IndustriALL Headlines #127, January 5, 2015

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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Don’t tarnish your love with Rio Tinto’s dirty diamonds and gold!

February 4, 2015  This Valentine’s Day, world’s largest jewellery retailer challenged to clean up its supplier of dirty diamonds and gold. International coalition of labour, environmental groups calls upon Signet to put its money where its mouth is on responsible sourcing. Sign the LabourStart campaign here.

This Valentine’s Day, IndustriALL Global Union, London Mining Network, Earthworks, and LabourStart are challenging the world’s biggest jewellery retailer Signet to demand that its major diamond and gold supplier, multinational mining company Rio Tinto, clean up its mining practices so that they respect worker rights, indigenous peoples and the environment.

With global sales of US $6 billion annually, Signet’s 1,400 Kay and Jared jewellery shops are in every US State, 1,600 Zales stores are throughout the US and Canada, and 500 H. Samuel and Ernest Jones shops are visible on UK high streets. The National Retail Federation anticipates that twenty-one per cent of US shoppers will gift jewellery to their loved ones on Valentine’s Day this year, fuelling US jewellery sales of nearly US $5 billion.

The coalition is calling on Signet to abide both by its own Responsible Sourcing Policy, and its 2006 public endorsement of the No Dirty Gold campaign’s Golden Rules for more responsible mining. Signet’s Responsible Sourcing Policy declares the company “committed to the responsible sourcing of our products and the respect of human rights, and we expect the same from our suppliers around the world.” Endorsement of the Golden Rules, endorsed by over 100 jewellery retailers around the world, commits signers to pressure their suppliers to come into compliance with the Rules — which are drawn from broadly accepted international human rights laws and basic principles of sustainable development.

But Rio Tinto is a notorious violator of labour rights, communities, and the environment.

Rio Tinto’s campaign to undermine workers’ fundamental organizing and bargaining rights has recently been documented in the report Rio Tinto and ‘Direct Engagement’.  The company’s abuse of human rights, communities and the environment has recently been profiled in the report Unsustainable: The ugly truth about Rio Tinto.

Although the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) has certified Rio Tinto, unfortunately the RJC is highly flawed.  It is neither independent – it is governed by industry, excluding labour, civil society and impacted communities. Nor is it transparent – it is impossible for the public to determine whether an RJC-certified company complies with RJC’s own certification requirements, let alone international human rights and environmental standards.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina states: “Until Rio Tinto drastically changes its ways, the company will sully the reputations of all its major business partners. Signet is no exception. Signet says that its involvement in non-independent business-run social auditing programmes is a sufficient response to our concerns. This is insulting to all those affected by Rio Tinto’s anti-social conduct, not least Signet customers.”

Earthworks’ No Dirty Gold campaign director Payal Sampat declares: “Nobody wants their symbol of love made with gold or diamonds that harmed ecosystems or communities. Signet can’t provide a meaningful guarantee that its jewellery isn’t made with dirty gold or gems. It’s high time that the world’s largest jeweller cleaned up its supply chain.”

Richard Solly, Co-ordinator of London Mining Network, said: “Rio Tinto has a long history of violating indigenous peoples’ land rights, dividing communities, polluting land and water and attacking unions.

There are continuing real concerns about the human and environmental impacts of its copper and gold mining operations at Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia, and at Grasberg in Papua, where its violations of indigenous peoples’ rights and environmental destruction led the Norwegian Government’s state pensions fund to disinvest.”

INFO ON THE ORGANIZATIONS

IndustriALL Global Union represents 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors and is a force in global solidarity taking up the fight for better working conditions and trade union rights around the world.
http://www.industriall-union.org  –  https://twitter.com/industriall_gu

LabourStart is an online news service maintained by a global network of volunteers which aims to serve the international trade union movement by collecting and disseminating information — and by assisting unions in campaigning and other ways.
http://www.labourstart.org/news/  – https://www.facebook.com/labourstart.org

London Mining Network is an alliance of human rights, development, environmental and solidarity groups http://londonminingnetwork.org
https://twitter.com/londonmining –  https://www.facebook.com/londonminingnetwork

Earthworks is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the destructive impacts of resource extraction while promoting sustainable solutions.  Earthworks is headquartered in Washington, D.C.
https://www.earthworksaction.orghttps://twitter.com/earthworkshttps://www.facebook.com/earthworksaction










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Metalworkers’ strike banned in Turkey
 

There is a strike at this workplace.

