16 Oct 2020 Ferado

Deal with Fiat Chrysler secures $1.5 billion electric vehicle investment

TORONTO—Unifor’s Master Bargaining Committee has reached a tentative agreement on behalf of 9000 Unifor members, with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that includes a significant commitment to both maintain and build its manufacturing footprint in Canada.

“Today, I’m so pleased to announce to our members in Windsor and the community of Windsor and Essex County, that we were able to negotiate between $1.35 and 1.5 billion that will go into our Windsor Assembly Plant that will stabilize that operation for the long-term,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.        

FCA has agreed to invest in a state-of-the-art multi-energy vehicle platform at the Windsor Assembly Plant that will enable the assembly of both Plug–In Hybrid Vehicles and Battery Electric Vehicles with at least one new model in 2025. 

“In Brampton, our members have been building, I will argue, the most incredible cars anywhere in North America. And it’s clear that consumers feel the same way. Not only is Fiat-Chrysler maintaining the current portfolio but they will be investing three derivatives to enhance the current portfolio, securing jobs for years to come,” said Dias.

The third shift at Windsor Assembly is forecast to return in 2024, adding as many as 2,000 new jobs and there will be a $50 million investment in the Brampton Assembly Plant to extend the life of the Chrysler 300 as well introduce multiple derivatives of the best-selling Dodge Charger and Challenger. Etobicoke Casting will see more work in-sourced for the high volume Jeep Wrangler, 9-speed transmissions and potentially other products, leading to the recall of more than 100 members.

This three-year agreement follows an historic pattern setting deal reached with Ford Motor Company last month that includes five per cent increases to hourly rates, bonuses, improved benefits, shift premiums, and restores a wage differential for skilled trades.

“This bargaining team worked very hard and I am grateful for the support and solidarity from members as we bargained during ever changing and difficult conditions during a pandemic. I urge members to support this settlement,” said James Stewart, Unifor’s FCA Master Bargaining Committee Chair.

More details of the tentative agreement will be presented to Unifor members during a series of virtual ratification meetings over the weekend, and members will vote on whether to accept the agreement over a 24-hour period, starting at 10 am on Sunday.

Bargaining is expected to begin with General Motors Canada later next week.

A digital media kit including background on Canada’s auto industry and details on plant locations, products produced and number of workers represented by Unifor can be found on this website.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

16 Oct 2020 Ferado

Deal with Fiat Chrysler secures $1.5 billion electric vehicle investment


TORONTO
—Unifor’s Master Bargaining Committee has reached a tentative agreement on behalf of 9000 Unifor members, with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles that includes a significant commitment to both maintain and build its manufacturing footprint in Canada.

“Today, I’m so pleased to announce to our members in Windsor and the community of Windsor and Essex County, that we were able to negotiate between $1.35 and 1.5 billion that will go into our Windsor Assembly Plant that will stabilize that operation for the long-term,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.        

FCA has agreed to invest in a state-of-the-art multi-energy vehicle platform at the Windsor Assembly Plant that will enable the assembly of both Plug–In Hybrid Vehicles and Battery Electric Vehicles with at least one new model in 2025. 

“In Brampton, our members have been building, I will argue, the most incredible cars anywhere in North America. And it’s clear that consumers feel the same way. Not only is Fiat-Chrysler maintaining the current portfolio but they will be investing three derivatives to enhance the current portfolio, securing jobs for years to come,” said Dias.

The third shift at Windsor Assembly is forecast to return in 2024, adding as many as 2,000 new jobs and there will be a $50 million investment in the Brampton Assembly Plant to extend the life of the Chrysler 300 as well introduce multiple derivatives of the best-selling Dodge Charger and Challenger. Etobicoke Casting will see more work in-sourced for the high volume Jeep Wrangler, 9-speed transmissions and potentially other products, leading to the recall of more than 100 members.

This three-year agreement follows an historic pattern setting deal reached with Ford Motor Company last month that includes five per cent increases to hourly rates, bonuses, improved benefits, shift premiums, and restores a wage differential for skilled trades.

“This bargaining team worked very hard and I am grateful for the support and solidarity from members as we bargained during ever changing and difficult conditions during a pandemic. I urge members to support this settlement,” said James Stewart, Unifor’s FCA Master Bargaining Committee Chair.

