Ban Asbestos Campaign gets a boost in Pakistan

Pakistan is the latest country where the Ban Asbestos Campaign is making inroads. More than 170 dignitaries, experts and members of the general public took part in the Ban Asbestos Conference held on 1st February 2014 in Karachi. The Conference got a big boost with no less than the President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain stating in his message “Scientific research has proved that asbestos is a human carcinogen and there is no safe level of Asbestos exposure”.

One of the key organisers of the Conference was Mr. Syed Haroon Ahmed who lost his brother Syed Fareed in 2007 due to Asbestos exposure at the Dadex Eternit factory, which has been manufacturing Asbestos cement pipes for over 50 years. Mr. Ahmed initiated his fight to ban Asbestos in Pakistan by filing a petition in the Sindh High Court and the case now awaits decision at the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Addressing the delegates, the ACEEU President and BWI Asia Pacific Regional Committee Titular Member Bro. Md. Ishtiaq Virk mentioned “ The world over, millions of people have suffered due to Asbestos exposure and, like several other countries, we also need to get asbestos banned in Pakistan”.

The Asian Ban Asbestos Network* (A-BAN) Coordinator, Sugio Furuya made a presentation on the Ban Asbestos campaign and reported on the global and regional progress made to date.

Asbestos is the biggest industrial killer of modern times. After leaving its devastating legacy in Europe, the asbestos trade has been thriving in developing economies. According to the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database, Pakistan’s Asbestos consumption is more than 10,000 metric tons per year as of 2012.

BWI is a founding member of A-BAN launched in 2009

ITF tackles Thai Airways damages claim against workers

ITF acting general secretary Steve Cotton spoke up about a dispute between Thai Airways and the ITF-affiliated Thai Airways International Union (TGU) today after it emerged that the airline is seeking damages claims against union leadership.

The claim follows a dispute from early 2013, when Thai Airways announced that there would be no basic pay rise for workers. The TGU held a two-day peaceful protest on 18-19 January last year in response to this unilateral decision.

As a result of the protest, TGU and Thai Airways management co-signed a memorandum on 19 January 2013 – which the ITF welcomed as good news.

However, the ITF has recently learned that despite this show of goodwill, Thai Airways is in the process of taking four of the memorandum signatories to court for damages caused by the protest, and intends to sue for USD10 million. The ITF understands that this is in contravention of article three of the memorandum, which states that the airline will not take any disciplinary or legal action against employees who joined the protest.

In a letter to the prime minister of Thailand, Cotton outlined the likely impact of such apparent betrayal of negotiations in good faith, writing: ‘these sorts of practices are not conducive to developing good working relations, which are essential for all aviation companies’. He urged the employer to abandon its persecution of workers and to work to regain the harmony lost in the once productive relationship between management and worker representatives.
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ITF celebrates Fiji union win

Union leadership at Fiji’s National Union of Hospitality Catering and Tourism Industries (NUHCTI) celebrated as police charges against their ‘illegal strike’ were dropped on February 2.

The ITF-affiliated union’s president, Dan Urai, was one of six union leaders charged by the military dictatorship on January 9 – despite the fact that the union had entered negotiations with management following the brief industrial action a week before the arrests were made. Urai maintains that he doesn’t know why he and the other workers were arrested and that they have never been given a satisfactory explanation.

Following international protests, the Fijian director of public prosecutions dropped all charges against the workers.

The illegitimate Fijian military government has a reputation for anti-union behaviour, with reports of union leaders being intimidated and even assaulted at military barracks back in 2011. The ITF-affiliated Fiji Sugar & General Workers’ Union, Transport Workers’ Union and Fiji Public Service Association have all been on the receiving end of anti-union aggression.

In January 2013 the ITF joined the global outcry when the military regime introduced the Fiji Political Parties Decree – aimed at wiping out political opposition and forbidding trade unionists from even showing support for a political party. The timing of this decree, issued just days after the Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) launched a new political party that would include trade unions, is not thought to be coincidental.

