LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns
Pharmacare: A Plan for Everyone...
Canadian Labour Congress
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
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.
Journalists' unions worldwide back an IFJ ground-breaking UN Convention on journalists' protection
18/11/2017: Journalists leaders from around the world today backed a call by the IFJ for a ground-breaking new United Nations Convention aimed at giving greater protection for journalists and journalism in the face of a tide of violence and threats.
The call comes as figures show the numbers of journalists being violently attacked, threatened, jailed and prevented from working free from fear and harassment continues to grow, while impunity for such crimes is running at over 90%.
Journalists union leaders representing 600,000 media workers across the world endorsed the IFJ's proposed International Convention on the Safety and Independence of Journalists and Other Media Professionals at a meeting in Tunisia. The ground-breaking convention would for the first time establish binding standards creating safeguards specifically for journalists and media workers.
While under international humanitarian and human rights law journalists enjoy the same protections as all other civilians, such laws fail to acknowledge that journalists face greater risks compared to other civilians. There is a strategic advantage to be gained from targeting the media - those who wish to prevent the dissemination of information and international scrutiny increasingly deliberately target journalists.
Journalists' deliberate proximity to any conflict also makes them especially vulnerable; unlike other civilians, journalists do not avoid conflict areas. Whilst every individual is entitled to the protection of their right to life, personal liberty, security, freedom of expression and an effective remedy when their rights have been infringed, existing general human rights instruments fail to reflect the systemic effect of attacks against journalists on societies.
Unlike most violations, attacks on journalists' life or physical integrity have an impact on the public's right to information, contribute to a decline of democratic control and have a chilling effect on everyone's freedom of expression. Despite this, there is no independent course of action for members of the public or other media workers in cases of violations of the rights of a journalist to lodge an application for the case to be heard in an international procedure.
The current human rights regime also fails to take into account the risks associated with the journalistic profession. Whilst everyone's right to free speech is protected, the exercise of freedom of expression by media professionals is distinct: they are involved in the circulation of information and ideas on a regular basis, with a much wider impact on mass audiences, hence providing a greater incentive to target them by those who wish to censor unfavourable speech. This public dimension of journalistic speech is under-recognised.
Journalists are targeted on account of their profession, and a dedicated international instrument would enhance their protection and attach particular stigma to violations, increasing pressure on States to both prevent and punish violations, which is at the core of compliance with international law. The IFJ is clear that a new binding international instrument dedicated to the safety of journalists, including a specific enforcement mechanism, would improve the effectiveness of the international response.
The move follows a recent trend towards recognising that media workers face a different situation and may require a category-specific solution. According to UN Security Council Resolution 2222, the work of media professionals "puts them at specific risk of intimidation, harassment and violence in situations of armed conflict". The Council of Europe guidelines for the protection of journalism acknowledge an increase in attacks against journalists "because of their investigative work, opinions and reporting".
The new instrument would provide a helpful codification of all applicable rules in one instrument, bringing together both human rights and humanitarian law provisions. It would include: the obligation to protect journalists against attacks on their life, arbitrary arrest, violence and intimidation campaigns, the obligation to protect against forced disappearances and kidnapping (by state agents or private actors), the obligation to carry out effective investigations into alleged interferences and bring the perpetrators to justice; in the context of armed conflict, the obligation to treat media workers and facilities as civilians (and hence illegitimate targets) and to conduct military operations with due diligence.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: "A new international instrument dedicated to the safety of journalists would make an important statement. It would acknowledge their distinctiveness, stemming from the risks to which they are routinely exposed and the value of journalistic work to society. It would intensify international scrutiny over attacks against journalists as well as assisting national authorities in understanding their international obligations, currently fragmented in several treaty provisions and case law.
Such a momentous initiative would make the safety of journalists and everyone's right to information a clear priority for the international community. From today, the IFJ and its affiliates - on behalf of all the victims of those who seek to silence the messenger - commit ourselves to this cause and we look forward to your support in this crucial struggle."
"58 journalists have already been killed this year. Governments will be accountable before the UN General Assembly. Consequently, they will be forced to fulfil their obligations by developing effective judicial mechanisms to bring journalists' attackers to justice. This convention is an important step towards achieving that, added IFJ President, Philippe Leruth.
