50 Leading UK Trade Unionists Show Solidarity With Venezuela

headerOn March 9th US President Obama signed an executive order declaring  “a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela” and imposed a further round of sanctions on the country. This has been condemned by major regional bodies in Latin America and the Caribbean, governments all over the world and much of global civil society, including the ITUC and numerous other trade union bodies.

We the undersigned – representatives of trade unions and working people in the UK – stand in solidarity with Venezuela’s unions of Railway workers, Urban and transport workers, Oil and electric workers, Education, Public Sector and Health workers, and Construction Workers who have organised mobilisations over the last month saying ‘Venezuela is not a Threat – We are Hope’ and ‘Obama – Repeal the Executive Order.’

Venezuela is not a threat to the U.S or any other country – instead it offers hope, including through some of the most advanced legislation regarding trade union and labour rights in the world.

We support the international ‘Obama – Repeal the Executive Order’ campaign and will continue to both support the advances in social progress and workers’ rights that have taken place in Venezuela in recent years, and oppose US sanctions against Venezuela.

1. Len McCuskey,General Secretary, Unite the Union

2. Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary, Unite the Union & Venezuela Solidarity Campaign Vice-Chair

3. Doug Nicholls,General Secretary,General Federation of Trade Union & Venezuela Solidarity Campaign EC

4. Billy Hayes,General Secretary,Communciation Workers Union

5. Mick Cash,General Secretary,Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers Union (RMT)

6. Manuel Cortes,General Secretary,Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA)

7. Mick Whelan,General Secretary,ASLEF

8. John Smith,General Secretary, Musicians Union

9. Owen Tudor, Head of European Union and International Relations, Trade Union Congress (TUC)

10. Roger McKenzie,Assistant General Secretary, UNISON

11. Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary,National Union of Teachers

12. Gail Cartmail,Assistant General Secretary,Unite the Union

13. Steve Turner,Assistant General Secretary,Unite the Union

14. Andy Kerr,Deputy General Secretary,Communication Workers Union

15.Hugh Scullion,General Secretary, CSEU (Confederation of Shipbuilding & Engineering Unions)

16. Dave Green, National Officer, Fire Brigades Union

17. Tom Jones,,Thompsons Solicitors & Venezuela Solidarity Campaign EC

18. Moz Greenshields, TUC Joint Consultative Committee

19. Joe Gluza, NEC Member, University & College Union (UCU)

20. Terry Hoad, University & College Union (UCU) NEC Member & Former President,

21. Mark Lyon, Chair, International Committee & EC Member, Unite the Union

22. Seán McGovern, Co-Chair, Trade Union Congress Disabled Members Committee & Unite Executive Council Member (Disabled Workers Representative)

23. Ged Dempsey, Executive Council Member, Unite the Union

24. Andy Green, Executive Council Member, Unite the Union

25. Tommy Murphy, Executive Council Member, Unite the Union & Venezuela Solidarity Campaign EC

26. Maggie Ryan, Executive Council Member, Unite the Union

27. Simon Dubbins, Director of International, Unite the Union

28. Siobhan Endean, National Officer for Equalities, Unite the Union

29. Adrian Weir, Assistant Chief of Staff, Unite the Union

30. Martin Mayer, Chair,  United Left in Unite the Union

31. Jane Carolan, NEC Member, UNISON

32. Stephen Kennedy, NEC Member, UNISON & Venezuela Solidarity Campaign EC

33. Max Watson, NEC Member, UNISON

34. Carl Maden, Communciation Workers Union NEC member

35. Peter Pinkney, President, RMT (Rail Maritime and Transport Union)

36. Karen Mitchell, Legal Officer & Solicitor, Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers Union (RMT)

37. Andy Bain, Treasurer, TSSA

38. Marie Taylor, Chair,Community & Youth Workers Section, Unite the Union

39. Enrico Tortolano, Research & Policy Officer, PCS & Tribune Latin America Correspondent

40. Denis Doody, UCATT Regional Secretary, Northern Region

41. Bernard Regan, Chair,South East Region Trade Union Congress International Committee & Cuba Solidarity Campaign National Secretary

