McDonald’s Korean union member sacked for fast food activism

922Gahyun Lee was dismissed from her job at a McDonald’s outlet in Yeokgok, Gyeonggi Province on September 15th following her visit to Los Angeles earlier that month to support the national action by US fast food workers.

 Management had previously warned her about union activity in May – citing a phone call from the head office – after she denounced wage and scheduling manipulation and unsafe workplace practices at a May 15th rally in Seoul in support of global fast food workers.

 Management refused to provide her with an explanation of why her contract was terminated, instead telling her to reapply for the job. Her application was rejected.

 The Arbeit Workers’ Union (which organizes precarious workers) is demanding her reinstatement and publicizing her case.

You can support them – CLICK HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE to McDonald’s Korea corporate management calling on the company to reinstate Gahyun Lee, recognize union rights and representation and enter into good faith talks with the union over unfair practices.

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Aussie Packaging Company Folds Under Pressure

f2de09c5-38e5-47ea-8c77-e03089fd1698Aussie Packaging printer Colorpak have backed down in the face of a determined industrial campaign and agreed to a peace deal with the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union who were aided by comrades from the company’s New Zealand operations. 

Anxious management compromised last week when faced with a 24-hour strike which would be replicated across the Tasman and cost the firm millions of dollars.

Previously hardline bosses also faced embarrassment from a planned AMWU protest to shareholders outside the company’s Annual General Meeting this week.

The company agreed to a new 12-month union agreement covering its main site at Braeside in  Melbourne, which delivers improvements including permanency after six months for casual and labour hire employees.

It also includes a legal deed giving extra security to union members in administration, genuine union consultation over workplace change plus a $295 tax-free bonus for every worker when the agreement is signed.

The one-year deal was initially endorsed by shop floor meetings, with the 240 AMWU members set for a formal vote next week.

It was a dramatic change of attitude from Colorpak, which had aggressively targeted union members with letters to their homes after stoppages in October and wrongly claimed in the national media to have finalized industrial matters months ago.

AMWU delegate Iain Eld (a former Unite activist and FOC in the UK) said the bridging deal was a solid base for pursuing a national agreement including real-value wage rises in 2015, to bring Colorpak’s Sydney site under a single agreement with Melbourne.

“The management were extremely agitated at the prospect of our members stepping up protected action to the 24-hour stoppage, with our comrades in New Zealand pledging action in support,” he said.

“Power and collective strength have shown you can push what appears to be an unmovable employer into a reasonable position.”

The management agreed to three final union claims to have the planned actions cancelled.

AMWU National secretary (Print) Lorraine Cassin said the determination of members had forced the company to understand it could not intimidate them.

“Our members stood up to Colorpak, they took strength from one another to persist until they won the respect and proper consideration they deserve,” she sad.

Ms Cassin said the AMWU would be lending its support to NZ members of its sister union, which is yet to finalise its agreement with Colorpak.

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UAW and VW One Step Closer To Recognition

After several years of campaigning to organise the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on 12th November Volkswagen announced a new policy which includes that with more than 45 percent support, a union can meet once every two weeks with VW Chattanooga’s executive committee.

The United Autoworkers union, UAW and Germany’s IG Metall welcomed the step forward, but want more.

UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel stated: “In the first conversations that will occur, we will remind them of the mutually agreed-upon commitments that were made by Volkswagen and the UAW last spring in Germany. Among those commitments: Volkswagen will recognise the UAW as the representative of our members. We believe Volkswagen made this commitment in good faith and we believe the company will honour this commitment. Additionally, we will present the Chattanooga plant management with the September letter of intent in which the influential Volkswagen Global Group Works Council expressed its desire for the Chattanooga plant to be a ‘UAW-represented facility.’”

IG Metall President Detlef Wetzel said: “We expect VW to show their true colours and accept the UAW as its collective bargaining partner, once UAW proves that they represent the majority of workers.”

The policy announced by VW is not perfect as it opens the possibility for more than one union to represent workers and act as the company’s bargaining partner. A small yellow union exists at the plant.

UAW Local 42 was set up in July to organize and represent workers at the VW plant in Chattanooga. It has been supported throughout their campaign by IG Metall, the Global Works Council at VW and by IndustriALL Global Union.

The Chattanooga plant is the only VW facility in the world without worker representation. Local 42 under the newly elected leadership of president Mike Cantrell and vice president Steve Cochran will take its place on the VW Global Works Council. Until now it has been the only plant not represented on the global body where workers and management regularly meet to set corporate policy.

