IndustriALL Headlines, October 16, 2014

 IndustriALL Headlines #113

IndustriALL Headlines are provided by IndustriALL Global Union

Global Support for UAW Organizing in the South
Bangladesh Accord Completes Inspections in 1,106 Factories
Women Call for Quotas at IndustriALL
Cambodia – Garment Workers Protest After Delay in Wage Decision
Rio Tinto Workers Protest in 13 Countries

Global Support for UAW Organizing in the South

Oct. 11, 2014  Massive international solidarity feeds in to the organizing drive of the UAW at Nissan in Canton, Mississippi. The six-country trade union delegation representing over 150,000 Nissan workers jointly demanded that Nissan allows the 4,000 workers in Canton to form a union local of UAW.

UAW, Canton, Mississippi
UAW Local 112, Tuscaloosa, Alabama
In front of Nissan Plant in Canton, Mississippi

Under the banner that “Union Rights are Civil Rights”, the UAW has been campaigning for four years to establish a company-recognized trade union into the Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi. The 50-year anniversaries of key moments in the civil rights movement are being marked and mirrored in the current campaign.

While Nissan employees in Japan, Spain, UK, South Africa, and Brazil have constructive industrial relations with the carmaker, union supporters in Canton face extreme intimidation and threats from management all the time. Also in the delegation were unions from Nissan’s corporate partner Renault, with whom IndustriALL has a global framework agreement.

Leading the international solidarity mission, IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina stated:

“We are Pro-Nissan, Pro-Union. Workers here in Canton, Mississippi have many complaints about health and safety, bullying, shift scheduling, and increasing precarious workers. Much of these issues would be worked through if there were a union mechanism in the plant. Our message to Nissan is that we will not go away until they afford the Canton workers the right to form a union.”

In a large union meeting the local activists explained the ways in which management threatens workers against joining the union. But more importantly they energetically expressed their urgent readiness to organize the plant.

Nissan in Canton is one of three major organizing campaigns of the UAW in the Southern US. The other two are moving forward with UAW Local 42 very close to recognition from Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and brand new Local 112 forming last Friday at Daimler in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

An IndustriALL solidarity road trip led by the general secretary visited the inspiring members, leaders and organizers of Locals 42 and 112 this week. These important campaigns will set the standard for organizing the other non-American auto companies operating in the southern states.

International solidarity has been central to the organizing of VW and Daimler. German union IG Metall flexed its muscle to ensure neutrality from both companies and a pathway to establishing UAW union locals. The Japanese JAW and JCM are working with UAW to win similar assurances from Nissan.

Autoworkers in the southern US deserve the right to form a union, just as workers around the world do in these same multinational companies.

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Bangladesh Accord Completes Inspections in 1,106 Factories

Oct 14, 2014  A milestone has beenreached in the work of creating a safe and sustainable garment industry in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Accord today announced that the inspections of Accord producing factories have been completed within the agreed timeline of end September 2014.

Workers in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh

From the initial inspections of 1,106 garment factories in Bangladesh, the Accord’s inspectors have identified more than 80,000 safety issues needing to be resolved.

“We have found safety hazards in all factories, which was to be expected. The safety findings have ranged from minor to significant. The Accord team is now working intensively with factory owners, brands, and labour colleagues to ensure the safety findings are corrected,” Brad Loewen, the Accord’s Chief Safety Inspector said in a statement.

Issues range from corrective measures like reducing weight loads and adhering to load management plans, to more substantial safety requirements. These include installing fire doors and automated fire alarm systems, establishing fire protected exits from factory buildings, and strengthening of columns in the buildings, have also been identified.

In 17 building inspections, the Accord inspections found that the structural integrity of the building fell below an acceptable level of safety. This led the Accord to submit its inspection results to the Government of Bangladesh’ Review Panel and recommend a temporary evacuation of the building.

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Jyrki Raina welcomes the completion of the initial inspections:

“Thanks to the inspections the repair work has already started – the journey towards a safe and sustainable garment industry in Bangladesh is well and truly under way. We will continue to organise the factories to build strong unions capable of securing workers’ rights.”

The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh came into being after the tragedy at Rana Plaza in April 2013. Pioneered by IndustriALL and UNI Global Union it covers garment factories and is signed by companies who source from them in Bangladesh. The signatory brands have committed to support the Bangladeshi garment sector with continued sourcing commitments and support for remediation where needed.

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Women Call for Quotas at IndustriALL

Oct 16, 2014    Women at IndustriALL Global Union’s Sub-Saharan Africa regional women’s conference have called for a 40 per cent quota for women’s representation at all levels of the organization, following a decision on 14 October 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa.

IndustriALL’s general Secretary, Jyrki Raina, joins members at the Sub-Saharan African Women’s Conference in Pretoria, South Africa.

IndustriALL’s general secretary Jyrki Raina told the conference:

“Women and men take decisions better than men alone.”

This quota must, however, only be seen as one measure on the way toward achieving gender parity. The conference adopted a resolution which in addition to the call for the 40 per cent quota, mentions health and safety, precarious work, maternity protection, women’s leadership, and HIV and AIDS.

Despite a booming economy in Africa, women still face difficulties in the workplace. Closing the gender gap would reduce hunger and poverty. The conference took place against the backdrop of the Ebola epidemic – as always women are the most affected by the health scourges.