42. Jayne Fisher,Vice Chair, South East Region Trade Union Congress International Committee

43. Kevan Nelson,Regional Secetary, North West Region,UNISON

44. Dominic MacAskill, Head of Local Government,Wales/Cyrmu UNISON

45. Phil Thompson, Secretary of International Committee, UNISON Greater London Region

46. Kev Terry, Chair, South West Region, Unite the Union

47. Mike Hedges, Vice Chair, Passenger National Industrial Sector Committee, Unite the Union

48. Jim Buckley,Regional Officer,Unite the Union

49 Dave Lovelidge, National Industrial Sector Committee & Regional Industrial Sector Committee (South East), GPMIT Sector

50. Phil McGarry, Political Officer,Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers Union (RMT),  Scotland

Left Futures is supporting the Rally for Venezuela – End the US Sanctions, No More Interventions! organised by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign. Facebook event at and register by clicking here.

Tweet your support using the hashtag: #venezuelaisnotathreat #obamarepealtheexecutiveorder

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Labour’s Manifesto For Britain’s Workplaces

imagesHere is an edited version of Labour’s ‘A Better Plan For Britain’s Workplaces’, produced by Unite.

The central task for the next Labour government is to build an economy that creates better and more secure jobs and stop the Tory race to the bottom. This race to the bottom is the key factor behind the UK’s low level of investment, training and productivity relative to other advanced economies. Working people are suffering from reduced wages; low pay and insecurity are in turn driving higher government spending on social security to top up wages and reduced income from tax receipts.

  1. Addressing insecurity and unfairness in the workplace
  • More than half of employees are worried about insecure work
  • There are more than 1.8 million zero hours contracts in the economy
  • Britain cannot succeed when working people feel insecure.

Labour will crack down on the worst abuses in our labour market and the first Queen’s Speech will include:

  • A stronger minimum wage
  • Banning exploitative zero hours working. If you work regular hours you will get the right to a regular contract with contractual hours averaged over 12 weeks
  • A review of this to ensure action is taken to stop employers using short hours contracts instead of zero hours
  • Legal rights to workers not to be forced to be available at all hours
  • Legal rights not to have shifts cancelled at short notice without compensation
  • Making it illegal to use agency workers to undercut wages of permanent workers, and illegal for employers to only recruit from overseas
  1. Tackling low pay

In the last five years working people have experienced the biggest fall in wages of any Parliament since the 1870s.

  • Average wages have fallen by £1,600 a year since 2010
  • Half of all new jobs since 2010 have been in low paid sectors
  • One in five workers is low paid and more than a quarter of a million people are estimated to earn less than the legal minimum wage

Labour plan for Britain’s workplaces is to:

  • Set a national goal to halve the number of people in low pay by 2025, lifting over two million people out of low pay
  • Raise the National minimum wage to more than £8 before 2020
  • Introduce new 10p starting rate of tax
  • Use procurement to promote a living wage
  • Extend free childcare for working parents and double paternity leave to four weeks
  • Increase paternity pay so fathers receive the equivalent of a full week’s work paid at the National Minimum Wage for the four weeks of leave
  1. Justice at work

Labour will:

  • Ensure proper access to justice in the workplace by abolishing the Government’s employment tribunal fee system
  • Tackle bogus self-employment in construction and elsewhere
  • Set up a full inquiry that is transparent and public to examine the issue of blacklisting
  • Recognising historic cases, release all papers concerning the ‘Shrewsbury 24’ trials
  1. Supporting working families
  • Stagnated wages and rising insecurity have fuelled a cost of living crisis.
  • Full time workers in UK work some of the longest hours in Europe with a long-hours culture long-hours culture in many professions
  • A shortage of well-paid part time jobs, lack of affordable childcare and an outdated parental leave system cause further difficulties for families

Labour will:

  • Double the amount of paid paternity leave to four weeks
  • Expand free child care provision from 15 to 25 hours
  • Introduce a legal guarantee to wraparound care from 8am to 6pm at local primary schools
  1. Promoting partnership and productivity at work

In the long term, economic success will be rooted in high skill, high investment strategies. And Labour recognises that Trade Unions are an essential force for a decent society and as guarantors of jobs and wages.

