THE WORLD OF LABOR — September 3, 2011

By Harry Kelber

World’s Labor Force Includes 250 Million Children, Says ILO

The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that there are 250 million working children in the world. About 120 million of them work every day, and two-thirds of these, work in the fields — one of the three most hazardous places for the health and safety of the children. They often start work when five years old, which blocks any chances they might have at going to school or gathering any training for a job, and of having the means to grow and live decently today and in their future.

In Egypt, there are 7 million working children, 83 percent of them in rural areas. Many families could not do without the money their children bring in. In some homes, the child is the sole source of income. A majority of families do not have the means to pay school costs for their children.

In the fight against child labor in Egypt, an organization, Terre des Hommes, has started up a new project to help 4,000 children. Removed from exhausting farm work, they will be able to get back into an improved school system and return to their families, who will benefit from better living conditions.

Union-Sponsored Health Clinic Opens in Haiti

The Workers’ Solidarity Clinic has opened its doors in Haiti. Haitian nurses, doctors and healthcare workers from the American Federation of Teachers treated more than 100 women and children in the first week of the clinic’s opening on August 11.

The Vermont Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals and Haiti’s Confederation of Public and Private Workers led the project. A grant from the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center, New York State United Teachers and the AFT, and individual donations financed the project.

The clinic will initially provide maternal and child care, immunization and preventative healthcare for union households. The services will help build the capacity of CTSP and its healthcare affiliates by connecting unions to their members with a medical facility that serves union members and their families.

U.S. Employers Will Be Required to Publicize Worker Rights

A new rule by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requires employers to put posters on their bulletin board that clearly informs their employees of their right to unionize. The new rule goes into effect on Nov. 14. They do not cover agriculture, rail and airline employees.

Under the new regulation, businesses would have to display notices that explain the right to bargain collectively, to hand out union literature, and to work together to improve wages and conditions free of retaliation.

Business groups were quick to criticize the new regulation, which, they said, were part of the Board’s pro-union tilt under President Obama. Business groups also expect the Board to issue a decision shortly that would make it easier to unionize specific industries.

Toyota Employees Strike Company’s Australian Plant

More than 3,000 employees have walked off the job in Toyota plants in Melbourne and Sidney, crippling the car manufacturer’s output. The workers say they are at a standoff with Toyota over the timing of pay upgrades. In addition to the 24-hour walkout which began on Sept. 2, three weeks of work stoppages are being planned.

Dave Smith, acting national secretary of the vehicle division of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, says the two parties aren’t so far apart in a complex negotiation. He added that the employees have not had a pay raise since early 2010, but Toyota, at first, offered only a 1 percent increase.

But late in July, Toyota offered several alternative contract choices. In July, It proposed an 11 percent increase over 39 months. Last week, alI of Toyota’s alternative offers were rejected by the unions.

Italian Unions Mobilize Against Austerity Plan

Italy’s four major unions are mobilizing against the government’s plans for cuts and retrenchments that disproportionately hit workers and pensioners, while protecting the wealthy, overpaid politicians and high- ranking state officials.

The FIOM union is preparing a series of initiatives on Sept. 5-6 against the government’s austerity plans. The national CGIL calls for an 8-hour national general strike on Sept. 6 to demand changes in the austerity plans.

The CGIL has proposed several measures designed to produce growth and revenue. They include a campaign against tax avoiders that can yield 130 billion euros a year; an extraordinary tax on large real estates, generating 12 billion euros, and a “growth and innovative fund” to help bring young people into the labor market.

Police Fire Water Cannons at Koreans Protesting Layoffs

Korean left-wing groups again protested massive layoffs by a construction firm in central Seoul during the weekend before they were broken up by police using water cannons for the first time in three years.

A police-estimated crowd of some 2,500 people from various parts of the country staged overnight protests, joining the so-called “Hope Bus “ campaign, led by progressive groups demanding Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction re-employ hundreds of laborers laid off earlier this year.

Hanjin decided on the 400-worker layoff to concentrate its resources on its Subic Bay shipyard in the Philippines, sparking disputes that spread to political parties, who have even asked the presidential office to intervene to prevent further controversy.

To keep informed about workers and their unions in foreign countries, read our weekly column, “The World of Labor,”which we post here every weekend and on our two web sites: and