Zimbabwe: Labour Court declares doctor’s strike illegal
22 December 2018: Junior doctors across Zimbabwe who have been striking for better pay and working conditions since 1 December 2018 received a blow from the Labour Court which has declared their industrial action illegal and ordered all junior doctors to report to work immediately. The Labour Court also held that the wages for the 21 days when doctors did not report to work should be deducted from their salaries.
England: Uber loses against its workers yet again
19 December 2018: In the 2016 case where two Uber drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam had approached the court against violation of holiday pay, paid rest breaks and minimum wages citing they were not ‘independent contractors’ but workers of the taxi aggregator app, Uber has lost another appeal.
The Court in November 2017 had ruled in the favour of workers and decided that the
Uber lost the case in Court of Appeal against the November, 2017 order of the Employment Tribunal where the judges had ruled that the drivers were not ‘self-employed’ but Uber staff, and were thus entitled to minimum wages, paid holiday and rest breaks.
In a statement, Uber has claimed that it will approach the Supreme Court against the order of the Court of Appeals.
Ireland: Parliament passes bill banning zero-hour contracts
19 December 2018: Ireland passed a bill banning zero-hour work contracts except in situations of genuine casual employment or in emergency situations. The bill mandates that
• Employers must give employees basic terms of employment within five days;
• there be no zero hour contracts except in situations of genuine casual employment and where they are essential to allow employers to provide cover in emergency situations or to cover short-term absence;
• a new minimum payment be promulgated for employees called into work but sent home without work;
• employees whose contract of employment does not reflect the reality of the hours they habitually work shall be placed in a band of hours that better reflects the hours they have worked over a 12 month reference period;
Hungary: People take to streets against new law imposing overtime work
13 December 2018: Widespread protests broke out in Hungary against a controversial labor bill enacted by parliament which permits employers to demand about 400 hours of overtime from their workers. The bill also triples the time period for disbursing overtime payments to three years. Around 1500 protestors gathered in front of the parliament to protest against the bill which people are calling the ‘slave law’. The protests have since hit the streets in several parts of the country.
Argentina: Court finds Ford’s executives guilty of kidnapping and torture of union activists
11 December 2018: Top executives of automobile manufacturer Ford were sentenced to over 10 years in prison on charges of torture and kidnapping of union leaders and workers. The court found Hector Sibilla, the former head of security at Ford’s Buenos Aires factory, guilty of setting up a detention and torture centre within the factory premises and sentenced him for a jail term of 12 years. His co-defendant, manufacturing manager Pedro Muller, was given 10 years.
The court declared that both men participated in the illegal deprivation of liberty, aggravated by the use of violence and threats against labor leaders and union advocates.
Pakistan: The Punjab cabinet approves Domestic Workers Bill
9 December 2018: The Punjab cabinet has assented to the Domestic Workers Bill 2018 which mandates that
• No child shall be required or allowed to work in household in any capacity.
• Workers shall have freedom of work and shall not be employed under the bonded labour system.
• Every worker shall be engaged through a written agreement with his employer in regard to the terms and conditions of the employment in a prescribed manner.
• The employment agreement shall include specific terms and conditions related to matters such as hours of work, specific nature of work, wages, leave, accommodation, termination.
• The worker shall be addressed as ‘domestic worker’, not ‘servant’.
• The benefits for domestic worker shall include sickness benefit, maternity benefit, medical care during sickness and maternity, medical care of dependents, injury benefit, disablement pension and survivor’s pension.
• No worker shall be required to perform any work other than what is specifically mentioned in the employment contract.
France: Government rolls back controversial fuel tax after people take to streets
4 December 2018: A fuel tax hike proposed by the government triggered spontaneous protests across France. People took to streets wearing yellow vests against the anti-people policies of the right-wing Macron government. Following a fortnight of violence and the threat from police personnel who declared they would join the protestors, the government has rolled back the fuel tax hike and put an immediate freeze on gas and electricity prices.
Bangladesh: Government to shut Dhaka office of the Accord for Fire and Building Safety
28 November 2018: Following an order of the Bangladesh High Court the government will shut the Dhaka office of the Accord for Fire and Building Safety. The Accord one of the two major international safety agreements that were established after the collapse of the Rana Plaza complex on the outskirts of Dhaka in April 2013 which killed over 1,100 workers. The Accord covers more than 2,300 garment manufacturing factories in Bangladesh which manufacture for global brands like H&M, Espirit and Primark among many others. Trade Unions have expressed their concern over this move which is aimed at diluting the international pressure on ensuring a safe supply chain.