  • Nearly three-fifths of senior business leaders judge short-termism to be a major impediment to growth
  • A chief executive in the FTSE 100 earn on average over 130 times their average employee
  • Just 27 percent of employees feel that they have a say over how their work is organised

Labour will:

  • Put employee representatives on remuneration committees
  • Reduce short-term pressure to turn a quick profit
  • Improve the link between pay and performance and ensure executive pay packages are transparent by publishing the ratio of the total pay of their top earner compared to their average employees
  • Where recognised, ensure Unions play a role in facilitating elections, as well as supporting the training of employee representatives
  • Give investors a duty to act in the interests of ordinary savers and prioritise the long-term growth of companies
  • Change takeover rules by restricting voting to investors who already hold shares
  • Require investment and pension fund managers to disclose how they vote and introduce binding votes on remuneration packages
  • Review implementation and operation of information and consultation regulations
  • Reverse the Department for International Development’s decision to withdraw funding from the ILO
  • Tackle short-termism by reforming takeover rules
  1. Supporting young people into work
  • Young people’s wages have fallen by over 8 per cent since 2010
  • Just one in ten employers in England provide apprenticeships
  • Proportion of apprenticeships taken up by young people has fallen significantly from 82 per cent of all apprenticeships in 2010 to 63 per cent last year.
  • A quarter of apprentices aged 19-24 receive no training at all.

Labour will:

  • Introduce a new apprenticeship Guarantee so that all those that get the grades at 18 are able to access a new high quality apprenticeship
  • Ensure that every firm that gets a large government contract to offer apprenticeships
  • Require large firms recruiting skilled workers from outside the Europe Union to invest in apprenticeships in the UK.
  • Make sure that apprenticeships can lead to higher level qualifications
  • Improve technical training for young people
  • Ensure the government creates thousands more apprenticeships in the public sector
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Posted in Blogs, Economics, Employment Rights, European Trade Unions, Labour Party, Media, Politics, Solidarity, Trade Unions, Trades Union Congress, Unite The Union, Workers Uniting | Leave a comment

Latest on US Oil Strikes: Five Plants Still On Strike.

Striking oil workers at Marathon Petroleum refinery in Catlettsburg, Kentucky - now back at work!

Striking oil workers at Marathon Petroleum refinery in Catlettsburg, Kentucky – now back at work!

Just got this from the USW: From Dave Martin of USW Local 8-719 at the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Catlettsburg, Kentucky: “Contract passed. We will start the process of returning to work Monday and take the operations over on Saturday, 4/11/15.”

Locations left in the unfair labor practice strike:

BP Whiting, Indiana; BP Toledo, Ohio; Marathon Galveston Bay refinery in Texas City; Marathon Green Power Co-generation Plant; LyondellBasell refinery in Houston

Locations Back-to-Work:

Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas; Motiva refinery in Norco, Louisiana; Motiva refinery in Convent, Louisiana; Shell chemical plant in Norco, Louisiana; Shell Deer Park refinery in Deer Park, Texas; Shell Deer Park chemical plant in Deer Park, Texas; Tesoro Anacortes refinery in Anacortes, Washington; Tesoro Martinez (Golden Eagle) refinery in Martinez, California (near San Francisco); Tesoro  Carson refinery in Carson, California (near Los Angeles); Marathon Catlettsburg, Kentucky, refinery

Solidarity with those USW members still on strike.

