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Transportation and climate change

At a round table discussion on Transportation and Climate Change in Washington on 3 April, delegates addressed the transport sector’s role in decreasing emission in the US.   They also explored how transportation unions could develop a comprehensive approach to climate and propose emissions reductions in all sectors- aviation, shipping, rail, truck, and passenger transport.

The event was organised by Global Labour Institute at Cornell University. The roundtable brought together US trade unions and their policy allies to discuss transport issues as they relate to climate protection and jobs.

This event occurred at a time when the US Congress faces the expiration of the current $286 billion national transportation programme, thus providing an opportunity to press for transportation options that can create jobs, restore communities, and help drive a “green recovery.” James Oberstar, Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure committee in the US House of representatives, has pushed for a new bill totalling $500 billion for 5 years which is likely to be voted on in 2009 or early 2010. At the international level, efforts to conclude a new global treaty on emissions reductions will grow in intensity as the December 2009 deadline approaches. 

Unions and their allies in the US therefore have a lot of work to do in a short space of time if they are to take full advantage of these emerging opportunities. 

Together with the ITF, US affiliates aim to strengthen their response to climate change and to define effective strategies for addressing transport emissions as a workplace and wider industrial issue. ITF Education Officer, Alana Dave, attended the event


HIV/AIDS clauses in CBAs - the next step forward for African affiliates

An HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy and Collective Bargaining Agreements seminar provided a forum for sharing approaches on the inclusion of HIV/AIDS clauses in CBAs.  Organised in   Windhoek, Namibia from February 24-26, 2009, the seminar  brought together 18 participants from affiliates in 10 Anglophone countries.

A key objective of the seminar was to strengthen the capacity of the affiliates to engage employers and management in the development, implementation and monitoring of workplace HIV/AIDS policies /programmes.  Although many affiliates have developed workplace policies not all have managed to integrate these in the CBAs or ensure effective implementation.  

All the participants were involved in some kind of HIV/AIDS related activity and are also linking up with other organisations to ensure the effective servicing of their membership in this area. However, not all affiliates are at the same level with regards to workplace policies- some are without any policies, whilst others have workplace policies that are not implemented and some unions who have comprehensive policies which are ffectively implemented.

The seminar provided a platform to share and learn from each other,resulting in those without policies and those who have yet to incorporate them into the CBAs developing clauses for agreements. Progress on this will be monitored so as to ensure that all affiliates reach the same level.

The seminar formed part of the new ITF/FNV project on HIV/AIDS and Transport, which began in the latter part of 2008. This phase of the project has a strong emphasis on implementation of policies and collective bargaining.


Gender mainstreaming in Indian ports

There have been numerous developments in Indian ports regarding women’s empowerment and participation in organising work. This was clearly evident in three of the ports, Kandla, Chennai, and Cochin, in a recent seminar organised in Chennai.

Recently 50 new women became members in Kandla port and out of 4100 members, 2200 are women.  A gender sensitisation programme was conducted with an equal number of men and women, to enable a better integration of women in the union. As a result there has been a change in the way men view the women. 

Besides working towards organising contract and casual workers, women have also been part of the organising campaign at the ABG run terminal at the Kandla Port.

In Chennai, they are wooing casual and unorganised workers through regular grievance handling sessions, education and health awareness  programmes.  A special education programme has been initiated by the Madras Port Trust Employees' Union (MPTEU) for unorganised women.  Every day , 30 women spend an hour  at the union receiving education on women’s and workers’ rights.  As an incentive, the women are given a trip to one of the major temples on completion of the programme. 

In Cochin, all education programmes and seminars have at least 20% participation of women.  The union also has women on its decision making bodies- 20% of the 65 member Managing Committee are women, and of the 13 office bearers of the union,  3 are women, of the 4 Vice Presidents of the union, 1 is a women, and of the 5 secretaries of the union, 2 are women. 

Although there has been gender activities taking place in other ports, the results of this work has yet to take shape. Nishi Kapahi, Women’s Coordinator, ITF Delhi


Education Briefing:

The Challenge of organising casual workers - Labour brokers in  Southern Africa

The growth of labour brokers is presenting new challenges for African trade unions.  A need for research was expressed by affiliates at the East and Southern Africa  SASK Road Transport Planning seminar in 2006. Hence the focus of the research is on the road transport industry.  However, the need to target the limited resources resulted in a focus on labour brokers in Southern Africa (Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa) with emphasis on South Africa.  Why South Africa?,  primarily because this is where the practice of labour broking is most prevalent and companies using the services of labour brokers in Mozambique and Namibia are in the main South African in origin.

 Extracts from the report.

R. started working for ITR Recruitment as a crew member on a truck in 2000. In 2007 he was employed as a driver. He is now regarded as ‘permanent’, as opposed to those who are employed on a temporary basis. The essential difference between those who are permanent and temporary is that the latter sometimes do not work a full week, even though their employment is ongoing. Some of R.’s colleagues have been working on this basis for over three years.

In the town where R. is based, all the workers of ITR, whether temporary or permanent, depend on a contract with the local SASKO mill. SASKO is a large wheat and maize milling concern and part of the Pioneer Foods group.

ITR does not have a contract with SASKO. SASKO has a contract with Supergroup, and Supergroup in turn has a contract with ITR. ITR is a labour broker. It supplies workers like R. to Supergroup, which in turn supplies workers like R. to SASKO.
The extract from the report exemplifies how companies have evolved their operations through the process of subcontracting, generating innumerable types of employment relationships,  which on the whole are detrimental to the workers’ conditions and rights. The research further illustrates the modern “worker supply chain”, which is the outcome of the outsourcing arrangement. Unions will have to confront and understand these before developing strategies to organise.

Ironically the research findings indicate that regulation in South Africa has contributed to the emergence and the flourishing of Labour Brokers in South Africa. On the other hand the trade unions of Namibia have used to the law courts to put a stop on the use of labour brokers, although this ruling is currently being contested.

Overall the report covers areas including: what is meant by labour brokers; the historical evolution of the use of labour brokers; their basis in law internationally and in South Africa; union responses to this evolution; the impact on workers and the strategic lessons to be considered.

Jan Theron from the University of Cape Town’s Labour and Enterprise Policy Research Group (LEP) conducted the research during 2008. The research formed part of ITF/SASK Road Transport Capacity Building Project in Africa 2007-2008.

The research document is in the process of being layout and formatted and will be circulated to affiliates in due course.

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