Glencore: EDM From Ian Lavery MP

facebook-share-sherwinEarly day motion on Glencore tabled in UK House of Commons

Sign EDM 764 to support Glencore workers

Glencore, the global mining company, claims to respect human rights, community culture, collective bargaining and the right of employees to freely choose a union. But Glencore’s practice is far different from its rhetoric. It is engaged in extremely poor labour practices across the world.

Examples include:

In the United States, management at Glencore’s Sherwin Alumina plant in Texas has locked out 450 members of the United Steelworkers (USW) since October 11. Glencore is demanding drastic concessions, including stripping retirees of health care benefits and denying a secure retirement to the next generation.

In South Africa, 800 workers at the Koornfontein mine in Mpumalanga went on strike on October 17 to protest substandard severance payments. Glencore offered one week of service per year in this mine and in other operations it is paying three weeks. Workers in Koornfontein not only have to deal with losing their jobs but also an unfair settlement for the many years they produced coal for Glencore.

In Peru, workers at Antamina mine, on strike since November 10, are subjected to health and safety violations on a regular basis and are being denied fair payment for bonuses and overtime. Workers are being excluded from the Miners’ Pension Fund and the company routinely violates the collective bargaining agreement.

Please sign EDM 764 against Glencore’s appalling treatment of its employees, and urging them to end the lockout of workers in the Sherwin plant.

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Extract from Len McCluskey’s Speech To Unite Officers and Organisers, Birmingham, February 2nd.

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Workers walk out at oil refineries across USA

Members of the United Steelworkers who work in oil refineries and chemical plants have walked out at nine sites across the USA – beginning strikes aimed at putting pressure oil companies to agree to a new national contract covering workers at 63 plants.

The strikes are the first held in support of a nationwide pay deal since 1980. The plants being hit account for more than 10% of U.S. refining capacity.

Royal Dutch Shell, the lead industry negotiator, indicated talks had broken down.

“Shell refused to provide us with a counter-offer and left the bargaining table,” USW International President Leo Gerard said. “We had no choice but to give notice of a work stoppage.”

“We remain committed to resolving our differences with USW at the negotiating table and hope to resume negotiations as early as possible,” Shell said.

Shell activated a strike contingency plan at its s joint venture refinery in Deer Park, Texas, to keep operating normally.

Walk outs took place at Exxon Mobil Corp’s refinery in Beaumont, Texas; two Marathon Petroleum refineries; LyondellBasell’s plant near Houston; Marathon’s refinery in Kentucky; Tesoro Corp’s Benicia and Martinez plants in California and its refinery in Anacortes, Washington.

The expiring three-year national contract covers 30,000 hourly paid workers at plants that together account for two-thirds of U.S. refining capacity.

The USW said in a text message sent to its members that the latest offer from companies was “insulting”.

The latest rejected proposal was the fourth offer turned down by the Steelworkers since negotiations for a new three-year agreement began on Januray 21st.

The Steelworkers are seeking annual pay raises double the size of those in the last agreement.

It also wants work that has been given in the past to non-union contractors to start going to its members, a tighter policy to prevent workplace fatigue, and reductions in members’ out-of-pocket payments for healthcare.

Independent refiners, such as Valero Energy Corp, have made big profits recently by tapping cheap crudes from the U.S. shale revolution, while integrated companies such as Exxon have seen their U.S. refining units provide a cushion against low prices hurting their upstream businesses

“Even though the refiners’ margins may not be as high as they were before the oil price decrease, the refiners are still making money,” USW spokeswoman Lynne Hancock said.

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New BMW Facility Opens With 70 Saved Teamsters Jobs

Bob Lennox, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 495, with BMW officials.

Bob Lennox, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 495, with BMW officials.

BMW opened a brand new distribution facility near the old one where Teamsters Local 495 fought to save 70 members’ jobs a couple of years ago — and won.

For a while it looked as if BMW was going to fire its loyal and hardworking workers from its Ontario, Calif., warehouse, then reopen a new facility with a cheaper less-experienced work force. The Teamsters helped the company realize what a bad idea that was.

Local 495 bannerUnite was also proud to have helped when reps from the BMW plant at Cowley campaigned through the EWC and with EU management to stop the local US management closing the site and re-opening it with employees being required to apply for jobs as agency workers.

Teamsters pointed out that BMW, a German company, had accepted a low-interest loan of $3.6 billion from the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States.

