LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns
People Over Profit...
Public Services International
Justice for Fishers - Fishers' Rights Network...
International Transport Workers Federation
Pharmacare: A Plan for Everyone...
Canadian Labour Congress
U.S. Mail Not for Sale...
American Postal Workers Union and National Association of Letter Carriers
Fight for $15...Low Pay is Not OK
One Fair Wage...
Restaurant Opportunities Centers United
Committee for Better Banks...
coalition of labor, community and consumer advocacy organizations
Making Change at Walmart...
United Food and Commercial Workers
Robin Hood Tax Campaign...
it's not a tax on the people, it's a tax for the people...United States
Justice for Port Drivers...
International Brotherhood of Teamsters
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.
South Africa: Workers striking against precarious work at Arcelor Mittal
20.03.2019: A strike is on at Arcelor Mittal, South Africa, to force the company to give permanent jobs to contract workers, and to demand equal pay for work of equal value.
IndustriALL affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), has 3,000 members at ArcelorMittal's six South African operations and is calling on all workers to join the strike.
Most of the workers are employed through labour broking firms, Real Tree Trading, Monyetla and others. Real Tree Trading tried to stop the strike through a court interdict, but the request was thrown out. NUMSA is questioning why Real Tree Trading considers itself a 'service provider' and not a labour broker when it is one of the subcontractors to ArcelorMittal.
Workers say ArcelorMittal is paying contracted artisans with the same qualifications and experience about 50 per cent of what permanent workers earn. Further, newly qualified artisans are underpaid, with entry level pay pegged at the minimum wage of R3500 (US$244). NUMSA won a landmark Constitutional Court case in 2018, which ruled that labour brokers cannot employ a worker beyond three months. When that happens, the contract becomes permanent according to the law.
"We must shutdown the operations of the company in order to defend the rights of all workers. It is immoral for workers who do the same work, to earn less, just because they were brought in by a contractor," says Mokete Makoko, NUMSA regional secretary for Sedibeng.
"They do the same work as other workers directly employed by ArcelorMittal, yet they earn lower salaries and do not receive the same benefits. NUMSA's ultimate demand has always been to ban labour brokers." ArcelorMittal's offer of permanent jobs for contractors after three years was rejected by NUMSA.
The striking workers also want health and safety standards at the company to be improved after recent accidents.
Says Adam Lee, IndustriALL director of organizing, campaigns and base metals: "IndustriALL supports NUMSA's struggle for permanent jobs. We urge ArcelorMittal to act as a responsible employer and provide all of its workers with stable, decent work."
Ten striking workers were arrested by the police, but have since been released.
IndustriALL Global Union organizes a global network of unions at ArcelorMittal, which will meet in Brazil in April and discuss the strike.
Loomis workers in Turkey protest against poor conditions and union busting
19 March 2019: Loomis workers in Turkey have demanded that the company addresses serious issues in the workplace including harassment of union members. The Swedish Transport Workers' Union via UNI Global Union, have expressed their concerns about the situation to Loomis management at the company's headquarters in Sweden.
Eddy Stam, head of UNI Property Services, said, "Loomis cannot be allowed to turn a blind eye to what is going on under its name in Turkey. The company has a responsibility of care towards its entire global workforce, no exceptions."
In an open letter to the company, workers have described how conditions at Loomis in Turkey are deteriorating. They list a series of issues which urgently need addressing by the company, including irregular pay, health and safety hazards, and mandatory night and weekend work without compensation, far exceeding the legally allowed number of hours per week. Those workers who stand up for themselves and their colleagues through their membership of the local union, Güvenlik IS, face victimization and are summarily fired without compensation if they don't agree to leave the union. The company then hires non-union staff to replace them.
As signatories to a global agreement with Loomis, both UNI and the Swedish Transport Workers Union reported this situation to the company's headquarters in Sweden and called for immediate action.
