IndustriALL Headlines #109

IndustriAll Headlines are produced by IndustriALL Global Union

IndustriALL Headlines #109

Cambodia: Thousands of garment workers take action

Support IndustriALL’s STOP Precarious Work Campaign

Ebola impact expected on West African workers

UNIFOR takes action to STOP Precarious Work

Sweden welcomes trade unionist as prime minister

Cambodia: Thousands of garment workers take action

IndustriALL and Uni demonstrate outside the Cambodian embassy in Geneva.

September 17, 2014 – Global unions joined thousands of garment workers in Cambodia today in an international day of action to demand an increase in the minimum wage from US$100 to US$177 per month.

Huge crowds of Cambodian garment workers wearing distinctive orange t-shirts braved intimidation from military personnel to protest during their lunch hour outside around 90 factories.

Huge crowds of Cambodian garment workers wearing distinctive orange t-shirts braved intimidation from military personnel to protest during their lunch hour outside around 90 factories.

In Switzerland, IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union made a solidarity protest at the Cambodian embassy in Geneva where Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary and UNI’s Alke Boessiger, presented a letter addressed to the Cambodian Prime Minister.

The joint letter from global unions IndustriALL, UNI and the ITUC, which together represent millions of workers around the world, urges the Cambodian government to:

“enact an immediate and substantial rise to the minimum wage so that garment workers, whose labour supports a US$5 billion industry, can finally live with dignity. We fully support garment workers and their trade unions in their 17 September call on the government to deliver on a living wage.”

The ITUC, headquartered in Brussels, also led a delegation of members to the Cambodian embassy in Belgium.

Further actions have also been held today in Korea by IndustriALL affiliate KMWU, who got round demonstration restrictions by making one-person pickets outside several big name fashion stores in Seoul’s most popular shopping spots.

IndustriALL affiliates in Korea take selfies in support of Cambodian workers.

KMWU also joined other Korean unionists in posting selfies on social media holding banners supporting the Cambodian workers.

In Australia, leaders and members from IndustriALL affiliates the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) demonstrated outside H&M in Melbourne. Both unions were also represented by Unions ACT, which hand-delivered a letter to the Cambodian embassy in Canberra.

Social media participation has also been considerable with support from many unions, NGOs and consumers on Facebook and under the hashtag #WeNeed177 on twitter.

 IndustriALL’s general secretary Jyrki Raina said:

“We will not stop our support for Cambodian garment workers until they earn a decent living wage, as is the right of any human being. The government must listen to its citizens – garment workers – whose hard work contributes US$5 billion to the Cambodian economy.”

Letters have also been sent by many IndustriALL affiliates around the world including unions from Japan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and Sweden.

Further pickets have taken place at stores across the globe.

The campaign for a US$177 monthly wage, which still does not constitute a living wage, has been launched as Cambodia’s Labour Advisory Committee is set to announce the new minimum wage from January 2015 next month.

A coalition of garment unions, including IndustriALL affiliates, set their demand as US$177 based on a study commissioned by the Cambodian government itself last year that recommended the minimum wage for garment workers should be between US$157 and US$177.

Global unions have also written to the Prime Minister Hun Sen to ask why no progress has been made in setting up a functioning wage setting mechanism, despite assistance from the International Labour Organization.

Listen to Jyrki Raina talking about the reasons for the global day of action,

Please contact IndustriALL Global Union for more information:

Leonie Guguen:

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Support IndustriALL’s STOP Precarious Work campaign with Thunderclap 

September 18, 2014Join IndustriALL Global Union in using social media to boost the global campaign day ‘STOP Precarious Work’ on 7 October. Through the message-boosting tool Thunderclap, together we will take a stand against precarious work.

Thunderclap allows people and organizations to programme a Tweet or Facebook message, which will go out on the same day and at the exact same time on 7 October in order to achieve maximum exposure and effect.

Using Thunderclap will help to communicate the dangers of precarious work to a much larger audience, reaching way beyond trade unions that are already aware of the issue.

Mass mobilizations of affiliates are also planned on 7 October 2014 when rallies, marches and workshops raising public awareness about the problems of precarious work will be taking place. IndustriALL is also encouraging affiliates to use social media to cover these events.

Simply follow the link to our campaign on Thunderclap and choose whether to support the campaign through Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr or all three. Please use the hashtag #STOPrecariousWork

We must reach an initial goal of 250 supporters. Let’s make our voice heard on 7 October, together let’s STOP Precarious Work.

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IndustriALL is calling on affiliatesto monitor the economic impact of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa ©EC/ECHO

Ebola impact expected on West African workers

September 18, 2014There are more than 2400 known deaths attributed to Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea with limited deaths also in Nigeria and Senegal. The economic impact of Ebola in the region will be devastating and organized labour is challenged to find an adequate response.

