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.
Get more civil aviation news by following the ITF civil aviation blogCivil Aviation on Facebook (Spanish) and Twitter pages

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.

Striking is not a crime – Free jailed Chinese labour rights defenders

Workers in China who organize in defense of their interests, go on strike or even petition to the government are fired, criminalized, arbitrarily detained in “black jails” outside the legal framework or sentenced to prison labour.

Wu Guijun, a migrant worker employed for 9 years making furniture at the Diweixin Product Factory in Shenzhen (southern China), has been detained since May 23 and faces criminal prosecution for defending the rights of his co-workers. Since his arrest Wu has been denied contact with his family.

Workers at the Hong Kong-owned factory sought negotiations earlier this year in response to concerns about production cutbacks and apparent preparations for relocation to another site in the Chinese interior. Seven workers were elected to represent them, including Wu, but the employer refused to disclose any information and rejected negotiations. In response, the workers downed tools on May 7 and petitioned the local government to intervene. On May 23, 300 workers were besieged by the police while marching to the City Government; more than 20 workers were arrested and detained, including Wu Guijun. All were eventually released except for Wu. According to his lawyer, Wu now faces criminal prosecution for “assembling a crowd to disturb social order”.

Big Six in Denmark sign Bangladesh Safety Deal

Bestseller, IC Companys, DK Company, PWT Group, COOP Denmark, and Danish Supermarket all agreed to back the Bangladesh Safety Deal following a meeting organised by the Danish Ethical Trading Initiative (DIEH) bringing together, NGOs, unions and government officials. The Danish Trade Minister Pia Olsen Dyhr urged the companies to add their names to the agreement which aims to improve safety conditions in Bangladesh’s garment factories in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse that claimed 1,129 lives.
The Accord brokered by IndustriALL and UNI Global Union in a strong alliance with leading NGOs, the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Workers Right Consortium, now covers around 2000 of Bangladesh’s 4000 garment factories.
Andy York from N Brown Group, one of the companies which has already signed the Accord and who is part of the Implementation Secretariat spoke to the Danish companies and explained why signing the agreement was the right thing to do.
IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary Jyrki Raina welcomed the new signatories, “The Danish trade unions, including IndustriALL affiliate 3F, have worked well in convincing the Danish market leaders into joining the Accord. The momentum continues building the Accord and continues to further alienate those brands remaining outside.”
UNI Global Union General Secretary, Philip Jennings observed, “We had a lively and informal exchange with the retailers present. We welcome the decision by these six “Great Dane” retailers to sign the agreement. This is another important day for the Accord which continues to grow in scope. The retail sector is answering the call for a socially responsible supply chain.
We know that lives depend on it, with the will to succeed shown by the Danish companies and the 60 plus brands who have signed the Accord we will achieve the goal of making Bangladeshi garment factories safer places to work. Trade Minister Pia Olsen Dyhr and the Danish government should be applauded for driving the Accord forward in Denmark. During discussions with the Trade Minister I was impressed with her determination to get all Danish retailers on board. Other European governments should take note and get behind the Accord as should politicians elsewhere, notably in the United States.”

Jennings said that the global brands, unions and NGOs were making rapid and constructive progress to implement the Accord. He concluded, “There can be no excuses in terms of cost or process to not join the Accord. The Danish companies took their time and have made the right decision. The decision by certain U.S. brands, led by Walmart, to refuse to sign, is looking more and more like a serious error of judgement.”
The Accord provides for a binding programme of fire and building safety reforms based on independent inspections, worker-led health and safety committees and union access to factories, signatories commit to underwrite improvements in dangerous factories and properly confront fire safety and structural problems. The Accord grants workers the right to refuse dangerous work, in line with ILO Convention 155.

