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Trade Union Rights August 2021

A win-win for young refugees and local farmers

On 2nd August, ILO News reported that the third of their ILO in Action series of video stories took them to an ILO refugee project located in Bassikounou, Mauritania. Led by ILO Chief Technical Advisor, Federico Barroeta, the project trains young people in building public infrastructure. It was noted that in the locality of Lemkhaiss, they were helping to build a dam that would benefit livestock agriculture, the development of seasonal farming and would also reduce risks linked to flooding.

 

Broad support for higher taxes on corporations to fund job training and healthcare, ITUC poll shows

On 2nd August it was reported by ITUC that more than two thirds of people supported an increase in taxes for wealthy and large corporations to fund areas such as education, job training and healthcare, according to a new ten-country poll commissioned by the ITUC.ll

It was said that the question, “to what extent, if at all, would you support or oppose increasing taxes for wealthy and large corporations to fund areas such as education, job training and healthcare?”, had been put to over 12,000 respondents in ten countries.

It was noted that sixty-nine per cent of people had supported the statement, while only 10% had opposed the idea and a further 16% had neither supported nor opposed and 5% hadn’t known.

 

Tunisia: Dialogue essential to resolve crisis

On 2nd August the ITUC reported that it was calling on the Tunisian authorities to urgently convene a broad and inclusive process of dialogue to steer the country out of its current political crisis.

It was noted that on 25 July, Tunisia’s Republic Day, tens of thousands of young people had gathered in public squares to demand government action on health, jobs, deteriorating living conditions and increasing poverty. It wass aid that particular blame had been focused on the main government political force, the Ennahda Islamist party.

It was further reported that at the end of that day, President Kais Saied had dissolved the government, suspended parliament and assumed executive, legislative and judicial powers for a renewable period of one month.

It was said that the ITUC’s Tunisian affiliate the UGTT had been active in the national debate about constitutional solutions to restore institutional stability and navigate a path out of the political crisis and the economic crisis that is at the core of the public discontent. It was noted that the UGTT had convened legal experts to prepare proposals for public discussions towards a “roadmap” to tackle the multiple crises, including rooting out growing corruption.

 

A year on from the Beirut blast, ILO helps create a safer city

On 4th August ILO News reported that after the explosion that had devastated parts of the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4th 2020, the International Labour Organization had mobilized its Employment Intensive Infrastructure Programme to clear the rubble, and in the process created decent jobs and hope for Lebanese nationals and Syrian refugees. It was noted that the organization continued to work with the authorities to restore livelihoods and create a safer city.

 

ILO honours the victims of the Beirut port explosion

On 4th August, ILO News reported that the ILO had joined other UN agencies to honour those who lost their lives and their loved ones in last year’s Beirut port blast, and paid tribute to the women and men who had lost their properties, jobs and livelihoods. It was noted that ILO Regional Director Ruba Jaradat had taken part in a memorial event at the location of the tragic explosion.

 

eSwatini: Trade unions global day of action

On 5th August ITUC reported that trade unions around the world were holding a global day of action to back the people of eSwatini in their demand for a democratic government.

It was said that on 6 August, letters would be sent to the eSwatini government supporting the protesters’ demands and to foreign governments explaining those demands and calling for urgent pressure on the eSwatini government. The letters can be downloaded here.

ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, was reported as saying: “Firstly, the violence must stop, it must be properly investigated and the government must listen to the people and begin the journey to a democratic eSwatini.

The pro-democracy campaign in eSwatini is not new, and sadly neither is the violent response. But this pattern will continue until the government formally commits to negotiating with the eSwatini trade unions, civil society and political parties to agree a roadmap to democracy. They must do this now, this demand for democracy by the people will not go away.”

It was noted that the ITUC backs the demands of the eSwatini trade union movement:

  • An end to the ongoing intimidation, threats of arrest, raids, and brutal beatings of pro-democracy campaigners by all agents of the government.

  • The release of all protestors detained by the army and the police.

  • An independent, UN-supervised investigation into the violence, murders and detentions.

  • The unbanning of political parties as a first step to a negotiated, political settlement.

