Hong Kong Labor Supports Ongoing Struggle for Democracy

Ed. note: Although students and young people formed the tenacious shock troops of the Umbrella Movement for democracy in Hong Kong, they received strong support from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU). This press statement from the HKCTU commits the labor confederation to the ongoing struggle.

The new era of Democratic Movement begins

umbrella_movement_699_524

HKCTU leaders and members who were arrested at the 75-day Admiralty occupation on Dec 11th 2014 while they stayed with other protesters to resist the police to clean up the occupation zone, were all released on Dec 12th 2014. Ending of the occupation was just a beginning of a new era of the movement for true democracy.

It was reported that 247 protesters were arrested on Dec 11 and 7 of them from HKCTU: General Secretary Lee Cheuk Yan, Chief Executive Mung Siu Tat, Bar Bender Workers Union Chairperson Wong Wai Man, Community Care and Nursing Workers Union Ar Dick, Van Delivery Workers Unions Simpson, Organizing Secretary Fredrik Fan and a volunteer Wu Sui Ming. They all were released in 12 hours without any charges. After the release, the two leaders of HKCTU made the following comments.

Brother Mung Siu Tat reflected that, “I have been fighting for labour rights over 20 years in my life time seeing how the workers were exploited by bosses and unfair systems. If we would accept the ‘fake universal suffrage’ proposal from the National People’s Congress, the policy making will still be business leaning, as the big corporates are the few but powerful nominators. It implies universal labour rights, such as standard working hours, right to collective bargaining, universal pension fund, would continue to be “blocked” by the functional constituencies. When the roads are occupied, bailiff and the police would conduct the clearance, yet, what happen if our democratic rights and labour rights are “blocked”? If we don’t join force, who can clear up the road to democracy and labour rights? We have to open our roads by our peoples’ power.”

Brother Lee Cheuk Yan said that, “the authorities can use police to clean up the protest site but they cannot kill the spirit and courage of people for democracy. It is going to be tough in future, we have to prepare that the government will use rules and orders as tools for suppressing the social activists and civil society after this battle. At the same time, we see hopes from the active political participation and strong leaderships of youngsters in this movement. HKCTU will try to reach out to the young activists among working class so as to build up an emerging and powerful trade union movement in Hong Kong”.

umbrella supporters

There were a lot of solidarity actions locally and internationally to call for immediate release of the protesters. HKCTU is very thankful to IUF for launching the online petition to show international solidarity to HK democratic struggles. HKCTU will continue the struggle with all working class, students and citizens in Hong Kong to fight for universal suffrage of Chief Executive and Legislative Council in 2017 and 2018.

Capitalism is Crazy

Capitalism: A Love Story

Capitalism: A Love Story (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An important article in NY Times documents how a U.S. company is destroyed sending jobs overseas. California Teachers Retirement System is part of the destroyer team.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/07/business/timken-bows-to-investors-and-splits-in-two.html?_r=0

Timken Steel of Canton Ohio.

…If he can’t, or if another company comes along with an offer too rich to refuse, Mr. Timken acknowledges what many in Canton would rather not say out loud. “If the number is big enough, the board is going to have to look at it and say, ‘Ugh, O.K., unless you can show me a plan that’s better than that, we’re going to take it,’ ” he said. “We’re a publicly traded company.”

As in all publicly traded companies, TimkenSteel’s board and top executives have a fiduciary duty to shareholders to maximize both profits and investor returns. For many companies in the region, that has meant cutting costs and moving production to places where labor is cheaper. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, for example, was founded in nearby Akron in 1898, but Goodyear hasn’t made regular tires in the onetime rubber capital of the world in more than three decades….

“The professor said we’d all be bankers and consultants and lawyers and health care professionals,” Mr. Timken recalled. “There’s a role for those people, but the ripple effect of manufacturing is dramatically higher than the ripple effect of banking. It creates wealth. And countries that have let it slip away have suffered.” Continue reading

Stand with Fast Food Workers – Dec 4

Stand with fast food, home care and airport workers fighting for $15/hr

seiuNo matter who you are or where you’re from, if you work hard, you should be able to make enough to live a good life and provide a better one for your kids. That’s the key to getting our economy and our families back on track – and it’s worth fighting for.

