IFJ Conference Outlines Key Reforms for a Democratic Iraqi Media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and its affiliate, the Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate (IJS), have denounced the ongoing attacks against journalists in Iraq and issued a series of recommendations to improve the safety and rights of journalists in the country.

The recommendations were made at the conference ‘Iraq Media: Ten Years On – Journalists Rights, Safety and Legal Reform,’ held in Istanbul, 28-29 April, to mark the 10th anniversary of the occupation of Iraq. The conference was organised in coperation with the IFJ, Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate and UNESCO.

“Our affiliate in Iraq, the IJS, and its members have shown an extraordinary tenacity in standing up, for over a decade, to some of the toughest challenges encountered by journalists,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “They ranged from sectarian deadly attacks, making the grim toll of killed journalists in Iraq the worst in the world, to their courageous fight for a free and independent media.

Ten years on, collective action by journalists delivers every day on many fronts, from the campaign for a strong professional culture, to building quality in media, defending public values and campaigning on self-regulation.

Despite the still uncertain political landscape, this has placed Iraqi journalists in a key position to gather the widest coalition to help build the new democratic Iraq and look forward to the next 10 years.”

Participants, including journalists, media editors, members of the Iraqi parliament, the Ministry of Human Rights and the Iraqi High Commission of Human Rights, the Federation of Arab Journalists and the Centre of Law and Democracy, debated the reforms needed to tackle issues such as impunity, journalist safety and journalists professional and social rights in Iraq.

In a joint statement, the representatives involved remembered the 380 journalists and media workers who have lost their lives in Iraq in the last ten years, denounced the ongoing attacks and violence against Iraqi journalists and expressed their deep concern at the failure to bring killers of journalists to justice.

02 May 2013
World Press Freedom Day
IFJ Names Worst Jailers of Journalists for World Press Freedom Day 2013

IFJ Conference Outlines Key Reforms for a Democratic Iraqi Media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and its affiliate, the Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate (IJS), have denounced the ongoing attacks against journalists in Iraq and issued a series of recommendations to improve the safety and rights of journalists in the country.
The recommendations were made at the conference ‘Iraq Media: Ten Years On – Journalists Rights, Safety and Legal Reform,’ held in Istanbul, 28-29 April, to mark the 10th anniversary of the occupation of Iraq. The conference was organised in coperation with the IFJ, Iraqi Journalists’ Syndicate and UNESCO.
“Our affiliate in Iraq, the IJS, and its members have shown an extraordinary tenacity in standing up, for over a decade, to some of the toughest challenges encountered by journalists,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “They ranged from sectarian deadly attacks, making the grim toll of killed journalists in Iraq the worst in the world, to their courageous fight for a free and independent media.
“Ten years on, collective action by journalists delivers every day on many fronts, from the campaign for a strong professional culture, to building quality in media, defending public values and campaigning on self-regulation.

“Despite the still uncertain political landscape, this has placed Iraqi journalists in a key position to gather the widest coalition to help build the new democratic Iraq and look forward to the next 10 years.”

Participants, including journalists, media editors, members of the Iraqi parliament, the Ministry of Human Rights and the Iraqi High Commission of Human Rights, the Federation of Arab Journalists and the Centre of Law and Democracy, debated the reforms needed to tackle issues such as impunity, journalist safety and journalists professional and social rights in Iraq.

In a joint statement, the representatives involved remembered the 380 journalists and media workers who have lost their lives in Iraq in the last ten years, denounced the ongoing attacks and violence against Iraqi journalists and expressed their deep concern at the failure to bring killers of journalists to justice.

TRIOKA WATCH

As the financial, economic, political, and social crises in Europe continue unabated, UNI Europa launches Troika Watch, an online austerity policy watchdog.

Description

In response to the global financial crisis and the ensuing Euro-zone crisis, a task force comprising the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) was established. This tripartite task force is called the Troika. It has engaged policy discussions with the national authorities in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus.

The Troika intervenes in cris…is countries to restore growth, employment, and competitiveness; strengthen the financial system; and safeguard fiscal sustainability. In effect, the Troika makes recommendations that governments in crisis situations cannot refuse.

As the financial, economic, political, and social crises in Europe continue unabated, UNI Europa is launching Troika Watch, an online austerity policy watchdog. Through Troika Watch, UNI Europa aims to offer an assessment of the austerity policies and their ill-effects, and to reveal workers’ individual, real-life stories in the sectors covered by UNI Global.

OECD Work on Global Value Chains should Draw Lessons from Worst Industrial Accident in Bangladesh, on the Eve of International Workers’ Memorial Day

26/04/2013

The OECD must play its role in preventing these tragic and wholly avoidable accidents in Bangladesh by reflecting the lessons in its policy work on Global Value Chains” said John Evans, TUAC General Secretary.

