LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns
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
Fix My Job...Working America AFL-CIO
T-Mobile Workers United...
Communications Workers of America
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.
PBS release of the official theatrical trailer for the documentary DOLORES
Kazakhstan: Sentencing of Union Leader a Travesty of Justice
Brussels, 25 July 2017 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC has condemned the sentence handed down against trade union leader Larisa Kharkova by a Kazakhstan court today as a travesty of justice, and an affront to democracy. Kharkova, Chairperson of the independent trade union centre CNTUK, was sentenced to four years of restriction on her freedom of movement, 100 hours of forced labour and a five-year ban on holding any position in a public or non-governmental organisation. She is prohibited from changing her place of residence and place of work, banned from visiting certain places, and may not leave her city of residence without authorisation.
The charges, based on a series of false accusations against her, follow the suppression of striking workers at Kazakhstan's Oil Construction Company (OCC). In April, CNTUK Deputy Chairperson Nurbek Kushakbayev was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison simply for discussing the possibility of the strike continuing. The CNTUK was deregistered by the courts in early 2017, and its accounts, equipment and property were frozen.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, "The penalties imposed on Larisa Kharkova and Nurbek Kushakbayev, who were simply standing up for fundamental workers' rights guaranteed under international law and the country's Constitution, are an absolute disgrace and will hurt Kazakhstan's standing internationally. The beneficiaries of this persecution of a legitimate independent union are rich and powerful heads of the state oil corporation, while the suppression of rights enshrined in ILO Conventions will hurt the living standards of ordinary people in Kazakhstan. This is about dissuading any form of protest action. This abuse of the rule of law is anti-democratic, and we call upon President Nursultan Nazarbayev to ensure that the sentences are reversed and that the campaign against the CNTUK, including OCC Union delegate Amin Yeleusinov, is stopped."
The sentencing of Kushakbayev and of Amin Yeleusinov, who is serving a two-year prison sentence, as well as the deregistration of the CNTUK and its affiliates prompted the ITUC to lodge a formal complaint over violation of freedom of association with the ILO, and international pressure on the Kazakhstan government will intensify following the judgement passed against Kharkova.
Today's sentence, handed down by the Enbekshinskiy District Court of Shymkent City of the South-Kazakhstan region, follows seven months of almost daily interrogations and sustained psychological pressure on Kharkova during which time she was continuously followed by state security operatives.
The fight against precarious work continues
19.07.2017: Recent legislative and political developments around the world illustrate the continuing increase of precarious work. Trade unions are fighting back.
A recent study in the UK shows that young people employed on zero-hour contracts are more likely to have worse mental and physical health than their peers with more stable work. Among the negative impacts of zero-hour contracts on health are, financial stress and anxiety.
In November 2016, zero-hour contracts made up 6 per cent of employment contracts in the UK. 43 per cent of workers in the UK are in precarious employment. In the European Union standard employment on the basis of full-time permanent contracts has continuously decreased in the last ten years from 62 per cent to 59 per cent. The crisis has led to an increase in involuntary temporary and part-time employment.
"It's time to be rid of the aberration of human dignity of zero-hour contracts." said Len McCluskey, Unite the Union's General Secretary, on 8 July 2017.
Unions are fighting back.
In the UK, unions have been taking action against precarious work notably by urging the Government to ban the abusive zero hour contracts.
In Germany in May, IG Metal negotiated an agreement with the employers' associations that will allow temporary agency workers in the metal and electrical Industries to receive a 65 per cent supplement in order to reach the same wages as permanent workers. The new agreement also makes it easier for temporary agency workers to become permanent workers after 24 months.
The European Parliament has recently adopted several resolutions, highlighting a decline in the quality of jobs due to the use of precarious work. On 4 July, members of the European parliament adopted a new non-legislative resolution recommending improvements in working conditions and tackling precarious employment, including undeclared work and bogus self-employment.
Recommendations include the respect of a set of minimum standards on social protection, minimum wage and access to training to increase the quality of non-standard jobs; renewed efforts to combat undeclared work, bogus self-employment and all forms of illegal employment practices; and the prevention of zero-hour contracts.
In Australia, permanent employment in a full-time job is now enjoyed by less than 50 per cent of Australia's working population. 23 per cent of manufacturing workers are now casual, an increase from virtually zero in the 1980s. Casual employees in the manufacturing sector have enjoyed a "right to request" conversion to permanent status for nearly twenty years. However most casual employees are unaware of this right as employers are under no obligation to tell them. And even when knowing, workers were concerned with losing their jobs if they exercised the right.
Unions launched claims to the Fair Work Commission trying to improve prospects for permanent employment among casuals in manufacturing, by making permanent employment mandatory after six months of regular engagement and to extend this right to workers in other industries.
On 5 July, the Australian Fair Work Commission issued a decision on casual employment leaving the rights for manufacturing workers more or less unchanged, with the difference now being that the Commission can make a recommendation should a casual worker be refused the right to be made permanent. However employers faced with such a recommendation are not forced to follow it. Even though this ruling has ignored many of the unions' claims, the decision has given greater impetus to Australian unions' campaign to Change the Rules. IndustriALL affiliates in Australia will be campaigning to Change the Rules up to the next (federal) election in 2019, and beyond.
