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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.
Turkish Trade Union Leader Abdullah Karacan Murdered, Two Union Representatives Wounded
The ITUC has condemned the murder of Turkish trade union leader Abdullah Karacan, and the wounding of two other union representatives in Adapazari, Turkey, today. According to reports received by the ITUC, a gun-wielding assassin fired at the union officials while they were meeting workers at a Goodyear tyre factory.
13-11-2018: Karacan was president of the rubber and chemical workers' union Lastik-İş. The union's regional president Mustafa Sipahi, and shop steward Osman Bayraktar, were also shot. Bayraktar remains in a critical condition.
"This is a devastating attack, and our condolences and thoughts are with the family of Abdullah Karacan and those who were wounded during the attack, as well as with the workers who witnessed the shooting. We call on the Turkish authorities to ensure a thorough investigation and bring all those involved in this atrocity to justice," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.
A highly respected union leader, Karacan managed to win a significant victory against precarious work by persuading multinational tyre companies to end outsourcing at their operations in Turkey. Lastik-İş is a member union of the ITUC affiliate DİSK and of Global Union Federation IndustriALL, which has also expressed shock at the attack.
Global framework agreements are strategic tools
12.11.2018: IndustriALL's global framework agreement (GFA) working group met at the International Labour Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, on 8 and 9 November to report on how GFAs are being implemented, and look at ways of strengthening them.
IndustriALL Global Union currently has 49 global agreements, which are negotiated at a global level between trade unions and multinational companies, and serve to protect the interests of workers across a company's supply chain. The GFA working group, which includes representatives from all continents and sectors, reviews IndustriALL's proposed and current GFAs, and provides comments and recommendations on GFAs to the Secretariat and Executive.
Claudia Rahman, co-chair of the working group, called for more pro-active implementation of the agreements which must have a local agenda. "A GFA should prevent violations of workers' rights and not simply be a remedy to violations that have already happened," she said. She called for GFAs "to be integrated into the operational activities of a multinational company and into the management system."
IndustriALL's general secretary, Valter Sanches, said company management and unions require training on GFA implementation, while unions must monitor GFAs.
Participants at the meeting recounted how the agreements are being used to assist organizing, with case studies on how to use GFAs in organizing in textile and garment sector in Bangladesh and Turkey as well as using the union power in auto companies in organizing campaigns in supply sectors. An example from Tunisia revealed how the GFA has helped to stop union busting at one particular factory and to improve the union structures, with the aid of German affiliate IG Metall. The meeting held deep discussions on the strategic use of GFAs in reaching trade union objectives through buzz-groups. Involvement of host unions, organizing in supply chains through GFAs and roles of different actors in GFA processes were elaborated and some conclusions were drawn up.
On the second day of the meeting, officials from the International Labour Organization (ILO), gave presentations about the role of GFAs in social dialogue, which led to extensive debate. It was obvious to all that without freedom of association, a key right, it is impossible to implement GFAs or basic ILO principles. It was suggested GFAs could make use of strong language on due diligence, outlined in the ILO's guidelines for multinational enterprises, and present it to companies as language that has already been agreed at the tripartite level. The working group was also called to think about how to better use ILO tools and mechanisms, smartly and politically, to get strong agreements.
The meeting also heard case studies of how GFAs are being used to improve workers' rights, enable organizing and resolve disputes with examples including chemical company, Solvay, energy giant Total, global fashion brand H&M and German conglomerate, Siemens.
"IndustriALL Global Union has made significant progress in its policies and practices with global framework agreements and the working group has played an important role," said Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL's assistant general secretary, who is in charge of the working group. "However, we still have long way to go in our global mission to advance the rights and working conditions of our members on the ground, particularly at multinational companies. IndustriALL will continue to be a champion in the development of global labour relations, particularly through global framework agreements.
Unfair dismissal of union officials by Firestone Liberia condemned
09.11.2018: Liberian unions are condemning the unfair dismissal of two union officials, Abel Ngigie and Edwin Fallah, by Firestone Liberia. This defies the Decent Work Act and the existing collective bargaining agreement between the multinational and the unions.
The officials, who are a chairperson and a grievance officer from a local branch, are protected by the law on the right to organize and to engage in collective bargaining. The dismissed union officials are leaders in the campaign for better living and working conditions at Firestone Liberia's rubber plantations. By dismissing the officials, the company is victimizing the leaders to weaken the union.