Bangladesh’s worst industrial accident to date on April 24th has resulted in the deaths of more than 200 garment workers, with the possibility of this figure rising to up to 1,000 as many hundreds of workers remain injured and trapped in the rubble, according to IndustriALL, the Global Union Federation representing workers in the garment industry. The tragic incident occurred just days before the International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers, part of a global union campaign for improved working conditions.

TUAC understands that the OECD’s work surrounding Global Value Chains is centred around deepening understanding of job creation, income distribution, and the types of employment that are being generated.

The appalling working conditions for workers in Bangladesh highlight the urgent need for OECD policy work in this area to address working conditions, health and safety, and the role of trade unions.

Moreover, under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (MNEs), the OECD’s flagship instrument on responsible business conduct, the brands have a responsibility to avoid being involved in health and safety accidents in their supply chain. More than merely spreading ideas on responsible business conduct, they are expected to undertake due diligence and to take action when such accidents occur, including providing remedy to workers and using their considerable leverage with suppliers to change conditions on-the-ground. TUAC urges the OECD to integrate this responsibility of MNEs into its work on Global Value Chains.

Crisis shockwaves reverberate in European public sector

The public sector in many European countries has been hit hard by the economic crisis, leading to big cuts in spending, jobs and wages. In this article, ILO Senior Economist, Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead, analyses the impact on the public sector, of policy responses to the crisis.

Although there have been diverse responses to the economic crisis in Europe, the immediate pressure to make savings and reduce public spending have led most governments to make cuts to expenditure, jobs and wages – often hastily.

The wages of public sector employees have been cut in a variety of ways: Several countries have implemented a basic wage freeze or cut, as has been the case in Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania. Others, such as Greece and Hungary, have abolished bonuses for public sector employees. In Greece, the minimum wage was also cut for the first time by 22 per cent.

In some cases these adjustments have halted public sector structural reforms, (like better wage-fixing systems and more efficiency), as has been the case in Portugal and Romania.

Lost wage premium

As a result, public sector employees in a number of countries have lost the wage premium they traditionally enjoyed over the private sector, which was justified by higher education levels in the public sector.

In Romania, for instance, the wage differential between the public and private sector fell from 40 per cent in 2010 to minus 15 per cent in 2011. Such dynamics have also lowered skills, the level of investment in public sector occupations and have stopped attracting the quantities of young qualified graduates which hitherto have been its lifeblood.

At the same time, uniform wage cuts along the wage scale have increased inequality and hit lower grades harder, thus plunging many workers below the poverty threshold. As a result, the new phenomenon of the “public sector working poor” has emerged in Europe.

In Hungary, this affects more than 50 per cent of public sector employees below secondary education level. This has, in turn, led to an increased migration of public sector employees, with a massive wave of emigration among doctors and nurses, but also teachers, from Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland.

As protests against austerity measures spread in southern Europe –especially in Greece, Spain and Portugal – more and more people hit by the crisis are also moving to northern countries in search of decent jobs.

Gender inequality has also been fuelled by public sector adjustments because of the traditional importance of the public sector for women’s employment, career development and flexible time, work and family arrangements.

Poorer working conditions

Job losses in the public sector have also contributed to increased workloads and working hours for the remaining employees, while payment rates for overtime have been reduced or even frozen in a number of countries. The simultaneous reduction in expenditure has also reduced the human and material resources available to carry out services, which generally remain the same or even increased – as in health and education.

The neglect of social dialogue in the reform process and the abolition of a number of provisions that encouraged collective bargaining, have contributed to worsening working conditions in the public sector. Previously known as a “model employer”, public sector practices are now converging with those in the private sector.

These changes, and the way they have been implemented, have triggered a wave of demonstrations and strikes by public sector employees –often joined by other social groups– throughout Europe. Beyond the immediate economic costs of such protests, the worsening social climate in the public sector rings alarm bells for the future.

Worsening quality

Such changes also have a direct impact on the future quality of public services: In schools, for instance they may lead to lower ratios of teachers to students in classes. In hospitals, admissions’ waiting lists are likely to grow. Reforms will also have an impact on public administration.

A more balanced combination of quantitative adjustments and structural reform in the public sector needs to be promoted. There also needs to be a better mix between fiscal and other important considerations such as equality, social dialogue, employment opportunities, working conditions and the future efficiency and quality of public services.

Only under these conditions can public services in Europe continue to provide an important source of both social cohesion and economic growth.