Casual work and subcontracted labour also remain a significant and increasing issue in Asia. In the Philippines, unions are campaigning for legislation against the use of contractualisation in the country.
On 1 May, more than 3,000 workers mobilized. Trade union leaders were invited to a discussion organized by the Office of the President, held in Davao City in the Mindanao region. A new Decree Order (DO 174-2017) was issued by the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) in March 2017. The new DO partly legitimizes the employment of contract workers through contracting agencies. This provoked the unions to appeal to the Philippine President to issue an Executive Order to prohibit the use of contractualisation.
As a result of the dialogue, the President requested trade unions to come up with a draft Executive Order (EO) prohibiting contractualisation. The draft has since been submitted to the Office of the President for review and further discussion.
Unions are still waiting for the President's comments on the draft. Unions are also campaigning for the adoption of the bill on Security of Tenure, to restrict precarious work/short term contract and temporary agency work that has been under review in the Parliament for several years.
"Let's take action on 7 October throughout the world, demonstrating again our united commitment to stopping precarious work. Unions have to continue to mobilize and fight back the increase of precarious work around the world. With the development of supply chain models, and of digitalisation the problem could spread uncontrollably," said Valter Sanches, General Secretary of IndustriALL.
International solidarity has the power to reform the banking industry
17 July 2017: Financial workers from the United States and Australia are standing together to curb big banks' abuses of employees and customers.
Former Wells Fargo personal banker Kilian Colin recently travelled Down Under to help the Finance Sector Union's (FSU) drive to reform the Australian banking industry. The union wants to expand protections in retail banking and eliminate unethical pay structures that do not put customers' best interest first. The Wells Fargo example provided a cautionary tale.
Colin, a leader in the U.S. Committee for Better Banks, testified as part of an Australian Senate inquiry into consumer rights in the banking sector. He told Senators that Wells Fargo's unreasonable sales goals caused widespread consumer fraud-including the establishment of more than 2 million fake accounts.
In addition to the harm these practices had on consumers, paying excessive fees and damaging credit scores, Colin said the stress from Wells Fargo's relentless push for sales drove him to depression and even a suicide attempt.
FSU national secretary Julia Angrisano sees parallels with Wells Fargo and what is happening in Australia. She stated that a growing number of FSU members suffer from stress-related medical issues because of arbitrary sales targets. Some have contemplated suicide or have taken their own lives. There is "frightening parallel" to Wells Fargo in terms of the practices of many Australian banks, she said, adding the situation calls for greater whistle-blower protection and compensation.
In addition to the Senate hearing, Colin's visit allowed the FSU and the Committee for Better Banks to share ideas and organising tools. Colin returned to the U.S. excited to communicate with his colleagues what he learned.
"This exchange is a key component of the work of UNI Finance Global Union. Ten years on from a global financial crisis that brought the world economy to its knees, we cannot accept the continuation of sales practices that contribute to financial instability. Their continuation underlines that we have a long way to go change the banking culture of sales at any cost," said UNI General Secretary Philip Jennings.
"Changing the global financial sector will rely on a global labour movement, working together across borders to stop unsavoury practices that have devastating impact on workers and customers," Jennings added.
No more dirty diamonds
12.07.2017: IndustriALL affiliates from Europe, Sub Saharan Africa and India have launched a Global Diamond Network to fight exploitation and improve working conditions across the global value chain.
Union representatives met in Windhoek, Namibia 3 to 5 July to set up the Global Diamond Network (GDN), aiming to end human rights abuses and improve wages and working conditions in diamond mining.
The GDN network will work to secure jobs and fight for an end to precarious work and subcontracting. Setting minimum wages, retraining of workers in case of job losses, and fair deals during retrenchments would improve livelihoods for workers. Gender equality, sustainable economic development, and fair competition are some of the key demands.
The GDN plans to work with local and global organizations including companies involved in the diamond trade, as well as governments. It will campaign for the setting up of due diligence standards at local and global levels. In the absence of a world regulatory body on diamond mining, the global network decided to participate in credible voluntary certification systems such as the Initiative for Responsible Mining and Assurance (IRMA) and to call on governments to regulate the industry.
Solidarity initiatives will also be carried out to promote responsible sourcing, that will boycott diamonds produced under conditions of human rights violations.
To achieve the GDN's goals there will be campaigns for the certification of diamonds and for labour laws, collective bargaining agreements, and health and safety regulations that protected workers' rights. The network will also promote information and knowledge sharing on organizing, capacity building, collective bargaining, women empowerment and leadership.
The need for the GDN comes from a past tainted with blood or conflict diamonds. Money from such diamonds has financed armies and rebel militias in civil wars that have killed close to four million people in Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Central Africa Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There were also rights violations including rape, child and forced labour, environmental damage, and health risks to local communities because of diamond mining. In cases of armed conflict in the Central Africa Republic and human rights abuses by government security forces in Zimbabwe, international and humanitarian laws were violated.
Existing mechanisms have been largely ineffective in dealing with the abuses. The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, some regulations from the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation and even industry associations including the Responsible Jewelry Council have done little to stop abuses.
Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL mining director said: The GDN will engage stakeholders, and jewelry brands and retailers, to ensure that the mining of diamonds also benefit workers, and that there were no human rights abuses.
Yves Toutenel, AVC-Transcom, Belgium and Beverley Murangi, Mineworkers Union of Namibia will co-chair the network.