ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Trade Unions

UCU, This Will Not Be The Last.

leave a comment »

It is slow blogging from me for a while, but I would recommend that readers take a long hard look in at Engage.

Recently they have been superb, positively on steroids with a fine bevy of posts.

I would suggest that members of the University and College Union read and think about James Mendelsohn’s resignation letter to Sally Hunt, which I produce in full:

“Dear Sally

Thank you for your message.

I was happy to sign the petition of no confidence in the government’s HE policies and, like you, I have very serious concerns about the White Paper.

Regrettably, though, I am no longer able to join in UCU’s fight against the government’s measures. This is because I am no longer a member of UCU. Following the passing of Motion 70 at the most recent annual Congress, I felt that I had no choice but to resign. Not only does Motion 70 reject the most widely-used definition of anti-Semitism in the world, it fails to provide any alternative definition. The motives of those who proposed the motion are clear: they rightly understood that, according to the EUMC Working Definition, their obsessive campaign to single out Israeli academics for boycott year on year might indeed be anti-Semitic. Whether intentionally or otherwise, this has made UCU an even more uncomfortable place for Jewish members than it was previously. I can no longer contribute money to such an organisation in good conscience.

Please do not send me the same generic response you have sent to others who have resigned on these grounds. Sadly, your repeated claim that UCU abhors anti-Semitism is not borne out by the evidence; rather, the evidence points overwhelmingly in the other direction. For example, a union which truly abhorred anti-Semitism would have no truck with Bongani Masuku, whose statements were correctly defined as anti-Semitic hate speech by the South African Human Rights Commission. UCU, by contrast, invited Masuku to promote the boycott campaign. Does that sound to you like the mark of a union which abhors anti-Semitism?

Speaking on a more personal level, I sent you three emails on related issues in 2008, which are attached. I think you would agree that a trade union which abhorred anti-Semitism would take such emails from an ordinary member seriously. Regrettably, I never received a reply to any of them.

I no longer wish to contribute my money to an organisation which has a problem with institutionalised anti-Semitism. I am sure I will not be the last Jewish member who feels forced to resign, even at a time when trade union protection and solidarity are more important than ever. Once again -please do not send me your generic reply. All I would ask you is: do you realise that the boycott campaign is now weakening the union’s numbers and credibility, at a time when a strong union is needed more than ever? And do you ever lie awake at night wondering why, in the 21st century, Jewish members have left UCU in droves?

Yours sincerely

James Mendelsohn

Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Huddersfield ” [My emphasis.]

(H/T: Engage)

Defend Trade Union Rights in Turkey.

leave a comment »

Just in:

“111 trade union leaders and members, including the President of the IUF-affiliated TEKGIDA-İŞ along with four other national officers of the union and 12 branch presidents, and current and former officers of the national centers DISK and KESK, have been indicted on criminal charges in connection with an April 1 demonstration in Ankara in support of 12,000 tobacco workers whose jobs and acquired rights were eliminated overnight.

The charges carry prison terms of up to 5 years.

The trials, which begin on June 3, are a massive attack on trade union rights and the rights of all workers. ”

The IUF has more:

“The Turkish government has filed criminal charges against 111 union leaders, members and supporters which carry prison terms of up to 5 years in connection with a 2010 demonstration in Ankara. The Ankara action was in support of 12,000 workers made redundant overnight following the privatization of the state tobacco monopoly TEKEL.

Following the sale of the TEKEL tobacco manufacturing activities to BAT in February 2008, the state retained control over the 40 warehouses where leaf and semi-processed tobacco was stored. IUF-affiliated Tekgida-Is, which represents the workforce at TEKEL, continually sought negotiations with the government over the future of the 12,000 warehouse workers, who were offered only insecure contracts at half their former wages and no rights or benefits. In December 2009, their employment was abruptly terminated.

Three months of union protests in Ankara brought no results, but as a goodwill gesture the union ceased public action and waited for a response to their demands for new employment with acquired rights – as required under Turkish law.

When the government failed to offer anything concrete, TEKGIDA-IS and their many supporters demonstrated again in Ankara on April 1, 2010. They were beaten and pepper-gassed – and now they face prison. “

(H/T: Eric Lee)

Written by modernityblog

20/05/2011 at 13:57

Union Coverage.

with 2 comments

One of my regular readers has reminded me that I don’t cover trade unions enough.

I thought I would have a look at trade union rights in the Middle East, as it’s not a topic covered much in the Western media.

In the West, we take for granted what we have, and what others fought for, 8 hour working day, holidays, etc, the basics, so the Middle East, with its untold wealth and resources is a good starting place.

Despite a massive population, maybe as much as 300 million, we hear little news of the situation of ordinary people and workers in the Middle East.

Not unsurprisingly trade unions and trade unionists have many difficulties in the Middle East, their legal rights are often nonexistent, they are persecuted, attacked and even assassinated.