Indian Milk Food Factory Workers Union wins fight against union busting, restores rights

After 62 days of continuous protests the IUF-affiliated Milk Food Factory Workers Union in Punjab, India, won a crucial victory against union-busting and the erosion of working conditions by profit hungry GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare.

In an agreement reached on April 23 all suspensions were withdrawn and union members returned to work the next day. The arbitrary wage cuts imposed in February and March as punishment for union activities were also reversed and will be repaid in full.

This paved the way for a new collective agreement retroactive to October 1, 2012 that substantially improves the wages and benefits of the union’s 1,600 members and addresses the deteriorating working conditions that led to the dispute.

The union thanked the IUF-affiliated Dairy Employees Federation of India (DEFOI) and the IUF Dairy Division for their support in winning a fair deal for dairy workers in Punjab.

IFJ Names Worst Jailers of Journalists for World Press Freedom Day 2013

To mark World Press Freedom Day tomorrow, Friday 3 May 2013, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has written to the Brussels embassies of the four countries in the world with the highest numbers of imprisoned journalists to demand their release.

Signed by IFJ President Jim Boumelha, the letters have been sent to the embassies of China, Iran, Turkey and Eritrea, to express the IFJ’s concern about the lack of press freedom in these countries, where journalists are routinely detained in  violation of  their fundamental freedoms and human rights.

“The only thing they (the journalists) are guilty of is fulfilling their professional duty as journalists to inform the public,” said the letters.

“We urge your Government to end this climate of fear and intimidation facing journalists and to release from jail dozens of journalists, writers and trade unionists.”

As a sign of unity and solidarity, the IFJ is also calling on its affiliates to send similar letters to the embassies of the same countries in their regions.

To print off a copy of the letters, go to: http://www.ifj.org/en/pages/world-press-freedom-day-2013

This year the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is marking World Press Freedom Day by focusing on the issue of ‘Journalist Safety and Journalists Imprisoned around the World. This reflects the on-going concern over the numbers of our colleagues who continue to languish in prisons in many countries as a result of their profession.

In Iran, according to IFJ affiliate, the Association of Iranian Journalists (AoIJ), at least 24 journalists are currently in prison on charges of allegedly violating Iranian laws.

In Turkey, IFJ affiliate, the Turkish Union of Journalists, estimates that at least 66 journalists are currently in prison, awaiting trial on charges of allegedly isolating the Turkish penal code or anti-terror laws. IFJ’s European organisation, the European Federation of Journalists, is running a campaign with the Turkish Union of Journalists to ‘Set Journalists Free in Turkey’:http://europe.ifj.org/en/pages/turkey-campaign-set-journalists-free

In Eritrea, according to reliable sources, at least 18 journalists have been detained without charges since the authorities imposed a ban on independent media in September 2001.

And in China, it was reported in 2012 that potentially over 30 journalists were imprisoned, awaiting trial on charges of allegedly violating the Chinese penal code or anti-terror laws.

To find out what events are planned by our affiliates for World Press Freedom Day 2013, visit our web page:http://www.ifj.org/en/pages/world-press-freedom-day-2013

Help the humanitarian relief effort in Savar

02.05.2013 Please make a financial contribution to the relief efforts of the killed and injured garment workers of the Rana Plaza industrial homicide via a new dedicated bank account set up by the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council.

IndustriALL’s affiliates and supporters can make solidarity contributions for the humanitarian relief effort for victims of the Rana Plaza tragedy through the bank details below. The account has been expressly set up by the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council, through which all affiliates in the country coordinate their joint work. This follows numerous requests received by IndustriALL from those wanting to provide support to the victims and their families of the Rana Plaza industrial homicide.

The IndustriALL Bangladesh Council reports that the conditions on the ground and of the injured workers are beyond belief, as unions and NGOs participate in the effort to supply drinking water, food and medical care in extreme circumstances.

While urgently required, this humanitarian relief does not and will not remove the need for the Western apparel brands, local employers and Bangladeshi government to provide compensation to the over 427 dead and 2,500 injured and their families.

IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary Jyrki Raina told Al Jazeera on 31 April that “There is blood on these cheap t-shirts and it is time for change now”.

Raina told Al Jazeera:

This latest tragedy just illustrates the completely unsustainable business model that the international brands and retailers have been driving in Bangladesh based on extreme exploitation of workers, wages of US$38 a month, long working hours, lack of freedom of association, and over 1,000 workers who have died in factory fires and collapses during the past seven years.

IndustriALL Global Union will continue to fight for the payment of compensation for the affected workers, as in the cases of the recent Tazreen Fashion and Smart Fashion disasters. But it will also continue to fight for proper trade union rights in the Bangladeshi garment industry to empower organized workers to force improvements in safety, conditions and wages.

