IndustriALL Headlines #43 – May 16 , 2013

IndustriALL Headlines are produced by IndustriALL Global Union


We made it! – Global Breakthrough as Retail Brands sign up to Bangladesh Factory Safety Deal

May 16, 2013 The world’s leading retail labels commit to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh before the midnight deadline. The Accord now covers more than 1000 Bangladeshi garment factories. Implementation starts now!

IndustriALL Global Union and UNI Global Union in a powerful alliance with leading NGOs, Clean Clothes Campaign and Workers Rights Consortium have changed the rules of the game for workers in Bangladesh. We welcome the decision of the companies who have signed up to the Accord for acting responsibly in the light of the Rana Plaza tragedy. Forty-eight hours ago H&M started the ball rolling and we now have the major global household brands on board.  

The following companies have signed up: H&M, Inditex, C&A, PVH, Tchibo, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Primark, El Corte Inglés, jbc, Mango, Carrefour, KiK, Helly Hansen, G-Star, Aldi, New Look, Mothercare, Loblaws, Sainsbury’s, Benetton, N Brown Group, Stockmann, WE Europe, Esprit, Rewe, Next, Lidl, Hess Natur, Switcher, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bonmarche, John Lewis, Charles Vögele, V&D, Otto Group, s.Oliver, HEMA, Comtex, Fat Face, Ernsting’s family, Newtop.  

IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary, Jyrki Raina said,  

“The companies who signed up are to be applauded. H&M showed the way by being the first to sign this week. We will not close the door on brands who want to join the Accord after the deadline but we will be forging ahead with the implementation plan from today. Those who want to join later will not be in a position to influence decisions already made. The train moves on and these companies will drive the process – there can be no uncommitted passengers because the stakes are too high. We are talking about improving the working conditions and lives of some of the most exploited workers in the world, earning $38 a month in dangerous conditions.”  

UNI Global Union General Secretary, Philip Jennings said,  

“We made it! This Accord is a turning point. We are putting in place rules that mark the end of the race to the bottom in the global supply chain.”  

Commenting on the no-shows Jennings said,  

“Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is out of step. By not signing up, the Walmart brand sinks to a new low. We will make progress without them.”

In agreeing to the binding programme of fire and building safety reforms based on independent inspections, worker-led health and safety committees and union access to factories, signatories commit to underwrite improvements in dangerous factories and properly confront fire safety and structural problems. Importantly the Accord grants workers the right to refuse dangerous work, in line with ILO Convention 155.  


Tom Grinter, IndustriALL, Mobile: +41 79 79 693 44 99,  

Richard Elliott, UNI Global Union, Mobile: +41 79 794 9709,

FNV trade union award goes to Said Iqbal 

May 16, 2013 – This year’s FNV Febe Elizabeth Velasquez Award went to Indonesian trade union hero Said Iqbal. FNV Mondiaal will also screen the premiere of “Working Class Heroes”, a documentary uncovering the struggles of trade unionists in Indonesia and Colombia. 

On 15 May in the presence the newly elected FNV president and Dutch Minister of Trade and Development, the FNV Febe Elisabeth Velasquez Trade Union Right Award was presented to Said Iqbal. Said Iqbal is president of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers’ Union (FSPMI) and also chairman of trade union confederation (KSPI).  

Iqbal attracted widespread attention last year when pressure on the Indonesian government from the strategic, large-scale trade union campaign of lobbying, mobilization and action resulted in new legislation on outsourcing enacted on 21 November.  

Iqbal mobilized a rally, during which millions of people took to the streets demanding higher wages, a restriction on flexi labour as well as the introduction of statutory social security. As a result, access to health care for the very poorest and a pension for all working people was assured. Said Iqbal is also one of the two central figures in the FNV documentary “Working Class Heroes” which will premiere on 16 May. 

FNV Mondiaal and filmmakers Huub Ruijgrok and Arno van Beest will present the documentary ‘Working Class Heroes’ at the Balie in Amsterdam. The film is a dual portrait of trade union leaders, both in Indonesia and in Colombia. The union leaders Said Iqbal and Igor Karel Diaz from IndustriALL affiliated Sintracarbón of Colombia have, for many years and with considerable success, devoted themselves to securing labour rights for their fellow countrymen.  

FNV Mondiaal stated, “Thanks to the union leaders, the right to organize and to collective bargaining is beginning to take shape in these countries. In Indonesia, millions of people are taking to the streets and rallying. And in Colombia the largest coal mine closed down for a month”.  

