international Development Matters - Issue 94 December/January 2011

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Articles for inclusion in International Development Matters should be sent to at [email protected]

TUC News

Fighting for the Safety of African Journalists

Journalists and other media workers in Africa are frequently attacked and killed simply for doing their jobs of seeking the truth. Thanks to trade unions' efforts, on the eve of the AU Summit taking place in Addis Adaba, Ethiopia on 30 - 31 January 2011, the African Union is close to introducing policies to protect these workers. Success will ultimately benefit both journalists and African citizens in general, as only a truly independent media can hold governments to account.

Read the full report here

TUC protests against continuing violence in Tunisia

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has just written to the Tunisian Ambassador to the UK protesting against the continued attacks on demonstrators by security forces, and calling for dialogue with civil society on a peaceful transition to democracy.

Tunisian unions call for new government

The Tunisian trade union movement - the UGTT - has called for the interim government that they briefly joined but then pulled out of to be replaced by a government untainted by the former regime. Read more

Tunisia: TUC protests at repression of union unemployment protests

The TUC has joined international trade union protests against the violent repression of demonstrations which have wracked Tunisia since a young unemployed Tunisian man set himself on fire on 17 December and a second youth committed suicide in the town of Sidi Bouzid.

Read more here

TUC protests at murder of Guatemalan health worker

The TUC has written to the Guatemalan ambassador in London to protest at the assassination of health sector trade unionist Eswin Carol Galvez. His death follows closely after the killings of four other health sector trade unionists shortly before the New Year.

Ensuring migrants access Decent Work

The BBC News at Ten with John Simpson showed harrowing images of Asian migrant workers in Dubai, and the dire living and working conditions that they find themselves in. The footage was provided by Anti-Slavery International.

Read the full report here

Climate change in Bangladesh: building capacity and speaking with one voice


In November, Judith Carreras of Sustainlabour visited Bangladesh as part of a TUC-funded project to support the Bangladesh Occupational Safety, Health and Environment Foundation to work on climate change. The project aims to build capacity within trade unions on the issue of climate change, to build a common position, and to lobby the Bangladesh government and donors such as the World Bank to properly consider employment issues within climate change.

Read Judith's diary account here

Ensuring Better Leaders - supporting sugar workers in Guyana

Sugar Guyana

"Prior to the training, I felt that, as a female supervisory staffer, I was inferior. I am aware that women sugar workers are not recognised equally with their counterparts. However, with the knowledge I have acquired, I feel I can change this phenomenon.

Uranie Heeram is a field forewom­an in a weeding gang on a sugar estate, a shop steward and a member of GAWU's Gen­eral Council. She explains how the training worked and the impacts it has had on her.

Read her story here

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Cancun, Mexico (29 November - 10 December 2010)

Until the middle of December, energy and environment ministers representing governments from across the globe, unions and green organisations have taken all up residence in the Mexican party resort of Cancun.

Commenting on the two-week conference, TUC Deputy General Secretary, Frances O'Grady, said: 'Governments meeting in Cancun probably won't 'seal a deal' on cutting CO2 emissions this year, but they must show that they have learnt the lessons of Copenhagen.

Read more here

Other International News

Uganda gay rights activist David Kato killed

A Ugandan gay rights campaigner who last year sued a local newspaper which outed him as homosexual has been beaten to death, activists say.

Read the BBC News Africa report

ICEM Condemns ACI Conduct in Deadly Bangladesh Chemical Plant Riot

After review of the deadly clash between workers and police at Advanced Chemical Industries Ltd. (ACI) in Siddhirganj, Bangladesh, on 23 January, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine & General Workers' Union (ICEM) finds ACI's conduct contemptible and the root cause of the violence that left one worker dead and over 100 hospitalised.

Read the full story here

Egypt: ITUC condemns police repression against peaceful demonstrators


Tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators were protesting today in the capital of Cairo, as in many other Egyptian cities including Alexandria, Aswan, Mahallah, Ismailiya. As in Tunisia, they are demanding social and political reforms, blaming corruption, poverty, high prices and police brutality.

The ITUC condemns the use of tear gas and violence against demonstrators and calls for the immediate release of the people arrested today. The ITUC also condemns the censorship of some means of communication today in Egypt.

Read more here

Tata Group: repression of West Bengal Tea Workers

Tea workers on the Nowera Nuddy Tea Estate in West Bengal, India have launched a new stage in their struggle for rights and justice. When workers protested over the treatment of a tea plucker in an advanced stage of pregnancy who was denied maternity leave and forced to work, management tried to starve them into submission by denying all wages and rations for 3 months. The IUF (Uniting food, farm and hotel workers world-wide) has taken up the issue.