UNI GS brings message of sustainable and democratic globalisation to the Web Summit in Lisbon
17 November 2017: UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings brought the union message of sustainable, responsible and democratic globalisation to the world's largest tech conference, the Web Summit in Lisbon. Over 60,000 people from more than 150 countries packed the Conference to discuss the issues facing an increasingly interconnected world. On a panel featuring the Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Guardian journalist Owen Jones, Jennings debated whether globalisation was doomed to benefit only the richest of the rich, or whether it was possible to rethink traditional globalisation.
Owen Jones, who moderated the discussion, opened the session saying, "This is one of the great topics of our times. Can globalization work for the many not the few? The 8 richest men on the earth own the same as the bottom half combined. In Europe, since the financial crash, we have seen devastating cuts to public services and a reversal of labour rights, all whilst slashing taxes for the top earners."
Representing UNI's 20 million workers around the world, Jennings emphatically responded to the question saying, "The answer is a massive yes - there are alternatives to the savage globalisation we have experienced. We just need the guts to present our alternative vision and the political will to mobilise people."
"Financialisation has failed. Neo-liberalism has failed. Working people have suffered from the closing of democratic spaces and workers have been subjected to economic and political violence." "We have to create 600 million jobs in the next 12 years just to keep global unemployment at the same level. We need to find a new way, we need to change the narrative - this model of globalisation has not worked. Globalisation, in its current form, has created a global elite with unprecedented power."
"After sustained pressure from the labour movement and others, we are starting to see that even the G20 said in their summit this year that they would "leave no-one behind" and declared that competition in this global economy should not be based on a race to the bottom and the abuse of workers' rights."
"The UN has adopted sustainable development goals in an attempt to put the global economy on a new path. These goals call for the elimination of child labour by 2025 and to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. Lofty goals, but we need to see action on the ground ina time when we must change the distribution of power. The share of wages in the wealth produced has collapsed and in-work poverty rages." "However, there are solutions, there are alternatives. It's time to change course for a sustainable, democratic and humane globalisation - together we can make it happen."
Prime Minister Antonio Costa of Portugal said, "Globalisation has two faces. On the one hand it has contributed to real reduction in poverty in many countries. We have emerging countries, for example in China millions of people have come out of poverty. On the other, it has increased inequality and middle classes in many developed countries have suffered. Globalisation has not worked for everybody." "It is necessary to find global responses to global issues. We face issues such as climate change which need to be tackled through cooperation. Competition cannot be a race to the bottom - we need strong labour rights, strong environmental regulations and a fairer distribution of wealth to redress the situation."
Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said, "Capital has left the nation state and its obligations to our societies. This creates a rat-race where companies exploit places with cheaper labour, low environmental regulations and no collective labour regulations or human rights." "We have lost the social contract. Our great challenge is to regain that democratic social contract. We need to see a different type of globalization based on humanity, democracy, equity and the protection of human rights.
On The Record - The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Agenda
Gold Dust: the human cost of the Grasberg mine crisis
16.11.2017: IndustriALL has released a documentary film on the effect of the strike at the Grasberg mine on workers and their communities.
Thousands of workers at Freeport's Grasberg mine in Papua, Indonesia, have been without work since being fired for taking strike action in May 2017. Workers are paying the price in a dispute between the company and the Indonesian government over control of the world's largest gold mine.
IndustriALL has made a documentary film, launched at the Executuve Committee meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 9 November, about the effect of the strike on the workers and their families. Workers have lost income, access to health care and education, and in some cases housing. Recently one worker committed suicide after being denied healthcare.
The National Commission on Human Rights in Indonesia found that the sacking of thousands of workers was a violation of human rights. It is calling for their reinstatement.
Indian unions mobilize thousands of workers to protest anti-worker policies of Modi government
15.11.2017: Intensifying protests against the Modi government, Indian unions held massive three-day demonstrations in front of the parliament on 9-11 November in Delhi.
The massive gathering was a reaction to the governments faint response to a 12-points charter of demands presented by the unions on 7 November. Workers' demands include urgent measures to contain price rises, a strict enforcement of labour laws, universal social security cover for all workers, increased minimum wages, pension for all workers, as well as the ratification ILO convention 87 and 98 on freedom of association and collective bargaining.
The government of India's "reckless policies of demonetization and hasty implementation of goods and service tax (GST), has led to job losses and price raise," according to a statement by the unions.
The last three years have seen workers' real wages have go down, and India has witnessed decline in employment. The government is also going ahead with anti-worker labor law amendments, privatization of public sector utilities including defence equipment manufacturing units and railways. The demonstrations concluded with the resolution that, if there is no change in government attitude, the central trade unions will explore a countrywide national indefinite strike.
