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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.
Better, stronger, faster: Union movement uses tech to ramp up organising
20 April 2018: From Facebook ads to apps promoting workplace rights to artificial intelligence, the labour movement is expanding its toolkit to grow its membership, and this week, UNI Europa hosted union activists from throughout Europe to inspire new ideas and share best practices for online organising.
"Unions have always been a source of social change and innovation, and now we see that the labour movement is harnessing technological innovation to improve conditions for workers," said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa. "This summit shows new ways we can help workers-those with a union and those trying to form one- to increase their union membership, enhance sectoral collective bargaining and, ultimately, get the fair share they deserve."
Leaders from UNI, Italy's FIST-CISL, the UK's Unite, Germany's Ver.di, and Sweden's Unionen were joined by presenters from Australia's SDA and the U.S. SEIU.
With workplaces becoming more fragmented, several of the presentations discussed how unions can find workers and identify potential leaders online. FIST-CISL described how it is using smart phones in innovative ways to maintain accurate worker databases, and UNI SCORE and SEIU discussed examples of Facebook and data analysis to focus on workers willing to take real life actions from online communications.
Ver.di, SEIU and Unite all gave examples of using different technologies and online outreach to retain and better service members. Reminding us that relevant, quality content is key, Unionen outlined their successful social media strategy to engage workers, and the SDA provided insight into an exciting program using AI to answer worker questions and increase engagement.
"We are facing a major challenge in how we use our resources in a workforce more divided, precarious, and fractured than it was ten-even five years-ago," said Christy Hoffman, Deputy General Secretary of UNI. "We have to rise to this challenge and not only maintain our membership but grow our membership. The technology we are talking about allows us to reach millions of workers and unite them across borders, countries, industries and platforms."
IMF and World Bank meetings: The ITUC calls on measures to prevent a next recession and protect workers' rights
Brussels, 19 April 2018 (ITUC OnLine): Despite the IMF's forecast this week that the present phase of stronger economic growth will continue into 2019, but perhaps not beyond, the ITUC has deep concerns about current developments in the global economy. The ITUC and its Global Unions partner organisations express these concerns in a statement released in advance of the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank which begin on 20 April in Washington.
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC, stated: "The beginning of monetary tightening, fiscal reforms that increase inequality, unilateral trade restrictions and attempts to roll back financial regulation introduced after the 2008 financial crisis, could all sow the seeds of the next global recession and severely harm the interests of working people."
The ITUC encourages the international financial institutions to follow through on their commitments to support shared prosperity, inclusive growth and a reduction of inequality. This must include a strengthening - not weakening - of labour market institutions and an expansion of universal social protection. On the last point, trade unions have frequently criticized the IFIs' promotion of narrow targeting in social protection reforms. The ITUC welcomes the IMF's intention to develop a new "institutional view" on social protection after a review process and calls on the Fund to immediately consult the ILO, trade unions and other organizations on any further involvement in such reforms.
The ITUC is concerned by the working draft of the World Bank's upcoming World Development Report 2019: The Changing Nature of Work. The report puts forward a policy platform of highly deregulated labour markets, including reductions or eliminations of minimum wages; reduction of firms' contributions to social security; and the narrow targeting of social assistance. Sharan Burrow commented: "Instead of calling for the dismantling of vital protections for working people that will further increase inequality and destroy social harmony, the Bank should engage in consultations with the labour movement and other relevant organizations, and support an approach based on respect for workers' fundamental rights, comprehensive social protection and social dialogue."
Lastly, the ITUC welcomes the World Bank's agreement to work with the government of Canada and the ITUC in support of a just transition from coal in developing countries. Ms Burrow called for a rapid operationalization of the joint programme.
Teleperformance recognises labour union in Dominican Republic
NYON, 19 April 2018: Customer care outsourcing giant Teleperformance has reached a landmark agreement with the union representing its contact centre employees in the Dominican Republic-one of the company's fastest growing regions, which services the US market. The agreement with SITRATEL (Sindicato de Trabajadores de Teleperformance) comes after nearly one year of negotiation between the parties.
It is the first of its kind in the Dominican Republic, and the agreement will allow the union to better represent and recruit Teleperformance employees.
The General Secretary of SITRATEL, Juan Ferreras said, "This agreement establishes a relationship between Teleperformance workers and management based on dialogue and respect, and we look forward to working with the company to make Teleperformance better for employees and customers".
Under the agreement, Teleperformance and SITRATEL have agreed to the following:
Ygnacio Hernandez, President of the FEDOTRAZONAS labour federation to which SITRATEL belongs, said, "Contact centres are becoming increasingly important for the Dominican Republic's economy. The agreement with Teleperformance sets a strong precedent for workers and the industry."