ITF president Paddy Crumlin hailed this latest victory: “Unions the world over have united and joined in protest at this flagrant abuse of workers’ rights, showing once again that my brothers’ and sisters’ struggle is my struggle and that workers will not be walked over. With its history of workers’ rights abuses, we’ll continue to keep an eye on the situation in Fiji – and we won’t hesitate to take every legitimate action to protect our fellow workers.”

Unions set for global action against Cambodian embassies

Global unions are mobilizing workers around the world to protest at Cambodian embassies on Monday 10 February, to demand the release of 23 activists seized during demonstrations in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in January.


IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union and the ITUC together with NGO partners, are garnering international support in solidarity for protestors who were arrested during demonstrations by garment workers for higher wages last month. The call to action to “Free the 23” comes on the eve of a Cambodian court hearing for the workers on 11 February.

Protests are expected to take place outside Cambodian embassies inBerlinBrusselsGenevaHonk KongJakartaLondon andSeoul amongst others. Demonstrators will present a letter to the ambassador condemning the violence against the garment workers and demanding the release of the 23 detainees. The letter also calls on the government to respect the right to freedom of association.

The detainees, which include trade union activists and garment workers, were incarcerated after peaceful rallies on 2 and 3 of January were met with brutal force by Cambodian police, which opened fire on demonstrators leaving four people dead and 39 injured.

“We implore the Cambodian authorities release the 23 detainees immediately. Imprisoning, intimidating and inflicting violence on garment workers will not succeed in silencing their demands for a just wage and decent working conditions,” said IndustriALL’s General Secretary Jyrki Raina.

The planned action follows an open letter to the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, from IndustriALL, UNI and ITUC together with 30 of the world’s major clothing brands, including Walmart, Nike and H&M, demanding a thorough investigation into the perpetrators of the killings and appealing to the government to honour its commitment to establish a fair and inclusive process for determining a new minimum wage.

The Cambodian government has so far been unresponsive while the garment manufacturers have taken a confrontational approach to union demands.

The past few months have seen a succession of strikes by Cambodian garment workers seeking to double the industry’s minimum wage to US $160 a month.

Cambodia has more than 500,000 garment workers with textiles making up 80% of the country’s exports. The country’s low wages and government incentives for businesses have seen a boom in the textile industry worth some 5 billion US dollars per year, while living standards for workers have not increased.

Ineos sacks Unite convenor on sham charges in Grangemouth, UK

Unite in the UK has launched legal action over the sacking of its vice-chair and Ineos Grangemouth convenor Mark Lyon, accusing Ineos of ‘hypocrisy’ and making a ‘mockery’ of justice.

Mark who has 25 years of service to the company was tried in his absence and told of his dismissal on 4th February for not stopping the union from commenting over fears of job losses at the petrochemical plant which were reported in Scottish national newspaper The Daily Record on 2nd December 2013.

The move follows the resignation of Unite’s other Grangemouth convenor Stevie Deans last year in protest of his treatment by the company and comes as Ineos drops its defamation claim over accusations by Unite that it had ‘victimised’ Mr Deans.

The sacking of Mark Lyon comes in the face of significant medical evidence that he is suffering from a serious stress-related illness as a result of the treatment he has endured at the hands of the company.

Unite believes that Ineos was determined to rush through a disciplinary process against Mr Lyon, denying his legal representatives the appropriate time to prepare his defence.

Unite will be appealing the company’s decision and issuing an employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal and victimisation for trade union reasons.

IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina stated:

Unite is the largest trade union in the UK and a centrally important member organisation of IndustriALL. We stand firmly alongside Unite and the Grangemouth members in face of this intransigent employer. To sack Mark Lyon on pathetic charges is pure union busting, totally in breach of international labour standards. Mark Lyon is a committed trade unionist with a long history of representing oil and chemical workers in the UK.

Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scottish secretary, said:

Once again, a decent man and loyal employee has been hounded out of his job by Ineos. The rank hypocrisy of Ineos knows no bounds. The company withdrew its defamation action against Unite to “draw a line under the dispute”, yet at the same time it was drafting a letter dismissing a Unite convenor.
Mark Lyon has been subjected to a grotesque mockery of the disciplinary system which saw him tried in his absence. While he attended a doctor’s appointment, his employer was sacking him on trumped up charges.