The officials from the IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, Agricultural, Agro-Processing and Industrial Workers Union of Liberia (AAIWUL), were dismissed clandestinely, and the union wants justice and for the dismissals to be nullified. The United Workers Union of Liberia, another IndustriALL affiliate, also condemns the dismissals in solidarity with AAIWUL.
Says Edwin Cisco, secretary general of AAIWUL: "We are currently engaged with the national government through the Ministry of Labour, the House Standing Committee on Labour, the Margibi Legislative Caucus and the Liberia Labour Congress to prevail on the management of Firestone Liberia for the reinstatement of the two union executives. AAIWUL, therefore urges management to desist from carrying out any further action that will be tantamount to inflaming the situation."
The union urges workers not to be distracted by the intimidation and to focus on the "bigger picture of the upcoming collective bargaining agreement which is crucial for the upliftment of the lives of thousands of workers and their families on the plantations."
Industrial relations between the workers and Firestone Liberia have been turbulent. In August, workers went on strike to have the wages of rubber tappers increased from US $8.36 to US $12.50 per day. The company is yet to meet the workers' demands. In October, the company retrenched 76 workers from its rubber wood factory, who are now struggling to look after their families. Firestone has been producing rubber from Liberia since 1926 and has received support from the government. However, the working and living conditions of the workers have remained appalling.
Young African trade unionists unite to develop ways to strengthen unions
05.11.2018: The first Education International regional seminar for young and early stage education unionists has clearly shown the young African education unionists' commitment to not only increase their involvement in their own unions but also support education policies that promote quality education for all in the region. This activity was held on 4 November ahead of the 9th Education International (EI) Africa Regional Conference and is an outgrowth of the Resolution on young and early-stage teachers, researchers and support personnel adopted at the 7th EI World Congress in 2015.
Thirty young activists from fifteen Anglophone as well as Francophone African countries gathered in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, for the seminar. Overall, the seminar had three objectives:
The programme of the seminar was therefore centered around a thorough and specific discussion on young people's specific contribution and importance to unions, while also working to identify bottlenecks and solutions.
As the result of the seminar, participants have drafted and delivered a communique to the EI Africa Regional Conference. The communique, which contains recommendations to their unions and to EI at the regional and global levels, aims to increase young members' participation in all structures of the unions, and especially boost their role in decision-making and union leadership.
Global agreement with Unilever on rights and recognition
1 November 2018: IUF General Secretary Sue Longley, IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary Valter Sanches and Unilever CEO Paul Polman signed a joint memorandum on union rights and recognition with global consumer goods maker Unilever on October 31 at the regular bi-annual meetings with the company which have taken place since 2010. The Memorandum of Understanding formalizes the engagement process and establishes a permanent platform for "ensuring that throughout Unilever's worldwide operations workers can freely exercise their internationally recognized rights and in particular their rights to union membership and collective bargaining without fear of retaliation, repression or any other form of discrimination." In the Memorandum, "Unilever recognizes its obligation to act to ensure that these rights are similarly respected by enterprises and their subcontractors providing products, operations and/or services to Unilever."
The memorandum also highlights the importance of the ongoing work achieved through working groups focusing on sustainable employment and gender equality within this rights framework.
"We have been working successfully on these issues with Unilever for a number of years", said IUF General Secretary Sue Longley, "and we look forward to deepening our engagement. Now that the process has been formalized we need to continue working together to ensure that the principles set out in the Memorandum are firmly anchored regionally, nationally and locally throughout Unilever's global operations." CLICK HERE TO READ the text of the Joint Memorandum.
Global coalition backs campaign for UN action on impunity
31 October 2018: Journalists groups, editors, media owners and press freedom campaigners will join forces on 2 November to demand urgent action by the United Nations to tackle impunity for crimes against journalists.
With figures showing the number of killings of journalists rising in comparison to the same period last year and impunity in 9 out of 10 cases, the unprecedented coalition of professional journalists' organisations is calling on UN member states to back media industry demands for a convention on the protection of journalists.
Representatives of the International Federation of Journalists, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN-IFRA), the European Broadcasting Union and UNI-MEI, the organisation representing media professionals launched the initiative for a UN Convention at the United Nations in New York in October.
