IndustriALL Headlines #107

IndustriALL Headlines are produced by IndustriALL Global Union

IndustriALL Headlines #107

Mexican Appeals Court cancels last charges against Napoleón Gómez
Juno Lighting Group workers in dispute for fair wages in U.S.
Striking miners in Iran are released
IndustriALL building power through support for organizing in Turkey
Obituary – Bala Tampoe

Mexican Appeals Court cancels last charges against Napoleón Gómez

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, President and General Secretary of Los Mineros, has finally had all criminal charges against him dropped.

Sep 3, 2014: After years of persecution, Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, President and General Secretary of IndustriALL affiliate the National Mine and Metal Workers Union, Los Mineros, has finally had all criminal charges against him dropped by a court in Mexico.

In a unanimous decision issued in open court on 28 August, the Fourth Collegiate Tribunal for Criminal Matters of the First Circuit in the Federal District ruled that the government’s criminal charge against Gómez, based on the dissolution of a union trust fund in 2005, was baseless and unconstitutional.

This is the eleventh time that the Mexican government charged Gómez with the same offense and the eleventh time that the appellate courts have ruled in his favour. The Mexican Attorney General’s office announced that it would respect the decision, which cannot be appealed.

IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary Jyrki Raina welcomes the decision:

“Despite pressure from anti-union companies the Mexican courts have finally dropped the last criminal charge against Napoleón Gómez. It is time to start preparations for Napoleón’s return from his eight-year exile in Canada – there is so much trade union work to be done in Mexico!”

Since 2006 and Gómez’ strong condemnation of the industrial homicide at Pasta de Conchos, the mineworker leader has been persecuted by the corporate-government alliance and forced into exile in Vancouver, Canada.

“In exile, Gómez has continued to lead Los Mineros and successfully bargain collective agreements
improving the working conditions of the union members.”

Gómez is a member of IndustriALL’s Executive Committee. However, since sham charges against him from the Mexican authorities have kept him on the Interpol red alert list he has been unable to take his seat as a titular member of the executive.

Jyrki Raina continues:

“This is a triumph for the relentless international trade union solidarity campaign and we look forward to welcoming Gómez at our next Executive in December.”

Juno Lighting Group workers in dispute for fair wages in U.S.


Sep 4, 2014: Des Plaines, Illinois Juno Lighting Group workers on 3 September announced a strike against their company. Workers at Juno Lighting are demanding that the company gives them a fair wage increase and respect at work.

Juno Lighting Group’s workers are represented by the Local 2565, Chicago and Midwest Regional

Joint Board of Workers United, SEIU, an IndustriALL affiliate, and are bargaining a new collective agreement covering wages and conditions of employment for the hourly employees at Des Plaines, Illinois.  The decision to go on strike has been taken following several months of negotiations before and after the expiry of their current agreement at the end of August.

Juno Lighting Group is a private company purchased by the French multi-national Schneider Electric back in 2005.

Over the last months previous to the expiry of the contract Juno Lighting Group has insisted upon proposals the union believes to be unreasonable, because if accepted workers would be taken away their ability to have a living wage and dignity. Despite the fact that Local 2565 has already agreed to many of the demands put forward by the company, Juno Lighting Group demands for more concessions. The union says the Group has thrived since 1976 and can’t understand why the company needs to deny its workers of just wages.

The union says this is not a fight about worker “greed.” It is about worker justice. Unfortunately, Juno Lighting Group has forced the workers to engage in a labour strike based on Juno Lighting Group’s desire to undermine the union members’ living standards.

To support the striking workers IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina sent letter to the CEO of Schneider Electric France SA. In his letter Jyrki Raina said, “Workers United at Local 2565 are on strike as of yesterday due to the unwillingness of Juno Lighting to accept the reasonable and fair demands of workers for a wage increase. Instead, the company is offering a reduced wage increase to an already underpaid workforce. Workers are rightfully demanding a living wage that would help offset the rising cost of living, including individual healthcare coverage, housing, food, and education.”

In his letter Raina further added, “it is imperative that Schneider Electric guarantee decent working conditions and fair remuneration to the workers at its US subsidiary Juno Lighting, in full compliance with national labour law and international core labour standards.”

IndustriALL also conveyed a message of solidarity to the striking workers.

