20 November, 2020Union responses to the Covid-19 pandemic was on the agenda when the Executive Committee met online on 19 November. The corona crisis is again showing how vulnerable global supply chains are; consequences for workers, especially at the bottom of the supply chain, are dire and dramatic. But unions around the world are showing they can fight back and win.
IndustriALL and German union IG Metall president Jörg Hofmann opened the meeting by saying that the pandemic is putting the spotlight on how vulnerable global supply chains are; the combination of cheap labour and disrespect for the environment is not sustainable.
“The pandemic has sharpened inequalities around the world. This won’t be over until it is over for everyone and workers are worried about their survival. We need to act globally, and IndustriALL will continue to fight for more equitable distribution of wealth.”
Welcoming the US election results, Hofmann said that it sends a strong message to right wing populists everywhere:
"Bolsanaro, Orbán, Lukashenko - your days are numbered."
Since protests started in Belarus three months ago, the global union movement has been united in its support for democracy in the country. Belarusians have showed an incredible ability to organize, and in the face of repression, workers continue to fight for democracy.
The Executive Committee adopted a resolution in solidarity with the independent unions in Belarus, calling for an end to the violence, for new and fair elections, the release of all political prisoners, the reinstatement of all dismissed workers and for the criminal prosecution of those participating in the brutal suppression of protests.
International solidarity and unity are more important than ever. And in the face of adversity, unions affiliated to IndustriALL continue to fight for workers’ rights.
In his report, IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches shone a light on the recently created IndustriALL Brazil, bringing together 10 million workers from different manufacturing sectors, the vote by Argentina’s parliament to ratify C190, unions in the Ukraine protesting against a proposed labour law that would undermine freedom of association, nationwide protests in India against the government’s anti-worker policies, unions in Indonesia, fighting back against the controversial Omnibus law, and the people of Belarus, standing up to the rigged elections in August and continuing the protests, which have been met with violent repression.
“Trade union rights need to be respected. We need the binding UN instrument on business and human rights and we need more countries to adopt due diligence legislation like France to make multinational companies responsible and accountable for their global supply chains,”
said Valter Sanches.
“The ‘pandemic profiteers’, the billionaires that added over 4 trillion US$ to their fortunes this year must pay a welfare tax that could fund a universal social protection fund, as proposed by the global unions. Stimulus money for recovery should prioritize the health and the care industry, build infrastructure, ensuring accessible high-speed internet, retain manufacturing tissue and what we call a green recovery.”
The pandemic has brought with it an increase of domestic violence. Although domestic violence starts in the home, it can impact the world of work. The Executive Committee approved a resolution, proposed by the Women’s Committee, calling on all affiliates to take action in supporting members, challenging domestic violence and ensuring employers take measures to mitigate the impact of domestic violence in the world of work.
IndustriALL continues to pursue dialogue with governments and companies to protect the health and safety of union members and to defend workers’ rights, jobs and income. Ready to stand up, fight and campaign when union voices are not heard, the Executive Committee called on all affiliates to mobilize for:
- International day for the elimination of violence against women on 25 November
- Solidarity with national strike in India against anti-labour laws changes on 26 November
- IndustriALL/UNI Global Union action on Black Friday, targeting Amazon on 27 November
- Council of Global Unions day of action in solidarity and in defence of human rights in the Philippines on 30 November
After a debate about the effect of the pandemic on future meetings, the executive committee agreed that it would be responsible to hold the Congress next year entirely online. Delegates expressed the wish to see each other in person again as soon as possible.
The pandemic is impacting several aspects of IndustriALL’s work. Participants discussed the economic impact of the pandemic on the organization. IndustriALL third Congress was originally planned for Cape Town in October this year; as unfortunately the pandemic continues to spike and travel will likely continue to be restricted in many countries, the Executive Committee decided the Congress will take place online, in September 2021.