IndustriALL News #25

IndustriALL Global Union

IndustriALL Headlines # 25, January 10, 2013

Indonesian Bridgestone Workers Win Permanent Employment

On 28 December 2012, 997 temporary workers employed at two Bridgestone Tyre plants in Karawang and Bekasi, Indonesia gained permanent employment.

This change in employment status is a major breakthrough in industrial relations in Indonesia and a great victory for IndustriALL Global Union affiliate KEP SPSI, which represents 3,250 Bridgestone workers across the two plants.

The union at Bridgestone has been dealing with the issue of temporary employment since 2008, following its involvement in the Asia and Social Dialogue Project and the Contract and Agency Labour project conducted by ICEM, now IndustriALL Global Union. The union tried to implement the knowledge acquired from the training delivered as part of the projects. According to the national labour legislation, dated to 2003, the use of agency workers on a production line is illegal in Indonesia. However this law was not observed by the company.

Following a series of negotiations in July 2011, the management promised to stop recruiting new agency workers on the production line and started preparations to change the employment status of existing agency workers into permanent positions through social dialogue with the trade union. At the time 200 agency workers gained permanent employment.

Throughout 2012 the union and company continued negotiations, which were bolstered when in November 2012 the Ministry of Manpower issued a decree stating that companies could use agency workers only in five job categories: security, cleaning, catering, assistant work in supporting systems of the mining sector, and transport services.

After reaching agreement in December 2012, 997 short-term contract and agency workers gained permanent positions. These workers received severance payment and their period of employment is to be calculated based on their first day of entering the company. According to the union, there are still 171 workers employed by the company through labour agencies working as drivers and security guards. The union is planning to negotiate for these workers in January 2013.

Precarious work in Indonesia is a nation-wide issue. Thanks to the union struggle and the landmark ruling of the Constitutional Court made in January 2012 that outsourcing work is against workers’ rights, a lot of trade unions in Indonesia have succeeded in changing their members’ temporary jobs into permanent ones.

In a landmark decision on January 17, the Indonesian Constitutional Court, ruled that out-sourcing work is unconstitutional and against workers’ rights as enshrined in the Indonesian Constitution.


Hunger Strike Launched at PKC in Mexico

01-10-2013:  Ten members of the Mexican national union of mineworkers, Los Mineros, sacked by Finnish-based PKC before Christmas started a hunger strike on 8 January in protest of the union-busting.

As reported by IndustriALL on 20 December 2012, Finnish-based auto parts multinational PKC sacked the entire Executive Committee of Section 307 of Los Mineros in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila state, in the week before Christmas. The aggressive union-busting move included the dismissal of 122 workers seen to support the union in retaliation for their organizing efforts.

Section 307 of Los Mineros has been battling to organize the PKC plant; on 18 October a workplace election was narrowly won by the yellow union CTM by 2,509 to 2,311 votes after three months of strong intimidation, threats and persecution by management and the CTM against voting for Los Mineros. This anti-union persecution was carried out with the support of local state government headed by Rubén Moreira.

All workers who served as union observers on 18 October were dismissed in December, as well as other workers listed as potential observers. These names were transmitted to the Mexican labour authorities by the union, and were clearly then passed to the company in a serious breach of law and trust.

The Federal Labour Board was present in the office of the PKC human resources as each of the 122 workers was summoned individually and pressured into signing a voluntary resignation letter. There is no question that the mass sacking was in direct retaliation for trade union activities, and for no other reason.

Workers on hunger strike since 8 January are: Jesús Rogaciano Ibarra Quintero, Encarnación Escobedo Muñoz, Gerardo Hinojosa Morales, Ana María Méndez Pacheco, Josefina Martínez Hernández, Alejandro Ojeda Ramírez, Rodolfo Luna Martínez, Javier Díaz Gómez, Sergio Hernández García, María de la Paz Calvillo Solano and Juan Carlos Palomino Cansino.

IndustriALL Global Union demands that PKC management immediately reinstate all unfairly dismissed workers, members of Los Mineros, and call for a fair workplace trade union election, to be monitored by an international observer committee.

This latest scandalous union-busting is an example of the abuse of workers’ rights in Mexico that will unite trade unions around the world during the week of 18-24 February marking the “Mexico Days of Action”. Follow the IndustriALL website in the coming weeks to join the global action.

During the Days of Action trade unionists will revisit the Mexican Ambassador to their country and push for action on:

  • The outstanding ILO complaint no. 2694 on Protection Contracts
  • Pasta de Conchos justice
  • Rejecting the recent regressive labour law reforms

Actions will also include mobilizations, awareness raising activities, and letter writing to the new Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Expectations are heightened inside Mexico of positive changes that the new Peña Nieto government can bring for workers and trade unions in the country. The international call in February will echo this call.


Colombian Union USO Reaches Agreement

1-10-2013: The violent 4-month labour conflict between Unión Sindical Obrera de la Industria Petróleo (USO) and oil field services contractor Termotécnica ended in agreement on 22 December 2012.

USO dedicated the new deal to the memory of Milton Parra Rivas, the USO activist leading the permanent workers’ assembly at Termotécnica, assassinated by gunmen on 11 December 2012 because of his role in the labour conflict.

IndustriALL Global Union mobilized affiliates and supporters in solidarity with USO’s 1,100 members in the Colombian municipality of Puerto Gaitán on several occasions during the four-month conflict, and joined bargaining sessions to demonstrate the international support for USO to the company.

