CTUF Evening Rally – Leeds, April 28th

CTUF Final Flyer2015 Yorks

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Union Organising In Kenya – Support ITF Affiliate

The International Transport Federation are requesting support in a serious dispute concerning their affiliate the Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers and Allied Workers’ Union and Agility Logistics.

The company says it will recognise the union in Kenya if it gains 50%+1 of the workforce. However at local management level seem to be determined to ensure the union does not reach this level.

An ITF Monitoring Team, has been sent to Kenya and have noted a planned and concerted attack on union organising.

The local company management has so far:

  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Pressured workers to resign from the union
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Ended contracts of casual workers who join the union
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Penalised union activists with short notice transfers
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Initiated company loyalty pledges
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Interfered with union recruitment efforts
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Blamed the union for the delayed payment of wages
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Placed armed police in the cabs next to drivers against possible strike action
  • ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Used the police to bar workers from the workplace

On 1st April, the ITF Team met with the top management of Agility Kenya, led by its CEO, Ali Saibaba Kola who was accompanied by his HR, transport operations and finance managers. Regrettably, however, the ITF’s offer to assist developing productive industrial relations which did not involve both parties becoming embroiled in a series of court cases was not taken up, and a constructive way forward was not found.

They insisted that the union must reach the threshold of recruiting 50%+1 of the employees as prescribed in Kenyan labour law.

It is clear that as the union is getting close to the 50%+1 mark, the company is becoming more desperate in their attempts to prevent this level being reached.

Recent reports say that truck drivers in Kenya working for Agility global integrated logistics were beaten, abducted at gunpoint and forced to drive their trucks to a company workshop. One driver stated: ‚ÄúI knew they wanted us dead‚ÄĚ.

This police brutality follows protests by some 80 Kenyan truckers forced to work shifts of up to 24 hours in Maungu, near Voi and Mai Mahiu. The truckers’ strike action has paralysed Kenya‚Äôs northern corridor. All they want is for Agility to recognise their union and treat them with respect.

ITF affiliates (including Unite in the UK) are supporting the campaign and was part of the ITF team who visited Kenya. Belgian ITF affiliate BTB is sending a delegation to Kenya during the last week of April.

Please support the ITF and the Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers and Allied Workers’ Union and the workers in Agility, as they seek to establish union recognition, collective bargaining and decent working conditions in the industry.

Join the LabourStart campaign by clicking here and send your protest messages to the management.

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Brazil: Unions Call General Strike Against Outsourcing Jobs

unions_demonstrate_outsideFrom IndustriALL Global Union

Trade unions in Brazil and their social movement partners are calling for a general strike on 15th April, after the House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to adopt a bill favouring the liberalization of outsourcing.

The PL 4330 bill sets no limits to outsourcing in private and public sectors. Activities, including those linked to the core business of a company, could be outsourced.

If made law, it could lead to a large-scale replacement of direct permanent workers by outsourced workers with poorer working conditions, less protection and fewer benefits.

Fernando Lopes, IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary, said: The adoption of the PL 4330 Bill marks a step backwards for workers’ rights. Outsourcing represents a real obstacle to freedom of association. IndustriALL supports its affiliates which will mobilize on 15 April to withdraw this bill.

The day before the crucial vote, several IndustriALL Global Union affiliates and their trade union confederations demonstrated in the capital Brasilia in front of the House of the Representatives to try to prevent the PL 4330 bill from being adopted.

They intended to lobby parliament members to postpone the vote and further debate the issue of outsourcing. However, trade unions were denied access to the House of Representatives and that afternoon there were clashes between protestors and the police. Two unionists were detained and three were hurt.

Despite this opposition, the House of Representatives decided not to delay the vote and approved the ‚Äúemergency regime‚ÄĚ to vote rapidly on the bill in plenary session. The bill was approved the next day with 324 votes in favour and 137 against. The government had also tried to postpone the vote without success.

On 14th April, political parties will present modifications on the most controversial points of the bill. Once these modifications will have been discussed and approved, the bill will be submitted to the Senate.

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TPP: Leaked Investment Chapter Exposes Corporate Power Grab

UFThe leaked investment chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – the mega-trade and investment deal currently being negotiated in secret between the United States and eleven Pacific Rim countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam) – fully confirms the views of the IUF and the many other critics of this and similar agreements. It is a corporate power grab seeking to expand the reach and the enforcement muscle of transnational investors, deliberately and misleadingly packaged as a ‘trade agreement’.

