Holiday Inn Group Reported To UN For Anti Union Behaviour

Holiday Inn owner, IHG reported to United Nations Global Compact for ‘unethical’ anti-trade union behaviour

Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, has lodged a formal complaint to the United Nations Global Compact today (Wednesday 1 May) over the ‘unethical’ anti- trade union behaviour of the world’s fourth largest and richest hotel chain, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), in breach of its obligations under the UN’s international agreement.

The complaint includes a report, Unethical IHG,  which details a decade of poor working practices and deliberate anti-trade union avoidance tactics across IHG’s UK hotel-estate, including housekeepers at a five star IHG-owned hotel being bullied, overworked, and then denied the right to have their grievance heard collectively. 

IHG, which made $27.4bn last year, signed up to the UN Global Compact in 2009, committing to uphold its 10 principles including, principle 3; the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining – a move which helped secure its contract as the official hotel provider for the London Olympics in 2012.

Unite is now urging the UN Global Compact to step in after IHG management’s repeated backtracking on allowing Unite access to the group’s Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels in London to speak to workers, distribute union materials and represent members over nearly a decade of on-off negotiations.

On Friday (3 May) fair hospitality campaigners from Unite will also be greeting shareholders at the group’s annual general meeting (AGM), with a call for the hotel operator to pay its UK staff the real living wage of £9 an hour (£10.55 an hour in London) and recognise the union.

The AGM is taking place at its flagship Intercontinental Park Lane, London W1J 7QY from 11am.

Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull said: “Hotel staff at IHG branded properties, including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, are being bullied, overworked and underpaid. Their right to freedom of association and collective bargaining denied. This is according to a report, Unethical IHG, that Unite has submitted with a complaint to the UN Global Compact over breaches to principle 3; freedom of association and collective bargaining.

“Unite wants to see the UN Global Compact step up and defend the integrity of its corporate sustainability initiative. Companies need to understand that promoting and protecting human rights at work is more than just a box ticking exercise.

“The UN Global Compact has got to mean something. It’s got to be genuine. If it’s not, or companies are allowed to get away with picking and choosing the bits that suit, then the whole thing is devalued.

“When you have room attendants reporting a culture of fear and bullying, with one saying that she is ‘made to feel that I can’t do anything right’, as her manager regularly shouts and asks if ‘she can read properly.’ There is a problem. When union reps are then prevented from speaking up for these very same workers, there is an even bigger problem.

“IHG needs to be a global leader and start working with Unite to root out low pay, work insecurity, bullying and exploitation in its hotels. It’s only by working with the union and living up to its commitments that things can start to change in hospitality.”

A copy of the report can be downloaded at

IHG: Operating under 12 different brands including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, in 100 countries, IHG is the world’s fourth largest hotel management and hotel brand franchisor. Of its 5,600 hotels only eight are directly owned and managed by the company.

According to the group’s most recent results, operating profits are up 8 per cent to $816m, with room growth up 4.8 per cent to 837k, and total gross revenue up 6.6 per cent to $27.4bn.

UN Global Compact: Established in 2000, companies that sign up to the UN Global Compact, commit to promoting 10 universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining which are of particular importance to Unite.

For more information please contact, Unite regional officer Dave Turnbull on 07980 721 427 

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Mexico: Senate Passes New Labour Laws

United Steelworkers ben Davis dressing Mexican unions in 2018.

Thanks to Ben Davis of the United Steelworkers

Mexico’s Senate approved the first changes to the country’s labour laws, a move that U.S. Democrats made as a pre-condition for debating a successor to the NAFTA trade agreement.

The Senate voted in favour of the bill 120 to 0, with two abstentions. It was passed by Mexico’s lower house earlier this month and supported by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The changes give employees the right to vote on their choice of union and their employment contracts through secret ballots. In Mexico protection unions (company fronted unions) signed agreements with employers – many of them from Europe before workers had even been employed. The changes now go to the president for ratification.

Mexican senators passed the bill before the end of their session to allow their counterparts in the U.S. to take up discussion of the trade deal, known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement, before the August recess. Democrats say that while approval of the changes is necessary for a debate on the deal negotiated last year by the Trump administration, they also want to see implementation and enforcement of the legislation.

