IMF NewsBriefs No. 05, April 30, 2007

May Day Message: Give everyone a decent and permanent job and stop using young people and women for short-term contracts that undermine the possibilities for a stable and socially sound future for everyone.

GENEVA [April 30, 2007]: Fusing art and politics is an effective means to influence dialogue and inspire civic action, writes IMF general secretary Marcello Malentacchi in his May Day message. For Example, “in Italy, every May Day is celebrated with a huge public concert that starts at noon and ends at midnight. Three to four hundred thousands of workers, students, the unemployed, etc meet at Piazza S Giovanni to listen to music that carries messages such as “stop the war” and “no to precarious work”, writes Malentacchi.

“Trade Unions are not the best communicators, which is why we need to use all means necessary, creative and ordinary, to disseminate our messages to the membership and inspire workers to get involved in our work as trade unionists and as a broader community fighting for social and economic justice around the world,” Marcello argues, adding “May Day is a great opportunity to mobilize and to communicate our demands.”

A copy of the statement is published on the IMF website.

A global “Zero Cancer” campaign aimed at tackling the number one workplace killer was launched today, one day prior to April 28 Workers’ International Memorial Day.

GLOBAL [April 27, 2007]: Speaking at a World Health Organisation seminar on the prevention of occupational and environment cancer in Geneva, Anita Normark, General Secretary of the Building Workers’ International launched the global “Zero Cancer” campaign and called on workplace regulators and employers to do more to end the worldwide epidemic of occupational cancer, which claims at least one life every 52 seconds. Occupational cancer is the most common work-related cause of death, ahead of other work-related diseases and accidents.

“Bad, and often illegal, working conditions cause ill health that mean disaster for hundreds of thousands of families every year,” said Normark. “The social invisibility of the impact of working conditions on our health creates a vicious circle where diseases are not recognised as occupational, so they are not recorded, notified, treated or compensated and, worst of all, they are not prevented,” said Normark.

A coalition of 11 global unions together representing over 300 million members in more than 150 countries has produced a new cancer prevention guide, which reveals that over 600,000 deaths a year – one death every 52 seconds – are caused by occupational cancer, making up almost one-third of all work-related deaths.

IMF General Secretary Marcello Malentacchi added: “This epidemic has to stop. Trade unions in hundreds of countries have joined the campaign. We’ll be calling for widespread workplace mapping, inquiries and surveys, and a big drive to get rid of the top killers, such a achieving a global ban on asbestos.”

Occupational Cancer/Zero Cancer: a union guide to prevention, provides information about workplace cancer risks and advice on practical steps workers and unions can take to make workplaces safer and is available at:

Call for GM to fully respect trade union rights takes place in the midst of restructuring affecting workers worldwide.

BELGIUM [April 24, 2007]: Delegates representing workers of seven countries from across North America, West Europe, Asia and Latin America met as part of the IMF General Motors Action Group (GMAG) in Antwerp, Belgium on April 18-19 to discuss the challenges and responses to the company’s global strategy and to corporate conduct. Above all, the participants emphasized that the global strategy of General Motors must in all ways be developed and implemented in a manner that fully respects and abides by worker and trade union rights.

Delegates discussed corporate conduct with impacts on workers in a number of countries including Korea, Russia, Brazil and Thailand. Unequivocal solidarity was expressed for the ongoing efforts of workers to exercise their rights to form and join unions, to collectively bargain and to strike in their own defense, including salaried workers and irregular workers at GM-Daewoo in Korea, as well as workers at the GM-AvtoVAZ joint venture in Russia. The delegates demanded the immediate reinstatement of two elected union representatives dismissed by the company at the GM Gravatai plant in Brazil. There was also a call for management to act in good faith in its relationship with the union representing GM workers at the Rayong plant in Thailand.

Just the day before the meeting commenced, GM management announced that the next generation Astra model would not be produced at the Antwerp plant, putting in jeopardy more than a thousand jobs at the factory. Delegates resolved the following:

On April 18, 2007, the IMF General Motors Action Group came together in Antwerp, Belgium. Trade union representatives from all over the world participating in the meeting will support the brothers and sisters in Belgium in their struggle for further product allocation at the Antwerp assembly plant after 2010. Delegates appreciate the efforts of international solidarity to avoid plant closures and history tells us that this situation is not unique. The company in the implementation of its global strategy must fully respect worker and trade union rights and the IMF and affiliates will continue to monitor developments.

Skoda Auto avoids second round of strikes.