The Convention aims to address gaps in international law and introduce binding norms establishing safeguards for journalists and media workers specifically, recognizing the increasingly hostile environment in which they operate across the world.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: "This unprecedented coalition of owners, journalists, media workers, public broadcasters and press freedom campaigners is sending a clear message to the international community - Enough! It is time to act to tackle impunity.
"Too many of our colleagues have been killed, jailed, attacked, abused and forced into exile. We can no longer just pass wishful resolutions, we need action and for international mechanisms that both protect journalists and media workers and, which by tackling the impunity which gives rise to growing self-censorship protects the right of citizens and societies to information and enhances democracy".
End corporate greed and reduce precarious work, unions tell LafargeHolcim
25.10.2018: Around 60 representatives of the World Union Council from 26 countries came to Houffalize, Belgium on 22 to 24 October to discuss problems faced by workers and unions at multinational cement and construction materials company, LafargeHolcim.
The participants had a detailed exchange over challenges existing at national and international levels at LafargeHolcim, and expressed serious concerns at a lack of genuine social dialogue with the company after the changes in leadership in 2017 and 2018. Trade union relations with LafargeHolcim went downhill at the end of 2017, when the new CEO reneged on a Memorandum of Understanding to sign a global framework agreement with IndustriALL Global Union and Building and Woodworkers International.
Meanwhile, rampant use of precarious work, namely outsourcing of up to 80 per cent in some sites, poses an enormous threat to workers' rights and working conditions. LafargeHolcim proceeds with its policy of a shrinking business for the sake of increasing dividends paid to shareholders at the expense of workers creating all the company's wealth. Contract workers at LafargeHolcim are less qualified, have no access to training and promotion, and are not properly trained on health and safety. Consequently, three out of four victims of reported fatal accidents at work are contract workers.
The World Union Council issued a statement demanding that LafargeHolcim ends corporate greed and drastically reduces precarious work.
While welcoming the creation of a European Works Council inside the group, workers at the European level are worried their concerns are not being heard by top management. Moreover, participants reported cases of increased pressure on trade union activists from local management. Social dialogue and freedom of association are at risk, as several incidents show, such as in El Salvador.
Participants were able to pose all of these and many other questions to management representative Vincent Giard, head of labour relations and social policies at LafargeHolcim and Yonca Atac responsible for health and safety in Europe, who attended the second day of the meeting.
Pierre Cuppens,Vice-President of Building and Woodworkers International, said: "This was a very useful meeting, especially because it was attended by management representatives. There is no reason for LafargeHolcim to stay away from a global framework agreement. We are on the same line on many issues, and I believe we need to continue our actions aimed at conclusion of such an agreement. We are willing to negotiate, but if the company continues rejecting it, we must be ready to exert our pressure on behalf of global union movement."
Matthias Hartwich, director for materials industries in IndustriALL Global Union said, "The group's economic strategy is strange: more earnings with less assets and promises for increasing dividends for shareholders. The management is undermining LafargeHolcim's industrial basis. At the same time, they talk of moving the social dialogue to the national local level. We fully disagree with this approach as it will undermine good faith and fruitful dialogue in the future."
Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, summarised the discussions: "Through open discussions, fair exchange and concrete action plans, the World Union Committee of LafargeHolcim underlined important challenges in the operations of the company throughout the world, including violations of fundamental rights, lack of genuine social dialogue and excessive use of precarious work. We raised all these issues with representatives of the management. We want to resolve the problems through industrial relations mechanisms. We want to hope that LafargeHolcim management reciprocate in a similar way. Otherwise we will continue to conduct our campaign for justice and fairness."
First-ever strategy meeting of global care union federations focuses on organising
23 October 2018: Labour leaders from around the world came together at UNI Global Union's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, this week to shape a new strategy for raising standards in the care economy. The leaders discussed a myriad of challenges they face across six continents and many types of work, but care unions saw a common solution: organising.
"The home care sector is frequently referred to as an 'invisible' one - professional work is being done in private homes and casualization of labour is rife. This makes organising workers much more difficult, as the workplace is mobile and subject to frequent change," said Carlos West Ocampos, President of UNICARE and General Secretary of Argentine care union FATSA. "But organising all care workers is fundamental to our ambitions for decent work, wages and collective agreements in this growing sector."