The investment chapter, published by WikiLeaks March 25 together with a detailed analysis by Public Citizen, expands the capacity of corporate investors to enforce claims through closed tribunals which can directly challenge laws, regulations and decisions of courts and government licensing and patent authorities of signatory countries at national and sub-national level.

A parallel corporate legal system allows transnational investors to sue governments for ‘compensation’ for any legal or regulatory measure which would impact on current or anticipated future profits. The investor to state dispute resolution mechanism (ISDS), established in regional and bilateral agreements modeled on the 1996 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has been used to devastating effect to challenge governments’ ability to protect the environment, worker and consumer health and safety, affordable medicines, public health care and public land and resources, to promote clean energy and local food systems and to regulate capital flows in the interest of financial stability (examples can be found in the IUF’s Trade Deals that Threaten Democracy)

The leaked text, which incorporates the most toxic elements of earlier, similar treaties, empowers corporations to demand compensation for “indirect expropriation” resulting from any new government regulatory measures or action which might potentially impact profitability, and demand compensation based on “expected” future profit. The corporate claim to “minimum standards of treatment” extracts a binding commitment “not to alter the legal and business environment in which the investment has been made.” Corporations can therefore not only challenge existing laws and regulations; with ISDS they can sue for compensation for “expected losses” resulting from any future government regulatory action. Investment protection, once limited to real property, is expanded to include intellectual property claims, financial assets and regulatory permits.

Despite extensive opposition to TPPA and the related TTIP simultaneously being negotiated between the US and the EU, and unprecedented public debate over ISDS in particular, Public Citizen’s analysis shows that the leaked investment chapter actually offers even more power to investors than the earlier version leaked in 2012. Investment is still under negotiation in the TTIP and the draft has not yet been revealed, but the TPPA chapter offers more than a preview of what to expect.

Corporate investment “rights” are the essence of both these deals. They are not about trade, and they are not about the decent¬† jobs we need.

ISDS offers investors a formidable weapon for further enrichment and for subverting democratic governance. However it is not the only vehicle for enforcing this agenda. Trade and investment agreements also include additional state-to-state investment dispute mechanisms, and investor claims can also be enforced through contracts. The right-wing US Cato Institute has advised corporate lobbyists to quietly abandon ISDS, because it has aroused so much public opposition, and pursue their objectives within the treaty negotiations through these other means. Opponents of these agreements should conclude from this that the treaties as a whole need to be defeated for what they are: a corporate assault on democracy.

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NZ Union Gets Rid Of Zero Hours Contracts For Fast Food Workers

Unite-NZ-zero-hours-banner-1997x570Restaurant Brands ‚Äď which owns the KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl‚Äôs Jr and Starbucks chains ‚Äď has committed to end zero hour contracts by July this year in a new collective agreement negotiated with Unite Union in New Zealand.

The NZ union Unite has 2,000 members at the chain and is recommending the new terms to members in a vote to be held over the next week or so.

The Unite bargaining team was unanimous in its support for the proposal which promises staff at least 80% of the average hours will be guaranteed using a three month rolling average of hours worked up to a maximum of 32 hours a week.

Unfortunately McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s are still refusing to move meaningfully on the issue.

Union members at all three chains have now voted in support of an industrial and public campaign to try and convince these companies that they have to end zero hour contracts also.

Unite is appealing for members of the public to help them in this campaign.

“It is time for New Zealanders to tell these profitable multi-national chains that they need to stop taking advantage of their often young and vulnerable workers and put an end to a labour practice that the people of New Zealand have made clear they find unacceptable.

‚ÄúWe are asking people to go to our website at www.unite.org.nz and sign a letter that will be forwarded to the three holdouts. They may think they can ignore their own workers but they won‚Äôt be able to ignore tens of thousands of fair minded Kiwis who need to tell them to end zero hour contracts now. If Restaurant Brands can do it so can McDonald‚Äôs, BK and Wendy‚Äôs.‚ÄĚ

Unite members will also be joining the international day of action by fast food workers on April 15.

This blog first appeared on the website of Union Solidrity International.