CZECH REPUBLIC [April 24, 2007]: Workers at Skoda Auto, a unit of Volkswagen, reached agreement with management that wages would rise by 10 per cent immediately, but overall wages including various benefits would grow by 12.7 pe rcent through 2008.

Skoda workers staged a walk out on April 17, cutting the daily production of 2,500 cars by about a third. International Metalworkers’ Federation affiliate, OS KOVO, had threatened to strike again if a deal could not be reached.

Wage gains include:

  • Wage increase by 10% for the period of April 1, 2007 to December 31, 2008;
  • 2006 bonus of 10,000 CZK ($483.73 USD); this amount will increase by a percentage of profit increases in the next year;
  • Incentive payment increase from 14% to 15%;
  • Guaranteed company bonus (former 13th wage) increase by 10%;
  • One-off payment of 2,500 CZK ($120.93 USD) in July 2008;
  • Pension insurance contribution increased by 100 CZK ($4.84 USD) since April 1, 2007 and by another 100 CZK on January 1, 2008;
  • Night work bonus of 20 CZK/hour ($.97 USD) also for overtimes during night since April 1, 2007;
  • Bonuses increased from 350 to 450 CZK/month ($16.93 to $21.77 USD);
  • Numbers of tariff employees with contract wages increase to maximum 850 in 2007 and maximum 1 000 in 2008;
  • Severance pay increase up to 12 months of a workers’ average wage;
  • Increase of loans for housing from 225,000 CZK ($10,883.91 USD) to 300,000 CZK ($14,511.88 USD);
  • Difficult working environment bonus: 9 CZK/hour ($.44 USD); non-standard working environment bonus: 7 CZK/hour ($.34 USD) since January 1, 2007.

Skoda had sales of 203.7 billion CZK ($9.85 billion USD) last year and employs more than 27,000 workers.

More than 70 pickets and meetings were organized throughout the country.

RUSSIA [April 17, 2007]: On April 10, on the initiative of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russian (FNPR) the all-Russian action “For decent pension!” took place.

In Moscow the meeting took place in front of the Government of Russian Federation, representatives of all unions affiliated to FNPR particiapted.

The FNPR leader Mikhail Shmakov addressed the protesters, chairman of the IMF-affiliated Miners and Metallurgical Workers’ Union, Mikhail Tarassenko, representatives of other unions and activists. About 600 people came to demand that pensions not be lower than 40% of the salary.

One of the biggest and radical actions took place in Krasnodar, there, around five thousand people made a living chain along the main street of the city. In Yaroslavl over 500 working trade unionists and pensioners took participation in the picketing in front of the local state authorities’ building.

The picket holders held posters saying, “Our pension is a shame of our state!”, “Pensions’ reform – five years of fraud”, “Our demand is pension according to labour input!, “One pension law for workers and deputies!”.

In Barnaul more than 1000 people came out to the central square, double the number that organizers expected. There were many pensioners at the meeting who had heard about the action and wished to express their protest.

Trade unions called the action a warning, claiming the main events of the campaign would take place on May Day.

 IMF publishes report on lifelong learning.

GENEVA [April 10, 2007]: In Organising the Unorganised: Career Development and Lifelong Learning the IMF publishes a series of presentations and reports given at a seminar on this issue held in Paris on October 24-25, 2006.

Lifelong learning is fundamental to empowering workers in the knowledge-based economy and in facilitating their career development. The reports at the seminar looked at developments and current practices in various countries and examined the way in which unions have been advancing lifelong learning on the bargaining agenda.

Mari-Ann Kranz, SIF General Secretary and President of the IMF Non-manual Workers Department, said that adopting new perspectives, like the lifelong learning, is crucial when it comes to organizing new members.

“Unions have an increasingly important role to play when it comes to supporting members in their professional career. To me the meeting in Paris showed the vitality and creativeness among the IMF-affiliated unions around the world,” she said.

The IMF publication is available in English and French and is available for downloading under “Publications” on the IMF website.

Report includes coverage of the Indian and Russian motor vehicle industry and on global restructuring in the sector.

GENEVA [April 2, 2007]: The International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) has published its 2006/07 report on the global motor industry with specific attention given to the Indian and Russian automotive sector, as well as to the challenges of ongoing restructuring.

The publication, entitled IMF Auto Report 2006/07, serves as a resource that describes and updates industry trends and aims to contribute to the exchange of information and ideas useful to affiliates and their membership, as well as to others in the industry.

