IndustriALL Headlines #117 – November 13, 2014

IndustriALL Headlines are produced by IndustriALL’s Press Department.
For more information about IndustriALL Global Union click here to visit their website.
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GLOBAL UNIONS DISMISS CAMBODIAN 128 USD WAGE AS INADEQUATE
UAW AND VW ONE STEP CLOSER TO RECOGNITION
COLOMBIAN TRADE UNIONISTS DARIO CÁRDENAS ACQUITTED AND RELEASED
METALWORKERS FACE UNION BUSTING IN RUSSIA
INDUSTRIALL LIFE AND ESCALATORS NETWORK MEETING


GLOBAL UNIONS DISMISS CAMBODIAN 128 USD WAGE AS INADEQUATE

Nov 12, 2014 –  IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) dismiss today’s decision by the Cambodian government to set a minimum wage of US$128 a month for the garment sector as inadequate.

Credit: Nick Axelrod/ IndustriALL Global Union

Since January, when the government sent troops into the streets to quell protests over the then-poverty wage of US$100, local and global trade unions, international brands and governments made clear that the garment industry cannot be sustainable where workers’ wages are set below or on the margins of poverty. The government’s decision, while slightly higher than the labour advisory committee’s recommendation of US$123, represents yet another squandered opportunity.

“A living wage is not only necessary for workers to live with dignity but it is also essential for the sustainability of the garment industry. That is why leading international apparel brands have indicated their support for a fair living wage,” explained Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL. “We intend to hold the brands to their word and will continue working with them on a mechanism that will extend higher wages to workers in their supplier factories.”

Speaking in Brisbane ahead of the G20 summit, UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings said, “Cambodian garment workers need a pay rise. Supply chains will be examined here at the G20 and we will make clear our disappointment with Cambodia.”

Additionally, the global unions are deeply concerned with recent drafts of the Trade Union Law, which represent a major step in the wrong direction.

“Though the ILO has for years called on the government to issue a law consistent with ILO conventions, the government has done just the opposite. In its current form, the law would have a devastating impact on independent trade unions,” explained ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. “Worse, the government added vague language that would give it sweeping powers to suspend trade unions for engaging in strikes or other ‘acts damaging to the interests of the Kingdom of Cambodia’. This is unacceptable.”

For more information please contact:  Leonie Guguen, Communications Officer, IndustriALL Global Union lguguen@industriall-union.org

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UAW AND VW ONE STEP CLOSER TO RECOGNITION

Nov 13, 2014 –  After several years of campaigning to organize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, UAW is supported by a majority of workers. Now the company opens a formal dialogue with the union. Click here to see video of IndustriALL, Jyrki Raina at Volkswagen (VW) plant in Chattanooga.

UAW Local 42 with General Secretary Jyrki Raina

On 12 November Volkswagen announced a new policy which includes that with more than 45 percent support, a union can meet once every two weeks with VW Chattanooga’s executive committee.

The United Autoworkers union UAW and Germany’s IG Metall welcomed the step forward, but want more. UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel stated:

“In the first conversations that will occur, we will remind them of the mutually agreed-upon commitments that were made by Volkswagen and the UAW last spring in Germany. Among those commitments: Volkswagen will recognize the UAW as the representative of our members. We believe Volkswagen made this commitment in good faith and we believe the company will honor this commitment. Additionally, we will present the Chattanooga plant management with the September letter of intent in which the influential Volkswagen Global Group Works Council expressed its desire for the Chattanooga plant to be a ‘UAW-represented facility.’”

IG Metall President Detlef Wetzel said:

“We expect VW to show their true colours and accept the UAW as its collective bargaining partner, once UAW proves that they represent the majority of workers.”

The policy announced by VW on Wednesday is not perfect as it opens the possibility for more than one union to represent workers and act as the company’s bargaining partner. A small yellow union exists at the plant.

UAW Local 42 was set up in July to organize and represent workers at the VW plant in Chattanooga. It has been supported throughout their campaign by IG Metall, the Global Works Council at VW and by IndustriALL Global Union.

The Chattanooga plant is the only VW facility in the world without worker representation. Local 42 under the newly elected leadership of president Mike Cantrell and vice president Steve Cochran will take its place on the VW Global Works Council. Until now it has been the only plant not represented on the global body where workers and management regularly meet to set corporate policy.

Outside influence from well-funded anti-union lobby groups makes a free and fair workplace election impossible at VW in Chattanooga. For that reason the union is following a different organizing strategy to empower workers with a voice and industrial relations structure in their workplace.

Volkswagen is setting an industry example in defying anti-union politicians and other pressure in the Southern United States to work with the UAW and respect international labour standards. The UAW is also campaigning to organize workers in a hostile environment at Mercedes-Benz in Alabama, and Nissan in Mississippi.

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COLOMBIAN TRADE UNIONISTS DARIO CÁRDENAS ACQUITTED AND RELEASED

Nov 10, 2014After spending one year and three days in detention as a result of a campaign calling for the nationalization of the Rubiales oil field, Darío Cárdenas, vice-president of the Meta branch of the Colombian oil workers’ union, Unión Sindical Obrera (USO), has been released from custody.

Freed Columbian trade unionists Darío Cárdenas (left) with IndustriALL’s Assistant General Secretary Fernando Lopes.

Darío Cárdenas with members from IndustriALL’s Latin American Regional and Head Office.

Cárdenas was acquitted of the charges brought against him by the public prosecutor in a decision taken by judge Segundo Promiscuo in Puerto López on 5 November 2014.

Cárdenas was detained at Villavicencio, Meta, on 2 November 2013 after the first criminal court issued an order accusing him of obstructing the public highway; causing damage to natural resources; and aggravated damage to private property.