In the meantime, the unions decided on the following actions:
IndustriALL Global Union, at its Executive Committee meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka on 8-9 November 2017, passed a resolution in solidarity with its affiliates in India and the Indian trade union movement in their struggle to defend workers' rights.
COP23: States must be more ambitious with regard to climate change education and training
15.11.2017: The key role of education and training on sustainable development to safeguard the planet was highlighted at the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change.
The 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change (COP23), which is being held in Bonn between 6 and 17 November, began its second and final week in Bonn under the presidency of Fiji. This is a strong symbol given that this small country in the Pacific is already being hit hard by the effects of climate change, in particular the devastation caused by cyclones, as recalled Richard Langlois, economist and representative of Education International (EI) at the COP23.
Current carbon emissions are a grave threat to humanity
This situation requires urgent mobilisation of all relevant stakeholders, and government first among them, which must rapidly fulfil their role as leaders. According to the trade union movement, which was strongly represented in Bonn, it is imperative for governments to strengthen international climate governance. This means raising their "ambitions" by 2020, observing their financial commitments and committing to a fair transition for workers and populations.
EI: The planet's future depends on generations of educated citizens informed about the climate emergency
Consequently, EI calls on the world's governments to strengthen initial training and lifelong professional training programmes for teachers who must have the necessary skills with which to deliver education on sustainable development and climate change. The future of the planet will rest in the hands of generations informed and educated with regard to the climate emergency.
IndustriALL affiliates demand respect for workers' rights in the materials industries
08.11.2017: Over 60 delegates from 21 unions representing glass, ceramics and cement workers in 16 countries from all continents came to Bremen, Germany on 2 and 3 November 2017 for the World Conference of the Materials Industries.
The industries in the sector change rapidly, the whole industry is in constant consolidation and change. Mergers, acquisitions and consolidations in the industries have changed the profile, industrial footprint and strategies of the major multinationals. As in many other manufacturing industries the problem of massive overcapacity due to China maintaining the highest level of production remains a sword of Damocles over jobs in all continents. Industry 4.0 is also about to increasingly affect workers' jobs and lives in a very serious manner.
Opening the conference, Newton B. Jones, USA, International President of International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, co-chair of the materials' sector said, "We see the hand of global capital at work around the world - across economies at all stages of development. And yet, the threats are the same: precarious work, a race to the bottom in worker wages and benefits, unsustainable business models, unsafe and unhealthy working conditions, and automation with little regard to its impact on workers' lives."
Valter Sanches, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary also addressed the delegates, "Materials industry became a sector with a huge concentration, due to the acquisitions and mergers over the last years. Through these tactics multinational companies became extremely powerful, and we as the unions are the only ones who can challenge their power."
Since the last conference in 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand, the unions of the materials sector have led a number of fights and struggles that resulted in victories for workers. Whether in India, Indonesia or Canada, materials industries workers and their unions were standing firm for their rights and have always expressed and received exemplary solidarity.
Another strong achievement over the four years is the Memorandum of Understanding signed between LafargeHolcim, IndustriALL and sister organization the Building and Wood Workers' International which foresees further negotiation and the conclusion of a Global Framework Agreement better protecting company's direct and indirect employees' rights.
The senator of Labour, Work, Economy and Harbours of Bremen Government Mr. Günthner addressed the conference delegates and reiterated the importance of strong national and international trade unions. The participants adopted an ambitious Action plan focused on all five main goals of IndustriALL.
Closing the conference, Lena Yuliana, Federation of Indonesian Cement Workers' Union FSP ISI, who was elected as co-chair (together with Newton B. Jones) of the sector stated, "We need to build union power and strengthen solidarity, exchange and share information with our members. Only through this work we will be able to achieve tangible results for our members."
The conference was preceded by the first union meeting where unions representing workers of HeidelbergCement set up their new union network. The network already started its work and adopted a special declaration defining its activities for the nearest future.
Commenting on the outcomes of the conference Matthias Hartwich, materials' industries director at IndustriALL said, "Workers in this vast sector face numerous challenges, including bad health and safety, precarious work. We jointly decided what our priorities are and where we want to take action during the next four years. This is a very ambitious plan and we will have to mobilize all our strength in order to implement it. But we want our unions to be strong and ready to challenge the power of multinational corporations, we stand strong and demand, Respect workers' rights!"
