IMF NewsBriefs No. 02, February 8, 2007

IMF NewsBriefs International Metalworkers’ Federation

MEXICAN MINERS’ UNION HONOR DEAD ON FEBRUARY 19 – General strike and demkonstrations planned to mark anniversary of the Pasta de Conchos mine explosion, which left 65 miners dead.

MEXICO (February 8, 2007): The National Miners’ and Metalworkers’ Union (SNTMMSRM) and the families of the 65 miners killed in the February 19 Pasta de Conchos mine explosion will mark the one year anniversary by calling on the new Mexican government to address the country’s labour unrest and bring justice to the families of the dead.

The SNTMMSRM reports that the situation in Mexico is deteriorating. The union is negotiating with 10 major companies about wage adjustments for 2007, with the possibility of taking action on February 12.

Meanwhile, members of the SNTMMSRM are repeatedly targets of arbitrary arrests, death threats and physical violence. The government has continued to fail to put an end to the ongoing violations of human and labour rights in Mexico, and has failed to make any effort to reinstate Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, the democratically elected general secretary of SNTMMSRM.

Gómez was removed from his position after speaking out against the Mexican government and the mining company, Grupo Mexico, following the Pasta de Conchos blast.

Demonstrations and a general strike are planned for February 19 to mark the first anniversary of the Pasta de Conchos mine tradgedy. The International Metalworkers’ Federation is planning to send an IMF delegation to Mexico to honor the event.

The IMF has launched a global campaign in solidarity of the Mexican Miners’ union and filed a complaint with the International Labour Organization against the Mexican government citing violations of ILO convention 87.

For more information about the IMF’s work on Mexico, click here:

ASBESTOS COMPENSATION PACKAGE FINALISED – Unions proud of achieving compensation package for victims of James Hardie asbestos products.

AUSTRALIA/NETHERLANDS  (February 8, 2007): After six years of struggle, unions and asbestos victims’ groups express pride in achieving justice for the victims of James Hardie asbestos products.

Their campaign against James Hardie is over, after 99.6 per cent of shareholders voted in support of a AUS$4 billion (US$3.1 billion) over 40 years asbestos compensation package at a shareholders meeting in the Netherlands on February 7.

James Hardie, which was Australia’s largest manufacturer of asbestos products, established a Netherlands-based parent company that took A$1.9 billion from Australia to the Netherlands to avoid its legal obligations to Australia.

The union campaign began when James Hardie in Australia was separated from the international group, indemnifying the Netherlands parent company and severing the lifeline for Australian creditors, including asbestos claimants.

The compensation deal was negotiated with the company by asbestos victims’ groups, unions and the New South Wales state government.

“The deal will ensure current and future victims of James Hardie asbestos products are properly compensated,” said Paul Bastian, AMWU NSW state secretary.

Boycotts of James Hardie products and protests at shareholder meetings in Australian and the Netherlands were just some of the activities that eventually forced the company to the negotiating table with unions.

METALWORKERS MOBILISE OVER AIRBUS RESTRUCTURING – IG Metal holds mass protests in four cities, French metal unions prepare for battle.

EUROPE  (February 5, 2007): Airbus’ restructuring announcement to cut 10,000 jobs has German, French, Spanish and UK metal unions ready for action.

On February 2, 10,000 IG Metal members protested in Hamburg, Bremen, Varel and Laubheim in an effort to secure their jobs and sites at Airbus.

Meanwhile, five French metal unions, the Fédération Générale des Mines et de la Métallurgie – FGMM-CFDT; the Fédération Confédérée “Force Ouvrière” de la Métallurgie – FO; the Fédération des Travailleurs de la Métallurgie – CGT ; the Fédération Nationale CFTC des Syndicats de la Métallurgie et Parties Similaires, and CFTD Airbus France released a public joint statement calling on President Jacques Chirac to fight for Airbus jobs in France and maintain social integrity towards the workers during the restructuring process.

Airbus is controlled by EADS (the European Aeronautics Defence and Space company) and has suffered extreme losses this year unlike competitor Boeing who just reported record plane sales for 2006. According to news reports, the restructuring could lead to the closure of seven of the company’s 16 production sites in Europe.

The European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF), together with its European member organizations, is developing a common platform of demands with a view to safeguarding all Airbus sites and jobs.