More details of the tentative agreement will be presented to Unifor members during a series of virtual ratification meetings over the weekend, and members will vote on whether to accept the agreement over a 24-hour period, starting at 10 am on Sunday.

Bargaining is expected to begin with General Motors Canada later next week.

A digital media kit including background on Canada’s auto industry and details on plant locations, products produced and number of workers represented by Unifor can be found on this website.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future

15 Oct 2020 Ferado

Guinea: IUF demands reinstatement of terminated trade union leaders at World Bank-funded Sheraton Grand Conakry

Only a few months after winning the union election, hotel union General Secretary Amadou Diallo (pictured right) and Deputy General Secretary Alhassane Diallo (pictured left) were sacked by their employer on October 7th.

The facts:

  • on August 18, 2020, Mohamed Saliou Sampil, a worker at the Sheraton Grand Conakry, accidentally breaks a flower pot in the lobby
  • on August 26, management summons M. Sampil to a pre-termination interview, and General Secretary Amadou Diallo and Deputy General Secretary Alhassane Diallo meet with management to express their serious disagreement with the proposed termination of their colleague. Within days, hotel management suspends the two union leaders without pay
  • on September 16, management terminates M. Sampil despite his apology
  • on September 28, the union presents a petition signed by a majority of the hotel workers in support of M. Sampil
  • on October 7, management terminates hotel union General Secretary Amadou Diallo and Deputy General Secretary Alhassane Diallo

The hotel, owned by the Topaz group, was opened in 2016 with a significant investment from the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), an international financial institution that offers investments to encourage private sector development in developing countries at preferential loan rates. The hotel is managed by the largest hotel chain in the world, Marriott, where the IUF has an ongoing global campaign. Despite the IFC’s Performance Standards, a set of rules intended to protect workers, and despite multiple attempts by the IUF to prevent the dismissal of the union leaders, the IFC has chosen to allow violations of its own Performance Standards as well as ILO Conventions 8798 and 135.

“The IUF will not tolerate such brazen violations of trade union rights, and so the IUF and its affiliates stand ready to launch our campaign for the reinstatement of General Secretary Amadou Diallo and Deputy General Secretary Alhassane Diallo,” says IUF General Secretary Sue Longley.

“We must fight hard together. The importance of this struggle is to stop union-busting because it kills workers hope and undermines democracy,” adds General Secretary Amadou Diallo.

15 Oct 2020 Ferado

The labour movement and the tragedy of Nagorno-Karabakh

The recent outbreak of fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Armenian enclave inside Azerbaijan, seems like something out of another era. Turkey and Russia each support their own side. A century ago, the Tsar would have supported his Christian co-religionists in Armenia and the Sultan his Muslim brothers in Azerbaijan. Little has changed.

The response of the labour movement to a conflict which has already cost over 300 lives and left thousands homeless has been muted, to put it diplomatically.

The International Trade Union Confederation, whose members include national trade union centres like the TUC or the AFL-CIO, has called on both sides to “enter peaceful dialogue to deal with the dispute,” said General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Luca Visentini, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, announced that the ETUC welcomes “the efforts of the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to prevent further escalation and to find a political solution to the long-term conflict … We are ready to support these efforts, in close cooperation with the trade union organisations of both countries.”

The other global unions have been largely silent, with the notable exception of the journalists, who have expressed concern about their members being targetted by both sides in the conflict. The European Federation of Journalists reported that its affiliates in Armenia and Azerbaijan have called on “both countries to ensure the safety of journalists covering the conflict.”

Sadly, that seems to be the one bright spot in the picture.

While trade union leaders in Brussels speak about working “in close cooperation with the trade union organisations” in the region, the national trade union centres in the two warring countries are both providing full-throated support to their governments.

The Confederation of Trade Unions of Armenia condemned “the aggressive, criminal actions of the Azerbaijani authorities, which led to victims among the civilian population, numerous destruction and expresses support for the heroic people of Artsakh” – which is their name for the disputed region.

The Armenian union leaders even sent an appeal to the ITUC and ETUC leaderships in Brussels on 29 September in which they expressed their concern “over the current difficult and alarming situation and hopes that the world community will condemn such inhuman aggression when old people, women and children are being killed by shells.” (According to press reports, civilians have been killed on both sides.)

