IMF NewsBriefs No. 14/2005
WTO GENERAL COUNCIL MEETS IN GENEVA
The IMF joins other global trade unions and non-governmental organisations in a series of actions that coincide with the WTO General Council in Geneva next week.
GENEVA, October 12, 2005: Eradicating poverty and promoting employment will be the subject of a series of meetings between civil society organisations and ambassadors and trade negotiators in Geneva next week, October 17 – 21.
The International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) will join with trade unions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to argue that decent work must be central to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) current round of multilateral trade negotiations.
The meetings and related activities coincide with the WTO General Council, which is taking place on October 19-20 and will identify what can be expected of the December WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong.
Working together, civil society organisations will meet with:
- the new WTO director-general Pascal Lamy;
- ambassadors from Brazil and India;
- trade negotiators from the European Commission and the U.S.; and
- the chairs of the various trade negotiating committees, including on agriculture, services and non-agricultural market access (NAMA).
A strategy meeting will also be held with G90 representatives to identify common objectives and discuss ways in which civil society can support this group of countries most in need of development and poverty eradication through trade.
Global trade union organisations, including the IMF, have prepared a statement on the agenda for the Ministerial Conference. A copy of this statement is available at the following web address: www.icftu.org/www/pdf/wtohkstatement.pdf
The IMF Working Group on Trade and Development will also meet in Geneva next week on October 19. The week will open with a civil society protest in Geneva on October 15 against the WTO’s corporate agenda.
DELPHI FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION
Jobs, healthcare and pensions are in jeopardy as Delphi, the largest auto supplier in the U.S., files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
USA, October 10, 2005: The Delphi Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on October 8, threatening the future of jobs, healthcare insurance and pensions for workers at its operations in the U.S. Delphi indicated to the bankruptcy court that it seeks to lower its costs by eliminating medical and life insurance benefits for retirees, establishing a new severance plan and restructuring worker contracts.
The UAW, which represents 25,000 Delphi workers, expressed bitter disappointment in the company’s decision and said it had been trying to negotiate a mutually agreeable outcome for months. “Delphi’s decision would be extremely disappointing under any circumstances, but it is all the more so in light of the company’s announcement on Friday – just one day before filing bankruptcy — that it had sweetened the severance packages for Delphi’s 21 most highly compensated executives,” said UAW president Ron Gettelfinger.
Delphi has struggled to make a profit since GM, which is Delphi’s former parent and largest customer, spun it off in 1999.
In the U.S. Delphi has 31 plants in 13 states and employs over 50,000 people, including 34,000 hourly workers. The company has 185,000 employees worldwide.
VOLKSWAGEN WORKERS ON STRIKE IN BRAZIL
Three Volkswagen factories in Brazil are at a standstill as workers demand a greater share of profits.
BRAZIL, October 07, 2005: Workers at three Volkswagen factories, in São Bernardo do Campo, Taubaté (134 kilometres from São Paulo), and São Carlos, have gone on strike to demand a greater share of company profits.
Last Friday, workers at the São Bernardo plant, which employs more than 12,000 workers, went on strike. Workers at São Carlos and Taubaté also went on strike, on Monday and Tuesday respectively. The company has failed to reach an agreement with workers during the last few days, so workers decided to continue the strike. Workers are demanding a bonus of $5,500 reals (US$2,486) for each employee as their share of profits, while the company is offering about $4,700 reals (US$2,125).
In an official statement, the ABC Metalworkers Union claimed that the company had “manipulated the figures” when it promised workers a greater share of the profits if they attained production targets. It said that the factories do not have the capacity to attain company production targets of 212,000 vehicles for each factory, in 2005.
GRUPO MEXICO PREDICTS RECORD PROFITS FOR THIS YEAR DESPITE THE STRIKE AT ASARCO
The mining giant is predicting record profits of US$ 2,500 million, in 2005. A company spokesman said that profits have increased, despite the fall in production at Asarco due to the strike.
