29 Aug 2017 Ferado

Hotel workers fight back in low paid service jobs

China’s hotel workers are among the lowest paid in the country, though they account for more than their fair share of resistance to poor working conditions.

Although the hotel industry accounts for only 1.5% of employment, according to official statistics, hotel workers make up 2.6% of all worker collective actions, according to CLB’s strike map; in services alone, hotel worker actions account for 15% of strikes and protests in the industry so far this year.

The hotel industry is just the latest example of how low pay and poor working conditions stand behind the booming service industry. According to the latest government statistics, hotel workers are among the lowest average paid of any industry:

29 Aug 2017 Ferado

ILO, World Bank okay AEDC working conditions

Nigeria: The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation, an affiliate of the World Bank, have certified the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company’s (AEDC) staff conditions of service document.

The company’s Director, Corporate Services, Abimbola Odubiyi stated this to representatives of the Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) at the weekend in Abuja.

Shedding light on the document that is valid till 2022, he explained that it was meant for a good working relationship between the unions and the management.

He said: “The pillar of the document is workers’ welfare, safety, and remuneration based on performance.”

Its implementation, according to him, shall be through consultations.

NUEE General Secretary, Comrade Joseph Ajaero and SSAEAC President-General, Comrade Chris Okonkwo signed for their respective unions.

29 Aug 2017 Ferado

Domestic workers tired of exploitation want fair pay

Durban: Martha Mhlongo, a part-time domestic worker with 10 years’ experience, has never earned more than R1 000 a month and has never been permanently employed.

Mhlongo was one of more than 500 domestic workers from Durban and surrounding areas who attended the Domestic Workers’ Imbizo hosted by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede at the Durban City Hall on Sunday.

Mhlongo works odd jobs earning R170 a day, meaning she cannot benefit from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) because she is not fully employed and not registered.

She also cannot join a labour union that could protect her from exploitation and violation of her labour rights.

Mhlongo is one of the more than 220 000 domestic workers not registered with the Department of Labour. There are more than a million domestic workers in the country.

“Domestic work was the only job available for me. It is not a stable job and pays very little. I have no choice. I have to work so that my children can eat and go to school,” she said.

Mhlongo called on the government to urgently pass laws that would force employers to adhere to labour laws.

Oliphant told domestic workers yesterday about progress made in the minimum wage discussions. She said the national minimum wage of R3500 a month would be implemented from May 1 next year.

No domestic worker would earn less than R3500 a month if they worked 40 hours a month, or R3 900 if they worked 54 hours.

But domestic workers like Mhlongo, who are not registered and only work two days a week, are worried that this law will not benefit them. They wanted to know how the government would monitor them so they would also benefit.

Concerned Sthembile Ndlovu, a part-time domestic worker in Phoenix for the past 18 years, said her employer refused to employ her full-time to avoid contributing to the UIF.

She said she earned R120 a shift, a slight increase from the R80 of two years ago.

“Employers know we are desperate and will take whatever they give us,” Ndlovu said.

Oliphant said the national minimum wage discussions about the implementation process were still under way among organised labour, business and the community. She said employers would be given two years to implement the 75% increase to reach R3 500 and R3 900 respectively.

Thembinkosi Mkhaliphi, the department’s chief director, said the national minimum wage law determined the minimum earnings for domestic workers according to the amount of hours they worked.

He urged domestic workers to make sure their employers had registered them with the UIF and to report them if they had not.

The mayor, a former domestic worker, said the current minimum wage for domestic workers in Durban was R2 400, but they were aware of many domestic workers who earned less.

She said after falling pregnant she had to find a job to support her child. “Domestic workers play an essential role looking after our homes, children and elderly when we go to work, and yet they are exploited and paid very little. Some do not have homes and are unable to be with their families because they work all the time.

“We, as the city, have committed ourselves to providing domestic workers with housing where we can and assist in furthering the education of their children,” said Gumede.