Send messages of support to those on strike to lhancock@usw.org

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We’re Not Loving It – Protest At McDonalds, London

11081494_813035732065359_8823551469601948704_nUnite London hotel and hospitality workers are protesting against Fast Food giant McDonalds on the morning of April 15th – the international day of action in solidarity with fast food workers in the USA and all over the world. 

Where and when: Marble Arch, 10.30am

This industry is rife with low pay, abuse, workplace injuries and a lack of dignity at work.

We echo our #FightFor15 comrades in the USA who have organised over 190 strikes across the country in saying “SHOW ME $15 AND A UNION” and “LOW PAY IS NOT OK”. We are inspired by their courage and their movement.

We link their fight with ours in the UK where fast food workers are on poverty wages and face the same risks and lack of respect.

Join us, it’ll be fun. We will have a clown theme going on.

We’ll also be joined by our friends in the BFAWU Hungry for Justice campaign and we will be joining their action later. UNITY IS STRENGTH.

For details click on the Facebook site

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What Is Productivity?

7240080694_929c367031_o_0CLASS Briefing: Productivity

There has been increasing media coverage about the UK’s growing ‘productivity gap’ in the last few weeks, but why is it important? The shaky and unsustainable return to growth experienced over the last year has not produced the improvement in living standards many were hoping for. The inherent structural weaknesses in the economy that were a major cause of the economic crash of 2008 remain very much the same today.

Productivity is one of the main ways of measuring the health of the economy and year after year from 2007, UK productivity levels have fallen behind other comparable economies such as France and Germany, with productivity growth now the weakest since the Second World War.

Government has the power to enact a range of economic policies that will have a real impact on the lives of ordinary people and their prospects for the future. A responsible attitude towards the economy is desperately needed and this briefing sets out what productivity is, why everyone is talking about it and what actions are needed from the next government.

So what is productivity?

Productivity is an average measure of the efficiency of production. Productivity is how employees’ ‘output’ at work is measured over a given period of time and is influenced by investment in machinery or training that allow workers to be more productive.

UK productivity (GDP per hour) and income grew faster than in France, Germany and the United States between 1979 and 2008, reversing a century of relative decline. However UK productivity stagnated after the Recession of 2008-09 and remains about 15% below historical trends. This is due to a mixture of cyclical and structural effects but austerity policies have made things worse.

 According to the latest ONS figures, UK productivity growth is the weakest it’s been since the second world war. Productivity decreased by 0.2% in the third quarter of the last financial year, leaving output per hour worked 17% lower than in 2007.

Read more by clicking here.

The poor performance in recent years has widened a longstanding productivity gap between the UK and other countries. UK GDP per hour is currently around 17% below the G7 average.

Read more by clicking here here.

Why does it matter?

Productivity has a direct correlation with wages. If output is higher, all things being equal, workers are paid more. As a result of the UK’s poor productivity, businesses have sought to keep their costs in check by keeping a lid on their wage bills.

Wage stagnation combined with growing inflation over the last 5 years has led to a sharp fall in living standards for millions of working people.

The weakness of productivity is a direct result of the government’s austerity policies. Austerity has reduced demand and economic growth and the labour market has adjusted to this weaker growth through severe cuts in wages and the quality and security of work.

Employment growth, often only part-time and via ‘zero hours’ contracts, has been concentrated in the lowest–skilled, lowest-paid jobs.

Unless we can improve productivity, wages will remain low, living standards will continue to suffer and tax revenues will struggle to improve.

 Read more by clicking here

 The UK has a poor productivity record which is linked in large part to poor investment by both public and private sectors. If our infrastructure had matched that of other leading global economies during the first decade of the 21st century economic growth could have been 5% higher to the benefit of millions of working people and their families.

Under the Coalition, investment levels plummeted. Public investment halved in the first 2 years of this parliament alone.

 Read more by clicking here.

 What action can be taken?

Major investment in infrastructure

Developing large-scale infrastructure projects (transport, utilities and connectivity) and creating a National Infrastructure Bank will benefit the wider economy as well as improve productivity.

