International Development Matters - Issue 91 September 2010

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100,000 European trade unionists take to the streets to oppose austerity measures

Brussels DemoMore than 100,000 trade unionists from throughout Europe took to the streets of Brussels on the 29 September to oppose austerity measures which, if not halted, will have disastrous social and economic results.

Read more

TUC Congress

The TUC's annual congress was held in Manchester from the 13-16 September. The congress had a strong internationalist outlook, with key note speeches from Sharan Burrow ITUC General Secretary, John Monks ETUC General Secretary and Gideon Shoko Deputy General Secretary of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. Sharan Burrow, John Monks, Brendan Barber and numerous speakers called for a Robin Hood Tax from the stage and a motion was passed in support.

Congress debated several international motions, you can find out more here

For the full set of motions

Congress had many international fringes, with three run by the TUC on the trade union role in international development, the Playfair 2012 campaign and the Robin Hood Tax.

TUC Congress international fringe reports

Congress fringe report: Working for a better world - the trade union role in international development

DFID SoS On Monday 13 September at TUC Congress a lunchtime fringe meeting on the trade union role in international development was held. The meeting was to discuss the unique role in international development that trade unions play, working to alleviate poverty through productive, sustainable and decent work for all. Read the full report



Robin Hood Tax gathers more support at TUC Congress

Brendan ShamelessThe Robin Hood Tax campaign is a campaign for a financial transaction tax of around 0.05% to be levied on all financial transactions to ensure that those responsible for the current crisis, the financial sector, pay more towards meeting both domestic and international needs in this time of economic uncertainty. This campaign is a growing coalition of 110 domestic, international, faith-led and environmental organisations and has had huge support from trade unions. At TUC Congress the support for this campaign was evident. Read more


Playfair at TUC Congress

With London 2012 less than two years away the organisers of the Olympics and companies should aim for gold and ensure that workers producing sportswear and goods with the Olympic logo have their rights respected. The meeting discussed the joint campaign being organised by the TUC, Labour Behind the Label, affiliates and NGOs to ensure that the games raises the bar on workers' rights in the global supply chains that make the games possible. Speakers explained the progress made on the campaign to date and plan to build the joint campaign to collectively pressure for change.

Read more

TUC takes Playfair 2012 campaign to Chainmakers' Centenary Festival

The Chainmakers Centenary Festival in September 2010 provided a great opportunity to gain support for the Playfair 2012 campaign and celebrate the achievements of the Cradley Heath Women Chainmakers who went on strike for ten weeks in 1910 and were successful in winning the first ever minimum wage. The parallels in these struggles are clear - for workers everywhere to be able to live and work in dignity. Read the report here

Playfair 2012 campaign - new online game and materials

Based on what we know from the Beijing Olympics, the Playfair 2012 campaign has developed a new online interactive Unfair Factory game which lets you see if you could cope with the working conditions in sportswear and Olympic supply chains, and what the consequences might be if you can't. The game also links to the online action calling on Adidas, Nike and Pentland (Speedo) to raise the bar on workers' rights and is a fun way of communicating why we need this Campaign to ensure that workers employed in global supply chains can live and work in dignity.

The Campaign has also produced teaching materials for 16-18 year olds, which can be downloaded from the site - along with real-life case studies of workers producing sportswear for the major brands, including their experiences of discrimination and intimidation for their trade union activities.

To play the Unfair Factory game, download teaching materials, read the latest news and take action visit

Why not follow the Playfair campaign on twitter and facebook

TUC Multi-Country Appeal: Solidarity with trade unionists in Burma, Palestine and Zimbabwe


TUC Aid is appealing for funds to help trade unionists in three of the most challenging environments: Burma, Palestine and Zimbabwe. This is your chance to put solidarity into action. Help fellow trade unionists create democracy and fight poverty. Make a difference. Donate here

Robin Hood Tax Campaign

TUC calls for the Chancellor to back the Robin Hood Tax

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, urging him to back a Robin Hood Tax at the EU Finance Ministers' meeting on Tuesday 7 September, part of a lobbying campaign organised by the European Trade Union Confederation, whose General Secretary John Monks has written to the leaders of the European Commission. The Robin Hood Tax campaign wrote to the Chancellor on Friday.

Read the letter

Spain joins Robin Hood Tax campaign

Spain's Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is the latest world leader to join the campaign for a Robin Hood Tax.

