Preparations for IndustriALL Global Union’s 2nd Congress in Brazil, organizing and campaigning, climate change and Industry 4.0 were key subjects debated by 200 participants at the Executive Committee meeting in Frankfurt on 25-26 May.
One of the key discussions regarded preparations for the second IndustriALL’s Congress in Rio de Janeiro in October, and recent dramatic political developments in Brazil.
President Berthold Huber said the recent vote by the Brazilian senate to begin impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff had set a dangerous precedent for disrespecting democracy.
The Executive Committee passed a resolution expressing its solidarity with the Brazilian people by strongly rejecting the ongoing coup in the country. The interim government has already begun to dismantle the socially progressive policies of recent years that helped lift 40 million people out of poverty in Brazil.
As part of the preparations for the Congress, the Executive Committee heard from three candidates for general secretary – Atle Høie from Norway, Kemal Özkan from Turkey and Valter Sanches from Brazil. Current general secretary Jyrki Raina will step down at Congress in October, as will President Huber and Vice President Tom Buffenbarger.
IndustriALL Global Union’s Executive Committee also called on Volkswagen to respect trade union rights at its Chattanooga plant in Tennessee, USA.
In violation of national and international labour legislation the German auto giant is refusing to bargain with skilled trades workers at the Chattanooga plant who voted in December to choose IndustriALL affiliate, the United Auto Workers (UAW), as their exclusive representative for collective bargaining.
Organizing and campaigning
IndustriALL’s organizing projects around the world have helped to add directly a quarter of a million new union members in the last two years, and helped create an organizing culture which has altogether produced even more impressive figures.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has been instrumental in improving health and safety for millions of garment workers in the country. The Executive Committee approved the development of a proposal for a new Accord with brands starting in 2018, when the current agreement expires.
IndustriALL is committed to the ACT initiative and a Memorandum of Understanding with 18 garment manufacturers promoting industry wide collective bargaining, considered as the first realistic mechanism to create a level playing field for garment workers’ wages.
The Executive Committee endorsed keeping up the pressure on Rio Tinto until the mining giants improves its labour practices at local levels. Talks with the mining giant over worldwide labour principles as well as global and regional structures for dialogue and enforcing such norms are ongoing.
Unions, climate change and sustainability
The Paris Agreement, signed in December 2015 to cut global greenhouse gas emissions and limit climate change, will have a significant impact on IndustriALL’s sectors. Unions need to look at public policies at the national level and develop action to ensure a Just Transition for workers.
Industry 4.0, using smart technology and real-time data to increase productivity and reduce costs, poses challenges to workers and IndustriALL sectors. Trade unions must exert their influence to ensure that workers achieve fair conditions in the new world of work. IndustriALL will develop a corporate policy on digitization and Industry 4.0.
In a discussion about transnational trade agreements, unions from the UK and India reported the dire affects of China’s dumping of steel on home industries.
Jamshid Ahmadi from the Union of Metalworkers and Mechanics of Iran (UMMI) as a guest appealed to the Executive Committee to give further support to workers in Iran. He called on IndustriALL to pressure multinational companies in Iran, such as Peugeot and Renault, to respect trade union and worker rights in the country.
Jyrki Raina, said:
“The positive debates in Frankfurt will guide us well in our preparations for the second IndustriALL Congress in Rio de Janeiro, where the results of our first four years of existence will be evaluated and future direction of action will be decided by well over 1000 delegates. Maintaining unity and developing concrete solidarity further will make us stronger to face the challenges of a complicated globalized world where too many governments and corporations want to deny workers their fundamental rights.”