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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.
Unions: we must back the Climate Strike!
Now is the time to show the next generation that unions are the force for progressive change in the 21st Century.
Sep 16, 2019: In 1968, workers around the world joined students in taking to the streets to challenge injustice and the complacency of the political establishment. Now, once again, students are leading the way - this time to prevent climate disaster. They ask adults - and unions - to support them. We must respond by showing that the labour movement is willing to stand for broader interests and support popular movements for change. The fight for climate action is a fight to put people and planet over profit.
For years, labour focused on the concept of Just Transition: to ensure that workers and communities are not negatively impacted in the shift to a zero-carbon world. Yet, in many cases, these programs have morphed into yet another public-funded subsidy for corporations, giving big polluters a chance to green-wash while leaving the system of production which has created the problem largely untouched. What we really need is for the union movement to fight for a Global Green New Deal: a wide scale shift in our economies to boost the power of working people and communities and to ensure that our governments protect our natural resources, whether on land or at sea.
Despite the evidence, the neoliberal ideologues who have dominated the discourse for decades would have us believe that the market will save us. Those who created the problem obscure the debate and avoid blame by telling us individual consumer choices and the entrepreneurial spirit will save the day. Corporate green-washers use full page spreads to convince the public they've seen the light - despite spending decades and millions of dollars burying the truth. They have captured our institutions through obscene political donations and a poisoned revolving door between big business and government. Hence, we have toothless climate agreements which will see species fry.
Deregulation has slashed environmental standards and enabled big polluters; privatisation has handed our energy production over to private interests who extract quick (fossil) profits. Ironically, many of these same ideologues continue to support outrageous public subsidies for the fossil fuel industry and oppose government spending on clean energy solutions.
Meanwhile, corporations such as Exxon and Chevron have been pumping their profits through offshore tax havens, avoiding paying their fair share and depriving governments of the revenue needed to mitigate and adapt to increasing climate catastrophes.
It is too late to tinker around the edges. To avoid climate catastrophe, we need system change. This is about more than climate. This is a struggle to recover democracy and make our governments serve the people, not the powerful. We will only win if we exert our collective strength, if we grow our power by building strong coalitions between students, campaigners and the labour movement.
For many people, unions are seen as an increasingly defensive or reactive force. Under sustained attacks from the right across the world, we were forced to fight to preserve our achievements rather than expand social justice. The Climate Strike provides an opportunity to break out of our constraints, to reinvigorate our movement, to learn from young people on the front lines and to redefine what is possible. Already unions are taking action. From Germany to New Zealand to South Africa, the labour movement is backing young strikers.
Public Services International - the Global Union Federation of Workers in Public Services - is calling on our affiliates and unions across the world to do all in our power to support the week of action on Climate, including by taking strike action where possible. To build the political will needed to change the system, we must be bolder than ever. We cannot let the vital idealism of this new generation be poisoned by cynicism and doubt. This is our last chance. They are our last chance. We must stand with them.
Call for ratification of ILO C87 in Malaysia
16 September 2019: Together with other unions in the country, IndustriALL's affiliates in Malaysia are calling on the government to immediately ratify ILO convention 87 on freedom of association and the right to organize.
Unions are saying that since the new government has taken steps to reform the Trade Union Act (1959) and the Industrial Relations Act (1967) by removing restrictive provisions that violate the principle of freedom of association, there are no obstacles for the government to ratify the convention, as domestic laws will soon be in compliance with the convention.
"The Malaysian union movement has been been urging the government to ratify the convention, and past leaderships of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) have tirelessly campaigned for its ratification. Saying that unions don't support the ratification is wrong and the call for a ten-year moratorium doesn't make sense," said Gopal Kishnam, general secretary of IndustriALL affiliate National Union of Transport Equipment and Allied Industry Workers (NUTEAIW) and Labour Law Reform Coalition (LLRC) co-chairperson at a press conference during an LLRC Symposium on Freedom of Association on 8 September. Around 100 national union leaders and worker organization representatives attended the meeting.
"There is a misunderstanding that C87 promotes multiplicity of trade unions in workplaces and would add to disunity among Malaysian workers, but in fact the convention is instrumental in protecting workers' right to organize without interference from governments and employers. Effective and democratic unions will definitely have the unanimous support of workers," added Gopal.
"We believe that with the implementation of C87, Malaysian workers will prefer to join industrial union rather than enterprise union, as industry-wide bargaining has greater leverage safeguarding workers' interest and general well-being."
The LLRC was established in the wake of the first regime change at federal level in Malaysia in 2018, and is a coalition of 58 trade unions and NGOs and formerly known as the decent work working group. The coalition organizes consultation meetings with union leaders on reforming the Employment Act, Trade Union Act and Industrial Relations Act.
