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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 meet to address serious concerns with NEX / ALSA
The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) brought together unions representing National Express (NEX) / ALSA workers across Spain, North America and the United Kingdom during the week of February 19, 2018 in Madrid. Attendees included the FSC-CCOO of Comisiones Obreras and Unión General de Trabajadores (Spain), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (North America) and Unite the Union (United Kingdom).
16/03/2018: The meeting focused on NEX's inconsistent approach to labour relations across its global operations. NEX, which operates as Durham School Service in the US, has led an on-going and systematic campaign to undermine union organising efforts in the US. Teamster representatives shared documented reports from workers in the US that substantiate their claims.
NEX's hostile actions often include serious intimidation and harassment of workers and create a culture of fear in the workplace. NEX's actions have created an adversarial relationship between the company and its workers, thus preventing a collaborative approach that would ensure the safest transportation to the communities the workers serve.
British and Spanish unions noted that the approach in the US is at odds with NEX's stated position on trade unions and inconsistent with its approach in the UK and Spain. The unions committed themselves to working together to encourage NEX and its national subsidiaries to promote constructive dialogue at all levels between unions and the company and development a more positive and collaborative relationship in all countries they operate.
Mario Martín Moreno, general secretary of the road transport section of FSC-CCOO, said: "Workers at NEX / ALSA are providing the same professional service in Spain as drivers in North America, the United Kingdom and beyond." He went on to say "CC.OO members are committed to standing with workers across the globe in calling on the company to adhere to the highest standards when it comes to treatment of its workers and the recognition of their rights to join and take part in the activities of trade unions. Where you come from or work shouldn't affect the rights you have or the respect you deserve from your employer."
Diego Buenestado, general secretary of Roads and Urban Transport sections of UGT, stated: "We understand that the CEO of National Express-North America will be meeting with the Teamsters on March 19. We encourage him to use this opportunity to commit to changing the company's approach and ending hostilities towards Union organising. We urge positive, constructive dialogue between the parties that ensures proper respect for workers and their Union in the US, in the same way as we are respected here in Spain. The company has made it clear that it puts great value on its operations in each of our countries and we expect them to put the same value on the treatment of their workers and approach to unions in each county too."
Noel Coard, ITF inland transport section secretary, said: "Regardless of the name or location of the company's business, this is one company with one Board of Directors. It should apply one set of rules and operate one single positive approach to unions." He added "The ITF is committed to working with our affiliated unions to ensure that a company like NEX, is held accountable for its treatment of workers throughout the world."
Romanian finance unions gear up to restore sectoral bargaining
14 March 2018: The Romanian Federation of Trade Unions in Insurance and Banking (FSAB), with support from UNI Global Union, is gearing up for a historic fight to regain the sectoral bargaining rights lost in 2011.
Earlier this week, FSAB and UNI leaders met in the mountain town of Predeal to prepare for this push, and the campaign will roll out in the coming months with workers in key banks like Raiffeisen, UniCredit, Piraeus, UPA, Société General, BRD, and Bancpost leading the charge. A sectoral agreement would cover all the 100,000 workers employed by Romania's finance companies and raise standards in the industry.
Suppressed workers' voices leads to suppressed wages
The 2011 law requires unions to represent more than 7 percent of the sector's workforce, and for the industry employer association to agree to sectoral representation. The member unions of the FSAB have met this threshold with 17 percent trade union density within the sector-including 50 percent density in the largest Romanian banks.
However, the industry association has to recognize the FSAB's call for a return to a sectoral agreement.
Making history by restoring rights
"Workers' demands for sectoral bargaining will be so loud that the banks will not be able to ignore them," said Angelo DiCristo, Head of UNI Finance. "Sectoral bargaining is under attack throughout Europe, and the finance workers of Romania are ready to make history turning the tide."
Pakistan: Sacked GSK workers fight for justice
12.03.2018: Pakistani management of the British pharmaceutical multinational GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has illegally dismissed over 150 workers after years of union busting and manipulation of contracts.
IndustriALL Global Union is supporting its Pakistani affiliate, the PCEM, as its members at GSK conduct a demonstration outside the gates of the company's West Wharf Plant in Karachi. GSK has used a sham outsourcing contract system at the West Wharf Plant for many years. While there are 110 permanent employees, over 400 have been employed on a contractual basis via third party employers. Many of those contract workers have worked at the plant for 20 years and under all legal and ethical standards deserve to be employed directly by GSK on a permanent basis.
