January 7, 2016 – IndustriALL Headlines

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

 IndustriALL Condemns Arrests of Thai Union Leaders

Around 500 locked-out union members at Japanese auto-supplier Sanko Gosei rallied outside the Ministry of Labour on 6 January 2016.  Source: IndustriALL
The unionists were prepared to stay all night outside the Ministry of Labour until they were broken up by police.  Source:  IndustriALL

Jan 07, 2016:  IndustriALL Global Union strongly condemns the Thai military government after it invoked new powers under the Public Assembly Act 2015 to end a peaceful protest by union members in Bangkok yesterday (6 January).

It followed a rally of 500 locked-out workers at Japanese-owned auto-part supplier Sanko Gosei outside the Ministry of Labour on 6 January.

At 19.00 three police units and military forces were used to break up the demonstrators who were planning to spend the night there. Shortly afterwards two union leaders, Chalee Loysoong, Vice President of the Thai Labour Solidarity Committee (TLSC) and Amorndech Srimuang, President of the Sanko Gosei Workers Union, which is affiliated to IndustriALL through TEAM, were questioned by authorities.  

During this time their phones and ID cards were temporarily confiscated and they were escorted at all times, even to the bathroom.  

The union leaders had taken part in mediation negotiations with Sanko Gosei and the Ministry of Labour during the day, as the rally was taking place outside.

“We are gravely concerned that the government is using the Public Assembly Act to curb the legitimate rights of workers to gather peacefully,” said Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL. “This goes against all norms and international standards.”

The Public Assembly Act carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison for causing a disturbance or disruption of public services.

“The crackdown is particularly disappointing considering our positive meeting in December at which the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Labour said the government shared IndustriALL’s will to protect the rights of workers,” added Raina.

In October 2015, IndustriALL filed an official complaint to the International Labour Organization against the government of Thailand for serious violation of trade union rights.

More than 600 Sanko Gosei workers, who are all union members, have been locked out after negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement and bonuses broke down. The company claims that it is unprofitable. In the meantime, casual workers have been brought in to replace the locked out workers.

The Sanko Gosei Workers Union accuses the company of using the dispute to bust the union and replace permanent workers with subcontractors.

The Minister of Labour, General Sirichai Distakul, has reportedly promised to attend the next mediation meeting between the union and the company.

For more information, please contact: Leonie Guguen, Communications Officer, IndustriALL Global Union – lguguen@industriall-union.org or tel: +4179 137 5436.

The global framework agreement with Swedish retailer H&M is already proving useful.

Agreement with H&M Proves Instrumental in Resolving Conflicts

Jan. 07, 2016:   A global framework agreement (GFA) signed between IndustriALL Global Union and Swedish clothing company H&M has been an accelerator in reinstating sacked workers at garment factories in both Myanmar and Pakistan just a couple of months after it came into force.

The GFA, which was signed in November 2015, serves to protect the labour rights of 1.6 million workers in H&M’s global supply chain.

In Myanmar, the GFA was key to getting trade unionists back to work, as well as achieving trade union recognition at the Jiale Fashion factory in Yangon.

Eight union leaders were sacked at the garment factory in October 2015, leading to a month-long strike. The Confederation of Trade Unions in Myanmar (CTUM) reported the dispute to IndustriALL’s South East Asia regional office, which invoked the GFA with the H&M Sustainability offices in Yangon and Sweden, especially as the case raised issues on freedom of association.

H&M Sustainability then pushed for dialogue through both their local office in Yangon and Jiale Fashion’s owners in Hong Kong.  H&M Sustainability, IndustriALL and CTUM were involved throughout the process until an agreement was reached between workers and the factory.

As well as reinstating the dismissed workers, the factory agreed to recognize the factory trade union, the Jiale Basic Labour Organization, which is affiliated to CTUM and IndustriALL through the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar (IWFM).

Khaing Zar, assistant general secretary of IWFM said:

“Building trust between workers and management is the key to industrial peace. The formation of the Workers’ Coordinating Committee at the factory will improve workplace cooperation and, of course, the biggest achievement is the recognition of the trade union at Jiale Fashion.”

IndustriALL textile director Christina Hajagos-Clausen said:

“The GFA is founded upon a shared belief that well-structured industrial relations are essential to a stable and sustainable production model. This type of collaboration is crucial for lasting improvements for the garment workers in H&M’s supply chain.”

In November 2015, 88 workers at the Denim Clothing Company (DCC) factory in Pakistan were sacked for demanding their rights. The dispute began when five worker representatives were sacked on the spot for asking to discuss issues such as a lack of social security, insurance, and salaries below the minimum wage that often were paid late. When 83 of their colleagues stood up for them, they also lost their jobs.