Attitudes towards trade unions and the treatment of workers is always a good indicator of the health of a society and we find a rather mixed picture when we consider the Middle East.

More often than not ordinary people in the Middle East don’t even have the basic right to join a free trade union, defend their working conditions, let alone strike.

In the end, the picture of workers’ rights in the Middle East is frequently bleak, as the International Trade Union Confederation 2009 survey relates:

“In Lebanon, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, the political tensions and violence are having a negative impact on trade union activities. The offices of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, and some of the houses of its members, were destroyed by bombardments. In Lebanon, the government called on the army after a general strike was called in May that coincided with the aggravation of internal political tensions.

Changes in legislation have continued, but rather slowly. The effective exercise of union rights has accordingly been restricted or non-existent. In Iran, a new law enabling the establishment of free trade unions is being discussed. Promises of new laws guaranteeing increased trade union freedom have still not been kept in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar. In Iraq, the new labour code has not been presented to the Parliament; as a result, laws dating back to the former regime that severely restrict trade union activities remain in force. As a general rule throughout the region, migrant workers have no trade union rights. In Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, the governments have brought in measures or proposed reforms aimed at improving the lot of migrant workers, however.

Trade unions are still banned in Saudi Arabia (where only the national workers’ committees are allowed to be set up in companies with over 100 workers), Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Despite the fact that trade union rights are enshrined in constitutions, restrictions remain and trade union pluralism and collective bargaining are virtually non-existent in the region. In Bahrain, for instance, although the government committed itself in 2007 to adopting a law allowing collective bargaining, the law has still not been adopted.

The right to strike remains limited in Oman, Qatar, Syria and Yemen, whilst it is totally banned in Saudi Arabia and banned in the public sector in the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Kuwait and Qatar. In addition, in many cases the list of essential services in which strikes are banned goes beyond the ILO definition.”

More later on.

Ahmadinejad’s Regime Kidnaps Trade Unionists.

with 3 comments

After fiddling the Presidential election Ahmadinejad’s regime has taken to kidnapping trade unionists and their relatives, and holding them incommunicado as LabourStarts shows.

In their latest affront they have taken to attacking Mansour Osanloo’s family:

“According to reports received by “Human Rights and Democracy activists of Iran Roya Samadi, daughter-in-law of Mansour Osanloo, president of the board of directors of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, was kidnapped and savagely tortured by three agents of Intelligence Ministry.

On Wednesday 2nd of Tir (June 23, 2010) Ms. Samadi, while going home from work around 5:30PM, was attacked by three men as soon as she got off the metro train in Karaj. The agents grabbed her by hair and while pulling her by her hair were kicking and punching her. All of this in broad day light in front of all other shocked commuters. Ms. Samadi while crying for help kept repeating that she’s Mr. Osanloo’s daughter-in-law. The agents put a tape over her mouth as to silence her pleas, and kidnapped her to an undisclosed location.

At the undisclosed location she was put inside a cell, cuffed at hands and feet, with her eyes also covered, and was savagely tortured for a long while. The blows were concentrated on her face and head. Her head was repeatedly hit against the wall. Scars from the beating are evident all over her body. Her gums are torn, teeth broken, swelling of head, wound on her arms and the right foot, and bruises all over her body.

While being tortured the agents kept shouting at: “You have to promise to us if Osanloo is freed from jail, he can’t stay here, and should not do a thing.”

After hours of savage torture, beating and abuse around 9:45 PM, the agents left her shocked body under Sayed Khandan Bridge, and left her. They also emphasized to her that she shouldn’t complain about this to anyone, and if she does she’ll face the consequences.

Although almost 24 hours has passed Ms. Zoya Samadi is still in shock and has not recovered.

For some months now she has been intimated by phone calls from Intelligence Ministry interrogators, she was once even ordered to show up at the 14th District “Islamic Revolutionary” ( read reactionary) Court. When the family showed up in the court they were told that such orders had never been issued. She was also beaten up last year and they attempted to kidnap her back then.”

Update 1: Entdinglichung has more:

“Zoya Samadi also suffered a miscarriage after the attack: http://iranlaborreport.com/?p=967 … and their are reports, that Kurdish political prisoner Zeinab jalalian is in danger of execution: http://www.astreetjournalist.com/2010/06/28/un-must-interfere-to-save-zeynabs-life/

Written by modernityblog

30/06/2010 at 10:51

LabourStart’s Global Solidarity Conference.

leave a comment »

Just in from Eric Lee:

LabourStart will be holding its first-ever global solidarity conference this summer in Canada and we’d like to invite all members of our Facebook group to attend the event.

The conference will be held on 9-11 July 2010 at McMaster University School of Labour Studies, in Hamilton, Ontario.

We’re starting to put together a detailed agenda of plenaries and workshops based on the input we’ve received from trade unionists around the world.