Gains for Colombian banana workers in new CBA follow months of tough negotiations
16 September 2019: The IUF-affiliated SINTRAINAGRO has won significant gains for 22,000 banana workers in a new two-year collective agreement signed with the employer association Augura after months of tough negotiations. Members on September 4 overwhelmingly voted for strike action from September 12 in the event of failure to reach agreement.
Under the new agreement, workers will receive a real increase of 5.5%, with pay in the second year to be pegged to the cost-of-living index. Union members will also receive a one-off bonus equivalent to USD 550. In addition, the agreement provides substantial additional funding for housing, education, sport and recreation, a commitment to increase women's employment, and a framework for the union, employers and health care authorities to address the quality of health care provision.
IUF Latin American Regional Secretary Gerardo Iglesias congratulated the union and the employers for their commitment to the collective bargaining process, describing the agreement as "an island in the sea of a global banana industry marked by low wages, outsourced labor, anti-union persecution and enclaves of poverty."
Safety is our right, not a privilege
12 September, 2019: The quest for workplace safety continues in Pakistan, as unions and workers remembered the victims of the 2012 fire at Ali Enterprises in Pakistan, which killed hundreds of workers.
On 11 September 2012, more than 250 workers were killed and over 50 were injured in one of the world's worst industrial fires at Ali Enterprises, a readymade garment-manufacturing factory in Karachi, Pakistan.
On the 7th anniversary of the tragedy, IndustriALL affiliate National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) and Association of the Affectees of Baldia Factory Fire gathered in front of the factory to remember their loved ones and co-workers. Participants included a minister from the Sindh provincial government, survivors of the accident, family members of the victims, garment workers, social and political activists.
Saeeda Khatoon, chairperson of the victims association, said: "In order to get justice and to bring closure to this great loss in our lives, the law enforcing agencies should pursue the legal process to punish those responsible for the accident. Workers lives must be respected and no worker in Pakistan should face a similar situation in future."
It took four years of united campaigning to reach an agreement with German brand KiK, who sourced from the factory, to pay compensation of US$5.2 million. In May 2018, victims started receiving compensation. Still, after seven years victims have a long way to go to get justice. The government and buyers need to do more to improve occupational health and safety in Pakistan's garment factories.
Nasir Mansoor from NTUF said: "Workers continue to suffer hazardous working conditions. The government has diluted the labour inspection regime when it should to be strengthened to improve safety. The occupational health and safety law passed by the Sindh government in 2017 should be implemented, and Pakistan must abide to ILO core labour conventions and GSP plus commitments."
Valter Sanches, IndustriALL general secretary, said: "We honour the departed and stand in solidarity with the victims and their families in their struggle for justice. The government of Pakistan should deploy adequate financial and human resources to address the health and safety crisis in factories.
"Efforts to replicate initiatives like the Accord on fire and building safety in Bangladesh in Pakistan should be expedited. These efforts should involve genuine consultation with Pakistan's unions. IndustriALL will continue to work in collaboration with all stakeholders to ensure safe working conditions for readymade garment workers in Pakistan."
UNI joins global resistance to ongoing destruction of the Amazon
11 September 2019: UNI Global Union joined the call to end the destruction the Amazon and expressed its full solidarity with the people of Brazil, especially those affected by the devastating fires in the region. The UNI Americas Executive Committee approved a motion condemning the criminal deforestation of the Amazon.
Brazil has had more than 72,000 fire outbreaks this year, which is an 84 percent increase on the same period in 201--a direct result of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's short-sighted and environmentally destructive policies. His extreme right-wing government has weakened environment regulations and attacked conservation NGOs while promoting unsustainable mining, farming and logging practices.
"The defence of the rainforest has to be the priority of all workers. In addition to the struggle for social rights and a life free of violence, a sustainable world is essential for our future generations," the motion reads. "At this moment we must all unite in this humanitarian crisis, for the survival of the planet."
These illegal fires have been largely started by predatory agribusiness and illegal land-grabbers. Some leaders in the in rural parts of the country allegedly organized fires along a highway across the rainforest to show support for the Brazilian president's loosening of environmental restrictions. Nevertheless, Bolsonaro has dubiously claimed that NGOs were deliberately starting fires as part of a coordinated attempt to harm the image of his government.
"We cannot let the vested interests of a few wealthy individuals and businesses lead to the devastation of the planet purely to increase their own wealth," said UNI General Secretary Christy Hoffman. "Bolsonaro's government has systematically tried to dismantle unions and workers' rights, and now, they are doing the same to the protections of the Amazon."
The last month has seen an incredible explosion of the international opposition to Bolsonaro's exploitation of the Amazon. Protesters around the world demonstrated outside Brazilian embassies as international outrage at the Brazilian government's environmental vandalism grows.
