On 7 October, workers around the world celebrated the World Day for Decent Work. The twitter hashtag, #EndCorporateGreed, helped demand an end to huge and growing economic inequality, and call companies and governments to account for attacks on workers’ rights and living standards.
In Korea, workers from the transport and other sectors are still in the midst of a major struggle with the anti-union government of President Park, and activists protested outside the offices of Samsung, notorious for exploiting workers and exposing them to fatal toxic chemicals in the workplace.
The assault on workers’ rights in South Korea is intensifying, with more than 20 trade union leaders and members now imprisoned including seven KCTU leaders and officials namely KCTU President Han Sang-gyun, KPTU vice president Cho Sung-deok and KPCWU president Lee Jong-hwa. President Park Guen-hye’s government has been throwing people into prison simply for standing up for workers’ rights.
The ITUC has launched a solidarity petition with LabourStart demanding that the government release imprisoned unionists and respect fundamental rights. Korea is also a focus at Global Union Federation IndustriALL’s Congress in Rio De Janeiro, which was addressed by former Brazilian President Lula on 6 October. Meanwhile in Australia, the ACTU is rallying against the corporate-dominated Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, and a series of Decent work events are taking place in Nepal.
Europe’s ETUC has launched a call for the EU to guarantee decent work and pay, and actions by national unions in Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Macedonia, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Ukraine and Spain, where events took place in 36 different cities, can be seen on the World Day for Decent Work web pages. Sub-regional events were also organized by the Balkan and the Nordic unions.
In Africa activities were reported in Burkina Faso, Comoros, the DRC, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia. While reports from the Americas showed events in Argentina, Bermuda, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama and Venezuela. Canada’s CLC is calling for a $15 per hour minimum wage and action on jobs for young people, with events around the country taking place over a week.
Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said “Pressure is building globally for governments to put an end to corporate greed. Major multinationals responsible for a hidden workforce of 94 percent of workers in their supply chains, and wherever we look we find modern slavery, dangerous and exploitative working practices and poverty wages embedded in the factories and farms which supply consumers worldwide. Governments must take responsibility for enforcing the rule of law, at home and in the operations of corporations abroad. Continued failure to act will mean even more inequality, death and injury at work and yet further erosion of the purchasing power that sustains production and jobs. It’s no coincidence that Decent Work is trending on social media today – our global polling shows that 82 percent of people want multinational companies to be held accountable for their supply chains.”
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