7 Nov 2019 Ferado

BWI calls on Australian Government to drop proposed anti-union law

BWI and its affiliates are writing to independent Senators in Australia, calling on them to vote against the proposed Ensuring Integrity Bill. Australian unions have characterised the bill as a brazen attack on unions intended to give the Minister, employers, or any party with a ‘sufficient interest’ the right to intervene in the democratic running of unions.

“This Ensuring Integrity Bill is an attempt to silence union leaders, lower safety standards, clamp rights at work and cut wages,” said CFMEU Construction Division National Secretary Dave Noonan. “It does nothing to fix the real crisis in the construction industry in Australia, but rather is intended to deliver fatter profits for property developers, lower wages and worse safety.”

The legislation has four main effects. First, it contains provisions that widen the circumstances in which a union official can be disqualified from running for or holding office. Second, other provisions expand the grounds for cancellation of an organisation’s registration. It also introduces a ‘public interest’ test for union mergers, and finally imposes a scheme to allow adminstrators to be appointed to ‘dysfunctional organisations’.

“These proposals constitute an unacceptable intrusion into the trade union movement,” said BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. “Trade unions are democratic organisations, and this democracy is critical to ensuring workers’ interests are adequately represented within their movement. These intrusions are fundamentally undemocratic and we are proud to see our affiliates vigorously oppose them.”

The BWI is calling all its affiliates and partners to support the Australian unions by signing to the petition on the following link: https://standupforworkers.com/thanks

7 Nov 2019 Ferado

Young workers in Asia-Pacific planning ahead

Establishing youth committees at national levels and ultimately forming a regional network is the main goal of the recently concluded Youth Exchange Forum in Port Dickson, Malaysia, on 21-22 October. Building capacity and encouraging young workers to get involved in union activities are among the main strategies identified to strengthen the group.

More than fifty young workers from IndustriALL affiliates in South Asia and South East Asia participated in the exchange. Young workers shared their union’s activities; in addition to organizing and building leadership, there were examples of youth camps, websites to reach more young workers, English and computer training.

During the two days of the exchange, issues like the situation of young workers globally, gender equality, the newly adopted ILO Convention 190 on gender-based violence and harassment in the world of work and communication techniques were addressed.

Isabelle Olausson, from Swedish union Vision-Sweden, told of how students at Swedish universities are encouraged to join a union and to continue their membership once they graduate and start working.

“There will be a global youth meeting in conjunction with IndustriALL’s Congress in Cape Town in 2020,”

said IndustriALL youth coordinator Sarah Flores.

“It’s important to hear your voice for the agenda of the upcoming meeting. Young workers needs to be pro-active and engage union leadership in youth activities; we need to train the future union leaders.”

Looking forward, participants discussed national action plans focusing on organizing and training young workers to build union power, and plans for youth committees, on both union and regional level.

Activities planned for next year include learning about Industry 4.0, action on 7 October, World Day for Decent Work, and to campaign for the ratification of ILO Convention 190.

Another forum was proposed for 2020, in either Indonesia, Myanmar or Thailand.

IndustriALL SEA regional secretary Annie Adviento urged participants to take up the difficulties and successes of becoming trade union leaders in the fast-changing work environment.

”This can only be realized if young workers continue to get involved in trade unions. Young workers are facing the challenges of Industry 4.0, and you, as young workers, are the ones that can put forward relevant union initiatives. IndustriALL’s regional office strongly supports activities to empower youth as well as the formation of youth structures at national and regional levels.”

7 Nov 2019 Ferado

Indian seafarers plant trees at root of environmental campaign

The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) has begun a drive to plant thousands of trees.

It began with all officers, petty officers and ratings being asked to plant a tree during August and September. This resulted in 7,000 new trees.

In five years, NUSI intends to plant 100,000 trees across India.

NUSI general secretary Abdulgani Serang said: “Our country is facing severe air pollution and water shortages, and we have to act. Trees are a source of clean air and conserve groundwater, but every day they are being cut down and forests are being destroyed.

“There is an urgent need to plant more and more trees everywhere in India, and we are committed to playing our part to making a better India for future generations.”