 Investment in training and skills

Productivity can be improved through investing in developing the skills of staff through apprenticeships or training. Current schemes are failing to provide the training and apprenticeships that are needed to fill the growing skills gap. In 2014 the number of people starting apprenticeships fell by 70,000 and there were 6,000 fewer 19 to 24-year-olds starting new apprenticeships.

An end to austerity

Just a 1% increase in public sector pay would inject between £470 and £880 million of extra value into the economy and enable much needed government investment.

 A Living Wage

Higher wages not only benefit workers, they can also incentivise investment and training, enabling workers to deliver higher outputs above their wage increases and thereby also generating profits. If everyone was paid a Living Wage or above the Treasury would gain an additional £3.6 billion a year.

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History & Policy Group – Whatever Happened To Collective Bargaining?

1 TUF_Collective bargaining_28 March 2015 FINAL

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UK Must Become Modern Manufacturing Economy Says TUC

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady

The employers body Confederation of British Industry has set out its proposals for the first hundred days of the new Government – and it doesn’t make comfortable reading for the Tories.

The CBI’s ‘Best Foot Forward’ report states that the next government should initiate a comprehensive spending review that, when public finances allow, would increase capital spending as a percentage of GDP.

 The report also cautions that during the deficit reduction period “whilst additional capital spending in this period must be fully-funded, an overemphasis on achieving budget targets by a particular point in time should be avoided.”

The report also urges the new government to set out terms for keeping the UK in the European Union and to extend the fifteen hours free child care to all families with one and two year olds to help family finances.

In response to the CBI TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Businesses and trade unions agree on the need to increase capital spending as a share of GDP. But the Chancellor’s plans to permanently shrink the state will leave it in the doldrums.

 “The CBI rightly argues that inflexible budget targets should be avoided if they put urgently needed capital spending at risk. They now need to go further and recognise the importance of an immediate capital boost to secure the recovery and eliminate the deficit. And the Chancellor needs to recognise that the budget targets he set out last week risk landing the economy in serious trouble.”

 “Reforming the financial sector to focus on long-term investment in the real economy, instead of casino-capitalism, is an area of common cause. We need a plan that will turn Britain into a modern manufacturing economy, making the UK a strong exporter and a global leader in green technology.

 “However, a particular area of concern is the CBI support for rushing into the TTIP treaty, which risks leaving future governments unable to roll back privatisation in the NHS, and unable to bring public goods like the railways back into public ownership, despite clear public support for this policy.”

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Unite Analysis Of Osborne’s Last Budget

Unknown-1By the Unite Political Department

To call George Osborne’s performance, hopefully for the last time, at the Commons’ despatch box a budget for the nation is stretching credulity to its limits. With 50 days to go before the most important general election for a generation it was an hour of party political propaganda with Osborne boasting about his economic stewardship for the past five years. As Ed Miliband said in his reply, Osborne failed to mention the issues that affect the vast majority of people – nothing on investment in the NHS or in our public services. There was likewise no mention of the longest squeeze in living standards in history or of the growth in food banks and insecure work.

While GDP headline figures place us in economic growth, on a significant measure such as house building under this government fewer homes have been built at any time for nearly a hundred years.  He bragged about the employment figures and talked of full employment, but not the type of employment being created; zero and short hours, ‘umbrella companies’ that put workers into bogus self-employment,  insecure and precarious. It is also worth noting that the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts on employment did not change since December – in short because there was no announcement to create more, or better jobs. .Under this government we have seen a further shift of obligations from the employer to the employee.

Wages have not recovered their pre-crisis levels- and damningly for the government the OBR has judged there is nothing in this budget that will positively impact on wages.

What we did see was what we have seen before – a raising of the personal tax allowance. Putting forward plans to raise the threshold to £11,000 in 2017 – a stepping stone to the previous announcement that they want to raise it to £12,500 and at the same time raising the 40 per cent income tax threshold to £50,000.