Students strike now for the jobs of tomorrow
The ITUC is standing behind the global student strike, taking place on 15th March. More than 700 actions in 72 countries will take place. Unions in Australia, Belgium, France, Italy, the UK and elsewhere are taking part and many others are active in mobilising their members.
14-03-2019: Young people are taking the demand for urgent action on climate to political leaders around the world, proving that the power of democratic voice is alive and well. "The students are taking responsibility where leaders have failed. We have to thank them for their bravery in confronting the climate crisis. Their courage deserves our support," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
Climate scientists have given the world until 2030 to stablise the planet with a maximum a 1.5 degree temperature rise. More than 83 million climate refugees are now on record as fleeing from disaster or loss of livelihoods. "Climate change unchecked is the crisis that threatens everyone and will leave whole regions uninhabitable. We are already witnessing extreme weather events with destruction and lasting devastation for too many of our people. Governments are not taking responsibility for the high ambition that is vital.
"Every Government must raise their ambition and determine national development plans including Just Transition measures to protect workers, their families and their communities. All employers must have a plan for climate proofing their industries and workplaces and Just Transition measures must be at the heart of these plans," said Burrow.
Taking inspiration from young people, union representatives in workplaces will, in the last week of June, invite employers to sit down with the workers in workplaces to discuss plans to reduce emissions and climate proof workplaces.
"Unions must be engaged in dialogue at all levels to ensure that the Just Transitions measures agreed are adequate to build people's trust in a process that the overwhelming majority understand is urgent. Without Just Transition the critical ambition we all seek will be blocked by fear and in too many cases fear that is fueled by the corporate greed of global CEOs still putting profit above everything else," said Burrow.
Pakistan: union launches continuous protest for union rights and recognition at Sakrand Sugar Mills
13 March 2019: The Sakrand Sugar Mills Union, a member of the IUF affiliated Sindh Sugar Mills Workers Federation (SSMWF), has been demonstrating continuously since February 28 at the Sakrand Sugar Mills gates. The management of Sakrand Sugar Mills, a publicly traded company incorporated since 1989, refuses to recognize the union, meet with it or negotiate on its demands, which include payment of the legal minimum wages.
On February 27, the union held a protest rally at the factory gate in support of its demands after management turned down a request to meet. In retaliation, management stopped 8 union leaders, including the President and General Secretary, from entering the factory and began pressuring workers to withdraw from the union. Ghulam Sarwer Chandio, General Secretary of the SSMWF, has condemned the harassment, intimidation and victimization of union leaders and demanded that management allow the union leaders into the factory and enter into negotiations with the union.
IndustriALL women in Turkey stand for equality and rights
13.03.2019: Around 30 women representatives from IndustriALL Global Union's Turkish affiliates gathered in Istanbul on 7 March 2019 to discuss further cooperation among themselves to address the need to attract women to join, participate and take leading positons in their unions.
This activity was part of the IndustriALL Turkey Women Network formed in 2015 with the political and logistical support provided by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES).
"Gender equality remains a problem all over the world despite all the efforts developed. New approaches are needed," said IndustriALL gender coordinator Armelle Seby in the meeting. "Gender equality is not a women's issue, it is a fundamental trade union issue. Gender perspective is integrated in every section of our work and an increased participation of women is the main aim of this meeting."
During the meeting, the participants made detailed analysis over the obstacles for increasing women's participation in their unions and industrial sectors organized by IndustriALL in general. The main issues highlighted by the participants were women's unemployment, violence and harassment against women at work, and lack of women participation and representation in their unions. The women representatives acknowledged the further difficulties for women to access to the labour market in Turkey compared to men. The unemployment rate, at between 10 to 12 per cent, remains high in the country, and despite the high percentage of well-educated women. They are still more affected by unemployment than men because of social and cultural reasons. Namely the delegates listed the following:
Violence and harassment against women at work continues to be an issue of serious concern in Turkey. The silence of the problems by the women themselves does not help to step out of this vicious circle. Low level of awareness about their rights in many workplaces does little to decrease violence and harassment. The union activists recognized the need to raise awareness about this issue in their workplaces.