Read more from the Touchstone Blog

Time to push Europe's leaders to tax financial transactions

European trade unionists (demonstrating in Belgium and Rome on 29 September, striking in Spain and Greece and so on) must use FTTs as part of our solutions. And we must all put pressure (in the UK through the Robin Hood Tax campaign) on Finance Ministers: George Osborne needs to be moved from being a block on FTTs and at least into the neutral camp.

Read more from the Touchstone Blog

Robin Hood heads to the UN

Robin Hood and a newly formed band of merry folk left the confines of Sherwood and headed over the pond to the Big Apple to the UN for a rather large Summit about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Set in 2000, the MDGs are eight goals which aim to lift around 500 million people out of poverty by 2015.

World leaders have just swept into town behind motorcades and barricades to make decisions, declarations and pronouncements

Read more

UN MDG Review Summit

From the 20-22 September world leaders met in New York to assess how much progress had been made against the 8 development goals set in 2000 to be reached by 2015. Read more from the UN website

BOND, the umbrella group for UK development has produced a comprehensive summary of the conclusions, UK government contributions and civil society analyses

Baby steps on jobs but little else to cheer

This week the UN held a summit to review progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Many world leaders spoke but civil society organisations are disappointed by the lack of concrete commitments in the conclusions

Read more

Civil society sends a strong message to world leaders


On Saturday 18 September campaigners gathered outside the Houses of Parliament to ensure that they put pressure on the UK Government to enact clear and strong plans of action to meet the MDGs. The TUC joined campaigners from the Bond network of NGOs with drums, bells, whistles, pots and pans to make a huge noise against global poverty. Read more

Gender Inequality and the MDGs: What are the Missing Dimensions?

New research by the OECD Development Centre finds that ongoing gender inequality continues to hamper progress on all the goals, not just MDG 3.

Using the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI), the research shows that looking at women's control over resources, their level of decision-making power in the family and household, and their degree of control over their own physical security can shed light on the bottlenecks that are holding back progress across the targets.

Read the paper

Honduran Trade Union leader assassinated

The TUC General Secretary has written to the Honduran ambassador in London to protest about escalating violence against trade unionists there and the murder on September 17 of Juana Bustillo, head of the social security workers union.

Urgent Action: Cambodian trade union leaders at risk

Several union leaders and activists organising a nationwide strike of garment factory workers in Cambodia are at risk of arrest and legal action. The TUC is supporting Amnesty International's urgent action calling on the Cambodian government to stop its harassment and to respect freedom of association.

TUC protests to Turkish Embassy about UPS dispute

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written to the Turkish Ambassador to the UK protesting about the violation of workers' rights at UPS in Turkey, as part of the global campaign in solidarity with TÜMTIS.

The TUC is supporting the International Transport Federations campaign to have over 150 workers reinstated who were sacked for being union members or at least being seen as trade union sympathisers.

Solidarity with Swazi trade unions

Trade unionists demand democracy in Swaziland

Swazi protestThe TUC, affiliated unions and Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) organised a protest in front of the Swaziland High Commission on the occasion of Swaziland Democracy Day - 7 September 2010 - to mobilise support for democracy, good governance and respect for human rights in Swaziland. Similar events were organised by ITUC affiliates in their respective countries amidst reports of mass arrests of trade unionists and democracy activists by in Mbabane - capital of Swaziland.

Read more

Swazi trade unionists stand up for freedom

Swazi Demo
The TUC salutes its Swazi brother and sister trade unionists and other pro-democracy activists who as members of the international Swaziland Democracy Campaign have just finished their first ever week of action. The TUC is a project partner of IRALE, the Swaziland Labour Academy and a more detailed report will be prepared once the dust has settled but for now, we want to share with you a personal testimony sent to us during the week of action from Thandie Beames from the SFTU.

Rebuilding Trade Union Capacity in Sierra Leone - A success story

Sierra Leone
The Rebuilding Trade Union Capacity in Sierra Leone Project launched in 2007 with financial support from the Department for International Development has given a tremendous boost to trade union institutions, structures and networks. Read the full report here

Supporting migrant workers: experiences from across Asia - TUC report

Migrant workers
The TUC is funding work being coordinated through the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to support the development of partnerships between unions in origin countries (where migrants workers come from) and unions in destination countries (where the migrants travel to) in order to be able to support these workers in the best possible way. Read the latest TUC report from travels and experiences across Asia.

Working for Global Justice

working leaflet
The TUC has produced a new publication profiling the international development work of the British trade union movement. The projects and programmes of work featured in this booklet are just a flavour of the depth and breadth of the UK trade union movement's contribution to international development.