That’s why fast food, home care and airport workers are coming together to fight for $15 an hour and the right to stick together in a union.

Thousands of fast food workers in more than 150 cities across the country have voted to go on strike on December 4. Home care and airport workers will be on the picket lines alongside them in solidarity.

reposted from SEIU.org

Hotel Housekeepers Join Global Campaign

by Paul Garver

PakistanGHSKC

In Lahore, Pakistan, 55 housekeepers make up 600 rooms at the five star Pearl Continental Hotel. Only 17 of the 55 housekeepers are permanent. Only one of the 17 permanent workers is a women and another 12 women are employed on a precarious basis.

During their shift housekeepers are only allowed a 30 minute “free lunch”. It is the only break in 10 hours. While working 10 hour shifts alone every day, handling loaded trolleys weighing in excess of 50 kilograms, women housekeepers face a range of serious health, safety and security issues. Even after working for 5 to 10 years the legal minimum wage of PKR 12,000 (USD 117) per month is the maximum wage for precarious women housekeepers.

On learning about the IUF’s Global Housekeeping Campaign for housekeepers’ dignity, a woman housekeeper said: “After learning about the IUF Global Campaign for Housekeepers I now believe as housekeepers we will be able to live a better and decent life too.”

Hidden within magnificent luxury hotels as well as more modest establishments throughout the world,
housekeepers are the foundation of the hospitality business. Yet for all the skill and hard work they bring to guests and employers, their contribution is scandalously undervalued. Housekeepers are now challenging their invisible status, speaking out against abusive working conditions and calling on the global hotel industry to recognize their contribution and their rights. From December 3-10, hotel housekeepers in more than 25 countries around the world are holding a Global Week of Action to highlight their situation and to demand a safe, secure working environment from a global industry which rests on their efforts. “The campaign puts the reality of the sector up front, on the table”, tells Kelly from Argentina, who has
been working as a housekeeper for 18 years.

Housekeepers perform exhausting daily tasks for low pay and little or no employment
security. The vast majority are women, often migrants. Their vulnerability exposes
them to a multitude of health, safety and security risks: risks to their bodies from
repetitive, heavy tasks, sexual abuse, exploitation by unscrupulous employers who
often fiercely resist union organization, outsourcing schemes that shield employers
from responsibility and further degrade working conditions and insufficient or totally
lacking legal and social security. Few guests would imagine that housekeepers have
one of the highest rates of work-related injuries and sickness of any occupational
group. “I am already stressed before I start working, since I don’t know how many
rooms and beds are expected to be cleaned”, reports Sofie from Sweden, 29 years
old. I never know if I have time to take my break because I can only get to it all if I
skip my break.”

The week of activities, organized through the IUF’s ‘Make up my workplace!’
campaign for healthy, safe and dignified working conditions for housekeepers will
culminate in an international press conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil on December
12th, where images from the week will be displayed and housekeepers will tell their
stories of work and struggle.

“The campaign has made me aware that the pain I feel in my body is not a personal matter but a workplace issue”, says a South African housekeeper. Their hopes and their determination to fight for change are echoed by housekeepers around the world. “The hotel companies want to deliver five-star service with two star jobs. At my hotel, we all got together and joined the union and that has made all the difference. Room attendants need to stand together around the world so that, together, we can fulfil our dreams for ourselves and our families”, says Josie, 37, from Canada.

Housekeepers at American five-star hotels face the same challenges. Housekeepers at the Harvard University-owned Doubletree Suites hotel recently went on strike for union recognition and the right to bargain for better conditions.