Further work needs to be done to improve and implement gender equality wording in the union constitutions or statutes. Unions should encourage male leaders to get engaged on the issue of women's representation. It should indeed become a priority. Local meetings need to be organized at a more practical time for women workers to enable them to attend. It was also highlighted that, in order to organize more women members, the unions should really train more women organizers. The experience shows that, especially in female dominated sectors, unions managed to attract many more women workers when the organizers were women.
There was a consensus to continue the work of the network. The participants agreed on the fact that there was a need to meet on a regular base once or twice a year. It was further agreed that the unions can work individually on some common and identified issues. One of these would be to tackle the problem of violence against women as a priority issue.
ITF welcomes Romanian ruling against Wizz Air
13 Mar 2019: The Romanian supreme court has ruled that Wizz Air discriminated against its workers on the basis of their trade union affiliation and activity.
In 2014, shortly after informing Wizz that they had formed a trade union to represent the airline's workers, 19 employees were dismissed from their positions. This punitive action violated both international norms on freedom of association and contravened the advice of the Romanian government's National Council for Combatting Discrimination.
A lower court found in favour of the dismissed workers in 2016, but Wizz chose to appeal this judgement at the highest level. The union, Aerolimit Professional, has welcomed the supreme court's ruling as reinforcing the fundamental rights of its members and other aviation workers.
ITF has supported Aerolimit and its members since its foundation and sees the outcome as an important recognition of legitimate trade union activity. Especially in the context of ITF's flagship Ryanair campaign, Aerolimit is demonstrating that low-cost carriers must accept the same basic labour standards as any other employer in the aviation sector.
Just Transition key to Costa Rica's plan for zero emissions by 2050
The ITUC congratulates the government of Costa Rica on its ambitious leadership towards achieving 100% renewable energy by 2030. The target is part of its plan to reach zero emissions by 2050. Unions are calling on the government to make Just Transition central to achieving this ambition.
12-03-2019: The National Decarbonisation Plan 2018 - 2050 will put the country on track to be one of the first in the world to completely decarbonise. Climate scientists have warned that the world needs to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 50% in the next ten years.
"We urgently ask the government of Costa Rica to address the issue of Just Transition. Social dialogue with workers and their unions and the community are essential to ensure Just Transition measures build the trust that's necessary to address the crisis of climate," said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC.
Costa Rica will host pre-meetings of Ministers ahead of the UN climate talks (COP25) hosted by Chile at the end of the year where the ITUC and unions are participating in negotiations.
"All governments must now follow the lead of countries like Costa Rica. We have just eleven years to stop dangerous levels of climate change, beyond which there is no turning back. Every government must raise their ambitions and determine national development plans including Just Transition measures to protect workers, their families and communities. 2020 marks the Paris Agreement review when governments will again make commitments to take action for reducing emission. We must see high ambition - and Just Transition is the pathway to that higher ambition," said Burrow.
Iceland: hotel housekeepers strike for a living wage on International Women's Day
7 March 2019: Hotel housekeepers in Iceland will be on strike on International Women's Day in support of their demand for a a living wage and better working conditions. Some one thousand housekeepers working in hotels and guesthouses in and around the capital Reykjavik, a majority of them immigrant women, will take part in the strike.
The workers are members of Efling, a member union of the IUF-affiliated SGS federation. Efling organizes workers in food processing, agriculture, fisheries in addition to hotels and restaurants and other sectors.
Negotiations for a new collective agreement in the tourism sector between Efling and the employers have been deadlocked for months over the employers' resistance to union demands for an increase in the base wage, affordable housing and a shorter working week. Further industrial action is planned if no collective agreement is agreed.
UN Environment Assembly: Unions Call for Action on Plastics Pollution, Toxic Chemicals and Marine Pollution
International trade union bodies attending the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi this week are calling for an urgent global effort to tackle marine waste, plastics pollution, hazardous substances and toxic waste.