Juno Lighting Group has been established in 1976, and is engaged in the design, assembly and manufacture of a range of recessed and track architectural grade lighting products. Juno Lighting Group is one of the principal players in the US$12 Billion Lighting Industry.

Striking miners in Iran are released

The 5,000 miners who participated in the peaceful
strike have now gone back to work.

Sep 4, 2014: 5,000 striking miners in Iran went back to work on 3 September after the nine arrested workers were released, and the authorities made a verbal promise to stop privatization of the mine.

Nine workers at the Bafgh Iron Ore Mine in Yazd, Iran, were detained when opposing the government’s insistence in privatizing the company, and, as consequence, deteriorating the working conditions of the miners.
More than 5,000 miners downed tools in support of the arrested colleagues, but yesterday went back to work when all nine workers were released on bail and authorities promised to stop the privatization.
IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan says:

“We welcome the release of the arrested workers, but the struggle is not over. We
continue to support the workers and their fight for the mine not to be privatised.”

IndustriALL building power through support for organizing in Turkey

Participants at the workshop showing support for the
workers at NXP, Phillipines.

Sep 4, 2014: During the last years, Turkish trade unions have seen a rapid decline in membership. In a move to turn that around, a workshop for trade union leaders was held at the beginning of September in Istanbul focussing on building power through organizing.

Trade union membership in Turkey has fallen dramatically in recent years. Participants in the two-day workshop identified a connection between declining unionization and an intensification of work, longer working hours and worsening work-life balance. They renewed their commitment to make organizing new members a top priority for their unions.

The workshop included discussions of principles of organizing, getting prepared for and planning organizing campaigns, prior organizing successes and failures, and global campaign strategies and tactics.

IndustriALL affiliate Petrol-IS presented their innovative “Get Unionized” organizing campaign. This campaign focuses on proactive and open communications with workers and the public, and on spreading the message that it is a workers’ right to get unionized.

“Unions in Turkey are under attack from the same neoliberal forces attacking unions around the globe. IndustriALL is working with our Turkish unions to ensure they can respond to these forces and build their power through organizing,” said IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan.

The workshop was jointly organized by IndustriALL and sister organisation UNI Global Union for Turkish affiliates of both federations. The two organisations have collaborated extensively on the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, an agreement designed to make all garment factories in Bangladesh safe workplaces. They have used their affiliates’ representation at different parts in the supply chain to pressure employers to join the Accord. IndustriALL has also collaborated with UNI on a joint IBM network. The IndustriALL’s Pulp & Paper sector has on going joint work with UNI’s graphical sector.

Obituary – Bala Tampoe

Bala Tampoe and Jyrki Raina
during his visit to Sri Lanka in
February 2014.

Sep 3, 2014:IndustriALL Global Union renders tribute to Bala Tampoe who passed away on 1 September. Bala was

Striking workers led by Bala Tampoe.

92 and led his union IndustriALL affiliate Ceylon Mercantile, Industrial and General Workers Union (CMU) for more than 60 years; he negotiated with every Prime Minister since Sri Lanka’s independence.

One of the great figureheads of the Sri Lankan labour movement, Bala Tampoe, general secretary of CMU passed away on 1 September after a brief period of illness.

An advocate of criminal law, Bala became General Secretary of the CMU in February 1948. His work contributing to shape Sri Lanka’s political and social landscape spans more than 65 years, and under his leadership the CMU became one of the country’s largest trade unions in the commercial sector.

Known for challenging the political decisions of the government, Bala led a strike in the Colombo port in 1963. The struggle escalated into an all-island general strike and defied the government when it invoked its emergency powers.

Linus Jayatilake, President of the United Federation of Labour, and friend says:

“Comrade Bala leaves the CMU and the working-class at a moment of the emerging crisis of the neo-liberal capitalist system on a world scale. But the rich memories of his militancy and the class intransigence will be his sole contribution to the working class; to confront the collapse of this system.”

“His Marxist and left learnings led him to remain steadfast in the independence of the working-class against all forms of class-collaborationist politics.”

Until his death Bala retained the position as General Secretary and participated actively in major negotiations with the government and employers. During the past years he worked to get the Workers Charter implemented, as well as trying to get the unions to join forces and make the government of Sri Lanka ratify ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina says:

“Bala Tampoe was a great man who dedicated his whole life to the struggles of the trade union movement. His achievements resonate with workers all around the world. He will be missed.”

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