25 Jun 2018 Ferado

White House proposes combining education, labour dept’s

Washington: The Trump administration has outlined a proposal to reorganise the federal government, including merging two Cabinet agencies, the Department of Education and the Department of Labour.

The plan outlined on Thursday is meant to “make the Federal Government more efficient, effective, and accountable”, according to a White House statement.

In addition to merging the two agencies — “to better meet the needs of American workers and students”, the White House said — it would also consolidate fragmented regulation of food safety and group economic assistance resources into a new Bureau of Economic Growth, housed in the Department of Commerce.

It would also emphasise efforts to digitise federal government operations in order to save time and storage space.

“This plan will serve as a cornerstone for a productive, bipartisan dialogue around making the federal government work for the 21st century”, the White House said on Thursday.

Mr Trump’s Republican party has long called to prune federal government bureaucracy. It is unclear, however, whether Congress has the will to approve such a big move ahead of the midterm elections in November.

25 Jun 2018 Ferado

Court hands Petrobras workers victory in $4.5b wage spat

Brazil: Brazil’s top labour court on Thursday ruled in favour of workers at state-controlled Petroleo Brasileiro in a wage dispute that could cost the world’s most indebted oil company up to 17 billion reais ($4.5 billion / £3.4 billion).

Petrobras, as the company is known, may still appeal the Superior Labor Court’s ruling in the case, brought by oil workers seeking more pay.

But the ruling points to gathering headwinds for the company, which settled a nearly $3 billion (£2.2 billion) lawsuit with U.S. investors in January and is seeking to cut debt through a $21 billion divestment programme.

The case centred around Petrobras’ compensation policy since 2007, when it adopted the so-called Minimum Level and Regime Remuneration (RMNR) scheme.

Workers argued that payments tied to special work arrangements, such as night shifts and hazardous work, should be excluded from an agreement on the wage policy.

The ruling could potentially saddle the firm with up to 17 billion reais in added payments.

But Petrobras, backed by the Federal Attorney General’s Office, argued that the payments should be included in the base calculation for RMNR, as agreed to in a collective salary agreement with workers.

The head of the Superior Labor Court, Brito Pereira, had to vote to untie the ruling, which had 13 labour judges voting for the employees and 12 for the company.

The change means some 59,000 employees could receive a wage increase of up to 35 percent, according to calculations by the Attorney General’s Office.

Petrobras plans to appeal the decision in the Supreme Federal Court, one person with knowledge of the matter said. But the oil giant faces plenty of other headaches.

A nationwide strike by truckers over high fuel costs forced embattled President Michel Temer to cut diesel prices, in part via subsidies paid to Petrobras.

While the cash-strapped government has promised to compensate Petrobras for losses incurred by the price cut, some doubt whether the company will be made whole and the incident drove CEO Pedro Parente to resign.

20 Jun 2018 Ferado

ILO to declare its new report on care work and care jobs

Switzerland: The International Labour Organization (ILO) is to launch its new report, Care work and care jobs for the future of work, on Thursday, 28 June at 20:00 GMT.

It provides an estimate of the necessary investment needed to avoid a looming global care crisis as well as new figures on the number of people in need of care, including children and older persons. It also looks at the number of jobs that could be created.

The report includes policy recommendations as well as a wide range of global and regional statistics and analysis, including unpaid care work and the gender imbalance in care work.

Embargoed electronic copies of the report and associated media material will be made available to journalists upon request, starting on the morning of Thursday, 28 June in the morning, by contacting newsroom@ilo.org.

For UNOG accredited correspondents: A press briefing by Manuela Tomei, Director of the ILO’s Work Quality Department and Shauna Olney, Chief of the ILO Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch (GED), will be held, under embargo, on Thursday, 28 June at 10:00 a.m. in press room 1 at the Palais des Nations. Embargoed documents will be sent to them automatically as soon as they become available.

14 Jun 2018 Ferado

Government to recognize trade unions

Botswana: Minister of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Nonofo Molefhi, says government is committed in reviewing the labour laws of the country.

When addressing the media following Botswana delegation’s appearance before the 107th Session of the International labour Conference in Switzerland, Molefhi said that they were prepared to do things right.
“Even before we briefed Cabinet with my team, President Mokgweetsi Masisi asked us to work on those which are necessary being, the bargaining council, trade dispute act and public service act. This demonstrates how government is committed to working with the trade unions.”

He said that as they explore on working together, they must ensure that there is consistency, transparency, honesty and also cultivate the spirit of mutual trust. “The spirit of mutual trust must underpin our engagement.”

Molefhi said that by holding on yester years ill fillings, it will hold them back and must shed that off. “We must shed off the old scheme as tripartite and believe that we have solutions that are from us not imposed on us,” he added.

Meanwhile Tobokani Rari who spoke on behalf of both union federations, BFTU and BOFEPUSU said that they were delighted that the group has decided to recognise them.

Among the amendments which Rari said government was willing to work on, include the amendments of the Prisons Act, to allow unionization in the Prison Service, registration and recognition of the Public Sector bargaining Council allow labour law review to be subjected to tripartite structures to ensure transparency and efficiency of the entire process.

14 Jun 2018 Ferado

Unions demand further reform for public workers

South Africa: The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) announced in a press conference Tuesday that it will continue to reject a public sector wage agreement with the country’s Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) for what they call a “savage attack on the living standards of public servants.”

The PSCBC, a central bargaining council within the labor market, announced Friday that 65.74 percent of trade unions agreed to salary adjustments and new conditions of service for three years, from 2018/19 to 2020/21, after hitting a deadlock last week.

Trade unions in opposition to the agreement say that a strike will not have the desired impact on labor negotiations and are thus committing to a “campaign on the ground until it is reversed” while outlining the conditions to workers.

“The agreement signed in 2018 is in many respects worse than the 2014-2017 agreement. This agreement overall seeks to make workers pay for an economic crisis they did not create. Those who created the crisis continue to smile to the banks,” the SAFTU press statement read.

SAFTU stated that the agreement does not properly address salary adjustment for inflation, further delays implementing housing allowance laws, lacks a review of medical insurance schemes, and needs to address outstanding demands.

The discussion over public sector wages comes after the National Assembly passed three amendment bills to labor laws on May 29. These bills set a general minimum wage of 20 rand per hour, or approximately US$1.58, but undermine the rights of workers to strike or picket.They also laid out earnings for extended public workers to be 11 rand per hour, 15 rand per hour for domestic workers, and 18 rand per hour for farm workers.

However, Citrus workers, gold miners, and some trade unions have since voiced and organized for higher wages and benefits.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union confirmed demands of the country’s top gold production companies Sunday, including an increase in monthly minimum wage and benefits such as severance pay, longer maternity leave, and a five-day work week instead of the current shift systems.