06-03-2019: A joint statement of the ITUC, ITUC-Africa, IUF and ITF stresses the links between environmental protection, decent work and poverty eradication as well as the potential of green technology to contribute to gender equality and human rights.
"Millions of people depend on oceans and seas for their livelihoods, and the food they produce is increasingly contaminated by microplastics, threatening food security, jobs and the marine environment. We are also demanding national laws, within a global framework, to prohibit and remove hazardous substances and protect workers and consumers. Governments need to accept to their regulatory responsibilities, and stand up to chemical corporations which delay and frustrate the replacement of toxic chemicals that cause cancer and other disorders with alternatives that don't cause death and disease at work and in the community," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
This week's preparatory sessions of the UN Environment Assembly, the world's highest-level environmental decision-making body, will be followed a high-level segment of the meeting from 11 - 15 March. ITUC - ITF - IUF statement on UNEA4
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."
After Teleperformance's 2018 earnings announcement, UNI Global Union called on the company to take action to address human rights
4 March 2019: Teresa Casertano, Head of UNI Information, Communications, Technology Services (ICTS) said: "Last week's results reflect that Teleperformance is a profitable and rapidly expanding company with new exposure in many markets. Many of these markets are known for weak, if any, compliance with international labour standards, in particular the rights to organize unions.
"To put it bluntly, respect for workers' rights is far too rare in many of the countries where Teleperformance chooses to operate. As a result of this, Teleperformance faces a risk that the human rights of its employees will not be respected unless it takes pro-active measures to identify and prevent these risks, exactly what is required under the due diligence rules of France and the OECD.
"We urge the company to develop a fit-for-purpose due diligence plan with accountability structures in order to prevent these problems from becoming a reality."
Two-thirds of Teleperformance's nearly 300,000 employees are in six countries labelled by the International Trade Union Confederation as "the worst countries in the world to work in" because they lack any effective guarantee of labour rights or as systematic violators of labour rights.
The concept of human rights due diligence derives from the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, and was integrated within the OECD Guidelines for Multinationals in 2011 and the ILO Declaration on MNEs in 2017. In 2018, the law took effect which requires many French companies--including Teleperformance--to have and publish a due diligence plan. As a contractor for global clients, Teleperformance has a heightened responsibility because its clients also have due diligence obligations.
UNI has asserted that Teleperformance's 2018 due diligence plan fails to map the risks of violations of the human rights of workers and omits prevention measures. Additionally, Teleperformance should engage in consultations with key stakeholders, including such organizations as UNI Global Union and the French trade union affiliates representing Teleperformance workers, while formulating its plan. To date these consultations have not taken place, making it even more likely that the company will fail to identify human rights violations in its workplaces across the globe.
600 Burkinabe mineworkers who lost jobs after mine closure demand fair compensation
01.03.2019: 600 workers from the former Societes Mines de Belahauro (SMB) are demanding fair compensation as required by the labour laws after the closure of Inata Mine in 2017.
The mine closure put 1,000 workers out of employment, including contract workers.
SMB is a private mining company which was sold to Avocet Mining, listed on the London Stock Exchange. Avocet then sold the company to the Balaji Group. The workers should have been paid compensation when ownership was transferred. They are former SMB and Avocet workers, now employed by the Balaji Group by virtue of their valid contracts.
"Workers efforts to negotiate are falling on deaf ears or met with bad faith from the Balaji Group, while the ministry of mines is notoriously negligent," said Kiba Aidane and other workers in a statement. To press for their demands, more than 200 workers picketed in Ouagadougou with placards alleging collusion between the government and the Balaji Group. The workers reject the employer's proposal to reduce benefits by up to 40 per cent.
