IndustriALL Headlines #125, January 22, 2015

 IndustriALL Headlines are produced by IndustriALL’s Press Department.
For more information about IndustriALL Global Union click here to visit their website.

IndustriALL signs Global Union Agreement with Total
Why won’t Roche stop the abuse of workers making their product?
Framework agreements signed by Polish miners and government
Turkey: Remarkable achievement for precarious textile workers
NUM strike upholds rights at Northam Platinum

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ILO’s Guy Ryder applauds the signing of the IndustriALL/Total agreement in Davos.  Source: WEF/Benedikt von Loebell

IndustriALL signs global union agreement with Total

Jan 22, 2015 IndustriALL Global Union has signed a landmark agreement with Total, the French oil and gas giant, guaranteeing employee rights across the company’s international operations.

As part of the agreement with IndustriALL, Total, which employs 100,000 workers in more than 130 countries, pledges to:

  • Uphold the rights of workers to form trade unions
  • Act with complete neutrality in dealing with unions and exclude any form of discrimination against employees based on union activity
  • Take all necessary measures to encourage social dialogue with workers
  • Recognize that health and safety of contractor and supplier employees is as important as the health and safety of its own staff
  • Defend the right of freedom of expression guaranteeing that no one should be harassed on account of his or her opinions
  • Ensure that maternity absences have no negative impact on employees’ pay or career progression
  • Provide Life insurance for all Total employees

Furthermore, Total agrees to promote the agreement among the many suppliers and contractors in its supply chain, even going so far as to terminate contracts with those who do not comply.

Jyrki Raina stated:

“We applaud Total for its commitment to better rights and conditions for workers. IndustriALL’s agreement with Total makes it clear that trade union rights and freedoms must be upheld across the company’s operations and throughout its global supply chain. Total promises to act in strict neutrality in its relations with unions and is prepared to terminate contracts with suppliers if they breach the agreement. It sends a strong message to Total’s suppliers and provides new levels of protection for workers.”

A committee including representatives from Total, IndustriALL and its trade union affiliates will meet annually to ensure the agreement is implemented.

“I am pleased to sign this first agreement with IndustriALL Global Union, which is designed to extend the Group’s tradition of corporate social responsibility to all of our operations around the world through quality social dialogue and insurance coverage for employees,” said Total’s Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Pouyanné.  

The agreement also abides by the guiding principles on Business and Human Rights approved by the United Nations Human Rights Council, as well as key ILO Conventions on freedom of association, equal pay, discrimination and child labour.

ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, praised the agreement between IndustriALL and Total:

“I am pleased to witness the signature of this agreement between Total and IndustriALL Global Union, an organization that represents millions of workers around the world and that contributes extensively to the fight for better working conditions and for the respect of labour union rights. Companies such as Total have a major role to play in promoting decent working conditions in their host countries and in ensuring that their employees benefit from tangible measures to improve their work life.”

Contact: Leonie Guguen, Communications and Media Officer, IndustriALL Global Union. Tel: +41 (0)22 308 50 24 Mobile: +41 (0) 79 137 54 36. Email: lguguen@industriall-union.org

www.industriall-union.org

What is a global framework agreement?

Multinational companies operate in many locations with many fully or part-owned subsidiaries, and often rely on hundreds or even thousands of suppliers.

Global framework agreements are negotiated between IndustriALL and multinational companies to protect the rights and working conditions of people at all stages of a multinational company’s global supply chain, including people working for suppliers and contractors.


Why won’t Roche stop the abuse of workers making their product?

Jan 22, 2015  “Let me tell you four things: Do not record this. There will never be a union in this workplace. Leave the union now and get a 30 per cent pay rise. Stay in the union and get sacked.” This was the announcement made by Deva Holdings management to workers after the Turkish Labour Ministry ordered the company to recognize the workers’ trade union.

Pharmaceuticals giant Roche has failed to intervene and stop its Turkish business partner, Deva Holdings, carrying out an aggressive attack on workers’ attempts to form a union.

IndustriALL Global Union called on Roche to intervene at a critical juncture at the end of November when a response to the Labour Ministry edict was needed.

Roche sent its Turkish management to meet Deva in mid-December. Roche concluded however that Deva was acting in compliance with Turkish law, regardless of international law and Roche’s sustainability and compliance commitments. Roche failed to address the mass sackings and other grave labour rights violations.

Since the Turkish Labour Ministry instructed Deva to begin collective bargaining with Petrol-?? as its recognized bargaining partner on 14 October, the company management has continued sacking trade union members, given pay rises to workers leaving the union, threatened further action against anyone refusing to quit the union, tampered with Labour Ministry classifications to skew the bargaining unit, and built up a climate of fear and intimidation inside the workplace.

IndustriALL affiliated Petrol-?? has filed a court case against these actions, but during the delay Deva continues to sack union members and offer pay rises to those who quit the union. The first court hearing of this case will be 1 April 2015.

Deva began the year 2015 with the same behaviour, sacking union members Sercan Kambur and Can Topçu on 8 and 9 January respectively. See the table of all 32 Deva employees who have been sacked since 20 June simply for being members of the union.

IndustriALL general secretary Raina wrote to Roche on 20 January:

“The simple fact is that a considerable portion of Deva’s workforce is being treated without dignity and respect, and aggressively denied their right to join and be represented by a union. This situation should be unacceptable to Roche, both instinctively and in compliance with your company’s sustainability and compliance commitments.