UNI Apro South Asia Finance Unions Meet @ ADB Events in New Delhi

Prof Prabal K Sen from Xavier Management School delivered a key note presentation on the impact and implication of India’s new banking sector reforms on South Asia at the SAFSUC meeting

UNI ILC President Milind Nadkarni welcomes participants

Prof Prabal K Sen receives UNI Finance Publications from President Yutaka Seki 

SAFSUC members planning organizing campaigns

Yasuke Kanamitsu from FNIU Japan

Shigeo Nakamoto from Trust Bank Federation Japan

South Asia Finance Sector Unions Council [SAFSUC] co-ordination meeting was held in conjunction with the 46th ADB Annual Governors Meeting on 5th May 2013 in New Delhi India.

Yutaka Seki President UNI Apro Finance in his opening remarks urged the finance industry trade unions to double up efforts to increase the trade union density especially in the private bank and insurance companies in SAARC region.

Seki said the UNI Apro participants made their presence felt at the ADB CSO events by taking up issues important to workers such as investment of pension funds. Strong trade unions are important to lobby and influence policy direction of ADB to achieve desired objectives for the benefit of entire society.

UNI Apro Finance Sector Director Jayasri Priyalal welcomed the new affiliate from India All India Bank of Baroda Officers Association to the meeting. He said Insurance Employees Union from Sri Lanka and Democratic Workers Alliance CBA union from State Bank of Pakistan has applied for affiliation increasing the member unions in SAFSUC. Priyalal thanked UNI Finance affiliates from Japan and Malaysia for taking time from ADB events to observe the SAFSUC meeting. SAFSUC members congratulated the newly elected Milind Nadkarni as General Secretary of AIBOBEF, K C Ganesh President FIEUN Nepal and V Narasimhan General Secretary of AINLIEF India in their respective conventions.

SAFSUC members paid tribute to Late Bro Sheik A Iftikhar longstanding trade unionist who represented and led the finance industry employees for decades in Pakistan. Bro Iftikhar who was also the former General Secretary of UNI Liaison Council in Pakistan passed away on 26th April 2013 in Lahore. A minute silence was observed by SAFSUC members at the commencement of the meeting as a mark of respect to late Bro Iftikhar.

Prof Prabal K Sen from Xavier Management School delivered a key note presentation on the impact and implication of India’s new banking sector reforms on South Asia at the SAFSUC meeting. Kanamitsu YusukeFNIU Japan and Shigeo Nakamoto Trust Bank Federation shared finance industry reform experiences with SAFSUC members.

The SAFSUC meeting was transformed into a workshop in the second half and participants engaged in group work to map the bank and insurance sectors and come up with an organizing plan to increase trade union density in the respective countries. The organizing plans will be included in the UNI Apro Finance Strategic plan to be adopted at the sector conference in Bangkok in August 2013.

The event saw a turn up of 31 participants from 11 finance sector trade unions and five SAARC countries, including observers from Japan and Malaysia. Eleven of these participants were women trade union activist.

For Professor Prabal K Sen’s paper, please refer to the Related Files tab.

What do you know about Global Unions?

Thank you for supporting our campaigns — campaigns which are often launched at the request of global union federations such as IndustriALL, the Education International, UNI, PSI, the ITF or the IUF.

Your union is probably affiliated to one of these organisations.

Maybe even more than one.

And yet the international organisations of the labour movement are hardly household names in most parts of the world.

LabourStart’s new 100 page book, The Global Labour Movement: An Introduction, aims to change that.

As well as finding out about the histories of the global unions, you’ll learn about what they do today, and how – whether you’re a teacher, a docker, or a farm worker – there’s a global union for you.

We live in the age of globalisation.

Industrial struggles take place along the supply chain of huge multinationals, and every active trade unionist needs to be familiar with our international movement.

If you want to learn more, get your copy now for only $5.99 (£3.99 in the UK) – and get your union to order copies in bulk.

(You can also order the book from or

And while we have your attention, a reminder. You can also still purchase our first book, Campaigning Online and Winning. This book reveals some of the human stories behind our successful campaigns, and reminds us of the real impact your support can have on the lives of workers around the world.

Thanks for your support!