Labour Herald – Issue No.103

Africa / Asia / Caribbean / Central America /Europe / Middle East / South America

Australia National Accounts figures a warning to Government that now is not the time to slash and burn [ACTU] 2013-12-04 30 more labour news stories from Australia today

Brazil FIFA must stop sacrificing construction workers’ lives [BWI] 2013-12-03

Canada / Saskatchewan Impact of PotashCorp layoffs felt across central Saskatchewan[Unifor] 2013-12-04 24 more labour news stories from Canada today

Chile New national industrial union takes shape in Chile [IndustriALL Global Union] 2013-12-04

Egypt Workers at Egyptian iron and steel plant go on strike [El-Ahram] 2013-12-04 3 more labour news stories from Egypt today

Fiji Minimum wage proposal yet to be submitted [Fiji Live] 2013-12-03

Finland Akava members show signs they are willing to retire later [Trade Union News from Finland] 2013-12-03 1 more labour news stories from Finland today

Global ITF and UITP unite with a vision to promote the development of public transport worldwide in the medium- and long-term [ITF news] 2013-12-03 1 more labour news stories from Global today

Haiti Rampant wage theft at foreign factories in Haiti [IPS] 2013-12-03

India Health advocates call on Indian government to end all use of asbestos[Hazards magazine] 2013-12-03

Iran Labour activist Hosseiny summoned to court again [Radio Zamaneh] 2013-12-03

Ireland ASTI responds to Department statement on supervision and substitution[ASTI] 2013-12-04 6 more labour news stories from Ireland today

Israel Court freezes Hadera-Paper plant dismissals until Dec. 10 [Ynet News] 2013-12-03 2 more labour news stories from Israeltoday

Kenya Kenyan civil service union threatens new year’s strike over wages [African Review] 2013-12-03

Korea (South) Ten years ago: Migrant Workers Sit-in Struggle in Seoul… (#2) [CINA] 2013-12-03 1 more labour news stories from Korea (South) today

Libya Army tells oil workers to end strike – with no conditions [The National ] 2013-12-03

New Zealand Forestry deaths demand an enquiry [Fairfax media] 2013-12-04 10 more labour news stories from New Zealand today

Norway Which collective agreement shall apply in Risavika [Industri Energi] 2013-12-04

Qatar Migrant workers are little better than slaves [Digital Journal] 2013-12-04 4 more labour news stories from Qatar today

Solomon Islands Saving Children From Loggers [Inter-Press Service] 2013-12-03

South Africa / Gauteng COSATU press statement on the campaign against e-tolls[Cosatu] 2013-12-03 13 more labour news stories from South Africa today

UK Higher education strike – voices from the picket line [UNISON] 2013-12-03 13 more labour news stories from UK today

Ukraine Ukraine: call for restraint and inclusive democracy [ITUC] 2013-12-04

USA / Illinois House debate begins on pension overhaul [Times Union] 2013-12-04 25 more labour news stories from USA today

Labour Herald – Issue No.102

Africa / Asia / Caribbean / Central America /Europe / Middle East / South America

Australia Sacked public servants ‘parked’ in new division and paid to show up [Fairfax Media] 2013-11-14 8 more labour news stories from Australia today

Cambodia Escalating violence against workers results in shooting [IndustriALL Global Union] 2013-11-14

Canada / Ontario BONFIELD Local 4616 NEEDS YOU! [CUPE] 2013-11-14 20 more labour news stories from Canada today

Chile ITUC, TUCA and CUT-Chile testified before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [ITUC] 2013-11-13

Croatia Zagreb Airport employees announce imminent strike [] 2013-11-13

Fiji ILO wants to investigate claims of alleged harassment [Fiji Village] 2013-11-14 2 more labour news stories from Fiji today

Finland Airline strike could be largest ever[YLE News] 2013-11-13

Georgia Railway workers plan to go on strike[Trend] 2013-11-13

Ghana Workers of Volta Lake Transport on strike for nonpayment of salaries and alleged mismanagement [GBC] 2013-11-13 2 more labour news stories from Ghana today