“IMF supports its European affiliates in their struggle to secure employment and ensure Airbus respects its social responsibilities towards its employees,” said Marcello Malentacchi, general secretary of the International Metalworkers’ Federation. 

NUMSA WINS HONORS IN WEBSITE COMPETITION – Chosen as one of the top ten Labour Websites of the Year 2007.

GLOBAL/SOUTH AFRICA (February 2, 2007): The Labour Website of the Year, sponsored by LabourStart, is a competition held every year where trade union websites from around the world compete and individual union members vote online to decide which is the very best union website.

It is the only website competition of its kind — speaking to the complete global labour online community, in 17 languages.

This year, out of 7,866 votes, The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa received 206 votes, earning its place in the top ten. Among the top ten websites, for the first time, three were from the developing world and three from the United Kingdom, a first time also.

“They include some of the very best union websites in the world and all are worth a close look,” said Eric Lee, LabourStart founding editor and organizer of the competition.

LabourStart is an online news service maintained by a global network of volunteers which aims to serve the international trade union movement by collecting and disseminating information — and by assisting unions in online campaigning and other activities.

Its features include daily labour news links in 17 languages and a news syndication service used by more than 630 trade union websites world-wide. News is collected from mainstream, trade union, and alternative news sources by a network of nearly 350 volunteer correspondents based on every continent.

To check out NUMSA’s website, go to:

IMPROVING METAL WORLD – The IMF is asking readers of Metal World to help make the journal better by taking the survey.

GLOBAL (January 31, 2007): Mr. X from Mozambique, an avid Metal World reader would like to see more reports on trade and IMF activities.

Trade union member Mr. Y downloads Metal World from the website and would like to see more investigative journalism on trade union rights abuses in the future. Mr. Y reads the magazine from cover to cover and finds Metal World easy to understand.

Meanwhile Mr. Z, a journalist in India, says that he would like to see more information on health and safety reported in Metal World.

These readers are from different professions, different backgrounds, and live in different parts of the world, and yet there is one thing that all three of them have in common — they participated in the Metal World survey.

Over the next few months Metal World will be reviewed, so your views on the journal are especially useful at this time. For Metal World to continue to be a resourceful and relevant tool in building international solidarity and to provide information among metalworker unions, it is always important that we hear from you. The readership survey is aimed at finding out what you like and dislike about the magazine and whether it helps you in your day-to-day metalworker trade union activities.

Metal World is a quarterly magazine put out by the International Metalworkers’ Federation and reports on news, businesses, trade and labour rights that affect metalworkers. You can download the latest issue of Metal World from the IMF website at

The survey is available (in English and Russian) for download at, or send your thoughts by email to:

MULTIPLE BOMB ATTACKS AGAINST PGFTU LEADER – Palestinian union leader escapes attack on his home and family.

PALESTINE (January 30, 2007): Rasem Al Bayari, general secretary of the metalworkers’ branch of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and deputy general secretary of the PGFTU was the target of a brutal attack.

In the early morning hours of January 29, gunmen dispatched a missile on Al Bayari’s house destroying the doors and the entrance, but not damaging the area where his family was sleeping. Reports indicate that no one was hurt.

The metalworkers’ branch of the PGFTU is affiliated to the International Metalworkers’ Federation.

It was reported that Al Bayari’s residence in Gaza was bombed and shot at around 2 am and again the following day at 2:30 am. Prior to the attacks, death threats were made to Al Bayari and other union officials.

IMF general secretary Marcello Malentacchi sent a letter to Palestinian Prime Minister, Mr. Ismail Haniya, calling on the Palestinian Authority to immediately investigate the savage attacks and ensure the protection of the PGFTU and its leaders.

“The IMF calls on you to guarantee the protection of labour rights and the protection of your labour leaders, so that Palestinian workers and their families may live and thrive in a climate of peace, dignity and freedom,” Marcello said.

In their communiqué on the attack, the PGFTU stated that the Israeli national centre, the Histadrut Administrative, sent a letter to the PGFTU condemning the bombings.

The PGFTU stated that the attacks would not deter the union’s efforts to win improvements for workers. “This attack will not silence the workers and will not stop our activities to build structures of the Palestinian state for the benefit of our people and workers,” the union said in a statement.

