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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Asbestos is the World's Biggest Industrial Killer - Ban it Now!

Asbestos is the world's biggest industrial killer, claiming at least 100,000 lives annually. IUF members in every sector are exposed to asbestos in a variety of situations - in agriculture, food processing, hotels, restaurants and catering enterprises, where asbestos and asbestos-containing materials were and are used as insulation and fire-retardants products, in wallboard, paint and other construction materials, pipe and furnace insulation materials, shingles, tiles, and machine installations.[more]

Sexual Harassment at PepsiCo: Will They Ever Learn?

Pepsi-Cola General Bottlers agreed in February to pay out USD 400,000 in damages, back pay and legal fees to resolve a case of sexual harassment brought by the United States' Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). PepsiCo cannot claim lack of experience in dealing with sexual harassment issues in their workplaces. On December 23, 2002 the EEOC found that a class of female employees had been subjected to egregious sexual harassment and retaliation at the South Beach Beverage Company (SoBe). It seems that PepsiCo never learns. Had they learned the lessons of the SoBe case, PepsiCo wouldn't be in the mess they are in Poland.[more]

Avian Influenza (H5N1): Agricultural and Poultry Workers on the Front Line of Exposure - a Short Route to a Global Pandemic?

Given the role of poultry workers as the levee holding back the flood waters of a potentially devastating global pandemic, it is time to put the situation of poultry workers at the very centre of public debates and policy discussions on how to prevent this disaster. It is also vital that agricultural and food workers’ unions play an active role in raising public awareness of a fundamental aspect of our capacity to deal with this infectious disease: those who work on poultry farms and in poultry breeding facilities and processing plants are on the front line of the battle against avian influenza.[more]

The 'Doha Development Round': a recipe for the massive destruction of livelihoods, mass unemployment and the degradation of work

When the world’s trade ministers put their signatures to the founding document of the WTO in April 1994 in Marrakesh, their very first sentence establishing the WTO committed them to raising standards of living, ensuring full employment and a large and steadily growing volume of real income… The WTO's trade and investment rules have taken the world in the opposite direction, and the current negotiations threaten to take us further still.[more]

New Rules, Same Game at the WTO Services Negotiations

An accelerated race to the bottom is now being imported into the WTO services negotiations (GATS). Benchmarking at GATS means more competition to open more services to investors and more pressure to deregulate. It makes explicit what critics have always pointed to as the end-goal of the GATS process: a free-for-all for transnational corporations.[more]

Solidarity will have to be legalised

Guest editorial from Tony Woodley, General Secretary, T&G (UK)

For too long employers have been able to exploit lopsided labour laws explains T&G general secretary Tony Woodley in the light of the shameless action by Gate Gourmet's management.[more]

PepsiCo: Union-Busting, Trashing Rights…and Buying Danone?

Rumours of PepsiCo's interest in purchasing the French-based food TNC Danone highlight the urgent need for public scrutiny of Pepsi's social policies and industrial relations record. PepsiCo's record shows a consistent policy of aggressive contempt for the rights and dignity of its workers.[more]

April 28 and Death on the Job

Statistics recording injury, illness, mutilation and death from work-related causes show no letup. An estimated 270 million workplace accidents again took place in 2004. While death and injury on the job are more likely to occur in poor countries, the hazards of work are universal, as is the antidote: strong unions at every workplace, strong health and safety committees, sufficient collective control over the work process to allow workers to work safely.[more]

The Future of Kyrgyzstan's 'Tulip Revolution'

The recent events in Kyrgyzstan were both unexpected and foreseeable. Unexpected, because among the Central Asia republics Kyrgyzstan had been considered the most open and democratic. Foreseeable, because democracy in Kyrgyzstan was essentially hollow. The missing element in this pseudo-democracy was democratic institutions rooted in civil society. Kyrgyzstan became the first republic of the former USSR to join the World Trade Organisation. It was probably the only state in the world that joined the WTO without even attempting to negotiate the conditions of accession. The government of Kyrgyzstan, a predominantly agrarian country, voluntarily renounced its right to regulate and protect its internal market and production.[more]

Water for Life or Water for Profit?

The United Nations General Assembly has officially designated the period 2005-2015 as the International Decade for Action "Water for Life". The action decade begins on March 22, World Water Day. Constraining the activities of global water corporations isn't on the official agenda for World Water Day 2005. Nor is realizing the specific rights of agricultural workers, including the right to clean drinking water as set out most recently in the United Nations' International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 184 on Safety and Health in Agriculture.[more]

Syngenta's Global Genetic Power Grab

Cecil Rhodes, the notorious British imperialist for whom the former Rhodesia was named, once said that he would annex the planets if he could. His ambitions were modest compared to today's "life sciences" corporations, whose appetites are boundless. Rhodes had to content himself with Southern Africa. Backed by a predatory notion of "intellectual property rights" and the WTO TRIPS Agreement, Monsanto seeks to patent an entire species, the soy bean. Swiss-based Syngenta is even more ambitious: the company is going after the plant kingdom, and has applied for a patent on the process by which plants produce flowers.[more]

