Crown Dispute Dogs Carnival CEO At Shareholders’ Meeting

Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Cruises and Director of Crown Holdings

Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Cruises and Director of Crown Holdings

Carnival Corporation’s annual shareholders meeting was overshadowed by concerns over CEO Arnold Donald’s role in the long running strike at Crown Holdings in Toronto.

Confronted with repeated questions from shareholders, Donald was forced to address his role in an eight-month strike at the Toronto factory of manufacturing giant Crown Holdings.

Donald is a key member of the board of directors at Crown Holdings, one of the world’s largest producers of beer cans and other beverage and food containers. Crown Holdings provoked a strike at its Toronto factory last September by demanding huge concessions to employees’ wages, pensions and benefits. Crown has prolonged the strike for eight months with demands such as a two-tier job structure that would permanently relegate young workers to low-wage survival jobs.

In its last offer which was voted down almost unanimously, Crown offered few assurances that workers could return to their jobs after agreeing to end the strike.

“Rather than trying to come to a reasonable compromise, Crown decided to throw gasoline on the fire it started,” said Lawrence Hay of the United Steelworkers (USW), which represents the Toronto employees.

As a key director of Crown Holdings, Arnold Donald cannot deny his role and responsibility in the company’s attack on workers’ livelihoods, Carnival Corporation shareholders heard during today’s annual meeting.

Dozens of Toronto strikers demonstrated outside the Four Seasons Hotel while inside the hotel their labor dispute was discussed by Carnival executives and shareholders.

Shareholders questioned Donald’s role in the Crown Holdings strike, despite an attempt by Carnival Corporation Chairman Micky Arison to shut down the questions.

Shareholders noted that Donald’s role in the Canadian strike has led to a boycott of Carnival cruises that has been endorsed by seniors and labor groups representing 1.5 million members in Canada.

A Carnival shareholder suggested Donald should reconsider his position as a director of Crown Holdings, arguing it has become a “distraction.” While acknowledging the distraction, Donald indicated he intends to retain his position on the Crown Holdings board.

After fielding repeated questions, Donald offered to meet with the Canadian workers following the Carnival shareholders’ meeting.

USW members accepted and urged Donald to use his influence to bring about a negotiated settlement of the labor dispute.

“Mr. Donald said he and other Crown Holdings directors are not fully aware of all the issues in the labor dispute at Crown’s Toronto operations, so we are ensuring he is well-informed,” said Hay.

“Mr. Donald has pledged to bring our concerns to the attention of Crown executives,” he said. “Crown’s executives and directors must accept their role in this unnecessary dispute and their responsibility to foster a fair settlement.”

Further press report click here.

Visit the Crown Holdings Dispute website by clicking here.

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Venezuela Peace Talks Reflect USA’s Further Isolation In Latin America


Dr. Francisco Dominguez

By Dr. Francisco Dominguez 

The peace talks now underway in Venezuela to end the wave of violence that has the explicit aim of “The Ousting” of the elected government are a tremendous step forward for all who wish to see an end to violence. They reflect the political backing for the Venezuelan government’s strategy for peace and dialogue by nearly every Latin American government and are a further sign of the weakened influence of the US on Latin America.

Whilst a narrative in the West has reflected the line of the wealthy minority who lies behind the protest movement, Latin American governments have adopted a different view, generally seeing it as the latest in a long line of attempts to bring about the illegal, unconstitutional and subversive push to overthrow Venezuela’s constitutional government.

Since La Salida (The Ousting) started, the sharply different stance taken broadly by Latin America as a whole and the United States and Canada has been noticeable.

US State Department spokespeople have energetically criticised and denounced the Maduro government for state repression, claiming restrictions on political freedoms (to assemble and to protest) and suggesting that the fatal victims of the guarimbas (violent protests) occurred because of state brutality.

Such a stance ignored the much more complex reality of an extreme right wing minority, determined to oust Venezuela’s government whose violence is responsible, directly or indirectly, for most of the deaths.

At one point, John Kerry (March 14th), called for an end to the “campaign of terror against its own citizens” supposedly being practiced by the Maduro government. Previously (March 9th), Joe Biden, US vice-president whilst on official visit to Chile, spoke of an “alarming situation in Venezuela” and falsely charged the Maduro government with not respecting “basic human rights“. Even Barack Obama, normally staying studiously aloof, also joined the fray and sharply criticised Maduro (February 19th) and even compared Venezuela with Ukraine.