Marcello urged the Palestinian Authority to adhere to universally recognized labour rights. “The world has witnessed an escalation in the innocent killing and brutal intimidation of your citizens, particularly, an increase in violence against trade unionists and workers. The Palestinian Authority must put an end to this violence and respect and protect human and labour rights as recognized throughout the world.”

To send letters of solidarity, email: PGFTU or fax: +972 8 285 4244

To send letters of protest to Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, fax: +972 8 2822159

RUSSIAN UNIONS DEMAND DECENT LIVING STANDARDS FOR PENSIONERS – Trade unions organising workers in key industrial sectors hold meeting in Moscow to protect pensioners’ rights.

MOSCOW (January 30, 2007): Russian trade unions, including IMF affiliates, organising workers in key industrial sectors held a meeting in front of the Russian House of Government in Moscow calling for the protection of pensioners’ rights on 24 January 2007.

Around 300 unionists took part in the event where speakers criticised the pension reform recently started in the country, which is severely reducing the living standards of Russian pensioners.

Participants of the meeting unanimously adopted a resolution, which includes demands to:

  • set the pension amount to at least 40 per cent of earned wages after January 01, 2008, and ensuring that minimum pensions should be higher than the minimum subsistence level of pensioners;
  • return to the insurance-based pension system and to grant workers’ representatives participation in administering the resources of the Pension Fund;
  • increase state control over a timely and full size payment of the insurance premiums by the employers for obligatory pension insurance; and
  • ratify the European Social Charter as well as International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions 102 and 128.

The meeting also approved a group of union representatives, who will participate in the negotiations with Government representatives, planned for January 31, 2007.

Update: During negotiations with trade unions on January 31 Vice Premier Minister Alexandre Zhukov promised that the Government would set the basic pension at the minimum subsistence level, he also added that the Government is not ready to meet other unions’ demands for the time being. According to the last information the unions will prepare a massive protest action next April.

MASTERS PROGRAMME FOR TRADE UNIONISTS – Global Labour University offers courses on labour and globalisation.

GLOBAL (January 29, 2007): Trade unionists are invited to apply to two different Masters programmes of the Global Labour University hosted in Germany and South Africa. GLU also has a programme in Brazil.

The University of Kassel and the Berlin School of Economics in Germany are offering studies in September 2007 on Labour Policies and Globalisation. The South African programme, Labour and Development, starts in January 2008 and is offered by the University of Witwatersrand.

Students can break up their study and take courses offered by both programmes in Germany and South Africa, or take a semester in Brazil at GLU-partner, Universidade Estadual de Campinas.

The programmes are designed to offer students a wide range of studies and to promote cooperation between the trade union movement and academia.

Interested trade unionists should apply now. The deadline for submission to the Germany programme is April 1, 2007. The deadline for the South Africa programme is October 1, 2007. Scholarships are available to a limited number of applicants. Courses are taught in English.

The Global Labour University is joint project of the International Labour Organization, international trade union movement and a number of international academic institutions.

Go to for details and an application.

IMF CALLS ON MOTOROLA TO ACT – Chinese workers poisoned at Motorola supplier.

CHINA (January 24, 2007): The International Metalworkers’ Federation is urging Motorola International to take action regarding labour rights violations at its supplier, Hivac Startech Film Window.

In August 2006, an investigative report put out by Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, SACOM, exposed gross workers’ rights violations at the Hivac Startech factory in Shenzhen, China. Hivac Startech is a second-tier supplier to Motorola, producing acrylic mobile phone lenses for two of Motorola’s mobile phones.

Among the rights violations, nine workers were poisoned with n-hexane as a result of the company’s failure to provide proper protection and proper ventilation. Three of the nine poisoned employees are still in the hospital, according to SACOM.

SACOM, the IMF and other NGO’s are urging Motorola to uphold its code of conduct and improve the conditions of its suppliers to prevent the recurrence of future poisonings or other serious labour rights violations.

Motorola’s response to the investigation has been to dramatically cut orders, instead of engaging Hivac to carry out efficient remedial procedures in the workplace and collaborate with independent NGOs to provide workers at all Motorola suppliers with labour rights training.

The drop in business has had a devastating effect on the workers, resulting in layoffs of almost half of its workforce.

“Moving from one supplier to another to avoid dealing with human and labour rights violations at the supplier level is in direct contradiction to what it means to have a code of conduct,” Marcello Malentacchi, general secretary of the IMF said. “Motorola must not turn its back on Hivac workers.”