After buying Inata gold mine in 2018, the Balaji Group neither resumed production nor paid the workers what is due to them. Although they have been without jobs since the mine closed, the workers are not relenting. Their plight prompted IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, Federation des Industries Diverses (FID), to launch a campaign demanding that the Accra, Ghana based Balaji Group pay the workers. The workers want a tripartite meeting in which their rights to fair compensation will be respected and to be paid wages backdated to November 2017. They also want pension benefits to be paid to those who were contributing. Retirement benefits should also be paid to those who were within five years of retirement. Medical benefits should be paid.
Charlotte Nguessan, IndustriALL project coordinator says: "The suffering of SMB workers shows the lengths to which some errant mining companies will go to avoid paying compensation. As part of the union building project, we are always alert to deal with these injustices against workers."
Says Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL director for mining: "Mining companies must respect workers' rights. When mines are sold, the new employer must assume responsibility. It is unacceptable for multinational companies to close mines and abandon workers - leaving them without jobs, even robbing them of their benefits."
The Balaji Group has operations in India, Iraq, Kuwait, Malaysia, Philippines, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. In India the group mines silica, garnet, quartz and iron ore.
Agreement at Danone Dairy Belgium restricts casual employment
28 February 2019: The IUF-affiliated Food and Services Union (ACV-CSC) has successfully negotiated a local agreement at Danone Dairy Belgium's Rotselaar plant which strictly defines and restricts the use of non-permanent employment. The agreement was negotiated within the framework of the IUF-Danone agreement on Sustainable Employment and Access to Rights, which mandates and facilitates local negotiations aimed at limiting casual employment.
The local agreement specifies the functions at the Rotselaar plant which can and cannot be done by workers recruited through agencies, particularly for safety reasons; stipulates that agency workers must receive adequate training for the job and can never be left to work alone on a production line; and mandates equal pay and conditions for workers on fixed-term contracts.
Under the agreement, agency workers' contracts cannot exceed 6 months, after which they receive a Danone contract. Following one year at the job these contracts are in turn converted to permanent, open-ended contracts with Danone, with accumulated seniority. The local agreement also provides for improvements in health care, ergonomics and maternal leave.
ITUC Africa General Secretary detained in Harare
UPDATE: Kwasi Adu Amankwah, General Secretary of ITUC-Africa, has been released from detention in Zimbabwe at 16.15 local time today. He expects to be able to continue his planned meetings with the trade unions and government there to seek negotiated solutions to the crisis in the country.
26-02-2019: The ITUC has condemned the detention of Kwasi Adu Amankwah, General Secretary of its Regional Organisation ITUC-Africa, by the Zimbabwean authorities during a visit to the country for meetings with trade unions and the government. Adu Amankwah was removed by security forces from his hotel in Harare early this morning and taken to the airport where he was detained.
The leadership of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Japhet Moyo and Peter Mutasa, still face charges for exercising their right to strike calling for a peaceful three day stay away action from 14 to 16 January 2019. The strike call followed a unilateral decision by the Zimbabwean government to impose a 150 per cent hike in the price of fuel. Zimbabwe police targeted trade union leaders in the crackdown on protesters.
The ITUC has been calling on the government to drop the charges against the trade union leaders, to establish an independent judicial inquiry into the excessive violence used against protesters and to start a national social dialogue to find a peaceful and constructive way out of the economic crisis, with full respect for human and labour rights. Adu Amankwah was scheduled to meet with the ZCTU leadership and the Zimbabwean Minister of Labour Sekai Nzenza to this end.
"It is completely unacceptable that once again efforts to engage in dialogue with the government have been met with obstruction and repression," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. "We urge the government to allow our Regional Secretary to continue his planned mission in Zimbabwe and meet with workers and the ZCTU to demonstrate our global solidarity, as well as with the Ministry of Labour to start negotiating a solution." Visit the ITUC-Africa webpage here.
Bangladesh: long struggle wins collective bargaining rights for workers at transnational confectioner Perfetti Van Melle
22 February 2019: After 160 days of struggling for recognition and overcoming management efforts to undermine the right to freedom of association, the union of workers at Dutch-based global confectioner Perfetti Van Melle was granted legal collective bargaining status on February 17.