Bob Lennox, secretary-treasurer of the local, said: “They think they can take an American taxpayer bailout and then treat their American workers in a way they would never treat their German employees.

Teamsters also took to the streets. Hundreds of Teamsters members and their families distributed leaflets protesting the layoffs in 11 states. California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, New York and Virginia.

BMW saw the error of its ways. Last week, Brother Lennox joined BMW officials in a friendly ribbon-cutting at the new facility in Redmonds, California.

Now Teamsters are hard at work in their new surroundings. And that’s a Teamster banner hanging inside the new facility .

The Press-Enterprise reported on the ribbon cutting: “Top officials with BMW of North America were on hand Friday for the opening of a new regional parts distribution center north of I-10. The ceremony capped a two-year project of moving BMW’s warehouse operation east from Ontario.

The move was short but the new location, combined with its modern design and equipment, will help speed up service to dealerships, the company said.

“We really went from overnight delivery to same-day, and in some cases twice a day. It’s geographically a very good location,” said Craig Westbrook, vice president of aftersales, in an interview after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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GREECE: The End Of Austerity?

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Why I’m Boycotting Beer In Cans

By Marty Warren is United Steelworkers Director for Ontario and Atlantic Canada, representing 74,000 working people.

With all the publicity focused on the Beer Store in recent weeks, there is another beer story with profound implications that has received little media coverage.

Crown Metal Packaging employees in Toronto, who make cans for all the major beer companies and many craft brewers, have entered the 17th month of a forced strike.

These 120 workers have endured a level of hardship and malice from their employer that they could not have anticipated nearly two years ago as they prepared to negotiate a new collective agreement.

U.S. based Crown had just given its Toronto employees a corporate award for operating the most productive and safest plant in its North American manufacturing empire. Crown almost doubled its profits in 2012, results for which the corporation’s CEO enjoyed a $12-million annual compensation package — getting paid more for two days’ work than his highly productive Toronto employees were earning over an entire year.

There was every reason for the Toronto employees to expect contract negotiations would go smoothly when the parties headed to the bargaining table in 2013. Instead, Crown demanded massive, take-it-or-leave-it concessions, including up to 42-per-cent wage cuts for a new generation of workers.

Crown forced its award-winning employees, including many long-serving and second- and third-generation workers, onto the horns of a dilemma. They could continue working and accept Crown’s draconian demands, including a two-tier, low-wage workplace that would eradicate decent jobs for young people. Or, at great personal sacrifice, they could take to the picket line and stand up for the next generation.

The strike began in September 2013. More than 16 months later, the workers and their families are mired in a dispute that could impact the future of labour relations in Ontario for years to come.

Crown has attempted to break the strike by recruiting replacement workers to operate the Toronto plant. It has also made new, objectionable proposals to the striking employees, most notably replacing many of them even if a settlement is negotiated.

In other words, many of the workers would have to agree to give away their jobs as a condition to settle the labour dispute.

Aside from the Toronto families directly affected by this dispute, the outcome may have a profound impact throughout Ontario.

The Toronto workers would argue the provincial government, by virtually ignoring their plight, is tacitly condoning, if not encouraging employers to provoke strikes, recruit replacement workers to prolong the disputes and ultimately replace longstanding employees as a condition of settlement.

This approach has been used often by powerful corporations against workers in the United States. If U.S.-based Crown, one of the world’s largest can manufacturers, is bringing this agenda to Ontario, it appears not to faze Premier Kathleen Wynne. The Crown workers and more than 1,200 of their supporters sent letters to Wynne, looking for some kind of support, but the premier did not respond.

Political support and progressive policies from our elected leaders are needed to defend working families from U.S.-style attacks on decent jobs.

Meanwhile, the striking Toronto workers are receiving widespread public support in communities throughout Ontario and across Canada.

Thousands of consumers have joined a growing boycott of beer sold in cans that Crown continues to produce for the major brewers. The boycott received a tremendous response when it was launched in December with leafleting of beer and liquor stores across Ontario. Similar actions are planned in coming days and weeks, including on January 24th.

The Bottles Not Cans boycott, supported by the Ontario Federation of Labour, asks consumers to buy their beer in bottles, not in cans produced by Crown. The message is simple — to urge a profitable U.S. corporation to deal fairly with Toronto workers who contributed to that success.

