International Development Matters - Issue 96 April 2011

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In solidarity with the people of Japan

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber wrote to his Japanese counterpart, President Koga of RENGO to convey the deepest sympathies and support of the British trade union movement for the people of Japan as they face the worst disaster in 65 years.

Bahrain's unions strike against repression

The trade union movement in Bahrain has started a general strike in protest against the repression of popular protest and what they call an occupation of Bahrain by forces from neighbouring states.

Read more about the strike and the TUC's protest letter to the Ambassador from Bahrain

Read more here of the brutal attack on demonstrators in Manama, Bahrain's capital, just two days after the national union the GFBTU called the general strike.

Details of the TUC Aid MENA appeal can be found here

Killings must stop in Yemen

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has called on the Yemeni authorities to stop the bloodshed immediately and develop a genuine national dialogue to respond to the legitimate demands of the people for democracy and equity.

Read more here

Fiji: End military intimidation and beatings of union officials

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has protested to the Fiji high commissioner about the intimidation and physical attacks against Felix Anthony, General Secretary of the Fiji Trade Union Congress (FTUC) and against other officials from FTUC affiliates.

Read more here

Unions lead protests in Swaziland

Civil servants, students and trade unionists in Swaziland marched to the office of Prime Minister Barnabus Sibusiso Dlamini in the capital Mbabane. They handed over a petition to Prime Minister Sibusiso Dlamini, demanding that he and the cabinet resign. Armed riot police guarded entrances to government ministries.

Read more from the Touchstone blog here

TUC and ZCTU Women's Committees twin in the face of oppression


The TUC and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions have a long standing and trusted relationship that goes back many decades. In a further move to cement the relationship and provide solidarity to one another, the two organisations Women's Committees recently twinned.


Read more about this twinning solidarity initiative

Trade union charity supports disability rights in Tanzania

A project supported by TUC Aid has been successful in finding gainful employment for 37 disabled people in Tanzania.

Read more here

Delegates take Playfair 2012 action at TUC's Women's Conference


In the run up to London 2012, hundreds of delegates at the TUC' Women Conference, lead by Diana Holland, Unite's Assistant General Secretary, took collective action calling on Adidas, Nike and Pentland (makers of Speedo) to pay a living wage, respect the human right to join and form a trade union and provide job security for workers making their products.

Read more here

Details of a demonstration for a 'sweatshop free Olympics' on 5 April, to coincide with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visit can be found here

Details of the Playfair London 2012 national speaker tour from 18-24 April 2011 can be found here

'OECD growth proposals are impossible with spending cuts'. Says TUC

See TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber's comments on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) economic survey published Wednesday 16 March.

A copy of the OECD's latest UK Economic Survey can be found here

Robin Hood Tax: a struggle is taking place in Europe

The conclusions of the European Council meeting on Friday (25 March) showed that the Governments of Europe are still locked into the economics of austerity: the plan is still to make ordinary people pay for the crisis, rather than the banks. But there is a real struggle taking place over one issue, which is the Financial Transactions Tax (FTT).

Read the full Touchstone blog by Owen Tudor here


Libya: Deep Concern at Mounting Civilian Toll


The ITUC is deeply concerned over the mounting civilian death and injury toll in Libya, with the continued refusal of the regime of Muammar Gaddafi to enter any form of negotiation with the opposition precipitating international military intervention under a United Nations mandate.

Read more here

ITUC Strengthens its Support to Independent Trade Union Movement as Key Basis for Democracy


ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow has announced the imminent opening of an ITUC office in Egypt at the opening of a recent two-day seminar in Cairo organised jointly with the new independent trade union federation in the country. 'The challenge in building the new independent trade union movement in Egypt is huge, and crucial to the country's future.

Read more here

Syria: Regime's Promises of Partial Reform Insufficient


Partial reforms promised by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are unlikely to quell the anger spreading across the country, nor satisfy demands for democracy and human rights.

Read the ITUC report here

G20 Finance Ministers on Wrong Track

Trade unions are demanding a fundamental change in direction from the G20 Finance Ministers, who are ignoring the desperation of hundreds of millions of people without decent jobs or social protection.