The floor was opened to domestic workers to voice their challenges. Emotions ran high as they spoke of abuse, exploitation and disrespect they claim they are subjected to daily.

Prudence Bhengu said her employer made her wash her son’s underwear, and she was assaulted by her employer’s son and accused of stealing.

Gumede said the municipality would soon launch a hotline for domestic workers to lodge their complaints against their employers.

28 Aug 2017 Ferado

Health insurance coverage could surge significantly

NEPAL: Health insurance coverage could surge significantly if the proposed health insurance law is endorsed from the Parliament, as it has a provision of mandatory insurance coverage for immediate family members of those employed in formal sector, of civil servants, and of migrant workers.

This provision has been included in Health Insurance Bill 2017, which was tabled at Legislature-Parliament on April 12. If the bill gets endorsed and law is implemented effectively, officials estimate additional 500,000 Nepalis would get insurance coverage in the very first year that the programme is rolled out.

According to former health minister Gagan Thapa, who had tabled the bill at the Parliament, the passage of the bill would be a major milestone in ensuring access to health facilities for the family members of the aforementioned groups.

“We included migrant workers to the list as we realised that their family members are often unable to afford basic health care, especially with the migrant worker who is usually the breadwinner of the family out of the country,” explained Thapa.

Thapa also informed that after the bill gets approved from Parliament, the government could even offer insurance policies at subsidised rates for disadvantaged groups. “Our concept was to offer certain discount on the policies for those who are not financially capable to pay the full sum.”

Proposed as part of the government’s plan to expand Nepal’s health insurance coverage, Thapa said the government could also encompass people engaged in informal sector by offering attractive discounts to them. The premium and coverage would be decided after the bill gets endorsed, he said.

The government is at present offering public health insurance policy, which has set premium for a family of five at Rs 2,500, with medical coverage worth Rs 50,000.

Currently, Social Health Security Development Committee (SHSDC) is implementing public health insurance policy in 15 districts. It is being rolled out to seven more districts in September. According to Gunaraj Lohani, director of SHSDC, a total of 233,000 families have taken the health insurance policy till date. The enactment of the new law could benefit around 500,000 people in the first year alone, he estimated.

The government has defined family members as those living in the same house — husband and wife and their children, father and mother or step mother, brother and sister, and grandson and granddaughter. Likewise, if the person taking the policy is unmarried, their grandfather and/or grandmother can be incorporated as family member. If the policy holder is a married woman, her father-in-law and mother-in-law also can be counted as family members.

28 Aug 2017 Ferado

‘Children, bonded workers slave in India’s granite quarries

NEW DELHI: Many homes have granite floors and kitchen platforms; granite is regularly used on tombstones. While using these sleek, easy-to-clean surfaces, we seldom pause to consider the conditions under which the stone is extracted and processed. A report released by Dutch NGOs Stop Child Labour, India Committee of the Netherlands and Kerk in Actie (Church in Action) shows that half the global export of granite is from India; about 10% of all natural stone traded on the world market is from India, which is one of the top five producers of the world’s natural stone. Yet, conditions in stone quarries are deplorable.

China, Germany, Belgium, UK and the Netherlands are major importers of Indian granite. ‘The Dark Sites of Granite’, the report released on August 23, studies supply chains from quarries in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana to end-users in Europe and other parts of the world. It attempts to track child labour, bonded labour and other labour rights violations, and measures to address rights violations. Surveys were undertaken in 22 quarries. Among these were quarries in Chimakurthi of Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh, where the famous Black Galaxy variety with a worldwide market is produced. Surveys were undertaken also at quarries in Karimnagar of Telangana, where the Maple Red and Tan Brown granite is mined, that goes mostly to China. (This business saw a huge boom ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics; but the industry has entered a crisis phase since 2014 and many quarries have shut.) Quarries in Mudugal in Raichur district of Karnataka were also surveyed.

“Granite quarrying in South India is largely under the control of economically powerful and politically influential people. Large scale corruption in the allocation of mines, granting permits and illegal mining have received wide attention since 2010,” the report says.