Alke Boessiger, the Head of Department for UNI ICTS, said that the deal with Teleperformance in the Dominican Republic, "shows that workers' rights can and should be respected in offshored contact centre locations". Ms Boessiger went on to say, "Teleperformance is taking positive and necessary steps to be a socially responsible employer by recognizing workers' union in the Dominican Republic, and we will continue to work with the company-and with this industry-to improve working conditions throughout the globe".
Teleperformance is the largest provider of outsourced contact centres globally, with more than 217,000 employees in more than 65 countries. Teleperformance in the Dominican Republic provides English language contact centre services for United States based clients in the telecommunications, healthcare, transport and retail sectors. Call centres employ over 30,000 people in the Dominican Republic, mostly for the United States market. "This agreement with Teleprformance is the first step in ensuring that workers' rights are respected in all contact centres in the Dominican Republic", said Luis Comas, Secretary of Union Action for SITRATEL.
SITRATEL is an enterprise based union that represents workers at Teleperformance in the Dominican Republic. SITRATEL is a member of the FEDOTRAZONAS labour federation, which is an affiliate of UNI Global Union. UNI's Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) sector represents over 3 million workers around the world.
Subsidizing Mondelez in Canada: the Ontario government's 22 million dollar cash gift
19 April 2018: Canada's Ontario government is rewarding Mondelez a cash gift of 22.6 million Canadian dollars for skills development and capital investment at its non-union East York (Ontario) facility. Over 5+ years, the East York facility has received production from the company's now shuttered Lakeshore (Toronto) and Montreal facilities. Together these two closed facilities employed about 1,000 workers - all members of IUF union affiliate BCTGM.
While Mondelez receives government financial handouts, it aggressively cuts costs including frequent layoffs, in order to buy back shares and generate returns and dividends for the company's shareholders and top executives. Many Mondelez workers (union and non-union alike) have been abandoned by the company in the last two years with 16,000 Mondelez workers rendered redundant or transferred to another employer between December 2015 and December 2017.
Global Unions met with Belarus Mission in Geneva to stop persecution of independent trade unions
18 April 2018: PSI joined a solidarity action organized by IndustriAll, and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), who expressed their concern about a new wave of serious violations of fundamental labour rights in Belarus. The unions, representing more than 200 million members, call on the Belarus government to stop persecuting independent trade unions and fulfill their ILO obligations.
Protest against the persecution of independent trade unions in Belarus
The meeting lasted approximately 40 minutes, and the Ambassador listened carefully to the case made by the union representatives.
The Ambassador was initially hostile, and disputed the union version of events. He asserted that the state of Belarus had the right to pass any law it wanted, that citizens were required to obey the law, that the independent unions had violated the law, and that due process was now underway. External organizations were violating the sovereignty of Belarus by interfering.
A tripartite labour system in Belarus?
The Ambassador then requested international unions to support Belarus in asking for ILO technical assistance to build better industrial relations capacity to develop a tripartite system and more effective communications channels with unions. By providing practical support and working together, we would achieve the desired outcome more quickly. The meeting ended with both sides failing to agree on the nature of the dispute, with the Ambassador insisting that the union version of events was a partial and distorted picture. However there was at least a verbal commitment to work towards a better labour relations system.
The global union federations demand:
About the situation in Belarus:
Source: Public Services International--PSI uniting more than 20 million workers in 154 countries
Sanches urges rethink on African development strategies
16.04.2018: IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Valter Sanches has urged affiliates in Sub Saharan Africa to rethink development strategies for the continent, and to engage their governments on sustainable industrialization.
Sanches spoke at a Sub Saharan Africa regional executive meeting, in Dakar, Senegal on April 12, to affiliates from Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
He emphasized that trade unions have to prepare as the global economy moves to newer technologies that need different raw materials from Africa. Decreased demand for some minerals and for oil and gas means that jobs will be lost in those sectors, resulting in governments getting less revenue. Investing more in manufacturing is an essential strategy for the future.
Sanches said: "Opportunities still exist as the continent has rare earth minerals including cobalt, lithium, zinc and nickel that are in high demand. However, these have to be mined responsibly, and this is part of our campaign against Glencore's behaviour at cobalt mining operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia".
Sanches also met with the Senegalese Minister of Labour and Social Dialogue Samba Sy to deliver the same message. He was accompanied by the regional secretary for Sub Sahara Africa, Paule France Ndessomin and general secretaries from local affiliates, Seyne Ndiaye (SUTIDS), Ousmane Diop (SYNTICS) and Doudou Cisse (SNTIC). Recent developments show that in a few years - as the world moves towards electric cars - the demand for petrol and diesel cars will slump. Some European cities have even already announced moves to ban combustion engine cars.