Marcio Monzane, Regional Secretary of UNI Americas, said, "The international resistance to Bolsonaro's ecological war on the Amazon is united and growing. Workers, environmental movements, NGOs, indigenous peoples and young people are standing together against the threat to our planet."
The Brazilian government's policies are actively worsening conditions for the environment, workers, and democracy. UNI has been supporting its Brazilian affiliates to ensure that economic growth cannot be at the expense of the environment and workers' rights.
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation: With the global week of climate action, the solidarity actions ahead of the Argentina election and the World Day for Decent Work all fast approaching, the global labour movement is preparing for a strong month of action. On the policy front, we will carry the voice of working people to the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers meeting, to the UN Climate Summit and to the UN SDG Summit.
While Bolsonaro's deregulation sees the Amazon burn, working people around the world are set to take to the streets during the global week of climate action on 20-27 September 2019. Countries are currently revising their emissions targets and we know that Just Transitions need to be part of their plans. Governments are feeling the pressure and now is the time to make our voices heard and make a strong case for real climate solutions that bring everybody along.
Our recent win at the ILO, with the adoption of the international Convention to tackle violence and harassment at work is fresh in our minds. It is with renewed fervour that we must push on with our efforts to overcome gender discrimination. That's why the theme for this year's World Day for Decent Work is "invest in the care economy". We know investing in the care sector boosts employment for women and men, strengthens the real economy and is essential to overcoming entrenched discrimination against women at work and in society. This is the message we will bring to the streets on 8 October because only workers' power will see this through to real policy action.
Workers' capital, in the form of retirement savings, is a major component of workers' power. We are working towards new ways to use this asset to hold international finance accountable, to shape investment in the future of work, in Just Transition initiatives and to challenge tax avoidance. Through the Global Unions Committee on Workers' Capital (CWC), we are driving this strategic approach to maximise the benefit of this vital asset to the advantage of all working people. We will be joining colleagues at the 2019 CWC Conference in Paris later this month.
USA: Eugene Scalia's Nomination Is a Threat to Working People
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Eugene Scalia's announced nomination for secretary of labor: Eugene Scalia has spent his entire career making life more difficult and dangerous for working people. We opposed him in 2002 for solicitor of labor based on his anti-worker record, and his disdain for working people has worsened, not improved.
Scalia has fought ergonomics standards, threatened to destroy workers' retirement savings, challenged the expansion of health care and dismissed repetitive injuries as "junk science." His extreme views are in direct conflict with what America deserves from a secretary of labor.
The secretary of labor needs to be a true advocate for working people. Even when we disagree, we expect a fair arbiter who listens to workers and respects the deliberative process. The Labor Department's work is essential to protecting America's working people and should be subject to less influence from corporate lobbyists, not more. Scalia's views are dangerously outside the mainstream and leave us no choice but to oppose his nomination.
Unions take transatlantic action to end poverty wages and uncertainty at Lufthansa subsidiary
06 Sep 2019: At a time of record airline profits, US, German and British unions are teaming up to campaign for better labour standards at the airline catering provider LSG Sky Chefs.
Owned by Lufthansa, LSG supplies catering services to a range of major transport providers, most notably American Airlines in all three countries, which has made over $12 billion in profit since 2015. Despite this, LSG workers face low pay and patchy coverage by employment benefits.
Workers from the US, Germany and Britain account for over 20,000 of LSG's global workforce of 35,000 people. In July, German workers attended a rally in Washington DC organised by ITF's US affiliate UNITE HERE, where the workers won support for their campaign from presidential candidates including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
In August, 58 workers were arrested at American Airlines' headquarters in Texas for engaging in non-violent civil disobedience to protest against poverty level wages. LSG and American Airlines workers from Argentina, Spain, and New Zealand also attended the Dallas actions, reflecting the global concern about these companies. US catering workers remain ready to strike after balloting earlier in the summer, if and when released by the country's National Mediation Board.Yesterday, in Frankfurt, ITF's German affiliate ver.di hosted an international conference of LSG workers with a focus on Lufthansa's planned sale of the company, which could also impact British workers organised by fellow affiliate Unite. The ITF and its affiliates demand that Lufthansa call off the sale. Following the summit, hundreds of LSG and Lufthansa workers from Germany, Britain and the US protested at Frankfurt airport and outside Lufthansa's headquarters.
Today, at London's Heathrow airport, workers from these three companies again leafleted American Airlines passengers and executives, demanding that the company step in to end poverty wages and ensure affordable health insurance for workers who serve its passengers.
"I was evicted from my home because I couldn't keep paying my rent, even though I was working full time for LSG" says Tenae Stover, a worker from Washington DC who travelled to Europe as part of the union delegation. "Whether it's Lufthansa, British Airways or American Airlines, our fight to end poverty wages in the same. We all work in the same profitable industry and it's up to the airlines, in particular Lufthansa as the owner and American as the main client, to take responsibility for the pain and uncertainty that they're causing."
