International Development Matters - Issue 103 November 2011

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End persecution of Bahraini teaching union leaders says TUC

The TUC is calling on the Bahraini Government to drop the sentences handed out to the leaders of the Bahrain Teachers' Association, and to end its persecution of thousands of Bahraini workers. Read TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber's letter to Bahrain's Ambassador to the UK calling for their release.

Back ILO inquiry on Burma, says TUC


TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written to Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne calling on the UK Government to support an ILO Commission of Inquiry into violations of Freedom of Association in Burma during the upcoming Governing Body meeting in November.

Repression of trade union and human rights goes unabated in Fiji

The military regime in Fiji has intensified attacks on workers and their trade unions with the publication of the Essential National Industries and Designated Corporations Regulations on Friday 9 September 2011.

Read more about the regulations here

Company reps receive training on employment of people with disabilities in Tanzania


21 participants from 6 companies based in Dar-es-Salaam employing people with disabilities attended a two-day training course in June this year under the Employment Support Programme for Workers with Disabilities in Tanzania Project launched by the Disability Aid Abroad (DAA) in 2010.

Read the full report here

Sierra Leone's unions get organised

By John Stirling

Sustainable strategies are often easy to develop but a lot harder to implement. Two new developments have recently come out of the TUC's DFID project with the Sierra Leone Labour Congress that formally ended in 2010.

The first is the signing of a 'recognition agreement' (a right to bargain) by the Sierra Leone government with a newly constituted union of civil servants. This is a major achievement as civil servants have not been effectively represented before and the new union comes from an intensive organising campaign.

It is particularly important that unionisation spreads across all sections of the workforce as Sierra Leone's outdated labour laws currently prevent union membership for those workers considered to be supervisors or managers. The campaign to change the laws has been supported by Thompson's solicitors and the TUC in the UK and the government has agreed to a review.

Secondly, in a 'first' for Sierra Leone's trade unionists, they are to become University students. As a result of an initial capacity building project, trade union leaders expressed a demand for English language training. English is the country's official language and is used by employers, government bodies and NGOs, so proficiency is important in building leadership and influencing policy and bargaining outcomes.

The British Council funded a pilot project and on Friday 21st October interested trade unionists were interviewed and selected as the first set of students studying for a Certificate in English for Trade Unionists at Fourah Bay College in Freetown. They believe their course could be a model for other African trade unionists and open the door for further training owned and run in national educational institutions.

John Stirling was the consultant on the TUC-SLLC project 2007-2020.

For more information, contact [email protected]

Widespread abuse of Workers' Rights

More than a quarter of countries represented at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth this week have failed to allow basic industrial rights for workers, the ACTU said today.

Read more here

ITUC General Council Sets Agenda for Global Action in 2012

The ITUC General Council, meeting at Elewijt near Brussels this week, has set out priorities for global trade union action through to the end of 2012, with a determination to fight back against the attacks on labour rights and the loss of jobs driven by the deepening world economic crisis.

Click here to view the major areas of action

Guatemala: Another SITRABI Member Assassinated


The ITUC has joined with its Guatemalan affiliates, the CUSG, CGTG and UNSITRAGUA, in condemning the murder of Henry Anibal Marroquin Orellana, a member of the Izabal banana workers' union SITRABI, on 24 September in the municipality of Amates, in the department of Izabal.

Vicious Attacks against Zimbabwean Trade Unions


The ITUC has released a report on core labour standards in Zimbabwe coinciding with the Trade Policy Review at the WTO. The report finds systematic abuses against trade unions and poor compliance with other international labour standards.

Extortion by Al-Shabaab in Somalia: 3253 Telecommunications Workers Deprived of a Living


On 2 October, the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab banned the operations of three telecom companies, paralysing the telecommunications system in eight regions of the country. TELCOM Somalia, Nation Link Telecommunication Company and Dahabsihiil had refused to pay the sums of money the militants were attempting to illegally extort from them.

Read the current difficulties faced by Somali workers in the telecoms industry

Bahrain: Repression against Workers and Attacks against Trade Union Rights Are Still Going On


The ITUC has once again condemned the terrible repression hitting the Bahraini workers. Trade union rights have been constantly under attacks for months now despite government promises. Although the states authorities are pretending the opposite, the repression is still present at all levels.

