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Labor Press: B'way Casting Directors Defy Attempt to Break Union   |   AlterNet: Why Union Workers and Environmentalists Need to Work Together with Smart Protests   |   IAM: Martinez Calls on Aerospace Workers to Unite Globally   |   International Trade Union Confederation Global Rights Index 2017   |   Labor Press: The New Threat Facing Union Organizers   |   Think Progress: Renewable energy just passed a major milestone in the United States   |   RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum elected as the Global President of UNI Commerce   |   Truthout: Single-Payer Is Within Reach: What You Need to Know About the Bill for Improved Medicare for All

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AFL-CIO Now Blog

LabourStart Solidarity Campaigns

World Day For Decent Work

Fight for $15...Low Pay is Not OK
Re-Run the Vote: No World Cup Without Workers Rights...
International Trade Union Confederation
Decent Work...
three minute web movie overview of the concept of decent work in 29 languages...International Labor Organization
Making Change at Walmart...
United Food and Commercial Workers
Robin Hood Tax Campaign...
it's not a tax on the people, it's a tax for the people...United States
Fix My Job...Working America AFL-CIO
Warehouse Workers United...
Change to Win Coalition
T-Mobile Workers United...
Communications Workers of America
Let's Get America Working...
International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Union Yes

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.

The Union Edge
Workers Independent News

Amnesty International

American Civil Liberties Union

IndustriALL celebrates 5 years

20.06.2017:   Five years since its founding Congress in Copenhagen, IndustriALL Global Union has kept its promise to be a campaigning organization becoming a powerful force in fighting for workers' rights and social justice worldwide.

On 20 June 2012, three federations merged to form IndustriALL Global Union uniting 50 million workers in 140 countries. IndustriALL has over 600 affiliates in sectors including mining, metals, energy, chemical, textile, and manufacturing.

IndustriALL's general secretary, Valter Sanches, said: "Over the past five years, IndustriALL has shown time and again that we are stronger together. We have made multinational companies accountable, we have made governments listen, we have fought for worker rights and won. IndustriALL is proof that international solidarity works!"

Following the disastrous collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex in Bangladesh that killed over a thousand garment workers in 2013, IndustriALL lead the drive in pushing more than 200 global fashion brands to sign the legally-binding Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. The Accord has since inspected more than 1,600 factories improving safety for two million workers. IndustriALL together with its partners and Uni Global Union, also succeeded in securing US$30 million dollars in compensation for victims.

IndustriALL's work over the past five years has been and continues to be guided by its five strategic goals: building strong unions, confronting global capital, ending precarious work, sustainable industrial policy and defending workers' rights.

Defending workers' rights

There is a war of attrition on workers' rights around the world. IndustriALL affiliates' support for their fellow unionists under duress has shown that international solidarity works. IndustriALL campaigns have helped to release jailed unionists in Cambodia and Bangladesh, stood up for worker rights in Yemen and Spain, and contributed to the downfall of an authoritarian president in Korea.

Building strong unions

Increasing union membership is at the core of IndustriALL's mission. IndustriALL's union building projects have seen results thousands of new members in countries including India, Indonesia and Zambia, among others. Increasing membership of women and young people is vital to build union strength. Since the second IndustriALL Congress in Rio de Janeiro in October 2016, IndustriALL has set a target for women's representation in leadership positions and activities at 40 per cent. The drive for increased participation for women at IndustriALL has in turn influenced national union structures, for example, IndustriALL metalworkers' affiliate in Indonesia, FSPMI, set a 40 per cent quota for women's representation in its own structures.

Confronting global capital

IndustriALL's corporate campaigns, such as those targeting Rio Tinto and LafargeHolcim, have been made significant gains for workers. IndustriALL works against global capital when necessary but also realizes the importance of social dialogue to achieve its aims. Global framework agreements (GFAs) with almost 50 multinational companies help to make sure that fundamental worker and trade union rights are promoted and protected. The GFAs with French car giant, PSA, and clothing brand H&M, ensure worker rights throughout their global supply chains covering direct and indirect workers at suppliers. Similarly, IndustriALL's trade union networks in multinational companies help to empower unions and workers by sharing information and acting together.

Stop Precarious Work

IndustriALL has campaigned continuously against precarious work through targeted projects and helped unions organize tens of thousands of precarious workers. Participation by IndustriALL affiliates to protest against the precarious work on 7 October, the world day for decent work, grows year on year.

Sustainable industrial policy

As we experience the digital transformation of industry, sometimes referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, IndustriALL has stepped up its campaign for secure and sustainable jobs open to all those affected by automation and digitalization. With the challenge to tackle climate change and meet global emissions targets, IndustriALL is demanding a Just Transition so that no worker gets left behind as we shift to cleaner energy.