International outrage at Chile's brutal breech of freedom of association
The ITUC has joined international condemnation of the Chilean government's repressive crackdown of a demonstration in Santiago yesterday. Trade unionists were among those targeted by police aggression and arrests in the aftermath of Thursday's peaceful demonstration.
06-09-2019: Thousands of people took to the streets on 5 September 2019 in answer to the call by an alliance of 60 civil society organisations, which includes trade unions as well as environmental, feminist and indigenous rights organisations. They were denouncing the anti-union and socially regressive policy overhaul proposed by the Piñera government, which would result in the dismantling of existing labour protections and reduce access to health, education and social protection.
"It is revealing of the Piñera government's intentions that it thinks it can shut down people's voice by sending in heavily-armoured police. Freedom of assembly plays a crucial role in the exchanges that build inclusive policies and social consensus. This attack is an affront to the functioning of democratic societies and this sort of abuse cannot be allowed to happen unchallenged. The violence that has guided this government's continuous efforts to dismantle people's social infrastructure is now plain for all to see," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.
Chile is set to host two high profile international meetings: of the UN's Climate Change Conference -COP25- and of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in the near future, and the government's actions are genuine cause for concern in relation to these major events.
Multiple reports indicate that police aggression began from the very beginning of the march and resulted in several injuries and arrests. Among those arrested were the General Secretary of CUT Chile, Nolberto Diaz, and Vice President Tamara Muñoz, a member of the ITUC General Council. Police further attempted to break into the CUT Chile offices. The arrested union leaders were released many hours later without charges.
"The Piñera government seems to be incapable of engaging in social dialogue. This heavy-handed response to the legitimate concerns of the Chilean people confirms this government's growing recourse to repression. As the slogan of the mobilisation rightly summarised, people are uniting because they are tired of a government that benefits only the elites at the expense of the majority in society," said Burrow.
Hong Kong: Over 50 organisations call on government to guarantee media freedom
06 September 2019: The International Federation of Journalist (IFJ) and Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA), together with over 50 journalist unions and leading freedom of expression organisations around the world, have today written to the Hong Kong government, urging it to give stronger assurances that press freedom is protected in Hong Kong. The letter also urged Hong Kong's Government under Carrie Lam to ensure the personal safety of journalists, and establish an independent committee for investigation.
The IFJ and HKJA has recorded a large number of violations to press freedom since the breakout of protests in June, and observed that assaults of journalists are becoming more serious. The violations were mostly perpetrated by police. The co-signing organisations expressed serious concern about the failure of Hong Kong Government to ensure the safety of journalists during the protests.
"The recent spike in incidents in Hong Kong is evidence of a clear problem with a spike in attacks recorded. We condemn violence initiated by the authorities (particularly the police) on journalists, as well as the ongoing failure by those in power to ensure the safety of Hong Kong journalists and citizens at this critical time. These cases have seriously undermined press freedom in Hong Kong and continue to send a disturbing message to the rest of the world about the parlous state of democracy and media freedom."
"Journalists play an integral role in any democratic society. Attacks against them must be taken very seriously and their attackers reprimanded, to ensure that press freedom and free speech cannot be silenced by a culture of impunity."
The growing body of journalist organisations and press freedom groups urges the Hong Kong government to establish an independent committee, to investigate these incidents and establish meaningful action and response to protecting press freedom and the safety of journalists.
This is a climate emergency. It is climate chaos.
Sep 05, 2019: PSI mourns the loss of life and the devastation in the northern Bahamas caused by Hurricane Dorian. We send our condolences to the people of the Bahamas and especially our affiliate, the Bahamas Public Services Union (Bahamas PSU).
For four consecutive years, the peoples of the Caribbean have experienced Category five hurricanes (Matthew in 2016, Irma and Maria in 2017, Michael in 2018, and now Dorian in 2019). We commend the public emergency services workers and other public servants on the front lines of rescue, relief and recovery efforts. We welcome the efforts of volunteers working in coordination with public authorities.
Yet again, the world is witnessing one of the impacts of climate chaos. Hurricane Dorian sat on the northern Bahamas for over 20 hours. Heart-wrenching photos, and videos of devastation in the northern Bahamas are available for the world to recognise the existential threat to the Caribbean caused by climate chaos and global heating. Official sources estimate that at least 45% of houses and other infrastructure is lost. Dealing with hurricane and weather events that constantly increase in frequency and ferocity is a matter of survival for the peoples of the Caribbean.
"Many of our unions represent workers in public emergency services - the women and men who are at the frontlines before and after the passage of hurricanes. They too will need support as they rescue people and save lives. We are continually calling on Caribbean governments to invest more in public emergency services. At the same time, we will raise our voices in regional and global spaces."