Read more here

Kuwait: ITUC Condemns Military Threat to Striking Workers

The international trade union movement has condemned today's threat by the Kuwaiti authorities to use the army and police to stop public sector strikes in the country as public anger grows at the government's failure to respect workers' rights and its inaction on corruption.

Read more here

Bangladeshi Garment Workers' Hunger Strike Achieves Owed Wages

Several hundred garment workers conducted a hunger strike in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka on 29 September, demanding payment of outstanding wages and allowances of workers at five garment factories. Protestors also sought legal compensation for dismissed workers from four garment factories. The pressure exerted achieved payment of the moneys owed by some, but not all of the employers.

Read more here

Workers mobilise to demand decent jobs - Action in 80 countries


With unprecedented public demand for decent jobs, and pressure mounting on banks and the finance industry, the 2011 World Day for Decent Work on 7 October featured over 400 actions across more than 80 countries. Read more here

Read the study by the Trade Union Development Cooperation Network on the integration of the Decent Work Agenda into the development cooperation policy of the major donor country governments.

Global launch of campaign 'Better Aid for the World We Want'

Better Aid

On the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty civil society organizations all around the world launched a global campaign calling for a public support for firm political commitments that will make development aid truly work.

Find out more about the campaign here

ILO warns of a generation 'scarred' by a worsening global youth employment crisis


The International Labour Organization (ILO) has warned of a 'scarred' generation of young workers facing a dangerous mix of high unemployment, increased inactivity and precarious work in developed countries, as well as persistently high working poverty in the developing world. Read the Global Employment Trends for Youth: 2011 update showing the latest global and regional labour market trends that young people face.

RadioLabour to broadcast direct from Tunisia


Next week (October 31 to November 4) RadioLabour will be broadcasting directly from Tunis, Tunisia.

Special reports on the activities of labour unions participating in the pro-democracy revolutions in the Middle East will be broadcast in the daily programmes, Monday to Friday.


Tell Cameron to back a Robin Hood Tax at the G20

by Going To Work | October 20th 2011 | Featured, Take Action

Robin Hood Tax

At the G20 summit this November world leaders have a chance do something good for the world, by introducing a Robin Hood Tax.

It would help stop the cuts, tackle climate change and global poverty and help control the casino banking that got us into this mess. Lots of governments are already on board. To date, our own government has been lukewarm in public while opposing it behind closed doors.

Tell David Cameron to ignore the banking lobby and take a stand at the G20 that will be admired worldwide. Tell him to vote for Robin Hood. Add your voice to the Robin Hood Tax Campaign

G20 Finance Ministers face growing public anger for failing to reform financial system


The international trade union movement said G20 Finance Ministers are coming under increasing pressure to create jobs, tackle public debt and reform the financial system as public pressure from the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement spreads from the US to Australia, France and the UK.

Read more here

German Chancellor and Global Organisations Call for G20 Jobs Action

German Chancellor

In a joint statement issued ahead of the next G20 Summit in Cannes on 3-4 November, the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, and the heads of five international agencies, have called for increased international efforts to restore confidence to the world economy and carry out the structural policies needed to move towards a path of strong, sustainable and balanced growth.

NGOs criticise World Bank's new lending plan for poorer countries


NGOs say 'Programme-for-Results Lending' would allow countries to sidestep tough social and environmental safeguards that recipients of World Bank loans must normally meet. The World Bank plan to set up a new way to lend money to developing countries is being called a potential disaster for indigenous peoples, the environment and human rights.


Climate change: Listen to southern Africa

Take action: Before Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, travels to Durban for the climate change conference at the end of the year, ACTSA will present him with a giant montage of ears in the shape of a map of Africa to reinforce their message: 'Listen to southern Africa'.

To get involved in this innovative campaign, click here

ACT NOW: Tell Egypt to pass a labour law!

Tell the Egyptian Prime Minister to immediately pass a labour law and finally allow workers the chance to bargain for decent work.

Sign the Labour Start petition now

ACT NOW: Nestlé: Serial abuser of workers' rights

Nestlé is the world's largest food company. It is also a serial abuser of workers' rights.

The IUF, the global union federation for food workers have launched a major campaign calling on Nestlé to respect workers' rights. The campaign call comes in the wake of Nestlé sacking workers in both Indonesia and Pakistan for daring to organize themselves into trade unions.