India / Haryana Roadways employees strike hits transport services [PTI] 2013-11-13 3 more labour news stories from India today

Indonesia Second general strike [PolitikRakyat] 2013-11-13 3 more labour news stories fromIndonesia today

Ireland Service of remembrance for the 1913 Lockout [SIPTU] 2013-11-13 1 more labour news stories from Ireland today

Israel / Germany Marking Kristallnacht German trade union leader opposes West Bank boycott [Times of Israel] 2013-11-13

Japan Real ‘labor cops’ also deserve to get the star treatment [The Times] 2013-11-13

Korea (South) Court suspends disbandment of biggest teachers’ union [K. Herald] 2013-11-131 more labour news stories from Korea (South) today

Latin America / Colombia Nestle worker and union activist killed by paramilitary in western Colombia [Colombia Reports] 2013-11-13

Mexico / Canada La Sierrita members detained two days before hearing against Excellon[IndustriALL Global Union] 2013-11-14

New Zealand Strong measure needed to maintain jobs and services in Northland amalgamation plan [PSA] 2013-11-14 4 more labour news stories from New Zealand today

Papua New Guinea Strike looms in PNG capital over corruption concerns [RNZI] 2013-11-13

Philippines PAL employees’ return lauded[The Standard] 2013-11-13 4 more labour news stories from Philippines today

Singapore Some 2,600 Employment Passes not renewed in first half of this year [ST] 2013-11-13 1 more labour news stories fromSingapore today

South Africa / Western Cape Farmworker strike declared illegal [The Times] 2013-11-13 20 more labour news stories from South Africatoday


UK Unite launches credit union scheme to take on ‘rip-off’ payday lenders [The Guardian] 2013-11-13 5 more labour news stories from UKtoday

USA Goodwill Industries spotlighted again for underpaying its disabled workers [Working In These Times] 2013-11-14 9 more labour news stories from USA today

Vietnam New Amnesty report highlights mistreatment of 28 year old labour activist Do Thi Minh Hanh [Amnesty International] 2013-11-13 0 more labour news stories from Vietnamtoday

Labour Herald – Issue No.101

Africa / Asia / Caribbean / Central America /Europe / Middle East / South America

Argentina Subte workers strike, Line A service halted [The Herald] 2013-11-03

Australia / Queensland AWU slams Queensland IR changes [AWU Queensland] 2013-11-04 28 more labour news stories fromAustralia today

Bahrain Human Rights campaign highlights nurse union leader jailed for defence of health worker rights [Front Line Defenders] 2013-11-03

Bulgaria Bulgaria’s Trade Unions: Time Is Not Ripe for Nationwide Strike [] 2013-11-03

Burma Workers at industrial zones are ‘new era slaves’, report says [Mizzima] 2013-11-03

Cambodia Factory’s contracts seen as ‘test case’ for brands [Phnom Penh Post] 2013-11-041 more labour news stories from Cambodiatoday

Canada Share your unique perspective on the future of TV in Canada [CMG] 2013-11-03 7 more labour news stories from Canada today

Europe Why Scandinavian women make the rest of the world jealous [Reuters] 2013-11-03

France French minister: journalists shot to death in Mali [Jakarta Post] 2013-11-04

Ghana Looming nationwide strike: TUC has shown maturity – Baako [GhanaWeb] 2013-11-03

Global Surviving the post-employment economy [Aljazeera] 2013-11-04

India / Jammu and Kashmir Work on J&K tunnel suspended after workers, police clash[The Hindu] 2013-11-04 1 more labour news stories from India today

Indonesia Workers getting more education[Jakarta Post] 2013-11-04 5 more labour news stories from Indonesia today

Iran / Global ITF letter to Hassan Rouhani on Reza Shahabi For more info [Justice for Iranian Workers] 2013-11-03

Ireland Siptu bus workers’ vote on strike action ‘finely balanced’ [The Independent] 2013-11-03