Trade unions back campaign for better wages in Bangladesh

The TUC has joined trade unionists and campaigners around the world to demand better terms and conditions of work for 3.5 million textile workers in Bangladesh. The campaigners are demanding that their minimum wage be increased to 5,000 taka a month. The current minimum wage is 1,662 taka - about £15, which leaves textile workers in dire poverty.

The USA is the largest single market for Bangladeshi textiles while 57% of the exports go to the EU. The protests and demonstrations in favour of better wages and working conditions have sometimes led to violence with arrests of trade unionists.

For further information, visit

New funding opportunity for union branches on international development

DFID have created a new funding stream, for small grants, directly to community groups (union branches appear to be eligible) wishing to carry out work to build up understanding of the MDGs in their local community. These community groups (union branches) need to have a link with a community group in a proscribed developing country.

There is a deadline to apply by 1 November (although they are planning another round of applications next year) and there are various procedures and guidance to follow, which can be found here

If union branches do want to apply, they will probably need to start working on their project proposals and paperwork now, including making a registration at the DFID website. Much more information is available here

European Directive on Human Trafficking

The TUC supports the Anti-Slavery International petition on the European Directive on Human Trafficking. Read more

Time for DFID's CDC to lift its poor effort, says TUC

When it comes to tackling poverty, DFID's Development Finance Institution, the CDC group, is at the back of the class, as a new report from the TUC shows.

You can follow more news from the TUC on global solidarity and development issues on twitter @TUCGlobal


Biggest ever strike in post-independent India

On September 7, India witnessed one of the biggest ever workers' strikes in the post-independence history. Around 100 million workers from various sectors such as banks, insurance, coal, power, telecom, defence, port and dock, road transport and petroleum and unorganised sectors like construction joined the strike. Impact of the strike was felt along the length and breadth of the country. Particularly, left ruled Indian states of West Bengal, Kerala and also in other states such as Manipur, Assam and Maharastra witnessed large number of workers' participation in the strike.

Repression of mine workers in Mexico

Workers attacked at Grupo Mexico Cananea mine. Federal Police attacked striking workers and members of the Mexican Miners' Union at Cananea on September 8, arresting and leaving many wounded.

It is understood that the company was able to take control of the main gate of the mine away from the union and that police raided the union hall in Cananea, beating and arresting a large number of union members. An earlier report of a person dying in the clashes is now thought to be untrue; however several people have sustained injuries. A bus and five trucks loaded with Federal Police has since arrived in Cananea.

Read more

An independent legal brief has been filed in support of Mexican Miners' Union

UN rapporteur finds speculators accentuated food price crisis

A UN special rapporteur issued a briefing note on Thursday which found that "a significant portion of the increases in price and volatility of essential food commodities can only be explained by the emergence of a speculative bubble. In particular, there is a reason to believe that a significant role was played by the entry into markets for derivatives based on food commodities of large, powerful institutional investors such as hedge funds, pension funds and investment banks".

Read report

New Report: Unions and Academics Assess Employment Impacts of Climate Change

A new report launched by the ITUC 'Conference News: Workshop on Climate Change, Its Impacts on Employment and Labour Markets', examines the impacts of climate change on employment, brings together the findings of a group of 50 trade union and university experts on the subject.

Grave Labour Rights Violations in Gambia

The new report by the ITUC on core labour standards in Gambia reveals serious violations of fundamental workers' rights, including a high degree of prevalence of child labour.

Read report

ICEM, IMF, ITGLWF Bodies Meet to Shape New Industrial Global Union

Forty trade union leaders representing the ICEM, the International Metalworkers' Federation (IMF), and the International Textile, Garment, and Leather Workers' Federation (ITGLWF) met on 20-21 September in Bad Münder, Germany. This was the first meeting of a joint task force set up by the decision-making bodies of the three Global Union Federations (GUFs)

Read the article

Dignity! Period. ACTSA Campaign

Imagine having to go without sanitary protection to be able to buy basic items such as food and clothes. This is the problem facing many Zimbabwean women today.

What ACTSA does

ACTSA works in close partnership with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)

Together, they raise awareness and funds to provide the women of Zimbabwe with safe and hygienic sanitary protection

Since 2005, they have distributed more than six million free sanitary products

Watch their new Dignity video for more information.

