions. The rule of law has been twisted to breaking point, and must be restored," said Burrow.
BWI calls for investigations over killings and arrest of labour leaders
08 November 2019: The BWI has condemned increasing aggression against the trade union movement in the Philippines, which has resulted in a number of recent deaths as well as mass arrests. This includes the killing of a Department of Labor and Employment field officer Helen Dacanay by unidentified assailants in Manila on Monday and simultaneous mass arrests of trade unionists in Bacolod City and Negros. Dacanay was rushed to hospital however was declared dead on arrival. Police are investigating the incident, and Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has condemned the killing, urging police to arrest those responsible.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms these actions and demand an immediate investigation to ensure that justice is done," said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. "Our work as trade unionists defending workers' rights is critical to addressing the chronic inequality that plagues our society, and we must ensure that those people doing this work are safe at all times. This aggression by the Duterte Government must end."
The raids in Bacolod City, which were carried out on the pretense of search warrants issued in Quezon City (some 700 km away on a different island), took place simultaneously at the offices of progressive labour and women's organisations. Fifty-seven leaders and members were arrested, and some were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. The organizations have vehemently denied these charges.
Just last month two members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers were shot while on school grounds. While Ramil Cabañelez was unscathed, his wife Zhaydee was struck by six bullets. She was carried to a hospital; however, union representatives who wanted to visit her were denied entry by eight armed officers guarding her room.
At a June 2019 meeting in the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards during the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Yuson noted that Forty-three trade unionists had been killed in the last three years of the Duterte administration. He stated at the time, "This is a war on workers. They are construction workers, transport workers, vendors, farmers, informal workers and contractual workers who are trying to make a living and a better life for themselves and their families. Enough is enough."
The BWI is appealing to Labour Secretary Sylvestre Bello to accept the ILO recommendation to dispatch a High-Level Tripartite Mission as well as to cooperate with UN Human Rights Council for an independent investigation of the reported killings of trade union leaders, activists and members. "We strongly support the Philippine trade unions' demand to Secretary Bello to convene the concerned Regional Tripartite Monitoring Bodies to look in the killings in different regions and the mass arrests of workers," concluded Mr. Yuson.
The BWI will join the global trade union movement in launching a global day of action to protest the killing of Helen Dacanay on 10 December, International Human Rights Day.
Ukraine: Parliament holds a hearing on journalists' safety
08 November 2019: The parliament of Ukraine held a hearing on November 6 about the safety of journalists in Ukraine. The hearing was a joint initiative of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and aimed to draw the attention of the authorities to the need for improving media workers' safety with a view to ending the impunity for crimes against journalists.
The hearing, entitled "The Safety for journalists in Ukraine: the State of Play, Problems and Solutions," was the first parliamentary debate about journalists' safety and press freedom held in Ukraine in the last 10 years.
The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Volodymyr Borodiansky, the head of the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech Nestor Shufrych, the President of the NUJU, Sergiy Tomilenko, the head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, the project director of the Freedom House NGO in Ukraine Matthew Schaaf as well as a number of MPs, media experts, media lawyers and journalists, participated in the hearing.
Participants made a series of recommendations, including publishing regular reports of law enforcement agencies, appointing officials responsible for investigating crimes against journalists in every law enforcement agency and improving the effectiveness of investigations into crimes against journalists, among others.
The IFJ chose Ukraine as one of the five target countries in its End Impunity 2019 campaign due to the difficulties Ukrainian journalists face every day in their reporting. In Ukraine, 16 journalists have been killed since 1995 but only 3 of these crimes were resolved and workers had been the target of attacks, threats, pressure to disclose their sources and constant surveillance during the last years.
President of the NUJU Sergiy Tomilenko said: "A Ukrainian journalist knows that, faced with threat or attack nobody is going to protect him or her. We need to solve this situation urgently. A free exercise of journalism is not possible when journalists work in unsafe conditions."
190 reasons and more for ratifying ILO C190
25 November 2019: Today we commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The strongest message and best possible way of celebrating this International Day would be the announcement by several governments of the ratification of ILO Convention C190 on Violence and Harassment.
This new international instrument - Convention 190 and Recommendation 206 - on violence and harassment in the world of work was adopted at the Centenary International Labour Conference in June 2019.
Much progress has been made but we still have a long way to go. It is exactly two decades since the United Nations officially designated 25th November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in memory of the three Mirabal sisters, assassinated in 1960 in the Dominican Republic. Public Services International (PSI) celebrates the adoption of Convention 190 as a major milestone and strongly urges all ILO Member States to ratify and implement it.
Rosa Pavanelli, PSI General Secretary: "Violence and harassment is not part of life, it is not something you have to go through because you are a woman. The campaign for C190 was initiated by women trade unionists many years ago, fighting for the elimination of gender-based violence at work. It gathered momentum and obtained global consensus culminating with adoption of a new international instrument for everyone, dealing with violence and harassment in the world of work. This goes to show that the struggle for women's rights can advance the rights for all".
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.