IMF NewsBriefs No. 01, January 19, 2007

IMF publishes international comparison of working time required for the purchase of various consumer items.

GENEVA, January 8, 2006: The International Metalworkers’ Federation released its 2006 edition of the “Purchasing Power of Working Time” report, examining metalworkers’ purchasing power worldwide, based on net hourly earnings in 2005. The publication surveyed the purchasing power in more than 60 countries and shows the working time needed for the purchase of a range of consumer items including clothing, food, rent and other basic expenses.

The report addresses the differences in standards of living between workers performing the same quantity and quality of work, differences resulting from the gaps in the purchasing power of their incomes.

More than 180 pages of tables, graphics and explanatory notes covering 66 countries, seven industrial sectors and some 32 products enable the reader to do a vast number of comparisons.

“The Purchasing Power of Working Time 2006,” is printed in English, French, German and Spanish. Pdf-versions in these languages are available for downloading under “Publications” on the IMF website. Translations into Japanese and Russian will follow. You can also access the survey here.

Discussion on quality employment will be held on January 23 at the World Social Forum in Nairobi.

NAIROBI, January 18, 2007: Addressing the relationship between quality employment and sustainable development, the International Metalworkers’ Federation will host a morning discussion from 8:30 to 11am on January 23 in room number 22 IN Lower at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, Kenya.

Participants at the IMF-hosted discussion will examine the need for trade, investment and financial policies to coherently focus on quality employment and that the creation and protection of jobs must be a key priority of multilateral policies.

The idea that women and men in all countries, developing and industrialised alike, have the same right to enjoy fundamental democratic guarantees and protections at work regardless of cultural, economic and social differences will be at the basis for the dialogue, noting that quality employment is a fundamental human right and is the only way out of poverty.

Also happening at the WSF, the campaign launch of Decent Work for a Decent Life, coordinated by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), African Regional Office of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU-AFRO) and others.

For more information about the WSF 2007, go to:

Korean automaker will pay full year-end bonuses to workers.

SOUTH KOREA, January 18, 2007: Hyundai Motor Co. has agreed to pay full bonuses to their workers, officials said, ending a three-week dispute between management and the union that has led to arrest warrants, lawsuits and strikes.

The agreement was reached after the union accepted the company’s proposal to delay full bonus payment until workers meet the production target. Officials project that the production goals will likely be met by the end of February 2007.

Labour tensions started when the country’s largest automaker refused to pay the full amount of end-of year bonuses to its employees arguing that 2006 production targets were not met due to strikes and walkouts.

The company cut the bonus from 150 per cent of a workers’ monthly salary to 100 per cent, a decision that was made without the union’s input. The announcement of the cuts sparked walkouts, sit-ins and threats of strike at Hyundai operations.

Additionally, union members reportedly refused to work overtime at the company’s main plants in Ulsan and Jeonju.

The company responded by filing a 1 billion won (US$ 1.07 million) compensation suit against the union over production losses and asked for the arrest of 22 union officials and a warrant for Hyundai Motor union leader Park Yoo-ki and union director Ahn Hyon-ho.

While the latest agreement settles the issue of bonus pay, the lawsuit and charges against union members is still pending.

The European Union must confront the challenges of the global economy with a forward-reaching agenda that is competitive AND maintains fundamental employment standards.

GENEVA, January 18, 2007: As the new year kicks off with the announcement of broader metalworker cooperation, new strategies for countering the growing strength of multinationals, and a new International Trade Union Confederation, Marcello Malentacchi, general secretary of the International Metalworkers’ Federation asks, “what kind of European Union are we going to see in the future?”

“One that gives priority to the rights of companies, or one that supports workers’ rights to defend their interests,” Marcello states in his most recent Opinion column.

“I believe the social justice challenge at work is at the very heart of the common challenges we face in the labour movement and in the democratic left. The European Union already matches America in the size of its economy, but it has failed to translate that into an equivalent political power.”

“Power,” Marcello argues, “that can push for improvements to working conditions and basic minimum standards rather than deregulating labour markets and triggering a race to the bottom in employment standards.”

The union leader’s lawyer has confirmed that the Attorney General’s Office says the issue is outside its jurisdiction as no evidence of federal crimes khas been found.

Mexico, January 15, 2007: The New Year has started well for Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, who was deposed from his post as General Secretary of the Mexican National Union of Miners and Metalworkers (SNTMMS) in 2006. The government of President Vicente Fox had accused him of money laundering.

This u-turn has occurred because the incoming Mexican government has said the issue is outside its jurisdiction. It said it will halt its investigation as no evidence of federal crimes has been found. It has referred the case to the Attorney General’s Office in the Federal District.

Juan Rivero, Napoleón Gómez’s lawyer, told the media that “the Attorney General has admitted there is no evidence of a federal crime being committed by Mr Gómez Urrutia, an accusation levelled at the union leader by the previous Attorney General, Daniel Cabeza de Vaca.

He added that the Attorney General “will not investigate allegations of money-laundering by Napoleón Gómez or other accusations of involvement in organised crime. The most important aspect is that the Federal government no longer has a legal weapon to use in the miners’ dispute, whereas the previous government used the case as a political tool.”

He explained that the case is not closed but that “the Attorney General says the issue is outside its jurisdiction and has transferred all details of the case against Napoleon and his family to the Attorney General’s Office in the Federal District.”

Carlos Pavón Campos, the union’s secretary for political affairs, gave an interview to the daily newspaper La Jornada, in which he said that this development “confirms the existence of a campaign to persecute” Gómez Urrutia by the previous government’s Minister for Labour, Francisco Javier Salazar Sáenz. He also expressed his confidence that the Attorney General’s Office in the Federal District will act in total conformity to the law.

Mr Campos indicated that if this occurs, the union leader will be able to return to Mexico to assume complete control of his duties as leader of the union.

He emphasised that the union is not seeking to obtain “concessions, or impunity or pardon, but justice, because no crime has been committed.” He praised the attitude of the current Minister for Labour, Javier Lozano Alarcón, with whom the union has had several meetings to try and “unblock” the dispute started by the government of Salazar Sáenz, which refused to recognise Gómez Urrutia as the union’s General Secretary and instead recognised Elías Morales Hernández as leader of the union.

“It seems that Lozano Alarcón is keeping his promises. This government has been completely open with us. The Minister is only interested in resolving the dispute. He wants to see respect for trade union autonomy. We had talks with him on 3 January and we will have another meeting with him next week because he wants to find a solution to the matter by legal means”, concluded Pavón in the interview.

Automaker plans to shut nine North American plants by next year.

CANADA, January 10, 2007: The Canadian Auto Workers Union and Ford Motor Company reached an agreement to improve restructuring incentives for CAW members at Ford.

The company has announced massive layoffs and plant closings throughout Canada and the U.S. The union reportedly negotiated the new agreement to avoid firings.

“This is not a temporary restructuring,” CAW president Buzz Hargrove was reported as commenting, “this is a permanent downsizing.”

The financial incentives will impact Ford employees who retire or voluntarily leave the company.

They include:

  • a $30,000 credit for a new Ford vehicle for employees or their spouse, in addition to a $70,000 retirement incentive currently available to both production and skilled workers. Retiring tradespersons will receive an additional $15,000 cash payment,

  • an incentive of up to $100,000 for eligible employees who leave Ford prior to retirement, and support services including job seeking, resume writing and counselling, and

  • the option to waive post-retirement health care benefits and receive an additional $40,000 for retiring employees who accept the restructuring incentive.
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