Read more here

'Our future cannot be put on hold' Filipino young trade union leaders demand decent work

'We should not spend a lifetime dreaming of decent work, we should go out and work for it,' young trade union leaders from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, called for targeted, responsive and increased investment on decent employment and genuine participation of youth in decision-making processes.

Read the full ITUC report here

'Never Work Alone' Says New ITUC Report on Forced Labour


ITUC and ASI join forces to combat forced labour in Europe

Extreme exploitation of migrant workers is a dire trend throughout Europe. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) is releasing Never Work Alone - a guide for trade unions and other civil society organisations to jointly combat modern-day slavery and trafficking of workers.

Trade union says Nestlé ducking child labor issue on cocoa farms

Child labor on cocoa farms is 'nearly impossible' to end, according to Peter Brabeck, the chairman of Nestlé. His comments came in a speech to the council on foreign relations in New York. Nestlé is one of the world's largest buyers of cocoa and a founding member of the International Cocoa Initiative, which aims to end exploitation of children in Africa.

Read more here


Right to Water and Sanitation must be put into action


On 22 March, World Water Day, Public Services International called on national governments to save lives by implementing the new United Nations resolution on the Right to Water and Sanitation without delay.

Read more >

Police beat Cambodian garment workers

At least eight female garment workers were injured on Monday in clashes with Cambodian riot police, who used shields and electric shock batons to end a protest over a factory closure, witnesses and a union said.

Read more here

IFJ Appoints Elisabeth Costa from Brazil as New General Secretary

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has recently formally endorsed the appointment of Brazilian journalist and union activist Elisabeth Costa as the new General Secretary to replace Aidan White who is standing down at the end of this month after 24 years in the post.

Read more here

Mexican parliament considers regressive labour law reforms

The International Metalworkers' Federation joins with the independent trade union movement in Mexico in denouncing proposed labour law reforms that could go before parliament as early as this week. The 'reforms' will severely erode workers' rights in Mexico and must be stopped.

Read more here

ASI: 'We've won our campaign!! The UK Government backs new European trafficking law'

On Saturday 19th March Anti-Slavery International and 38 Degrees campaigners along with the Independent on Sunday handed in their petition to No.10 Downing Street calling for the Government to back the new EU Human Trafficking Directive.

Read more of the campaign story and successes

Austerity Europe

This TUC document summarises developments in the economic policy of the European Union, the threats to trade unions and workers' living standards, and the actions which the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is taking to address these challenges.

Read the document here


The Employment Relationship: A comparative overview

ILO has released a book on the major changes in work organisation as well as in the adequacy of legal regulation to protect workers.

Changes in the world of work are continuing to modify the 'traditional employment relationship', altering both labour legislation and affecting the ways labour law is implemented.

A copy of the report is here

From the Great Recession to Labour Market Recovery - Issues, evidence and policy options

The Great Recession was one of the most traumatic global events of the first decade of the twenty-first century. This book showcases research undertaken by leading experts on the macroeconomic and labour market dimensions of the financial crisis of 2007-2009.

Read the executive summary here

New article: The 2008 Crisis in Turkey and the Unions' Response

The impact of the financial crisis on workers has, to a large extent, to do with the response of trade unions - and this week's article by Yasemin Özgün and Özgür Müftüo?lu argues that the response of Turkish unions to the crisis has been too weak to protect workers. While acknowledging the regulatory and internal problems faced by unions, and noting a few cases where unions chose to adopt a combative approach, the authors criticise the 'compromise' approach, adopted by most unions in Turkey - and beyond.

Read the full article here

IMF's conditionality review

The IMF is inviting comments until 31 May for a review of its loan conditionality policies, the first such review that the Fund has undertaken since 2005. The ITUC will be submitting comments during this review process. For your information, these are links to the IMF web site for a brief note on the consultation procedure and to a 7-page concept note on the current review of IMF conditionality.

World Bank to rethink Middle East but not sure when or how

The upheavals in the Middle East have convinced both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to refocus development policies. The problem is how to plan for the future with the present so uncertain.

