THE WORLD OF LABOR — April 7, 2012

By Harry Kelber

IndustriALL, a New Global Union, to Unite All Workers in Supply Chain

Trade unions in mining, energy and manufacturing sectors around the world have agreed to form their membership into a new global union known as IndustriALL Global Union. The founding Congress will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, from June 18-20. Statutes, action plans and political leadership will be decided at the Copenhagen conference.

IndustriALL will represent workers in a wide range of sectors, from extraction of oil and gas, mining, generation and distribution of electric power, to manufacturing metals and metal products, shipbuilding, chemicals, garments, pulp and paper, leather and many other industries.

The new organization’s website will include useful information and relevant documents for participants to the founding congress. IndustriALL’s flag is expected to be planted on top of Mount Everest, in a new expedition that began April 3.

Israeli Unions Fight Netanyahu’s Plan to slash salary incentives

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has aroused opposition from Histadrut, Israel’s labor federation, by his plan to slash salary incentives for outstanding employees as part of the solution to finance the reduction in the price of gasoline. The Histadrut, chaired by Ofer Eini, said, in response: “The salary incentives were set by a joint government-Histradut committee and cannot be cut or amended without the committee’s consent.”

A senior official in Jerusalem, familiar with the issue, said: “The measure will save a few pennies at the most, but will unquestionably enrage the Histadrut and cause a labor dispute. The budget savings that the Finance Minister is talking about are fictitious.”

In addition, the Netanyahu proposal calls for layoffs, with different amounts in each ministry. The Ministry of Justice will lose 134 positions; the Ministry of Public Security will lose 77 positions; the Ministry of Health, 48 positions, and the Ministry of Defense, 45 positions. The Knesset, Office of the State Comptroller, the National Insurance Institute and the Israel National Employment Service will also lose positions.

The response to Netanyahue’s proposals has been swift. ”Even before the ink is dry on the recommendations, they’re cutting the manpower, This is an unreasonable decision, which hinders achieving the government’s goals to integrate minorities in the public sector to 10 percent,” said Shalom Simhon, Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor.

Saudi Arabia Frees 22 Indonesian Maids on Death Row

Twenty-two Indonesian maids on death row now in Saudi Arabia have been exonerated and returned to their home in Indonesia. Some 25 more maids still face the death penalty in the kingdom, after being found guilty of “criminal offenses.”

Indonesian officials will meet in Saudi Arabia to discuss the fate of the remaining death row inmates and the 1,700 Indonesian nationals currently serving prison terms in the kingdom. The Indonesian Embassy, as well as the Jeddah-based Consulate, are trying to secure pardons for the imprisoned maids, it was reported.

Indonesia has banned recruitment agencies from sending maids to work in Saudi Arabia, saying the nation’s legal system does not do enough to protect foreign workers. Some 117 are in death row in Malaysia, 20 in China, 25 in Saudi Arabia and two in Singapore.

Italian Labor Reform Plan Sparks Wide Debate

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is trying to loosen the country’s labor laws to make it easier for employers to hire and fire workers in a bid to boost employment and economic growth. But the reforms, whose passage are uncertain because of opposition from the country’s powerful unions, have sparked a deeper debate in Italy over how the country can throw off years of sluggish growth and high unemployment.

The debate pits employers and supporters of business against unions and others who want to preserve Italy’s generous welfare state. The outcome of the debate will have a profound effect on the country’s future.

The situation for young workers is so bad in Italy that most educated people are either searching for work or planning to head for Germany or France to look for opportunities. According to the latest government statistics, more than 2.4 million Italians or 9.3 percent of the nation’s work force are unemployed.

Polish Women Workers Fight Back Against Spendthrift Austerity

Poland and the Ukraine are going to host Euro2012, the European football championship. And the two countries are spending huge sums on football stadiums and infrastructure projects, despite critical budgetary shortages, with many regions on the verge of bankruptcy.

As a result, politicians have cut money from education, childcare and public institutions. All over Poland, schools and kindergartners have been closed down or getting more expensive. The rents on municipal housing are also increasing.

The nation’s women are organizing to fight this misuse of the country’s assets. For many months, they have been attending meetings with militant labor leaders, and making their voices heard. They are opposing the privatization of nurseries. and they are demanding higher wages.

Swaziland Closes Its Only Trade Union

Swaziland shut down its only trade union that had threatened to lead a protest against Africa’s last absolute monarch, King Mswati III. “Yes, we have been deregistered,” said Mduduzi Gina, secretary-General of the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland. “We have convened a meeting with the minister of labor on the matter,” he said.

The King, who turns 44 0n April 19, has faced growing criticism and unprecedented public protests since last year, due to a financial crisis that has pushed the kingdom to the brink of bankruptcy, while he is accused of lavish spending.

More than 3,000 students took to the streets at the end of March when Mswati cancelled scholarships. MsWati’s father, the late King Sobhuza II, banned political parties on April 12, 1973, a date that is still celebrated. The fledgling federation was formed last month when the country’s two biggest labor movements joined forces to create it.

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