In a Guardian interview (April 8th), Maduro explained the long-standing US hostility, saying they wish to “get their hands on Venezuelan oil” as Venezuela has the highest proven oil reserves in the world.

Whatever the reason, since 2000 the US had had a policy of destabilisation of Venezuela, including the channelling of millions of US taxpayers dollars to opposition groups under the guise of NGO’s or ‘organisations of civil society’. According to lawyer Eva Golinger in the period between 2000 and 2012 the US has given Venezuelan opposition groups about US$120 million.

Scaled up to the size of the UK, this would be over US$800m. Such external intervention in the domestic political process would not be tolerated in the UK, even less so when it is linked to a movement explicitly seeking to remove the elected government.

US official bodies have spiced up this intervention with regular charges against the Bolivarian government of ‘sponsoring terrorism’, ‘failing to collaborate against drug-trafficking’, ‘destabilising neighbouring countries’, and a raft of related accusations, often sponsored by the Republican party’s right wing and usually in close collaboration with Cuban-American exiles. The aim is to create conditions for US intervention.

Latin America is clear that such interventions will no longer be tolerated.

A stream of meetings, resolutions and statements have emerged from Latin America, taking a stance in favour of the Venezuelan Government’s calls for peace and dialogue, and leaving the United States isolated to influence the bodies of international and regional politics, usually the ideal framework for its destabilisation policies.

Most symbolically of the US isolation was the March 7th 2014 OAS resolution. The resolution’s title is indeed telling: Solidarity and Support for Democratic Institutions, Dialogue, and Peace in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. In its key passages the resolution stresses OAS’ “commitment to the protection of democratic institutions and the rule of law, in accordance with the OAS Charter and international law” and “Its appreciation, full support, and encouragement for the initiatives and the efforts of the democratically-elected Government of Venezuela and all political, economic, and social sectors to continue to move forward with the process of national dialogue “[...]. The United States, Canada and Panama, opposed the resolution (US arguments of being unable to vote because the OAS “should not take sides” is disingenuous to say the least).

Additionally, on March 12th, the Foreign Ministers of UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) held an emergency meeting to condemn the violence in Venezuela, to warn against any threat to the country’s independence or sovereignty and to strongly support President Maduro’s efforts to start a broad dialogue that contributes to social peace.

UNASUR formed a commission (led by Brazil) to travel to Venezuela to accompany, support and facilitate the dialogue proposed by President Maduro. It lies behind the current peace talks. In fact, eight UNASUR Foreign Ministers were present at the dialogue broadcast (11 April) to the whole the nation in total transparency. Aldo Giordano, Francis I representative in Venezuela was also present at the dialogue. The Vatican is a mediator in the talks.

The statements coming from individual Latin American governments also flatly contradict those of Washington. Heraldo Munoz, Chile’s new Foreign Minister made it totally clear that “Venezuela is not a dictatorship but a democratic government in a highly polarised country“, and stressed that Chile will encourage the dialogue”. President Bachelet on her part stated (March 12): “I will never support the overthrow of a democratically elected government“.

President Nicolas Maduro’s article in the New York Times (April 1st) summed up the situation with regards to the US well, saying: “Now is a time for dialogue and diplomacy. Within Venezuela, we have extended a hand to the opposition. And we have accepted the [UNASUR]‘s recommendations to engage in mediated talks with the opposition. My government has also reached out to President Obama, expressing our desire to again exchange ambassadors. We hope his administration will respond in kind.”

Instead, the Obama administration has decided to identify themselves with the worst elements of the Venezuelan opposition, who they have repeatedly supported by public statements. By now they must know that La Salida is in a blind alley and cannot go anywhere. They also must know that Maduro is coming out of this strengthened, Capriles’ position has been substantially weakened and there does not seem to be emerging any alternative leadership to the MUD that has vision and a programme to rebuild it.

Obama’s robust ‘Bushist’ stance on Venezuela has therefore left the US in an isolated position in Latin America. It can still repair it that by heeding President Maduro’s dialogue and peace.

First published on the Huffington Post website.


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Protestors say Rio Tinto ‘to blame’ for mine deaths

rio_tinto_agm_2At a London event organised by the global union federation IndustriALL union members and protestors from around the world demonstrated against giant mining and metals company Rio Tinto this week over in health and safety violations which lead to the deaths of 41 people in Indonesia.

The action was jointly organised with Unite, with participation from IndustriALL affiliates Community from the UK, FNV from Holland and United Steelworkers from the USA and Canada.