Paradise Lost - how the super-rich stole our wealth
7 November 2017: UNI is calling for a full investigation by the relevant tax authorities, governments and legislators, demanding decisive action to close the loopholes which are being exploited by the unscrupulous. The 1 per cent has been allowed to dictate the terms they operate under at the expense of the rest of society. The direct effect tax evasion has on the rise in global inequality cannot be underestimated - when corporations and wealthy persons cynically and unscrupulously evade taxes, public services, people, and societies suffer.
"The insidious system of tax evasion detailed by the Paradise Papers, has proved yet again that the global economy is fixed in the favour of a few powerful corporations and people. This is not Paradise Lost, but paradise stolen by the super-rich and their cronies. Working people are nearer to Dante's Inferno than any worker's paradise," said UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings. "Those found guilty should feel deeply ashamed - they are denying countries of hugely necessary funds for public services such as healthcare, roads, welfare provision and education."
"In the aftermath of last year's Panama Papers, several nations changed their laws, but this proves that this deceptive web of corruption and tax dodging will not go away without serious and rigorous change. Politicians have failed to take this issue seriously enough and it is working people who have paid the price."
The Paradise Papers shows that the world's biggest businesses, heads of state, celebrities and business people have sheltered their vast fortunes in secret tax havens in order to avoid paying their fair. The details come from a leak of 13.4 million files and demonstrates that far from being just a few individuals seeking to undermine the system, global tax evasion has become the norm for companies and wealthy figures.
Trade Union Demands for COP 23
Brussels, 6 November 2017 (ITUC OnLine): The UN climate talks in Bonn open this week to discuss how to deliver the promises of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement to stay below a 2℃ increase in average temperatures, and ensure a Just Transition to a zero-carbon future for workers and their communities.
Securing the long-term objective of staying below a 2℃ increase (and aiming at 1.5 C) requires dramatic changes to our production and consumption patterns. This will only happen if the ambition of national emissions objectives, particularly in developed countries, raises before the entry into force of the Agreement in 2020. People remain ahead of their governments on climate action, the 2017 ITUC Global Poll found 85 percent of people think the world would be a better place if governments were more committed to action on climate change, and two-thirds of people want their governments to promote a Just Transition to a zero carbon future.
"Ambitious action on climate is an imperative. There are good jobs on a living planet. COP 23 must raise ambition with concrete measures to ensure significant progress towards net zero economies, and countries can reap the benefits of investments made now in jobs and economic growth. This is a time for leadership and where there are reluctant leaders others must simply set the pace," said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.
Trade unions have three demands for governments to deliver a successful climate change conference:
For governments to fulfil the Paris Agreement, they must ensure that job-related aspects of climate policies are part of their decarbonisation pathways. They should establish plans and strategies for a Just Transition. This requires the establishment of formal social dialogue mechanisms so that Just Transition strategies can be democratically designed for all levels - community, region, company and sector, country.
"There can be no doubt that a zero carbon world is possible, but critical choices need to be made about how we manage the transition. Trade unions raised the demand of Just Transition with the result that the Paris Agreement included the requirement that national climate actions ensure Just Transition measures and decent job creation. However, the sectoral and economic transformation we face needs to be on a scale and within a time frame faster than any in our history," said Sharan Burrow.
The ITUC has established a Just Transition Centre which brings together and supports unions, companies, communities and investors in social dialogue with governments and city authorities to develop plans for a fast and fair transition to a zero carbon, zero poverty world. "Increasingly companies and investors are acting to address risk and build the foundations for a zero carbon world. People need to see a future that allows them to understand that despite the threats, we can together create both security and opportunity," said Burrow.
The ITUC is leading a delegation of 130 trade union members from 40 countries at COP 23 in Bonn. Read the ITUC Frontlines Briefing Climate Justice:: COP 23
ITF backs TWU campaign over union dues court case
ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton met Transport Workers' Union of America (TWU) president John Samuelsen on 1 November in Washington, DC and addressed the union's organising meeting to develop strategies to counter the right-wing agenda against union rights in the USA.
06/11/2017: Mr Cotton pledged the ITF's support for the TWU's planned organising campaign in response to the forthcoming Supreme Court ruling in the Janus v AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) court case. Mark Janus does not want to pay his union dues, which are mandatory in around half of US states. Workers can get a rebate on the political element of their union dues but must pay the part that goes toward collective bargaining and union services, known as agency fees.
