Trade Unions

Trade union news

Here is a round up of some trade union news from the UK and elsewhere.  Over on LabourStart you can read about the plight of Peruvian workers who were allegedly dismissed without notice shortly after forming a trade union:

Workers in Peru’s booming agricultural export sector are continually denied their right to freedom of association through illegal, anti-union practices. The agricultural export industry employs some 300,000 people, more than 70 percent of them women. A special law governing this sector enables employers to offer lower wages and fewer benefits and protections than those provided under traditional Peruvian labor law. Despite the agricultural export economy’s exponential growth since the law was passed, its restrictions remain in place, and workers still literally have nothing to show for the fruits of their labor. Please sign the petition to reinstate the workers and their union.

Meanwhile in the UK, support workers for the contractor Carillion have gone on strike following unresolved complaints about bullying.  The workers, originally from Goa, are based at Great Western Hospital in Swindon, and have raised concerns relating to leave arrangements to allow them visit their families. There was overwhelming support for the strike, with 97% voting for industrial action, based on a turnout of over 80%.

Sally Hunt, the General Secretary of my own union, the UCU, is currently facing a challenge from Mark Campbell. Hunt has recently clashed with Campbell’s grouping, UCU Left, over whether members should be balloted on the Government’s ‘final offer’ before any further strike action is taken.  She has spoken in favour of consulting members more closely on this and other issues. Hunt has also raised more general concerns about the strategies of the UCU Left.

Ms Hunt said that if the union’s structure were to change, she would hope for “more serious analysis of where and when we should put our energy into certain issues”, as it is now “sometimes seen as being out there on all sorts of things that aren’t necessarily at the heart of where our members want to be”.

You don’t say.  Ballot papers for the positions of General Secretary, Trustee, Officer and other places on National Executive Committee must be returned by 1 March.  If you are in the UCU – don’t forget to vote in all these contests.

I blogged some time ago about the anger felt by electricians about changes to their pay scales. It is often noted that the rules surrounding strike ballots are more stringent than those relating to general elections.  But a judge has recently ruled against Balfour Beatty, who have tried to use accusations of minor irregularities to halt strike action.

Finally, here’s an interesting piece warning Europeans not to go down the US’s anti Labo(u)r path.

So here is the question for European working people to ask. Will Europe let the US be their China? American companies learned to use China as a weapon against workers here. Will European companies bring American anti-labor practices home as a weapon to break down European worker rights and living standards?

Will European companies learn to use American anti-labor practices against European workers? Or will European workers stop this in time? If you think this sort of thing can’t happen in Europe, just look at what is happening to Greek workers right now.

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