IndustriAll, which represents 50 million industrial workers across the world, accused Rio of “very wide breaches of fundamental rights” and said the Anglo-Australian mining company could have done more to prevent the 41 deaths last year.

Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary of IndustriAll, said the deaths of 33 gold miners when a tunnel collapsed at a Rio joint venture mine in Indonesia last May could have been avoided.

He said that the Indonesian human rights commission had found that the Grasberg mine, jointly owned with US company Freeport, “had the ability to prevent this from happening but didn’t”.

“The lack of effort jeopardised the lives of others. The gravity of this case is serious,” he quoted Indonesian human rights commissioner Natalius Pigai as saying in a report into the incident”.

Jan du Plessis, Rio’s chairman, described the Indonesian deaths as a “tragedy” and said the company was doing all it could to improve safety. “We’ve got to be by far one of the leaders in this field safety,” he said at the company’s annual meeting in London.

He admitted that the Grasberg mine, the world’s largest gold mine, was “far from perfection”. But said Rio’s board believed both safety and environmental issues would not be improved by the company pulling out of the operation in Papua.

Kemal Özkan of IndustriALL

Kemal Özkan of IndustriALL

But Özkan hit back by outlining fundamental rights’ violations, attacks on collective bargaining, the use of precarious employment and appalling health and safety records in Rio Tinto operations worldwide.

He said: “We question Rio Tinto’s sustainability practices; particularly labour relations and your commitment to health and safety. You say fatal accidents are a shame in the 21st century, and yet you reported 40 deaths last year. And according to the official government investigation the Grasberg accident in Indonesia could have been prevented!”

Well-known private shareholder John Farmer said it was unacceptable for the company to “gloss over 33 deaths just because it the mine]is managed by someone else”.

A company spokesman later tried to distance itself from the deaths by saying: “Rio Tinto does not manage the Grasberg operation, but we do not stand aside when fatalities occur. We are working with Freeport, the managers of the mine on safety, as well as community, human rights and other issues.”

Native Papuan people protesting against the Grasberg mine, which has also been at the centre of alleged environmental abuses, were joined by others complaining about alleged human right and environmental abuses in Madagascar, Australia, Namibia and the USA.

Perle Zafinandro, the leader of a community protest group against Rio’s majority-owned coastal forest mine in Madagascar, accused the company of “land grabbing and environmental devastation”.

Sam Walsh, Rio’s chief executive, apologised for poor communication and promised better engagement with local people. He said the level of compensation for people displaced by the QIT Madagascar Minerals mine was negoitated by the Madagscar government, which owns 20% of the mine, not Rio.

Walsh also committed to “turning the area back to what it was” and has employed a “team running a plant nursery to be able to fully rehabitualise the area”.

Zafiandro said: “How are you going to get these trees to grow on the dead sands left behind?

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We’re better off in the European Union

Clare Moody, Labour MEP Candidate in the South West

Clare Moody, Labour MEP Candidate in the South West

By Clare Moody, Unite officer and Labour MEP candidate for the South West

With Rupert Murdoch leading the charge of a hostile Eurosceptic media it is no wonder that this has become a common refrain. The constant drip, drip, drip of poison oozing out of the right wing press has framed a debate that favours corporate interests. Get government ‘off our backs’, undo the ‘ties of regulation’, ‘free up business’, Europe regulates too much, the market knows best. Well, no – we have seen it doesn’t. 

If the economic crisis, the bailing out of the banks and the subsequent recession taught us anything it should have been, at the very least, that the ideological solutions to the failure of neo-economic liberalism have brought ordinary people to their knees, and laid waste to their hopes and aspirations.  The market isn’t the solution to market failures but that is what the right has offered.

It is precisely these conditions and the harsh austerity measures that have encouraged the scapegoating of migrants leading to the rise of far right groups in Greece, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Here in the UK, UKIP are currently occupying the populist anti-European Union right-wing role much to the chagrin of Tory Eurosceptics who have been burning the Thatcherite flame ever since she made her 1988 Bruges speech.

Within this political and economic context those who support membership of the European Union have to make their voices heard in favour of a Social Europe. The elections this May will probably be fought on domestic issues with UKIP riding high on an anti-European and anti-immigration tide. But there is much that can be said about what Europe has done for us. Trade union members now have more enduring rights than could have ever been achieved at national level.