The answer is staring us in the face. Unless we dramatically change our patterns of production and consumption, unless our governments serve the interests of people and planet over profit, the small island and low-lying states in the Caribbean and the Pacific will disappear. PSI's affiliates in the Caribbean are committed to taking bold actions to realise a sustainable and resilient Caribbean.
Mass protest in Myanmar calling for enforced labour law
30 August, 2019: Thousands of workers from 50 factories demonstrated in the morning of 29 August, demanding that the newly revised law on settlement of labour disputes be implemented.
4,000 workers in the Hlaing Thar Yar district and 600 workers in the Kyauk Tan district voiced their protests over the lack of implementation of the amended law, which was passed in June this year. Many of the demonstrators wore red, the colour of their union, IndustriALL affiliate Industrial Workers' Federation of Myanmar (IWFM).
Two union leaders, Kyi Thi Win and Shane Thu, were fired from Prosperity Knitting factory in June, as they were setting up of a basic labour organization in the factory. The IWFM is demanding the immediate reinstatement of the two union leaders and effective implementation of the new law.
"This is a violation of workers' rights," says Khaing Zar, IWFM president and IndustriALL Executive Committee member. "We have exhausted all institutional channels like the labour department, the township conciliation body and Ministry of Labour, but the government is turning a deaf ear to this serious violation of workers' right."
According to Article 23 of the revised law on settling labour disputes, a dispute between an employer and a worker will be handled by the labour department or the court. In the previous dispute settlement mechanism a township conciliation body acted as the mediator. "The case of the union leaders fired in June clearly shows that the authorities are now upholding the law and reinstating unfairly dismissed workers. We are calling on the government to enforce the amendment of the law and recognise workers' right to organize and form a union," Khaing Zar added.
ITF sends message of solidarity to Hong Kong workers
30 Aug 2019: The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) supports aviation workers at the Cathay Pacific Group who are facing breaches of their fundamental rights.
ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton has written to Carol Ng, current chair of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and former cabin crew union leader, expressing the solidarity of transport workers around the world.
At a politically challenging time in Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific workers are facing discriminatory treatment in the workplace for exercising their fundamental right to peaceful protest. Individuals should be free to engage in lawful civic action outside their working hours with no interference from their employer.
Nevertheless, Cathay Pacific has begun to target workers with disciplinary procedures and dismissals for their activities beyond the workplace. The most high-profile of these cases involves the union leader Rebecca Sy, president of the ITF-affiliated Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Flight Attendants Association, who was dismissed after 17 years of service at a Cathay subsidiary. These developments are especially troubling as ITF affiliates in Hong Kong have traditionally enjoyed constructive industrial relations with Cathay Pacific Group companies. The ITF hopes that the airline's management will cease its campaign of repressive action and resume dialogue with the unions concerned.
Mr Cotton said: "The political situation in Hong Kong is undoubtedly charged, but no workers should face retaliation from their employer for engaging in lawful action outside the workplace. This constitutes a breach of fundamental rights which apply to all workers the world over. The ITF stands in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Hong Kong and we call for an end to the repression of workers at the Cathay Pacific Group."
Brazil: Amazon burns, Democracy dies
29 August 2019: Since the beginning of his government last January, Brazilian far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has verbally assaulted environmentalists, social activists, trade unionists and left-wing activists. At the same time, he deplores the human rights, labour rights, property rights of indigenous peoples and encourages, through warmongering rhetoric, the invasion of indigenous lands and deforestation of the Amazon.
His Minister of Envrionment, Ricardo Salles, is aligned with big farmers business and as consequence, the inspection and control agencies have been depleted and their resources diminished. In June, a renowned scientist was fired because he warned the government about the growth of deforestation detected by satellites.
In early August, Bolsonaro turned his back on the Norwegian and German millionaire cooperation for the "Amazon Fund", which was addressed to support actions to combat illegal logging and wildfires. In addition, Bolsonaro is putting the blame on the wildfires to environmentalists by accusing them of "being behind the wildfires as a means of protesting the cut of international cooperation". He fails to recognize that the real culprit is his mis-guided policies and refusal to stop the wildfires.
According to one of BWI's affiliate in Brazil, CONTICOM President Claudio da Silva Gomes, "The killing of rural trade unionists by rural farmers has also increased since the beginning of the Bolsonaro government. These are the same people behind the increase of wildfires and growth of illegal logging. There are connections between these actions and the fact that the slave labour enforcement forces used against illegal logging have been disabled or unable to carry out their job".
He continued: "The weakening of trade unions in the North region is also a factor in the increase of illegal deforestation and burning. Bolsonaro is promoting policies to banish trade unions; however, we will continue our struggle in strengthening trade union power to not only address the wildfires but fight back against Bolsonaro".
Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of the Building and Wood Workers' International, called upon on all BWI affiliates to undertake any and all necessary action to stop the deforestation in the Amazon. He stated: "The lungs of the world are on fire, and those who are responsible instead of using their breath to bicker they should use it to find concrete solutions".
EI calls on Employment and Labour Ministers in G20 countries to refocus on education
29.08.2019: Education International leadership attending the G20 Labour and Employment Ministerial meeting remind ministers that education has to be part of any meaningful long-term strategy to address our common challenges.
Susan Hopgood, Education International (EI) President and David Edwards, EI General Secretary, are attending the Labour 20 meeting in Japan. Convened by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD, the Labour 20 represents the interests of workers at the G20 level and brings together labour unions across G20 countries and Global Union Federations.
While the 2018 Labour 20 meeting in Mendoza introduced the first Education 20 engagement group and highlighted the importance of investing in quality life-long education, this priority is conspicuously absent from this year's agenda. In a blog published in the run-up to the meeting, David Edwards reminded leaders that climate change, just transitions and the future of work are all fundamentally dependent on education. "It is lamentable that the G20 will not be acknowledging the central need for an inclusive, equitable and quality education system that develops the whole of the student for the whole of their lives," the EI General Secretary wrote, adding that "we are at a time where we know what works, but we are ignoring the facts. OECD has been consistent in stressing that education for sustainable futures is critical but G20 countries continue to cut investment and push privatisation solutions that have been shown not to work." Edwards called for more transnational cooperation based on a common drive to develop critical thinking in students and provide life-long learning opportunities to build a future that benefits everyone and our planet.
In Japan, Susan Hopgood brought the perspective of educators to the table during a seminar session she was invited to chair. Opening the session on "A labour protection floor: fundamental rights, working time, wages, occupational health and safety," the EI President highlighted the fact that too many workers are locked into precarious work, including in education where many teachers, university staff and other education support personnel are on short or fixed-term contracts. Hopgood warned that "protection of rights may exist on paper, but the absence of a long-term employment relationship makes them vulnerable to abuse." In addition, the quest for flexibility has undermined protective legislation and collective bargaining. "It has contributed to a growing class of working poor and has accentuated inequality." In terms of occupational health and safety, Hopgood noted that many threats remained, with climate change looming large for the entire world. In the midst of a politically-driven individualisation of our lives, Hopgood invited participants to discuss human-centred ways to organise the future of work that "enhance rather than undermine solidarity, that can reduce isolation and foster cooperation which will strengthen rather than erode democracy, including industrial democracy."
Education International will continue to advocate for quality education systems in the G20 and around the world and a better future for workers with a life-long learning guarantee.
Africa Regional Cement Network launched in Nigeria
27 August 2019: The BWI affiliates from Africa and Middle East region representing and organizing workers in the cement industry met in Abuja, Nigeria from 19-20 August to launch the Africa Regional Cement Network. The Network was the outcome of the Conference on Cement Industry in Africa and Middle East, where more than seventy-five trade unionists from eighteen countries participated.
The main objective of the African Cement Network is to promote decent work in the cement industry by sharing and exchanging information and experiences in areas of organizing, promoting safety and health, addressing subcontracting and precarious forms of work, and ensuring better working conditions. The Network is also to foster solidarity amongst the members in national and regional campaign targeting the cement industry.
Antoun Antoun, President of GSTU of Lebanon, who was elected Chair of the Network emphasized the important role the Network will play in supporting campaigns against the bad behaviours of multinational companies. He stated, "Our main target will be the top players in the Cement industry in Africa and MENA such as LafargeHolcim, HeidelbergCement and Dangote Cement, as they have a history of anti-union practices in many countries in the region including Nigeria," He said.
The BWI Regional Representative, Crecentia Mofokeng observed that only two unions were able to organise Dangote; TUICO in Tanzania and small percentage with EIFCWMCTU in Ethiopia. She stated, "We need to launch an aggressive organizing campaign through the established network targeting Dangote to defend the rights of workers working at Dangote everywhere in Africa and the Middle East."
The African Cement Network developed an action plan including campaigns and trainings to be implemented from September 2019 to the BWI Global Cement Conference that is scheduled to be held in Cairo, Egypt in 2020.
Amazon: global resistance to Bolsonaro's destruction
The ITUC has expressed its full solidarity with the indigenous peoples of the Amazon who have seen vast swathes of their homeland go up in smoke. The policies and environmental denialism of Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro have been heavily criticised by the international community as contributing to the devastation.
27-08-2019: "Bolsonaro's long-standing denial of the scientific consensus on climate, coupled with the impunity he promotes for the powerful, is an open invitation to the worst of the Amazon's predatory exploiters. He has systematically dismantled protections: of the planet and of people. The results are plain to see, and he has detonated a powder keg of destruction," said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC.
