IMF NewsBriefs No. 06, May 21, 2007


EUROPE (May 21, 2007): Delphi workers across Europe protested on May 21 against the recently announced closure of the Cadiz plant in Spain.

Since the inclusion of Delphi USA in Chapter 11 (bankruptcy), and despite European management declaring to its workforce representatives at the European level that this decision was not going to have any effect on Delphi in Europe, workers now face the progressive dismantling of the industrial activity in the EU.

On May 21 unions distributed leaflets to Delphi workers informing them about the current situation in Delphi and how Delphi is failing to adequately consult with its European Employee Committee on the issue of restructuring.

Demands made by the workers on the European Action and Solidarity Day included:

  • Respect for the agreement signed in 2005 between Delphi Management, trade unions and labour authorities to maintain the activity and the 1,600 jobs in the Cadiz plant until December 31, 2010
  • No more plant closures in Europe but search for industrial alternatives with Delphi employees and the regional authorities who have often granted significant economic aid to the company
  • No forced redundancies but search for socially acceptable solutions in case of necessary manpower adjustments
  • A call upon Delphi to come to a European framework agreement laying down minimum standards for all employees in Europe
  • Complete information as well as consultation of the Delphi European Employee Committee and local trade unions and works councils on its restructuring plans far in advance of the decision-making process.

The day of action was organised by the trade union coordinating group on Delphi and was supported by the European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF) and the Delphi European Employee Committee.

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GLOBAL (May 16, 2007): A lively debate on the future of the international trade union movement was held by the executive committee of the International Metalworkers’ Federation at its meeting in Seville on May 10 & 11.

While no conclusions were reached, it was agreed that in seeking closer co-operation with other global union federations the IMF must be mindful of aiming to strengthen the international trade union movement and remain faithful to the interests of metalworkers.

The committee also heard a report on IMF’s work in the Africa region where IMF resources are focused on certain countries where there is a ‘critical mass’ of workers and the potential for sustainable unionism, in particular general manufacturing unions. Stephen Nhlapo, IMF regional represenative for Africa, also spoke of the problems unions in Africa face when they become dependent on funding from organisations in the North.

The IMF executive committee once again firmly reiterated it support of Napoleon Gomez, the general secretary of the Mexican Miners’ Union. On April 16, Gomez was once again recognised by the Mexican government as the elected leader of the union. However Gomez remains in exile, as there are cases pending against him which have not yet been resolved.

The executive committee welcomed two new affiliataes as members of the IMF. They are:

  • Fédération se la Métallurgie CFE-CGC – France
  • Autonomous Metalworkers’ Union of Serbia (AMUS)


GLOBAL (May 15, 2007): “The interests of workers, their families and communities remains our main concern,” said the general secretary of the International Metalworkers’ Federation, in response to the announced Cerberus Capital Management acquisition of Chrysler from Daimler.

“We are particularly concerned that the pension and healthcare provisions of the workers and retirees are kept secure,” said Malentacchi.

Reiterating the joint position taken by UAW, CAW and IG Metall earlier this year, Malentacchi said: “It is our clear expectation and demand that Cerberus’ takeover has to contribute to a safe and sustainable future for the Chrysler Group and ultimately, the workers, their families and communities.”

“Unions in North America and Europe will continue to focus on the question of the sustainable future of all jobs,” said Malentacchi.

“The IMF also expects Daimler, Chrysler and Cerberus to maintain full disclosure with the unions in regards to any and all prospects that will affect active workers, retirees and communities in the future,” said Malentacchi.


GLOBAL (May 15, 2007): Research released today on labour relations in China finds that most workers surveyed as part of the study at foreign invested plants in China have very little understanding of what a trade union is or its capacity to represent workers’ interests.

The research also found that while working conditions at foreign invested metal sector plants are better than average factory working conditions in China, only one third of factories surveyed had a trade union present.