On 16 May Dutch Minister stated that she will take the lead among international donors such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Bank, to improve the working conditions in Bangladesh. She feels the companies should take more responsibility and lack the sense of urgency.      

FNV stated in a response: “we are very happy with this news. The FNV thinks it is utmost important trade unions will be involved in the plan. Trade unions have a watchdog function to make sure the sense of urgency leads to concrete action”.

 USW launches a campaign against precarious work in Canada

May 16, 2013 – The United Steelworkers (USW) launches a new campaign entitled « Give everyone a Chance for Canada’s Future”. The campaign denounces how the Harper government, in partnership with corporations, is flooding Canada with low-wage and highly vulnerable temporary workers from abroad recruited through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP)

“As a union representing 225,000 workers and their families, we have a dual responsibility to ensure Canadian wages and working conditions are not undermined by a permanent class of highly exploited and low-wage workers,” said Ken Neumann, USW National Director. “We also demand that workers coming to our country are treated with dignity and respect.”  

A central objective of the campaign is to bring about much needed protections for temporary workers in Canada. These include:  

  • providing a clear and faster path to permanent residency and citizenship, especially for lower-skilled workers  
  • ensuring that temporary workers have the same rights as citizens  
  • stronger and stricter penalties for employers who violate temporary worker provisions.  

Since 2008, the number of temporary foreign workers has increased by 24,000 or 60% in Toronto, 18,000 or 70% in Quebec, and 5,000 or 80% in the Atlantic provinces. The TFWP, established in 1973, allows employers to hire workers from other countries for temporary employment when Canadians or permanent residents are not readily available or when the entry of foreign workers is likely to have a positive impact on the Canadian labour market. However companies and employers have been abusing the program. As of 2012, this program accounted for nearly 340,000 temporary workers.  

Under the TFWP, the right of temporary workers to stay and work in Canada is tied to a single employer, making them particularly vulnerable. There have been numerous and well-publicized abuses of foreign workers.   Information on the campaign can be found at here.  

Set Edi Iriawadi Free! 

May 16, 2013 – Indonesian cement worker, Edi Iriawadi, was imprisoned after taking action to protect workers at Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa plant, which is part of the Heidelberg Cement Group, from intruders that entered the factory in September 2012. IndustriALL demands that Indonesian authorities and the company stop these violations.

Edi Iriawadi is a union leader at the local company union, Serikat Pekerja Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa (SP ITP), which is part of IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Federation of Indonesia Cement Trade unions (FSP ISI).  

Edi was put on a trial after the company, Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa which is part of the Heidelberg Cement Group, accused him of abusing his power by halting two kilns, on 7 September 2012, causing production loss for the company.  

On 7 September 2012, around 150 people entered the plant in front of the security guards and accompanied by local members of the police. The intruders stormed into the union office inside the factory and three union members were injured and hospitalized. The motorbikes parked outside the union office were also smashed. When the intruders threatened to storm the entire plant, Edi Iriawadi urged the workers to shut down two of the kilns in order to prevent fatalities.  

Local management has misused this incident in order to file a charge against Edi and discredit the local trade union. Edi Iriwadi is now in prison for saving the lives of workers put at risk due to the company’s irresponsible conduct.  

After the incident in September 2012, when leaving the workplace, hundreds of union members received warning letters from management. Dadang Wardiman and Totok Budiharsani are the two key witnesses of the 7 September incident and were sanctioned by the company for no clear reason.  

“We demand that Heidelberg Cement and the Indonesian authorities, stop this dishonourable conduct. If they enter into a conflict with the trade union within the plant, they must solve it by entering into meaningful dialogue and without risking the lives of workers and local people. Set Edi Iriwadi free,”  

said Matthias Hartwich, IndustriALL Director for Mechanical Engineering and Materials Industries.


Significant progress in electricity workers dispute 

May 15, 2013 – Members of the Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas (SME) remain united and are actively participating in the fight for reinstatement.

Last week, union leaders met federal government representatives to continue talks on resolving the dispute, including the proposal to give full retirement rights to 3,000 workers and provide health care for electricity workers.  

Efforts are also being made to reach a political agreement with the country’s other electricity workers’ union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de Electricidad de la República Mexicana (SUTERM), in order to come to an arrangement about the reinstatement of workers who refuse to accept their illegal dismissal.  

A union member, Jorge Eulises Uribe Gaona, who is still in detention, is due to be released next week.  

Martín Esparza Flores, SME general secretary and Humberto Montes de Oca Luna, SME external relations secretary, called on workers to remain united in the fight to win reinstatement.  

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