22 Aug 2017 Ferado

16,000 Mahalla spinning and weaving workers end strike

EGYPT: Abdel Fattah Ibrahim, president of the General Union of Spinning and Weaving Workers, announced Sunday that the workers of the Egyptian Spinning and Weaving company in Mahalla city, Gharbiya, have ended their strike and returned to work.

Ibrahim said in his statement, that the workers had assigned a union to negotiate with the government on their demands and will continue meetings with government officials over their demands.

Negotiations on ending the strike began on Friday evening and continued until after midnight, said Ibrahim, stressing that he went personally to the headquarters of the company with members of the union, and convinced the workers to return to their posts.

The workers agreed to return full time, while while if they could continue negotiations on their financial demands, he said.

The employees pledged to make up for the losses suffered by the company, as a result of the strike during the past days, said Ibrahim.

MP Mohamed Abdo said that the workers ended the strike after generous effort from the Mahalla MPs, adding that the strike caused the company losses of over LE100 million.

Over 6,000 workers of the Egyptian Spinning and Weaving Company in Mahallah city, Gharbiya, began an open-ended strike on Monday August 7, demanding the ten percent bonus promised to them by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the parliament.

They also called for the disbursement of additional month long delayed bonuses.

10,000 more company workers joined the strike the following day.

21 Aug 2017 Ferado

ITF backs Norwegian unions campaigning to keep seafarers’ welfare high on political agenda

NORWAY: The ITF is supporting its Norwegian maritime affiliates that are advocating for cabotage legislation and the regulation of wages and working conditions for all seafarers working in Norwegian waters and on the continental shelf.

This week, ITF general secretary Steve Cotton joined the campaign and participated in maritime debate focused on cabotage in Arendal. Norwegian Trade Union Confederation (LO) leader Hans Christian Gabrielsen and Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI) Director Deirdre Fitzpatrick also participated in the event.

During his remarks, Cotton stated that cabotage is a vital part of the ITF’s Flag of Convenience campaign since it ensures the right of national seafarers to work in their domestic trade. He went on to say that cabotage is equally important for developing world seafarers as for those in the developed world.

“Cabotage for the ITF means sustainable development for seafarers,” said Cotton. He also emphasised that Norway has always held a leading position in the international maritime industry and that Norwegian seafarers have played a major role.

LO leader Hans Christian Gabrielsen said “Social dumping at sea is just as serious as social dumping on shore, not only for the individual, but also for the local communities they are part of.”

SRI Director Deirdre Fitzpatrick presented a report commissioned by the ITF Cabotage Task Force last year to research cabotage regulations around the world.

The SRI surveyed 136 countries, of those 91 countries had some form of maritime cabotage restriction/protection. Many countries reported that the benefits of cabotage were fair competition, retention and transfer of maritime skills, promotion of jobs for local seafarers, promotion of local transport companies, safety, protection of the environment, national security and public service.

“Historically maritime cabotage protection has been widespread and the survey shows that this remains the case,” said Fitzpatrick.

21 Aug 2017 Ferado

Filipino dairy farm workers abused, exploited

A union for migrant workers is calling for standard employment agreement for diary farm workers following a “shocking” report into the New Zealand dairy farm industry.

The study “In search of decent work” found migrant dairy farm workers from the Philippines were being abused, exploited, underpaid and made to work in dangerous conditions.

Dennis Maga, co-ordinator for The Union Network of Migrants (Unemig), said the findings were “shocking”.

“We already have suspicions that the industry was problematic, but it was more widespread and worse that we expected,” Maga said.”The report justified our position to investigate the dairy farm industry.”

The study, authored by former Green Party MP Sue Bradford and University of Auckland senior lecturer Sue Abel, interviewed 27 Filipino and three local dairy farm workers and one dairy farm manager.

It was conducted over six months from July to November last year, and looked into the employment and living conditions of these workers.

“There’s a divided labour market in the dairy industry, and that harms both migrant workers and New Zealand workers,” Maga said.

The study found that Filipino workers were “being exploited in ways New Zealanders aren’t”.

About 1700 Filipinos are working on dairy farms in New Zealand.

One farm worker said he wasn’t given a helmet to ride around on a motorbike and another said that for two years, he was made to ride a bike that didn’t have lights or brakes.

Another respondent said he was not provided proper training or wet weather gear, and had to pay $700 from his own pocket to buy one.

“I spray weeds with no protective gear,” one South Island Filipino worker said.

“I just keep vomiting with all the chemicals I use.”

One said there were times when he had to work a whole month without a single day off.

Authors of the report said these workers often came from desperate situations and had very few choices.

“The hesitancy and caution found in the interview process itself only served to confirm the reality of these pressures.”

