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IndustriALL executive committee meeting calls for peace and social justice

20 June, 2023IndustriALL affiliates’ response to the global crises of war, inequality, poverty, mass starvation, climate disasters, epidemics, and the increasing violations of workers’ and trade union rights were some of the agenda items discussed at IndustriALL’s executive meeting which was held on 19 June in Cape Town. 200 delegates from 60 countries participated in this meeting just ahead of the Mid-Term Policy Conference which also takes place in Cape Town from 20-22 June.  

The meeting called for the withdrawal of Russian troops and for the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine and to campaign for solidarity, social justice, and peace for Ukrainian unions. More than 47 per cent of Ukraine’s energy supplies have been damaged by Russian forces since the invasion began in February 2022. Leisa Semeniaka from Ukraine union Atomprofsilka told delegates of the enormous suffering of Ukrainian workers and people. Workers’ rights are also being curtailed by newly introduced laws that violate European labour laws and ILO Conventions 87 (freedom of association and protection of the right to organize) and 98 (right to organize and collective bargaining). 
The executive committee meeting highlighted the global hotspots of workers’ rights and trade union violations which include Afghanistan where there are murders of women and violations of women workers and human rights by the Taliban government, and Belarus where trade unionists have been imprisoned. The meeting adopted a resolution for the release of secretary general Kim Jun-young, that strongly condemns the violent suppression of workers by the Korean government and the police, their anti-union and pro-corporate behaviour, and POSCO for violating union rights.

On Myanmar, Atle Høie, IndustriALL general secretary said: 

“We need to be a strong international voice for all workers and are now putting pressure on all the brands to plan their exit responsibly. We have positive signals from major brands like Primark, Uniclo and Inditex. While others like H&M still think it is possible to do sufficient due diligence in the country to defend staying. More evidence is pointing to the contrary and there is no excuse.”

Abdelmajid Matoual from Moroccan union FNTE/UMT told delegates about the current precarious relationship between the government and unions in the country, where social dialogue is non-existent, and the government has yet to implement agreements made with the unions. 
On the success of the Bangladesh Accord in achieving a safer working environment in the textile and garment sector in the country, Kalpona Akter from Bangladeshi union BGIWF, stressed the need for legally binding agreements to secure gains for workers. The Bangladesh Accord is now being extended to Pakistan.
Reporting from the women's committee held on 18 June, Ilvana Smajlovic from HIN BIH, Bosnia, asked how feminism can change unions, and stressed the need for a strong policy on gender-based violence and harassment, misogyny, and sexism.  

“Africa is too important and cannot be allowed to be destroyed by social inequalities and the consequences of global capitalism. The continent needs dignified forms of development through sustainable industrial and trade policies and decent jobs,”

said Jörg Hoffman, IndustriALL president during opening remarks. He thanked South African affiliates NUM, NUMSA, SACTWU, and UASA, for their support.
Other issues discussed included IndustriALL participation at the International Labour Conference where it provided statements before the Committee of Experts on the Application of International Standards and Recommendations, and on the Just Transition discussions. The meeting agreed to co-opt the youth as observers for future executive committee meetings until the next IndustriALL congress in 2025. Additionally, the recently constituted Global Multinational Companies Policy Committee will deal with issues of due diligence in the supply chains and this will complement the current global framework agreements. The meeting also resolved to strengthen cooperation between IndustriALL Global Union and IndustriAll Europe.