IndustriALL Global Union’s Executive Committee grieves for Marcello Malentacchi and the 1,127 Bangladeshi garment workers killed at Rana Plaza, while welcoming the binding Accord with the leading clothing brands on fire and building safety.
Opening the Executive Committee meeting at IG Metall headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, IndustriALL President Berthold Huber paid homage to the outstanding service of Marcello Malentacchi who served as General Secretary of the International Metalworkers’ Federation from 1989 to 2009. Marcello was a great, devoted and combative trade unionist who died on 24 May 2013 aged 66.
Delegates also mourned the 1,127 Bangladeshi garment workers killed in the Rana Plaza industrial homicide. General Secretary Jyrki Raina Day reminded the delegates of the amazing complacency of the global clothing brands, which only changed as more dead bodies were pulled out of the rubble day after day, and the global media outrage was so huge that IndustriALL and UNI managed to force the brands to the bargaining table. The legally binding Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has already been signed by more than 40 major brands and retailers. IndustriALL has taken its place as a strong counterpart at the global level.
IndustriALL’s Executive Committee committed to a four-point action plan for Bangladesh:
- Implementation of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety
- Labour law reform to secure freedom of association
- Raising the minimum wage from US$38 a month to reach living wage by 2015
- Launching a massive organizing project to ensure union presence in 5,000 garment factories
General Secretary Jyrki Raina updated delegates on the negotiations around the Bangladesh Accord and other work.
Assistant General Secretary Kemal Ozkan updated the Executive Committee on IndustriALL’s priority work in the Middle East, focusing especially on the three key countries for action Egypt, Iraq and Tunisia. The Committee pledged its support for the persecuted oil workers’ union leader Hassan Juma’a in Iraq, and a training program with independent trade unions in Egypt. The next Executive Committee meeting is planned to be conducted in Tunis.
Assistant General Secretary Fernando Lopes presented IndustriALL’s program on organizing and campaigning, including training on skills for the staff and affiliates, continued action to stop precarious work, a corporate campaign against mining giant Rio Tinto, and action to guarantee human and union rights in Fiji.
Key challenges facing IndustriALL’s affiliates around the world were examined in Europe, Russia, South Africa, Colombia, Middle East and North Africa and elsewhere.
The victories of the Indonesian trade unions in the areas of minimum wages, precarious work, social security and pensions were commended by President Huber as an example for others to follow. Huber congratulated FSPMI leader Said Iqbal for receiving the Dutch Elizabeth Febe prize and promised continued support for the Indonesian unions.
Napoleon Gomez of Los Mineros in Mexico, a titular member of the IndustriALL Global Union Executive Committee, was once again blocked from travelling to take his seat due to a renewed court case in the sham legal claims against him by the Mexican authorities. Delegates committed to continue the long-term campaign to build strong, free and democratic unions in Mexico.