Meeting participants heard several inspiring stories of care unions making it happen. Luz Fany Zambrano Soraca, of SINTRASALUDCO in Colombia, desribed persevering to victory, despite death threats and hostile employers. International solidarity is critical, she said, because of the reality of the care economy.
"Many employers have merged and gotten bigger, and they have gone into new countries. They are only interested in profit wherever they go, and through the international support--through UNI's support--we have made workers aware that they are not in this fight alone."
Rojila Karki Basnet, of UNIPHIN in Nepal, agreed. She told how support and training from UNI helped her union organise two private hospitals in the past year. Not content with those successes, UNIPHIN will continue to push a sectoral agreement for the private health industry. Other unions detailed successful anti-privatisation campaigns and their ongoing struggles to establish formal workplace protections in home care, a sector that is often regarded as "informal labour."
"Right now, we have a unique opportunity for unions and our allies to change the rules of the game," said Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union. "This meeting is an important step in intensifying our cooperation and improving the lives of workers in one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world - the care sector."
In addition to UNI Global Union/UNICARE, the meeting was organised by the ITUC, Education International, PSI, IUF, and IDWF.
BWI delegation finds World Bank unclear on labour rights
23 October 2018: A delegation of representatives from BWI affiliates attended the 2018 World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings that took place in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, from 12-14 October.
While the 2019 World Development Report - which recommends labour market deregulation as the appropriate method for adapting to the digital economy - has angered trade unions throughout the world, the implementation of new rules to protect workers in all World Bank-funded projects demonstrate that the Bank's position on labour rights are completely unclear.
"The World Bank is one of the world's largest international financial institutions, and we have long pushed them to adopt and implement rules on worker and trade union rights", said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. He continued, "Broad entrenchment of these norms will help the World Bank live up to its anti-poverty rhetoric and strengthen workers' bargaining power throughout the globe."
BWI Asia Pacific Regional Representative noted further, "We applaud the steps taken by the Bank to develop these badly-needed rules, and we look forward to testing the mechanisms on Bank-funded projects in the near future. At the same time, we remain skeptical, having recently received a report from an independent World Bank investigation noting that the Bank's International Financing Corporation (IFC) violated its obligations at each stage in financing Sabah Forest Industries."
The meeting provided the BWI the opportunity to present the investigation's findings in various fora, both inside the World Bank's Civil Society Policy Forum and at alternative civil society gatherings. At a session organised by BWI alongside PSI, UNI and ITUC, it was argued that while the Bank's newly implemented "Environmental and Social Safeguard 2" on labour rights would need strong compliance mechanisms at the project level to be effectively safeguard working and living standards for workers on Bank-funded projects.
The session also highlighted how these advances in accountability are at odds with the World Development Report 2019, which gives little support for the 'decent work' framework or the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. The Bank defended this position by saying that's its focus was on the most vulnerable individuals in society - mostly informal workers without the protection of collective bargaining. Here it is noted that trade unions represent workers in both the formal and informal sectors, and, has often served as a mechanism to bring workers into the formal sector.
The meeting took place amidst a critical time for Indonesia. While tsunamis and earthquakes have ravaged the islands of Lombok and Sulawesi, the Indonesian Government was busy offering investors a slice of 79 infrastructure projects worth US$42 billion. Days before the meeting begun Indonesian SOEs signed deals worth $13.6 billion for financing planned infrastructure projects. Indonesia also remains in talks with the Bank regarding financing for six transport projects, including three light rail projects (in Surabaya, Medan and Bandung), two airport expansions (Medan and Lombok) and the Kuala Tanjung Seaport in North Sumatra.
Asia-Europe Forum: Unions Press Heads of State on Decent Work and Minimum Wages
Trade union representatives from 20 Asian and European countries, meeting in Brussels this week at the Asia-Europe Labour Forum (AELF), have called for their governments to address persistent decent work deficits and ensure minimum living wages in global supply chains and digital businesses.
19-10-2018: ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow and ETUC Confederal Secretary Liina Carr delivered the labour forum's message last night to government leaders at a session of the intergovernmental Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM), which now formally recognises the AELF.