The UK’s membership of the EU has also provided good quality jobs from the motor industry to aerospace and far wider. Health and safety protection, often derided by the right, has been embedded into EU legislation.

Protection for maternity leave, discrimination law and equal treatment for part-time workers and paid holiday are all EU rights that we take for granted at our peril. The value of collectivism lies at the very core of trade unions and the employment rights such as Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE), redundancy and Information and Consultation regulations. These are not dry legislative rights; these are rights that are crucial to our workforce.

There are also issues of wider concern to the trade union movement that are best dealt with at an EU level, in particular climate change and tax avoidance, neither of which respect national boundaries.

But the EU is the capitalists’ creature?
National politicians take the credit for advances at an EU level when it suits them and are very quick to pass the blame for anything that is perceived as unpopular. Yet the simple fact is that common decision-making is done by national politicians in the Council of Ministers and European politicians in the European Parliament. The right has been in the majority in both institutions for 10 years but we have managed to hold on to the protections outlined above. We should not bury our heads in the sand and think that these rights will still exist if we turn our backs on the EU.

Our political struggles do not stop at the Channel. The same political, economic and social arguments that rage within our country’s borders apply equally to the politics of the EU. For all progressives, changing and challenging the political direction of the right is our ‘raison d’être’. It’s what gets us up in the morning.

There has rightly been much discussion about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and in particular the Investor-State Dispute Settlement part. The ISDS has now been put on hold because of pressure from trade unions and the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.  Because the European Parliament will have a say in this, the Commission has had to take a step back. This is now a political fight and one we have to win.

While nationalists and the far right are capitalising on the misery created by the economic crisis, it is possible that after the European Parliament elections on the 22nd May the left will form the largest single group. After ten years of the right running Europe, the political tide may well start to turn in our direction again – on policy and with the institutions. As the largest single group post Lisbon Treaty, the new Commission President should come from the left.    Now is certainly not the time to be coalescing around our opponents to denigrate and, or, campaign against membership of the EU.

Almost uniquely, the EU is regarded as a monolithic entity that has only one direction and is apolitical. It isn’t. Jacques Delors and the development of the European social model proved that. Politics determines policy at EU level, just as with local, devolved and Westminster governments. The damage that Thatcher and right-wing politicians have done at the national level has not led to the left calling for the abolition of Westminster; it hasn’t even united the left behind calling for proportional electoral systems. So why would we take these same political arguments up at a European level?

The diagnosis that the EU, as a whole, is the problem, is false. The problem is we have not faced up to the fact that we have a political fight on at a European level just as much as we have a political fight on at a UK level – whether this is about austerity, public services, collective and individual rights or climate change.

Why should trade unionists support the EU?
The simple answer is jobs, good jobs that people want and that people can rely on.

At our core as trade unionists with a belief in solidarity and collectivism, we are driven to deliver for our members. The EU has done just that, giving us jobs and rights. So what happens if we turn our backs on it? All those rights become subject to the whim of our national governments – sadly our experience of national governments does not suggest that there is an alternative nirvana in the UK that will miraculously appear if we walk away from the EU. The reverse is true, we walk away and we lose the guarantees we all get from our membership of the EU. Those rights will be eroded over time, jobs will go and we will be diminished.

Where from here?
None of us are happy just to stick with the status quo. We know we disagree with much of the recent direction of the EU, those disagreements are very similar to the disagreements we have with the direction of the national government.

In many ways the political framework of the EU makes it easier for us to deliver advances in collective rights because they are more embedded in European models of industrial relations than in the Anglo-Saxon model. And when we achieve those advances they are more likely to become permanent at an EU level than the possibility of achieving them at a national level, exactly as we have seen with other rights that have come from the EU.

If we walk away, we will play into the hands of the neo-liberals that want to strip away our rights, want to ignore climate change and want to be free to avoid paying their dues to our society through taxation. Ultimately they do not care whether the UK is in or out of the EU as they will work to deliver their model at whatever governmental level. In fact, it is easier for them to do this at a national level.

As trade unionists, working in the interests of our members, we cannot afford to leave the EU. We cannot turn our backs on the EU and pretend there is a hopeful alternative; our political history does not give us any grounds for this hope.

It is not in the left’s nature to turn our backs on a political fight. Once we recognise this is what we are facing over the EU, we know what we have to do. The same as progressives have done throughout history – we don’t run away – we stand and fight.