Israel / Palestine Israeli Antiquities Authority to take on 13 Palestinian workers [WAC MAAN] 2013-11-03

Italy Bank Union plans first national strike in 13 years [Reuters] 2013-11-04 1 more labour news stories from Italy today

Japan Rhetoric Not Enough for Japan’s Working Women [The Diplomat] 2013-11-03

Kazakhstan Kazakh Lawyer Who Defended Striking Oil Workers Released From Forced Psychiatric Care [RFE/Radio Liberty] 2013-11-031 more labour news stories from Kazakhstantoday

Kenya Moi referral strike cancelled [The Star] 2013-11-03

Korea (North) / China NK Doctors Working in China [DailyNK] 2013-11-03

Korea (South) Int’l solidarity with KTU (#3)[CINA] 2013-11-04

Lebanon The quest for labor reform in Lebanon [albawaba] 2013-11-04

Middle East Unions and human rights groups say more must be done for domestic workers in the MidEast [Arabian Business] 2013-11-03

Nigeria Varsities Non-Academic Unions Want ASUU’s Agreement Dumped [allAfrica] 2013-11-03

Pakistan Exploitation: Workers will stage mass protest if demands not met [Labourwatch] 2013-11-03 5 more labour news stories fromPakistan today

Qatar Critics of Qatari policies on labor, sports target business interest [Hurriyet Daily News] 2013-11-04

Saudi Arabia Riyadh under fire at U.N. over women’s, migrant worker rights [Reuters] 2013-11-03

South Africa / Limpopo Union says begins strike at Northam Platinum [Reuters] 2013-11-04 3 more labour news stories from South Africa today

UK / India Unite accuses Tata steel of trying to ‘sack’ its way out of a downturn [Unite] 2013-11-03 4 more labour news stories from UKtoday

USA Guitar Center Workers In Las Vegas Vote To Unionize, Marking Third Union Win This Year [Huffington Post] 2013-11-04 15 more labour news stories from USA today

Labour Herald – Issue No. 100

Africa / Asia / Caribbean / Central America /Europe / Middle East / South America

Asia Strategy planning by Asian unions at TATA Steel [IndustriALL Global Union] 2013-11-01

Australia / South Australia Liberals pledge to review WorkCover board changes if elected in SA next March [ABC] 2013-11-01 42 more labour news stories from Australia today

Austria Metalworkers reach 2.85 per cent wage increase [IndustriALL Global Union] 2013-11-01

Bulgaria Ghost villages and the slow death of rural Bulgaria [Equal Times] 2013-10-31

Cambodia The killers of Chea Vichea remain at large, amid charges that the country’s justice system fosters impunity [Al Jazeera] 2013-10-31 2 more labour news stories fromCambodia today

Canada / Quebec Evidence mounts of close relationship between mobster and union boss[CTV] 2013-10-31 11 more labour news stories from Canada today

Chile Barrick Chile mine workers set to strike, Pascua-Lama project faces delay [The Globe and Mail] 2013-10-31 1 more labour news stories from Chile today

Egypt 72,000 textile workers must receive salary owed by government: ETUF President[Daily News Egypt] 2013-10-31 5 more labour news stories from Egypt today

Ghana Don’t respond to TUC’s call to strike – Kwabena Donkor tells workers [Citi FM] 2013-10-31 2 more labour news stories from Ghanatoday

Global Why the World Bank must do better at Doing Business [ITUC] 2013-10-31

India / Delhi Union against move to privatise passenger trains [The Hindu] 2013-10-31 4 more labour news stories from India today

Indonesia Indonesia hit with mass protests over wage hike demands [ST] 2013-11-01 15 more labour news stories from Indonesiatoday

Iran Laid-off steel workers air grievances outside Parliament [Radio Zamaneh] 2013-10-312 more labour news stories from Iran today

Iraq IFJ Urges Iraqi Government to Establish Task Force to Investigate Journalist Murders in Mosul [IFJ] 2013-10-31

Ireland Dublin Bus to press ahead with cuts despite split among drivers [The Nationalist] 2013-10-31 1 more labour news stories fromIreland today

