BWI OnLine – September 15, 2011


September 15, 2011:  The BWI wishes to inform you that Bob Ramsay, Director of the Wood and Forestry programme, has left the organization on 30 August 2011 after five years of work on wood and forestry issues. Thank you for your dedication Bob over the past years and more recently on the IKEA Swedwood campaign in the USA which opened the door to the union. Bob’s responsibilities are being dispatched internally among the staff even though the organisation is no longer receiving funding for wood and forestry activities.

Tos Q. Anonuevo is now the new person responsible for Wood and Forestry at the BWI. Tos is also the Education Secretary who is responsible for all BWI projects in the various regions including coordination and linkages with the ‘donors’ or solidarity support organization (SSOs). Since he joined the IFBWW in 2005, Tos was instrumental in developing the global sports campaign for World Cup 2010, EURO 2012, and the current campaign for Brazil 2014 World Cup and 2016 Rio Olympics. You can reach Tos directly on his mobile: +41 79 826 81 87

Fiona Murie joined the BWI in early 2000 as the director of the Global Health and Safety Programme, and Fiona continues to work with affiliates and partner organisations on the prevention of occupational Deaths, injuries and ill health in the construction, building materials, wood and forestry sectors. Since 2004, Fiona has also been responsible for coordinating policy and activities for the construction sector, and with today’s announcement she will assume further responsibilities as BWI’s global director of construction and building materials sectors. You can contact our Director Health and Safety, and Construction by mobile: +41 79 44 61 290

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September 14, 2011:  The Tool Highway project Dakar – Diamniadio that began in the last quarter of 2010 is underway in Senegal. The first Public Private Partnership (PPP) on the implementation of major infrastructure projects in francophone Africa monitored by BWI and partners is a great opportunity for its affiliate in Senegal SNTC to recruit members and to negotiate better terms for treatment and safety for thousands of workers who will be employed.

In February 2011 SNTC with the support of the BWI and the French and Belgian BWI affiliates had engaged in an action plan for the recruitment of workers who will be hired as part of this major project which constitute the first PPP initiative in Senegal and in Francophone Africa.

From September 12 to 14 in Dakar, an evaluation workshop and a site visit of the highway have sawn that SNTC has recruited over 1,000 new members in six (6) months which represents a record increase of membership of nearly hundred percent. The project is running at 50 percent for the first phase and expected to employ over 10,000 workers and the union hopes with support from BWI and partners, recruitment campaigns continue to achieve at least the rate of 80 percent of the workers on the site of the highway.

The contracting company responsible for the completion of the highway is a French multinational Eiffage-Sénagal with several other sub-contractors on site which allows an exchange of experience and expertise between construction companies.

The construction union of Senegal intends to use this major infrastructure project to better themselves in the construction sector in Senegal and Francophone Africa as its Secretary General Diaraf Ndao said.

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September 14, 2011:  Since February of this year, human rights activists, workers, trade unionists, and in particular the General Federation of Bahrain Trade Unions (GFBTU), BWI’s affiliate in Bahrain, has been faced with repression by the Bahraini government. In addition to severe restrictions in their work, much of the GFBTU leadership and leaders of its affiliates have been terminated from their work due to pressures by the government. To date over 2,200 union members have been basically sacked from their jobs; thereby unable to provide for their families.

On September 4, Sheik Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, the Royal King of Bahrain delivered a speech in which he stated he did not accept any infringement upon the dignity, livelihood, and freedom of any citizen. According to the GFBTU these words are to be the basis for discussions with all stakeholders in both the private and public sector to ensure the implementation of the Majesty’s orders in speeding up the process of those terminated workers returning to work.

In an effort to get an update on the process of these talks and the current situation the GFBTU, BWI proposed a mission to Bahrain. The mission, which was to take place on September 10, 2011 was to also discuss on-going project related activities with the GFBTU in promoting the rights of migrant workers, since close to 90% of the general work force in construction sector are migrant workers. Unfortunately, the mission never took place, as Jin Sook Lee, BWI’s Migration, Gender, and Campaign Director was denied entry to Bahrain since she worked for an international organization and according to immigration officials “lacked proper documentation.”

For the past five years, Lee has visited Bahrain on a regular basis to meet with the GFBTU to support its efforts to develop a national construction federation, which would be a vehicle to ensure the rights of all construction workers in Bahrain including migrant workers. In previous visits, she was allowed entry without any issues by Bahraini immigration officials but since February restrictive measures have been placed. When asked why she was being denied entry, when in previous occasions there were no issues with her entering Bahrain, immigration officials responded by stating, “Things are different now. We don’t want people to come in to Bahrain and later criticize the government.”

“The latest action by the Bahraini authorities by denying representatives of international trade unions to meet with their affiliates suggests that the Bahraini government fears international spotlight in the realities of what is happening in Bahrain,” stated Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI. He continued, “The highly security consciousness of the Bahraini government is also indicative of the repressive nature that the trade union movement faces every day. In light of this action, BWI once again reiterates our strong commitment to provide solidarity and support to the GFBTU.”

