IndustriALL Headlines #30 – February 14, 2013

IndustriALL Headlines are produced by IndustriALL Global Union


February 14, 2013:  The days of action on Mexico from 18 – 24 February have had a kick start this week with almost 7,000 messages already sent protesting the dismissals of Los Mineros members at PKC and the release of 9 political prisoners of the Mexican Union of Electricity Workers.

IndustriALL Global Union in conjunction with LabourStart began the PKC workers choose their own union campaign on 11 February as a prelude to the week of action. Already almost 7,000 emails have been sent to the CEO of PKC in Finland demanding reinstatement of sacked Los Mineros leaders and union rights at the PKC plants in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. You can send your message from here.

PKC sacked more than 100 union supporters including the entire union committee in December 2012 for campaigning for the election of an independent trade union, the National Union of Mine and Metalworkers (known as ³Los Mineros²), at their plants in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. Ten of the sacked union leaders refused to take severance pay and, along with another leader who was sacked in April 2012, are fighting for reinstatement and the right to be represented by a democratically elected union at the plant.

Meanwhile the Mexican Union of Electricity Workers (SME) is celebrating a major political victory after negotiations with the government reopened on 13 February 2013 and 9 of 10 members held for more than 1 year and 10 months were released. The freedom of Jorge Ulises Uribe is still to be secured.      

The union is seeking the return to employment for the 16,599 workers of Luz y Fuerza del Centro (LyFC) who did not accepted a settlement since being sacked on 10 October 2009. In an attempt to crush Mexico¹s oldest democratic union, SME, the previous president Felipe Calderón used an executive order to shut down the utility company over night sacking the entire 44,000 workforce. The SME fought for those workers¹ jobs back ever since.      

Martin Esparza, SME Secretary General explained that on 20 February the union and government officials will meet to discuss the solution to their demands. “The conflict is political and has to be resolved here with government, we understand that it is not going to be solved by legal means but by politics … It’s a social conflict that the government is obliged to resolve, there is no alternative, the judgment of the Supreme Court (of 30 January) does not resolve the conflict. That is very clear and they understood it,” said Martin Esparza, after a meeting with the director of the government.      

IndustriALL Global Union welcomes the freedom of the prisoners and the renewed negotiations.      

“This February, let¹s use our international solidarity to make a real difference to the situation for Mexican workers that face daily violations of their rights,” said IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina.


February 14, 2013;  IndustriALL regional office staff in Moscow, Russia, took part in a picket on 12 February outside Bashneft office. The action was organized by Russian Chemical Workers’ Union (RCWU), as Bashneft refuses to negotiate with RCWU locals in Orenburg and Ufa, trying to replace them with management-controlled Labour Councils.

The picket is part of the larger campaign of protest against the attack on RCWU locals. Moscow city authorities allowed only five people to take part in a picket. This small group took action outside Bashneft office during one hour on 12 February. However, many more people came to support the action. The protesters kept changing over so that other people from the group of RCWU activists standing at some distance from the picket could joing the protest.  

Soon after reorganization in October 2012 when the companies Bashkirnefteproduct in Ufa and Orenburgnefteproduct in Orenburg became part of the parent company Bashneft, the management refused to renegotiate a collective agreement with the RCWU locals and challenged their right to collective bargaining.  

Due to threats and pressure from the management, hundreds of workers left RCWU locals both in Ufa and Orenburg. In response RCWU rallied in both cities and launched a national solidarity campaign.  

Thanks to the support from IndustriALL Global Union, this solidarity campaign became international in scope. IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina sent a letter to the Bashneft top managers, urging them to withdraw from anti-union tactics and engage in good-faith negotiations with the union.  

More than 1,300 people sent letters of protest to Bashneft management via TAKE ACTION form on IndustriALL website.  

The situation is still tense both in Orenburg and Ufa. Bashneft management refused to meet with RCWU leaders on 4 February.  

After the picket Alexander Sitnov, RCWU president, stated, “We will continue to fight for our rights. We hope that Bashneft managers will hear us.”  

 If the situation doesn’t change and Bashneft management doesn’t withdraw its anti-union policies, both RCWU and IndustriALL will put more pressure on the employer.


February 14, 2013:  Pressure from a threatened strike has resulted in the Nigerian government giving oil companies in the zone 90 days to establish unionization in their companies.

The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (Nupeng) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (Pengassan), came together in November 2012 to take action against employers in the free zone that were refusing oil workers’ union rights. Of the 123 companies in the zone, only 5 had allowed the unions to organize workers and at all 5 companies, union leaders have been victimized and dismissed.  

When companies did not heed the ultimatum issued by Nupeng and Pengassan, at the end of January 2013 the 2 unions issued notice of a 3 day strike to start on 13 February, if dismissed shop floor union leaders were not reinstated and union rights established in all companies in the free zone.