The labour reform has ample safeguards in place to ensure that workers will finally be represented by their chosen unions, Mario Delgado, the lower house majority leader, said in an interview this month.

A labour annex to the USMCA explicitly requires that workers vote to decide on unions and labour contracts in Mexico, where employees often lack basic representation.

Delgado said that an independent agency and independent courts will replace the current labour board to resolve disputes and register contracts.

Currently the labour board, where government officials, companies and yellow unions hold representation, makes it difficult for workers to organise independently.

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Mexican Unions Form New Movement To Fight Yellow Unions

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, President of Mexico’s biggest trade union Los Mineros (the mining, metals and manufacturing union) who is also a Senator in the new left lead Mexican Government has called on Mexico’s independent trade unions and labour organisations to join in a new movement – the International  Workers Confederation (IWC).  

He called on labour organizations to build on the momentum that the country is experiencing in order to consolidate the rights and gains of trade unions, increase wages and make union democracy a reality, emphasising that it is time to pay the historic debt owed to the working class.

Announcing the First General Assembly of this new group of more than 10,000 members in Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, on April 17th, which was also attended by representatives of Unite and the US and Canadian United Steelworkers union he emphasised the need for the country’s unions to organize and unify, because the transformation has just started and “it is up to the workers to do our part to fully defend our rights.”

He said that the working class must fight to rescue its unions, make its rights a reality, and demonstrate that the only way to do this is through organising, while warning that “unless we have have free unions and unity, we will never be heard by business, the authorities, or society.”

Gómez Urrutia stressed that unions must also internationalise and globalize to defend together the rights of workers in every country and gain greater strength and unity to confront the bosses, and respect for the rights of workers who produce their wealth but are poorly compensated.

Los Mineros is a now member of the global union Workers Uniting with Unite in the UK and Ireland and the United Steelworkers in the USA and Canada.

Unite’s vice chair Jayne Taylor addressed thousands of Los Mineros and United Steelworkers members at the assembly welcoming them into the Workers Uniting family and pledging solidarity and support for Mexican workers fighting against ayellow unions and anti union global corporations exploiting Mexican workers.

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CTUF – IER At Tolpuddle

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CTUF – IER At Durham Miners – Eve Of Gala Rally.

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Bernie Sanders To Ban Anti-Union Laws

US senator Bernie Sanders, who says he intends to run the first ‘unionised presidential campaign in history’, has announced that if elected he will enact legislation to ban the USA’s right to work laws.

When billionaires like the Koch brothers spend millions of dollars successfully lobbying for so-called ‘right to work’ for less laws, they are waging a war on workers,” the Vermont senator said in a speech to the International Association of Machinists union.

Just more than half of U.S. states currently have some form of law banning unionised workplaces from negotiating contracts which require all members who benefit from a union contract from paying dues.

Based upon the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, such laws can now be found in 28 states and in Guam, and they have spread with heavy lobbying from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and prominent Republican donors such as the billionaires Koch brothers.

“When we are in the White House, we are going to pass the Workplace Democracy Act that I will be re-introducing in the Senate,” Sanders told the union.

In a huge blow to unions last year last year, a sharply divided Supreme Court ruled in the case of Janus v. AFSCME that government-employee unions could not force non-member workers to pay bargaining fees – thus enshrining a ‘freeloaders charter’.

“This year we have seen a right-wing think tank try to follow the disastrous Janus decision with another court case that could essentially impose right-to-work on the airline industry. In a Bernie Sanders administration, that will never, ever happen,” he said

The mandatory fees banned by the Janus decision had been in place for more than forty years under the 1977 Supreme Court precedent Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, Justice Samuel Alitoruled was as a violation of the First Amendment – the right of association.

In a dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote ruefully: “The First Amendment was meant for better things.”

“It was meant not to undermine but to protect democratic governance – including over the role of public-sector unions,” she wrote at the time.

President Donald Trump celebrated that decision in July 2018 tweeting in his inimitable manner : “Supreme Court rules in favour of non-union workers who are now, as an example, able to support a candidate of his or her choice without having those who control the union deciding for them. Big loss for the coffers of the Democrats!”

