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JYRKI RAINA: Welcome to Global Worker

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19 May, 2015"The IndustriALL family will continue its efforts to make sure that every worker can go to work without having to fear for being killed or injured.”


Welcome to Global Worker

With 18 million workers, electronics is the second biggest IndustriALL sector after the textile and garment industry. Low wages, problems with union rights and precarious work make it a priority target for our action.

A report in this Global Worker shows that while corporate executives are taking home big pay packages, electronics workers are toiling long working hours on low salaries. Foxconn raised wages after 14 desperate workers committed suicide in China in 2010, but its CEO is still worth more money than what all of the company’s one million blue-collar workers earn in a year.

Samsung of Korea, the biggest selling electronics company in the world, has a long history of violating labour rights. Managers are trained on efficient “union-free” policies. Recently, a high Vietnamese labour official had to intervene with the corporate management to ensure the union’s right to organize Samsung workers in the country.

IndustriALL is helping electronics unions to build their capacity on organizing, collective bargaining with multinational corporations and their suppliers, networking, union rights and precarious work.

One focus area is the ASEAN region to which the electronics industry is shifting. In 2014, over 600 unionists from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam were trained on organizing.

Another special report in this issue looks at industry level bargaining as an essential tool in the fight for living wages and against inequality.

While global wealth is concentrated into fewer hands, the increasing inequality is also due to attacks against collective bargaining by corporations, right-wing politicians and international financial institutions. Company agreements offer less protection to a smaller group of workers.

Therefore, IndustriALL is supporting developments towards industry level bargaining particularly in supply chain industries like garments and electronics. We are working with major brands to make sure that their purchasing practices with long-term commitments and adequate pricing facilitate the payment of living wages.

Myanmar is a country that will attract a number of multinational investors into labour intensive industries, as the country takes steps towards democracy after 50 years of military regime.

In December 2014, IndustriALL affiliated the industrial and mine workers’ unions of Myanmar. Together with our partners, we are supporting a major organizing and training effort to develop skills and institutions that did not exist during the dictatorship.

Wildcat strikes of impatient factory workers demanding higher wages are spreading. Handling them peacefully will be one of the key tests for the new society in Myanmar.

In this Global Worker, we commemorate the one-year anniversary of the explosion and fire that killed 301 mine workers at Soma in Turkey on 13 May 2014. Our feature shows that greed, incompetence and corruption made it another industrial homicide – like too many other disasters in mining and other sectors.

The IndustriALL family will continue its efforts to make sure that every worker can go to work without having to fear for being killed or injured. A union workplace is a safer workplace.

Jyrki Raina

General Secretary