In the year 2015, 200 of these workers took legal action and received a court order confirming their employment right. Pursuant to this legal foundation, the workers, through their union, pushed to be covered by a collective bargaining agreement. However management blocked this group of employees from obtaining collective bargaining coverage.
In December 2017, the West Wharf Plant management cancelled the contract with the third-party employer "Excellent Services" and shifted the contract to another company HRSG, expecting all the workers to continue their job, but lose their rights and cancel their pending disputes. Refusing to sign this sham deal, the workers continued to carry out their work duties as usual. Then management stopped paying the workers' salaries and benefits. From 1 March 2018 the management has conducted an illegal lockout of the workers, deploying security forces at the plant gates.
Despite the company deploying a sizeable security force, around 150 workers have been protesting outside the factory gates since the lockout began. They demand their jobs back.
In his letter to the GSK Pakistan Chief Executive, Azizul Huq, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Valter Sanches writes: "This stand off and denigrating disrespect of your workforce are very damaging to the international reputation of GlaxoSmithKline. The PCEM is a mature and responsible trade union that is a well-connected part of the global trade union movement. "The PCEM will be fully supported throughout this conflict with you in Pakistan. I expect your swift and serious response so that we can work towards a solution that repairs the reputational damage that your management has already caused."
IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Ozkan said: "I will be in Pakistan this week and will stand with our members on their picket outside the GSK factory. What shameful treatment by this world-famous medicine maker of the people who make their product."
On International Women's Day: Nurses Strike Crosses 200 Days in Kerala
08 March 2018: As the world celebrates women's struggle for equality, the inspiring struggle of nurses at the KVM Hospital in Alappuzha has now reached 200 days.
Alappuzha, India: Under the banner of United Nurses Association (UNA), they are demanding the implementation of statutory wages and benefits and the reinstatement of 112 unfairly dismissed workers, 107 of which are women. UNA is an affiliate union with Public Services International (PSI). Around 30 nurses take turns at the protest site just off the National Highway 66.
UNA wants an immediate end to the KVM policy of employing nurses as 'trainees' on less than minimum salaries and full time work. Says, Rejitha who has worked at KVM for five years. "At KVM, they took me as a trainee in 2013, and paid me half of the minimum wage. I had to renew my contract every six months, and after one year and a half, they gave me a permanent contract. Now I am paid the minimum wage of a fresher, despite 8 years of work experience" Not only is the trainee system used to deny workers their due wages, statutory benefits such as health insurance and pension schemes are also not accounted for.
Underpayment of women (in occupations in which they are in a majority) is one of the mechanisms of gender pay discrimination that contributes to women workers being denied equal wages.
Men and women nurses from other hospitals are also joining KVM struggle.
Lissu Michael, now on the tenth day of an indefinite hunger strike, says "KVM management has refused to even come for conciliation meetings called by the Government. As the strike extends, my colleagues are facing more pressure and hardship. They (KVM) think that as nurses are mostly women, we can't fight back for too long. We want to show them that this is not true. This is why I am on hunger strike."
The Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan has now called for a resolution. The next conciliation meeting mediated by his Government is scheduled for 14 March.
Irregularities at KVM affect both workers and patients. "In a ward with 25 beds, we are only three nurses for the day shift, one for the night shift. This is not in line with the standard requirement of 1:6 nurse to patient ratio in general wards and 1:4 in special wards, as per SIU (Staff Inspection Unit) norms of 1991-92. Further, workers report that there is no proper fire safety, no proper waste disposal system and no water treatment plant. One wonders how is it that this hospital even got a green light from the municipality to operate, "says Rega from the UNA.
The KVM strike started on 21 August 2017 as the management refused to enter into a dialogue regarding irregularities with regard to wages and working conditions.
Meanwhile, PSI has sent a letter to the Chief Minister arguing that the KVM management has failed to show its ability to run the hospital in accordance with the law and, if required, the government should intervene. PSI will continue to stand in solidarity with the struggle at KVM. We congratulate the KVM nurses for their determination that upholds the spirit of International Working Women's Day.
UK: higher education personnel full steam ahead to protect social benefits and decent pensions
05.03.2018: Thousands of university staff have taken part in the biggest strike the UK higher education sector has ever seen, and successfully brought employers to the table for negotiations on social benefits.
Education International affiliate in the UK, the University and College Union (UCU), at the centre of the fight against the end of guaranteed pension benefits in the British higher education sector, has managed to get the university employers association to agree to negotiations through the national arbitration and conciliation body (ACAS). The discussions begin on 5 March.