IndustriALL is a campaigning organization and the campaign for a living wage includes the groundbreaking ACT agreement with major apparel brands to improve wages through industry-wide collective bargaining. "IndustriALL has built solid foundations from which to go forward. The challenges we face are great but we are prepared to meet them. We thank our affiliates for their immense support over the past five years, and we count on them in the future," said Sanches.

Source:  IndustriALL Global Union--IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 140 countries

International Labor Organization Director-General, Guy Ryder, reflects on the work accomplished at the 106th International Labour Conference

E-Commerce and Digitalization: New Frontiers for the Global Labour Movement

15 June 2017:   The growth of e-commerce and the digitalization of retail provide new opportunities for solidarity within the global labor movement. The discussion at the UNI Commerce Global Conference focused on unions' responses to changes in how we work and shop.

Researcher Harvey McKeon from Peterloo Research described a digital landscape in which the largest online companies have only gotten larger-both in market capitalization and in employment footprint-while traditional brick-and-mortar enterprises are shrinking in many markets. McKeon stated that the workforce growth at retailers like Amazon comes from workers employed by the company directly and from huge subcontracting networks that often operate in legal gray areas regarding workers' rights.

His research points to the need for more policy protections for e-commerce workers, and greater union density in this sector.

Unions from around the globe are heeding these recommendations. Barbara Nebart from Australia's SDA discussed organizing victories in that country's gig economy and the need for creativity in this new sector. "Union organizing must match innovation with innovation," she said.

Peter Hellberg from Sweden's Unionen spoke about the possibilities for e-commerce to create quality jobs, but "only if unions are there to shape the process." Hellberg sees his union as vehicle to "raise the skill level in the commerce sector" in part by emphasizing lifelong learning. "If you have more skills, that can lead to a higher salary and better job," he said.

Linda Palmetzhofer of Handels union in Sweden describe a three-year e-commerce organizing project generating significant results. In the first year alone, the union reported a huge jump in both membership and collective agreements.

Claudio Sagardia from Chile's Contracops union cautioned about the rapid expansion of online shopping, which has grown 165 percent since 2012 in that country.

Daniel Lovera from the Argentinian labour movement told the crowd that "we need to create a new culture for sustainability at work." Lovera hammered home the need for political organizing as well. "We need legislation to protect digital workers and their rights irrespective of where they are working. The unions need to reach broad global agreement. We need continuous political work."

Source:  UNI Global Union--UNI represents more than 20 million workers from over 900 trade unions worldwide

ITUC Global Rights Index 2017: Violence and repression of workers on the rise

13 June 2017:   The number of countries experiencing physical violence and threats against workers has risen by 10 percent in just one year, according to the annual ITUC Global Rights Index. Attacks on union members have been documented in fifty-nine countries, fuelling growing anxiety about jobs and wages.

The report shows that corporate interests are being put ahead of the interests of working people in the global economy, with 60 per cent of countries excluding whole categories of workers from labour law.

"Denying workers protection under labour laws creates a hidden workforce, where governments and companies refuse to take responsibility, especially for migrant workers, domestic workers and those on short term contracts. In too many countries, fundamental democratic rights are being undermined by corporate interests," said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

The ITUC Global Rights Index 2017 ranks 139 countries against 97 internationally recognised indicators to assess where workers' rights are best protected in law and in practice.

The report's key findings include:

  • Eighty-four countries exclude groups of workers from labour law.
  • Over three quarters of countries deny some or all workers their right to strike.
  • Over three quarters of countries deny some or all workers collective bargaining.
  • Out of 139 countries surveyed, 50 deny or constrain free speech and freedom of assembly.
  • The number of countries in which workers are exposed to physical violence and threats increased by 10 per cent (from 52 to 59 countries) and include Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Indonesia and Ukraine.
  • Unionists were murdered in 11 countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Mauritania, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines and Venezuela.

"We need to look no further than these shocking figures to understand why economic inequality is the highest in modern history. Working people are being denied the basic rights through which they can organise and collectively bargain for a fair share. This, along with growing constraints on freedom of speech, is driving populism and threatening democracy itself," said Sharan Burrow.

The report ranks the ten worst countries for workers' rights in 2017 as Bangladesh, Colombia, Egypt, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

The Philippines, South Korea and Kazakhstan have joined the ten-worst ranking for the first time this year.

Once again the Middle East and North Africa was the worst region for treatment of workers, with the Kafala system in the Gulf still enslaving millions of people. The absolute denial of basic workers' rights remained in place in Saudi Arabia. In countries such as Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen, conflict and breakdown of the rule of law means workers have no guarantee of labour rights. In conflict-torn Yemen, 650,000 public sector workers have not been paid for more than eight months, while some four million private sector jobs have been destroyed, including in the operations of multinationals Total, G4S and DNO, leaving their families destitute. The continued occupation of Palestine also means that workers there are denied their rights and the chance to find decent jobs.

