“Hotel Housekeepers Stand Up Around the World for Rights, Recognition and Safe Work in Global Action Week”

Demonstration organized by FSPM in Bandung, Indonesia, on November 2nd

Hotel housekeepers and their unions in 34 countries and over 50 cities around the world held a variety of actions to highlight their fight for rights, recognition and better working conditions during the IUF’s 3rd Hotel Housekeepers Global Week of Action from October 31 to November 6. Many of the actions this year highlighted the central importance of preventing sexual harassment on the job, a constant threat with which housekeepers have to contend.  The varied actions included workshops and seminars with experts and awareness-raising meetings with workers, management and the public, including leaf letting at airports. Unions also called for specific language in collective agreements on protecting workers from sexual harassment.

Hotel housekeepers at Nyborg Strand Hotel (Denmark) show support to the Global Week of Action

Everywhere, unions demanded improved working conditions, greater job security and more respect for housekeepers at the workplace. Unions also made use of the Global Week of Action to show to workers the important results of the ongoing campaign in bringing about concrete improvements in working conditions and as an organizing tool for building bargaining power in hotels

Source:  IUF News Report


UK Employment Tribunal: ‘self-employed’ Uber drivers are workers, with rights

The London Employment Tribunal, in a decision with major implications for the ‘gig economy’, has ruled that Uber drivers are workers, not ‘self-employed’, and as workers they have enforceable rights, including a guaranteed minimum wage, paid breaks, and holiday pay.  The decision came in response to two test cases brought on behalf of drivers by the IUF-Affiliated GMB in June.

The union’s legal director described the decision as a victory ‘that will have a hugely positive impact on over 30,000 drivers in London and across England and Wales and for thousands more in other industries where bogus self-employment is rife’.

Swaziland: Sugar Workers Pay the Cost of King Mswati’s Greed

Thousands of workers in Swaziland’s sugar industry, which exports hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sugar to Europe and within Africa and is dominated by Swazi King Mswati III, face gruelling and unhealthy working conditions, poverty wages and violent suppression of effort to organise unions according to a new ITUC Report, King Mswati’s Gold released late last month.

The report includes widespread evidence of forced evictions of rural communities to make way for sugarcane plantations, deaths and herbicide-caused illness in the fields, child labour, dismissals and harassment of union representatives, and work schedules of up to 60 hours per week without overtime. Women who become pregnant are excluded from the industry, often resulting in abject poverty.

King Mswati’s autocratic rule over the country means that it has one of the worst global reputations for repression of workers’ rights while the King himself and a small coterie around him amass increasing wealth in one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Mswati is believed to be worth around US$200 million, while sugar cane workers earn as little as $5.30 per day.

While many sugarcane producers are certified under the “Fairtrade” system, the ITUC research which was done with the help of local researchers, found a series of serious violations of Fairtrade’s Small Producer Organisation standards, and weaknesses in the standards themselves and the private inspection systems which are supposed to ensure compliance. The ITUC is in discussion with Fairtrade about how it should change the system to ensure that the trade is indeed fair.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary said, “Swaziland’s autocratic ruling elite are ripping off their own people, using laws on sedition, subversion and anti-terrorism to suppress workers. King Mswati himself keeps a firm grip on the sugar sector, not for the benefit of the people but just to increase his personal wealth. This example of egregious greed underlines that there is no substitute for the international rule of law in supply chains, and that political and economic pressure from the European Union and Swaziland’s African trading partners are needed to ensure that the whole country can benefit from the wealth of the sugar sector.”