You can support their struggle by sending a message to Tata/Tetley - the power behind local management - telling them to meet the workers' demands NOW!

Guatemala: 2011 Starts with Killing of another Health Sector Trade Unionist

The ITUC, together with its affiliated organisations in Guatemala and the national health workers' union SNTSG, has firmly condemned the killing of a member of the health sector trade union at the opening of 2011.

Read more

Haiti a year after the earthquake: advancing together with hope

Public Service International's affiliates worldwide reflect with profound sadness on the terrible losses suffered by our members and fellow citizens in Haiti as a result of the January 12, 2010 earthquake.

PSI calls on affiliate members to take time to remember the people of Haiti and to recommit to using international trade union solidarity to move from promises to action. Read more.

Global Wage Report Calls for Collective Bargaining, Minimum Wages and Social Protection

The ITUC has welcomed the second Global Wage Report from the International Labour Organization (ILO). "Today's report reinforces what unions around the world have been saying about the economic crisis and the policy responses that governments need to put in place," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

The ILO confirms that global wages have stagnated during the crisis.

Excluding questionable figures for China and adjusting for inflation, global wage growth slowed from 2.2% in 2007 to only 0.8% in 2008 and 0.7% in 2009.

International Migrants Day - the ITCU calls on governments to ratify the United Nations Conventions

New ITUC report: from Bahrain to Malaysia: Mobilising to Defend Migrants' Rights

To mark International Migrants Day (18 Dec), the ITUC is condemning the violations of migrant workers' rights taking place all over the world. Migrants, most of whom work in the most precarious, least protected sectors, are feeling the full force of the current economic crisis and deterioration of job markets. The ITUC is calling on the governments of destination countries to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

To read the ITUC 'Union View': From Bahrain to Malaysia: Mobilising to Defend Migrants' Rights:

Australian Unions Give Generously to Flood Relief in Country

The spate of horrid flooding in the Australian state of Queensland has brought out the best in Australian trade unionism. Nearly all unions have either dedicated money to one relief agency or another, with some setting up their own benevolent funds to assist those in need.

Read the full press release

Union Post - January Edition

Union Post
The January edition of The Union Post, produced in association with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, is available for download and online viewing now:

Click here to download PDF version (780k) »

Click here to view online version »


Bringing labour's voices to the world

RadioLabour - the international labour movement's international radio service - broadcasts daily programs Monday to Friday. The Monday to Thursday shows are five minutes long. The Friday show is 10 minutes long and consists of a summary of the week's labour news, plus breaking news and features.

Here is the Friday January 7th edition of RadioLabour's "Solidarity News".

The news reports can be heard more easily (and they load much faster) from:

The RadioLabour website
Mobile phones:
iTunes: Go to the following link for instructions:

IFI News

World Bank as a global education ministry?

Proposed strategy lacks a focus on human rights

In early 2011 the World Bank will approve a new education sector strategy amid trends that mean that international goals on education will not be met. Zoe Godolphin of the University of Bristol argues that the Bank's proposed approach fails conceptually because it does not accept that education is a human right. It also fails pragmatically because it continues to advocate a template approach instead of supporting genuinely country-driven priorities in education planning.

Read more

Jobs Central to Recovery, Say Leaders of International Financial Institutions

The IMF Managing Director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and World Bank President, Robert Zoellick agreed on the importance of employment, social protection, working with trade unions and broadening the distribution of economic growth in meetings with a 90-strong high-level trade union delegation in Washington D.C. this week.

Read the full article here

Trade Unions Call On IMF And World Bank To Support Higher Employment Growth And Workers' Rights

A delegation of over 60 trade union leaders from all parts of the world is beginning a 3-day series of meetings in Washington D.C. with the Managing Director of the IMF, the President of the World Bank and other senior officials, as well as with the Executive Directors of those institutions.

'In view of the continuing unemployment crisis worldwide, it is vital that the IMF and World Bank recognise the importance of maintaining global economic stimulus until recovery is assured,' stated ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Read more

Unemployment and inequality papers from the IMF

The December issue of the IMF's glossy quarterly magazine Finance & Development contains articles on the long-term costs of unemployment and on how the increase of income inequality in the US was one of the causes of the financial crisis of 2007-2008. The latter article states that strengthening collective bargaining can be one of the most effective means to reduce potentially destabilizing income inequality. The links for the articles are as follows.