"We called on the ASEM governments to require that business embed due diligence on workers' and other human rights throughout their supply chains and provide legitimate grievance mechanisms and access to remedy in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We also emphasised the new risks that so-called crowd work and digital platform businesses will increase precarious work unless governments fulfil their responsibility to ensure these forms of business are properly regulated. And we stressed the need for governments to act decisively on climate change, to keep the temperature rise under 1.5 degrees by guaranteeing a Just Transition to a low-carbon economy. Immediate action is needed to increase resilience and adaptation," said Burrow.
"Low wages, precarious work, negotiations between employers and unions, trade policy and globalisation are issues for working people in Europe as well as in Asia and on every other continent. The global market needs to be better regulated and companies obliged to offer fair wages and decent work wherever they set up. A global economy based on exploitation and greed will only serve to increase inequalities and instability in our economies. EU and Asian governments have a duty to act if they have any interest in protecting their own citizens," said Carr.
Smurfit Kappa workers protest against union-bashing in Colombia
18.10.2018: On 8 October, IndustriALL affiliate Sintracarcol began a week of protests against Cartón de Colombia S.A., owned by multinational Smurfit Kappa, in a response to the firing of a number of workers, as well as other anti-union actions.
Sintracarcol set up camp outside the company's facilities in Medellin, Colombia, until 13 October. The union was protesting against the firm's violations of international employment standards at its plants across Colombia, particularly those in Medellin, Barranquilla, Bogotá and Cali. The union took action after union leader Yair Giraldo and a number of other workers were unfairly dismissed.
"I'm a victim of union-bashing," said Giraldo. "Smurfit Kappa is playing a brutal game. I was cornered by the head of Human Resources and his supervisors, wanting to discuss union matters. "I told them that such discussions have to be held according to the collective agreement. After that, they started proceedings to have my union protections rescinded, the court ruled in their favour, and I was fired."
The company does not comply with or properly implement the provisions of the collective bargaining agreements. Company management has put huge amounts of pressure on workers in an attempt to stop them from joining the union of their choice. Union members are systematically denied union leave to attend meetings and other union business. And union leaders have been offered money and other benefits to get them to leave the union or in return for information or legal action.
In a letter to Mr Anthony P. J. Smurfit, CEO of Smurfit Kappa Group, Valter Sanches, IndustriALL's general secretary, condemns the company's violations of fundamental union rights: "I call on your office to urgently address the misconduct of Smurfit Kappa's management team in Colombia. Your company's actions constitute systematic union-bashing against our members. "I urge you to work with Sintracarcol to find a fair solution and to build stronger industrial relations with Cartón de Colombia."
Union protests escalate at Accor's luxury Pullman Jakarta Hotel
18 October: 2018 On October 17, the IUF-affiliated independent national hotel and restaurant workers' federation FSPM held its fourth mass protest action in front of Accor's luxury Pullman Jakarta Hotel. Hotel workers from five regions across Indonesia joined the protest calling for Accor Indonesia to reinstate FSPM President Husni Mubarok, who was unfairly terminated by Pullman Jakarta management on July 5.
The IUF-affiliated independent national food and beverage workers federation FSBMM also mobilized members from five cities to join the protest action in solidarity with FSPM's fight to defend workers' human rights at one of the world's largest hotel chains.
While guests ventured out to meet the protesters, management refused to come out to hear the union's demands. With growing support in Indonesia and internationally, FSPM is planning its next mass protest action.
Canadian post workers are fighting for good jobs and better service
16 October 2018: The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is currently in negotiations for a new collective agreement. The ongoing negotiations are crucial for the future of every CUPW member employed at Canada Post Corporation. Job security, wages, benefits, pensions, working conditions - all wil be determined by what happens in collective bargaining.
On September 11, 2018 all members of the CUPW, both the Urban Postal Operations unit and the Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMC) unit, voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action. In the past negotiations, Canada Post issued lock-out notices. There is no doubt this is because the government understands the CUPW members are ready to defend their rights and stand up for better jobs. The CUPW called the members for active support, to stay informed, to participate in union activities because "together we can move forward and make progress".
On October 10, 2018, the CUPW announced their members will deliver pension and social assistance cheques to ensure pensioners and those with low-income not to suffer if the union is locked out or forced to strike.