  • A signed formal commitment by the government to a negotiated political reform process with eSwatini trade unions, civil society and political parties.

It was also noted that the appalling state of human and trade union rights in eSwatini was set out in the ITUC Global Rights Index and in a report drafted to support a Commonwealth Trade Union Group campaign to suspend eSwatini from the Commonwealth.

Rich Trumka

In the wake of the devastating news of the death of Richard Trumka, a union giant, brother and friend, we stand in solidarity and support of Rich’s family and the US labour movement.

On 6th August ITUC reported that Rich Trumka had passed away. It was noted that Rich had served from 1995 as AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer and since 2009 as its President. It was stated that he was already a living legend among the members of his beloved United Mine Workers of America and knew firsthand the hardships and the danger of this work.

The son of a migrant, Rich was also said to be a great internationalist and that his leadership within the ITUC and as President of TUAC had spanned more than two decades. It was argued that throughout his life, he was a tireless advocate and

campaigner for workers’ rights and the values of inclusion, equality, fairness and democracy that are at the heart of the trade union movement.

The loss of Rich Trumka was said to be an immense blow to the union movement internationally. The ITUC expressed their deepest condolences to his family and all those with whom he workedand noted that he would be sorely missed.

 

Indigenous peoples can help build a ‘better future’

On 9 August it was noted by ILO news that that day commemorated International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. It was said that they had been hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis but are key partners in building a ‘better normal’ that respected their rights and ensured access to decent work.

 

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples: time to uphold and enforce rights

On 9th August ITUC reported that they were celebrating the cultural and linguistic richness of indigenous populations. ITUC went on to say that they recognised their knowledge of the natural world that could provide leadership and guidance to preserve ecosystems in the face of the environmental climate crisis.

It was argued that for too long indigenous people had been routinely oppressed and marginalised in intersecting ways, creating a legacy of centuries of systematic subjugation, disregard of culture and abuse of their lands by colonial and neo-colonial powers.

It as noted that across the world indigenous groups are refused the right to self-governance or access to land they have been a part of for countless generations. From Paraguay to Palestine, it was said that they had been dispossessed by corporate expansionism or imperialist states. It was also noted that many of the world’s 476 million indigenous people, forced into statelessness, are robbed of the right to decent health care and employment protections.

It was furrher argued that many are displaced as their land, and the income they could earn from it, is stolen or poisoned such as in South America’s Amazon and that extraction and pollution of these territories is a threat to us all as it contributes to climate change and ecological breakdown.

It was also noted that indigenous peoples face etreme forms of expoloitation; for example in Guatemala, Cameroon and Nepal discriminatory laws and practices trap them in debt bondage or slave-like labour conditions.

 

Digital labour platforms offer young refugees a possible route to decent work

Digital labour platforms have the potential to transform how young refugees make a living according to a new ILO report, but coordinated action is needed to help them access the gig economy, and decent digital jobs.

On 12th August, ILO News reported that the digital economy could provide job opportunities for many young refugees but ensuring decent working conditions would require new directions in thinking and action, said a new ILO report.

The report, Towards decent work for young refugees and host communities in the digital platform economy in Africa: Kenya, Uganda, Egypt , was said to find that digital gig work had the potential to generate income for refugees. It was further noted that since they often struggled to enter local labour markets, refugees may have turned to prominent digital platforms such as Jumia or Upwork in the absence of local livelihood opportunities.

However, it was also noted that there are two major concerns relating to refugee’s work on digital platforms; decent work deficits and a lack of connectivity.It was said that Kenya, Uganda and Egypt, the three countries studied in the report, had all invested heavily in the digital economy and had adopted national strategies for increasing digital access, but in 2020 only 22.5 per cent of the Kenyan population had been using the internet, compared with 57 per cent in Egypt and 24 per cent in Uganda.

 

International Youth Day: A New Social Contract building recovery and resilience with young people

On 12th August ITUC reported that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, young people had seen their income, work, education, training and work-based learning, mental health and well-being severely affected by the socio-economic consequences of the crisis.

It was noted that globally, millions of young workers, in particular young women, had lost jobs and income as they are heavily concentrated in sectors and occupations – such as retail, hospitality, leisure, and tourism - that had been the hardest hit by COVID-19 shutdowns.