Second anniversary of Global Political Agreement

September 15 marked the second anniversary of the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) took the opportunity to register its concern with several aspects of the agreement that it feels ZANU-PF have failed to deliver on. In particular, the MDC feels aggrieved at the unilateral dismissal of several government ministers and used the anniversary to reiterate the importance of implementing a land audit and making greater assurances to farmers on land tenures.

Read more and more news from ACTSA about Zimbabwe developments

New publication: Effective State-Business Relations, Industrial Policy and Economic Growth

A new IPPG-ODI study, Effective State-Business Relations, Industrial Policy and Economic Growth, is published today.

Edited by Dirk Willem te Velde of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), this collection of essays by international authors including Justin Yifu Lin, chief economist from The World Bank and Kunal Sen from Manchester University, discusses the nature of state-business relations (SBRs), and the links between SBRs and economic performance in developing countries.

The study, a joint publication from research consortium Improving Institutions for Pro-Poor Growth (IPPG) and ODI, is free to download at


IMF backs coalition spending cuts

George Osborne: "I'm determined that we don't turn back"

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said the UK economy is "on the mend" and has backed the coalition government's plans to cut spending.

The IMF described the deficit reduction plan as "essential" in supporting the UK's debt position, and said it "supported a balanced recovery". Read more

Report criticises World Bank's water policy

A new report Thirsty for Change: Why a shift in World Bank practices will help solve the global water crisis criticises the World Bank for its water policy 'It's time the World Bank stop promoting privatization through its water loans, and instead put people's needs above its life-threatening ideology'

Read more

New IMF loan too restrictive

The IMF have announced a new "crisis-prevention" loan, to be called the Precautionary Credit Line (PCL), for quick access to countries that meet pre-qualification criteria. The PCL adds to the Flexible Credit Line (FCL), which was introduced in early 2009 and is devoid of ongoing conditionality, but whose pre-conditions are so strict that only three countries -- Colombia, Mexico and Poland -- have been declared eligible.

Read more

ILO-IMF conference

ILO-IMF conference on "Challenges of Growth, Employment and Social Cohesion' was held on 13 September in Oslo, with high-level participants including the heads of the ILO and IMF, four heads of state or government and various ministers. An international trade union delegation led by ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow, including a TUC delegate, took part.

Read more

Global Unions' statement for annual meetings of IFIs

A statement, prepared jointly with the Global Union Federations and TUAC, was sent to the 2010 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank

The statement from Global Unions expressed deep concern about the recent shift of the international financial institutions (IFIs) away from support for stimulus policies and toward advocacy of fiscal consolidation. It calls on the IFIs to reject austerity programmes and to support job-focused stimulus measures and investments in quality public services to assist in a global economic recovery.

Read more

World Bank report defends farmland grabs

A World Bank report issued yesterday finds that large-scale purchases of developing-country farmland by foreign investors can often have detrimental impacts on rural dwellers, but defends the practice while calling for "greater public disclosure, broader access to information and vigilant monitoring by civil society organizations" of the purchases. The report notes that investor interest in poor countries' farmland has risen in line with food price increases and expects the trend to continue.

Read more


Amnesty International Urgent Action: Bangladesh textile workers under attack!

The TUC is supporting an email and letter writing campaign launched by Amnesty International and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) in support of Bangladeshi textile workers, who recently struck for a decent minimum wage. Please see how you can help here

UK presses Iraq on labour rights abuses

The UK has called on the Iraqi government to respect the right of all workers to form and join trade unions, in response to the recent ban on trade unions in the country's electricity sector. Read more

Add your voice to the global protests against the banning of the unions by signing and circulating this urgent LabourStart appeal.

Stop harassment of Cambodian textile workers, says TUC

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written to the Cambodian Ambassador calling on his Government to stop the harassment of textile workers and to respect the fundamental rights to organise, bargain and strike. Add your voice to the call by signing Amnesty International's urgent action appeal.


Spotlight interview with Elizabeth Tang (HKCTU-Hong Kong)

"Society's attitude to domestic workers is starting to improve"

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) (1) is among the organisations most experienced in the defence of domestic workers in Asia. Its chief executive, Elizabeth Tang, looks back on the difficulties encountered in this struggle and the gains secured for both migrant and national domestic workers in Hong Kong. Read more

ICEM Interview: Bayo Olowoshile, PENGASSAN General Secretary

Bayo is the General Secretary of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN).