Read the full article here

ITUC/Global Unions response to World Bank new social protection & labour strategy

The ITUC/Global Unions has prepared a response to the World Bank's concept note for its new social protection and labour strategy, to be adopted early next year. The response was submitted to the Bank's online consultation today.

The Bank's concept note and information about the consultation process are available here


ACT NOW: prevent deportation of union leader in South Korean

The TUC and Amnesty International UK have launched an urgent online action to prevent the imminent deportation of the President of the Seoul-Gyeonggi-Incheon Migrants' Trade Union (MTU) Michel Catuira from South Korea.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written to the South Korean Ambassador to voice the TUC's concerns and ask the Korean Government to immediately prevent his deportation and respect the trade union rights of migrant workers.

ACT NOW! Bangladesh: Free Moshrefa Mishu

Moshrefa Mishu, President of the Garment Workers Unity Forum (GWUF), a trade union of the ready-made garment sector, was illegally arrested on 14 December 2010. The arrest occurred after mass protests of garment workers demanding the implementation of the increased minimum wage. It is urgent to intervene by insisting that the Government of Bangladesh immediately release Mishu Moshrefa and to drop the fabricated charges.

ACTION: International Olympic Committee Visit

The International Olympic Committee is coming to London! This is the perfect opportunity to put pressure on the decision makers at the top to make decisive change for workers' rights and ensure sweatshop free conditions for workers making Olympic goods and sportswear.

  • What: A demonstration to tell Olympic bosses to make London 2012 sweatshop free
  • When: 5 April 2011, 10.30am onwards
  • Where: Outside Westminster Park Plaza Hotel, London, SE1 7UT

Join the TUC, LBL and other Playfair 2012 campaigners. Details here

Brands Must Ban the Sandblasting of Jeans

Sandblasting causes the lung disease Silicosis - thousands are at risk

LBL's new report Killer Jeans: a report on sandblasted denim uncovers that operators who blast sand at denim to create faded and worn patches are liable to contract a fatal lung disease. Tens of thousands of people working in the jeans industry are at risk of dying.



Interview with Egyptian trade union leader Kamal Abou Aita

Kamal Abou Aita is President of the Real Estate Tax Authority Union (RETA), the first independent union established under the Mubarak regime, in 2009. Having been arrested 21 times under Sadat and Mubarak, he told the ITUC about his action with the workers at the heart of the revolution.

Read his interview here

TUC Aid has launched an appeal for funds to help trade unions in the Middle East and North Africa, who are campaigning for social justice and democracy. If you want to help them, please encourage donations to the TUC Aid MENA appeal.


ACT NOW! TUC Solidarity Rally with US workers and unions, 4 April

Monday 4 April 2011, 6-8pm,
Congress House, Great Russell St, London, WC1B 3LS

The TUC is holding a rally of solidarity with the US public sector workers of Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and a dozen other states where right-wing corporate politicians are trying to take away workers' rights.

More details can be found here

Bay of Pigs 50th anniversary

12 April 2011, from 19.00
NUT Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign is organising a public meeting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs.

In addition to the Cuban Ambassador, speakers will include a veteran of the invasion, Victor Dreke Cruz.

For further information see the CSC website

Book Launch: 'Class and Gender in British Labour History', edited by Mary Davis

Thursday 14th April, 6pm

The Women's Library

25 Old Castle Street

London E1 7NT

This book is the outcome of a conference organised by WLRI at London Met University in 2006, held at the Women's Library.

See here for more information

Playfair 2012 national speaker tour, 18-24 April 2011

As the London Olympics fast approaches, the Playfair 2012 campaign is stepping up the pressure on the Olympic movement and sportswear brands to ensure that the mainly female workers making their products in global supply chains have their rights respected and are paid a living wage. Join the campaign at one of the forthcoming events during the 2011 speaker tour.

Event details here

ACTSA: Stop the violence in Zimbabwe

Monday 18 April, 1 - 2pm, Zimbabwe House, 429 Strand, London

The 18th April should be a celebration of 31 years of independence, but with many reports of political arrests, mob attacks and death threats, many are warning of a bloodbath similar to the 2008 presidential runoff.

Join ACTSA to send a clear message to the Zimbabwean Government: The violence must stop, democracy and rights now!

Click here for more 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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