ITUC OnLine – October 31, 2011


CAMBODIA:  Child Labour in a Climate of Violence and Intimidation Towards Union Members

Brussels, 31 October 2011 (ITUC OnLine):  The ITUC is releasing today a report on core labour standards in Cambodia, coinciding with the Trade Policy Review of the country at the WTO. The report finds poor compliance with international labour standards, especially with regard to trade union rights, child labour and forced labour.

The report finds significant restrictions in the Labour Law with regard to the right to organise, to collective bargaining and to strike. Broad categories of workers are excluded from the scope of the law. The report presents various examples of a climate of violence and intimidation towards union members as well as anti-union practices employed by authorities and employers which have significantly weakened workers’ rights in Cambodia.

The most recent available statistics show that there are 1.4 million working children, many doing hazardous work in sectors including agriculture and plantations, construction, salt production, shrimping and other sea-food industries, fishing, brick kilns and domestic servitude.

The law does not provide adequate protection against discrimination for all citizens. Women, ethnic minorities and disabled persons face discrimination in various aspects of employment. Moreover, indigenous people are losing access to the lands where they undertook their traditional employment due to the expansion of sugar and rubber plantations under the EU’s “Everything But Arms” initiative.

Forced labour and trafficking are also problems. Indeed, recruitment agencies, sometimes with political cover, exploit and mistreat thousands of migrant workers and coerce them into debt bondage or forced labour. The law is poorly enforced due to corruption and lack of resources.

To see the full report click here

G20 Leaders Must Put People Before Bankers

Brussels, 31 October 2011 (ITUC OnLine):  G20 leaders must meet the demands of working people at the G20 summit in Cannes on 3-4 November 2011 and deliver on their promises to reform the financial sector.

As the economic and financial crisis enters its most dangerous phase so far, G20 leaders must deliver a co-ordinated response which puts people before bankers, warns the international trade union movement.

Meeting alongside the G20, the ‘Labour 20’ Summit in Cannes will bring together elected trade union leaders from G20 countries for crisis talks on the economy and on attacks on labour rights.

International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow said unemployment is the largest single threat to recovery and has reached record levels with over 200 million people out of work and many more working in insecure jobs. Meanwhile, the financial system continues to be bailed out by governments who fail to take the necessary action to reform their destabilising and highly risky lending practices.

“Public pressure for governments to act in the interests of people and not the bankers will grow and grow. People are angry. The international trade union movement will be in Cannes to demand action and reform to respond to that justified anger,” said Burrow.

“G20 Leaders must muster the same level of political will used to bail out the banks to deliver coordinated action on growth and decent jobs for millions of people who are unfairly bearing the brunt of this crisis,” said John Evans, General Secretary of the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD (TUAC).

Global Unions are calling on G20 leaders to adopt a four-point plan for jobs and recovery that stems the jobs crisis and re-shapes the world economy for working people:

  • Establish a co-ordinated jobs target and immediate measures of job-intensive infrastructure programmes, green jobs investment and labour market programmes to raise skills;
  • Reduce income inequality and strengthen workers’ rights;
  • Put in place a social protection floor;
  • Reform the financial sector and establish a financial transactions tax

    “G20 leaders must make good on their promises to create jobs and reform the financial system. The livelihoods of millions of people depend upon their actions,” said Sharan Burrow.

The proposals for recovery plans from the L20 will be delivered to G20 host President Nicolas Sarkozy and to other G20 Heads of State and Government, and must be taken into account in the final G20 conclusions.

Media Briefing:

9:30 am – 10:30 am  Wednesday 2 November, Centre D’Accueil de La Press Etranger a Paris, Foreign Press Centre – Paris

Launch of new ITUC/TUAC report on financial speculation and sovereign debt crisis and release of global unions statement to G20 Leaders ahead of meeting with President Sarkozy.

Spokespersons: Sharan Burrow General Secretary ITUC, Richard Trumka President AFL-CIO and TUAC, John Evans General Secretary TUAC Pierre Habbard Senior Economist.


Gemma Swart (English) Mobile + 32 479 06 41 63 Landline +32 2 224 0206

Mathieu Debroux (English, French, Spanish) Mobile + 32 476 62 10 18 Landline+32 2 224 0204

L20 website

To see the Global Unions’ Statement to the G20 Summit in Cannes, France, click here.

