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

 


ITUC Statement on International Human Rights Day

ITUC Statement on International Human Rights Day

December 10th is an important date for the trade union movement, not only because labour rights are human rights but because the guarantee of human rights for all underpins social and economic justice. Unfortunately, 2012 has been another difficult year for workers in most parts of the globe, with many facing imprisonment or death at the hands of their governments or injury and death on the job as a result of negligent corporations.

On 24 November, a fire at the Tazreen Fashions Ltd factory in Bangladesh claimed the lives of over 100 garment workers. The fire followed similar garment factory fires in Pakistan in September, which claimed the lives of over 300 workers. These fires are nothing new, and hundreds have perished in Bangladesh alone in recent years. To keep costs as low as possible, garment factories often cut major corners on health and safety. Each time there is such a fire, the garment industry resolves to take the matter seriously and sets up new fire safety initiatives. However, these fires are evidence that any such industry efforts are woefully insufficient. It was recently reported that Wal-Mart, which sourced from the Tazreen Fashions factory, had refused to contribute any resources towards fire safety in a 2011 meeting between industry and labour stakeholders.

In 2012, more than 80 leaders and members of Turkey's public sector union, KESK, were again arrested – including 15 women preparing for the International Women’s Day (8 March) activities. They face trials on false charges of terrorism merely for carrying out trade union activity. The next hearing is on 13 December 2012. The government harassment of unions this year, and in particular public sector unions, is part of a strategy to break the back of the labour movement. In 2011, 25 KESK members were condemned to more than 6 years imprisonment. Sixty-six trade unionists are currently serving prison sentences in Turkey and many more are yet to appear in court. Trade unions around the world are concerned that these unionists will be imprisoned as terrorists simply for standing up for the rights of Turkish workers.

In recent weeks, Mohamed Morsi has issued decrees and amendments to the trade union law, which combined with the proposed constitution, threaten to betray the aspirations of the 2011 revolution in Egypt. The roots of the revolution are actually found in the actions taken by independent trade unions in the years leading up to 2011. These brave unionists posed a direct challenge to the Mubarak regime. The legal framework now being put into place violates Egypt’s international obligations, and signals a return to a system of government domination of civil society institutions such as trade unions. As we see in the streets of Cairo, the result will be continued conflict.

In Panama, protests in October 2012 against a law to sell land within the Colón free zone resulted in the deaths of at least three people, including a young boy. The community was deeply worried that the sale would result in the loss of an important source of income for the area. Residents formed a united front, including various community groups and trade unions. The government responded by unleashing a brutal wave of repression resulting in the deaths. In solidarity, trade unions demonstrated across the country. Again, the government responded by hiring thugs to break up the protest and vandalize buildings. Several trade unionists were arrested. The law was eventually repealed.

In the United States, 1,300 workers at American Crystal Sugar have been locked out since August 1, 2011 in an attempt to break the union. Workers have been without a pay check for 16 months. At the same time, the CEO of the company rewarded himself with a 50% pay increase. The company was also recently cited by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for widespread, “high gravity” and “serious” safety violations. Unions are calling on the company to return to the bargaining table and conclude a contract, though the company recently tabled a proposal that has already been rejected. A nationwide boycott has been called to try to bring the company to the table and bargain in good faith.

ASEAN, the bloc of South-East Asian countries, issued a Human Rights Declaration in November. While this should be cause for celebration on International Human Rights Day, the Declaration unfortunately signals a retreat from well-established human rights law. On workers’ rights, the Declaration purports to uphold the universal right to form a union but then provides that this right is protected only to the extent permitted under national law and practice. Unfortunately, labour law and practice among ASEAN member states fall far below international standards.

Today, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) recommits itself to fight alongside working women and men around the globe who struggle to establish respect of international human rights on the job, in their communities and in their countries.

The ITUC represents 175 million workers in 308 affiliated national organisations from 153 countries and territories.

Follow us on the web: http://www.ituc-csi.org and http://www.youtube.com/ITUCCSI

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

West Papua: “Lest We Forget”

AS Anzac approaches and Australians and New Zealanders remember those who fought and lost their lives on Anzac Day, it is hoped we will also remember the unfree people of the Pacific region and in particular those who are still suffering from human ... More>>

Iran: 81 Executions In One Week

Coincident with mass executions in the prisons of Ghezel-Hessar, Karaj and other cities, the anti-human regime of mullahs sent 16 other prisoners to the gallows in Mashhad and Birjand (northeastern Iran). Twelve of them were hanged collectively ... More>>

Al-Shabaab: Four Unicef Staff Killed In Somalia

Four UNICEF staff members have been killed in an attack on their vehicle in Garowe, Somalia. Four other UNICEF colleagues are in a serious condition. The IED (improvised explosive device) attack occurred when the staff were travelling from their guest ... More>>

UN: Suicide Attack In Jalalabad Condemned

NEW YORK/KABUL/GENEVA (18April 2015) – “I strongly condemn the brutal suicide attack that coincided with my visit to Jalalabad today,” said United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović during his visit to Afghanistan. ... More>>

Save The Children: STC Urges EU Leaders To Act To Prevent More Mass Drownings

Save the Children Urges EU Leaders to Act to Prevent More Mass Drownings at Sea. More>>

ALSO:

Japan: Independent Experts Slam Japan’s New Whaling Plan

Independent experts slam Japan’s new whaling plan and declare no more whales need to be killed for Antarctic research More>>

Gaza Strip: Attacks In The Border Areas

Following disengagement from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, Israel unilaterally and illegally established a so-called “buffer zone”, an area prohibited to Palestinians along the land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip. The precise area designated by ... More>>

Australian Government: Iraq Deployment: Joint Press Conference, Canberra

Back in March, the Government announced that we were preparing a force for a Building Partner Capacity training mission in Iraq. I can inform you that today the Cabinet has decided to deploy that force. The deployment will start tomorrow and we expect ... More>>

UNHRC: UN Committee Against Torture To Review New Zealand

UN Committee against torture to review New Zealand, Congo, Romania, Luxembourg, Spain, Serbia, Colombia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia More>>

UNHRC: Nigeria: One Year On, Call To Bring Back Abducted Children

Nigeria: One year on, UN and African experts call for decisive steps to bring back abducted children More>>

EU & US Let Iran Win Top Seat On UN Women’s Rights Board

EU & US Allowed Iran to Win Top Seat on UN Women’s Rights Board, Rights Group Says More>>

Peaceful Tree Planting Attacked By Zionist Settlers/soldiers

Peaceful tree planting attacked by zionist settlers and soldiers, two Palestinians hospitalised and a German activist arrested. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news