27 Dec 2020 Ferado

ITUC and local affiliates spearhead initiative to protect migrant workers’ rights

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the world’s largest trade union federation, together with local ITUC affiliates, unveiled the Migrant Workers Recruitment Advisor (MRA) website in Sinhala and Tamil in their efforts to safeguard and protect the rights of Sri Lanka’s migrant workers. 

The MRA website, recruitmentadvisor.org, is an easily accessible platform for Sri Lankan migrant workers to share their experience by reviewing recruitment agencies, enabling others seeking similar opportunities to research and find information relevant to their recruitment option. The website’s functionality allows workers to comment on their experiences and rate the recruitment agencies while enabling them to learn about their labour rights in the process. 

Since 2018, the ITUC and local affiliates have been closely engaging with migrant worker communities in Sri Lanka to gather reviews about recruitment experiences to protect locals from pursuing overseas employment with minimal screening and endorsement. ITUC’s local affiliates include Sri Lanka Nidahas Sewaka Sangamaya (SLNSS), Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), and National Trade Union Federation (NTUF) —trade union organisations that extend their support to drive the MRA agenda island-wide to key stakeholders in a collaborative effort to ensure fair recruitment across the labour migration sector.

Spokesperson for the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC AP General Secretary Shoya Yoshida said: “International labour migration from Sri Lanka has seen an increase in recent times, particularly with lucrative employment opportunities offered by countries in the Gulf. Workers often put themselves at risk due to lack of a sustainable income, and with minimal or no research, take up foreign employment offered by agencies that leave them vulnerable to labour exploitation. It is even more alarming when governments have not provided clear requirements in law to protect migrant workers, inevitably leading to a violation of their rights. By launching the Migrant Workers Recruitment Advisor (MRA) website in the Sinhalese and Tamil languages, we believe it can help mitigate the risk of migrant worker exploitation. We encourage all workers to avail of this opportunity to do due diligence and research agencies that promote foreign employment before making any commitment.”

“The impact of COVID-19 has also added undue pressure, with migrant workers left unemployed and forced to be repatriated, leaving them either stranded in the countries of employment or left uncompensated in the process,” he added. 

The MRA website was launched to enable the ITUC and its affiliates to create a global peer-to-peer recruitment review platform that provides accurate information on recruitment to both prospective migrant workers, as well as workers already employed overseas. Ultimately, the website will also allow more transparency for employers, compliant labour recruiters and other relevant actors and a valuable tool to enhance fair recruitment practices in the inter of all. The website was generated as a solution to drive effective mechanisms to reduce deceptive and fraudulent recruitment practices that leave workers more vulnerable to labour exploitation and forced labour across the world. The MRA website presently lists countless agencies in Nepal, Philippines, Indonesia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore, to name a few.

The ILO’s EQUIP (Equipping Sri Lanka to Counter Trafficking in Persons) project funded by United States Department of States, South and Central Asian Affairs Bureau (US DOS SCA) and ILO’s Global REFRAME project funded by European Union has provided technical and financial support to the ITUC’s local affiliates to implement fair recruitment principle through the MRA website. The MRA is a key tool to promote fair recruitment in practice, in line with the ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment, and the definition of recruitment fees and costs.

27 Dec 2020 Ferado

Zero to 41 percent women participation in GEFONT; President Shrestha

Kathmandu, GEFONT President Cde. Binod Shrestha said that GEFONT has been raising the voice of women empowerment since its establishment. He informed that GEFONT, which started with zero percent participation of women in the committees, has now succeeded in increasing the participation of women to 41 percent.He further said that as the number of women members increase , it will help the participation of women in the committees too.

Speaking as the chief guest at a training program organized at the GEFONT Central Office on 5th December under the 16-day campaign against gender-based violence organized by GEFONT Bagmati province Women’s Committee.He said that despite the 16-days campaign against gender-based violence from November 25 to December 10, we have to work hard all year round to end the violence at the workpalces.

Speaking on the occasion, Cde. Sunita Thapa, Secretary, GEFONT National Women’s Committee, highlighted the importance of the training. She has  further informed that the program started from Bagmati province 16-days campagin against gender based violence would be extended to other provinces as well. She said that such programs would enhance the skills of women workers.

Cde. Indira Subedi, President of the Bagmati province Women’s Committee, said that both men and women should be aware of building a violence-free society. Cde. Goma Mahat, Vice presidnet of the Province womens committee, welcomed the participants of the program.