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Labour’s Manifesto For Britain‚Äôs Workplaces

UnknownHere is an edited version of Labour’s ‘A Better Plan For Britain’s Workplaces’, produced by Unite.

The central task for the next Labour government is to build an economy that creates better and more secure jobs and stop the Tory race to the bottom. This race to the bottom is the key factor behind the UK’s low level of investment, training and productivity relative to other advanced economies. Working people are suffering from reduced wages; low pay and insecurity are in turn driving higher government spending on social security to top up wages and reduced income from tax receipts.

  1. Addressing insecurity and unfairness in the workplace
  • More than half of employees are worried about insecure work
  • There are more than 1.8 million zero hours contracts in the economy
  • Britain cannot succeed when working people feel insecure.

Labour will crack down on the worst abuses in our labour market and the first Queen’s Speech will include:

  • A stronger minimum wage
  • Banning exploitative zero hours working. If you work regular hours you will get the right to a regular contract with contractual hours averaged over 12 weeks
  • A review of this to ensure action is taken to stop employers using short hours contracts instead of zero hours
  • Legal rights to workers not to be forced to be available at all hours
  • Legal rights not to have shifts cancelled at short notice without compensation
  • Making it illegal to use agency workers to undercut wages of permanent workers, and illegal for employers to only recruit from overseas
  1. Tackling low pay

In the last five years working people have experienced the biggest fall in wages of any Parliament since the 1870s.

  • Average wages have fallen by ¬£1,600 a year since 2010
  • Half of all new jobs since 2010 have been in low paid sectors
  • One in five workers is low paid and more than a quarter of a million people are estimated to earn less than the legal minimum wage

Labour plan for Britain’s workplaces is to:

  • Set a national goal to halve the number of people in low pay by 2025, lifting over two million people out of low pay
  • Raise the National minimum wage to more than ¬£8 before 2020
  • Introduce new 10p starting rate of tax
  • Use procurement to promote a living wage
  • Extend free childcare for working parents and double paternity leave to four weeks
  • Increase paternity pay so fathers receive the equivalent of a full week‚Äôs work paid at the National Minimum Wage for the four weeks of leave
  1. Justice at work

Labour will:

  • Ensure proper access to justice in the workplace by abolishing the Government‚Äôs employment tribunal fee system
  • Tackle bogus self-employment in construction and elsewhere
  • Set up a full inquiry that is transparent and public to examine the issue of blacklisting
  • Recognising historic cases, release all papers concerning the ‚ÄėShrewsbury 24‚Äô trials
  1. Supporting working families
  • Stagnated wages and rising insecurity have fuelled a cost of living crisis.
  • Full time workers in UK work some of the longest hours in Europe with a long-hours culture long-hours culture in many professions
  • A shortage of well-paid part time jobs, lack of affordable childcare and an outdated parental leave system cause further difficulties for families

Labour will:

  • Double the amount of paid paternity leave to four weeks
  • Expand free child care provision from 15 to 25 hours
  • Introduce a legal guarantee to wraparound care from 8am to 6pm at local primary schools
  1. Promoting partnership and productivity at work

In the long term, economic success will be rooted in high skill, high investment strategies. And Labour recognises that Trade Unions are an essential force for a decent society and as guarantors of jobs and wages.

  • Nearly three-fifths of senior business leaders judge short-termism to be a major impediment to growth
  • A chief executive in the FTSE 100 earn on average over 130 times their average employee
  • Just 27 percent of employees feel that they have a say over how their work is organised

Labour will:

  • Put employee representatives on remuneration committees
  • Reduce short-term pressure to turn a quick profit
  • Improve the link between pay and performance and ensure executive pay packages are transparent by publishing the ratio of the total pay of their top earner compared to their average employees
  • Where recognised, ensure Unions play a role in facilitating elections, as well as supporting the training of employee representatives
  • Give investors a duty to act in the interests of ordinary savers and prioritise the long-term growth of companies
  • Change takeover rules by restricting voting to investors who already hold shares
  • Require investment and pension fund managers to disclose how they vote and introduce binding votes on remuneration packages
  • Review implementation and operation of information and consultation regulations
  • Reverse the Department for International Development‚Äôs decision to withdraw funding from the ILO
  • Tackle short-termism by reforming takeover rules
  1. Supporting young people into work
  • Young people‚Äôs wages have fallen by over 8 per cent since 2010
  • Just one in ten employers in England provide apprenticeships
  • Proportion of apprenticeships taken up by young people has fallen significantly from 82 per cent of all apprenticeships in 2010 to 63 per cent last year.
  • A quarter of apprentices aged 19-24 receive no training at all.

