IndustriALL Headlines #112

IndustriALL Headlines are published by IndustriALL Global Union.

Workers Mobilize to Put a STOP to Precarious Work
Mexican Lawyer Wins Top Human Rights Award
Australia – CFMEU video on Rio Tinto action day
Striking Workers at Schneider Electric USA
Malaysian Union Finally Gets Foothold in Electronics Factory


Workers Mobilize to Put a STOP to Precarious Work

World Day for Decent Work, Japan
World Day for Decent Work, Philippines
WDDW Czech Republic, OS KOVO

Oct 9, 2014 On 7 October, the World Day for Decent Work (WDDW), unions around the world mobilized to put the spotlight on the damaging impacts of precarious work.

More than 90 IndustriALL Global Union affiliates from over 40 countries took action through mass rallies, seminars and awareness campaigns to mark the WDDW. This year IndustriALL used social media to reach even more activists – a total of 1,592 supporters signed up to Thunderclap, reaching a massive 1,194,792 people on twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

In Japan, Czech Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Congo DRC, and Boznia Herzegovina affiliates took to the streets and held seminars on how precarious work threatens secure employment, pay and working conditions.

In the Dominican Republic, Indonesia and Congo DRC unions are fighting laws that expand precarious work. Dominican affiliates marched first to the offices of the employers’ association, then to the Ministry of Labour, and finally to the Congress, where they submitted a draft bill.

In India and Pakistan workers held meetings and demonstrations all over both countries at a variety of work sites. In Pakistan there are more than 20 million workers in informal sector, out of which 12 million are women workers. The Home Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) also organized demonstrations of home based glass bangle and garment women workers in Hyderabad and Karachi to put forward their legal demands and demand a STOP to precarious work.

Actions continue to pour in, take a look at IndustriALL’s STOP Precarious Work page to see who took action on the World Day for Decent Work.

If your union has taken action around 7 October, but your actions don’t appear on IndustriALL’s STOP Precarious Work campaign page, send them to: press@industriALL-union.org.

You can also tweet using the hashtag #STOPrecariousWork or share your actions with us on facebook.

More photos from World Day for Decent Work can be found on IndustriALL’s website by clicking here.

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Standing up for Human and Worker Rights

Mexican Lawyer Wins Top Human Rights Award
Human rights defender, Alejandra Ancheita, works closely with IndustriALL Global Union

Oct 9, 2014 Lawyer Alejandra Ancheita has been awarded the Martin Ennals prize, often dubbed the “Nobel prize” for human rights, for her relentless work defending migrants, mine workers and indigenous communities in her native Mexico.

Ancheita is the founder and executive director of Mexican organisation Proyecto de Derechos Economicos, Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC), helping local communities to stand up for their rights. She has spent the past 15 years working to protect land and labour rights from the ruthless greed of transnational mining and energy companies, often putting her her own life at risk in the process.

“It is a huge honour, not only for the recognition of my work and the work of my organization, but also in recognition of the dangerous conditions that human rights defenders are facing in Mexico,” she said on receiving the prize. “It is also a great responsibility,” she added.

The individuals and communities she helps often face violent attacks. Ancheita has been a pioneer in seeking justice in Mexican courts when companies failed to take local communities’ rights into account.

“Alejandra Ancheita’s selection by the jury highlights the array of forces facing human rights defenders,” says Micheline Calmy-Rey, the former Swiss foreign minister who chairs the Martin Ennals foundation.

“In Mexico, there is a clear pattern of attacks, threats, criminalization, and murder of human rights defenders. Ms. Ancheita and ProDESC have been subjected to surveillance, a defamation campaign in the national media, and a break in at their offices.”

IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary Fernando Lopes says:

“We are happy and proud to continue working with ProDESC, to strengthen the democratic unions in Mexico. Alejandra Ancheita’s commitment to human rights is remarkable and we warmly congratulate her for the award. Her work is very important in a country where trade union and people’s rights are often blatantly disregarded at the expense of big corporations.”

The Martin Ennals Award, named after the former secretary general of Amnesty International, is given to human rights defenders who show deep commitment to their cause despite huge personal risk.

The award was created in 1993, two years after Ennals died. The jury is composed of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists and seven other international campaign organisations.

The laureate receives a prize of 20,000 Swiss francs (USD 20,700).

The December issue of the Global Worker will contain an in-depth article on Alejandra Ancheita.

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Australia – CFMEU Video on Rio Tinto Action Day

Oct 9, 2014 As IndustriALL Global Union launched a global day of action against Rio Tinto on 7 October, Australian mining union CFMEU released this powerful video. CFMEU, general secretary, Andrew Vickers, explains the reasons behind the campaign.

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Striking Workers at Schneider Electric USA

Oct 9, 2014 More than 300 workers at Schneider Electric in Indiana, USA, went on strike on 5 October. The action comes after the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) Local 2069 rejected the company’s proposal on salaries and benefits.

IndustriALL Global Union affiliate IAM’s members voted to reject Schneider Electric’s final offer, which would have taken away a long-standing defined benefit pension plan. The rejected proposal had minimal wage increases to both tiers of the company’s wage scale and included only minor adjustments to safety equipment and accident and sickness benefits.

IAM Director of Collective Bargaining Tom O’Heron says:

“Schneider Electric is trying to bully our members into giving up their defined benefit pension plan and a respectable retirement.”

Despite Schneider’s claims of continuing to work with the union to get a fair contract, IAM maintains that the company has not made any attempts to return to negotiations.

“Schneider Electric has made no attempt to contact this union or return to the bargaining table,” said O’Heron. “Instead they’ve taken steps to move the work out of Indiana, which is a direct threat in our opinion.”

IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina says:

“We are outraged to learn that Schneider Electric is threatening and intimidating. It is important to note that Schneider Electric recorded a profit of over $2.4 billion in 2013, which makes the behaviour of the company even more unconscionable.

“We call on Schneider Electric to return to the negotiating table immediately and address the legitimate concerns and demands of Local 2069 members to achieve a fair contract.


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Malaysian Union Finally Gets Foothold in Electronics Factory

Oct 9, 2014  Workers in Malaysia have voted for union representation at electronics manufacturer Infineon Technologies, despite strong pressure and union busting tactics by management.

The victory, after a secret ballot on 1 and 2 October, follows a long fight for recognition by IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Electronic Industry Employees Union (EIEU).

Workers at the Kulim-based plant in northwest Malaysia initially asked the company management for recognition of their union in April 2014. However, instead of constructive dialogue, Infineon rejected the union’s demands.  EIEU was subsequently forced to pursue a long bureaucratic recognition procedure, while the company tried to destroy the workers’ efforts at organizing.  

In a bid to prevent union presence, the company tried to claim the factory was not producing electronic components. Eventually, Infineon agreed to a secret ballot of the entire workforce. In the run up to the vote, the company regularly provided negative briefings against EIEU and threatened workers. Nonetheless, more than half of the workers voted in favour of having the union at the plant.

IndustriALL is targeting the electronics sectors in five Asia-Pacific countries, including Malaysia, where it is particularly difficult to organize workers.

IndustriALL’s general secretary, Jyrki Raina, congratulated workers on their victory saying:

“It is especially encouraging to hear about the successful organizing in Malaysia amidst such challenging circumstances. We are glad the Infineon workers made the right choice and voted for a better future both for themselves and their families.”