Workers and their union representatives came under sustained management pressure after a large majority of workers at the company's Gazipur factory formed the Perfetti Van Melle BD Pvt. Ltd. Employees' Union and applied for legal registration of their organization on November 11 last year. With strong support from the IUF in the region and internationally, the union secured legal registration on January 14 and continued the fight for collective bargaining rights.
The union is now preparing to bargain a first ever collective agreement for workers at the factory, and has warmly thanked all those who supported them in their long, tough struggle.
International support for Indian unions over destruction of worker protections
Brussels, 22 February 2019 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC has delivered a letter of protest to India's Brussels Embassy over plans by the Modi government to eviscerate the country's labour legislation, leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation and depriving them of rights. Some 200 million workers took part in a nationwide protest strike on 8 and 9 January against the government's plans, which would remove labour-law protections from tens of millions of workers, impose heavy restrictions on workers' organising and collective bargaining rights, expose workers to excessive working hours and to dismissal without proper recourse, and weaken laws aimed at stopping child labour.
"Prime Minister Modi is turning India's labour laws into a blank cheque for multinationals and India's super-rich. No self-respecting government should allow the American Chamber of Commerce and other corporate lobby groups to write the laws that should protect workers. If Mr Modi won't govern in the interests of the Indian people, then he should go. With 1% of the population controlling nearly 60% of the wealth, India is already one of the most unequal countries in the world, and these laws would make the gap even wider," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
Following the January strike, India's ten major trade union centres, including the ITUC-affiliated INTUC, HMS and SEWA, have pledged to work to defeat the Modi government in forthcoming national elections unless the government abandons its plans and enters constructive talks about reforms that would actually improve the situation of Indian workers and genuinely tackle unemployment and guarantee a national minimum wage of US$250 per month.
Collective bargaining the cornerstone of our democracies and trade unions
21 February 2019: At the 2nd UNICARE World Conference in Rome, trade union delegates from around the world reiterated their demand to establish or reinforce collective bargaining for all care workers as a cornerstone of basic workers' rights.
According to UNI Europa Regional Secretary Oliver Roethig, trade unions have taken collective bargaining for granted for far too long. "Collective bargaining is one of our biggest assets - the key element to stablising our societies and democracies," says Roethig. "We need to use our collective strength through collective bargaining, global framework agreements and social partnerships to push multinationals at the national and international level."
"We need to organise, and we need to talk about collective bargaining. Digitalisation is changing the labour market at a frantic pace. At this unique place and time, we are presented with the opportunity to ensure that the labour rights of all workers are enshrined in this new era through collective bargaining."
Pierangelo Raineri, the General Secretary of FIST-CISL talked about the collaborations which formed the foundations for strong collective bargaining in the Italian care sector. "We've always had strong relationships with employers and use them to collectively bargain," explains Raineri. "Together with other organisations, we can make sure that there are provisions for some of the things we value most: lifelong learning, training, safe working conditions and fair wages." In Italy, this has been made possible by creating bilateral instruments and agreement between employers and unions who can safeguard the welfare of workers.
Thanks to a long history of trade union activism Japanese workers cannot be ignored. The 1.7 million strong UA Zensen, which represents over 82,000 workers in the health sector has established a good relationship between social partners and achieved strong collective bargaining agreements. Masanobu Furukawa from UA Zensen told delegates that with the exploding elderly population in Japan, the need for collective bargaining agreements in the health sector is dire. Overcrowded care homes, burnout, stress and dangerous conditions are rife and unions are looking for solutions. The relationships built up through collective bargaining are a way to make sure that workers lives are improved.
Katha Fortier, from Canadian UNI affiliate UNIFOR, told the UNICARE conference that their multisector union has made its collective power felt by running a campaign together with other unions to help organise hospital workers. Through innovative social media campaigns such as the "Six-Minute Challenge" (a challenge asking people to try and get ready in the same six-minute period that care workers have to get their patients ready every day), UNIFOR has been able to galvanise public support for care workers against the might of for-profit organisations and the local government.