Hundreds of letters to the Termotécnica management were sent through the IndustriALL website’s Take Action page. International efforts were taken by IndustriALL and Spanish affiliates to pressure the company CEPCOLSA to which Termotécnica supplied services, and CEPCOLSA’s parent company in Spain CEPSA. Each of the three sets of management refused to bargain in good faith with USO, in breach of Colombian labour law.

There was shocking complicity between local management, military, police and local authorities in attempting unsuccessfully to break the strike. The main factor in winning the new collective agreement was USO’s unity and strength. Workers were offered economic incentives to quit the USO and return to work. The employers hired new workers with better salary conditions in order to replace striking employees.

The 22 December agreement ended the conflict and includes very significant advances for USO’s members at the contractor, although some union demands were dropped to reach the deal. The deal states the management’s recognition of USO as its representative industrial relations partner, confirms management’s responsibility for the workers’ residential camps, and assures respect for all contract workers of smaller firms paid by Termotécnica.

The agreement sets out 512,000,000 Colombian Pesos (or 221,000 euros) to be distributed among the 254 Termotécnica workers through various mechanisms. The agreement commits management to not take any reprisal measures against union members for their role in the conflict, or any other anti-union tactics.

IndustriALL salutes USO for this important victory and thanks those that took action in support of USO.


Union Recognized at Standard Profil in Turkey

1-10-2013: IndustriALL’s affiliate Petrol-?? gained legal recognition as the union representing workers at Standard Profil in Turkey at the end of December 2012 and has commenced collective negotiations after a four-year organizing campaign.

The official certificate of recognition, issued by the Turkish Ministry of Labour, reached the union on 20 December 2012 after a local court ruled that Petrol-?? has the required legal majority for conducting collective bargaining negotiations at Standard Profil in Turkey.  

The union had organized more than 50 per cent of Standard Profil’s 2,300 Turkish workers from the plant in Düzce and a sister factory in Bursa, and gained formal certification of recognition by March 2011, as required under trade union laws in Turkey.  

Nevertheless the company then engaged in legal challenges to the certification in an effort to block workers from their legitimate workplace rights and sacked 37 union activists inside the larger Düzce factory during the organizing period. The judiciary process decided that the majority of union members were dismissed for unjustified reasons and the company must reinstate them.  

Some years earlier, Petrol-??, with the support provided by its national centre and global union, lodged a complaint with the World Bank’s International Financial Corporation (IFC). The IFC and the accompanying Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) loaned the company development money, and criteria under that loan requires the company live up to social and environment standards. After assessment, a compliance office for IFC/MIGA determined that managers must undertake awareness and education efforts regarding labour rights and work conditions, which took place in 2008 and 2009.  

Petrol-?? celebrated its victory, including gaining an additional 2,000 new members, at a large rally on 24 December 2012 of all members in the city of Düzce, where the company operates its biggest factory. IndustriALL Global Union’s Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan was one of the attendees of the rally.  

“Over the last four years, our united strength has played a vital role for this success,” said Mustafa Özta?k?n, President of Petrol-Is in his letter to IndustriALL. “We are aware that the road to victory has been paved with your decisive and determined solidarity and contributions. Many thanks for your solidarity and valuable contributions to our struggle,” Özta?k?n added.

Standard Profil is a Turkish-based multinational supplier of automotive sealing systems producing for major automakers such as Audi, BMW, Citroen, Daimler, Fiat, Ford, GM, Mercedes, Nissan, Opel.  The company recently purchased some plants of Spanish Kaufil.


Organizing Campaign at DESA in Turkey Continues

1-10-2013:  IndustriALL continues to give full support to the organizing campaign of its Turkish affiliate Deri-Is at leather good company DESA that produces for international brands.

An IndustriALL TAKE ACTION campaign in December, supported by LabourStart, which remains activated, resulted in more than 3,000 protest messages being sent to DESA by the end of 2012, prompting the company to meet with IndustriALL and Deri-Is in Istanbul on 7 January 2013.

At the meeting, the global and national unions put presented concrete cases on how workers are being pressured when they use their basic right of freedom of association at both plants. The company management continued to claim that its behaviour has always been in accordance with national legislation without any violation on fundamental rights and freedoms. The unions urged the company to:

  • stop all threats and violations against workers;
  • jointly organize meetings with all the workers to guarantee them that they have right to join union on their choice;
  • sign a collective agreement with Deri-Is on behalf of its members;
  • recognize union representatives inside the plants; and
  • give chance Deri-Is to access to its members by entering into factories.

DESA management declared that even though international standards require it, as a Turkish entity, they will continue to act on the basis of national legislation. However the company management said they would make an evaluation, and return back to IndustriALL and Deri-Is.

Earlier, IndustriALL Global Union’s Assistant General Secretary Kemal Özkan travelled to Turkey to meet Deri-Is and workers at DESA plants in Düzce and Sefaköy in December. At individual meetings, workers explained how their rights have been violated by the company through threats and intimidation by middle level managers and chiefs at the plants. Union members also provided documents that illustrate the local managers’ attitudes against union organizing.

On 24 December 2012 a press conference was organized in front of the DESA plant in Düzce with involvement of union members, Deri-Is officials, local community supports as well as IndustriALL Global Union. Managers prevented workers from attending the conference by locking the outside gates of the plant during the lunch break. In his statement, President of Deri-Is, Musa Servi, announced that in spite of all pressures, DESA workers show strong interest to join his union.

“We have demonstrated all our goodwill to the company for a genuine dialogue on the basis of international labour standards,” said IndustriALL Global Union’s Kemal Özkan. “If meaningful progress is not made, our campaign will continue until Deri-Is is recognized by DESA as bargaining partner,” he added

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