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BBC News – Complain About Biased Reporting On Violence In Venezuela

headerOn April 9th ‘BBC News At 10′ on BBC 1 carried a report on the current situation in Venezuela, which has also been posted online and used elsewhere . You can see the report by clicking on the link below: and can be viewed on its own at )

I found the report contained inaccuracies and failed to give a fully balanced view of the situation in Venezuela. There was no mention that the violent protests stemmed from the calls for ‘La Salida’ (‘the ousting’) of the elected Government from extreme right-wing elements of Venezuela’s opposition.

In light of these issues with the report, I have comp pained to the BBC about the report and I would ask you to do the same.

Coverage of the violence in Venezuela in the UK media has been biased and critical of the Government. Newspaper reporting had been unbalanced and VSC has made complaint after complaint. One of the worst has been City A.M. who have ignored my letters as Vice Chair of VSC and my requests for a fair response to the sometimes hysterical letters carried in their pages.

So, it would be helpful if you can complain to the BBC using their online form at

The programme was BBC 1 News at 10 at 10pm on Wednesday April 9th at 18 minutes and 52 seconds in.

The VSC detailed briefing should give you much of the information you need to write your complaint at:

and more recent analyses of the current situation (including of the deaths resulting from the violence) can be found at


Below for your information is a response one VSC supporter has submitted, which outlines some of the inaccuracies in the report as well as addressing the issue of the omission in the report of the call for ‘La Salida’ being the main spark of the protests.

The BBC Complaints site is around ten steps – but stick with it to highlight the unfairness and bias of the BBC on this matter.

“The report from Wyre Davies in Venezuela on BBC News (10pm, April 9th) contained both inaccuracies and-through the omission of a key point related to the violent protests-did not present a balanced account.

The key omission is that on 22 January, a number of opposition leaders demanded “the ousting” (La Salida) of the elected Government. Leopoldo Lopez, a right-wing politician, said the aim was regime change:”there should be a complete … change in those who are in power… It’s clear now that the problem isn’t just Maduro, it’s all the heads of the public powers who have kidnapped the state“. He added this was only possible by “getting the people into the streets.” This was the spark for violent protests, yet is ignored.

Furthermore, whilst in the midst of a violent scene, the report falsely says “virtually every night” there are such scenes in “virtually every other city across Venezuela.” At its peak, violent incidents were mainly focused in a small number of areas (18 of 335 municipalities.) The Home Secretary said fewer than 2,000 were involved in the violence.

The report also claims “student protests against rising crime” were “brutally quashed by the army.”

There is no evidence of organised Government violence. Far from the impression given, the deaths have not all been of opposition protesters at the hands of state forces.

Opposition barricades have been the principal cause of deaths.

Finally, polls show over 80% oppose these violent protests. The report fails to reflect this”.

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EU Elections: Vote Labour on May 22nd

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Republican Politicians Violated VW Workers’ Rights

UAW President Bob King

UAW President Bob King

What happened in Chattanooga is starting to become much clearer, thanks to some excellent investigative journalism by Phil Williams of WTVF-TV in Nashville. And what happened could have far-reaching implications beyond Chattanooga.

Williams reported on Monday that he obtained confidential documents that show how far Tenn. Gov. Bill Haslam and GOP state lawmakers were willing to go to make sure workers would not have their right to union representation.

Haslam, according to the documents, essentially offered Volkswagen $300 million in taxpayer dollars for plant expansion — but only if the plant remained union-free.

Before the vote, Haslam both implied and denied that the economic incentives were tied to whether the plant had UAW representation. But, as the report shows, the incentives were “subject to works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being conducted to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee.”

Even before Williams made public the secret documents, Haslam and other Tennessee officials made no secret of their disdain for the UAW or the right of Volkswagen workers to freely choose representation. But the coercion of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded incentives for expansion of their plant sealed the deal.

Tennessee House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner put it best: “Looks like to me they put a gun to their head and said, ‘Look, this is what we are going to give you if you do it our way and we are going to jerk it away if you don’t.’ ”

The state, by the way, took the incentives off the table just before votes were being cast.

Volkswagen workers have the right under federal law to make a choice on union representation without intimidation, fear or coercion. That Haslam and other Tennessee officials used the power of their elected office to intimidate workers into voting against representation isn’t surprising. They receive millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the same anti-union groups associated with the Koch Brothers and Grover Norquist.

These groups will stop at nothing to ensure that working Americans hang on by just a thread, grateful merely to have a job, with no real opportunity to improve wages, benefits or health and safety.