World Trade Organisation policies and free trade agreements are resulting in metalworkers around the world often ending up in direct or indirect competition with China. Yet worker and human rights in China do not meet international standards and independent trade unions remain illegal.

The International Metalworkers’ Federation commissioned research on industrial relations and working conditions in metal sector transnational companies in China to examine the current situation.

The investigation included research into the working conditions inside 27 factories with foreign investors including Daimler Chrysler, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Toyota, Nokia, Delphi, Bosch, General Electrics, Electrolux, Panasonic and Flexitronics.

“While independent trade unions remain illegal and with a growing presence of foreign capital and multinational companies operating in China, it is urgent that further action be taken to improve the rights of workers in China,” said IMF general secretary Marcello Malentacchi.

The research was undertaken by the Hong Kong-based Asian Monitor Research Centre, commissioned by the IMF.


SPAIN/GLOBAL (May 10, 2007): The International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) today called on Delphi to honour its agreement with workers and maintain 1600 jobs at its Spanish Cadiz plant.

At its meeting in Seville, the executive committee of the IMF, representing the interest of 25 million metalworkers from more than 100 countries around the world, declared its full and unconditional support of the workers faced with job-losses following Delphi’s announcement to close its Cadiz plant.

“Metalworker trade unions from around the world are calling on Delphi to fulfil its obligations to the workers and the community that depend on employment at its Cadiz plant in Spain,” said IMF general secretary Marcello Malentacchi.

In a declaration unanimously supported by its executive committee, the IMF called on the company to fulfil the industrial plan it signed with workers and local authorities agreeing to maintain 1600 jobs until December 31, 2010.

MCA-UGT general secretary Manuel Fernández and FM/CCOO general secretary Felipe López joined the IMF in denouncing the company’s plans to sack 1600 workers.

A copy of the declaration in English, French and Spanish is available on the IMF website.


GERMANY (May 7, 2007): IG Metall reached agreement with employers to increase wages by 4.1 per cent from June this year and a further 1.7 per cent after twelve months.

The pilot agreement was reached in Sindelfingen in south-west Germany on May 4 after lengthy negotiations between IG Metall and Gesamtmetall the employers organisation. This agreement is expected to be adopted across all regions in Germany.

The pay increase includes:

For the period April 1, 2007 until May 31, 2008:

  • 4.1 per cent increase beginning June 1, 2007 until May 31, 008.
  • lump sum payment of 400 € for the months April, May 2007; apprentices get a lump sum payment of 125 €.

For the period June 1, 2008 until October 31, 2008:

  • 1.7 per cent increase beginning with June 1, 2008 (with an option to postpone the start date)
  • 0.7 per cent one-off-payment for the months June until October 2008 (the whole one-off payment must be paid in August 2008)
  • Option: At company level, the beginning of the second period of pay rise (June until October 2008) can be put off until October 1, 2008, depending on the respective economic situation of the company.


BELGIUM (May 4, 2007): Trade unions representing workers at General Motors operations across Europe organized protest actions in solidarity with the striking workers in Antwerp and in support of European-wide demands to the company.

GM Europe workers at 15 sites in eight countries stopped work for several hours on May 3, demanding decent production volume that secures a sustainable future for the Antwerp plant in Belgium, and for an agreement with the company at the European level that would secure the viability of the European plants until 2016.

Solidarity messages in support of the European Day of Action called by the GM European Employees Forum and the European Metalworkers’ Federation were sent by affiliates of the International Metalworkers’ Federation in countries across North and South America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.

“The successful European Day of Action and international solidarity messages again make clear that workers and their trade unions will resist company attempts to play workers of one country off against another,” said Marcello Malentacchi, IMF General Secretary.


UK/IRELAND (May 2, 2007): Unite, the new 2 million-strong union formed from the merging of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers Union, is now the UK’s and Ireland’s largest union and will be a dominant force in the TUC and the Labour party.

