IndustriALL Headlines #32 – February 28, 2013

IndustriALL Headlines are produced by IndustriALL Global Union


On 24 February 2013 Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina handed out compensation to the families of fire victims at Smart Fashion factory of 26 January 2013. The agreement was negotiated by the IndustriALL Regional Office, IndustriALL Bangladesh Council of trade unions (IBC) and brands Inditex and New Look.

Families of the deceased female workers Nasima (28), Josna (19), Laiju (18), Fatema (17) and Nasima (17) gathered in the Prime Minister Office in Dhaka where disbursement ceremony took place. According to the agreement, each family receives 1,049,000 BDT (13,300 USD), and one family with two minor children gets an additional 10 per cent to meet educational costs for minor children. The injured workers as well as those who lost their employment will also receive a compensation. The workers earned an average monthly wage of 4,000 BDT (50 USD).  

The payment is shared by Inditex and New Look. In addition employers’ associations Bangladesh Garment Manufactures & Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) each pay 100,000 BDT (1,270 USD) to every family. The Bangladeshi government committed itself to announcing its package very soon.

 IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina explained at the ceremony that the agreement was reached and compensation was paid in less than a month after the tragedy at Smart Fashion. He pledged to pursue a similar compensation package with the brands and buyers that sourced from Tazreen Fashion, where another fire killed 112 workers on 26 November 2012.  

Raina added that IndustriALL Global Union and IndustriALL Bangladesh Council of trade unions would continue working on labour rights, minimum wage and fire safety in Bangladesh.  

Jyrki Raina said, “IndustriALL supports Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her government in the vision to expand the garment industry and create millions of new decent jobs. This vision is however threatened by major media attention in Europe and North America about problems related to fire safety, labour rights and very low wages. The good news is that the government is already working on these problem areas where urgent action is needed to improve the image of the industry:  

The revision of the Labour Act 2006 to facilitate the registration of new local trade union organizations is in its final stage.   ·        

Minimum wages of 3,000 BDT (38 USD) per month need to be raised considerably, followed by annual revisions, as a number of neighbouring countries such as Indonesia (200 USD), China (200 USD) and Thailand (300 USD) have done in January.   ·        

Following a tripartite fire safety agreement signed by the Bangladeshi government, BGMEA and BKMEA and IBC on 15 January, a National Action Plan is planned to be finalized by 28 February. IndustriALL has convened major brands and buyers to its global head office in Geneva in March to discuss their input to the Plan. IndustriALL is promoting a safety initiative which includes input from all stakeholders in the form of inspections, training and investment to upgrade hazardous installations.”  

Earlier the same week, IndustriALL hosted a multi-stakeholder meeting in Dhaka which need for urgent progress on workers’ rights, minimum wages and fire safety in order to secure a sustainable future for the Bangadeshi garment industry and the creation of millions of new decent jobs.  


February 28, 2013:  Russian Chemical Workers’ Union (RCWU), an IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, reports that the international solidarity campaign brought concrete results—pressure on union locals in Orenburg and Ufa, Russia, stopped, and a union representative was included in collective bargaining negotiations.

On 27 February the Russian Chemical Workers’ Union (RCWU) reported that the international solidarity campaign proved to be a success with the pressure on both union locals in Orenburg and Ufa, Russia, stopped, and the president of RCWU local in Ufa Zumara Ganieva  included in the all-company collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations committee.  

The negotiations led to a collective agreement for 2013-2015, which includes guarantees for trade union activity.  

Meanwhile pressure on RCWU locals at Bashneft in Orenburg and Ufa stopped. Union activists are no longer forced to quit the union and join the company-controlled Labour Council. The locals are strarting to get back the union dues, which were blocked by the company for some time.  

Earlier 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 the CBA with the RCWU locals and challenged their right to collective bargaining.  

The administration refused to recognize union locals and claimed that the CBA would be negotiated with a Labour Council, created by the company itself.  

RCWU responded by holding public actions in Oregnburg, Ufa and Moscow, and launched a national solidarity campaign (In Russian).

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, and IndustriALL Regional Office staff joined RCWU activists in picketing Bashneft office in Moscow.  

Thousands of people sent letters of protest to Bashneft management via TAKE ACTION page on IndustriALL website.  

RCWU president Alexander Sitnov offered his sincere thanks to all unions and other organizations, including IndustriALL, which offered their solidarity and helped to resolve the conflict.  

“Your participation was an enormous help to us. Thank you,” said Alexander Sitnov.


February 28, 2013:  Global solidarity support and 3 Global Framework Agreements assisted Birlesik Metal IS in securing uknion recognition at Fontana Pietro, an auto supplier plant in Turkey.