As part of the newly signed GFA with H&M, both parties worked to bring the 88 workers back to work through joint negotiations with IndustriALL Pakistani affiliate NTUF and the local management at Denim Clothing. All workers were reinstated with full pay from 26 November, the date they had been fired.

Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary NTUF, says that thanks to the GFA and the efforts from IndustriALL’s regional office the issues were speedily resolved:

“With a proactive brand the GFA is an efficient tool for dispute resolution and a great instrument to protect workers’ rights.”

Abdul Jabbar, one of the affected workers, concludes:

“This shows us the power of workers coming together and the strength of international solidarity to resolve crises. It not only gave us great courage, but did the same for other workers in the factory, as well as workers in other factories in the area.”

Women Affiliates Trained in Myanmar

Jan. 6, 2016:  Some 68 women leaders and members of IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliates in the textile, garment and mining industries in Myanmar have been trained in team-building and leadership skills.

Women trade uninists in Myanmar get training in team building and leadership skills.   Source: IndustriALL

The Confederation of Trade Unions in Myanmar (CTUM) in partnership with IndustriALL, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized the training in Yangon and Sagaing from 15 -16 and 18 – 19 December 2015 respectively.

The workshops aimed to increase awareness and strengthen women’s participation in leadership and decision-making positions, as well as deepen participants’ understanding of leadership concepts and principles. Participants also learnt basic skills in communication as well as how to facilitate meetings and group discussions.

In a session on sharing and group discussions, most participants said it was the first time that they has been able to share their situations as women and as workers. They raised issues such as occupation health risks in the workplace, working hours and low wages. They also said that despite their paid jobs they still had do all the house chores and take care of the children and elderly which usually hinder them from actively participating in trade union activities and taking leadership positions.

Sexual harassment, invisibility and multiple-burden were some of the concerns that were discussed which participants were not aware of.  The women expressed their desire to learn more about these problems.

IndustriALL presented the advocacy for women particularly on gender quotas and maternity protection. The ILO explained core labour standards and instruments related to workers.

Participants formulated their action plans to increase women’s participation in trade unions and leadership positions through formation of functional women committees and through solidarity with other women workers to improve and respond to women’s issues and concerns.

Drive by shooting aims at FESTU General Secretary    Source: IndustriALL

IndustriALL Solidarity for Somali Union Leader After Assassination Attempt

January 7, 2016:  An important leader in Somalia’s independent trade union movement, Omar Faruk, closely escaped gunshots from three hit men outside the FESTU union office in Mogadishu on 29 December.

IndustriALL Global Union joins the ITUC in denouncing the attempted murder and in calling for action from the Somali government to stop the intimidation and take all appropriate measures to prevent further attacks on trade unionists in the country.

Omar Faruk Osman is General Secretary of the ITUC-affiliated Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU). FESTU is the first independent and democratic trade union centre in the country.

The FESTU General Secretary was entering the union’s office when three armed men sprayed his car with bullets on Taleex Street. It is only by good fortune that Omar Faruk escaped death, but one of his bodyguards and two pedestrians were seriously wounded.

It is well known that Omar Faruk has been threatened many times by some radical groups and other members of the Somalian government because of his commitment to build a strong and independent union in his country. This assassination attempt can also be linked to Omar Faruk’ s recent position denouncing a controversial media law passed by the Somalia parliament which is described as a threat to media freedom in the country.

In a public statement, FESTU president Ahmed Osman said:

“FESTU is here to stay and no amount of attacks and attempts on the lives of our leaders will stop us from fulfilling our historic mission, which is to liberate workers from exploitation, oppression and subjugation.”

IndustriALL has reported in the past of intimidation, threats and bombs against FESTU and its efforts to organize workers.

Application Open for Global Labour University

January 5, 2016  The Global Labour University (GLU) is inviting applications for its courses as 2016 begins.

Trade unionists and social activists are encouraged to apply to for its Masters’ Programmes in Germany, India and the USA. Students have the opportunity to benefit from the expertise of the international GLU network of universities, international and national trade unions, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Masters’ programmes focus on policies for social justice including global governance, international labour standards, development, economics, trade, and multinational companies.

The programmes include discussions, internships and field research with trade unions and other progressive movements to provide unique insights into the international world of labour. A limited number of scholarships will be awarded. For more information and application forms visit http://www.global-labour-university.org

The GLU is also running an online course, starting on 3 March 2016. The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Workers’ Rights in a Global Economy is jointly taught by academics, ILO and trade union experts.

The course runs over eight weeks and is free or costs 49 Euros for a recognized certificate awarded by the GLU and Penn State University.

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