It was argued that even before the pandemic, young people’s work had been characterised by insecurity, low wages, inadequate or no access to social protection and no access to a trade union. It was said that the majority of the world’s young people had been in the informal economy and young women had been more likely than young men to be in insecure, low-paying jobs.

It was noted that the pandemic had simply exacerbated the pre-existing challenges they had faced. It was sreported that compared with older workers, young workers were more than twice as likely to have lost their jobs during the pandemic while those who still had a job had seen their working conditions deteriorate. It was said that young people who had been about to enter the labour market as the pandemic hit had been left with few employment options.

 

International Youth Day: A New Social Contract building recovery and resilience with young people

On 12th August, ITUC reported that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, young people had seen their income, work, education, training and work-based learning, mental health and well-being severely affected by the socio-economic consequences of the crisis.

It was also reported that globally, millions of young workers, in particular young women, had lost jobs and income as they are heavily concentrated in sectors and occupations – such as retail, hospitality, leisure, and tourism - that had been the hardest hit by COVID-19 shutdowns.

It was noted that even before the pandemic, young people’s work had been characterised by insecurity, low wages, inadequate or no access to social protection and no access to a trade union. The majority of the world’s young people it was said had been in the informal economy and young women had been more likely than young men to be in insecure, low-paying jobs.

It was argued that the pandemic had simply exacerbated the pre-existing challenges they had faced. Compared with older workers, young workers were said to be more than twice as likely to have lost their jobs during the pandemic while those who still had a job had seen their working conditions deteriorate. Young people who were about to enter the labour market as the pandemic hit were said to have been left with few employment options.

It was noted that for young people who were more exposed to exploitation and abuse due to intersecting discrimination based on age, gender, disability and migrant status, the pandemic hasd taken an even greater toll.

It was reported that there were fears that the pandemic would leave a lasting mark on the most vulnerable people in the world of work, and in society at large and coupled with the devastating impacts of climate change, young people’s future looks uncertain unless urgent and bold action is taken.

 

ITUC declares arrest warrant against KCTU President “wrong and disproportionate.”

The issuing of an arrest warrant against KCTU Korea President, Yang Kyeung-soo, by the Seoul Central District Court is wrong and disproportionate.

 

On 14th August, the ITUC reported that the warrant allowed police to detain Yang for an initial ten days of interrogation over the holding of a 3 July demonstration to demand a moratorium on dismissal of workers, and urgent action to protect lives and livelihoods during the pandemi.

It was noted that the demonstration had been socially distanced, participants had worn masks and follow-up confirmed there had been no coronavirus transmission from the event.

ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, was reported as saying: “The proceedings against Yang, egged on by conservative media, should stop and the authorities should heed the call of workers seeking protection and support.”

 

Afghanistan: International community must act to defend human rights

On 17th August the ITUC reported that ITUC had welcomed a call by UN Secretary-General António Guterres for “all possible tools” to be used to stop human rights atrocities in Afghanistan, where the Taliban had rapidly taken control of the country after decades of international intervention.

Mr Guterres was reported as speaking at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, was reported as saying: “It is absolutely urgent that the international community act to forestall further human rights abuses. Women and girls have already been subjected to violence, and Secretary-General Guterres has spoken of “chilling” reports of human rights violations. Inevitably, many people will try to flee to safety, and countries must be willing to assume their responsibilities under international law to protect and accept refugees.

We will do everything we can to ensure the safety of our sisters and brothers in the Afghanistan trade union movement.”

Along with the appalling prospects facing the people of Afghanistan, the ITUC said that it was concerned that the Taliban’s takeover threatened to further destabilise the region, and the fact that so much of its funding comes from the opium trade meant there is a high risk of a substantial increase in the global illicit narcotics trade

 

Belarus repression intensifies

One year after Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in flawed presidential elections, the repression of independent trade unions and other civil society organisations has intensified.