"Over the last decade, the working conditions of all our members has deteriorated, leaving many overburdened, with little time for their home life," says Mike Palecek, National President, CUPW. "This ends now. Our members have spoken - this is the time to address serious workplace problems. Postal workers are also bargaining for the future - future employees and everyone who relies on the postal service," says Palecek. "Expanded public services at the post office will help our communities thrive, which is why we have put new services for all at the front and centre of our negotiations."
There have already been some successes. On September 21, 2018, after years of struggle, Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMC) won their long battle for pay equity. The majority of RSMCs are women and earn 28% less than the male dominated urban carriers. CUPW established a process to permanently close the wage gap between the RSMCs and the letter carriers of the urban bargaining unit.
UNI Global Union supports CUPW members in ongoing negotiations for a fair agreement for all Canadian postal workers. The CUPW wants to improve working conditions and expanded postal services, benefitting everyone on Canada.
Philippines: thugs, army and police attack striking Sumitomo banana workers
15 October 2018: On October 10, thugs accompanied by members of the army and police again attacked striking packing house workers on picket lines at Sumitomo's Sumifru Philippines Corporation (Sumifru) operations in Compostela Valley in Mindinao. The union has been on strike since October 1 over the company's refusal to engage in collective bargaining negotiations for more than a decade.
Despite a Supreme Court ruling last year confirming earlier legal decisions that Sumifru is the responsible employer for packing house workers employed through a labour contractor, the company continues to assert that it has no legal obligation to enter into collective bargaining with the workers' union NAMASUFA.
The latest violence against workers on the picket lines, accompanied by armed intrusions into workers' homes, follows similar violence by thugs, army and police personnel on October 3.
Coal mining unions demand Just Transition
15.10.2018: IndustriALL Global Union's network of coal mining unions met in Delhi, India, to escalate efforts to achieve a 'Just Transition' in order to defend coal miners' interests in the face of challenges from climate change, Industry 4.0 and dangerous working conditions.
IndustriALL coal mining affiliates from Australia, Botswana, Bulgaria, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Spain, South Africa, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam took part in the meeting held on 11 and 12 October 2018.
Unions held frank discussions over the implications of an alarming IPCC Special Report that calls for limiting global warming to 1.5℃, as well as union strategies towards 24th Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 24) to be held at Katowice, Poland. Participants expressed frustration over governments' and employers' failure to develop social plans to protect coal workers' interests in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.
However, Michael Vassiliadis, president, German Mine, Chemical and Energy Workers' Union (IG BCE) said: "In Germany, even though we have plenty of coal reserves, a political decision has been taken to end industrial coal mining by this year. The IG BCE always considered this decision to be wrong, nevertheless we supported it and we guaranteed that not a single mine worker is left at the bottom of the pit without employment. IG BCE and the entire German public are interested in implementing Paris Climate decisions and outcomes of forthcoming COP 24. This debate is directly about jobs and the livelihood of our members and their families. And it is also about affordable supply of electricity to the population and for the industry."
Unions emphasized that a Just Transition, which ensures strong social protection programmes and sustainable industrial policies, is the answer to ensure coal workers' jobs as part of measures to meet carbon emissions targets. Participants said governments and employers must invest and deploy adequate resources in research and development of clean coal technologies.
Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL's director for mining, said: "Climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts should be fair and take into account the capabilities and vulnerabilities of countries with different levels of economic development."
Unions underlined the need to assess the technological transformation that is already underway in the coal industry to better guard workers' interests.
Union leaders reported deplorable health and safety conditions and fatalities in the industry. Many employers and governments remain indifferent and negligent towards health and safety, and workers continue to face treacherous working conditions in coalmines around the world. Underlining IndustriALL's global campaign for safe mining in Pakistan, the meeting issued a statement in solidarity with unions in Pakistan in their struggle. The meeting also called for intensifying the campaign to ratify ILO C 176 in more countries.
Addressing the participants, IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said: "The coal mining industry is facing massive transformation with major social, economic and political challenges. A strong global coal mining unions network is needed to influence policy decisions, strengthen international solidarity to defend coal mining workers' rights and to ensure Just Transition."
Unions also expressed discontent over privatization of public sector coal mines in India and elsewhere. Almost every case of privatization around the world has resulted in the exponential increase of precarious work and criminal disregard to occupational health and safety in coalmines leading to accidents and loss of workers lives.