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September 14, 2011:  Films from Brazil, Switzerland and the UK have been awarded prizes in the 8th International Film and Multimedia Festival, during a ceremony at the World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, in Istanbul, Turkey, on 14 September. Multimedia productions from Germany, Sweden and Mexico also received prizes.

The 8th International Film and Multimedia Festival received 232 entries from 30 countries on the theme of prevention and work safety. The international juries selected the winners from among the pre-selected 90 films and 70 multimedia presentations based on their effectiveness, the overall treatment of the subject and the overall impression of the film or production.

The results were announced by Festival co-organizer and Chairman of the ISSA’s International Section on Information for Prevention, Marc de Graef, and Peter Rimmer, who presided the festival’s film jury.

The winner film comes from the SESI Brazil (Social Service of Industry) and its is focused in the Construction Sector: “do it with prevention” is the title. The film is animated by the famous Brazilian rap-style musician MV Bill. MV Bill, real name Alex Pereira Barbosa, is a Brazilian rap singer and co-author of the best-selling book Falcão – Meninos do Tráfico. The initials “MV” stand for “Mensageiro da Verdade”, Portuguese for “Messenger of Truth”.

The result highlights on the importance of prevention in the sector of Construction and similar. The BWI Regional Office to Latin America and the Caribbean is already in ways to take a copy of this film for someone interested to know more about.

From :ISSA, 14.09.2011 | News website and additional. 

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September 13, 2011:  “We are at the edge of an abyss; we need a responsible government,” protested Susanna Camusso, the General Secretary of the Italian trade union CGIL, as the union acted alone in staging its sixth general strike. In the beginning of September, tens of thousands of Italians took to the streets of Rome to protest against the Berlusconi government‘s €48 billion austerity package that will again primarily hurt the workers. Workers’ marches also took place in Florence, Genoa and Milan. Strike action hit transport and tourism as well as hospitals and industry. BWI recently met its Italian affiliates in Rome, accompanied by the BWI vice president of the European region.

Discussions continue between the three Italian confederations CISL, UIL and CGIL. In the construction sector, our three affiliates FILCA, FILLEA and FENEAL, still manage to maintain a degree of unity by jointly negotiating collective agreements and by establishing a common platform with the contractors in favour of combatting the abuses in precarious work and boosting investment.

The Italian economy is suffering from a public debt burden of 120% of its GDP, low economic growth for more than 10 years, and the euro crisis. All this has a negative impact on the construction sector through a credit squeeze and reductions in public investment. Moreover, the “Cassa Edili” report 800,000 workers in construction, with a decrease of 150,000 in 2010/2011, when the sector’s crisis began. By contrast, the ISTAD statistics report as many as 1,200,000 workers, due to widespread undeclared work in the sector.

“The economic problems in Italy and other southern European countries can’t be resolved without a reorientation of European politicies. The Italian unions are calling for measures like the introduction of euro-bonds and investment plans, and they advocate a new development and economic governance model,” says Vasco Pedrina, vice president of the BWI European region. “But there was a consensus that, also within unions, the trend is more towards national withdrawal. One of the main reasons for that is the absence of a mobilising European project.” 

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September 9, 2011:  The XIX World Congress on Safety and Health at Work – the world’s largest gathering of health and safety experts – opened in Istanbul with the aim of strengthening global commitment to a culture of safety and health at work amid the ongoing challenges of global economic uncertainty.

The five-day meeting brings together more than 3,000 policy-makers, experts, industry and labour leaders from over 100 countries to discuss issues such as comprehensive and proactive approaches to safety and health at work; social dialogue and partnerships on occupational safety and health; and new challenges in a changing world of work and an uneven global economic recovery.

The congress seeks to build on the Seoul Declaration on Safety and Health at Work, adopted at the Safety and Health Summit held on the occasion of the XVIII World Congress in June 2008, just prior to the onset of the global economic and jobs crisis. The Seoul Declaration committed its signatories to “taking a lead in promoting a preventative safety and health culture and placing occupational safety and health high on national agendas”.

It also stated for the first time that the right to a safe and healthy working environment should be recognized as a fundamental human right.

Participants to the congress will discuss the latest ILO “Global Trends and Challenges on Occupational Safety and Health”. The report shows that the overall number of fatal work-related accidents and diseases increased between 2003 and 2008. At the same time, the report also says that while the number of fatal accidents declined from 358,000 to 321,000, but the number of fatal diseases increased from 1.95 million to 2.02 million over the same period.

This equates to an average of more than 6,300 work-related deaths every day, and with some 317 million workers injured in accidents at work each year, a daily average of some 850,000 injuries that result in four or more day absences from work.

According to the report, there have been considerable advances in occupational safety and health over the past decades. This is due to an increased understanding in many countries of the need to prevent accidents and occupational diseases. There is also a growing acceptance of the heavy burdens that unsafe and unhealthy working conditions impose on women and men’s health and their well-being, in addition to the adverse affects on productivity, employment and the economy as a whole.

However, the report also states that “the global economic recession appears to have had a significant impact on workers’ safety and health and on their working conditions. While it is too soon to tell what long-term effect it has had on rates of accidents and ill-health, there is evidence that some of the recent advances in terms of promoting OSH are being lost as enterprises struggle to remain productive”.