"These flames have revived the determination of the resistance to the extreme right government of Brazil, and the resistance is increasingly international and united. Environmental movements, workers, indigenous peoples, youth and others are standing together, and we must not let Bolsonaro's delusional world views threaten our planet. Bolsonaro claims that the Amazon belongs to Brazil, but in fact he is stealing it from the people of his own country and the seven other Amazon countries, and suffocating the lungs of the earth, in the interests of international capital," said Burrow.
Protests at Brazilian embassies have taken place in numerous capital cities and more are planned.
An integral part of Bolsonaro's electoral campaign was his pledge to exploit the Amazon. While illegal deforestation was already the focus of international outcry, Bolsonaro chose to roll back protections for indigenous people and for the environment. Since coming to power, he has selected an environmental minister, Ricardo Salles, known as the "anti-environment minister" for his close ties to the mining industry. Salles was notably found to have altered maps to the benefit of mining companies while serving as a state environmental official, a conviction which landed only three weeks prior to his appointment by Bolsonaro.
"The Amazon is ours," announced Bolsonaro last month in response to concerns expressed by the international community about his environmental approach, ignoring the fact that the Amazon extends into eight countries, not just Brazil.
"The extent of the damage can be traced to his approach. The extractive approach is generalised. For working people like for the Amazon, his approach is to give a free pass to exploitation. His denial is destroying a vital resource for the environmental viability of our planet. Humans have co-existed within and protected this vast habitat for millennia, and the indigenous peoples now find their homes destroyed and are forced to flee. Their custodian role needs to be supported, not dismantled," said Burrow.
Bolsonaro's controversial election occurred amid the country's most contentious trial, which saw the overwhelmingly popular ex-president Luiz Inácio 'Lula' da Silva barred from presenting himself. Recent revelations have shown the politicised abuse of prosecutorial powers and collusion of the judge and prosecution during the trial that resulted in Lula's imprisonment. The judge responsible is now Bolsonaro's justice minister. The ITUC is campaigning with Brazilian trade unions and civil society for Lula's release and against Bolsonaro's retrograde attacks on labour law and social security.
Trade Unions in South Korea for Ratification of ILO Core Conventions
15 April 2019 Today the Korean Construction Workers' Union (KCWU) affiliated to the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions (KFCITU) held a rally demanding the government guarantee construction workers basic labor rights in front of Namdaemun on April 13th. Then they marched to join more than 20,000 at the main rally organized by its national center, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). The key demands of the main rally included ratify ILO core conventions including conventions 87 and 98; amend Article 2 of the Labour Union Act; and guarantee specially-employed workers such as self-employed, contractor, and "misclassified" workers basic labor rights."
In addressing the protesters, KCTU Chairman Kim Myeong Hwan stated, "President Moon Jae-in promised to guarantee specially-employed workers basic labor rights even before he took office, but he has failed to do so after three years from in office and now he is attempting to eliminate the right to association for specially employed workers. We call on President to keep his promise to workers in South Korea."
Lee Young Cheol, Chair of the Specially Employed Workers' Association and the Vice President of the KCWU added, "We must not forget the martyrs who sacrificed themselves for the rights of workers for the past two decades. We will continue to fight and mobilize until the ILO General Assembly in June to ratify the ILO core conventions and revise the labor union law. The specially employed workers, will take the lead in this important struggle."
Following the rally, participants marched to the Presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
The BWI along with UNI and ITF sent letters to the South Korean government this week calling for the immediate ratification of the ILO core conventions to ensure basic labor rights.
In the letter, BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson urged President Moon Jae In to live up to his campaign promises to South Korean workers. He stated, "This is the 100th anniversary of the ILO. It would be only fitting that South Korea shows its commitment to abide by international standards by ratifying the core ILO conventions."
PSI supports KCTU's general strike for ratification of ILO Core Conventions without regression
05 March 2019: Social dialogue towards ratification of ILO Core Conventions 87 (freedom of association) and 98 (collective bargaining) in the Republic of Korea appears to be moving in the direction of actually weakening fundamental labour rights.
Public Services International (PSI) expresses its support for the KCTU General Strike and concern that social dialogue towards ratification of ILO Core Conventions 87 (freedom of association) and 98 (collective bargaining) in the Republic of Korea appears to be moving in the direction of actually weakening fundamental labour rights.
Discussions on ratification of ILO conventions and revision of labour law are currently taking place in the Committee on Improvement of Labour Relations Law and Practice of the Economic, a subcommittee of the Social and Labour Council (ESLC), a social dialogue body established by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The committee is scheduled to issue recommendations on labour law revision on March 7.
