16 Aug 2017 Ferado

Amendments to labour laws sought

Peshawar: The Pakistan Workers Federation yesterday demanded necessary amendments to labour laws to protect the rights of workers.

PWF provincial president Razim Khan told a joint meeting of the office-bearers of various labourer organisations here that the workers were troubled by the government’s failure to provide them with the rights mentioned in the convention of the International labour Organisation.

He said political parties assured workers of the resolution of their problems before elections but didn’t fulfil the promise after coming to power.

Mr Khan said none of the successive governments bothered to prioritise the resolution of the issues facing workers and therefore, they had lost the latter’s confidence.

Other speakers said the current labour laws were made during the British colonial era and therefore, they should be amended in line with the needs of modern times.

They insisted that denial of basic rights to the workers would bring a bad name to the rulers at international level.

16 Aug 2017 Ferado

Mekong Delta fights for survival amidst climate change and unbridled development

VIETNAM: At a glance, Green Farm looks like any other shrimp farm. The 35-hectare facility is divided up into 46 ponds, between 1 and 1.5 metres deep, aerated by turbines that run around the clock. The shrimps are separated by species and size and some of the ponds are left empty whilst they are cleaned.

The shrimps at Green Farm do not, however, grow in the same way as those in most of the farms dotted across the Mekong Delta, in the south of Vietnam. At Green Farm, antibiotics cannot be used, the waste water cannot be released without being treated, and the company has to trace the origin of the raw materials used in the feed given to the shrimps, along with a wide range of other standards that have to be met for sustainable certification by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). The company was ASC certified in September 2016.

The requirements are strict and the costs higher, but certification had become crucial to the survival of Stapimex, the company that owns Green Farm, in a sector hard hit by the changes in climate patterns in the region, as well as the pollution that has built up over the decades due to the excesses of various industries. “We wanted a business that was sustainable in the long term,” explains Nguyen Dang Khoa, quality manager at the company. “You can also earn more by investing more money,” he says.

Since it came into being, the Mekong River has been depositing the sediments collected over its 4000-kilometre journey at its mouth, making the delta one of the most fertile and biodiversity-rich regions in the world. Conscious of this wealth, the Vietnamese have concentrated a large share of their national production in the region, which is home to 50 per cent of its rice production and 70 per cent of its aquaculture, for example, and accounts for a third of GDP, according to World Bank figures. Over 18 million people, a fifth of the country’s population, live in between the many branches into which the Mekong divides.

Following the economic reforms launched in 1986, production in the agriculture, livestock and aquaculture sectors was intensified, and the pesticides, fertilizers and waste from the farms ended up in the waters of the Mekong, along with the household waste.

16 Aug 2017 Ferado

Pakistan: Ship breaking workers win wage increase

PAKISTAN: Shipbreaking Workers Union Gadani (SBWUG) called off their strike on 4 August after negotiations with the employers association yielded significant results, including a wage increase.

The 2016 oil tanker blast at the Gadani shipbreaking yard in Pakistan killed 26 workers and injured an additional 19. Despite promises from the employers, no improvements in working conditions have been made since the tragedy. Six more workers have lost their lives and many more have been injured in workplace accidents, workers’ wages have remained same and there has been no progress in social security registration for workers.

The SBWUG gave employers an ultimatum, calling for an indefinite strike at shipbreaking yards from 5 August if demands were not met. The union demanded 50 per cent wage increase, one week’s paid holiday, implementation of the shipbreaking code, health and safety measures, registration with the Employees Old Age Benefits Institution, and provision of social security cards.

An agreement was reached on 4 August, with a ten per cent wage increase for all categories of shipbreaking workers. In case of future accidents, cases will only be filed against employer or the management, not against supervisors or people in charge of workers.

Mr. Mushraf Humaionsaid leader of Ship Breaking workers Union , Gaddani said:

“This is an important victory for shipbreaking workers. The employers did not seriously address the issues. It is only after we called for a strike that the employers came to the negotiation table and agreed on our main demands.

“However, we have long way to go to improve the working conditions in shipbreaking yards, we need the cooperation of the government authorities and employers.”

Pakistan’s Gadani shipbreaking yard in Balochistan province is one of the major destinations for end of life ships in South Asia.

16 Aug 2017 Ferado

First reported death in Tokyo 2020 Olympics site

JAPAN: The BWI is extremely alarmed with the apparently first reported death, by suicide, in Tokyo 2020 Olympics National Stadium, touted as the centrepiece of the Summer Olympics. With the lawyer for the family of the deceased worker confirming that a case has been filed for workers’ accident compensation, serious concerns have been raised on health and safety of all workers employed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics infrastructure projects.
The unnamed male 23-year old construction worker who had gone missing on 2 March 2017 was found dead in April and the family attributed his death to “karoshi” based from The Japan Times news report. The Japanese government officially recognizes two types of “karoshi”, as deaths by overwork is known: cardiovascular illness linked to overwork, and suicide following mental stress related to work. Accordingly, the man had worked more than 200 hours overtime in the month before he committed suicide.
“This unfortunate tragic death of young construction worker is clearly an issue related to occupational health and safety in all Tokyo Olympics infrastructure projects”, said Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary.
Quoting from the same news report, the company, Taisei Corporation, “acknowledged letting him work beyond the limits set under a labour-management agreement concluded, based on Article 36 of the labour standards law. The accord allows the company to have employees work up to 45 hours overtime a month in principle and up to 80 hours in special cases”.
“Occupational accidents in Mega-Sporting Events can actually be identified and prevented as evidenced in London 2012 Olympics. This was made possible by direct involvement of trade unions in the identification, elimination and management of occupational health and safety hazards including stress and overwork”, added Yuson.
While extending condolences to the family of deceased construction worker, the BWI reiterated its offer to TOGOC to implement a joint Zero Accident campaign to avoid unfortunate case of this nature.
This is the second time that Taise Corporation has been marred with controversial issue; the first being that of importation and use of tropical plywood for concreting pillars from controversial sources in Sarawak, Malaysia.

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16 Aug 2017 Ferado

Indonesia: global trade unions and NGOs back PepsiCo-linked palm oil workers in their fight for labour rights

INDONESIA: Research into palm oil plantations in Indonesia reveals that workers and their families are paid illegally low wages, are exposed to dangerous pesticides and face routine abuse so that the US food and beverage giant PepsiCo can make world-famous products such as Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, Cheetos and Lay’s potato chips. Now international trade unions and environmentalists have joined forces in their fight for workers’ rights.

The US-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a 1.4 million-member multi-sector union has, along with the International Union of Food Workers, mobilised in the battle against widespread labour and human rights violations on plantations run by Indofood, a major Indonesian partner of PepsiCo.

“Solidarity between workers in the United States and on plantations in Indonesia is very important because we need support to pressure PepsiCo to force Indofood to improve labour conditions,” says Herwin Nasution, executive director of the Indonesian union OPPUK (Organisasi Penguatan dan Pengembangan Usaha-Usaha Kerakyatan, which loosely translates to Organisation for the Strengthening and Development of Community Enterprises).

The Teamsters represent the approximately 20,000 PepsiCo workers at Pepsi beverage, Frito Lay and Quaker production facilities in the US, who were consulted on the decision to send letters to PepsiCo’s board and CEO Indra Nooyi.

“When our members hear stories about palm oil plantation workers in Indonesia – there being the presence of child labour, or illegally low wages and hazardous pesticides – [they understand],” Timothy Beaty, director of global strategies at the Teamsters