Following intervention by the companies to whom Fontana Pietro supplies dies, local company management has relinquished its court case in which it was challenging the legal certification of the union by the Ministry of Labour. Birlesik Metal-Is now expects to start collective bargaining negotiations once bureaucratic procedures are completed. 

Birlesik Metal Is, an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union, organized the majority of workers at the Fontana Pietro plant in Tuzla, Turkey and received legal certification of its majority status in August 2012 as required by Turkish labour laws.  

Soon after, Fontana Pietro, an Italian-based company that specializes in engineering, making dies and stamping steel and aluminium for the auto sector, began a systematic campaign to harrass the union members, including dismissals, and challenged the union’s legal recognition in court.

According to the terms of the Global Framework Agreements signed with IndustriALL Global Union and Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW, the auto companies agree to fundamental rights at work including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, and that these rights should also be observed by supplier companies.

IndustriALL Global Union reported to the Works Councils of VW, Daimler and BMW about the violations taking place at Fontana Pietro and asked the companies to intervene based on the terms of the Global Framework Agreement.  

FIM-CISL and FIOM-CGIL, Italian unions affiliated to IndustriALL that has members at Fontana Pietro plants in Italy, met with the company management in late 2012 in an effort to solve the issue. At the time, the management at head quarters in Italy refused to intervene on the basis that it was up to local management.  

“Global solidarity, global framework agreements and the strength of the union in Turkey has forced Fontana Pietro management to finally accept fundamental rights at work and recognize Birlesik Metal Is,” said Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union.  


February 28, 2013:  The Zambian government has emphasized that the take over is not nationalism, but due to non compliance with labour laws, safety and environmental standards and non payment of rayalties at the previously state-owned coal mine.

There has been frequent industrial unrest at Collum Mine that has been under Chinese ownership since 2003. As early as 2005, submissions were made to government on poor working conditions and government considered its closure in 2006 after a delegation saw first hand the poor working conditions that workers had to endure.  

In October 2010, 13 mineworkers were injured when two managers of the mine opened fire on striking workers. Workers went on strike when they were not paid and to protest poor pay and working conditions. Charges against the two managers were later dropped by the state.  

Tensions continued to mount at the mine as labour issues remained unresolved. A pay dispute at the mine after government raised the minimum wage in 2012 resulted in a spontaneous protest by workers during which a Chinese supervisor was killed and another was injured. 

“Since the mine was privatized, Muz has taken up the serious concerns of workers on the violation of labour laws, health and safety issues, even implementing the bargaining agreement has been a continuous dilemma,” says Joseph Chewe, General Secretary of the Mineworkers’ Union of  Zambia (Muz), an IndustriALL Global Union affiliated union. “Muz supports the seizure of the mine by government; this is in the best interest of workers especially since workers’ jobs are secure. But the government must ensure that the new investor follows the labour laws and ensures good working conditions at the mine for these long suffering workers.” 

The government revoked mining licences held by the company that owns Collum mine after no improvements had been made at the mine. The state will operate the mine until a new investor is found. Government has assured workers that there would be no job losses.

A recent study by Human Rights Watch (HRW) concludes that shilst there have been some improvements in working conditions in Zambia’s mines under President Sata since 2011, much still needs to be done to ensure labour law enforcement and to improve safety standards, especially in the copper mines.  Sata had promised to improve labour conditions in the mines during his election campaign.

A number of trade unions and civil society organizations in Zambia have welcomed the seizure of Collum mine, hoping that this action is a strong signal that the government will not tolerate investors that flout the law and abuse workers’ rights.



February 28, 2013:  Chanting “People’s oil is not for the people bukt for theves” hundreds of workers protested against the South Oil Company in Iraq on 19 February 2013, and called for housing, permanent work and payment of delayed benefits.

The protest was organized by the Committee for the Defense of Oil Workers, including IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU), and follows an earlier similar action on 13 February 2013.  

The workers, who work in the fields of al-Ramlia north and south, al-Berjesia, Gharb al-Karna, and Bab al-Zubair, gathered in front of the main door of the South Oil Company in Basra calling for the expulsion of corrupt employees and the dismissal of the company director.  

The workers demanded a meeting with the company director to negotiate on the payment of withheld benefits dating back to 2010, 2011 and 2012, the right to housing, permanent job contracts and an end to corruption in the company.  

The South Oil Company (SOC), which produces more than 80 per cent of Iraqi oil, is a national company responsible for the oil in the south of Iraq.

As the company director has so far refused to meet with the protestors, they are now requesting a meeting with the management and the government in the coming days to bargain on the issues. The protestors have also addressed the Iraqi Prime Minister on their demands.  

Some of the workers were subject to threats from company security during the actions.