An outbreak of Ebola in the developed world would be easily overcome but West Africa has been unable to contain the disease which has been ongoing for several months now due to poor health services as well as other public service failings. It is having a devastating effect on health services in several ways. It has claimed the lives of health workers that do not have adequate protective gear to work with infected patients, putting more strain on limited human resources to respond to health needs in these countries. It has resulted in the closure of health facilities unable to deal with Ebola patients which has left thousands without care for this and other illnesses.

The longer the outbreak remains uncontained, the greater the risk of the potential negative impact on the economy. Airlines are suspending travel and borders with neighbouring countries have been closed. Multinational companies are scaling back and pulling foreign staff out of affected countries. Other countries in the region have also been affected by fear of the outbreak spreading which has affected trade and other economic activities even where there are no reported cases of Ebola.

In a letter to affiliates in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, IndustriALL Global Union’s general secretary, Jyrki Raina expressed grave concern of the impact that the outbreak is having on workers and writes; “Our affiliates have an important role to play monitoring the economic impact, in terms of slow down or stoppage in production by companies, especially in the mining sector and its implications for labour in the form of layoffs. Particular attention also is needed to the impact on migrant workers.”

Some IndustriALL affiliates in affected countries feel they should be assisting in efforts to contain Ebola, in particular educating workers about the disease and how it is spread. IndustriALL has encouraged affiliates to work with and support Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, who have provided the most comprehensive response to the disease thus far.

The Steelworkers Humanity Fund has contributed US$25,000 for Ebola support in West Africa, providing funds to both MSF and a local NGO with ties to the labour movement that will undertake a public health education campaign. The Steelworkers Humanity Fund focuses primarily on development projects and emergency aid in developing countries, but also supports Canadian communities in crisis. United Steelworkers (USW) members contribute to the fund through clauses negotiated into collective agreements and in some cases employers make matching contributions.

IndustriALL also encourages affiliates that would like to help to follow the example of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund and support the work of MSF and other credible NGOs on the frontline of the outbreak.

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UNIFOR takes action to STOP Precarious Work

September 16, 2014On the occasion of the Global Action Day to STOP Precarious Work, UNIFOR will hold a Good Job National Summit to discuss solutions to the stagnating economy, growing precariousness and lack of opportunities for young people.

UNIFOR has partnered with Ryerson University, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Canadian Federation of Students to host a multi-stakeholder dialogue on how together they can create good jobs. The Summit will take place on 3-5 October in Toronto.

On last year’s World Day for Decent Work, Unifor President Jerry Dias called on the Canadian government to convene a multi-stakeholder Good Jobs Summit in order to start a conversation about creating and sustaining decent work.  The government did not respond and so Unifor began to plan its own good jobs summit.

Today in Canada’s job market temporary jobs are growing at a rate that’s twice as fast as permanent jobs. “For too many people in Canada today, the dream of landing a good job is out of reach. For an increasing number, jobs that were once considered ‘stable’ – with decent wages, benefits and working conditions – are under threat. Good jobs appear to be falling off the economic map,” reads Unifor’s Good Job Summit discussion paper.

Given the impact of increasing precarious work on communities and society in general, the summit will involve a wide range of actors including workers, students, governments, employers and community organizations. The issues to be discussed include the economic consequences of a rising pool of temporary, low-wage jobs; the psychological impacts on individuals faced with an unstable career trajectory; and the impact of the growth in poor-quality jobs on our collective ability to pursue other social goals, like eliminating poverty or protecting our natural environment.

More information is available on the event website.

IndustriALL is calling all its affiliates to take action on 7 October, like UNIFOR, to demonstrate our united commitment to stopping precarious work.

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Sweden welcomes trade unionist as prime minister 

September 16, 2014 – Former president of Swedish union IF Metall Stefan Löfven is set to become the next prime minister of Sweden. As leader of the social democrats Stefan Löfven saw his party win the national elections on 14 September.

Stefan Löfven, Sweden’s next prime miniater

The election results mean a return to a socialist government after eight years of conservative rule in Sweden.

A welder by trade, Löfven rose from the ranks of membership of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate IF Metall to become president of one of Sweden’s largest trade unions.  He was also a member of the Executive Committee of the International Metal Workers’ Federation (IMF).

In the opening speech at IndustriALL’s founding congress in Copenhagen 2012, Stefan Löfven said:

Wherever there is a political discussion, workers’ voice should be heard and respected. I’m still one of you, I’ll always be.”

IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina says:

“We congratulate our comrade on this huge achievement and we are proud to see a trade unionist run a country. Whatever challenges lie ahead, Stefan is a highly experienced negotiator with strong democratic roots.”

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