When the Tories announced these plans, the Institute for Fiscal Studies responded that less than two-thirds of the total adult population have high enough incomes to pay income tax at all. Higher earners benefit from increases in the personal tax allowance, as it increases the amount that is untaxed. Both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats spin this as their big achievement, claiming that it will benefit the lowest paid by removing them from paying income tax. But when the lowest paid people are already earning under the threshold, they receive no benefit – in fact it is a big achievement that is built on shifting sand.

The numbers benefitting from raising the higher rate of income tax are likewise small and at the top of the income scale – 80 per cent of people earn under the higher rate of tax on the latest figures.

In truth, austerity was never about reducing the deficit. In 2010 the deficit was £153.5 billion and £93.6 billion in 2014. The June 2010 budget prediction was for it to be £37 billion in the financial year ending April 2015. The Tories have emphasised the deficit and debt in order to justify their austerity programme and it has now become the established orthodoxy.

But for whole swathes of people the consequence of austerity has been misery. In real terms, wages are down by £1,600 under this government. The TUC and IPPR also calculated that the total net impact of low wage growth over this Parliament leaves the Treasury £35.7 billion worse off this year alone    And let’s not forget one in five workers earn below the Living Wage. The IFS say that the average household has lost £1,127 under this government  just in tax and benefit changes.

If the Tories win again the programme they have planned for spending cuts up until to 2019/20 – the whole of the next parliament. After the December autumn statement the Institute for Fiscal Studies assessed that £35 billion of cuts had been made since 2010, and their latest figure is that £50 billion of cuts are still to come over the next five years under these plans. Not only is this figure much higher nominally, with a growing population it is greater in real terms. They have also announced that they want to make a further £12 billion of benefit cuts. Only £3 billion of this has been identified so far.

Though Osborne can use sleight of hand in statistics to present the richest as suffering most over the past five years, this is only true in cash terms – because of the simple fact that they have the most cash. As a percentage of income, the worst affected by this governments’ tax and benefit changes have been the poorest, as the IFS chart shows.

IFS chart - impact of tax and benefit reformsThe chancellor made much of investment and the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ but under this government, public capital investment has fallen by a third in real terms. In private business, there remains a ‘cash hoard’ of £500 billion that they are not investing.  Until we raise investment levels we will not see a sustainable economic recovery.

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary was damning in his summing up of the budget: “Today we saw a budget for the rich from a government of the rich. Nothing to boost wages, nothing to tackle the crisis in social housing, nothing to address growing workplace insecurity and nothing to stem growing personal debt or the collapse of public services. A budget without hope, a failed opportunity by a failed government”

Len McCluskey, general secretary, said the only way to get the change we need is to vote Labour on 7th of May: “There are only 50 days to go to make sure that George Osborne’s budget is not only the last budget of this parliament it is the last that he delivers.  

“The rot started with his very first emergency budget when the chancellor, the prime minister and  the back slapping deputy Nick Clegg delivered their austerity  hammer blow to the economy and to people in and out of work. 

“Their obsession with the deficit and an ideological drive to shrink the state has meant misery for vast swathes of people. 

“If you’re a hedge fund, wealthy retiree, or a business shy of providing fairly paid, secure employment, Osborne’s Britain is the place for you. If you’re looking for decent job, a home in which to raise your kids or a safe NHS, then it is not. 

“This election is the most important in a generation.  It is the fight of our lives and it is a fight that Unite is up for.  For change, for hope on 7 May we have to vote Labour.”

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Luca Visentini To Be New European TUC Head

Luca Visentini the proposed successor to Bernadette Ségol as General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation.

Luca Visentini the proposed new General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation.

Italian trade unionist Luca Visentini is the proposed successor to Bernadette Ségol as General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation.

This week a meeting of the ETUC’s Executive Committee voted the 46 year old current Confederal Secretary of the ETUC as ‘General Secretary Designate’, subject to final decision by ETUC Congress in October in Paris.