The 2006/07 Auto Report includes chapters on:

  • Automotive Industry Restructuring: Challenges and Responses
  • Profiles of the Russian and Indian Automotive Sectors
  • Employment Trends
  • Global Production Profile
  • Overview of New Vehicle Sales

“Metalworkers across the global automotive industry continue to experience wide-ranging and very difficult consequences of restructuring in recent years, impacts that have been as great as at any other time in history,” commented IMF general secretary Marcello Malentacchi. “The strength of affiliates of the International Metalworkers’ Federation to respond and protect the interests of affected workers has mattered tremendously, yet continuing challenges of restructuring highlights the responsibilities of employers and governments to ensure socially acceptable and equitable outcomes for all.”

“Industry trends in India and Russia present new developments while reflecting in essential ways an intensification of existing challenges. The dominant influence of transnational companies over the direction of globalization and its encompassing of new markets and production locations, has gone hand in hand with exploding gaps between rich and poor, and the consequent spread of insecurity and growing resistance to such unacceptable trends,” said Malentacchi.

The publication is available in English, Spanish, German, French and Russian. It will be distributed to IMF affiliates and is available for downloading on the IMF website.

Implementing an agreement on core labour standards, particularly at supplier companies, discussed by Indesit management and an international trade union delegation.

ITALY [April 2, 2007]: Indesit management and an IMF delegation met in Rome on March 2 to undertake the joint monitoring of the International Framework Agreement (IFA) on compliance with and promotion of fundamental rights at work.

Indesit, Europe’s third largest producer of domestic appliances, with subsidiaries across the globe, signed the IFA with the International Metalworkers’ Federation and Italy’s three national metalworkers’ unions, the FIM, FIOM and UILM, in 2001.

During the meeting Indesit management reiterated its commitment to comply with the agreement, particularly in relation to the respect of core labour standards at supplier companies and reported on the rescission of a contract with a supplier for non-fulfilment of its obligations towards its employees.

Indesit management guaranteed its absolute neutrality towards freedom of association in all countries, with no restrictions on a worker’s freedom to join a union of his or her choice.

The company also reported that the text of the agreement was translated and distributed to all Indesit plants, where the Chief of Personnel is responsible for ensuring implementation of the agreement.

The company agreed to include trade unions in the joint monitoring of the agreement from countries where Indesit has more recently established a presence, including the UK and Russia.

The “international table” will meet twice a year and the agenda of next meeting will include proposals on implementing the agreement and on health and safety issues.

A more detailed report of the meeting is available on the IMF website.

Birlesik Metal-IS calls on company to recognize union and collectively negotiate.

TURKEY [March 29, 2007]: A large majority of workers formed a union at Koluman Kögel Treyler Sanayý A.S., a joint venture operation located in Mersin. IMF affiliate Birlesik Metal-IS officially applied to Turkish Labour Minister for registration on March 23.

The 190 workers at the Koluman Kögel operation manufacture semi-trailers for general goods transport. Among the company’s customers in Turkey is DaimlerChrysler. Kögel Fahrzeugwerke GmbH is one of Europe´s leading manufacturers for the development and production of semi-trailers.

So far there have been no dismissals as often occurs in Turkey when workers exercise their right to form and join a union of their own choice. However, ten active members have been sent on ‘administrative leave’ and pressure by management on the union continues.

The IMF is closely monitoring the situation in consultation with its affiliates to ensure that the union at Koluman Kögel Treyler Sanayý is registered, recognized and that all worker and trade union rights are fully respected.

NUMSA fights move to retrench 410 autoworkers and replace them with contract employees.

SOUTH AFRICA [March 26, 2007]: Several hundred Nissan South Africa workers and members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) protested outside the Japanese embassy in Pretoria on March 23, demanding that the company stop cutting permanent jobs and replacing them with contact hires.

Nissan South Africa management has unilaterally offered retrenchment packages to 410 employees that would take effect on April 12. NUMSA, an affiliate of the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), delivered a list of demands to the Japanese Ambassador put forth by Nissan SA workers. The union has demanded that the company respond within seven days or protestors will return.

Their demands include:

  • Stop the retrenchment of permanent workers
  • Reduce shareholder and director salaries to cut costs
  • Stop contracting workers at “slave wages”
  • Stop unilateral voluntary severance packages that the union and its members do not approve
  • Stop/minimise overtime work
  • Implement worker training programs
  • Create quality jobs

Speaking on behalf of the IMF, Stephen Nhlapo, IMF regional director said “the fact that Nissan wants to replace workers means that there is work, so why are they retrenching? They are greedy.”

Since 1998, Nissan SA has reduced its workforce from 7,500 to 1,500 workers at present.

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