THE WORLD OF LABOR — June 16, 2012

By Harry Kelber

Only One in 10 of the G20 Countries Believes Austerity Will Work

International unions warned of a dangerous credibility gap between G20 leaders’ past statements on jobs and many G20 governments’ actions that are pushing economies back into recession and destroying jobs. The warning came as global unemployment climbed toward 210 million, with 75 million young people without jobs. The OECD and the ILO estimate that 21 million jobs need to be created each year to return to pre-crisis employment rates by 2015.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, said a global opinion poll commissioned by the ITUC showed only 13 percent of the public believe they have real influence on government economic decisions, as the impact of G20 austerity policies that started in Toronto in 2010 take hold of family incomes and job security. Two-thirds of the people polled favored investing in jobs and growth and only 10 percent in austerity.

“While we have seen glimmers of a debate emerging in Europe in the last few weeks, it is just that. There is no plan, no confidence that there will be investment in job-centered growth,” said Burrow. The global poll of 13 countries, including 10 G20 economies showed 71 percent of people don’t feel they have job security, while only 11 percent have seen their incomes go up more than inflation.

Turkey Prohibits All Acts of Protest at Ataturk Airport

The Ataturk Airport Security Commission decided to ban all demonstrations and acts of protest inside airport grounds. The move comes in the wake of a decision by the Turkish Airlines (THY) to lay off 305 employees who had gone on strike while the head of the Turkish Civil Aviation Union (Have-Is) also warned of safety hazards caused by a shortage of employees.

“They have bereft us of our right to strike. They can only eliminate the legitimate struggle against us through a ban,” said Atilay Aycin, the head of Have-Is, adding they had stayed on watch at the airport for 16 days for the fired workers.

The union charged there were other unfavorable flying conditions that imperilled the safety of pilots. Some 14,000 personnel are employed at the airline. Collective bargaining talks between the union and the company failed to produce any agreements

Salafistas Firebomb Tunisian Union Offices across the Country

Tunisian Islamic fundamentalists unleashed on June 14 a campaign of firebombing trade union offices across the country on June 14 as the Salafist movement challenges the emerging democracy in the home of the “Arab Spring.” Regional offices of the national union center UGTT in three locations have been burned down by Salafistas under the slogan, “There is only God, and the UGTT is the enemy of God.”

UGTT regional offices were the main organizing points for the revolution to depose former president Ben Ali. Political parties, which have shown support for the UGTT, including the Republican Party, PDP, The Forum and the Alwatad Movement, have also been targeted, along with courts, post offices, art galleries and even police.

“The authorities need to move quickly to put an end to this violence, which has been building for some time. The people organizing these attacks have been generating a climate of fear and intimidation which threatens the very development of a democratic Tunisia,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary.

1,000 Workers Lose Jobs at Gold One Mine in South Africa

As an aftermath to their week-long “illegal” strike, more than 1,000 workers at the South Africa’s Modder East mine have been fired. In a statement released to the Australian Security Exchange employees from the mine on June 14, Gold One International dismissed a total of 1,035 employees from the mine after workers staged an unprotected strike action on June 3.

The mining company claimed that the strike was illegal because it broke a three-year wage agreement that both parties had signed on April 2010. The company added that it continues to operate the mining and milling operations at the Modder East unit, albeit on a limited capacity, as well as continuing to process surface stockpile sources.

Gold One International typically employs 1,800 workers. It is an Australia-based company that is located 19 miles east of Johannesburg. Contingencies are in place to ensure that the mine continues to produce at a profitable rate. In 2011, it produced 123,128 ounces of gold.

London Buses Will Shut Down to Protest Olympic Award, UNITE Warns

London buses will come to a standstill on Friday, June 22 as bus workers from every bus company will take strike action across the capital for the first time in a generation. The strike is over London’s bus operators’ refusal to recognize the “massive increase” in workload for their workers during the Olympic Games.

Unless the operators act, UNIITE will call additional strikes up to and during the Olympic Games. The last London-wide strike took place in 1982. The walkout was in solidarity with the British nurses. Bus workers are the only transport workers not receiving an award for their extra effort.

The seven top agencies in transportation have already been selected. They are in line to cash in on two years of annual bonuses, according to reports. The bus operators have not met with UNITE even once to discuss the discrimination against the bus workers.

Heat Turned on Guatemala for not Respecting Worker Rights

For over 20 years, Guatemalan workers have attempted to use the ILO to vindicate heir rights, which were elusive at home. Despite increasingly stronger condemnation hy the ILO and numerous technical missions, Guatemala workers saw no changes in law or in practice. The situation in Guatemala is truly alarming, with trade unionists routinely murdered.

On June 14, 2012, 10 delegates to the International Labor Conference from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas filed a request for the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry — the strongest investigative measure available under the ILO system. The government body of the ILO will likely vote to establish such a commission at its November meeting.

It is questionable whether Guatemala will respond favorable to any commission, considering it an invasion of their sovereignty. The country has had numerous opportunities to comply with such ILO principles as freedom of association and the right to join unions, and has rejected them. Will a Commission of Inquiry make a difference?

To keep informed about workers and their unions in foreign countries, read our weekly “The World of Labor,” posted here and on our two web sites: : http://www.laborsvoiceforchange.org and http://www.laboreducator.org.