January 30, 2015  The Turkish Government has issued a Cabinet Decree to postpone the metal industry strike launched by IndustriALL affiliate Birlesik Metal-Is in 19 companies on 29 January. The decree also covers 18 companies where the strike will start on 19 February.

Turkish Law on Trade Unions and Collective Labour Agreement, coded 6356, has a provision which rules that “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 Government decree, signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu and the entire cabinet, consideres the metalworkers’ strike as “prejudicial to national security”.

This is not new to the Turkish trade unions – in 2014, strikes in the glass and mining sectors were banned by the same Government with the same argument.

“The right to strike no longer exists in Turkey”, says Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Global Union Assistant General Secretary. “This fundamental right, guaranteed by the Constitution of the country and international norms ratified by the government, exists only on paper, not in reality”.

The law also 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”.

This clearly means that so-called “postponement” is actually a “ban” in real terms as there is no chance to continue to strike after the 60-day period.

Birlesik Metal-Is will certainly apply 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 last experience in the glass industry in 2014 was not positive as the State Council ruled in favour of the Government, the contrary to its earlier jurisprudence on the basis of economic arguments rather than protecting fundamental rights.

Kemal Özkan further states:

“It is shameful for the Turkish government to violate fundamental rights in a reckless way. However we will never give up and continue to give our support and solidarity to Birlesik Metal-Is.”

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Nissan rejects US government offer to mediate dispute with UAW

February 3, 2015  Nissan Motor Company has refused a US government offer of mediation to resolve a longstanding dispute with the United Auto Workers (UAW) and IndustriALL Global Union over the company’s anti-union practices in the United States. The State Department-based US National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines said on Friday “the issues raised by UAW and IndustriALL are material and substantiated and merit further examination.”

The UAW and IndustriALL accepted the NCP’s offer of mediation and joined a preliminary information session in November with mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to learn about the mediation procedures.

“It is clear Nissan behaves one way in some parts of the world but is grossly exploiting workers in the United States. The fact that the company continues to ignore the severity of the situation and its refusal to end these abuses or engage in dialogue that could result in a positive step forward for both workers and the company is absolutely unreasonable.” said UAW President Dennis Williams.

Jyrki Raina, head of IndustriALL, which represents 50 million workers globally including 150,000 Nissan workers and a majority of Renault autoworkers worldwide, expressed grave disappointment at the news. “UAW and IndustriALL affiliates have repeatedly made attempts to meet with Nissan North America to resolve this issue. Nissan’s unwillingness to engage in the OECD process sends a very worrisome message to its partners at Renault and Daimler as well as the global investment community.” Raina said adding, “We have known Nissan for its respect of workers’ rights elsewhere in the world, but in the US we have heard evidence of intimidation and exploitation of its workers and their communities. This is a troubling step backwards for Nissan.”

The U.S. NCP also noted that it had shared information on the case with the NCPs of Japan, France, and the Netherlands and that “those NCPs remain available to offer assistance to the parties.” Nissan is a Japanese corporation, but France-based Renault owns 43.4 percent of Nissan and the Renault-Nissan Alliance is incorporated in the Netherlands. Following the U.S. NCP’s Final Statement, the UAW and IndustriALL are now considering moves to those forums in an effort to resolve the dispute.

The U.S. government is recommending that Nissan should “conduct a corporate-wide labour rights review” of its adherence to the OECD Guidelines and that Nissan should consider other forms of mediation to resolve the issues raised in the OECD case.

Link to the Final Statement:  http://www.state.gov/e/eb/oecd/usncp/links/rls/236972.htm

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Iranian workers continue fight for basic rights  

February 5, 2005  There have been a number of major strikes and industrial actions taken by workers in Iran in recent months. Iranian independent trade unions have been strongly supporting the struggles of workers in a number of different sectors such as mining, automotive, transport and other industrial sectors.