Africa's post-colonial development strategy has been centred on the extraction of raw materials for sale to Europe, America and recently China. This strategy has been dominated by multinational corporations with little role for governments, resulting in huge profits at the expense of communities and workers exploited through poverty wages. It has been easy to violate trade union rights and disrupt the livelihoods of millions of people.
In March, 44 African heads of states and governments met in Kigali, Rwanda and signed an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Speaking on the initiative, Sanches said: "The announcement of AfCFTA is welcome, but IndustriALL believes in multilateralism which involves trade unions and social movements. This means governments should have included unions and social movements as key stakeholders in the free trade agreement consultations. Otherwise, we will end up with a free trade agreement that will not promote decent work but precarious conditions of employment and poor wages".
Energy transition is another key area for Africa, with calls for the development of sustainable industrial policies that are not dependent on fossil fuels and oil and gas. Just transition plans should be put in place to protect workers' rights and welfare, as well as redeploy workers who lose jobs due to the closure of coal mines.
India: Cement unions call for improved health and safety in multinational corporations
10.04.2018: Indian cement sector affiliates of IndustriALL called for improved occupational health and safety (OHS) and social dialogue in multinational corporations (MNCs) and Indian cement units at a meeting in Mumbai on 7 and 8 April 2018.
The strategic planning meeting saw the participation of representatives from IndustriALL affiliates the Indian National Cement Workers' Federation and Pragatisheel Cement Shramik Sangh, whose members work in cement manufacturing units across India.
The Indian cement unions stressed that recent fatal accidents in MNC cement units in India involving precarious workers call for increased attention to OHS issues. Companies must respect workers' lives and act swiftly to improve safety in cement factories. As well as fatalities, other health issues faced by workers, including concerns emerging from carrying heavy bags and the presence of crystalline dust, must be addressed urgently. The unions decided to ensure that there will be a health and safety expert in each union.
The unions stated that the companies have to provide adequate training on health and safety policies and procedures and create awareness of health and safety rights of all workers, including contract workers. Management has to create appropriate institutional mechanisms and commit to involve workers' representatives in finding solutions to stop fatal accidents and to improve health and safety practices. Further, cement unions resolved to strengthen their participation in national and international actions and campaigns to improve OHS in the cement industry.
Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL director for mechanical engineering and materials industries said, "Cement workers are human beings and they are entitled to safe workplaces, to fair working conditions and proper payment. No matter whether they are contract workers or regular workers, all workers who contribute to the wealth of the companies are entitled to fair treatment. IndustriALL Global Union demands that cement producers, multinational and local, respect workers' lives!"
Cement unions decided to intensify coordination between permanent and precarious workers and deepen union organizing initiatives both in MNCs and in Indian cement units to bring more precarious workers into the union fold. Unions also stressed that they are open for engaging in constructive social dialogue with management to improve industrial relations and protect workers' interests.
Apoorva Kaiwar, head of the regional office of IndustriALL in South Asia, was pleased with the results and said, "The cooperation between our affiliates in the cement sector is our strength in the struggles against powerful employers. We will encourage a broad coalition of cement unions to improve the health and safety conditions and wages for both, permanent and contract workers."
ITF addresses the Maersk AGM on continued cooperation
Today, at the AP Møller-Maersk Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Copenhagen, a team of representatives from the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) reaffirmed their commitment to continue the constructive dialogue with the company.
10/04/2018: The ITF's Maersk Network, which was set up to represent the thousands of transport workers employed across the globe by the multinational company, established dialogue between the company and the unions. At the AGM, the ITF reported on the ongoing relationship, and pressed for improved enforcement of Maersk's corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies.
The team attending the AGM is Karsten Kristensen from 3F in Denmark; Donald Josberger from the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots in the USA; Paul Garrett from the Maritime Union of Australia, Emiliano Daniel Addisi, ITF Regional Education Coordinator; P.K Raman of New Maritime and General Kamgar Sabha from India and Steve Yandell, ITF senior section assistant for Seafarers, Fisheries, and Inland Navigation Sections. This will be the first occasion that the ITF will be attending having their own shares along with the shares from our affiliate 3F.
The ITF delegation informed the AGM of current challenges at certain APM terminals in Latin America. This follows a meeting of ITF affiliates in the region which has uncovered a number of trade union issues that need to be addressed. Positive industrial relations do exist in many Maersk workplaces around the world. It is now vital that this applies to all regions and workplaces. The ITF also wish to see Maersk implement best practice when engaging third pay suppliers and contractors.