In the training, Ms. Manju Gyawali presented a study report on the existing legal system of Nepal for ratification of ILO Convention 190. Cde. Sita Lama, Cde. Kamala Tamang Cde. Smritee Lama GEFONT National Committee Members facilitated the sessions on  the policy and program of GEFONT, GEFONT’s Gender Policy & contribution based Social Security on informal and self employed sectors respectively. 

27 Dec 2020 Ferado

Temporary workers stage mass protests at electronics factories in China and India

Thousands of temporary workers staged a mass protest outside the Pegatron factory in Shanghai on 19 December after managers at the Taiwan-owned electronics company ordered them to relocate to another facility in Kunshan.

Workers who refused to relocate because of family commitments in Shanghai would be dismissed and forfeit their bonuses, which could amount to more than 10,000 yuan, a substantial proportion of their overall remuneration.

Police were called to the scene and scuffles broke out before managers agreed to revise the relocation policy and let workers keep their promised benefits.

As CLB pointed out in our analysis of the challenges faced by workers in the Global South during the Covid-19 pandemic, workers in China and India deal with very similar exploitative practices across a broad spectrum of industries, such the garment and transport sectors. The electronics industry can be added to that list. 

The Pegatron protest in Shanghai came just one week after a protest by thousands of workers at the Wistron electronics factory in Bangalore on 12 December turned violent and caused an estimated US$7 million in damage.

About 8,500 temporary workers, including students, had been hired by six labour contractors to help meet Wistron’s demand for labour during the peak production period. They had been forced to work excessively long hours and then were cheated out of their wages, investigations by the state government and trade unions discovered.

Most of the temporary workers came from impoverished households on the outskirts of Bangalore and depended on the extra income to pay for school fees and other expenses.

In China’s electronics sector, problems escalate during peak production times but are endemic in the industry year round. Recently, on 14 November, workers recruited by a labour agency to work at the Foxconn facility in Chengdu staged a protest over wage arrears.

China Labour Bulletin’s Strike Map has recorded 114 collective protests by workers at electronics factories in China over the past three years, which account for about one third of all the manufacturing sector protests logged during that period. Most of the protests were concentrated in the coastal provinces of Guangdong and Jiangsu.

One of the largest protests occurred in April 2018, when about 6,000 workers at Flex Electronics in Zhuhai went out on strike for three weeks. Workers demanded that severance compensation be paid upfront before Flex sold the business to another investor.

The workers were denied help from the local trade union, which sided with management in the dispute, and eventually they had no option but to return to work.

A Zhuhai trade union official justified their actions at the time by telling CLB Executive Director Han Dongfang, “The local Party Committee instructed us to maintain social stability. It is our administrative responsibility to take part in the stability task force.”

The official suggested that the strike had been instigated by agitators and that “the company did not violate any laws” in the ownership transfer.

Three years later, there is still little sign that trade union officials in Shanghai and elsewhere are doing much to protect the interests and livelihoods of workers in China’s electronics sector, especially temporary workers who do not have formal employment contracts.Tags: Factory WorkersGlobal SouthTrade Union.

27 Dec 2020 Ferado

Balochistan: 6 Miners Trapped When Fire Erupted In A Coal Mine

QUETTA: In the Chamalang area of Balochistan, 6 miners trapped when a fire erupted inside the mine. Iftikhar Ahmed, a police officer said the miners were working deep inside the mine when abruptly a fire erupted.

“The miners are still inside the mine after 4 hours”, Mr. Ahmed said. Coal miners were extracting coal from almost 300 feet deep inside the mine when the fire erupted. “We have no details that how fire erupted”, Shafqat Fayyaz, the Chief Inspector Mines said.

Rescue operation launched in the affected coal mine to recover the trapped miners, he said. Technical staff from Quetta and Loralai rushed towards the affected mine to ensure unhurt recovery of miners, Mr. Fayyaz said,“We spotted them inside the mine earlier”, he added. He however mentioned that currently, the rescue workers have lost their contact with the trapped miners. The hapless miners belonged to the Upper Deer area of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa.

Chamalang area houses rich-coal reservoirs. Thousands of laborers, contractors have been extracting coal for last more than a decade. However, poor working conditions inside the coal mines of Chamalang and other parts of Balochistan continue to claim precious human lives.

Sultan Muhammad Khan, the Central leader of All Pakistan Labour Federation has lamented that such incidents were the order of the day. “Contractors are earning at the cost of poor laborers”, Mr. Khan said.  He demanded of the government to provide better safety facilities to the miners who risk their lives to earn a piece of daily bread.

Laborers associations have staged protest demonstrations to press the authorities to ensure the implementation of the coal mine act 1923.