UK: McDonald’s workers strike for the first time, win raise in wages
4 January 2018: The fast-food chain McDonald’s workers under the banner of The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) have won a wage hike after they went on strike for the first time since the company started operation in 1974,. The new wage based on age, job role and location of the workers would come into effect from 22 January 2018.
The ‘McStrike campaign’ as the protest was called began on 4 September 2017, when 40 workers walked out in protest against the low wages, dismal working conditions and the rampant use of zero hour contracts.
Iceland: Government promulgates law to put an end to gender pay gap
3 January 2018: Iceland has promulgated a law which would illegalize it to pay men more than women for the same work. Under the new rules, companies and government agencies employing more than 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal pay policies and failure of compliance would attract hefty fines.
Greece: Parliament approves bailout reforms as thousands protest
16 January 2018: Greece’s parliament has approved a bill for fiscal, energy and labor reforms in return for fresh bailout funds under pressure from international funders. The reforms would curtail benefits for families with more than three children, introduce a new process for foreclosures on overdue loans, and make it harder for unions to call a strike. Currently, unions require the support of one-third of their members to call a strike, the new law aims to raise it to over 50%. The move is aimed to check the rise in anti-austerity protests across the country.
Thailand: KFC bows to union strength, recognizes Trade Union rights
29 January 2018: The Cuisine and Service Worker’s Union signed an agreement with the fast food chain KFC which recognizes the right to union representation in any dispute or grievance, union intervention in any warning or disciplinary action and paid trade union leave. The agreement formally registered with the Labour Department will cover around 2,400 workers.
Argentina: Workers protest against Layoffs
30 January 2018: In December 2017, 3,346 workers were fired, 60 percent of them were public workers. Argentine workers mobilized on 30 January to oppose a new round of layoffs that threaten a total of 372 workers from the National Institute for Industrial Technology, INTI, and the public hospital “Hospital Posadas.” The workers were joined by the leadership of the State Workers’ Association, ATE, a half-a-million-strong union, to protest against the announced layoff of the 250 workers at INTI and 122 workers at the hospital. On 29 January, the police prevented the workers from entering the institute to hold a public assembly.
Immigrant organizations will also join the protest against the presidential decree on 30th, which would allow for easier deportations.
Canada: Supreme Court upholds the right to collective bargaining of public service employees’
30 January 2018: The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld the right to collective bargaining under the freedom of association guarantee and ordered the government to honour the commitments made at the negotiation table. The matter was raised by British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) against the government in 2002 when the government unilaterally cancelled dozens of articles in collective agreements in the education and health sectors.
Bangladesh government opens apparel factory in prison
30 January 2017: Bangladesh government has started a knitwear factory in the Narayanganj District Jail, near Dhaka. The factory will employ over 300 of the jail’s 2,150 inmates. It has two units—one for ready-made garments and the other to produce Jamdani, a traditional Bangladeshi garment, both of which will be exported with the tag “Made by Prisoners.”
The Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said that the government plans to expand this to the other prisons of the country. The government is portraying this as a benevolent move, but this has serious consequences.