Palestine: Fired UNRWA worker sets himself ablaze
27 July 2018: United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN agency tasked with assisting impoverished Palestinian refugees in the Israeli-occupied Gaza and West Bank terminated the services of 125 workers and downgraded the employment status of 800 other workers from full-time to part-time.
The relief agency cited ‘funding-cuts’ to be the reason behind this massive slashing of employment. A laid-off worker set himself ablaze in front of the office of the UNRWA while workers were staging a protest against mass layoffs and demanding reinstatement of workers whose work contracts were terminated.
Uber drivers win worker status and wage hike
Kenya: Digital Taxi Association of Kenya has signed a deal with taxi aggregator services like Uber and Taxify which would allow workers cushioning in case of companies dipping their prices to beat the competition. Under the new agreement drivers will get minimum 33 shillings per km. as opposed to fluctuating existing prices which hovered around 14 shillings per km. The agreement covers around 2,200 taxi drivers.
US: A Labour Court of the New York city has held that Uber drivers are employees of the company and not self-employed, therefore entitled for unemployment insurance benefits. The Court in its order has also stated that the same applies to ‘similarly situated’ workers. The decision has been lauded by the Taxi Drivers Alliance, a workers’ collective which has been pursuing cases on behalf of the drivers. Uber employs more than 65,000 drivers in the state of New York. According to one study if all Uber drivers were to be considered workers, Uber would be the largest private employer in the state.
South Korea: In a first, Samsung plant recognises workers’ union
29 July 2018: Samsung Electronics Service, the repair subsidiary of technology giant Samsung Electronics, has recognised the union of 1000 workers and agreed to regularise the services of 8000 contract workers.
Samsung is infamous for its union busting policies, and only nine of Samsung’s nearly 60 units have unions and fewer than 300 of Samsung’s 200,000 domestic workers are unionised — well below the national average of South Korea which stands at 10 per cent.
US: Employers must pay overtime wages to workers for tasks performed after clocking out
27 July 2018: The Supreme Court of California has ordered employers to pay overtime wages to workers for tasks that they are required to perform before and after their clocking hours. Workers employed in the super markets, retail chains and restaurants like Starbucks etc., who are mostly employed on hourly wage contracts have to transmit sales data, move furniture and lock up the store which takes 10-15 mins of their time after clocking out from their workday. The court ruling states that workers must be compensated for this extra time in accordance of overtime wage norms.
Namibia: Supermarket retail chain Shoprite sues striking workers for $3.3 million
27 July 2018: Shoprite, Namibia’s largest supermarket retail chain has sued its workers citing losses incurred due to a strike which workers staged three years ago in 2015.
93 Shoprite workers had struck work on 28th and 29th July 2015 demanding a wage increase, housing and medical allowance. Company had initially tried to supress the strike by hiring temporary workers.
Three years later, the company had approached Court demanding that workers pay the cost the company had to incur on hiring temporary staff and losses it incurred due to strike.
Shoprite workers have voted to go on strike against management’s lawsuit.
South Africa: Constitutional Court orders employers to regularise workers if contract extends beyond three months
26 July 2018: The highest court of South Africa has delivered a historic judgement against labour brokers in the country. The Constitutional Court ordered that employers have to absorb workers employed under contract in case the contract extends beyond three months. After the judgement workers who are employed through labour brokers on contract will become permanent once their work tenure stretches beyond three months. The case was filed by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) against the unfair practices of one of country’s largest labour brokering company Assign Services.
Bangladesh: Trade Unions oppose amendments to the Labour Code
19 July 2018: Trade Unions boycotted the tripartite consultation meeting organised by the labour department as their demands were not included in the final draft which is to be put before the cabinet for approval. Trade Unions have been demanding six-month maternity leave for private sector workers, as available to public sector workers currently. And that the word ‘maternity benefit’ be replaced by ‘maternity leave’ in the new code.
Denmark: Gig economy workers secure recognition as employee and social security through collective bargaining
04 July 2018: 450 workers of online cleaning service provider company Hilfr organised under the banner of United Federation of Danish Workers popularly known as 3f have signed a collective bargaining agreement which will ensures that the status of the workers changes to that of an employee from self-employed contractor upon completion of 100 work hours.
The agreement also raises the pay of the workers from €15.50 to €19 per hour. Upon completion of 100 hours the workers will also start receiving pension benefits, holiday pay and sickness benefits.
US: DuPont fined $3.1 million for gas leak at the plant which killed 4 workers
31 July 2018: Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice of United States has slapped a penalty of $3.1 Mn on the multinational company DuPont for negligence and pollution. In 2014, 11,000 kg of methyl mercaptan leaked at a pesticide manufacturing unit at DuPont’s La Porte plant because of a series of maintenance errors. Two unsuspecting workers died when they attempted to clear a vent that they didn’t realize contained methyl mercaptan; two others died trying to rescue them.
The agencies found DuPont in violation of 22 norms of the Occupational safety and Health guidelines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration had ordered the company to pay $1.06 million as penalty towards OSH violations. The company was forced to stop operations at the plant in 2016 due to repeated negligence and inability to defer hazards.