Public interest members of the committee have already issued recommendations on labour law revision, which fall well below international standards by failing to guarantee trade union rights for self-employed workers, maintaining restrictions on freedom of association and political activities for government employees and teachers, and calling for new concrete limitations on the participation of dismissed and unemployed workers and officers of unions formed above the company level. Legislation based on these recommendations, but that is even more restrictive, has already been proposed in the National Assembly.
Further, PSI has learned that employers' representatives involved in the ESLC process have called for further revisions of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Adjustment Act (TULRAA), which put even greater restrictions on trade union rights, particularly the right to strike, while granting employers new powers, such as to make claims of 'unfair labour practices' against unions. The Moon Jae-in government has indicated willingness to accept many of these demands, claiming this is necessary to win support for ratification of ILO conventions.
PSI is particularly concerned that throughout committee discussions, guarantees for self-employed and precarious workers are being side-lined. The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association has, on several occasions, recommended that the South Korean government take the necessary steps to protect the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining for these workers. The European Commission, which is currently engaged in formal consultation over the Korean government's failure to live up to obligations under the EU-ROK FTA, has also raised the issue of the exclusion of self-employed, unemployed and dismissed workers from the right to freedom of association as an essential issue the South Korean government must address.
The question of a system of minimum services in line with ILO standards has been left out of the discussion. As it now stands, the broad and vague definition of 'public interest businesses' in South Korean labour law means that many public institutions and other sectors not considered 'essential services in the strict sense of the term' have set excessively high levels of minimum services to be maintained during strikes and that employers may freely use replacement workers to break strikes.
The ILO has also recommended on several occasions that restrictions on the right to strike in workplaces that are not 'essential services in the strict sense of the term', such as railway, airlines and energy companies be keep to a minimum and that unions be granted the right to participate on equal footing with employers in deciding these minimum levels.
PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli has expressed her concern over these developments, stating: "Since 1996 when South Korea joined the OECD, the government has made repeated promises to the international community to ratify ILO Core Conventions and improve the legal framework on trade union rights. PSI welcomed President's Moon promise to live up to these commitments when he first took office, but has been disappointed by what has followed since. The current discussions that tie regressive revision of the labour law to ratification of ILO conventions and ignore past ILO recommendations are unacceptable. Dialogue concerning ratification of ILO conventions should take place following a strict commitment to the principle of non-regression in existing laws and with a view towards actually improving the rights of workers in South Korea."
International Labour Organisation - 50 for Freedom
Malta has become the 30th country worldwide to ratify the ILO Protocol on Forced labour, thereby committing to take effective measures to prevent all forms of forced labour, including trafficking in persons, protect victims and ensure their access to justice and compensation.
The Government of Malta has ratified the legally-binding treaty that requires countries to take new measures to tackle forced labour and modern slavery with a keen focus on protection, prevention and compensation.
"As the International Labour Organisation (ILO) celebrates its Centenary, we are faced with the realisation that the work and values that the organisation stands for remain relevant and applicable more so in today's world", Ambassador Olaph Terribile, Permanent Representative of Malta to the UN Office and other International Organizations in Geneva said. "Malta shall continue to seek and promote the enhancement of labour conditions both at a national level as well as within the appropriate multilateral platforms, confident in the belief that decent work is undeniably linked to sustainability and prosperity", he added.
The Government of Malta has taken significant measures to develop the legal and institutional framework for combatting trafficking in persons, including by criminalizing all forms of trafficking as well as forced labour, with penalties of four to 12 years imprisonment. Malta has also strengthened its efforts towards the protection of victims of trafficking in persons by enacting the "Victims of Crime Act" in April 2015, which includes provisions regarding access to assistance services and compensation. Moreover, the Anti-Human Trafficking Monitoring Committee was set up in 2011 for drawing up and monitoring the implementation of anti-trafficking policies. A National Referral Mechanism has also been active in Malta since 2013 and is mainly involved in the identification of victims or potential victims of trafficking.
The ILO Director-General, Mr. Guy Ryder, welcomed the step: "With the ratification of the Protocol, Malta once again confirms its commitment to promoting and implementing fundamental rights and principles at work".
This ratification supports the effective promotion of the ILO's Decent Work Agenda and achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Target 8.7 to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour, and represents a significant contribution to mark ILO's centenary. The ILO estimates that about 24.9 million people worldwide are victims of forced labour, with 16 million people exploited in the private sector in activities such as domestic work, construction or agriculture; 4.8 million in forced sexual exploitation, and 4 million in forced labour imposed by state authorities. The ILO also estimates that this exploitation generates some US$150 billion a year in illicit profits.
In November 2017, during the Global Conference on child labour and forced labour in Argentina, the European Union pledged to "promote actively swift ratification of the Forced Labour Protocol among EU members". Malta is the 14th EU member state to ratify the ILO Protocol on Forced Labour.