McDonald’s Korea Fires Worker for Supporting Global Fast Food Protest

by Paul Garver

 MCD kOREA

Gahyun Lee was dismissed from her job at a McDonald’s outlet in Yeokgok, Gyeonggi Province on September 15 following her visit to Los Angeles earlier that month to support the national action by US fast food workers.

Management had previously warned her about union activity in May – citing a phone call from the head office – after she denounced wage and scheduling manipulation and unsafe workplace practices at a May 15 Seoul rally in support of global fast food workers. Management refused to provide her with an explanation of why her contract was terminated, instead telling her to reapply for the job. Her application was rejected.

The Arbeit Workers’ Union (which organizes precarious workers) is demanding her reinstatement and publicizing her case. You can support them by sending a message to McDonald’s Korea corporate management calling on the company to reinstate Gahyun Lee, recognize union rights and representation and enter into good faith talks with the union over unfair practices.  Go to:

http://www.iuf.org/cgi-bin/campaigns/show_campaign.cgi?c=922

Port Truck Drivers on Strike! A Dispatch from Two of the Nation’s Largest Ports

 by David Bensman

 November 22, 2014

bensman

All Photos Courtesy of the Author

On Thursday, November 13, port truckers struck at the nation’s largest ports, Los Angeles and Long Beach, demanding an end to misclassification and wage theft. It was the fourth strike in a campaign initiated by the Teamsters and Change to Win seven years ago. It’s been a long campaign and the cost has been enormous.

The trucking companies categorize the truckers as independent contractors, a ploy that relieves the companies of the responsibility of employers. They don’t have to pay payroll taxes, don’t have to contribute to unemployment or workers’ compensation funds, don’t have to respect labor and employment laws: no right to unionize, no health and safety protections, no freedom from discrimination. After several strategies stalled, the Teamsters and Change to Win embarked on a campaign to prove that the drivers were employees, not contractors, and therefore fell under the jurisdiction of the Wagner Act. (The first step was convincing the drivers themselves that they were misclassified.) Having spent seven years researching the port trucking industry, I wanted to find out if the unions’ organizing campaign had finally broken through, so I flew out to Long Beach last weekend. This is what I saw.
Friday, November 14, 2014

Things are breaking on the port truckers’ strike. Nick Weiner, Change to Win’s lead organizer on the campaign, met with two trucking company heads and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti about respecting the workers’ right to unionize. Court rulings and NLRB actions are taking a toll on the companies. At the end of two days of picketing, the parties issued a joint statement that, amazingly, recognized the independent contractors’ right to join a union if they so chose—a major breakthrough. The union agreed to suspend the picket lines on Saturday, with the understanding that if the companies did not sign agreement next week, the strikes would resume. Two other trucking companies are reported to be close to a card check agreement.

In the afternoon, members of Teamsters Local 848 and International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) staff joined drivers from two struck companies on the picket lines. Truck after truck was turned away at terminals by terminal operators who did not want to bring down the wrath of the IBT. At the Pac9 picket line, striking drivers actively blocked traffic while discussing strategy in loud Spanish. I met with one driver, Alex Paz, who was discharged by another trucking company, TTSI, for filing charges in court complaining of wage theft and misclassification. Alex was one of thirty-five drivers illegally discharged for speaking up. The unfair labor practice complaint against the company is before NLRB. While awaiting restitution, Alex is working as an employee of Toll, a member of the Teamsters, where—for a change—he enjoys overtime pay and health care coverage.
Continue reading

Immigration information for workers

image (14)Thanks to the President’s  announcement that he will take administrative action on immigration, I have real hope. The president’s action will provide millions of working people and families with the opportunity to come out of the shadows and into the light of our economy and society without fear.

Those who can benefit from this administrative action should use iAmerica.org – a new resource offering informational tools and interactive opportunities to become full participants of our nation’s democracy.

Visit iAmerica and share it with a friend now ➞ iAmerica.org. (There’s no application process that exists yet, but once there is, this will be a trusted resource to receive accurate information).

Go to www.iAmerica.org

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,249 other followers