This ICEM release is available on the ICEM Web-site (

Spotlight interview with Ana Bertha Navarro Munoz (CTRN - Costa Rica)

Progress is being made with the unionisation of migrants in Costa Rica

In March 2010, Costa Rica passed new legislation providing greater protection for migrant workers. Much remains to be done, however, to ensure full respect for the exercise of their trade union rights. The ITUC-backed Trade Union Centre for Migrants, linked to the bilateral trade union cooperation agreement with Nicaragua, provides training and legal assistance. "We are also campaigning in favour of ILO Conventions 97 and 143," explains Bertha Navarro Muñoz, head of the CTRN Trade Union Centre for Migrants. Read more



7 October 2010, 6pm, TUC Congress House

Join the TUC on 7 October for a night of comedy, politics and music to celebrate the World Day for Decent Work. Presented by Philosophy Football, 'Stand up for Decent Work' features the brilliant comedy of Shappi Khorsandi star of Just a Minute, Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo and more.

Tickets: Book with or without buffet supper (supper MUST be pre-booked) here. Book as a table of 10 and get your 10 places for the price of 9! But hurry, Philosophy Football events ALWAYS sell out.

Trade unions in over 100 countries around the world are celebrating the World Day for Decent Work on 7 October.

UpRise is back!

Sunday 3 October 2010, 12.30 to 7.30, Finsbury Park - FREE

SERTUC and affiliates have supported the return of anti-racist festival Rise since it was abolished in 2008 - and it's coming up!

Hosted by Imaran Yusuf, with music from Ty / Imaani / Nathan 'flutebox' Lee/ United Vibrations / Natty / Jimmy Screech / WanDan / Maracatu Estrela do Norte / Jally Keba Susso / Sanchita Farruque / Step 13 / DJ Rita Ray / DJ Ritu and many more.

Plus the return of UnionCity - join us there!

See and

The Robin Hood Tax presents an evening of short film screenings and debate.
Tuesday 5th October 7.30-9.30, Apollo Cinema, 19 Lower Regent Street , London SW1Y 4LR

The Robin Hood Tax campaign have been working with Raindance, the one of Europe's largest independent film festivals. They gave the campaign great support and publicity around the film competition and now we are hosting a night of short films and discussions around the Robin Hood Tax as part of the Raindance Festival. Come down. Watch some films. Have a drink and a chat.

UK Arts International to produce South African festival in London, Birmingham and Manchester, 5-23 October 2010

AfrovibesUK Arts

UK Arts International has received funding from the Arts Council England to allow plans to go ahead for a South African Festival in the UK. Afrovibes will take place in October and feature artists from South Africa presenting cutting edge and confronting theatre, dance and visual arts. More details here

World Teachers' Day 2010

Wednesday 6 October, 5pm
NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place

The National Union of Teachers is holding the following event to mark World Teacher's Day:

The theme for the reception Achieving Education for All: Investing in Teachers recognises the crucial role of teachers in achieving education for all globally. This year's speakers will include Jo Bourne, DFID; Sam Tiwari, Steve Sinnott Foundation; and Nicola Cadbury, Global Campaign for Education. Drinks and nibbles will be available. Further details can be found here

Free the Miami Five - justice for them and their families

US Embassy Candlelit Vigil
Tuesday 19 October 2010, 6pm-7.30pm
US Embassy, Grosvenor Square, London (Bond St tube)

With special guests

Irma González Salanueva - daughter of Miami 5 prisoner René González Tom Goldstein - Supreme Court lawyer for the Five plus speakers from the trade union and labour movement and celebrity supporters including: Tony Woodley (Unite), Billy Hayes, (CWU) Tony Benn, Angela Smith (Chair of APPG on Cuba), Bob Crow (RMT), Christine Blower (NUT). Jonathan Ledger (NAPO), Omar Puente (Cuban violinist) and others

Full details here:


Saturday 23 October 2010, 7pm til late

A night to celebrate Cuba's National Day of Culture Conway Hall, central London

See the full list of performers and buy your tickets online:

DEA National Conference

Big Global Society: unlocking social action on global issues

Tuesday 2nd November 2010, Mary Ward House, Central London 9.30am-5.30pm

The Coalition government has emphasised the importance of the Big Society, but it has focused primarily on local initiatives. To be a truly big society, and to meet the challenges of international poverty and climate change, we need to be a 'Big Global Society'. This conference will be of interest to anyone seeking to engage the public in global issues, including NGOs, educators, policy makers, social enterprises, trade unions and progressive businesses. More details here

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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