"The Tragedy of Unemployment"

"Leveraging Inequality"

The World Bank's Slippery Advocacy of Tax Cuts

Doing Business enjoys the highest circulation of any World Bank publication. It ranks countries based on the favourability of their regulations to business. It is like the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom and the Cato/Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of the World Report, but supported by the World Bank's credibility and clout.

One chapter of Doing Business is 'Paying Taxes,' which is defined broadly to include employer contributions to social security programs. The World Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers also release an expanded version of Paying Taxes as a separate report.

Read more

Global calls to action

ACT NOW: support trade union hunger striker in Iran

The TUC is supporting a global trade union campaign in solidarity with Iranian trade union leader Reza Shahabi, who has been on hunger strike since 4 December in protest at his continuing imprisonment. The global campaign includes the ITUC, ITF and Amnesty International. We are calling on the authorities in Iran to release him immediately. Please email the Iranian Government.

Turkey must reform its labour laws

Turkey is still using labour laws that were enacted under the military dictatorship in 1980 - even though its government has pledged to reform them and bring them into line with ILO conventions.

The Turkish national trade union center DISK has asked LabourStart to host an online, international campaign to bring pressure on the Turkish government to do just that.

Please sign up here

Getting jobs and growth onto the global agenda

The TUC and the International Trade Union Confederation are supporting an Avaaz internet petition to send to French President Nicholas Sarkozy to get jobs and growth onto the global agenda of the G20 in 2011.

Please support the petition and encourage others to sign up.

Cambodia: Garment Workers Fired for Demanding Fair Wages

Garment workers

Take action today to support over 300 Cambodian workers sacked for their participation in strikes for fair wages. The workers downed their tools in September last year to support trade unions in ongoing minimum-wage negotiations. They were dismissed from their factories as a consequence. Since then, efforts to get them reinstated have remained without success.

Gap, Zara and H&M source from a large number of the involved factories. You can take action today by contacting these brands to demand that these workers are allowed to return to work immediately, with compensation paid for the time they have been dismissed. Their dismissal is in direct contravention of the international declaration of human rights. Read More and Take Action.

NEW: Cotton Crimes campaign against child slavery
Anti-Slavery International is launching the Cotton Crimes campaign to step up action against child slavery in Uzbekistan's cotton industry.

Fresh evidence has emerged from this year's cotton harvest of children being forced from their classrooms into the fields to pick cotton for little or no pay.

The single biggest destination for Uzbek cotton is the European market. Despite strong condemnation from the European Union over the use of child slavery in Uzbek cotton production, the EU continues to allow the Government of Uzbekistan to benefit from reduced trading tariffs for its cotton imports. The EU should not be financially rewarding Uzbekistan for using child slavery.

Please sign the Cotton Crimes petition here calling upon the President of the European Parliament to remove trade preferences for Uzbekistan and stop child slavery.

Europe agrees new anti-trafficking law....urge the UK to sign up!

The European Parliament has made a significant step forward in tackling human trafficking across Europe by officially approving a new EU law this Tuesday (14 December) to create a more hostile environment for traffickers and to better protect victims.

Unfortunately the new law does not apply to the UK as the Government has decided not to sign up, making the UK one of only two EU countries out of 27 which will not benefit from this improved action on trafficking.

Nearly 15,000 of you have already joined our campaign calling on the UK Government to do so. Please keep the pressure on by Signing the Petition and Writing to your MP.

Read more about the new developments on BBC online or the European Parliament's website.

End the violence and impunity in Guatemala!

Guatemala is the second most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist.

47 activists have been killed, including four banana union leaders, since 2007.

Those responsible for the killings have not been brought to justice by the Guatemalan government.

On behalf of our Guatemalan trade union partners, Banana Link have joined the TUC in making a request for urgent action to end the violence and impunity in Guatemala.

TAKE ACTION! Visit or email [email protected] to order multiple copies of our Guatemala action postcards.

Take Action to Make Fruit Fair!

Workers producing bananas and pineapples for the shelves of European supermarkets often fail to earn a living wage, are sacked for joining unions and are exposed to hazardous working conditions. In response Banana Link, in partnership with Peuples Solidaires (France), BanaFair (Germany) and Spolecnost pro Fairtrade (Czech Republic), are campaigning to 'MAKE FRUIT FAIR'!