Visentini won unanimous support after the German DGB withdrew the candidature of former European Metal Workers General Secretary Peter Scheerrer. The British TUC and Unite supported Luca Visentini

Luca has been a member of the Italian union UIL since 1989, and has worked for UIL at local, regional, national and international level including as General Secretary of UIL in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of north east Italy. He is the author of four books of poetry and a novel.

It is a huge honour and a great responsibility to be put forward as General Secretary of the ETUC” said Visentini. “Our first priority has to be growth and quality jobs, through a significant change in EU economic policy including an end to austerity. We need a stronger, renewed ETUC.”

Visentini will take up his duties full-time in Brussels in October 2015. Congress will also elect a team of two Deputy Secretary Generals and four Confederal Secretaries.

One the major tasks facing Visentini will be galvanising trade union opposition to austerity policies which are weakening trade unions across the EU.

Many countries, notably in southern Europe and the UK and Ireland have seen consistent attacks on trade union freedoms, employment rights and collective bargaining.

In addition there is growing trade union opposition across the EU to the two main trade agreements involving the EU – the TTIP Agreement with the USA and the CETA agreement with Canada, with have been described as opening a second front for turbo charged neo-liberalism.

Note: The ETUC was set up in 1973 and now comprises 88 national trade union confederations in 37 countries, plus 10 European trade union federations.

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LATEST: Crown Dispute: Ontario Appoints Expert To Investigate Strike

Strike-Rally-at-Carnival-HQ-Crown-Aluminum-Dist.-4-Canada-NYC-April-17Ontario, Canada: Ontario Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn is appointing Morton Mitchnick to conduct an Industrial Inquiry Commission to facilitate a resolution in the dispute involving the United Steelworkers and Crown Metal Packaging Canada LP.

On rare occasions the Minister may find it necessary to use additional powers granted to him under the Labour Relations Act, 1995 to examine labour disputes.

For example, Section 37 of the Act gives the Minister of Labour authority to appoint a Commission “to inquire into and report to the Minister on any industrial matter or dispute that the Minister considers advisable.”

The strike began on September 6th, 2013, and involves 133 employees at the Crown Metal facility in Toronto.

At the request of Crown Metal, under section 42 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995, the Minister of Labour directed a “last offer” vote on March 24, 2014. The employees voted overwhelmingly to reject the employer’s offer.

Morton Mitchnick, an experienced mediator-arbitrator, has been appointed as the commission’s sole member.

He will be responsible for examining the relationship between the parties, identifying key issues in the dispute, investigating the dispute’s underlying causes and assessing prospects of settlement.

Following the inquiry, the Commissioner will report to back to the Minister of Labour within 14 days on any remaining issues in dispute and advise on next steps.

The United Steelworkers has welcomed the Ontario government’s decision to appoint an Industrial Inquiry Commission into an 18-month dispute.

“Crown has demanded concessions even though it is profitable and Crown does not want to allow all striking employees to return to work. This is unacceptable in Ontario and we hope that the commission leads Crown to finally understand that,” said USW Ontario Director Marty Warren.

“In the meantime, we will continue our fight against Crown’s U.S.-style union-busting tactics on all available fronts,” Warren said.

Philadelphia-based Crown, one of the world’s largest manufacturer’s of food and beverage containers, provoked a strike at its Toronto beer can factory in September 2013 by demanding massive concessions from workers. Crown has refused to negotiate a fair settlement with its Toronto employees in the ensuing 18 months, instead recruiting replacement workers to prolong the dispute and try to break the strike.

Opposition politicians at Queen’s Park and Steelworkers allies such as Unifor have joined the USW in calling on the Ontario government to help end the labour dispute by compelling Crown to negotiate a fair settlement.

“Most of the Crown strikers are long service employees who have given their working lives to build Crown into the huge and profitable company it is today,” Warren said.

“This 18-month strike has caused untold financial and personal tragedies for our members. Today’s announcement of an industrial inquiry must lead to an end to this long and tragic refusal by Crown to deal fairly with its dedicated employees.”

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