Entering into talks to try and end strike action affecting 61 universities
The first phase of UCU's strike action induced ACAS to get involved in trying to resolve the dispute. The upcoming week will be critical in the effort to save educators' pensions. The strike action will continue. Staff were on strike on 28 February, and will be on strike on 5 March. This initial wave of 14 days of strikes will then conclude with a five-day walkout from 12-16 March.
No to punishment of university staff
Wide support from global education community
"If the governments want to preserve the profession, they should start moving from rhetoric to concrete actions. Teachers and education personnel all over the European region want to see the governments' commitment to give more support to teachers in practice and not only on paper", stressed Susan Flocken, Director of EI European region, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE). In her support letter dated 12 February and sent to UCU, she had already firmly asserted that "ETUCE stands firmly at your side in the fight for high quality education for all. Decent social benefits for the work of those who dedicate their life to the education of students is the cornerstone of a sustainable and effective education system."
DRC: IndustriALL supports new mining code, demands greater share for workers
05.03.2018: IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), TUMEC, CSC, UNTC and OTUC, support a new mining code that will ensure that the country receives a greater share of the revenue earned from its mines.
The DRC will tomorrow sign into law a new mining code, passed by parliament in January 2018, and announced at the African Mining Indaba in Cape Town earlier in February, where IndustriALL participated as a labour representative.
Unions in the DRC believe that the code is progressive, as it seeks to address loopholes that have led to mining companies accumulating profits at the expense of workers and communities. Although the DRC is rich in natural resources, its 80 million people are among the poorest in the world. Despite billions of dollars in private investment in mining, there has been very limited benefit to the people of the country.
It is appropriate that the people of the DRC benefit from the current cobalt-lead commodities boom. Demand for cobalt, pushed by smartphones and electric car batteries, has seen prices skyrocketing by 127 per cent in a year to $75,000 per tonne, and copper prices increasing above $7,000.
The code increases taxes and royalties on mining companies, as well as addressing environmental concerns and the rights of communities, especially those whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, that are affected by mining. The code increases royalties from 2 to 3.5 per cent for copper and cobalt. Royalties in neighbouring countries are higher: Zambia (6 per cent ), Ghana (5 ) and Tanzania (4 ). The state's stake is also increased from 5 to 10 per cent, to be held by the state-owned mining company, Gécamines. The code also seeks to increase corporation tax from 30 to 35 per cent.
The introduction of the new code is opposed by mining companies Randgold, Glencore, China Molybdenam and Ivanhoe. Mining CEOs travelled to DRC to lobby President Joseph Kabila against the code.
On a recent visit to DRC, IndustriALL witnessed a stark difference between the appalling conditions reported by workers at Glencore operations and Chinese-owned artisanal mines, and the facilities available at Gécamines operations. However, Gécamines lacks the capital to develop DRC's mining potential. The small increase in royalties will give the DRC the capital to develop mining, create jobs and improve infrastructure, including roads, schools and hospitals.
IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches wrote to President Kabila to raise the unions' issues, saying: "We were saddened and outraged at what we discovered: the daily experience of abuse and violation of fundamental labour rights of Congolese mine workers at these operations are in total disregard of the laws of the country and collective bargaining arrangements. "Taking into account the appalling working conditions at some multinational mining companies' operations in the country, we attach extreme importance to the actual implementation of this new mining code."
HKScan meat workers in Estonia strike for rights, recognition and a collective agreement
2 March 2018: Workers on the slaughter line at the HKScan meat factory in Rakvere, Estonia have been on strike since February 6 for their right to union recognition and a wage increase through collective bargaining. In November last year, HKScan management rejected the recommendation of a government mediator to settle the dispute by signing a collective agreement and is attempting to bust the newly established union at the plant by establishing a 'cooperation committee' and unilaterally determining the wage scale.
Workers at the plant began to organize following a spontaneous strike in October, with support from the manufacturing union IMTAL. IMTAL now has over a hundred members at the plant and the union is supporting the strike by the slaughter line workers. The IUF has written HKScan to draw attention to the company's human rights violations and has offered all practical support to the striking workers, who have also received strong support from the Finnish food workers union SEL.
Finnish-based transnational HKScan, which produces and markets, pork, beef, poultry and lamb products, processed meats, and convenience foods, has processing plants in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, and Poland.