3 Nov 2019 Ferado

GURUDAS DAS GUPTA was godfather to labour rights activists

AHMADABAD: The Indian trade union movement has lost one of its most honourable leaders. The death of comrade Gurudas Dasgupta marks the end of an era; an era of non-compromising and powerful negotiators who transformed the concept of collective bargaining and workers’ unity amidst ideological differences.

He was a tough negotiator, a powerful leader and an amazing organiser. He was a compelling platform orator with a strong ability to articulate critical issues that affect the common man, earning respect and affection in the global trade union spectrum. He was a walking encyclopedia on the global trade union movement, ILO Conventions and international agreements on workers’ rights.
For me, and many other fellow labour activists across the world, he was a source of support, advice and pragmatic suggestions. I fondly remember an occasion when his timely intervention helped me convince senior bureaucrats take an inclusive policy decision favouring millions of women workers in the unorganised sector.

It was in 2009. I, representing my trade union, was attending an expert committee meeting of the Planning Commission with the mandate to propose a detailed skill development strategy for the young workforce. But the discussion focussed only on the formal sector. When I raised the issue, senior bureaucrats did not take it seriously, considering the practical difficulties. I felt it as an insult to the entire working class in the informal sector who form 90 per cent of the total workforce. Dasgupta, then representing AITUC, and M.K. Pandhe of CITU and other senior trade unions leaders also participated in the meeting. During the tea break, I approached Dasgupta and requested him to intervene. He smiled and agreed immediately. The next session literally witnessed his strong oratory skills. With solid evidence, he criticised the approach towards workers in the informal sector and demanded an inclusive and participatory policy process that can better represent the majority of the working class. The committee membe
rs were spellbound. After completing his speech, amidst wide applause, the comrade looked at me and smiled. I smiled back; a smile direct from my heart. The agenda was changed immediately. Alternatives were discussed to develop professional skills among agricultural workers, artisans and construction workers. Then, I was allowed to speak without interruption.

Yes, he was a communist in every sense of the term. A rare, unparalleled leader with a remarkable strike record within and outside Parliament. One can cherish his memory only with respect and affection. On the broader issues that affect the working class, he always defended the workers’ cause irrespective of their ideological positions and trade union affiliations. That is why he is remembered fondly as a warm, genuine and immensely committed leader by all those worked along with him.

For us, he is always relevant as a leader who offered space for alternative voices and narratives. He offered a trade union culture based on dialogue, consensus and mutual respect. In spite of the setback to trade unionism in the era of globalisation, he always believed in the infinite possibilities of the working-class unity and the power of their collective consciousness.

3 Nov 2019 Ferado

Homage to Comrade Gurudas Dasgupta

The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) is deeply grieved on the passing away of Comrade Gurudas Dasgupta, the veteran trade union leader of the country and eminent parliamentarian for decades, this morning in Kolkata after prolonged illness. He was 84 years of age.

Comrade Gurudas Dasgupta breathed his last on 31 October, on the very day a century before when India’s first central trade union, the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), was formed heralding the unity and struggle of the working class movement and workers participation in the national freedom movement, the legacy of which both AITUC and CITU carries. He led the AITUC as its general secretary for more than a decade. Comrade Gurudas Dasgupta joined the communist movement from his student days. He was an eminent national level student leader and steered the All India Students Federation for long. Later, he joined the trade union movement. His association with the working class movement was for more than five decades.

Comrade Gurudas Dasgupta played important role in broadening the united platform of trade unions to lead the working class struggle against neoliberal economic policy regime.

Comrade Gurudas Dasgupta was member of both Houses of the Parliament, the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, for two and half decades championing the cause of the working class and all other marginalized sections of the people which made him an outstanding parliamentarian.

CITU salutes the departed leader in memory of his great contribution for the cause of toiling people, for their rights and livelihood; in defending the democracy and the unity and integrity of the country and its people.Demise of Comrade Gurudas Dasgupta is a big loss to the working class and democratic movement of the country.

CITU pays respectful homage to the departed leader and conveys its heartfelt condolence to the comrades of AITUC and his bereaved family members.