Jean Piet Bauwens from SETCA BBTK Belgium explained that due to a very high union density of over 50 %, trade unions have been able to sign collective agreements at the national, regional, sectoral and company level. This has ensured that workers' voices are heard and agreements around stable schedules, maximum working hours and minimum leave have brought hope to workers.
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.
Contact centre workers launch the first new Albanian labour union in more than 80 years
Tirana, Albania, February 18- Albanian contact centre workers who provide customer service for some of the world's biggest companies-have created the country's first new trade union since 1939, before the start of the Second World War. The union, called the National Union of Contact Centers - "Solidarity", represents the 30,000-worker-and-growing Albanian contact centre sector, which primarily services Italian-language markets.
Workers held a foundation assembly last night to launch the union and filed papers with the Albanian courts this morning to legally establish it. Contact centres are increasing their footprint in the Albanian economy, and it is estimated that 7 percent of formalized workforce is employed in the Italian-language contact centres. "We are the voice that customers hear when they need support, and now, with our union, we have a voice at our jobs," said Teleperformance worker leader. "Forming our new union is a historic step towards raising standards in our industry, and our employers should immediately begin negotiating a sector-wide collective agreement."
Citing issues such as degrading working conditions, arbitrary account assignment, and unjust disciplinary practices, contact centre employees at French outsourcing giant Teleperformance helped launch the sector-wide organising campaign in 2018. Teleperformance is the largest contact centre employer globally, and in Albania, more than 2,000 of its employees provide outsourced customer service for companies such as Amazon, Apple, and Lottomatica. The company was previously fined by the Albanian labour ministry after workers notified authorities about incomplete social security payments.
Other key employers in the sector include Alba Call and IDS.
The workers' organising efforts were supported Albanian non-governmental organization the Institute for Critique and Social Emancipation (ICSE) and UNI Global Union, a federation of 20 million service workers in 150 countries.
"Given the rapid growth of the contact centres in Albania, we have to make sure that these new jobs have good working conditions and pay a living wage. We cannot let global outsourcing companies like Teleperformance undermine standards for Albanian workers," said ICSE spokesperson Bora Mema. "Now, we call on the employers to bargain a fair sector-wide agreement with workers' union."
"The globalisation of services should not mean a global race to the bottom, and this new union in Albania will have a ripple effect throughout Europe and throughout the world," said UNI Global Union spokesperson Teresa Casertano.
Leaders from Italian telecommunications unions SLC-CGIL and FISTEL-CISL stood with the Albanian counterparts at the launch. "We can no longer only think about Italian contact centre workers and Italian working conditions because this is a global industry. Workers' problems in Albania and workers' problems in Italy are closely tied together, and a multinational approach is the only way we will solve these issues," said Marco Del Cimmuto and Giorgio Serao for Italian unions SLC-CGIL and FISTEL-CISL.
Seafarers stand united in the Arab World
18 Feb 2019: Seafarers calling in Arab world ports will receive greater support and assistance following a commitment to ongoing education for affiliated unions by the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF).
In early February, the ITF with the ITF Arab World regional office, organised a four day seminar in Tangiers, Morocco, bringing together representatives from affiliated unions in Morocco, Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Sudan and Tunisia. The seminar aimed to strengthen and enhance the capacity in the region to provide greater assistance to seafarers calling in Arab World ports and to explain the benefits of collective bargaining for ITF affiliated unions who organise seafarers.
"Seafarers' requests for assistance in the Arab World region is increasing so the ITF is focussed on adding financial and educational support to affiliated unions to be better able to support seafarers calling in Arab World ports," said Steve Trowsdale, ITF Inspectorate Coordinator. In 2017, the ITF handled 79 cases in the region and collected more than $600,000 USD in owed wages. In 2018, the ITF dealt with more than 100 cases following requests from crew and collected wages back claims of almost $2,000,000 USD.