Not be outdone by their Armenian comrades, the Azerbaijan Trade Unions Confederation has been producing daily accounts of Armenian barbarity and aggression, as they see it. The first news story on their website is entitled “The president posted new messages on Twitter” and that sets the tone for the rest.

They refer to the Armenian government – which came to power in a popular rebellion not unlike what is happening today in Belarus – as “fascist”. They condemn Amnesty International for issuing “a biased, distorted, one-sided statement on its website.” (The Amnesty report was entitled “Armenia/Azerbaijan: Civilians must be protected from use of banned cluster bombs.”)

In the last few days, a cease fire was announced due not the efforts of the UN, EU or OSCE, but to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. Under intense Russian pressure, and following a long night of negotiations in Moscow, there was a ray of hope.

Maybe the international labour movement should consider doing something similar – bringing the leaders of the trade union centres in the two countries together in Brussels to try to find some common ground. It worked for Putin and Lavrov. Maybe it will work for Burrow and Visentini too.

Or maybe the workers in the two countries, sick and tired of the futility of war, will put pressure on the union leaders to reach out to one another across the front lines – and together with their brothers and sisters on the other side force their governments to seek the path of peace.

15 Oct 2020 Ferado

Indonesia: New Law Hurts Workers, Indigenous Groups

Indonesia’s government should revise a new jobs law to meet international human rights standards, Human Rights Watch said today. The omnibus bill on job creation, which the House of Representatives passed on October 5, 2020, restricts labor rights and dismantles environmental protections, including by threatening Indigenous people’s access to land and the country’s declining rainforests.

The new law significantly reduces protections for workers under the 2003 labor law, including on minimum wages, severance pay, vacation, maternity benefits, and health and child care, and abolishes legal protections in permanent employment contracts. The law also weakens existing environmental laws and legal protections for Indigenous groups, raising concerns about land grabbing. The roughly 1,000-page law was largely drafted by the business community, with little consultation from labor unions and other affected groups.

“Creating jobs and attracting investment are important goals, but they should not come at the expense of basic labor rights and the rights of Indigenous peoples,” said Andreas Harsono, senior Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Indonesian government should review the hastily passed law, organize a proper public consultation, and revise all articles that violate rights.”

The omnibus bill was passed in the face of mounting opposition from labor unions, civil society organizations, scientists, and religious groups over its feared impact on the environment and labor rights. Street protests immediately broke out in more than three dozen cities, with police arresting hundreds of protesters, mostly in Jakarta and Surabaya. Some protests turned violent, with several bus stops destroyed in Jakarta, while the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation said that police used excessive force against protesters.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists reported that police physically assaulted or destroyed the equipment of at least 28 journalists, mostly photographers, working during the protests in Bandung, Jakarta, Palu, Samarinda, Semarang, Surabaya, and Tanjung Pinang. On October 8, police arrested 6 journalists in Jakarta. They were released without charge 24 hours later.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo first proposed an “omnibus law” to boost Indonesia’s regional competitiveness in October 2019. He said he wanted to simplify the application process for business licenses across all business sectors, including land acquisition permits, to create more jobs, boost infrastructure development, and attract foreign investment.

In November, Economic Affairs Coordinating Minister Airlangga Hartarto asked the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kamar Dagang dan Ekonomi Indonesia, Kadin) to help set up a task force to draft the bill. The members included prominent businessmen, but no members of trade unions or environmental groups. Hartarto submitted the bill to parliament on February 8, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the House of Representatives only began deliberations in April.

Public consultation was lacking, and it was difficult for the public to obtain an official version of the draft bill, which contains about 185 articles in 15 chapters. The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation and many other groups protested the lack of transparency. In August, Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) called on the government to “halt their deliberations because the process is rife with irregularities and constitutes a violation of the country’s laws on the legislative process.”

Environmental groups have warned that less stringent requirements for environment impact assessments and other measures weakening environmental protections under the omnibus law will worsen deforestation.

Indonesia’s Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago stated that the omnibus law provisions starkly contradict a bill to protect Indigenous peoples’ rights and simplify the process of recognizing customary lands that has been debated in parliament since 2009 without being adopted.