Eric Lee

UNI Latest News

Global Unions met new ADB President Takehiko Nakao – 07.05.2013
Representatives of UNI Apro met the new ADB President, Takehiko Nakao at the 46th Asian Development Bank Annual Governors Meeting in Greater Noida, India.
EU must push for fundamental rights in Bangladesh garment sector – 06.05.2013
The global union movement welcomes European Commission’s commitment to press Bangladesh to meet international labour standards
Whistleblowers urged to come forward on Walmart – 06.05.2013
UNI draws attention to Walmart’s deplorable track record in workers’ rights at FDI national protest meeting in New Delhi & new whistleblower website launches to expose alleged abuses at Walmart
Social dialogue in the commerce sector in CEE countries – 06.05.2013
Trade union and employers representatives from Poland, Romania and Bulgaria discussed challenges in establishing an effective social dialogue in commerce and identified urgent future action points
First General Assembly of KC Union in Colombia – 06.05.2013
Kimberly Clark workers in Tocancipa, Colombia, have called for the first assembly in the company’s plant to prepare for the negotiation which will end with the signing of a collective agreement
Partnership with Trade Unions Works: Amartya Sen – 05.05.2013
Nobel laureate Professor Amartya Sen talks about his experience with trade unions at the 46th ADB Annual Governors meeting in New Delhi, India.
Manchester Airport cleaners strike against wage cut – 03.05.2013
UNI in solidarity with Unite members taking action for a fair wage
International Basketball Unions praise Jason Collins – 03.05.2013
NBA Players’ union (NBPA) in New York hosts inaugral meeting of UNI Sport Pro Global Alliance of Basketball Player Associations. The Alliance issues a statement in support of Jason Collins
Manchester Airport Cleaners Strike Today – Unite Members Fight Back – 02.05.2013
Over 100 Cleaners on strike
Marching for Better Labour Polices – 02.05.2013
Mascots and RCCIGU members march on Labour Day in Hong Kong
UNI on the march for May Day – 01.05.2013
UNI is taking part in May Day marches and protests around the globe standing up for workers’ rights and the unemployed – see some of the images here
May Day Message 2013 Jobs not Austerity – 01.05.2013
UNI’s General Secretary, Philip Jennings highlights jobs as crucial factor in overcoming global crisis and calls for end to ultra-austerity measures driving economy and working people to the wall
26.5 million out off work. Again a new EU record! – 30.04.2013
12.1% in € area. For youth 24%. Greece & Spain worst: 27% & 27%; for youth 59 & 56%.
UNI Sport PRO May Day Messages – 30.04.2013
“It is absolutely crucial that athletes across the world are recognised as workers and secured proper conditions to work under…. ” Mads Øland – Board Member, FIFPro. Read other messages here
Adriana Rosenzvaig’s message for the International Workers´ Day – 30.04.2013
UNI Americas sends its solidarity greetings and gratitude for your tireless struggle for better working conditions, dignity and respect in every corner of our united America.
Engineers working as contracted out or agency labour, earn less – 30.04.2013
Highly qualified people who work in technical jobs and are employed as contract workers or assigned to other companies often they earn up to 20 per cent less than permanent employees
CWU-UK Members in Crown Post Offices to Strike Monday – 29.04.2013
CWU members in Crown Post Office outlets are on strike for the third time Monday to protest Post Office closures
Amcor Tobacco Izmir, Turkey delay recognition again – 29.04.2013
Lawyers representing Amcor have once again raised further legal objections in the Labour court in an effort to further delay union recognition.
Ver.di wins pay rise in new Deutsche Post agreement – 29.04.2013
UNI affiliate ver.di has won a 5.7% pay rise in a new collective agreement with the German post after a series of strikes during bargaining
International Workers Memorial Day remembers Dhaka victims – 26.04.2013
UNI and its affiliates pay tribute to the workers killed in the factory building collapse in Dhaka and call for new regulations and the supply chain to be cleaned up
Posted in UNI