Trade union leaders beaten and arrested during Zimbabwe austerity protests
11.10.2018: Police have beaten and arrested two leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), as thousands of workers took to the streets in cities across Zimbabwe on 11 October to protest against austerity measures.
In an attempt to stop a march from taking off in Harare, the police surrounded the offices of the ZCTU, beating up and arresting the federation's president Peter Mutasa and secretary general, Japhet Moyo, according to unions. About 20 protesting workers were arrested in Mutare and 13 in Masvingo.
Five IndustriALL Global Union affiliates took part in the marches in solidarity with other unions.
Recently, the Zimbabwean government announced monetary and fiscal policies to remedy the economy arguing that the reforms were "painful and necessary". But the opposite happened as the economy nose-dived. The austerity policies are wiping out the value of wages and workers can no longer afford basic necessities.
Following announcements to increase taxes on mobile money transactions to two per cent per dollar, and that bank deposits made in US dollars would now be converted to local currency, people went into panic mode buying basic goods out of fear of the return of hyper-inflation. Food prices skyrocketed as goods disappeared from the shelves. Businesses closed for "stock taking" and "renovations" or simply increased prices for their goods and services.
While the government maintains that the exchange rate for the local currency to the US dollar is 1:1, the reality is that on the parallel market one US dollar is 4.85 Zimbabwe dollars, called bond notes. This makes the panic understandable. In 2008 workers lost wages including pensions when their retirement benefits and savings could not even buy a loaf of bread due to hyperinflation.
Says Christian Ranji, secretary for the IndustriALL Zimbabwe Youth Committee: "Workers have no option but to fight austerity. We can't be taxed to fund wasteful government spending. Companies are closing, and workers losing jobs. The announcement caused instability as grocery shops increased prices and citizens started buying in bulk to get value for their money."
Valter Sanches, IndustriALL General Secretary, says: "We call upon the government of Zimbabwe to respect the rights of workers to protest against the austerity measures and condemn the acts of violence and intimidation. The arrest of the ZCTU leadership, comrades Peter Mutasa and Japhet Moyo, and the protesting workers is unacceptable. We call for their immediate release, and for the government to seek social dialogue with the unions."
Climate IPCC Report 2018 - PSI Reaction
11 October 2018: PSI welcomes the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on global warming released on 8 October 2018.
As suspected, the report shows that:
Says Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of PSI: "The current commitments made by governments under the Paris climate accord will see the world heat to 3℃, which is untenable. The latest report from the IPCC shows the need to act decisively and urgently. The labour movement must be part of the solution, and this will require some deep soul-searching on the part of union leaders and activists."
"We need an honest discussion about our current model of capitalism. Our addictions to fossil fuels, to consumption and to never-ending growth need to be examined. Labour needs a real 'just transition' for those affected by the shift away from fossil fuels. But I suggest that we need much more. We need a new model for society, one that gives priority to people and planet over profit."
Climate chaos will require more efforts to adapt, to create "resilient societies". The first place this needs to happen is in our cities. Mayors and city councils are becoming aware and taking action. Municipal workers need to be involved, along with inhabitants, to design local adaptation measures. Climate chaos will create more climate migration, as people are forced out of their homes and off their lands. Governments need to anticipate these movements of people, preferably by investing in adaptation through public infrastructure and services, such that people are not forced to move, or by preparing to receive the victims of climate chaos in ways that ensure their dignity, in respect of their human rights.
More climate chaos inevitably means more emergencies and disasters. PSI represents most emergency workers. These professionals are under increasing levels of stress as they are called on more frequently to deal with more intense weather events. This applies to first responders, but also to a range of public services: municipal workers; utilities of water, energy and transport; health and social service workers...
Says PSI vice president Annie Geron from the Philippines, "Emergency workers deserve all the support and respect that we can give them. These are people who must leave their families work in the most dangerous zones to protect and save other people. The inevitable climate chaos will put more demands on our emergency services, they will become even more central to protecting our communities."
"I encourage all unions to read the ILO Guidelines on Public Emergency Services, as well as the PSI guidelines. These two documents are the result of years of trade union work and provide the bases for union strategies in emergency services."