Seeking to resolve issue before the strike, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu agreed together with the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) and the unions that companies would be given 90 days to comply with provisions in the law that require companies to allow for unions to be put in place.  

The communique issued after the meeting also requires companies to establish industrial relations departments to interface with the free zone authority and the unions. It also requires companies to comply with labour laws and ILO conventions stating, “No worker shall be victimized for any role played in the unionisation process and union activities.”  

Isaac Aberare, Acting General Secretary of Nupeng says of the victory; “the free zone authority had been going about its business as if legislated union rights did not apply in the free zone, now these have been established through the intervention of government and oil workers in the free zone will soon benefit from being free to become members of the union.”  

“IndustriALL Global Union salutes this historical victory of Nupeng and Pengassan. Unionization is the only way for workers and societies to get a fair share from the wealth, which the oil sector produces. This struggle and victory should be an example for all oil unions, particularly on the African continent,” said IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary Jyrki Raina.


February 14, 2013:  Rallying against management cuts, the global glass workers alliance of employees at the US-based multinational glass packaging manufacturer Owens Illinois (O-I) conducted simultaneous workplace actions during the week of 4 February.

Unions representing O-I workers in four continents formed the global alliance and conducted this first coordinated international week of action in response to, and rejection of, new company policy of cutbacks that are hitting workers hardest and causing concern for the future. See more background here.  

The United Steelworkers sent a strong message of unity from plants across the US and Canada. See photos attached.  

Australian affiliate AWU mobilized O-I workers, together with the AMWU, across Australia. See photos attached.  

IndustriALL’s Colombian glassworker affiliate Sintravidricol averted a strike in January through a new collective agreement at O-I, reached with the support of the international union alliance. The union mobilized all of its sections to mark the days of action, including those representing workers at other companies than O-I. The union also wrote to CEO Al Stroucken. See photos attached to this article.  

Spanish O-I workers from CC.OO. held actions at worksites in Seville and Barcelona. See photos attached.  

Other actions at O-I workplaces were also conducted in the UK, Germany, France and other countries in Europe.  

Brazilian colleagues at CNQ-CUT are using the international alliance to strengthen the national unity of O-I workers, represented by a number of unions within the confederation. Colleagues in Peru are currently fighting increased outsourcing in bargaining with O-I and are strengthened by the international coordination.  

Indonesian affiliate FSP KEP joined the global action and wrote to O-I CEO Al Stroucken.  

A Solidarity Flyer will be developed to be distributed to all trade unions in the global glass alliance around the world during the week of March 4, 2013 highlighting and sharing members’ solidarity. The Flyer will be translated into a number of languages recognizing the diversity of the Alliance.  

The global alliance received a written response from Senior Vice President Paul Jarrell on 30 January. In a respectful tone, Jarrell acknowledged the formation of the global alliance and commits to good faith industrial relations throughout the company’s operations. The on-going coordination and solidarity of the global alliance will put these promises to the test.


February 14, 2013:  Following the murders of two union leaders in Colombia in 2001, Jaime Blanco, a former contractor for the US-based coal company Drummond Co., was convicted of murder on 25 January 2013 and sentenced to nearly 38 years in prison. 

The court found that Blanco, who supplied food services for Drummond’s La Loma mine in the northern department of Cesar, had arranged with rightwing paramilitaries for the killing of Valmore Locarno and Víctor Hugo Orcasita, leaders of the mine’s union. Blanco’s assistant, Jairo Charris, was convicted in 2009 in the same murder plot and was sentenced to 30 years.  

Judge Castiblanco also ordered prosecutors to investigate Drummond’s president and three former employees to determine whether they might also be responsible after several witnesses, including the convicted man, alleged Drummond senior managers ordered the killings.  

In addition, the judge supported a request by the victims’ relatives to ask the Supreme Court to investigate former assistant prosecutor Edgardo Maya for allegedly failing to act to protect unionists in Cesar; Maya is Jaime Blanco’s half-brother.  

Blanco, who ran a food services concession at the Drummond mine, was sentenced to 37 years and 11 months in prison and fined him $369,000. The judge said that Blanco “took advantage of his closeness to commanders of the paramilitaries” to help him eliminate Locarno and Orcasita, who represented union members who had complained about his food service.  

Drummond management has long been suspected of involvement of the murders of Locarno and Orcasita and of another La Loma unionist, Gustavo Soler, who was killed later in 2001.  

The US-based International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) and the United Steelworkers (USW) union filed a civil suit against Drummond in March 2002 under the 1789 Alien Tort Statute in federal court in Birmingham, Alabama, where the company is based.  The Birmingham jury found the company not liable in 2007.

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