Our update of union news stories from around the world. Elections in the US and Venezuela; unions in the US are fighting and winning; tackling agency workers; the forecast is bleak for young people; Said Elhairech has been freed, but Yacine Zaid is in prison in Algeria; the 305 Turkish Airline workers are stil out of a job; 69 Turkish trade unionists are on trial for ‘terrorism’; Kazakhstan is a repressive regime – many trade unionists from the oil industry are in prison or on trial.
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1. US elections
A new study conducted in the US shows that politicians who grew up in a union household, or come from a working background, show more support for workers’ rights – regardless of their party affiliation. Politicians who come of age with the labor movement in their lives are more likely to advocate on behalf of worker-friendly policies, regardless of their political leaning, the makeup of their district and financial support from labor, according to a new study on union members and voting behaviour
This extends beyond issues that directly affect labor unions, and includes stronger support for policies such as family and medical leave or paid sick days, according to the study.
Meanwhile, US unions are fighting and winning.
2. There is also an election in Venezuela, where president Hugo Chavez is fighting for re-election. Chavez is a divisive figure who as used the countries oil wealth to dramatically improve the lives of the poor, but he is bitterly hated by the rich.
3. Agency Work
The global union IndustriALL has released a new report on the growth of Agency Work and labour brokers. The report, called The Triangular Trap, shows how agency workers earn less and have fewer rights than their permanent colleagues. This has a destructive effect on union power, which is precisely why international employer bodies lobby so hard to remove restriction to agency work. Agency work provides a reserve army of labour, with companies taking almost no responsibility for workers they can replace at will. This is leading to a growing precariat – a class of precarious workers who will never know secure, decent work.
3. Youth Unemployment
The outlook is particularly bad for young people, according to a new report from the ITUC. Youth unemployment rates in Spain and Greece are over 50%. The ITUC has launched a special website called Work Forecast, which allows you to check the work outlook in your country, and directly contact your labour minister via social media to demand action is taken.
- Said Elhairech the Morrocan activist has been freed after a campaign by the ITF .
- In Algeria, human rights activist and trade unionist Yacine Zaid has been arrested and beaten for attempting to organise workers as UK owned catering company Compass – the IUF, the international union that organises the food and catering sector is organising a campaign to free him.
- We recently reported about 305 members of the Turkish union Hava-Is losing their jobs in an attempt to break the union. That campaign is still live, and we have a further story from Turkey – 69 members of the public sector workers confederation the KESK are facing terrorism charges in a direct and blatant attack on the union movement.
Kazakhstan is a repressive regime: its press is one of the most restricted in the world, according to Transparency International, it is one of the most corrupt in the world, and it ranks very low on the Democracy index. Yet Kazakhstan has oil, which means Western companies are all over it, and indeed our old friend Tony Blair recently sold his PR services to the Kazakh regime. Last December oil workers went on strike, and several were killed. Many more were imprisoned, and politically motivated trials continue. We will monitor these and help to develop a campaign.
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