Outside influence from well-funded anti-union lobby groups makes a free and fair workplace election impossible at VW in Chattanooga. For that reason the union is following a different organizing strategy to empower workers with a voice and industrial relations structure in their workplace.

Volkswagen is setting an industry example in defying anti-union politicians and other pressure in the Southern United States to work with the UAW and respect international labour standards. The UAW is also campaigning to organize workers in a hostile environment at Mercedes-Benz in Alabama, and Nissan in Mississippi.

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The Return Of The News International Dispute Exhibition

Wapping Flyer 2015 St Bride_Page_1

Wapping Flyer 2015 St Bride_Page_2

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Posted in Employment Rights, Labour Party, Media, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment

Strikes At Trelleborg Industrial AVS : “Workers Feel Betrayed”

8144858-largeUnite members in Leicester UK employed by Trelleborg Industrial AVS who manufacture specialist components for construction vehicles, boats and rail are taking further strike action this week after staging strikes following the rejection of a 1.5% wage rise for 2014 and 2015.

Over 160 members of Unite, are taking part in a series of stoppages, as well as working to rule and refusing to work overtime following the imposition of below inflation pay offer by management at the Swedish owned firm.

Following a successful stoppage of work on November 14th more strikes are planned for later this week.

In a statement Unite says that members have worked hard to support the company, which has just won a lucrative contract with Bombardier, and accepted a pay freeze to get it back on track last year.

Yet, despite a record year, members have grown increasingly frustrated by the company’s refusal to engage in meaningful talks and address their concerns over pay.

Unite regional officer Lakhy Mahal said: “The workforce feel betrayed by the company’s refusal to recognise their hard work in getting the company back on track and achieving record sales.

“They’ve endured pay freezes and worked around the clock so that Trelleborg was in a position to secure the Bombardier contract. Yet all they get in return is a pay offer that amounts to a pay cut in real terms and refusal by management to meaningfully address their concerns over pay.

 “The company should be in no doubt of the workforce’s resolve which is underlined by the massive vote in favour of industrial action. Management need to engage in meaningful talks to resolve the dispute and give people a fair and decent pay rise.”

A Unite member working at the company told the local newspaper: “We are being forced to do this because the company will not listen to us. They have told us they want to keep wages down so we can stay competitive with China.”

Messages of solidarity and support can be sent  to Unite members via

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Why Poor Whites Vote Against Their Interests

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Canadian Telecoms Union To Merge With Steelworkers

Members of the Telecommunications Workers Union (TWU) in Canada have voted 73.7% in favour of joining the United Steelworkers (USW).

The TWU represents 12,000 members across Canada who work for telecommunications companies including TELUS and Shaw Communications, as well as employers in related telecommunications sectors and companies.

“This is a great result for our membership, our families and our communities across Canada.  This merger will help us improve the working lives of our members. It is a great step forward and there is a real sense of unity and excitement in our membership about the future,” ,” said TWU National President Lee Riggs.

“This merger is an example of a shared, positive vision for the labour movement: global, outward-looking and focused on concrete action. We are optimistic about the future and we’re honoured by the votes cast by so many TWU members,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann.

The merger agreement takes effect on January 1st, 2015, but both unions will kick off joint activities immediately. The agreement includes strong, mutual commitments around collective bargaining, education, organising and legislative action.

“With the USW’s extensive international network of allies and resources and the TWU’s deep expertise in the sector, our newly merged union can become a global leader in the telecommunications sector,” Riggs and Neumann said in a joint statement.

Balloting was conducted electronically, over a 24-day period, to facilitate participation by members in a wide array of workplaces, communities and shift arrangements.

The United Steelworkers in the USA and Canada and Unite the Union in the UK and Ireland created the global trade union Workers Uniting in 2008.

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Unite’s Howard Beckett : ‘Holiday Pay Ruling Will Not Open The Floodgates’.

This week there was an historic ruling that workers in the UK are entitled to have overtime and other payments included in their holiday pay calculations.

The ruling attracted much media attention.

It was a great win for workers – however the Government rushed into setting up a task force to look at how to limit the impact of the ruling and some employers and employers bodies warned of the end of civilisation as we know it, calling it a ‘nightmare’ and predicting bankruptcies and lay-offs.