Labour will:

  • Introduce a new apprenticeship Guarantee so that all those that get the grades at 18 are able to access a new high quality apprenticeship
  • Ensure that every firm that gets a large government contract to offer apprenticeships
  • Require large firms recruiting skilled workers from outside the Europe Union to invest in apprenticeships in the UK.
  • Make sure that apprenticeships can lead to higher level qualifications
  • Improve technical training for young people
  • Ensure the government creates thousands more apprenticeships in the public sector
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United Steelworkers On New Generation Of Trade Deals

Leo Gerard, President of the United Steelworkers talks about the new generation of trade agreements, the reaction of unions in the USA to the Obama administration efforts to secure ‚Äúfast track‚ÄĚ authority that would expedite deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.‚ÄāMr.‚ÄāGerard spoke via video link from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – forty minute interview.

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Cardiff Evening Rally. April 13th

CTUF Flyer2015 Cardiff

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AFL-CIO and Canadian Labour Congress Joint Statement On TTIP, CETA. TPP


AFL-CIO and Canadian Labour Congress joint statement on promoting trade deals that put people before profits

Sent in by Gail Cartmail

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), support and welcome trade and economic policies that create good, family-wage jobs, strengthen protection for internationally-recognized labor rights (including freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining), protect our environment, and promote shared prosperity and a virtuous cycle of rising wages and rising demand.

Having lived through NAFTA and its progeny for 20 years, we also know the danger of destructive economic rules that expand the rights and privileges of multinational corporations at the expense of working families, communities, and the environment.  Neoliberal economic policies, including many of the rules enshrined in NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, have promoted a race to the bottom in terms of wages, labor rights, environmental protection, and public interest regulation.

That is why we join together today to announce our unrelenting support for different rules in three pending trade deals involving either the United States or Canada or both: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (CETA), and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Of the rules tilted against labor and for global capital in these proposed agreements, one of the most egregious is investor-to-state dispute settlement, or ISDS.  ISDS provides extraordinary legal rights to foreign investors so that they can seek taxpayer reimbursement for losses to expected profits from laws, regulations, administrative decisions or virtually any other government measure.  The rights protected go far beyond traditional property rights and its private tribunals are staffed not by professional jurists sworn to promote the public interest, but by for-profit attorneys, many of whom represent investors when they are not sitting in judgment.

The U.S. and Canada first incorporated this separate but unequal system into a comprehensive trade deal in NAFTA, and today, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are each in the top eleven most-challenged nations under the ISDS system.  Such extreme rights to challenge democracy are not good for domestic businesses (which cannot use this private justice mechanism), not good for citizens (who may see popular policies withdrawn by governments in order to avoid adverse judgments), and not good for rule of law (which is undermined by the separate parallel system for foreign investors only).

We are pleased to reaffirm cross-border cooperation in the struggle for people and planet centered trade and will not cease in our efforts to promote good jobs, rising wages, strong social safety nets, state-of-the-art public services and infrastructure, and an end to corporate power grabs like ISDS in all pending trade and investment agreements.

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EPSU: Where is the statement on excluding public services on TTIP and TiSA?

imagesThe European Public Services Union has issued the following statement on TTIP and TiSA

EPSU notes the EU –¬† US joint statement on public services agreed on 20 March as¬†a step towards securing necessary protection for these services in trade agreements.

The statement recognises that defining the balance between public and private services is up to the discretion of each government and that trade agreements should not impede governments to adopt or maintain regulations to ensure the high quality of services and to protect important public interest objectives.

However, the statement does not say how the negotiators are going to ensure in practice that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) do not impact negatively on public services. The Commissioner and Ambassador do not offer new and clear text to show that  the statement is more than part of the public relations exercise agreed in the European Council.

For EPSU a complete carve out of public services such as water and waste services, education, healthcare and social services from trade agreements is necessary. In the next weeks the European Parliament will be discussing its position on TTIP and EPSU will be supporting amendments that demand such an exclusion.

For more information click here. 

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