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JYRKI RAINA: Welcome to Global Worker

25 May, 2016Multinational corporations (MNCs) dominate IndustriALL Global Union’s industrial, energy and mining sectors. But they employ only 6 per cent of the workers who make their products. In this issue of Global Worker, we examine how MNCs can be held accountable for union rights and living wages throughout their supply chains.


Welcome to Global Worker

In January, the ITUC published their Scandal report, exposing that 50 leading multinationals employ only 6 per cent of the workers who manufacture their products directly. Suppliers and subcontractors employ the remaining 94 per cent, or 116 million-strong hidden workforce.

As a rule, wages and conditions of these workers are worse, and most union rights violations happen in the supply chain. But as the UN guiding principles on business and human rights confirm, an MNC has a due diligence responsibility over its supply chain.

This is what IndustriALL is trying to cement with its global framework agreements and what the Bangladesh Accord is about. And supply chain responsibility is the basis for our cooperation with the ACT garment brands, to guarantee freedom of association and living wages through building industry level collective bargaining structures. Check pages 12 – 15 for more details.

In December 2015, the historic Paris agreement on climate change was adopted as a result of the multi-year COP process. IndustriALL welcomes the agreement, but recognizes that it is only the starting point for a long and challenging energy transformation.

This major transformation will happen and that makes it a union issue. We need to take care of our workers in the spirit of a Just Transition, while we realize the job-creation potential of climate action.

As IndustriALL’s sustainability director Brian Kohler writes on pages 7 – 9, a Just Transition requires deliberate public policy choices, building on a foundation of strong social protection programmes and sustainable industrial policies.

They will transform existing jobs to be more sustainable, as well as create new, greener jobs. We want to make sure these will be union jobs with good conditions.

Some time ago, we had to take the painful decision to move a number of planned IndustriALL meetings from Turkey to Germany because of sustained terrorist attacks. However, Turkey remains a major priority country. Take a look at pages 4 – 6 on the struggle of our Turkish unions in all sectors from textile to mining for the right to join a union, collective bargaining and safe workplaces.

The 2nd IndustriALL Congress will take place in October 2016 in Brazil, which has one of the strongest trade union movements in Latin America. The strength has been built through struggle after years of military dictatorship. See pages 16 – 17 on how Brazilian unions have managed to win considerable wage increases during the past decade through united action by different trade union centres.

When the IndustriALL family gathers in Rio de Janeiro to celebrate its first four years of action and victories, it will also debate future strategies and continued global struggle for social justice and better lives for workers and their families in the spirit of our Congress slogan:

Fighting forward – A luta continua!