China: Facing Reality

On December 6, trade union representatives from 20 countries preparing to travel to Beijing for an OECD meeting on socially responsible investing were informed that their visas had been invalidated and the meeting cancelled. The Chinese authorities' crudely transparent cancellation of the OECD meeting should become the occasion for renewed reflection on how the international labour movement can effectively support Chinese workers in their struggle for independent trade unions. A key element in this reflection must be separating marketing hype and the creeping legitimization of the ACFTU from the reality of China's workplaces.[more]

Four More Years: Why Solidarity With US Labour Matters More Than Ever

In the United States, the "war on terror" has given cover to a war against working people and their unions. That war can be expected to escalate. US labour's record-breaking voter mobilization on November 2 will strengthen the administration's resolve to permanently cripple union strength in order to cement the rightward realignment of American politics.[more]

Suppressed NAFTA Report Shows Threat to Global Agriculture

While it presses its WTO complaint against the European Union's lapsed moratorium on GMO imports, the US government has been seeking to suppress an official report on the GMO contamination of Mexican maize (corn) prepared by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).[more]

The Powdered Milk Trail From Europe to the Dominican Republic

Arla Foods is Europe's largest dairy company. Arla's EU-subsidized dumping abroad of powdered milk and its impact on farmers and workers (including IUF members) in the countries exported to has been the subject of recent articles in the journal of the Swedish Food Workers' Union Mål och Medel. Union journalist Gunnar Brulin has followed the powdered milk trail to the Dominican Republic and back to company headquarters.[more]

Independent Trade Unions in Belarus and the Struggle for Democracy

Guest editorial by Alexander Yaroshuk, President of the Congress of Democratic Trade Unions of Belarus

The political regime in Belarus has steadily moved towards restricting and suppressing democratic institutions and human rights, including the restoration of trade unions as "transmission belts” of the state which involves forcing workers to give up the defense of their rights and interests. Thus today there are two trade union centers in Belarus: Lukashenko's FPB and the Congress of Democratic Trade Unions of Belarus (BKPD). The Congress is the only trade union center representing and defending workers rights.[more]

GMOs and the WTO: Defending a Vanishing Moratorium

By calling into question the WTO's legitimacy to adjudicate in disputes involving fundamental rights, the EC has given a signal for action which goes beyond its limited goal of fending off WTO sanctions. The core of the issue is not WTO compatibility. It is whether human rights take precedence over the rules governing global trade, or the WTO trumps everything.[more]

A Call to Action on May Day 2004 - No More Dead and Injured Workers!

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) proclaims the right of all to just conditions of employment. We work to live, but work remains a source of death, injury and disease for millions of women and men around the world. On this May Day 2004, we can affirm our joint commitment to putting an end to death and injury on the job.[more]

The GM Industry's Attack on Biodiversity

A new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists demonstrates that it has taken less than ten years of commercial growing to produce "massive" GMO contamination of traditional crops in the United States. Neither consumer resistance nor selective authorizations of commercial GMO plantings can be relied upon to prevent further GM contamination. Zero tolerance is the only defence against an inherently invasive technology which in the space of a decade is on its way to destroying the seeds which cultivators have developed over thousands of years.[more]

Inside the Global Sweatshop: Wal-Mart and the California Supermarket Strike

On January 18 this year the New York Times reported that Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated has a policy of routinely locking in night shift workers at many of its stores. A former Wal-Mart employee reported that workers were locked in at his Colorado store every night - and on weekends there was no one with a key. Wal-Mart is not only the largest US retailer, with an expanding international presence. It is the largest employer in the world today, with some 1.3 million employees on the payroll.[more]

Financial Crime and Corporate Vandalism Threaten Thousands of Parmalat Workers' Jobs

While Parmalat has been declared insolvent and its former CEO Calisto Tanzi is under arrest for questioning, a newly enacted Italian law will allow the company protection from its creditors for 120 days while it prepares a reorganization plan. However it is widely anticipated that many if not all of the companies acquired in its global buying spree will eventually be sold or liquidated, thereby threatening the jobs, working conditions and trade union rights of its employees.[more]

Iraq and the World Bank: the Looting Continues

Whose needs are being addressed by the World Bank's "Iraq Needs Assessment"? It's time to bring the Bank's policies in Iraq into the full light of day if a new round of looting is to be prevented.[more]

Lessons and Lobster from Cancun

On World Food Day, October 16, the Food and Agriculture Organization appealed for an "international alliance against hunger." This alliance cannot be determined or limited by shifting country coalitions at the WTO. We need allies, to be sure, but it is the task of the international labour movement to constitute the core of this alliance, based on an independent trade union strategy to advance our common struggle, North and South, against the global corporate agenda for food and agriculture.[more]

The MAI: Alive and Well at the WTO

Corporations which vaunt their commitment to "social responsibility" are effectively working to outlaw through binding international agreements the responsible regulation of business activity. The MAI is a political weapon aimed at our rights as workers and citizens. It is a shared threat, and it is our common responsibility to unite to oppose it until it is buried once and for all.[more]

Nestlé: Global Profits but No Global Rights for Workers

Nestlé corporate management in Vevey, Switzerland, reserves the right to make crucial decisions affecting the lives of its global workforce, but refuses to assume responsibility for global industrial relations.[more]

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