In May Day marches in Geneva, India and Uruguay IndustriALL rallied behind the call for justice for the over 427 murdered garment workers in Savar, Bangladesh. The May Day march in Dhaka combined mourning and anger, after garment workers took strike action last week demanding improvements in safety and justice for those directly responsible for the Rana Plaza collapse.

The bank details for solidarity contributions:

Account name: IndustriALL Bangladesh Council
Account number: 0010-0210020054
Bank name: NCC Bank Ltd.
Branch name: DHANMONDI
Swift code: NCCLBDDHDMB
Email: nccbdhan@yahoo.com

Partnership with Trade Unions Works: Prof Amartya Sen

05/05/2013 – India
Nobel laureate Prof Amartya Sen citing from his experiences said at a panel discussion during the 46th ADB Annual Governors meeting in New Delhi, India

Speaking at the panel discussion on the theme Delivering Effective Public Services sharing his own experiences to improve absenteeism amongst primary school teachers and to deliver quality primary education how he engaged with the trade unions in Bangladesh. Prof Sen defined development as “Expansion of Human Freedom”. Economic growth need to generate more income for the population but Prof Sen questioned what proportion of the income is spent on public welfare. Public services need to target priorities for expanding human capabilities and such schemes have paid rich dividends in Japan and Korea’s success said Prof Sen.

Empowerment is means and ends and it is the sole objective of development. Right diagnosis of the problem is half of the solution and engaging trade unions and cashing on their experiences and partnering with them works said Prof Sen.

Newly elected ADB President Takehiko Nakao in his introductory remarks to the panel discussion said ADB aims to achieve Inclusive Growth through Empowerment and listening to citizen’s voice and citizen empowerment will be a strategic focus of the bank activities in future.

Large contingent of trade union activists from the Global Unions attended the ADB’s 46th Annual Governors meeting in New Delhi. Pensions Towards Socially Responsible Investments was the theme of the CSO panel discussion organized by trade unions at the 46th ADB Annual Governors Meeting in New Delhi .

Hong Kong port dispute latest

3 May 2013

In the latest news from Hong Kong the Union of Hong Kong Dockers (UHKD) reports that employees of Comcheung Limited joined the dockers’ strike yesterday. Comcheung, a contractor at Kwai Chung container terminals, immediately offered workers a wage increase and one-off cash bonus. This offer was rejected, with workers calling for a written agreement. Their union and the ITF-affiliated UHKD have called on the company to join the negotations with Hong Kong International Terminals (HIT), which is owned by global network terminal operator Hutchison Port Holdings.

Comcheung is reported to be actively recruiting striking crane operators who were laid off by HIT contractor Global Stevedoring, which announced its closure two weeks ago.

The UHKD also reports that some 530 workers are now on strike, including more than 80 per cent of the checkers and lashers in the terminals.  The union believes that HIT is hiring replacement workers and requesting that non-striking employees work consecutive shifts. The union has highlighted health and safety concerns following a reported increase in occupational injuries.

On the same day, the latest round of negotiations between the UHKD and contractor Everbest Port Services and HIT failed, with Everbest refusing to put a wage deal in writing.

Today, 3 May, the High Court will hear two injunction requests made by Cheung Kong Centre against the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions and the UHKD. The injunction seek to prevent the organisations’ leaders from entering and demonstrating outside its properties. Cheung Kong Centre is part owned by Hutchison Whampoa Limited.

Serbian construction workers demand a decent life

18 April 2013

On April 12, 2013 around 25,000 workers started an hour long warning strike in the companies throughout Serbia. At noon several hundreds of them started their protest march from Nikola Pasic square to the building of the Serbian Government in Belgrade. Warning strike is organized under the slogan ‘Saving construction in Serbia and decent life of construction workers’.

‘Government will once again receive construction workers’ demands among which the most important one is to urgently organize Government’s session including the representatives of the trade union and construction workers’, said the president of the Trade Union of Construction and Building Materials Industry Workers of Serbia, Duško Vuković. He pointed out the necessity of that action because short term measures aimed at the prevention of further destruction of construction industry had to be taken immediately.

Vuković announced that the Trade Union would go on a general strike if in the following 30 days the Serbian Government didn’t take urgent measures in order to help that branch of industry. ‘We are going to strike as long as it takes and the next time there will be a higher turnout’, said Vuković in front of the building of the Serbian Government upon delivering trade union demands to Serbian Government representatives. Vuković said that the workers were asking for regular salaries, safe working conditions, eight – hour long working hours and as he added they were patient for a long time and couldn’t wait any more.