The new union, officially launched on May 1, will represent members from a variety of industries and sectors including workers in transport, manufacturing, aviation, farming, the financial sector, and public services, voluntary sector and services from construction to contract cleaning.

The merger was endorsed by an overwhelming majority in membership ballots in both the T&G and Amicus earlier this year. Unite announced that fighting precarious work and the casualisation of good jobs will be a top priority, as well as organising young workers.

“Two unions with a proud history but an even brighter future come together today to form one progressive, organising, fighting back industrial giant. Unite will be focussed above all on winning for our members in the workplace and taking trade unionism to the millions who need it,” announced Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite and former general secretray of the TGWU.

Derek Simpson, former general secretary of Amicus, and new joint general secretary of Unite added, “since 2004 Amicus recruited a quarter of a million new members. We intend to build on this significantly in our new union, Unite. We aim to offer the benefits of membership of a strong and internationally connected union to working people in every workplace in the UK and Ireland.”

Unite reports that there will be a period of transition during which the Joint Executive Council, drawn equally from the T&G and Amicus executives, will supervise the drafting of a final rulebook for the new union. This will come into effect in November 2008, when the integration of the two unions into one should be complete.


TURKEY (May 2, 2007): Violations of fundamental democratic rights in Turkey reached unacceptable levels on May Day. Union leaders and activists marking the anniversary of the May Day killings of 1977 in Taksim Square met brute violence from police and security forces.

The IMF is following with increasing concern the situation of workers’ and trade union rights violations in Turkey.

Thirty years ago, 34 people were shot or trampled to death, and hundreds wounded, after an unidentified gunman opened fire on May Day marchers at Taksim Square in the centre of Istanbul. Police drove tanks toward the masses at all points of exit, literally trapping demonstrators.

Reminiscent of that brutal day, May Day demonstrators laying wreaths and flowers in Taksim Square on Tuesday were met with tear gas, water cannons and beatings from police and security forces that occupied the city’s square. According to reports, around 5,000 riot police, reinforced with armoured personnel carriers, were on guard in the square including snipers in position on rooftops.

A union activist from Birlesik Metal-IS, an affiliate of the International Metalworkers’ Federation, gave a witness account of the May Day violence:

“Around nine o’clock we were in Besiktas, which was fully under an intense smoke from several pepper gas bombings and surrounded by thousands of robocops. People were not allowed to go to Taksim or any street that might take them near Taksim Square. When we arrived in Kabatas we faced a huge gas bombing and a very brutal police attack directed at peaceful marchers including us who mostly belong to DISK unions.

“Like many others, myself and my friends were also wounded by pepper gas and decided to escape from this area through narrow streets that go to Taksim. There were also thousands of police in Taksim where only a small group of trade unionists (around 1000 people) were allowed access to the square. More than 600 people were arrested and taken to the different police centres in the city. In the first few hours they were not allowed to phone anyone and therefore nobody knew who were taken and to which police station,” said the activist.

The violence that took place on the streets of Turkey comes at a time during tense political violability over the country’s next president.

An international solidarity campaign is being held with the support of IMF affiliates in all continents. Turkish metalworkers are fighting under the leadership of our affiliate Birlesik-is Metal against Turkish undemocratic laws that violate internationally recognised fundamental rights.

Existing laws severely limit the workers organising and collective bargaining rights while granting a quasi-monopoly condition to undemocratic organisations that pretend to represent workers interests.

“While TNCs from Europe and Asia benefit from this violation of fundamental rights, our sisters and brothers in Turkey continue struggling for changes to the legislation that would really bring it in line with minimum international standards,” said IMF general secretary Marcello Malentacchi.

The IMF, together with the EMF and IG Metall, joined leaders of Birlesik-is and DISK a few days ago to meet in Ankara the Turkish Minister of Labour, Vice Prime Minister and opposition leaders. The unions denounced the repression of workers and asked for changes to Turkish laws to bring them in line with ILO fundamental Conventions that Turkey has ratified.

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