TUAC Website.  

AUSTRALIAN Tribunal Ends Qantas Lockout

Brussels, 31 October 2011 (ITUC OnLine):  National industrial tribunal Fair Work Australia has intervened to end the global employee-lockout by QANTAS Airways, following the sudden decision by CEO Alan Joyce to ground the airline’s whole fleet on Saturday.  Unions at QANTAS have been pressing for guarantees on job security and wages as the company, heading for a A$500 million profit in 2011, looks cut labour costs including through outsourcing.

“The decision to ground the airline without notice was bizarre and extremely damaging to the company’s reputation and the country’s economy.  It is fortunate that Australia has an industrial relations tribunal with sufficient power to reverse that decision, and force the company into proper talks with the unions representing its workforce,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

The tribunal ruling means the company and the unions have an initial 21 days to negotiate an agreement on the issues in dispute.  If no settlement is reached, Fair Work Australia would then launch a compulsory arbitration process.

“QANTAS has so far refused to enter genuine negotiations while the feeling of insecurity within its workforce continues to grow.  The management must now negotiate in good faith, and address the legitimate concerns of its employees instead of focusing only on generating instant super-profits for its big shareholders,” said Burrow.  

The largest shareholder in QANTAS, with more than 20% of the shares, is US banking giant JP Morgan.  Having received a US$25bn taxpayer bailout in 2008, JP Morgan remains a leading player in global financial speculation.  Through its membership of the US “Financial Services Roundtable”, it has been a key contributor to corporate lobbying against improved union rights for American workers.  

FIJI Union Leader Arrested After Commonwealth Meeting 

Brussels, 31 October 2011 (ITUC OnLine):  The ITUC strongly condemns the arrest and detention, without charge, of Daniel Urai, President of the Fiji Trade Union Council. Mr. Urai was arrested at the airport upon his return from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia, where he spoke out against human and trade union rights abuses perpetrated by the Fijian government.  Both Mr. Urai and Dinesh Goundar, a labour organizer, also must appear at hearing on October 31 on charges stemming from a previous arrest. 

The two were charged under state security law simply for having held a union meeting to prepare members for collective bargaining. Since their initial arrest, other union meetings have been broken up by police, and even social meetings of trade unionists have led to hours-long interrogations by police.

The ITUC is also concerned that trade unions will shortly be forced to re-register under onerous new rules and collective bargaining agreements will be abrogated under the recently passed Essential Industries Decree. These measures strike a severe blow to workers’ rights in many economic sectors in Fiji and violate international labour law. There is little doubt that the re-registration process will be used to attempt to depose current trade union leaders and weaken the capacity of unions to represent their members.

The ITUC deplores the ongoing harassment of trade unionists Fiji and calls upon the authorities to release Mr. Urai immediately and to drop all charges against him and Mr. Goundar.  The international community must press the regime to come into compliance with fundamental human and trade union rights and, if it does not, implement political and economic measures to bring about much-needed reforms.

HAITI:  Solidarity With Export Processing Zone Workers 

Brussels, 31 October 2011 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC has joined with its affiliated organisations, the CTH, CTSP and CSH, in firmly condemning the recent dismissals of several union leaders working at various export processing zone companies. The dismissals took place just hours after their respective unions received recognition from the Labour Ministry.

In a letter to President Joseph Martelly, the ITUC denounced these anti-union dismissals, which violate the Haitian labour law, ILO conventions 87 and 98, and clauses of the HOPE/HELP Acts. For more information about these violations click here

“The authorities must take urgent action to ensure that each and every one of these unfairly dismissed trade unionists be immediately reinstated to their posts,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. “It is crucial that a climate of full respect for the fundamental principles of trade union rights and freedoms be established in the export processing zone and that dialogue between the social partners – a key tool in the quest for social peace – be promoted.”

“The deterioration in the situation of export processing zone workers is unacceptable. The authorities must take urgent measures,” said the ITUC general secretary.



The ITUC represents 175 million workers in 308 affiliated national organisations from 153 countries and territories.

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For further information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on: +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 62 10 18




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