World of Labor for January 12, 2013

By Harry Kelber


ILO Urges Better Pay and Conditions for 53 Million Domestic Workers

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has urged countries to adopt new standards to ensure decent working conditions and pay for the world's 53 million domestic workers, mostly women. The ILO report, Domestic Workers Across the World, shines a spotlight on a group of workers often neglected by policymakers and largely excluded from national labor laws.

"Domestic workers are frequently asked to work longer hours than other workers, and in many countries do not have the same rights to weekly rest that are enjoyed by other workers," said Sandra Polaski, the ILO's deputy director general. "Combined with the lack of rights, the extreme dependence on an employer, and the isolated and unprotected nature of work can render them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse."

Using official statistics from 117 countries, the report estimated the number of domestic workers in the world at 52.6 million in 2010. The 2010 figure is a significant increase from the 33.2 million recorded in 1995.

Mass Sick-Out Staged by Staff at College of the Bahamas

Some 350 non-faculty staff at the College of the Bahamas (COB) have been agitating for a new industrial agreement, since their last contract expired in 2009. For the past two days, in apparent protest for the delays, several of those staffers called in sick.

In a statement released by COB last night, the college explained the present situation. "On Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, some non-faculty staff did not report for duty, indicating they were ill," the statement said. "Today, some employees remain on sick leave. College policy allows members of staff to take two consecutive sick days without requiring them to produce a valid certificate from a physician." The college emphasized that the sick-out did not affect COB's operations.

Last month, Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald said the government was working to free up hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover a new industrial agreement. College administrators remain at the negotiation table and are looking forward to an amicable agreement, it was reported.

Doctors' Strike in Mozambique Enters Fifth Day

The doctors' strike, organized by the Mozambican Medical Association, (AMM) on Friday, Jan. 11, entered its fifth day despite statements by both the AMM and the Ministry of Health that they are willing to resume discussions about doctors' wages.

Mozambique is a country in Southeast Africa, bordered by the Indian Ocean with a population of 24 million, and an industry mainly of food and beverages and a chemical manufacturing industry.

The AMM chairperson, Jorge Arroz, said the ministry had not replied to a letter sent by the AMM two days ago. In that letter, the AMM said it was "completely open" to discuss the doctors' wages, but demanded an end to threats and intimidation against striking doctors, and wanted an "observer" to attend the talks. It appears that negotiations between the parties will be held at a local garden.

Bangladeshi Ship Breakers Let Out to Sea

Every year, the shipping industry sends 800 to 900 end of life ships to yards where they are recycled, mainly by hand, to recover the steel. Bangladesh is one of the world's largest ship dismantlers, but ship breaking remains one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. According to records, 98 percent of the ships were dismantled in five countries: India, Bangladesh, China, Turkey and Pakistan.

The world's largest ship breaker is India, which processed 527 ships in 2012. The Bangladesh Ship Breaking Association (BSBA) reports that more than 200 ships were imported into the country in 2012 for scrapping.

The Bangladesh ship breaking industry adds about $1 billion to the country's economy. The industry employs approximately 200,000 people. Not everyone is happy at the growth of the industry. Labor and environmental activists see the expansion of ship breaking as bad for the country's future economy and environment.

Kenyan Nurses Demand Return to work Formula

The industrial court has ordered the Kenyan government to enter into a return to work formula with nurses, following their calling an end to the strike. The court gave the directive after the unregistered Kenyan National Union of Nurses aid that some of its members had been interdicted, demoted and sacked, while others had been issued transfer letters when they reported to their stations.

Seth Panyako, an official, urged the court to intervene and ensure that the government allow the nurses to report back to their work without being victimized. Penyako said the court had ruled last year that the nurses' strike was legal, before it overturned the ruling and ordered the nurses to return to work.

To keep informed about workers and their unions in foreign countries, we suggest you read our weekly "World of Labor," posted here and on our two sweb sites: www.laboreducator.org and www.laborsvoiceforchange.org.

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