At the opening, the conference welcomed Senzeni Zokwana, ex-Vice-Pesident of IndustriALL who is now the Minister of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries of South Africa. He stressed the need to create jobs in the face of climate change and fluctuating markets.  Africa must process her own products instead of exporting everything, according to Lydia Nkopane from the National Union of Miners (NUM), who said, “We export raw materials and still live in poverty.”

Participants had a presentation on the challenges facing women and unions in the region. Among them are violence against women, the informal economy, HIV and AIDS, and maternity protection.

In Sub-Saharan Africa the informal economy makes up 66 per cent of non-agricultural employment. Seventy-four per cent of women and 61 per cent of men are informally employed. This work is marked by extremely precarious working conditions, health and safety hazards and the involvement of families and children. Women’s needs must be addressed in a particular way. Here again it is a question of organizing women around their concerns. One of the concerns in mining communities for example is HIV and AIDS.

In Sub-Saharan Africa women are infected by HIV at least five to seven years earlier than men; young women are twice as likely as young men to be living with HIV. As girls are beginning to protect themselves, the rate of new infections is declining. However, these gains are fragile and must be sustained.

It would help if more countries ratified ILO Convention 183 on maternity protection. Up to now it has only been ratified by Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali in the region. Collective agreements could make improvements to women’s lives if unions negotiated on something other than wages. Unfortunately maternity and women’s issues are usually the first to be compromised.

The NUM highlighted the safety hazards of women working underground. Unfortunately there is still a hostility towards women and their demands. In the past few years the worst form of gender-based violence was perpetrated underground, namely murder. The only thing the Department of Mineral Resource did was to issue an instruction that “no women must work alone underground ” but that does not compensate any loss of life. The unions have to have this as a priority and regulate it and compensate it.

At the regional conference, held over the following two days, women made up 35 per cent of participants.

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Cambodia – Garment Workers Protest After Delay in Wage Decision

Oct 13, 2014   Over a thousand garment workers took to the streets in Phnom Penh on Sunday to demand better pay following a delay in announcing a new minimum wage.

Over a thousand garment workers marched in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

The Labour Advisory Committee (LAC), composed of government, factory and union representatives, was due to reveal the new wage for 2015 on 10 October. Instead, wage negotiations have been postponed to an undecided date in November.

In frustration, garment workers from a coalition of six different unions, including IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, NIFTUC, donned bright pink t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan ‘We want a decent wage’ in a huge rally on 12 October.

It is the largest garment sector demonstration in the Cambodian capital since wage protestors were shot dead by police in January this year.

Unions accuse the LAC of delaying proceedings in an attempt to wear down their demands for a significant increase in the minimum wage, which currently stands at US$ 100 a month.

There are set to be a series of demonstrations by unions until an acceptable minimum wage is set by the LAC.

The demonstration is the largest since January
2014 when police shot and killed wage protestors.

 IndustriALL’s general secretary, Jyrki Raina, said:

“Deferring a decision on the minimum wage has only strengthened workers’ resolve for better pay. As the LAC dithers, unions will simply continue to mobilize to make their voices heard. We urge the LAC to put an end to this uncertainty and agree to a significant pay increase for garment workers as soon as possible.”

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Rio Tinto Workers Protest in 13 Countries  

Oct 16, 2014   In a coordinated day of defiance on 7 October workers organized protests at Rio Tinto operations in over a dozen countries.

ILWU USA Actions
Rio Tinto Action Zurich
Additional protest photos of Rio Tinto workers  click here.

The global call for action was made by the Rio Tinto Global Union Network as part of an ongoing campaign coordinated by IndustriALL Global Union.

“Our message to Rio Tinto is that the trade union movement globally is here to stay and we will fight and campaign against Rio Tinto until the company shows respect and gives dignity to its workers, to the environment in which it operates and to the communities in which it operates”

says Andrew Vickers, IndustriALL mining section chairman and CFMEU General Secretary.

Rio Tinto workers around the world made their voices heard in a resounding demand for safer workplaces, secure jobs and respect for workers’ rights.

From rallies in Canada and the USA to worksite actions in South Africa, Australia and France, the spotlight was put on Rio Tinto’s habit of putting profits before people.

Following recent fatalities at the Grasberg mine in Indonesia that is partially owned by Rio Tinto, IndustriALL affiliate the Chemical, Energy and Mines Workers Union (CEMWU) distributed flyers on the global day to members at the mine. Leadership of the union at the mine also wore campaign t-shirts with the IndustriALL logo and slogan “Rio Tinto, the Ugly Truth”.

In South Africa, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) acting President Piet Matosa met with members at the Rio Tinto Richards Bay operation to explain why unions around the world were targeting the company.

A number of actions took place in Australia, and the day of action managed to get a great deal of media coverage. The Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU) launched a report into Rio Tinto’s anti-union practices and National Vice President Andrew Vickers was interviewed on ABC Australia.

More actions took place in the following countries:


Workers and union officials from IndustriALL affiliate the Union Syndicale des Travailleurs de Guinée (USTG) had planned a series of protest actions to mark the global day, however as a result of the Ebola crisis they were sent home and no action could be organized.

The actions were held on 7 October to coincide with the World Day for Decent Work, when unions around the globe mobilize against precarious work. Unions at Rio Tinto have identified the increasing use of temporary, casual and contracted-out work by Rio Tinto as one of their key concerns.

Take a look at IndustriALL’s Rio Tinto page to see who took action and keep updated on the latest news on the Rio Tinto Campaign.

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