This EC funded campaign aims to mobilise support for fair and sustainable banana and pineapple supply chains, offering a wide range of opportunities to lobby the supermarkets, fruit companies and governments who all share responsibility for conditions in exporter communities.

Read more for further campaign details and how you can get involved.

Taking Liberties: the stories behind M&S, Debenhams, NEXT

LBL's new report, 'Taking Liberties: the story behind the UK high street' investigates the true life accounts of workers from Gurgaon, India producing for respected highstreet brands M&S, Debenhams and Next.

Read the report and act now

Take Up Protest for Woman Trade Unionist Jailed in Indonesia

The Building & Woodworkers International (BWI) is calling for trade unionists to register protests with the Indonesia minister of Manpower and Transmigration over jailing of a trade union leader of SP KAHUTINDO, a BWI affiliate.

Sister Nurimah, a KAHUTINDO plant level chairperson at the San Yu Frame Moulding company in Semarang, was detained on 9 December and is still being held at a state prison in Bulu, Semarang, for an alleged assault charge from June 2006. Her arrest conveniently comes at a time when the KAHUTINDO branch was pressing for its first negotiation with the wood-products manufacturer.

In June 2009, 434 of the company's 700 workers registered for KAHUTINDO representation. A series of union actions had forced the company to the bargaining table, but BWI believes the arrest of Nurimah has been orchestrated by management to intimidate workers and halt bargaining.

To register your protest with the Indonesian government, click here.

Focus on Trade Unionists

Spotlight interview with Shouket Ali (APTUC-Pakistan)

"The floods have brought social dialogue to a standstill"

Five months after the floods affecting 20 million people in Pakistan, the country is still in a state of shock. Shouket Ali, general secretary of the APTUC (1), talks about the consequences of the disaster on the world of work and the current trade union priorities.

Read the full interview here

Spotlight interview with Vicky Cann (TUC- UK)

'International trade union cooperation has an important role to play in helping migrants in both countries of origin and of destination'

Within the framework of the defence for the most vulnerable workers, the Trade Union Congress of United Kingdom (TUC) affiliated to the ITUC, supports the ITUC special action program for migrant workers, especially in Asia and the Gulf region. For Vicky Cann, TUC International Programmes officer, development cooperation projects for helping migrant workers in both countries of origin and of destination are essentials. Vicky Cann analyses also the Trade union development cooperation network (TUDCN)'s impact.

Read the full interview here

Spotlight interview with Fadhel Abbas Ali (GFBTU-Bahrain)

"We promised migrant workers we would always be on their side"

At the age of just 19, with the support of the Bahrain trade union centre GFBTU (1), Fadhel Abbas Ali took on the struggle for workers' rights, although there was still no union in the construction sector at the time. The result of his initiative: a 70% fall in the number of accidents, better living conditions, and pay rises. Now aged 25, he is heading the committee bringing together 10 company unions and that aims to found a sectoral union for the construction industry, with the support of BWI (2), even though the law only permits unions at company level.

Read the full interview here

6 Billion Ways EventEvents

6 Billion Ways

Making another world possible
Saturday 5 March 2011
10am-midnight at Rich Mix
35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
A day of debates, film, art, music and workshops for all ages

Speakers include:

Walden Bello, Caroline Lucas MP, Pablo Solon, Lidy Nacpil, Rob Newman, Samir Amin, Omar Barghouti, Dave Randall, Mark Serwotka, Hilary Wainwright, Patrick Bond, Nina Power and Ronnie Kasrils.

With sessions on:

Tackling climate change... Beating public spending cuts... Ending occupations in Afghanistan and Palestine... Strengthening democracy... Curbing consumerism... Fighting global poverty... Building activism and resistance...and much more...

Plus Movimientos party with DJs and live music, 8pm-Midnight

6 Billion Ways6 Billion Ways is your chance to inspire and be inspired, and to make connections with others who want to challenge injustice and inequality both in the UK and globally.

Find out more and register here now

Invite your friends using facebook

TUC International Women's Day Event

Monday 7 March
TUC, Congress House, WC1B 3LS
Free Event

On the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day the TUC will be highlighting the global fight back against the disproportionate impact that the global financial recession has had on women all over the world. The TUC are hosting an event on the 7 March and producing a publication which will demonstrate the different and many ways in which women have been affected by the crisis.

Register your place at [email protected]

March for an Alternative to cuts

March for Alternative

The TUC is organising a national march and rally against on 26 March 2011, in response to the government's programme of fast and deep public spending cuts. This site provides more information and resources for the day. Click here for further campaign details.

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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