The report said the fault for poor conditions partly lies with “policies and practices of some farm employers and of a government which encourages migration without careful workforce planning”.

Maga said a solution was to have standard employment agreements for all workers, with wages set at the living wage of $20.20 per hour.

“We have had workers telling us they are on $48,000 per year, but in reality they are paid below the minimum wage if you broke that down to the number of hours they had to work,” he said.

These migrant farm workers should also have standardised rosters with an upper minimum limit on the hours worked, Maga said, and access to breaks, holidays and proper training.

The report is being released today at the First Union head office in Auckland, and will coincide with Unemig’s fifth anniversary.

21 Aug 2017 Ferado

Unions a barrier to health reform: Minister

The power of trade unions in the health sector is the greatest barrier to reform and progress, newly appointed minister for state at the Department of Health Jim Daly has said.

In hard-hitting comments made in an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr Daly said the “greatest level of bureaucracy within the health service is at union level” and said his primary concern is how long it takes to negotiate change or reform of any sort.

His comments come as he announced his intentions to deliver plans to enable thousands of elderly people remain in their homes as opposed to having to go into nursing homes.

Mr Daly, who is Fine Gael TD for Cork South West, said he has formed his highly critical view of the influence of unions within the health service over his 14 years as a public representative.

“The unions certainly seem to have a very powerful role and my primary concern is around the time it takes to deliver change because of this additional layer,” he said.

“We all talk about the bureaucracy around the HSE. The largest layer of bureaucracy that I can see within the HSE is at union level based on the amount of time it takes to negotiate change of any sort. That is my concern for reform,” he said.

Mr Daly said the unions’ control is so embedded in the system that it makes reform of the system very difficult.

“To drive policy from an academic desk-top level is very easy and to get additional resources is the easy part, but making it actually happen is far more difficult,” he added.

Mr Daly also said that elderly people are to be given much greater flexibility in what they do to fund their care needs, under radical plans being developed by the Government.

Mr Daly, who has responsibility for the Fair Deal scheme said he wants to encourage older people to have a choice to do what suits them best. Part of his deal is to radically bring in a home-help service, funded through a Fair-Deal type scheme, which would allow a far greater number of elderly people remain in their home.

However, for those who do use Fair Deal, Mr Daly is also looking to encourage people to put their homes on the housing market by helping them to avoid handing over the entire proceeds of the sale to cover their nursing home costs. However, he said any change would not be mandatory.

“The whole basis of this is choice, giving the people involved choice about making the best decisions for their care,” he said.

Speaking yesterday at Glasnevin Cemetery, Health Minister Simon Harris said the goal of the proposed changes is to give flexibility to elderly people.

He said any help the new plans may have to alleviate the country’s housing crisis is a secondary consideration.

“As minister for health, let me be clear, any change to the Fair-Deal scheme will be done with one over-riding objective and that is to help support older people and their families, to empower them and give them more flexibility,” he said.

Speaking at the same event, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said she wants to concentrate on lone parents and children in the budget as they are more at risk than old-age pensioners.

“There are far more vulnerable people than our old-age pensioners. If you look at the poverty index, lone parents and children are more at risk, so we need to look after them. It is not sexy to say we have to look after lone parents but they are most at risk and they need looking after.”

She referenced the child family payment which might address those issues in the budget.

21 Aug 2017 Ferado

Iran: ITF Calls for the Immediate Release of Reza Shahabi

London, 20 Aug – The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in a statement called for the immediate release of the political activist, Reza Shahabi. According to the statement, the Iranian authorities were asked to stop prosecuting Reza Shahabi and Ebrahim Madadi as well. Additionally, five syndicates of workers in France requested the immediate release of Reza Shahabi. These syndicates claim that the leaders of the Iran regime are responsible for Reza Shahabi and his poor health condition. Based on the statement, Reza Shahabi’s health condition is already failing since he faced poor conditions as well as the inhumane treatments during his previous imprisonment.

The political activist, Reza Shahabi has been starting his hunger strike since last week in Rajaishahr Prison, Karaj to protest against the status of his case as well as his depravation to go on a medical furlough.

On the morning of August 9, 2017, Reza Shahabi went to Rajaishahr Prison to serve the rest of his time.

Nevertheless, the period of his imprisonment increased from 3 months to 17 months because of his absence. He also has to serve time for another year as he was charged with propaganda against the regime based on the case of 2014.

The prosecutor’s office told the family of this political activist that he should be in prison until July, 8, 2019. The five-month conviction was illegally imposed on Mr. Shahabi due to his absence while he was actually on medical leave with the approval of the forensics.

It is noteworthy that Reza Shahabi was detained and sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment on June 12, 2010. He has undergone two surgical procedures (neck and waist) during his imprisonment since the security agents beat him during the arrest and interrogation.