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IndustriALL takes workers’ and union rights to the International Labour Conference

22 June, 2017After two weeks full of intense activity and meetings the International Labour Conference ended in Geneva on 17 June.

IndustriALL Global Union and affiliates actively participated in several side meetings such as the discussion on the new “UN Treaty on transnational corporations” with Prof Olivier de Schutter, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  As the UN Human Rights Council has established an intergovernmental working group in order to elaborate international legally binding instruments to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business the ITUC called for trade unions to engage in this process in order to ensure corporations abide by their international obligations.

In the International Centre for Trade Union Rights Council meeting, IndustriALL affiliate from Iran denounced their difficulties to function as a union. IndustriALL Director Fernando Lopes offered organization’s support to access International Labour Organizations’ instruments and to use the Global framework agreements concluded with transnational corporations operating in Iran.  Myukung Ryu from Korean Council of Trade Unions updated participants on the victorious struggles carried by workers and people of South Korea and the hopes of the trade union movement relied on a fruitful dialogue with the newly elected President.

In the Conference Committee on Migration and Labour, discussions were heated, the Employers group tried hard to undermine the existing conventions and push for a weak recommendation. Finally, an important battle was won approving that ILO has to promote the ratification of two conventions (Convention 97 on Migration for employment and Convention 143 on Migrant workers) and the Workers delegation with support from several Governments reached an agreement on a very strong additional recommendation.

IndustriALL and affiliates participated actively in the Committee on Application of Standards, the tripartite ILO body monitoring how ILO standards are being applied by member states. Starting from taking the floor on the General Survey regarding ILO Convention 176 on Safety and health in mines and during the plenaries highlighting serious violations to Freedom of Association for our members. The Workers’ Group strongly protested that the list of 24 cases negotiated with the Employers Group did not include Brazil and Colombia, where violations of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 were widespread and well known.

IndustriALL reported serious cases in seven countries, ranging from recent cases of forced dissolution of unions, arbitrary arrests and criminalisation of protest in Kazakhstan; to violence, repression of workers, denials of union registration in Bangladesh as well as the lack of the legal protection of trade unions and a backlog of reinstatement of independent unionists in Cambodia denounced by IndustriALL assistant general secretary Jenny Holdcroft.

In the case of Turkey IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Ozkan demanded,

“Specific attention to be devoted to the respect and full enforcement of trade union rights in Turkey, including freedom of association, the right to strike and collective bargaining”.

Õzkan further indicated that all Global unions unitedly call for the release of all the detained workers and public employees and demand the Turkish authorities to

“Stop collective dismissals and suspensions, intimidations and arrests without any basis of evidence/compliance with the rule of law and to put in place the Inquiry Commission on State of Emergency Measures and ensure that the decisions of this Commission are subject to judicial review and possible independent, transparent and effective appeal procedures in a reasonable time, including in the last resort at European level.”

IndustriALL and its affiliate SNATEGS from Algeria strongly denounced the anti-union persecution directed towards the union’s general secretary for having revealed a huge corruption case involving the illegal inflation of electricity bills by the state-owned energy company, Sonelgaz, over a ten-year period, affecting over eight million customers. IndustriALL demands that,

all charges against Raouf Mellal and other SNATEG union members are dropped, that the 93 union members are reinstated, and that the government immediately reverses its decision to withdraw registration from SNATEGS”.

Fernando Lopes, IndustriALL Director denounced the attacks, harassment and refusal by the government of Guatemala to demand that companies comply with their obligations to recognize the right of our affiliate in Tenaris, (SINTRATERNUIM) to bargain collectively, five years after the union’s registration.

In the case of Ukraine IndustriALL joined with other Global unions to denounce the complete lack of compliance with ILO Convention 81 (On Labour Inspection) which has resulted in 485 accidents in Ukrainian mines in 2016 only, with 12 miners killed, and the lack of government funding for health and safety protective measures.

All presentations and Conclusions of the cases discussed in the CAS can be consulted here:

And finally the ILC is not only about meetings, IndustriALL participated in many mobilisations such as the demonstration called for by all the Brazilian national centres, where IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches spoke, and the mobilization denouncing repression in Algeria as well as the already traditional Bicycle “Route of Shame” convened by Public Service International.