Now we need to know who is coming and we’ve begun registering participants.

If you would like to attend, please register today:

http://www.labourstart.org/register.shtml

(You must do this even if you pre-registered — it will remember your details once you’ve keyed in your email address.)

Participants from developed countries are expected to pay their own way, but we are also raising some money — including from registration fees — to bring over trade unionists from developing countries as well.

This promises to be an enormously exciting and important event and I look forward to seeing you there.

Eric Lee

P.S. Please send any questions you have about this event to the organizing committee – canada@labourstart.org

Labour Video Of The Year.

leave a comment »

Fancy yourself as another François Truffaut, Guy Richie or even Steven Spielberg (without the big budget)?

Then this is your chance, LabourStart is sponsoring a Labour Video of the Year competition, according to the site:

“open to trade unionists and film-makers from around the world.

Videos submitted must be on the web, and less than 10 minutes long. They must focus primarily on work, workers or worker’s issues.

You do not have to be the owner or producer of a video to nominate it.

Please submit your nominations before midnight GMT on 15 February 2010.

Our international panel of judges will prepare a shortlist, with voting expected to take place in March 2010.

Winners will be announced after two weeks of online voting and winning films will screened at the LabourStart conference in July 2010.

There will be prizes for the winning videos, to be announced soon.”

Written by modernityblog

03/02/2010 at 17:28

Institutionalised Racism in UCU.

leave a comment »

David Hirsh has documented, with customary clarity, the sorry tale of institutionalised racism in UCU.

I suspect for the sake of brevity that Dr. Hirsh had to leave out a fair amount of material

I can’t think of any other circumstance, or any other trade union, that would not start questioning itself if Jewish members left in droves as has happened at UCU.

Yet the question of “why ?” doesn’t seem to occur to UCU or its leaders, which is rather depressing.

Written by modernityblog

19/01/2010 at 15:22

Blogs at UnionBook.

with 2 comments

I covered them briefly last year but Eric Lee’s UnionBook now offers blogs, here’s Eric explaining it:

“More and more union members are blogging — but many of them are taking advantage of free blogging services offered by corporations like Google (Blogger and Blogspot) and Microsoft (Spaces on Windows Live). These blogs usually feature some kind of advertising (otherwise, why would they be offered to you for free?). Your blog will be one of millions that those corporations host, unlikely to be seen by the particular audience that you may be aiming to reach.

UnionBook offers free, and advertising-free, blogs to all its users. When you post something new to your UnionBook blog, it’s seen by those logging into the site, on our Dashboard page.

If you’ve not yet tried out this wonderful feature, login to your account and go here.

Alternately, click on ‘Blogs’ from the Tools menu.

If you’ve forgotten your password to login to UnionBook, go here.

If you can’t remember your user name, write to unionbook@labourstart.org and send us the email address you think you registered under — we’ll find your user name for you.

Finally, as some of you will be aware, we’ve had to tighten up access to UnionBook following a relentless assault by spammers. This is now largely under control. However, it means that we’ve needed to individually authorize each new account. If when you login you get a message saying that your account has yet to be authorized by an administrator, and it’s not letting you use the site, email us and we’ll sort it out.

Thanks for all your support — and enjoy UnionBook!

Eric Lee”

Written by modernityblog

14/12/2009 at 14:31

More On Vestas

leave a comment »

The Times covers the occupation at Vestas:

Workers staging a sit-in at Britain’s only significant wind turbine factory to try to prevent its closure have accused managers of attempting to starve them out by blocking food supplies.

Last night, about 30 workers occupied the administrative block at the Vestas factory in Newport on the Isle of Wight.

The Times revealed last week that the factory was closing down its production line within hours of the Government making a pledge to build 10,000 wind turbines — a fivefold increase on the present number — by 2020. More than 600 people are due to be made redundant on July 30 — 525 in Newport and 100 at a related facility in Southampton.”

Let’s hope that they win. If they nationalise Vesta Blades as it would provide a quick and cheap solution, keeping people gainfully employed producing socially worthwhile products.

Written by modernityblog

21/07/2009 at 20:10

Save The World, Support The Vestas Occupation.

leave a comment »

Fossil fuels have had their day, they are finite and will eventually run out, which means the world will be without sufficient energy sources.

A good alternative is wind power.

It isn’t used as much as it should be and the incentives to install it seem rather low.

One company that actually did produce the necessary equipment was Vestas Blades UK.

It is due to close on the 31st July 2009.

Thankfully, the workers have taken matters into their own hands and are occupying the plant, not only to save jobs but to help the environment.

They deserve our support. They have a blog here and a list of planned events here.

Good luck to them!

Update: Another useful site is http://vestasjobs.net/ and their Facebook group.

Update 2: The Guardian covers it too.

Written by modernityblog

21/07/2009 at 00:03