Support the campaign here

Korea: Stop the prosecution and harassment of public workers

Korean The Government of South Korea has prosecuted almost 1400 public servants and teachers, members of the Korean Government Employees Union (KGEU) and the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union (KTU), for alleged violation of punitive laws which make it unlawful for public workers to either support or criticise political parties.

Support the campaign now

KazakhstanKazakhstan: Support striking oil workers!

Since May 2011 two towns in Western Kazakhstan have been seeing protest actions in the oil sector that still involve thousands of workers. Massive lay-offs have hit over a thousand workers, affecting their families, their children.

Support the campaign now


Professor Noam Chomsky urges increased action to win freedom for Miami Five

Noam Chomsky

Over 500 activists, academics and students attended a lecture by renowned American philosopher Noam Chomsky on Saturday 8 October. The meeting - organised by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, VSC and South East Region TUC as part of the Latin America series of events - coincided with the release of Rene Gonzalez, one of the Miami 5.

Listen to audio recording here

ITUC Spotlight interview with Carlos Mamani (Bolivia)

Spotlight Bolivia
"A new democracy should emerge out of the tensions between the government and indigenous peoples"

Carlos Mamani, an indigenous activist and professor of anthropology at the University of San Andrés, there are still traces of colonialism in Bolivia that are holding back the recognition of the rights of the majorities.

Read the full interview here

ITUC Spotlight interview with Irakli Petriashvili (GTUC-Georgia)

Spotlight GTUC-Georgia

"The labour law only serves the interests of the government and the oligarchs"

An ultraliberal labour law coupled with repeated attacks by the authorities has lost Georgia's biggest union, the GTUC over 100,000 members. Its president, Irakli Petriashvili, outlines the discrimination Georgian trade unions have to deal.

Read the full interview here

ITUC Spotlight on Alexander Dimitrevich (Ukrainian Marine Trade Union Federation)

Spotlight Ukrainian
Who speaks of the human cost of maritime piracy?

Alexander Dimitrevitch, Special Councillor on Foreign Relations and Social Issues to the President of the Ukrainian Marine Trade Union Federation, hopes that the new International Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme will help combat the increased pirate attacks, which has a huge human as well as financial cost.

Read the full interview here

ITUC Spotlight on Tatsumasa Yoshino (Rengo-Iwate - Japan)

Spotlight Japanese

'The world started to shake all around me and I ran for my life'

The Japanese Trade Union Confederation Rengo has been one of the major organisations involved in the relief work after the big tsunami that hit the eastern part of Honshu in March this year. Tatsumasa Yoshino is the General Secretary of a sub-regional Rengo office in the Iwate prefecture, one of the areas the hardest hit by the disaster.

Read the full interview here


STOP THE TRAFFIK - Community Roadshows

Community Roadshows will be equipping people to find out more about human trafficking and what they can do about it before, during, and after Anti-Slavery Day. These free interactive workshops with the police, local authorities, charities and community groups are free to attend and open to everyone, but to register is essential. For more info please email [email protected] with your name and the location you wish to attend.

  • HERTFORDSHIRE: St Alban's Vineyard Church, Unit 7 Brick Knoll Park, Ashley Road, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL1 5UG, Saturday 29th October, 2:30-5pm
  • NEWHAM: Well Community Centre, 49 Vicarage Lane, East Ham, London E6 6DQ, Monday 14th November, 5-7:30pm
  • TOWER HAMLETS: TBC, Thursday 24th November, 5-7:30pm
  • ISLINGTON: Islington Assembly Hall, Upper Street, London N1 2UD, Tuesday 13th December, 11:30am-2pm

Palestine in Parliament Day

Wednesday 23 November
2- 6pm
House of Commons, Westminster, London


Tell Parliament to help end the siege on Gaza, to act now on Jerusalem and to stop arming Israel.

Click here for more details

World AIDS Day Seminar

AIDS in a Time of Austerity Seminar
Thursday 1 December

The TUC will host a seminar on World AIDS Day to bring together trade unionists, interested NGOs and government officials to look at the status of the disease in the UK and examine the current budget constraints and their impact on the services available to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Click here for more event information

Useful websites

There are a number of websites with useful information for trade unionists, policy makers and campaigners. Details here: Useful websites

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