IndustriALL Headlines #108

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IndustriALL Headlines #108

 Global Unions Unite to Back Cambodian Garment Workers’ Action Day
Turkish Glass Workers Reach Collective Agreement After Strike Ban
Juno Lighting Workers Celebrate the Joy of Victory
Goodyear Unions Committee to Revive Global Network
IndustriALL Joins Mourning for Five Killed Miners in Bosnia

Global Unions Unite to Back Cambodian Garment Workers’ Action Day

Sep 11, 2014 Three global unions, representing millions of workers around the world, are mobilizing to back Cambodian garment unions’ demands for higher wages.

IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) are joining Cambodian garment workers in a day of action on 17 September calling for a rise in the minimum wage from US$100 to US$177.  

In early October, the Labour Advisory Committee (LAC) in Cambodia is set to announce a new minimum wage for workers in the garment, textile and footwear industry, which generates US$5 billion in revenue for the country.

At this critical juncture, IndustriALL, the ITUC and UNI are asking affiliates to take part in the global day of action by organizing protests outside Cambodian embassies and present a letter to the ambassador. Affiliates are also being asked to send letters directly to the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Global unions are joining Cambodian garment workers in a day of action on 17 September as they strive for a living wage. 
Source: IndustriALL/Nick Axelrod

Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, said:

“The global day of action on 17 September will be a sharp reminder that the world is watching as Cambodia sets a new minimum wage. Cambodia is an important sourcing country to the fashion industry and yet pitiful wages mean that garment workers live in poverty and are forced to work exhausting hours to survive. We urge the Cambodian government to listen to workers’ demands for a peaceful path to a just wage – or seriously risk jeopardizing brands’ confidence in the country as a sourcing partner.”

A coalition of garment unions, including IndustriALL affiliates, agreed on the figure of US$177 based on a study commissioned by the Cambodian government for the LAC. The study found that the minimum wage should be between $157 and $177 dollars a month. This number is also close to the amount had the original minimum wage for the sector been adjusted for inflation over time – around $170.

Philip Jennings, General Secretary of UNI Global Union said, “Cambodia has a choice, either to take the high road to becoming a sustainable, ethical, fair play industry or the low road that leads to the bottom. The eyes of everyone from consumers to brands are on Cambodia. Cambodia do the right thing and raise the minimum wage to US$177.”

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, further explained:

“The impoverishment of workers in supply chains is a global scandal. In Cambodia, garment workers’ labour supports a multi-billion dollar industry, while wages are insufficient to cover basic expenses, including adequate food and shelter for themselves and their families. Cambodia will simply not move forward if the economic strategy is to continue to rely on a poverty wage system. We strongly support the unions’ call for a living wage and urge the government to act now.”

For more information please contact:

Leonie Guguen at

Tel: 00 41 (0)22 308 50 24

Switchboard: 00 41 (0)22 308 50 50

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Turkish Glass Workers Reach Collective Agreement After Strike Ban

Sep 11, 2014  Members of IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliate Kristal-Is went on strike on 20 June 2014 over the failure of sector-wide negotiations in the glass industry. The Turkish Government postponed, in reality banned, the strike eight days after it was launched.

According to Turkish legislation, “a lawful strike or lock-out that has been called or commenced may be suspended by the Council of Ministers for 60 days with a decree if it is prejudicial to public health or national security. The suspension shall come into force on the date of publication of the decree“.

The legislation further reads “if an agreement is not reached before the expiry date of the suspension period, the High Board of Arbitration settles the dispute upon the application of either party within six working days. Otherwise, the competence of the workers’ trade union shall be void”. It is a well-known fact that the High Arbitration Board never rules in favour of union demands because it is dominated by government and employers’ representatives. This is why Kristal-Is has pursued a strategy to conclude the agreement without going to compulsory arbitration.

In the meantime, Kristal-Is has applied to the State Council for nullification of the Government’s Decree with a demand of suspension of its execution for being able to continue to strike. However surprisingly the State Council has refused this demand on the contrary to its earlier jurisprudence on the basis of economic arguments rather than protecting fundamental rights. In addition to this, Kristal-Is has filed a complaint against Turkish Government at the ILO over violation of the right of collective bargaining, and IndustriALL Global Union supported it. In the meantime, Kristal-Is and its members engaged in a series of nationwide actions.

Before the sixty-day suspension period was about to be over, Kristal-Is has organized a secret-ballot vote on 26 August with its members over the last offer made by the employers at the onoging negotiations. On the basis of the results and potential risk that the collective agreement be concluded by the High Arbitration Committee, Kristal-Is has decided to sign.

The new agreement has brought important achievements to the union members. With the new deal, wages were increased with an average of 14% and a substantial improvement has been made for lower-paid categories. Bonuses and other social payments were augmented by between 10% and 49%.

The agreement covers 5800 glass workers in ten factories of Sisecam group, namely Trakya Cam, Trakya Mersin, Trakya Yeni?ehir, Trakya Otocam, Cam Elyaf, Pa?abahçe Eski?ehir, Pa?abahçe Mersin, Pa?abahçe K?rklareli, Anadolu Cam Mersin and Anadolu Cam Yeni?ehir.

Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL stated:

“IndustriALL Global Union salutes and congratulates Kristal-Is over its determination for better wages and working conditions during this difficult period. Our right to strike is under threat worldwide. The strike ban in the Turkish glass industry is a clear example of how this fundamental right is critical for us since the strike is a vital instrument for workers in betterment and advancement of their rights and interests.”

