THE WORLD OF LABOR — August 25,2012

By Harry Kelber

Foreign Firms Face Labor Shortage

While foreign investments are flowing into to Myanmar, creating more opportunities for locals, businesses are facing shortages of skill workers. After political changes occurred in the country between 2011 and 2012, the international community has taken more interest in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country.

With more businesses setting up here, the demand for skilled workers has also increased. “Scarcity of human resource is a hurdle to foreign investments. There are not enough skilled engineers, geologists, and architects in the country,” said Mr. Evelin Petkov, director of Hong Kong-based Bagan Capital Company, a consulting firm for investment in Mynamar.

Foreign businesses are investing in oil and natural gas exploration, electricity, mining, manufacturing, hotels, tourism and real estate, livestock and fisheries, as well as transportation and communications systems.

South African Minister Meets Union after Mine Deaths

South Africa’s labor minister said she met with upstart union AMOU on Aug. 13 over tensions in the platinum sector as the country mourned the 44 people killed in a wildcat mining strike. Minister Mildred Oliphant said she held talks with the Mineworkers and Construction Union in Rustenburg. “Amou briefed us on their side of the story,” she said.

“Workers hacked and beat to death 10 people after the strike started on Aug. 10, prompting the police to step in, leading to the crackdown that led to the death of 34 miners on Aug. 16. The violence has been attributed at least in part to the rivalry between AMOU and the established National Union of Mineworkers.

Disabled Workers in Scotland to Stage 4-day Strike

Disabled workers at Remploy sites in Glasgow and Chesterfield are to stage a four-day strike over the threat of job losses. Members of the GMB and Unite will walk out from Aug. 28. It follows a series of U.K.–wide strikes by disabled workers in protest of government moves to close Remploy factories.

The government plans to switch spending to help individuals find jobs in mainstream sectors. The GMB said that nearly half of Remploy’s 54 factories have already been shut down. Another 18 for Work and for Work and Pension will be sold or shut next year, with the remainder facing an uncertain future.

An official of the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We’re disappointed that the unions are taking more strike action, which will do nothing to secure the future jobs of Remploy staff. The government should encourage the trade unions to fully engage with Remploy during the current process to provide the best possible support and success for disabled staff who may leave the company.”

Siemen”s ‘Sweet Talk’ Masks a Union-Busting Plan

The United Steelworkers Union (USW) said on August 25 that workers in a North East, Maryland Siemen’s plant, who recently signed affiliation cards with the USW, had become targets of the company’s anti-union philosophy. The company has launched a full-blown union-busting campaign, hiring an anti-union consultant, Ken Cannon, who advertises “40 years of experience supporting management’s efforts to remain union free.”

This action comes on the heels of of Siemens signing a Global Framework Agreement with its General Works Council, the German Metalworkers Union, IG Metall, and the IndustriALL Global Union on July 25, where the company pledged to respect a worker’s right to choose a union.,

Cannon has been conducting meetings with Siemens employees at which he told them he is making $1,000 per day ($173;000 per year) and does not need the money, but does this work for free. He bragged that he wins all of his campaigns and had never had an unfair labor practice filed against him.

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.