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Keith Ewing & John Hendy Letter On EU Employment Rights

John Hendy QC

Letter To Morning Star

In reply to Kevan Nelson’s letter in the Star on 26th February, no-one is advocating that the judgments of the EU court which are adverse to workers’ and trade union rights should be preserved to inhibit the incoming Labour Government. There are a good number of such adverse decisions. But there are some judgments which fortify workers’ rights.

We had hoped that when we used the phrase ‘no regression on workers’ rights’ it

Professor Keith Ewing

was clear that we meant that there should be a legal requirement that workers’ and trade union rights in the UK after Brexit should be no less favourable than those applicable in the EU. Under a Labour government, it goes without saying that workers’ and trade union rights in the UK will be more favourable than those in the EU and that we will be freed of CJEU decisions such as Alemo-Herron, Viking and Laval.

But for the moment it is necessary to protect against the Conservative government watering down important UK workers’ rights granted (or to be improved) by EU Directives or CJEU decisions. What is required (and what the Tories will not agree) is:

  1. A guarantee after Brexit that every worker in the UK shall enjoy rights in relation to work which are no less favourable than those enjoyed by a comparable worker in the EU. (‘Worker’ to be defined as in EU law (since it is a wider definition) and applicable to those seeking or who have recently left work.)
  2. Any question of whether a UK worker has less favourable rights to those of her EU comparator shall be determined by the UK courts. (The Tories want a vote on a government motion to decide.)
  3. In determining whether a UK worker has less favourable rights than those of her EU comparator the domestic courts will be required to have regard to any relevant jurisprudence of the CJEU. (So the courts will have to give effect to a CJEU decision giving more favourable rights but ignoring one which diminishes ri)
  4. The guarantee shall be enforced by the UK courts on the application of any worker in the UK claiming to be affected.
  5. The guarantee shall be written into the Treaty for leaving the EU.

Prof Keith Ewing and John Hendy QC, Published March 4th

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Unison Response To May’s Brexit – Workers Rights Proposals

Commenting on the government’s announcement about workers’ rights, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: Any guarantees about protecting existing and ensuring future employment rights must be in the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement.

“Anything less, and the promises aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

“European laws have made working in the UK safer and better. Brexit mustn’t mean UK employees become the cheapest to hire and the easiest to fire.

“No-one should be hoodwinked into thinking that this is a good deal for workers. It isn’t.”

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GMB Response To May’s Brexit – Workers Rights Proposals

Tim Roache General Secretary of the GMB

GMB, Britain’s general union, has responded to the Government’s ‘meaningless’ workers’ rights assurances.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said: “No one should be under any illusion – support for the Prime Minister’s bad Brexit deal means swapping strong legal protections on workers’ rights for legally unenforceable tweaks that are not worth the paper they are written on.

“As a trade union we know that assurances on ‘non-regression’ are meaningless if there is no way to enforce them.  These promises would fail to ensure working people’s rights in the UK keep pace with those in our neighbouring countries.

“The crux of this announcement seems to be that Parliament can make new laws if it wants – it can already do that, that’s not a headline, and Ministers on the Government benches have been more interested in removing worker’s rights than protecting them.

“The Government’s deal would see the existing backstop on workers’ rights pulled from beneath people’s feet, with employment protections we all rely on being left to the mercy of whichever hard line Tory takes the reins next.

“History will not be kind to those who risk our rights on a few nods and winks from a lame duck Prime Minister.”

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Unite Response To May’s Brexit – Workers Rights Proposals

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey

Government workers’ rights plans fall woefully short, says Unite

Government proposals to protect workers’ rights after the UK leaves the European Union will do little to stop the mistreatment of workers at the hands of ‘greedy bosses’, the leader of Britain and Ireland’s largest union, Unite said today (Wednesday 6 March).

Responding to the government’s plans, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “After all the talk and media briefing preceding this announcement, it is deeply disappointing that the government appears not to have listened to any of the concerns expressed by trade unions.

“Workers needed assurances but unfortunately all that is on offer is reheated leftover announcements. The mistreatment of workers at the hands of greedy bosses is set to continue.

“The fact remains that workers in the UK have among the poorest protections in Europe, thanks to ‘opt outs’ by successive Westminster governments. This announcement changes that woeful situation not one jot.”

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