Conditions in Africa have deteriorated, with Benin, Nigeria and Zimbabwe being the worst performing countries - including many cases of workers suspended or dismissed for taking legitimate strike action.

The International Trade Union Confederation has been collecting data on violations of workers' rights to trade union membership and collective bargaining around the world for more than 30 years. This is the fourth year the ITUC has presented its findings through the Global Rights Index, putting a unique and comprehensive spotlight on how government laws and business practices have deteriorated or improved in the last 12 months.

In South Korea, Han Sang-gyun, President of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, has been imprisoned since 2015 for organising public demonstrations during the candlelight revolution, to prevent the now deposed Park government from passing anti-worker labour laws.

Trade union leaders in Kazakhstan were arrested merely because they called for strike action. In the Philippines, the climate of violence and impunity, which has proliferated under President Duterte, had a profound impact on workers' rights.

Working conditions also worsened in other countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Myanmar.

Argentina has seen a spike in violence and repression by the state and private security forces - in one case, 80 workers were injured during a stoppage for better pay and conditions. The build up of the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil saw a significant increase in labour exploitation, and the dismantling of labour legislation by the new Brazilian government last year caused a sharp decline of labour standards. In Ecuador, union leaders were forbidden from speaking out and their offices were ransacked and occupied by the government. Problems in the garment sector in Myanmar persist, with long working hours, low pay and poor working conditions being exacerbated by serious flaws in the labour legislation that make it extremely difficult for unions to register.

"The challenge is for governments to accept their responsibility to govern for people, not just in the interests of big business, by making laws that respect international labour standards. Even under the most oppressive circumstances, workers will continue to organise unions, and it's time that politicians stood up for them instead of trampling on their rights," said Sharan Burrow.

The 2017 ITUC Global Rights Index rates countries from one to five according to 97 indicators, with an overall score placing countries in one to five rankings.

  1. Irregular violations of rights: 12 countries including Germany and Uruguay
  2. Repeated violations of rights: 21 countries including Japan and South Africa
  3. Regular violations of rights: 26 countries including Chile and Poland
  4. Systematic violations of rights: 34 countries including Paraguay and Zambia
  5. No guarantee of rights: 35 countries including Egypt and the Philippines

5+ No guarantee of rights due to breakdown of the rule of law: 11 countries including Burundi, Palestine and Syria.

Read the report: ITUC Global Rights Index 2017

Source:  International Trade Union Confederation--ITUC represents 181 million workers in 163 countries and territories and has 340 national affiliates

BWI Statement of support for the GFBTU Bahrain

6/12/17:   The BWI issues its deep support for members of the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GBFTU), who have been subjected to the arbitrary deprivation of the freedom of movement. On 3 June 2017, members of the GBFTU were stopped from leaving the Bahrain International Airport, surprised to find that a prohibition had been placed on their departure. They were on their way to the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva.

"We are deeply concerned and shocked by the ban that has been placed on the departure of the head of the GFBTU from leaving Bahrain", said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. "The GBFTU has played an active role in raising labour standards in Bahrain, and demonstrating leadership in the MENA region."

"GFBTU officials have always worked to democratically organise workers in accordance with the rules and recommendations of the Bahraini Ministry of Labour. All members' names are enlisted according to national regulations. The decision to arbitrarily deprive the GFBTU of their freedom of movement was implemented without warning and without justifiable explanation.

"We will stand by the leadership of the GFBTU in their fight to throw off this ban and continue to improve labour standards in Bahrain. At the same time, we demand that the Government of Bahrain immediately revoke this ban and issue a formal apology."

Source:  Building and Wood Workers International--BWI uniting 12 million members in 328 trade unions in 130 countries

Southern African garment unions to collaborate on supply chains

12.06.2017:   During a meeting on supply chains in Cape Town, IndustriALL affiliates in the textile, garment, shoes and leather sectors from Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland, agreed to campaign for better wages and working conditions, build union power, and confront aggressive employers.

Countries in Southern Africa are involved in all points of the supply chain in the garment sector: producing raw materials, garment making and retail. For example, cotton lint was sourced from Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Garment factories and distribution and retail networks were found in most of the countries.

Recognizing the importance of the supply chain, the Amalgamated Trade Union of Swaziland, the Independent Democratic Union of Lesotho and the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu) all representing over 110,000 workers agreed to fight for equal-pay-for-equal work across the national borders. This could be achieved by sharing collective bargaining agreements. Additionally, exchange programmes between unions allowed for learning from each other's experiences.

South African brands that came under scrutiny included Edcon, Foschini, Mr Price, Truworths and Woolworths. These brands bought goods from factories that relocated production from South Africa to Lesotho and Swaziland, where wages are lower.