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Morning Star Hiring Campaigns Manager

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All Out Turkish Metal Workers Strike Begins On January 29th

10013914_10152618284015172_1533527909832003408_nBy Eyup Ozer, Birleşik Metal-İş

Negotiations between Birleşik Metal-İş union and Metal Employers’ Association (MESS) during the “group collective bargaining agreement” (*) for 2014 – 2016 term broke down because of impositions of the employers organization.

This will result with an historic strike in the metal sector covering around 15,000 workers in 42 companies commencing on January 29th and will hit several multinationals such as Schneider, Alstom, Mahle, Aperam, ABB, BOSAL, BEKAERT, Delphi Automotive, Federal Mogul, Prysmian, Isuzu, Candy Group, S.C.M. (Sistemi Commandi Mechanici)

Birleşik Metal-İş, say their most important demands are improvements for low waged workers because in metal sector in Turkey, there is a huge gap between workers who are doing the same job. That’s why, the union asked for a general improvement for low waged workers.

But instead of doing this, MESS (Metal Employers’ Organization) widened this gap with the agreements signed with other unions. Also additional to this, they extended the duration of the collective bargaining agreement to 3 years from 2 years which will create more impoverishment for metal workers.

MESS imposed metal group collective bargaining agreements which determines starting wages for new workers only slightly above the statutory minimum wage. For example, with the agreements which were signed, the hourly net wage for a new starting worker will be 5,80 TLs for an hour, but on July the hourly minimum wage will be 5,66.

So for a worker who will start the work on July and became a union member then if you deduct the union membership fee, the net ammount which this worker will receive, will be even less then the statutory minimum wage.

Birlesik Metal Is union will not accept these. That’s why, our union organized a general assembly on January 10th with all the shop-stewards from these workplaces and the decision of that assembly was to go on strike in these companies starting by January 29th, 2015.

In Turkey, strikes have to go on until there is an agreement otherwise the union will loose its ‘competency’ so the strike will go on until there is an agreement.

It will start on January 29th January – nobody knows when it will end. It will be a tough process and two other metal unions already signed this agreement and it will make it more difficult and there is a difficult winter in Turkey, but Birlesik Metal Is members are determined to end this system of impositions and they will not accept the slavery conditions. But they will need international solidarity during their tough fight.

Please send your solidarity letters, messages, videos, photos etc. to eyupozer@gmail.com and if you have any questions you can contact us from 00905362059121

(* )In Turkey we have something called “group collective bargaining”, it is NOT a sectoral agreement it is a group of company agreements which are negotiated jointly for some number of workplaces between Metal Employers’ Union and unions in the sector.

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London Bus Strike – TfL and London Mayor urged to intervene

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Striking Barbour workers accept significantly improved offer

B65frGVCUAA7htlUnite members who have been on strike at the famous jacket and clothing manufacturer J. Barbour & Sons in Gateshead will be returning to work after accepting a significantly improved offer following talks at Acas.

The dispute attracted media attention after a number of media personalities such as TV presenter Janet Street Porter and journalist/TV pundit Kevin Maguire published articles in support of the strikers.

Other national newspapers carried news item on the dispute highlighting the “unfriendly family policies” being forced onto the workforce.

The workforce were forced to take strike action following a company announcement that there would be forced changes to their contracts. Workers accepted a deal which sees substantial increases in pay and day shift working for those with family and caring responsibilities.

J Barbour and Son Ltd had given warehouse workers a ‘sign or be sacked’ ultimatum over changes that included the removal of the unsocial hours payment and the introduction of a requirement to work until 11 o’clock at night.

But after four days of strike action in December and one week into a four week stoppage, management agreed to talks at ACAS.

Commenting, Unite regional officer Fazia Huassain-Brown said: “A majority of members have accepted this improved offer which sees increases in pay and day shift working for those with family or caring responsibilities. 

“This hard won outcome would not have been possible without the resolve of the workers who faced being sacked if they didn’t sign up to inferior contracts. 

“They stood up in the face of an employer who sought to ride rough shod over their rights and won significant concessions. 

“We trust that we can now move forward with the employer in a spirit of cooperation and ensure the Barbour brand continues to be a global success story.” 

Unite branches and activists, along with overseas unions including the United Steelworkers and local Labour MPs rallied to support the workers sending messages of support and solidarity to the picket line.

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