Forced Labour: New ILO Protocol to Ramp Up Action


PhaRELL_ENDSLAVERYBrussels, 12 June 2014 :  A new global protocol to fight forced labour, adopted this week by the International Labour Organisation, will accelerate action against modern slavery.  The private sector is responsible for 90% of the estimated 21 million victims of forced labour, reaping some US$150 billion from some of the most severe forms of exploitation in existence today.  92% of the government, employer and worker delegates at the ILO Conference voted in favour of the protocol, which the ILO describes as bringing one of its longest-standing instruments, Convention 29, “into the modern era”.  Qatar, which is under the spotlight for using forced labour to build the 2022 World Cup infrastructure, abstained from the vote.

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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

Welcoming China’s labor federation back into the global union family?

TU vs. workers

by Eric Lee

[Ed. Note: This image shows strikebreakers sent by the local union federation attacking young striking workers at a Honda parts plant in 2010  The local union  was forced to apologize and a higher level federation officer helped negotiate higher wages at the plant.  A wave of strikes at auto parts plants in China followed.  -Paul Garver]

At the end of March, the International Labour Organisation’s Bureau for Workers Activities (known as ILO-ACTRAV) and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) signed a Memorandum of Understanding “to promote Trade unions South-South Cooperation in the Asia- Pacific region”.

The Director-General of the ILO, Guy Ryder, said “we need to find a way which so that the ACFTU can work more closely with other parts of the international trade union movement, sharing common objectives.”

Ryder is a former General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, which has decided to invite the ACFTU to attend its upcoming World Congress in Berlin in May.

These two events illustrate the fact that the trade union leadership in much of the developed world now seems keen on putting the past behind us and welcoming China’s trade unions back into our “global family”.

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No more words – it’s time for action: ITUC International Women’s Day Statement

International Trade Union Confederation

stopGBVOn the occasion of International Women’s Day 2014, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is calling time on gender-based violence in the world of work. Violence against women at work, whether at their actual place of work or on the way to and from work, can take on multiple forms, including:

  •  Physical assault
  • Verbal abuse and threats of violence
  • Bullying
  • Psychological abuse
  • Sexual harassment
  • Economic violence Continue reading

Qatar: UN Human Rights Rapporteur exposes truth on migrant workers and calls for ILO standards to be met


International Trade Union Confederation

International Trade Union Confederation

International unions are calling on the Qatar authorities to give an immediate response to the request for urgent reforms for migrant workers following a ten-day UN investigation in the country.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation, welcomed the recommendations by Francois Crepeau, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, including the right to form and join trade unions, proper grievance procedures, a minimum wage and the abolishment of the kafala system.

“Despite claims by the Qatar authorities that they are cleaning up labour camps and clearing overcrowded deportation centres holding women and their babies, the UN Special Rapporteur has witnessed the horrific conditions facing migrant workers in Qatar and put forward strong recommendations that if implemented will make a real difference to the lives of migrant workers in Qatar,” said Sharan Burrow.

The UN recommendations were announced as FIFA President Sepp Blatter made his ‘courtesy’ visit to the Emir following the deaths of construction workers building World Cup infrastructure. Continue reading

World Day Against Child Labour


child-labour(June 12) The ITUC is calling on governments to step up commitment to the global fight against child labour, with new evidence from the ILO that progress is slowing.  215 million children are still at work instead of in school.

“The two ILO Conventions on child labour have been ratified by the vast majority of governments, but tens of millions of children are experiencing the exploitation and misery of child labour when they should be getting a decent education.  The economic crisis, and the obsession with austerity, are severely hampering efforts to get the children out of work and into school,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

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Bangladesh Labour Law Changes Inadequate


Hundreds of Bangladesh workers in several garment factores were killed in a building collapse  Photo: Bangladesh Federation of Workers Solidarity (BFWS).

Hundreds of Bangladesh workers in several garment factores were killed in a building collapse Photo: Bangladesh Federation of Workers Solidarity (BFWS).

Changes to Bangladesh’s notoriously weak labour laws being discussed in parliament are inadequate and will leave workers still without protection guaranteed under global labour standards, according to the international trade union movement.
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC, said, “After years of inaction, the government is trying to hose down criticism of a system which has cost thousands of lives and kept the country’s garment workers on dollar-a-day wages to feed the corporate bottom line.  The changes being debated in parliament won’t change that, so major trading partners including the US and the EU will now need to step up pressure for real reform.”

The 360,000 workers in the country’s eight export processing zones will remain excluded from labour law coverage and instead relegated to a separate law that prohibits workers from even forming a union.  Remaining union-free appears to be one of the promises made to investors who set up in the zones.

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