France: 2 lakh workers protest against Macron’s reforms
23 March 2018: French railway unions affiliated to the CGT and six other unions joined air traffic controllers and other public sector workers in a national strike on 22 March in protest against the proposed labour reform that is looking to ‘modernise’ the transport sector through redundancies and the use of contract workers while opening up the rail network to competition. The government wants to phase out the system which effectively guarantees railway employees a job for life with a retirement age of 50-55. The unions are also opposing the manner in which the draft law was presented on 14 March without discussion with them.
Earlier, Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy had both buckled under union pressure in their attempts to reform working practices, pensions and the railways during the beginning of their presidencies.
Civil servants also demonstrated on the same day over the proposed reform to offer redundancy packages and higher use of short-term contracts to public sector workers. Macron wants to cut 120,000 public sector jobs over the course of his five-year term.
UK: NHS contract courier worker’s union wins right to collective bargaining
2 March 2018: The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) declared that the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is the recognized union for collective bargaining on behalf of courier workers employed by The Doctor’s Laboratory (TDL), a courier service provider to National Health Services (NHS), which undertakes the work of carrying pathology samples and blood to hospitals for emergency transfusions.
IWGB had secured workmen status for employees of TDL in June, 2017, the company had earlier termed these workers as ‘independent contractors’ to keep them from statutory employee rights like weekly off and minimum wages.
UK: Non-disclosure agreements should be banned to tackle sexual harassment says Equality and Human Rights Commission
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has warned of the “corrosive” and “toxic” workplace cultures that have allowed harassment to thrive in workplaces while those subjected to inappropriate behaviour have been systematically silenced. The commission set out a list of recommendations for government and employers aimed at better protecting people at work. These include restricting the use of non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality clauses that prevent employees from making sexual harassment claims public. The EHRC claims that by making discussion of harassment more open, people may be encouraged to report incidents more often.
Other recommendations made by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in its report include:
A mandatory duty on employers to take steps that protect workers from harassment and victimisation at work, the breaching of which would constitute an unlawful act.
Employers should publish their policy around sexual harassment and make it easily accessible online.
The UK Government should introduce a statutory code of practice around sexual harassment, outlining steps that employers should take to prevent and respond to incidents.
The government should develop an online tool to allow individuals to report sexual harassment at work, addressing barriers around speaking out.
Regular data collection about sexual harassment should be undertaken on a national scale to determine its prevalence and nature at work.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service should develop sexual harassment training for managers and staff.
The recommendations were drawn up after the EHRC surveyed more than 1,000 people earlier this year.