ITUC E-News – February 2013

ITUC E-News is produced by the International Trade Union Conferation.

Tunisia:  No to the Return of the “Red Hand”*

8 February 2013:  The ITUC has firmly condemed the killilng, on 6 February, of Tunisian opposition leader Mr. Chokri Belaid, and has expressed full support for the genral strike called by its Tuknisian affiliate, the UGTT.

Shocked and angered, the people of Tunisia reacted instantaneously, taking to the streets of the capital and cities across the country in their thousands. “The situation in Tunisia remains extremely worrying,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. “This killing is inadmissible and forms part of the campaign of violence being waged over the last few months against trade union leaders, journalists, political activists and ordinary citizens. The UGTT, a key player in the revolution and an indispensable driving force in the transition towards full democracy and social justice, can count on the international trade union movement’s total support.”

The ITUC, backing the UGTT’s call for a national day of mourning this Friday, also urged the authorities to take very action necessary to fully investigate this crime, to ensure that those responsible for killing Chokri Belaïd are tracked down and brought to justice.  The ITUC also reiterated its concern over the repeated attacks suffered by the UGTT, the latest of whilch was in December.

“We will remain extremely vigilant, to make sure that the Tunisian government respects its commitment to put an end to the anti-union violence and to bring the culprits to justice,” concluded ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

*name of the paramilitary organisation responsible for assassinating the Tunisian trade union leader Farhat Hached in 1952.

Colombia:  Trade Union Leaders Killed and Threatened

4 February 2013:  The ITUC and TUCA have firmly condemed the most recent killing of a trade uion activist and the serous itimidation suffered by union leaders.

The international trade union movement also expressed alarm at the deteriorating climate of insecurity, manifested in the form of direct threats against the trade union movement’s national leadership.

According to reports received by the ITUC, two death threats have been made in recent days against the national and regional leaders of both the CGT and the CUT, affiliated to the ITUC-TUCA.

In addition, regional trade union offices have been threatened and trade union leaders involved in struggles to defend labour rights have been killed.

On 28 January, a well-known union leader representing sugarcane workers, Juan Carlos Pérez Muñoz, was murdered on his way to work at La Cabaña sugar mill, in Valle del Cauca, in southwest Colombia.

“We demand an end to the violence and the impunity, and that urgent steps be taken to protect the leaders threatened. We continue to have serious fears for the safety of the trade union leaders and are concerned at the failure to respond to the urgent demands presented by trade union organisations,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the ITUC.

 In a letter to the Colombian authorities, the ITUC and TUCA urged President Juan Manuel Santos and the Public Prosecutor’s Office to take every step necessary to end the impunity and to ensure that these crimes are investigated and that all those responsible are brought to justice.
The trade union organisations also called on the government to urgently respond to the written demands recently sent by the trade union centres.

ILO Workers’ Group Priorities

This document is the result of consultations held by the Chair of the Workers’ Group with members of the Group, its Secretariat and ACTRAV.  See the full document here.

18th International Commemoration Day (ICD) for Dead and Injured Workers

Unions Make work Safer

25 January 2013: Thanks to your support and mobilisation, 28th April, the International Commemoration Day (ICD) for Dead and Injured Workers, has become a major event for trade unions around the world, and workers’ right to safe and healthy jobs is achieving increasing visibility.

Nonetheless, the challenge ahead for trade unions is huge. In many countries, deregulation policies are being used to undermine labour standards, and occupational safety and health ones are no exception. We continue to witness a terrible death toll at the workplace. In both developed and developed countries, employers’ tendency to ignore or cut protection at work has led to thousands of workers becoming ill or dying while trying to earn a living.

2012 has been particularly dreadful in this regard. No month has passed without horrible news about hundreds of workers dying from workplace accidents. Our voices must show we do not forget them, and that we will keep on fighting for the living!

‘Unions make work safer’ will remain the main motto for 28th April, and with austerity policies still being implemented in many countries, you might want to consider making this 28th April a day of action to defend health and safety from budget cuts and attacks on regulation and enforcement, if this applies to your national context.

The ratification and implementation of ILO standards will always be a major element in our demands.

In previous years, the ITUC, with the invaluable help of Hazards magazine, in particular Rory & Jawad, has developed interactive maps, social networks activities (i.e. Facebook) and the now well known website with country reports ( ). All your ideas and suggestions on these aspects would be welcome.

This year 28th April is a unique annual opportunity to express our collective voice about the need to protect and promote workers’ health and safety as a means for achieving decent work for all and a fair globalisation.

Please keep us informed of your views and plans sending information about your events at

And remember, give us your email to be included in the 28th April e-list and join the 28 April Facebook group: Type Workers’ Memorial Day  or click here.

Contracts, Wages and Bargaining Under Attack in Europe

These are dark times for trade unions and workers.  

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