World Labor Unions Urge Halt to TPP Negotiations

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has called on governments to stop negotiations on the “Trans-Pacific Partnership” agreement, criticising the secrecy and corporate bias in the current negotiations.

The Communication Workers of America (CWA), the Teamsters and the Machinists are leading the AFL-CIO’s efforts.  Together with a broad coalition of organizations put together by the Citizen’s Trade Campaign, they delivered a total of 663,373 petition signatures and letters opposing Fast Track trade authority to House and Senate leaders.

CWA President Larry Cohen promised that CWA activists would turn their attention to stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as “a dangerous trade deal that threatens our jobs, communities and the environment by giving big business new powers to undermine important laws and regulations.”  Cohen added:”We’ll be demanding that the White House and Congress put its citizens before the corporate and financial interests that already define and dominate the global economy.”

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said “This secretive trade deal is good for some multinational corporations, but deeply damaging to ordinary people and the very role of governments. Corporate interests are at the negotiating table, but national parliaments and other democratic actors are being kept in the dark. What we do know, much of it through leaks, is that this proposed deal is not about ensuring better livelihoods for people, but about giving multinational companies a big boost to profits. Governments should shut down the negotiations, and not re-open them unless they get genuine and transparent public mandates at home that put people’s interest in the centre.”

The current TPP proposals include provisions which would:
- Make governments submit to so-called investor to state dispute settlement (ISDS) procedures whereby investors can sue governments on a wide range of policies, including environmental and social policies ;
- Introduce patent protections that would boost pharmaceutical companies’ profits, but put vital medicines out of reach for millions of poorer people;
- Severely restrict governments’ ability to make national laws for public health, safety and general welfare with a ‘regulatory coherence’ chapter;
- Stop governments from giving priority to public policy aims when making decisions about public procurement;
- Impose a series of restrictions on governments’ abilities to regulate the financial sector, thus holding back efforts to reform damaging financial speculation and impeding governments from taking measures to maintain their balance of payment.

Proposals for protection of workers’ rights have met with heavy resistance from some countries, and appear to not cover all ILO Conventions that establish Fundamental Rights at Work or subnational (state and province) labour legislation. The proposals also contain no enforcement for environmental provisions, and fail to address the need for action to mitigate climate change.

“A fair and open global trading system is essential to prosperity, but this proposed TPP is nothing of the sort. Global and regional trade needs to create jobs and prosperity for the many, not just provide welfare for corporations and transfer more power from the parliaments to the boardroom,” said Burrow.

National trade union centers in the countries negotiating the TPP are today formally calling on their governments to stop the negotiations, and to seek a proper negotiation mandate if they are to engage in the negotiations again.

The national trade union centers that support this call are: Australia, ACTU; Canada, CSN and CSD; Japan, JTUC-RENGO; Mexico, UNT; New Zealand, NZCTU; Peru, CUT and CATP; United States, AFL-CIO. Some of these trade unions, as well as the unions of Chile (CUT-Chile) and Malaysia (MTUC) had asked for the negotiations to stop at an earlier stage.

For more information on the global trade union effort, contact the ITUC Press Department on +32 2 224 02 04

WikiLeaks Reveals True Intent of Secret TiSA Trade Talks

ITUC OnLine

International Trade Union Confederation

International Trade Union Confederation

A WikiLeaks exposé has revealed the true intent behind secret 50-country negotiations on a new “financial services” chapter of the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) at the WTO in Geneva.  The draft agreement being discussed by government officials is aimed at weakening financial regulation and giving extra market access to hedge funds, banks, insurers and other providers.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “Governments are negotiating away financial regulation in secret, instead of tackling the unfinished regulation task that triggered the current global economic crisis in 2007.  It defies belief that they are actually planning to help the already ‘too big to fail’ banks and other financial conglomerates to expand.”

“It is deeply disturbing to find out that governments are getting ready to exempt from or expedite the approval of some of the most toxic insurance products, like Credit Default Swaps, and also allow hedge funds and banks to launch ‘unlimited new products’ without proper controls.”

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New Legal Report: Right to Strike Backed by International Law

by ITUC OnLine

NY garment workers on strike 1913--(wikimedia)

NY garment workers on strike 1913–(wikimedia)

(Brussels, 3 June 2014 ): A new 122-page ITUC legal report, confirming that the right to strike is protected under international law, has been released today as employers try to overturn decades of jurisprudence at the International Labour Organisation.  Employer representatives at the ILO are continuing their efforts to strip back ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, which guarantees workers the right to take strike action, as the UN agency holds its 103rd International Labour Conference in Geneva this month. Continue reading

ITUC World Congress – Poll: Governments told to tame corporate power

3rd International Trade Union Confederation Congress opens in Berlin representing the world’s working people.

ITUC

International Trade Union Confederation

International Trade Union Confederation

Workers across the globe are losing faith in their national governments whom they see as putting the interests of big corporations ahead of their own, according to a new international public opinion poll from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Released at the opening of the 3rd ITUC World Congress in Berlin, Sunday 18th May, the ITUC Global Poll 2014 commissioned from market research company TNS Opinion, covers the general public of fourteen countries which have half the world’s population.

The global economy needs co-ordinated action to raise living standards around the world. Seven years into the economic crisis has left structural damage to the global economy and the global workforce with more than 200 million people unemployed and many more struggling with low wages. Governments are in the grip of corporate power and are failing their people”  said Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation.

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ITUC May Day Statement: Tame corporate power – reduce inequality

ITUC OnLine

International Trade Union Confederation

International Trade Union Confederation

Building Workers’ Power is vital to drive economic, industrial and social transformation.   The international system today is heavily stacked against workers and their families, and governments are increasingly cowered by big finance and big business.   A tiny proportion of the world’s population holds vast power and wealth, while millions upon millions of people have no job or work in precarious and exploitative conditions for little reward.

Corporate power must be tamed at home and through their international operations and supply chains.  It is working people, together, who hold the key to a future of common and sustainable prosperity. Continue reading

Sherpa Union Leader Killed in Everest Avalanche

ITUC OnLine

Sherpa Dorje Khatri

Dorje Khatri, Sherpa union leader plants ICTU flag on Everest

(18 April 2014)  Nepalese Sherpa Dorje Khatri, leader of Nepal’s trade union of Sherpas and a committed defender of the environment, was reportedly amongst 12 people killed in one of the worst disasters on Mount Everest ever recorded.  In 2011 Khatri planted the ITUC flag atop the peak of Everest as part of global mobilisation by unions pushing for action on climate change leading up to the Durban Climate Summit, which he attended.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary said, “Dorje Khatri has left an indelible footprint as a man committed to the wellbeing of others, and an activist on the frontline of climate action.  We are devastated by the loss of this gentle but determined leader, one of the very elite of mountain climbers, and those who lost their lives with him.”

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Climate report shows job growth linkage with climate action

OnLine

International Trade Union Confederation

International Trade Union Confederation

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), issued yesterday in Berlin, gives renewed confidence that the world can still avoid catastrophic climate change with rapid and sustained cuts to carbon emissions.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “The world’s leading climate experts told us a week ago that climate is already changing in every part of the world, and that the costs of inaction would be catastrophic.  Yesterday’s report shows that the world has the capacity to meet the challenge.  Governments need to cease their prevarication and rise to that challenge now.”

The IPCC brought together hundreds of reports which show that investments in zero and low-carbon energy sources will need to at least triple by 2050.

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