Miners: In January this year, 150 coalminers went on strike protesting the company’s plans to close the mine. The workers at the Sangroos Coalmine are also demanding the payment of over 8 months of non-paid wages; they are also raising issues to management regarding the health and safety issues.

Bus Drivers: On 6 January, bus drivers from the Union of Tehran Bus Transit Workers (VAHED) protested against the unfair sacking of workers and the failure of the company to fairly grant promised funding for worker’s housing.

Teachers: Three months into the start of the academic year, members of the Teachers Trade Association of Iran (ITTA) are protesting the three month “overtime salary” delay for nearly half a million teachers.

Metalworkers: While the cost of living continues to increase in Iran, wages remain very low. On 7 January 2015, at the Iran Khodro Industrial Group IKCO (an auto assembly plant), workers began a hunger strike to increase their low wages. The strike spread to all sections of the plant.

Iran, a country with little respect for fundamental human and trade union rights continues to be an important priority for IndustriALL Global Union.

“These actions are really encouraging and inspiring”, says Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary. “Our solidarity and support towards our Iranian sisters and brothers continue.”

In the meantime, the Union of Metalworkers and Mechanics of Iran (UMMI) continues to defend and advance trade union rights in very difficult conditions. With its new web site, the union wants to make its communication with workers stronger, trade unionists and friends of the labour movement in Iran and around the world.

The website is bilingual, Farsi and English, and covering materials and statements of Iranian independent labour unions in English.

This new website is the fruit of labour of the workers whose hearts beat for unity in the labour movement and belongs to all Iranian labour unions,

says the UMMI.

UMMI website: http://sfelezkar.com

UMMI weblog: http://felezkar.com

UMMI Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/metalworkers

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Global fight for workers’ rights continues at Crown Holdings

February 5, 2015  IndustriALL Global Union stands firm with Crown workers all over the world fighting for their rights against the unscrupulous US-based multinational packaging producer.

Some 120 workers of Crown Holdings at the company plant in Toronto, Canada, who were all once awarded a top company honour for “dedication, commitment and personal accountability”, are now in the 17th month of a strike, which began in September 2013. Workers were forced to take strike action when Crown management demanded huge concessions, including a 42 per cent pay cut for new employees and permanent lower wage scale, trying to build even bigger profits on workers’ backs.

Last summer Crown made a miserable offer to the workers. While removing the demand for a two-tier wage system, the company demanded a 30 per cent cut of all wages instead. Workers overwhelmingly rejected this proposal by 117 to 1 vote.

IndustriALL has given solid support to its affiliate United Steelworkers, USW, which has launched a special campaign “Take-Backs No More!”.

In April 2014, IndustriALL and USW organized a special protest action in Philadelphia at the Crown annual general assembly of company shareholders. Further protest actions were staged in Switzerland, Italy, Turkey, and France.

However, instead of changing its behaviour Crown announced that it wants to replace three quarters of the workforce at its Toronto plant, even if the dispute is settled. It means that striking workers will lose their jobs.

In Turkey, Crown used gaps in local legislation to avoid negotiating with the officially-recognized bargaining counterpart, IndustriALL affiliate, Birlesik Metal-Is. The company rejected good faith negotiations, and in violation of principles of freedom of association, has dismissed union activists for no good reason.

In October last year, IndustriALL  with fellow global union, IUF, wrote to Crown’s customers denouncing the company’s dishonest behaviour towards its workers.

At the end of January 2015, Crown once again showed its ugly union busting face in Ghana. Without any preliminary discussion or warning, local management locked out 42 workers who are affiliated to IndustriALL through the Industrial & Commercial Workers’ Union, ICU. The workers staged protests in front of the closed factory demanding their severance packages that have been in discussion since last year and are determined to continue with protests until their claims are met.

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary said:

“Our entire 50 million strong IndustriALL family stands in firm solidarity with Crown workers in Canada, Turkey and Ghana. We are determined to escalate our global campaign against Crown Holdings and we will challenge their union busting practices by all possible means at national and international level. We will continue to raise the issue with all their board members and major customers and suppliers, and will inform the general public about every single step they take.”


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