It is worth remembering employers some did the same with the introduction of the national minimum wage and increased holidays emanating from the EU.

Other employers and employers bodies have taken the decision in their stride and said that they will comply with the ruling and get on with it and work with unions on the issue.

Howard Beckett, the legal director for Unite explained that the ruling by the employment appeal tribunal to include overtime in holiday pay will not open the floodgates to historic payments.

The ruling comes after some workers who are contractually obliged to work overtime were receiving less than their normal wage in holiday pay.

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Unite Takes On The Sun Over Smears

The Sun : This paper once again abuses its position in public life.

The Sun : This paper once again abuses its position in public life.

The Sun’s deliberate failure to allow Unite a defence following the paper’s recent attack on the union, and an opportunity to correct inaccuracies, has earned it a referral to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).

In its letter of complaint to the regulator, Unite highlighted a series of breaches to the code of conduct for editors within the article entitled ‘Unite and take over’, which The Sun published on 5th November.

The claims were further repeated in its editorial and on the Twitter feeds of the paper’s political team.

The union says that against the backdrop of an increasingly bitter pre-election period, it has no choice but to engage IPSO, urging it to act now to ensure newspapers operate within the code at all times.

Despite 28 mentions of Unite in the article, plus editorial and social media commentary, The Sun made no attempt whatsoever to seek a response to its allegations about the union.  Unite also claims the report is littered with misleading facts and inaccuracies.

When approached by Unite for an opportunity to correct the errors, The Sun failed to respond to the requests for a right of reply.

Commenting, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Such are the lengths that The Sun will go to smear Unite that it denies the union even a basic defence.  In so doing, this paper once again abuses its position in public life. 

“The Sun ignored the code of conduct governing our press because the rules would have impeded this latest slur on a union representing hundreds of thousands of decent working people.  It did so in a single-minded effort to undermine the elected leader of the Labour party, Ed Miliband.

“As the general election draws closer, we know it  will not be a fair fight such is the wealth amassed by one party and with the vast majority of the popular media in the pocket of the Conservative party.

“Against this backdrop, The Sun’s utter lack of respect for the regulator, and of the rules of accuracy and balance in our media, has serious, dangerous consequences for our democracy.

“We therefore urge the regulator to take steps now to prevent politically-motivated attacks, such as that on Unite, as we go into the bitter pre-election period.”

In its letter to the chair of IPSO, Unite states its belief that the paper violated clause 1 of the code of conduct for editors, saying:

“At no point prior to publication were we contacted about this article nor did the newspaper seek our comment despite the fact that Unite and the general secretary are mentioned a total of 28 times and that the lead editorial item of the paper questions the supposed inappropriate behaviour of the union.”

On being refused a right to reply, the complaint said: “We sought a remedy to our concerns on the morning of publication, setting out our concerns about the factual failures in the piece and questioning why we had not been approached for a comment that made serious allegations against the union; however, the paper refused to accept that we had a right to reply.

“The refusal of The Sun to either amend their inaccurate copy or supply the union with a right to reply is in clear breach of clause 1 section of the code of conduct.”

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Updated: 125,000 Take Part In Brussels Demo In Lead Up To General Strike.

AVC union leader Marc Leemans

AVC union leader Marc Leemans

Ahead of a General Strike called for December 15th, 125,000 workers and their supporters took to the streets of Brussels today (November 6th) to demonstrate against austerity policies being imposed by the Belgium government.

The police estimated the march as being 120,000 but Belgium trade unionists communicating on social mead and with this blog put the figure at 125,000.

Brussels20141106a-1Unions taking part included ACV-CSC, ABVV-FGTB and ACLVB-CGSLB.

The demonstration brought the centre of Brussels to a stand still and Belgium’s unions predicted a solid response will be forthcoming from unions for the General Strike.

Police were highly visible and turned water cannon on protestors as well as using tear gas.

Right wing media reports blamed dock workers for starting ‘violent clashes’ in the city centre.

09fcbd00-1700-425a-85f3-e819fbd0f4c1_othermainThe protest starts a month long campaign against Belgium’s right wing coalition, which wants to extend the pension age from 65 to 67, cut wages and public services.

Demonstrations will occur each week until the General Strike.

Rail companies also sold low priced tickets to increase protest numbers in the capital.

ACV union leader Marc Leemans said: “The signal is clear. People are angry, livid. This government’s policies are totally unbalanced.”

Morning Star report – click here.

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