Steve Cotton said: "This court case isn't about worker freedom. It's about running unions out of business so greedy CEOs can line their pockets at the expense of workers. The prohibition of agency fees is the latest in the right-wing funded attacks on unions, and its impact could be enormous.
"But unions like the TWU are stepping up, working to shore up your membership, going back to the roots of trade unionism, organising on the ground. While we may not have the billions of dollars that corporations do, we have boots on the ground. I commend president Samuelsen's leadership and allocation of additional resources for organising campaigns. "The battles to defend basic trade union rights are being fought by your brothers and sisters across the world. So, I leave with you a message of solidarity as you stand up to those destroying unions, because an injury to one is an injury to all."
Mr Samuelsen added that the right wingers bankrolling Mark Janus want the trade union movement to become frozen with fear. He said the TWU was not afraid and was meeting the challenge head on, educating and organising its members and fighting back to defend their livelihoods against these anti-worker wolves in sheep's clothing.
Shipbuilders and shipbreakers pledge solidarity in Rotterdam
02.11.2017: 57 delegates from 18 countries met in Rotterdam, The Netherlands on 31 October and 1 November for the IndustriALL shipbuilding and shipbreaking action group.
The meeting was hosted by the Dutch affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union, FNV Metaal, and held aboard the SS Rotterdam, an ocean liner moored in Rotterdam harbour. Formerly flagship of the Holland America line, the SS Rotterdam has been converted into a hotel and meeting venue. The meeting brought together activists from shipbuilding and -breaking unions to build solidarity over the lifespan of a ship. The shipbuilders come from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, UK, and USA.
Shipbreaking workers were represented by the Steel, Metal and Engineering Workers' Federation of India, and the National Trade Union Federation of Pakistan.
IndustriALL sector director Kan Matsuzaki gave an overview of the industry. Overall, there has been a slump in shipbuilding since the 2008 financial crisis. Output has begun to pick up, but there is a shift in production from Europe to Asia. There is also a slump in shipbreaking because of the steel crisis. However, there is a bulge of ships at sea now that will need to be broken in the future.
Many shipbuilding delegates spoke of the challenges of the industry response to the slump, which has included layoffs and casualization. Tae Jung Kim of the KMWU spoke about the difficulty in organizing irregular workers at Hyundai Heavy Industries, while Marry van der Stel of FNV Metaal stressed the exploitation of East European migrant workers in The Netherlands.
Reskilling and industrial redeployment are important, said Thomas Søby of CO-industri in Denmark. When the Lindø yard closed, 3,000 jobs were lost. But many workers were retrained and redeployed, and now produce wind turbines in a new industrial park built on the site. Thorsten Ludwig explained that in Germany, IG Metall had bargained for a 6 per cent wage increase along with a shorter working week, while Elspeth Hathaway of IndustriAll Europe spoke of the need for skills development. This point was reinforced by a plant visit to Royal IHC in Kinderdijk, a company that uses bespoke high tech product development to remain competitive.
Health and safety standards in the industry are outdated, said Caspar Edmonds of the ILO, and a committee of experts will meet in Geneva in January to develop a new Code of Practice.
1 November is the one year anniversary of the explosion at the Gadani shipbreaking yard in Pakistan, which killed 28 workers - just two days after they held a protest demanding better safety measures.
An international standard is necessary to make ship recycling safe and environmentally sustainable, and unions are campaigning for the implementation of the Hong Kong Convention - the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships - developed by the UN shipping agency, the International Maritime Organization. The Hong Kong Convention will come into force when it is ratified by 15 countries, representing 40 per cent of gross tonnage and 3 per cent of recycling facilities. Currently it has been ratified by 6 countries, with Turkey expected to ratify soon, representing 21 per cent of tonnage. The Japanese government has provided support in improving conditions in shipyards, and India in particular has progressed well, with 29 yards now compliant with the Convention, and 31 in the process.
The delegations from India and Pakistan spoke about progress made in unionizing shipyards, though Bangladesh remains a real challenge, because sector or cluster wide organizing is not allowed, meaning each yard must be organized into a separate union.
Kan Matsuzaki said: "This has been a challenging period in shipbuilding, but the industry should stay strong and we, the unions, will focus on sustainable policy to protect our jobs for the future. "We need to strengthen our strong unions solidarity action to push for the ratification of the Hong Kong Convention, to secure the shipbreaking workers safety and jobs.