But where does this “my way or the highway” approach to using our tax dollars stop? Would a governor such as Haslam offer taxpayer-funded incentives to a business, but only with the condition that it doesn’t implement certain environmental measures because the Koch Brothers oppose them? Would a state official offer incentives to a business to relocate, but only if it agrees to hire only people from a certain ethnic group or a certain gender?

Seem far-fetched?

Many thought it was far-fetched to imagine elected officials threatening one of the world’s largest automakers. Most would have thought it far-fetched to imagine state officials demanding that one of the state’s best job creators change its entire business model in order to do business in the state.

But that’s really what happened in February in Chattanooga.

This opinion piece originally appeared in the April 3rd edition of the Detriot News.

Also worth reading: Emails Show Sen. Corker’s Chief of Staff Coordinated with Network of Anti-UAW Union Busters.

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Carr Review – “A Party Political Stunt”

Bruce Carr QC

Bruce Carr QC

The Government’s review into ‘industrial relations’, led by Bruce Carr QC is a political stunt with a narrow remit which excludes any review of employers behaviour in disputes and omits any review of issues such as ‘blacklisting’.

The review, which has been delayed for months and was due to report by the end of this month will supposedly look into allegations of “extreme tactics” as the Government  continues to stoke up anti-union propaganda in the run up to the General Election – as always aided and abetted by the right wing media.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This review may have been announced with great fanfare by the Prime Minister, but the delay in setting it up, the limited terms of reference and the exclusion of the promised consideration of employer behaviour, such as blacklisting, confirms that it was never anything more than a headline grabbing party-political stunt.”

The CBI have steered well clear of getting involved. The FT reported that they saw the review as “too transparently political”.

Bruce Carr will now lead the review on his own, supported by Whitehall officials, who will provide what the FT describes (according to insiders in Whitehall) “little more than legal advice”.

Carr’s review is expected to take six months and he will report to Vince Cable and the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude who limply said: “This Government’s long-term economic plan is building a stronger, more competitive economy’.

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of PCS  (Public and Commercial Services union) said: “This is far from an independent review, it’s a political stunt to try to undermine trade unions and our ability to campaign against rogue employers.

“Carr is one of the bosses’ QCs of choice who has carved out a career arguing against workers’ rights.”

Unite have described the review as a “cynical Tory attempt to divert attention from the cost-of-living crisis and the gross inequalities they have created – something strong trade unionism is needed to redress.

“The government is also worried because Unite is starting to use leverage campaign techniques to halt the sell-off of hospitals and other NHS facilities, and exposing the sleazy links between Tory MPs and private health care companies.

“Unite will shortly step up this campaign regardless, in order to save our NHS.

“The inquiry is to be headed by a lawyer with anti-union form going back years – Carr has publicly argued in favour of draconian laws against unions. No-one can place any trust in his objectivity. His only role is to rubber-stamp George Osborne’s campaign messages.”

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Workers Uniting Calls For Higher Labor Standards In US-EU Trade Agreement

WUWorkers Uniting the global union created in 2008 by Unite in the UK and Ireland and the United Steelworkers in the USA and Canada say they will oppose the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal if Labour standards in the deal are not strengthened and other concerns about the deal are not addressed.

The three million member trans-Atlantic union at its board meeting in London on March 24th issued a call to European Union and U.S. trade negotiators to strengthen social and labour protections in the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

“We view TTIP as a threat to the rights of workers in Europe,” said Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite the Union in the UK and Ireland. “We can’t afford to import America’s low labour rights standards.”

“American and European workers deserve a better deal,” said Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers (USW), which represents workers in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. “Our governments’ narrow focus on greater protections for companies must be transformed to include expanded rights and protections for workers.”

In its statement, Workers Uniting calls for the TTIP to include a tax on financial transactions to support social programmes – a measure already endorsed by 11 European countries.

The statement also demands that the European Works Council directive, chemical safety standards, and other European social legislation be expanded to include American workers.

The Workers Uniting statement also demands that existing procurement regimes be left intact and that public services be excluded from TTIP.

The statement rejects the proposed Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement, noting that Germany and France oppose this provision as well.

Workers Uniting joins a chorus of opposition from trade unions, including the powerful German metalworkers union, IG Metall to the current TTIP negotiations.

Worker rights and social protections must be placed at the center of any agreement.

Click on the links or the Workers Uniting logo to read the full  statement.

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Unite NHS Demo – National Officer Rachael Maskell

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