USO, which is affiliated to IndustriALL, released a statement saying: “This puts a brake on attempts to criminalize and discredit USO’s leaders who were protesting against oil multinationals and poor working and living conditions, particularly Pacific Rubiales Energy in Puerto Gaitán (Meta) in 2011 and 2012.”

IndustriALL congratulates our USO colleagues on their determined struggle since these injustices were committed. It condemns the attempts to frame them with the sole aim of attacking and intimidating trade unions and anyone acting in solidarity with them.

Fernando Lopes, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL visited Darío Cárdenas at Villavicencio Prison in May this year and personally communicated the federation’s support and solidarity.

In its statement, USO said: “This ruling encourages us to keep on working and to insist that the government stops persecuting the country’s oil workers and the trade union and social movements. We call for the sovereignty of the Colombian justice system over transnational interests; the recognition of trade union freedoms and workers’ rights; repeal of the Citizen Security Statute and other arbitrary legislation that criminalises social protest and rides roughshod over workers’ rights, configuring what is effectively a civilian dictatorship in this country.”

IndustriALL has often expressed its concern about the persecution of the trade union movement in Colombia. It will continue to support the USO in its campaign for the release of Rafael Rodríguez Moros, leader of USO’s Centre branch who is still in detention.

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METALWORKERS FACE UNION BUSTING IN RUSSIA

Nov 13, 2014Russian pipeline fittings manufacturer, OAO Turbodetal, is getting rid of union activists trying to negotiate better pay and working conditions at its production plant in Chelyabinsk.

Russian pipeline fittings manufacturer, OAO Turbodetal, is accused of union busting.

The Turbodetal workers, who are members of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Miners and Metallurgical Workers’ Union, are planning a protest action in the city of Chelyabinsk on 22 November to prevent the company from destroying the union at the factory.

For more than a year now, the union has been trying to negotiate with the Turbodetal management over the problem of underpaid workers holding more than one position and the increase in the cost-of-living. Tired of fruitless talks, workers called for a general assembly on 17 October in which they demanded to be compensated for working more than one job and better pay to cover inflation.

As a consequence the factory management has set out to bust the union. According to the union committee, factory supervisors have received instructions on how to force workers to withdraw from their trade union. The supervisors and team leaders themselves have been threatened with having their bonuses cut or stopped if they fail to persuade workers to leave the union.

There are over 2000 workers at the factory, some 1100 used to be members of the union. As the result of the union busting, around 200 workers have withdrawn from the union.

At the same time, the company has blocked ten employees from work, denying them access to the factory and consequently the possibility to participate in their union work. All ten had pronounced their support of the union’s demands during the general assembly.

The Miners and Metallurgical Workers’ Union is appealing to all trade union members and organizations to support the Turbodetal workers who are fighting for the independence of their union in the face of interference from the company.

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INDUSTRIALL LIFE AND ESCALATORS NETWORK MEETING

Rainer Wimmer from IndustriALL’s Austrian affiliate ProGe and Matthias Hartwich, Director of IndustriALL at the Lifts and Escalators Global Network Meeting in Vienna.

Nov 11 – 12, 2014, Vienna, Austria

In a meeting organized by IndustriALL Global Union, Lifts and Escalators workers from the “Big Four” met in Vienna on 11 and 12 November and adopted the “Vienna Declaration” to improve working conditions in the sector. Thirty-six trade union reps from 13 countries worldwide came together to strengthen network activities.

All the “Big Four” were there: Otis, Kone, Schindler and ThyssenKrupp. Worker representatives, European Works Council members and trade union representatives jointly discussed the situation of the industry and also the necessities for safety, health and decent working conditions in the sector. At the end of the meeting, participants unanimously adopted the “Vienna Declaration”.

In their declaration the lifts and escalators’ workers demand:

  • Measures to meet increasing workload and work related stress
  • An effective mitigation or at least regulation of subcontracting, alongside a joint fight against precarious working conditions in line with the principle: same work, same conditions
  • An end to surveillance/GPS tracking of employees
  • Joint initiatives for occupational health and safety to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for the employees in the industry
  • Binding rules and standards to regulate subcontracting and maintenance of lifts and escalators (with respect to scope, content and frequency).

But, as the sector chair, Rainer Wimmer, who is also chair of IndustriALL’s Austrian affiliate ProGe, stated:

“We do not just complain. We are also ready for social dialogue with the employers to improve working conditions and to bring about sustainable industrial workplaces in the sector. We are striving for decent work for lifts and escalators’ employees, no matter whether permanent or sub-contract workers. I am proud that the group adopted the Vienna declaration which also gives answers to the needs of our sector.”

Besides the discussions, delegates also took the time to send a message of solidarity to OTIS workers in Victoria, Australia who have been locked out for several weeks.

Participants also debated the possible consequences of the TTIP (free-trade) agreement, which is being negotiated behind closed doors between the EU and the USA. The core areas of concern were:

  • The need for a transparent discussion and negotiation process
  • Full compliance with ILO core conventions (especially on occupational health and safety)
  • Social security must come before free trade
  • The TTIP must not undermine national worker legislation
  • Workers’ organizations must be heard before negotiations are finalized

In view of the multiple discussions and commitments made during this network meeting,  Matthias Hartwich, Director in charge of the sector within IndustriALL, stated:

“I am happy to see that our group went beyond just lip service, but committed to continue with strengthening the trade union company networks. Participants also committed to cooperate with the existing European Works Councils. With designating contact persons, we made a further step to make the networks operational. On top of that, we started an exchange over organizing efforts and successes. There is a long and winding road ahead of us, but now we are on the way.”

Click here to see some photos from IndustriALL Lift and Escalators Network Meeting. 

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