Speaking from Sydney, ITF President and Chair of the Dockers' Section Paddy Crumlin commented: "We are pleased that our delegation to the AGM is able to deliver to Maersk shareholders the message that we wish to see industrial relations best practice spread right across the world in Maersk operations. This follows from a successful meeting in Buenos Aires, where industrial relations were discussed at APM terminals in Latin America.
ITF seafarers' section chair David Heindel added: "We look forward to continuing to work with Maersk to improve the relationship with our affiliates that are mutually beneficial for both parties. A growing world economy with demand for trade worldwide is important for the health of the company's shipping and ports business, and a profitable company is good for its workers."
Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement Criticised by Trade Union Centres
The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP11), signed by Pacific Rim governments in March has been strongly criticised by several trade union centres, including those from Australia, Canada and New Zealand, both for its content and the way it was negotiated. Eleven Pacific Rim countries continued negotiating the pact, in most cases without any serious public consultation, after the US withdrew from the talks.
05-04-2018: One of the main concerns about the agreement is the inclusion of Investor-State Dispute Settlement procedures, through which investors can sue governments, essentially setting up a system parallel to national justice systems. While there are some limitations on the ISDS procedures - for example they do not apply to investments between Australian and New Zealand - the unions are deeply concerned that this and other aspects of the agreement impose limitations on government's ability to regulate. Criticisms of ISDS procedures from unions and other civil society groups are increasingly being echoed by judges and legal scholars, and the European Court of Justice has ruled against the use of ISDS within the European Union.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said "Globally, over many years one trade agreement after another has increased corporate power at the expense of working people, and the TPP11 continues that pattern. It's time that governments rein in corporate power and get to work on trade arrangements that are negotiated openly, that work for people and that don't undermine living standards and economic security."
The liberalisation of data flows under the TPP11 e-commerce provisions would entrench the power of big technology companies over personal and other data, giving rise to concerns over privacy and market dominance by a small number of large tech firms.
Other concerns about the TPP11 include the duration of patents on medicines, making it harder for people in some countries to access life-saving treatments, and provisions liberalising government procurement as well as disciplines on regulation, including the finance sector. Provisions in the agreement on labour standards and the environment are also considered to be too weak.
ITF and Affiliates Present United Front Against NEX's Record of Workers' Rights Violations
After company refuses to address anti-union tactics, leaders from each organisation deliver letter, vowing to use all lawful means available to defend workers' rights.
04/04/2018: (London, UK) - The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), along with affiliated unions, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (North America) and Unite the Union (UK) signed a joint letter to National Express (NEX), notifying the company of their intent to use all lawful means necessary to hold NEX accountable for violating workers' rights.
"The International Transport Workers' Federation is proud to stand in solidarity with our North American colleagues in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters," said Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of ITF. "Our organisations are completely united in our efforts to ensure National Express is held accountable for their violation of workers' rights and their egregious anti-union tactics during union elections."
"When it comes to workers' rights, National Express is all talk and no action. We are grateful to have the support of the ITF, Unite the Union and all ITF affiliates as we work to inform the public about how National Express disrespects its North American workers and conducts its business around the world," stated General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jim Hoffa. "We will not rest until National Express proves they are serious about addressing our concerns and commits to a mutually-agreed protocol to ensure workers' rights are protected."
Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite added: "Multinational companies that think that they can isolate workers and their unions treating them differently depending on where they are in the world and what power they have locally, are wrong - we are a global family of trade unionists watching out for anti-union behaviour and activity across the globe. The actions of National Express in North America are deeply concerning and their failure to make a clear commitment to respecting international workers' rights in this instance is unacceptable. As a consequence, we are committed along with a broad coalition of trade unions across the globe, to developing and delivering actions that will bring about a change in their behaviour."
National Express is a UK-based passenger transportation company that operates in the UK, United States, Canada, Spain, Morocco, Germany and Bahrain. In North America, NEX is the second-largest bus operator and ⅓ of NEX North American workers are represented by the Teamsters. NEX has rejected repeated attempts by the Teamsters to engage in meaningful, productive negotiations for improved relations, including a proposed joint agreement to respect the rights of its workers to choose freely during union elections.
A trade union focus on the Sustainable Development Goals
Through their everyday work on upholding freedom of association, social dialogue and collective bargaining, on promoting decent work and the rights of working people, trade unions are instrumental to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
27-03-2018: Through the ITUC's Trade Union Development Cooperation Network (TUDCN), trade unions are heavily involved in the SDG process at global, regional and national level. The members of the TUDCN are stepping up their efforts to contribute to the SDGs and to demand accountability to the commitments undertaken by governments. They are conducting their own national monitoring and analysis to make sure that countries are on track to fulfil their commitments. For more information on this work see www.ituc-csi.org/2030Agenda