On 17th August ITUC reported that the authorities were dissolving the journalists’ union BAJ and had arrested more than 20 democracy supporters in recent days. In addition, it was noted thsat on 14th July, Nikolai Sharakh, chairperson of the Free Trade Union of Belarus, whad been detained for 72 hours and accused of criminal activities. Sharankh’s union was said to be a member of the ITUC-affiliated BKDP union centre.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow was reported as saying: “The Belarusian authorities seem determined to crush legitimate trade union activities in defiance of the findings and recommendations of the International Labour Organization at its annual conference this year.

Systematic repression of the BKDP is being accompanied by a disinformation campaign aimed at its leadership. Belarus under Lukashenko has a record of flouting international labour standards, including failing to implement key findings of a 2004 ILO Commission of Inquiry.

Trade unionists, including Igor Povarov, Alexander Bobrov and Yevgeny Govor, are still imprisoned for exercising the right to strike, which is protected in international law but suppressed by the Lukashenko administration. Governments need to step up pressure on the government to respect international labour standards, including the right to strike, and cease the campaign of repression.”

 

ILO to launch World Social Protection Report 2020-22

On 24th Augsut, the ILO announced that it would issue its "World Social Protection Report 2020-22: Social protection at the crossroads – in pursuit of a better future" on Wednesday 1 September. It was said that, “this flagship report gives a global overview of recent developments in social protection systems, including social protection floors, and covers the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Sierra Leone is founding crisis recovery and resilience on international labour standards

Sierra Leone’s historic ratification of 9 ILO instruments was marked in a virtual ceremony with the ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder.

On 25th August, ILO News reported thsat Sierra Leone had made a very significant move towards recognizing, promoting and implementing decent work for women and men in the country by ratifying 8 ILO Conventions and one Protocol.

 

Learning from the best: ILO’s SCORE and APINDO’s digital Master Class series attract 350 businesses from the culinary and fashion industries

On 26th August, ILO News reported that In cooperation with the Indonesian Employers’ Association (APINDO), the ILO’s SCORE Programme had provided digital trainings to assist hundreds of culinary and fashion micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to maintain their productivity during the pandemic.

 

It noted that culinary business was one of the businesses that had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To assist micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to elevate their business practices, the ILO’s Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE)  Programme and the Employer’s Association of Indonesia (APINDO) were said to have provided a series of online trainings.

 

 

World Day for Decent Work: Just Jobs

On 27th August, ITUC reported that with more than 200 million jobs lost to the pandemic, another hundred million still at risk and large numbers of unemployed people – the vast majority of whom are women – simply dropping out of the labour market, the World Day for Decent Work on 7 October will call on every government to develop jobs plans.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow was reported as saying: “Governments must have one overriding priority, and that is jobs. They need to recommit to full employment. This provides the basis for economic security and for social justice.

The ITUC demand is a target of 565 million jobs and the formalisation of at least half of informal jobs by 2030. That’s the only way to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goal 8, and reaching Goal 8 is the key to reaching the other SDGs.

Trade unions are calling on governments to get around the table with unions, employers and others to set ambitious targets to create and retain jobs as a matter of urgency. And then they need to meet those targets by ensuring the creation of climate-friendly jobs to stabilise the planet and deliver a zero-carbon economy.

There must be a strong focus on employment in the vitally important care sector and in infrastructure. Our jobs demand is achievable, in particular if governments pursue tax policies that are equitable instead of designed to allow a tiny number of people to hoard hundreds of billions of dollars by avoiding tax. That revenue could kick-start job creation.”

 

Greece ratifies the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention and the Violence and Harassment Convention

On 30 August 2021, ILO news reported that on that day, the Government of Greece had deposited with the Director General of the ILO, the instruments of ratification of the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (No. 187)  and the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190) .

It was noted that in depositing the instruments of ratification, H.E. Mr Panayotis Stournaras, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Greece in Geneva, had stated: “It is an honour for me to have the opportunity to present these ratification instruments of two most important ILO Conventions. Greece acknowledges the importance of promoting occupational safety and health and pledges to further enhance its efforts towards fighting violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment, in the world of work and elsewhere. The promotion and protection of human dignity, gender equality and the empowerment of women constitutes one of the core national priorities of the Greek state.”

 

Compiled by Peter Sagar, A Living Tradition CIC, August 2021

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