MEXICO, October 02, 2005: Grupo Mexico, the world’s third biggest copper producer, is predicting record EBITDA profits of US$ 2,500 million, in 2005, thanks to the high prices of metals, according to a company spokesman. Juan Rebolledo, Vice-President of Grupo Mexico, said that record prices of copper and molybdenum, combined with the company’s performance, meant that profits (before interest payments, taxes, depreciation and amortisation – EBITDA) would reach record heights this year.
Grupo Mexico’s profits have increased despite the fall in production at its United States plant, Asarco, where workers have been on strike since July.
The mining division, Southern Peru Copper Corporation expects to produce 700,000 tonnes of copper this year, slightly less than in 2004, due to the lower assay value of the mineral.
Meanwhile, talks last week failed to produce an agreement between the company and the union to end the strike at Asarco. Differences remain about the union’s demand for guarantees that it will still represent the workers if the company is sold.
BOEING WORKERS APPROVE NEW CONTRACT
Over 18,000 IAM members in the U.S. will end their strike, having voted to accept a new contract with Boeing.
USA, September 30, 2005: Members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) in Washington, Oregon and Kansas voted today by 80 per cent to approve a new contract with the Boeing Company and end their 28-day strike. The vote was held after IAM union negotiators reached a tentative contract agreement with Boeing on the weekend.
The action taken by the union resulted in the company retreating from its concessionary demands and instead providing for improved benefits, including increases in pension, maintenance of health care provisions and two lump sum cash payments during the period of the agreement.
METALWORKERS STRIKE IN ITALY
Italian metalworkers protest in support of their demands for a salary increase of 130 Euros per month.
ITALY, September 30, 2005: Metalworkers across Italy held a national day of strike on September 29 in support of their demands for a salary increase of 130 Euros (US$156) per month.
As part of the strike action, thousands of workers took part in demonstrations in cities around Italy, including Milan, Naples, Reggio Emilia, L’Aquila, Torino, Vicenza and Taranto.
Organised by IMF affiliates FIM, FIOM and UILM the workers began negotiating with the employers’ association Federmeccanica for a wage increase on January 14, 2005.
Federmeccanica’s current offer of increasing salaries by 60 Euros (US$72) per month includes a clause that will enable employers to decide on total working time flexibility in the future without further negotiation.
The workers have already taken 12 hours of strike in support of their demands. The negotiations are for a mid-term salary adjustment of the existing four-year national collective agreement.
LATVIANS PROTEST AGAINST POVERTY
The Latvian Metalworkers’ Labour Union is to join other Latvian unions in a mass rally against poverty on October 1, 2005.
LATVIA, September 27, 2005: The Latvian Metalworkers’ Labour Union (Latmetal) has announced it will join with other unions in Latvia in a mass protest against poverty on Saturday October 1, 2005.
Organised by the national trade union centre, Latvijas Brivo Arodbiedribu Savieniba (LBAS), the unions are calling for a minimum living wage, a reduction in value-added taxes, provision of accessible health care and pensions that at least cover living costs.
The subject of numerous discussions with state institutions, working people in Latvia are experiencing desperate poverty despite significant economic growth. The fast economic increases, followed by high inflation, has reduced the purchasing capacity of wages, pensions and benefits.
The rally will be held at 12 noon on Saturday October 1, 2005 in the Dome Square of Riga. Letters of solidarity in support of the unions’ protest action can be sent to:
Commission of budget and finances (taxes) LR Saeima (Parliament)
10/12 Jekaba Street, Riga, LV-1811
Mr Aigars Kalvitis
Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia
36 Brivibas bulvaris, Riga; LV-1520
Please copy to:
Chairperson of Latmetal
President of LBAS
STRIKES END AT KIA AND HYUNDAI
Workers at Kia Motors and Hyundai Motor have ended their strikes having agreed to 6.9 per cent wage increases.
SOUTH KOREA, September 20, 2005: The Hyundai Motor Workers’ Union voted on September 12 to accept a tentative agreement reached with management, which includes a 6.9 per cent increase in basic wages. Union members at the plant had stopped work for several hours each day since August 25, demanding higher salaries and better working conditions.
At the same time, workers at Kia Motors ended their two-week series of strikes and resumed normal working after also accepting a 6.9 per cent wage increase.