Israel Junior staff at Ben-Gurion University to strike for one day [Jerusalem Post] 2013-10-31

Jamaica CASE, National Workers’ Union row heats up [Go Jamaica] 2013-10-31

Kenya Activists share experiences to build strength [ITF news] 2013-10-31

Korea (South) / UK Brit TUC protests derecognition of Korean Teachers Union ActNOW!  [TUC] 2013-10-31

Mexico Teachers Flood Capitol to Protest Business-Led School Reforms [The Indypendent] 2013-10-31

New Zealand PACT challenged on closures[Greymouth Evening Star] 2013-11-01 11 more labour news stories from New Zealand today

Nigeria Electiricity Union Directs Members To Down Tools [Channels] 2013-10-31 2 more labour news stories from Nigeria today

Papua New Guinea Ok Tedi mine workers on strike [Radio Australia] 2013-10-31

Portugal Lisbon subway shuts in anti-austerity protest [ST] 2013-11-01 2 more labour news stories from Portugal today

Qatar / Global Injustice – plane and simple[Equal Times] 2013-10-31

Russia Oil and gas workers fight back attack on their rights [IndustriALL Global Union] 2013-11-01

Saudi Arabia IFJ Demands Immediate Release of Saudia Arabian Journalist Tariq-al-Mubarak[IFJ] 2013-10-31

Singapore Job growth slows but bosses still keen to hire [ST] 2013-11-01 1 more labour news stories from Singapore today

South Africa Union to buy apparel business[BDLive] 2013-10-31

Spain Miners mourn six dead co-workers[IndustriALL Global Union] 2013-11-01

Tunisia Prime Minister-Designate to be Announced Saturday, UGTT Says [Tunisia Live] 2013-10-31 1 more labour news stories fromTunisia today

Turkey Workers unite worldwide for Reinstate the 305 campaign [ITF Global Union] 2013-10-31

UK ASLEF welcomes increased funding for level-crossing safety [ASLEF] 2013-10-31

USA Workers Are Under Attack in the States[The Nation] 2013-10-31 11 more labour news stories from USA today

Labour Herald – Issue No.99

Africa / Asia / Caribbean / Central America /Europe / Middle East / South America

Australia / New South Wales False hope on Electrolux cuts no ice with AWU [Central Western Daily] 2013-10-26 10 more labour news stories from Australia today

Bangladesh Minimum-Wage Hike Won’t Appease Workers [In These Times] 2013-10-26

Canada / Ontario Rollbacks: How Does It Make You Feel?  ActNOW!  [USW] 2013-10-27 21 more labour news stories from Canada today

Cyprus Some municipal workers to go on strike [The Mail] 2013-10-26

India / Kerala Port, dock workers sign new wage settlement [Business Line] 2013-10-26 5 more labour news stories from India today

Indonesia Government braces for nationwide labor protests [The Post] 2013-10-26

Ireland Fears of new strike as Dublin Bus drivers split over cost-cut plan [The Independent] 2013-10-26

Korea (South) Ministry of Labor has become the ‘Ministry of Employers’ [Hankyoreh] 2013-10-27 1 more labour news stories from Korea (South) today

New Zealand Auckland McDonalds blockaded in pay and homophobia dispute [libcom] 2013-10-26

Nigeria Maritime Workers Have Not Been Paid For Eight Months Now [Spy Ghana] 2013-10-261 more labour news stories from Nigeria today

Portugal Demonstrators protest crisis cuts[Channel News Asia] 2013-10-27

Qatar / Global Draconian employment laws pose even more problems for FIFA [Yahoo News] 2013-10-26

Sri Lanka Trade Union Front urges President’s intervention [The Island] 2013-10-26

Trinidad and Tobago NWU CONDEMNS MASS FIRING OF NP WORKERS [national workers union] 2013-10-26 3 more labour news stories from Trinidad and Tobago today

UK Trainees are charged hefty fees to work for Ryanair [Observer] 2013-10-27

USA McDonald’s helpline tells employee to apply for food stamps [The Globe and Mail] 2013-10-27 27 more labour news stories fromUSA today