“Increased work intensity due to the pressures in enterprise performance can lead to less time being given to prevention and less effective OSH management systems,” the report says. “Plant maintenance schedules are at risk of being cut back, increasing the risks of accidents through poor maintenance and lack of investment in newer equipment. This may also mean that workers have to continue working with older and more hazardous installations, equipment and tools”.

The report also notes that psychological factors, such as stress, harassment and violence at work have a marked impact on workers’ health, adding that “such factors are likely to be more significant as employment becomes more precarious for some, and workloads and working hours often increase for those remaining in employment”.

The XIX World Congress, co-organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Social Security Association (ISSA) in cooperation with the Turkish Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MOLSS), is also expected to set the guidelines and priorities ahead of the next global gathering in 2014.

Source: With information from the ILO bulletin ILO News 

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September 7, 2011:  Today saw the official opening of the 4th Congress of CEPPWAWU one of the BWI affiliate in South Africa. The Congress which was meeting under socio, political challenges the world have experienced in years. The Congress was officially opened by President of CEPPWAWU Cde Jacob Mabena, who outlined the challenges and the successes of the union since the last Congress in Cape Town in 2008. He urged the congress for discipline and unity and to emerge from the Congress with sound implementable resolution to build a stronger CEPPWAWU.

The Congress had a constitutional delegation of two hundred & ninety eight (298) and was graced by former veterans of the Union, the President of COSATU, Members the Central Committee of the African National Congress – ANC & South African Communist Party – SACP, Ministers & Deputy Ministers, Premiers & COSATU affiliates. Internationally the Congress as graced by Unions from Mozambique, Nigeria, India, GS Sweden, from the Global Unions the Congressed was attended by BWI, ICEM, and UNI & WFTU. BWI was represented by the Regional President Cde Piet Matosa and Regional Representative Crecentia Mofokeng.

Congress gave members to understand who Global unions are & why they relate to Global Unions in an International Congress Seminar. The Congress resolved to strengthen their international relations.

The Congress reviewed the organizational report which was presented by its General Secretary Simon Mofokeng which, amongst others looked at Membership trends within the union showing a growth rate of 19% since 2008, with currently have a total membership of 75 736. On industrial policy issues, the union highlighted the opportunity to increase its membership to more than 300 00, the report highlighted that the forestry sector is where they have a greater potential of 100 000, however the union showed that are challenged by retrenchments, Casualisation, Labour broking, and the precarious employment, and turnaround strategy is needed to achieve this goal.

Congress saw the need to develop strategies for organise migrant workers, youth and women in the sector. The union is calling for a strategy and research for creating green energy efficiency sector and will effectively participate in COP 17 in December. The union is calling for a National health Insurance that will cover the needs for all workers who don’t have any means to be covered by a decent insurer under the current two tier system; being an election Congress the union will elect its new leadership to take the union to the next Congress in 2014.

The congress was held from 31 August to 2 September 2011 in COASTLANDS, KWA ZULU NATAL. 

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September 2, 2011:  Trade unions in Fiji continue to face difficulties in expressing their rights and the freedom of association. On August 4 authorities used the Public Emergency Regulations to arrest and charge the Fiji Trade Unions Congress President Daniel Urai and Hotels Union staff member Dinesh Gounder for conducting a workplace meeting without a permit. They face trial on September 2nd.

In recent legislative developments the government recently published its Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree which will severely curtail the rights of workers and trade unions to strike, collectively bargain, receive over-time pay and be represented by independent trade unions. The Decree attacks Trade Unions in the public sector, sugar, airline and tourism industries and may later be expanded to cover other sectors. Trade Unions in Fiji believe that the Essential National Industries decree will seriously diminish trade Uuion rights in Fiji and it is time that voices be heard, said the BWI Fiji Affiliates.

The BWI condemns the arrest of the trade union leaders and demands the immediate restoration of trade union and democratic freedoms in Fiji.

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September 1, 2011:  At the recent Congress of the Swedish Painters’ Union close to 150 delegates elected a new leadership to lead the Malareforbundet under the banner of “Equal Values for the Trade Union Movement in the Future.”

Micke Johannson was elected as President. Instead of the traditional role of General Secretary and Treasurer, the union elected Peter Sjostrand, and Lennart Borgkvist respectively as Vice-Presidents.

Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of BWI was one of several guests at the Congress present to provide solidarity to the union and extend congratulations to a successful Congress. Yuson, particularly noted to the delegates, “The painters indeed bring color and some would say beauty to what are drabs of grey buildings, harsh steel, and dull wood. In the same way, your union has brought color to the international trade union movement through consistent solidarity and support.”

The Swedish Painters’ Union has been actively engaged in several trade union development projects and programs in Nepal South Africa, Brazil, and Panama.

One of the poignant moments of the Congress was the recognition of Lars-Åke Lundin, who after many years of contributing to the trade union movement in both Sweden and globally retired. Lars was a strong supporter of BWI and he was of course easily recognizable as he always carried a camera similar to photo journalists around the world.