The factories also ignored bargaining rights, and freedom of association. Enforcement of labour laws was also weak in the two countries. When workers demanded better conditions, the employers threatened to close shop. But in South Africa, Sactwu organised the factories, watched errant factory owners and took action when workers' rights were threatened.

The meeting adopted a plan based on ACT - the IndustriALL initiative with global brands for living wages in garment supply chains. It also drew from the Bangladesh Accord, setting health and safety standards for workers in factories.It is important for unions to strengthen their power along the supply chain by working together in coalitions said Paule-France N'dessomin from IndustriALL's Sub Saharan regional office.

The meeting was supported by the German Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, and was attended by 21 union leaders and shop stewards including ten women.

Source:  IndustriALL Global Union--IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 140 countries

Our jobs, our planet - Trade unions confirm their commitment to climate action ahead of the G7 environment summit

09/06/2017:   Ahead of the G7 environment ministers' meeting, trade unions have released a declaration confirming their commitment to mobilise and support climate action at all levels, including through the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

"Pulling out of the Paris climate agreement from ambitious climate pathways equals abandoning a cleaner future powered by good jobs" states the Declaration "Our Jobs, Our Planet", supported by all trade union centres from G7 countries and endorsed by the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Trade unions repeated their call for protecting and empowering those who need support in the transition: "We know millions of workers and families still depend on a fossil-fuel-based economy for their jobs and livelihoods. They have generated the energy required for today's prosperity. Governments and employers, with workers and their unions, must sit together and commit to protect our future through a Just Transition strategy; a plan which guarantees decent work for all".

Source:  Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD

Ukraine: education unionists deepen commitment to a values-based education

07.06.2017:   Interactive activities, lively discussions and stirring speeches set the tone for a professional development workshop that brought together teacher union activists from all over Ukraine to explore ways of relaying democratic values in their teaching practice.

In the midst of intense discussions with the government on a new education reform package, Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine President Georgiy Truhanov and Vice-President Sergiy Romayuk reminded participants of the crucial importance of social dialogue and the active role the union takes in this process in Ukraine at present.

The two-day workshop, jointly organized by the Trade Union of Education and Science Workers of Ukraine, one of Education International's affiliates in the country, and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, offered the over thirty participants - educators and union activists mainly active in communications activities in the union's regional branches - opportunities to explore how democratic transformation processes in society can be reflected in teaching practice, and how the teaching profession has a crucial role to play to impart democratic values and an awareness of civil society and citizen participation to generations of learners.

By way of examples from Education International's Unite for Quality Education Campaign and an overview of current trends in digital communications and presentation techniques, via appearances from local partner organisations and internationally connected activists, and through a discussion on educational issues with Finnish ambassador Juha Virtanen, participants explored experiences from all over the world that could inform their daily work.

"A union's work is always grounded in its activists' values and beliefs, and inscribed in an international continuum of solidarity - solidarity for which we in Ukraine are particularly grateful," Georgiy Truhanov remarked. "As educators, we are doing our best to impart these values and experiences to the next generation."

Source:  Education International--EI uniting 32.5 million education workers in 396 associations and unions in 171 countries and territories

ITF makes raising global standards at DP World a priority

A new global union alliance formed of unions based in DP World terminals has vowed to raise standards in health and safety, automation and contract labour.

07/06/2017:   The ITF DP World global union alliance is setting out its first series of objectives during a major ITF dockers' conference in Cape Town, South Africa this week.

ITF president and dockers' section chair Paddy Crumlin said: "This alliance is part of our ongoing response to global multinationals that behave differently depending on whey are operating in the world. We can't and won't accept that. We are striving for minimum standards across the board on health and safety, automation and contract labour. We are standing up to say that whether you're in India, Canada, South America or the UK, union busting activities will not be tolerated and there is a global network of unions ready to demonstrate that. Competition and corporate growth based upon exploiting and diminishing dockers' rights cannot be tolerated."

"We are confident DP World, as an international entity, will engage with our concerns and apply consistent and transparent standards of decent work, union recognition and respect for social partnership and bargaining rights in all their operations."

The alliance includes 17 unions organising in DP World terminals across the globe.

Steve Biggs of Unite the Union is based in DP World Southampton. He was one of the first to sign up: "This alliance provides a great opportunity for national unions to share bargaining information and to coordinate together with the ITF to demand greater consistency on issues that are important for our members.

"The aim of this alliance is very simple - it's about coming together and recognising where we're strong and where we face challenges. It's a chance to share information and recognise that while there are particular issues facing different regions and countries, essentially having one unified group is going to put us in the best possible position to make headway with this multinational as we seek dialogue and cooperation from them globally."

Source:  International Transport Workers Federation--ITF representing over 4.5 million transport workers in 700 unions from 150 countries

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