World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Illegal Firings by Subcontractor in E Timor

new economy communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MONDAY, JANUARY 26, 2004


World Bank Called Upon to Observe Labor Rights Standards in Treatment of its Employees in East Timor

Human Rights Groups and Unions Ask Bank to Reverse Illegal Firings by Subcontractor

A group of human and labor rights organizations including the International Labor Rights Fund, the East Timor Action Network, the AFL-CIO and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions has sent a letter to a senior manager at World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC calling on the institution to observe internationally-recognized labor rights in the treatment of workers employed at the Bank's offices in East Timor.

The groups cite illegal firings of World Bank security guards and custodians by its contractor, Chubb Protective Services:

On December 4, 2003, Chubb Protective Services, a multinational security firm contracted by the World Bank to clean and provide security for its office in Timor Leste, fired 32 workers for exercising their constitutionally protected right to strike. The workers were protesting Chubb's unilateral decision to cut their salaries from $133 per month to $94 per month. We are sure you will agree that while they are not directly employed by the World Bank, as a one of the Bank's contractors, Chubb should fully follow international labour standards and Timor Leste laws with respect to the security guards and custodial staff it employs on the Bank's behalf.

The groups observe that the Bank's treatment of its workers contradicts both the institution's stated labor policy and East Timor's labor code. The text of the brief letter follows:

GLOBAL UNIONS (ICFTU, GUFs, TUAC) Washington Office

1925 K Street, NW, Suite 425 Tel.: 202/463-8573 - Fax: 202/463-8564 Washington, DC 20006

E-mail: pbakvis@earthlink.net

CONTACT:
Ira Arlook
(202) 721-0111

January 21, 2004

Ms. Inez Therese Ballard
Senior Manager, General Services Department
The World Bank
1818 H Street, NW
Washington DC 20433

Dear Ms. Ballard,

On December 4, 2003, Chubb Protective Services, a multinational security firm contracted by the World Bank to clean and provide security for its office in Timor Leste, fired 32 workers for exercising their constitutionally protected right to strike. The workers were protesting Chubb's unilateral decision to cut their salaries from $133 per month to $94 per month. We are sure you will agree that while they are not directly employed by the World Bank, as a one of the Bank's contractors, Chubb should fully follow international labour standards and Timor Leste laws with respect to the security guards and custodial staff it employs on the Bank's behalf.

In the spirit of the World Bank's recently heightened commitment to respecting fundamental workers' rights, we are writing to urge the Bank to assume its responsibility for the treatment of these workers and to do all in your power to ensure that the Bank's contractor, Chubb Protective Services, which is a subsidiary of the conglomerate, United Technologies, reinstates the 32 fired workers. In addition, the World Bank should require that Chubb engage in good faith collective bargaining with their employees regarding wage levels, which by all accounts, appear to be below the living wage for the country.

The Timor Lorosa's Trade Union Confederation (KSTL), the union representing the security and cleaning staff at the World Bank facilities, has alleged that in December 2002 Chubb Protective Services instructed workers to sign a new contract, written in a language many did not understand, containing the lower salary rate. Efforts to get Chubb employees to sign the new contract were coercive, involving threats to terminate workers who did not sign. In addition, no explanation was provided at the time on the reasons for the salary cut.

Attached to this letter you will find a chronology and press release by KSTL detailing the circumstances leading up to the strike. KSTL's repeated attempts to dialogue with World Bank staff both orally and through letters were rebuffed. World Bank staff refused to meet with KSTL officials, but simply told them that the World Bank was not responsible for the workers' treatment and salaries. Please find a copy of correspondence from the World Bank representative contacted in East Timor. Chubb Protective Services, on the other hand, told KSTL that the pay cut was due to the World Bank.

We believe that the World Bank, as the contractor of Chubb, bears responsibility for the conditions of the workers and must, at the very minimum, ensure that national laws are respected. The World Bank's and Chubb Protective Service's actions in this case violate articles 9, 24, 35, 36, and 37 of Timor Leste's Labour Code, as well as articles 50, 51 and 52 "right to work," "right to strike and prohibition of lock-out," and "trade union freedom," respectively, of Timor Leste's constitution.

Moreover, the refusal of the World Bank's contractor, Chubb, to recognize and negotiate with its employees' union in Timor Leste is in direct violation of one of the International Labour Organization's four core labour standards, and in contradiction with stated Bank policy. In recent meetings with international trade union leaders, President James Wolfensohn pledged the Bank's support for the promotion of core labour standards. On the occasion of the launch of a World Bank publication emphasizing the positive role these standards could play in reaching development goals, a Bank communiqué (February 12, 2003) gave examples of "the World Bank's work to support the promotion of core labor standards".

This case comes at an opportune moment when the World Bank is investigating how to better adhere to the principles that it promotes among its own country recipient clients within its own procurement of services. Indeed it is a test of commitment to these principles What better way for the World Bank to demonstrate its respect for fundamental workers' rights and the rule of law, and a commitment to better the lives of the world's poor, than to take an active role in ensuring that workers in the world's newest country have their rights protected while working for a World Bank contractor?

Chubb's poor record of respect for labour rights in Timor Leste and other countries is well known. A quick Internet search reveals hundreds of articles citing problems between the company and its employees. The World Bank's decision to contract to Chubb thus reveals either a failure on its part to research its contractors or a lack of concern about putting into practice the values the World Bank professes to uphold. Chubb's reputation in Timor Leste has been characterized by termination without reason or warning, unpaid overtime, recruitment without contract, and pay discrimination.

The rule of the law is a prerequisite for sustainable economic growth and deepening of democracies. We ask that the World Bank do its part to uphold the rule of law, and the enforcement of core labour standards by communicating to Chubb Protective Services, a World Bank contractor, that its actions are unacceptable. Given the Bank's recent effort to apply legal standards to its contractors, Timor Leste is a great place to start putting ideals and policies into practice.

Sincerely,

Bama Athreya, Deputy Director, International Labor Rights Fund

Peter Bakvis, Director -Washington Office, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU/Global Unions)

Philip Jennings, General Secretary, Union Network International (UNI)

Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator, East Timor Action Network

Barbara Shailor, Director International Affairs Department, AFL-CIO

Attachments: 1) KSTL chronology of dispute 2) Letter from World Bank to KSTL 3) List of names of workers fired from Chubb Protective Services

####


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Preliminary Results: MH17 Investigation Report

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. More>>

ALSO:

At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>

ALSO:

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news