"The recent seminar was necessary to ensure that all ITF contacts in the region have full knowledge and are updated on the Maritime Labour Convention and other skills required to provide quality assistance to seafarers calling in the region's ports, particularly taking account of the difficulties in dealing with abandoned cases - a notorious practice in Arab ports," said Mohamed Arrachedi, ITF Arab World Network Coordinator.
"The seminar is just one part of a strong signal to the maritime industry that the ITF and its affiliated unions in the Arab World stand together with the rest of the world's seafarers, and as a result are better prepared to respond to all kinds of abuses and bad practices. We stand united to send a clear and strong message that there is no place in the Arab World for abuse of seafarers calling in our ports," said Arrachedi.
A second seminar is due to take place in June in Beirut, Lebanon, which will bring together participants from Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Oman and Jordan.
Battle for Australian seafarers jobs spreads globally
12 Feb 2019: The fight to defend Australian seafarers is spreading internationally as Canadian unions today joined to rally in solidarity to support their Australian counterparts who are battling to have legislation implemented at home to protect their jobs.
On the back of the recent sacking at sea of Australian seafarers by BHP and BlueScope facilitated by the Morrison government, workers and the Maritime Union of Australia have set up a 'Save Australian Shipping' jobs embassy on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra. Live-streamed to the Canberra gathering from rallies across Canada, Canadian seafarers and dockers collectively called on the Australian government to enact cabotage laws that will ensure domestic maritime workers are protected while working in their domestic waters.
"Today's demonstration shows the strength of seafarers across the globe," said James Given, chair of the ITF Cabotage Task Force and president of the Seafarers' International Union of Canada (SIU of Canada). "Whether from Australia, Canada or elsewhere, we are the brothers and sisters of the sea, and we fight to protect our own." "Earlier today we met with the Australian High Commission and gave them a clear message to take back to their government: Australian waters, Australian jobs. The world is now watching, this isn't just in Australian anymore, this is now on our shores and we're going to take it across the world," said Given.
The SIU of Canada joined by the ILA and CUPE 375 on the east coast, and the ILWU Canada on the west coast, demonstrated in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver to show support for Australian seafarers. The protests were held in conjunction with rallies held in Canberra, Melbourne and Port Kembla. The Canadian unions collectively called on the Australian government to enact cabotage laws that will ensure domestic maritime workers are protected.
Last month, 80 Australian seafarers were laid off without notice from two vessels that carried iron ore from Port Hedland in Western Australia to steelworks in Port Kembla in favour of cheaper foreign labour. Without cabotage laws, these practices are perfectly legal, and maritime workers are concerned layoffs will continue. In January, a delegation from Australia visited Canada to learn about Canada's domestic maritime policy, which is regarded as one of the best in the world. The unfortunate situation in Australia demonstrates the importance of ensuring these laws are protected across the globe.
"The Canadians have just met with the Australian High Commission (in Canada) and they sent a message loud and clear that this is an international struggle and seafarers the world over are uniting in standing up to fight for their rights to work in their own domestic industries. We're here in Canberra today to send that message to the politicians and to the Morrison Government loud and clear who are responsible for the sacking of these workers behind me, in collaboration with BHP and BlueScope," said Warren Smith MUA assistant national secretary.
"They (BHP and BlueScope) have invested in areas where you don't pay taxes, where you've got no legal rights, where you've got no labour rights - We're fighting for (those workers) too, and their right to work in their own country, in their own shipping lines, on their own roads, in their own trucks, in their own manufacturing. It's not a nationalist thing, it's the right of Australians, of every Australian, to recognise and be due the respect as the people who built this wealth of this country," said Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and MUA national secretary.
"This is a turning point for us in this country. We want to build a country of fairness, a country that makes things, a country where big corporations - pay their way, a country of full employment, of universal healthcare. Only one group is going to deliver that and that is the working men and women," said Crumlin.