IndustriALL will be forced to escalate a public campaign if the situation is not remedied by the end of February.”

The Deva management has been sent thousands of protest messages as part of a global LabourStart campaign supporting the Deva workers.

In the years following Deva’s 2010 union busting of Petrol-?? at the three sites in Çerkezköy, Kartepe and the Topkap? area of Istanbul, working conditions have deteriorated. Workers have suffered non-payment of wage increments, harassment, wrongful dismissals, and poor occupational health and safety. These worsening conditions moved the workers to rejoin Petrol-?? in 2014.


Framework agreements signed by Polish miners and government

Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and Dominik Kolorz, President of Silesian Solidarity.

Jan 21, 2015  January has seen 2,000 miners in Poland protesting against government plans to close a number of mines in the country. On 17 January, a framework agreement was reached between the trade unions and the government, putting an end to the protests.

After 11 days of protests, Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and representatives from all trade unions in the mining sector signed the framework agreement. It guarantees the involvement of the energy sector in restructuring the mining sector, the transfer of four mines to a mine restructuring company, as well as the possibility of selling the mines to investors.

The agreement also opens for talks on a new collective bargaining agreement for the mining sector, state aid for energy-intensive industries and the reindustrialization program for the Silesia and Malopolska Region. There will also be negotiations on the future of Polish industry and jobs.

Social dialogue between the government and the trade unions will continue.

Dariusz Trzcionka, President of IndustriALL affiliate KADRA said:

“The success of the negotiations would not have been possible without the support and solidarity of workers, residents, local governments, European and international trade unions, IndustriALL and the Polish trade unions. We thank you for supporting the miners in these difficult times!”

Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said on the agreement:

“I wanted to thank you for a good, healthy compromise. Good is not for us, but for the future of Polish mining.”


Turkey: Remarkable achievement for precarious textile workers

Jan 21, 2015   IndustriALL Global Union’s Turkish affiliate DISK-Tekstil has achieved an unprecedented step forward at Greif Enterprises, an American packaging company, by making more than 1,200 contract workers permanent through an agreement between the union and the company.

DISK-Tekstil have made their struggle against sub-contracting a priority and through their strategic work managed to put an end to the sub-contracting system in place at Greif Enterprises in Turkey.

“The sub-contracting system has become prevalent in the industrial and service sectors in Turkey. The informal economy thrives off it; it triggers unfairness in wages; increases social vulnerability; endangers occupational health and safety; and lowers the quality of the product and service,”

said Ridvan Budak, General Manager of DISK-Textile Workers’ Union

“The struggle against sub-contracting has become one of the primary objectives of our union. With the regulations on our collective labour agreement, we have made progress.”

A consulting firm by the name of StratejiCo was called in to carry out research on the internal operations at the four Greif plants. The firm’s findings clearly showed the benefits of making contract workers permanent and further reinforced the union’s demands.

In line with the collective labour agreements signed between DISK-Tekstil and Greif FPS management, they succeeded to resolve the sub-contracting issue at four plants in total, including the two Greif subsidiaries Sunjut and Unsa.

Following the decision between the union and management, an action plan was put into place to facilitate the transition of the contract workers to permanent worker status. As permanent staff of Greif, they will benefit from the collective labour agreement in place.

FACTS

In 2010, Greif acquired the top three producers of flexible intermediate bulk containers, and a large regional distributor of the “big bags.” Storsack, Unsa and Sunjut, along with Benelux-based distributor Ligtermoet, which make up Greif’s Flexible Products & Services business segment. (http://www.greif.com/company/history/)


NUM strike upholds rights at Northam Platinum

Jan 22, 2015  A 6-day strike by 5,000 members of South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) at Northam Platinum ended on 20 January after workers’ accepted a draft memorandum of understanding developed with management.  

Protesting workers at Northam’s Zondereinde mine in South Africa were unhappy at management plans to unilaterally change recruitment and sick note policies.

“There were clear indications to divide, weaken and reverse all the progressive policies that are regulating the employment relations at Northam Platinum Mine. (For example) workers discovered that a white female employee was employed without following proper procedures. When management was alerted to this malpractice they tried to justify it. Employees further demonstrated against this practice. Management responded by threatening disciplinary action without dealing with the actual issues,” said NUM General Secretary Frans Baleni.

IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, NUM, says the company also attempted to discipline workers who had valid sick notes and force them to work while they are injured or unwell.

“Workers were also subjected to unfair dismissals for being on valid sick leave. We suspect that management wanted to alter these policies for intentions known to them without informing the union leadership and without following the due processes,” Baleni added.

As a result of negotiations, a draft memorandum of understanding was accepted by the workers, in which the parties have agreed the following:

  • To jointly design a process with no conditions or pre-conditions, which will focus on issues raised prior to and during the strike
  • That the Peace and Stability Framework will be adhered to.
  • Not to dwell on the past but commit to a multi-stakeholder healing process aimed at resetting the relationship
  • Both parties must appeal for peace and industrial relations stability
  • That the above agreement will be effected on the proviso that all striking employees must return to work

Northam Platinum produces around 1,000 ounces of platinum group metals per day, which is 65 per cent of the mining company’s total output.