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Juno Lighting Workers Celebrate the Joy of Victory

 Poster with gratitude message from Workers United

Sep 10, 2014  After three days of strike launched by the workers of Des Plaines, Illinois Juno Lighting Group the management of the group agreed to satisfy workers’ demands.

The workers went on strike as the last remedy in their fight for decent conditions and fair wages after several months of negotiations prior to the end of the previous agreement in August.

At the end of the strike the Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board representing the striking workers shared the information about Juno Lighting workers’ victory. Reportedly the newly reached deal includes an average wage increase from US$11.90 to US$13.30 per hour. Also workers managed to obtain improvements in many other benefits including the double sick pay and a decrease in the cost of family insurance.

In his letter to IndustriALL Richard Monje, International vice president of Workers United/SEIU praised the support of the IndustriALL Global Union family playing an important role in assuring justice for Juno workers, he said, “this is a victory not only for Workers United members at Juno Lighting but for global labor solidarity“.

IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan commented on the victory, “We are indeed glad that the dispute at Juno Lighting Group is over and the management of the Group came quickly to its senses and made the right choice when it accepted the workers’ demands. We salute the determination of Juno workers and share their joy of victory with all our members across the globe.”

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Goodyear Unions Committee to Revive Global Network

Sep 11, 2014  More than thirty participants representing workers employed by the third largest tire-maker from the United States, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Netherlands unanimously decided to re-activate the Goodyear Global Union Network which has been formed in 1999.

The Goodyear Global Network worked over the priorities of exchange of information and experience; support actions in union organizing; improvement of occupational health and safety conditions; and active international solidarity among the participating unions.

In the meantime, Goodyear unions in the Asia Pacific region cooperated through a regional network through a series of physical meetings held in 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2008 over health and safety matters with hazardous materials at plants; industrial accidents and occupational diseases; safety committees –composition, and activities-training.

Hosted by IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate Lastik-Is, Rubber, Chemical and Oil Industry Workers’ Union, representing Goodyear workers in two plants located in Izmit and Adapazari, on 4-5 September, the 2014 global union network meeting discussed burning issues related to the tire industry in general and particular matters regarding Goodyear.

“As the first global one in the tire industry, the Goodyear network has played a very important role for international solidarity” said Abdullah Karacan, General President of Lastik-Is. “I do believe that after this meeting each of us will be conducting our day-to-day action in a more effective way”.

According to recent estimations, “the automotive tire market is set to reach close to US$250 billion globally within the next five years”. It is reported that there are between 700 and 800 tire-makers in the world, and probably near 650 in China.

The Izmit meeting endorsed and appreciated IndustriALL Global Union’s key strategies and actions, particularly on trade union networks.  Goodyear unions elaborated global trends in the tire Industry with a particular focus on Goodyear through a global overview of the economic situation, investments and employment.

One important item discussed was the trade union situation in Goodyear operations worldwide. Tom O’Shei and Jim Mason from the United Steelworkers of North America briefed the participants on the collective bargaining process in the US plants since 2006. The Turkish case presented by Lastik-Is attracted attention of the delegates with new gained rights such as complementary public scheme.

The meeting finally discussed a further work plan and how to keep the network functioning with a unanimous decision to revive the structure.

The delegates later visited the Goodyear plant in Izmit, capital of the tire industry in Turkey, and met with factory management, shop stewards and workers after a tour. The plant is nearly one-hundred percent unionized and therefore the union has real power and is because of that totaly accepted by the management. It was a good example, the power of the union is its members.

“IndustriALL Global Union’s strategy in the tire industry is to build global union power through strong networks,” said Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary. “The Goodyear global union network will continue to play an important role in this strategy”.

Goodyear is one of the world’s leading tire companies, particularly in North America and Latin America as number one and in Europe as the second largest tire maker. Goodyear employs approximately 69,000 people around the world operating 51 plants in 22 countries. Its major brands are Goodyear, Dunlop Tires, Kelly Tires, Fulda, Sava and Debica.

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IndustriALL Joins Mourning for Five Killed Miners in Bosnia

Sep 11, 2014  Yet again this week mining trade unions are forced to mark the avoidable deaths of fellow miners, killed on 4 September by lax and underfunded safety procedures.

The last of the five Bosnian miners’ bodies was recovered late Sunday, 7 September. The five were killed after an earthquake triggered a collapse inside the central Raspotocje mine near the town of Zenica, central Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The 3.5-magnitude earthquake caused explosive fractures in the rocks as flammable methane gas pockets were released. The collapsed shafts trapped 34 miners, 29 of whom were rescued within 24 hours of the accident. The joint memorial of the five killed miners took place on Monday in Zenica, with thousands of people attending. The five were then buried in village cemeteries near the town.

Raspotocje has a reputation as Bosnia’s most dangerous coal mine, with frequent rock bursts and accidents. Raspotocje produces coal for Bosnia’s largest power utility, EPBiH, and employs 430 miners. The authorities have not addressed the safety concerns since war damage sustained during the 1990s.

The Raspotocje mine was one of seven coalmines merged in 2009 by the government to supply the EPHiH utility’s coal-fired energy plants. As part of that deal EPBiH pledged to invest more than 70,000 Euros over five years to improve working conditions. Although that money has been spent, almost none has gone to Raspotocje.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Raina sent written condolences to president Sinan Husic of the union organizing the mine, the Independent Miners Trade Union of the BIH Federation:

“This is a sad and tragic reminder of the importance of ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for miners all over the world, in full accordance with national labour legislation and international core labour standards, including the International Labour Organization’s Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines. We strongly encourage the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to implement its plan to vastly upgrade the operation at the Raspotocje coal mine and improve working conditions.”

“An injury to one is an injury to all.”

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