Bangladesh: Unions of garment workers call for increased minimum wage
28 February 2018: The current minimum wage for garment workers in Bangladesh is 5330 taka (US$68) which was set in 2013. The IndustriALL affiliates in the garment sector, organized a series of actions including a joint press conference on 25 February and a human chain march on 28 February demanding an increase of the minimum wage to 16,000 taka (US$192) per month, along with other demands. The unions submitted a charter of demands to the newly constituted minimum wage board on 28 February.
The unions are also demanding rationalization of job grades from seven to five along with a promotion formula. Furthermore, the unions are demanding a 10 per cent annual increment and to restrict the training period for apprentices to a maximum of 3 months and their stipend be fixed at 10,000 taka (US$120) from 4,180 taka (US$50).
In most factories in Bangladesh, the rate of payment for piece rated workers is often decided only after they complete a certain amount of work, which often leads to disputes. The unions are demanding that a rate be fixed for piece rate work.
Japan: Government abandons contentious labour reform after caught using flawed data
28 February 2018: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was forced to abandoned the proposed labour law reform aimed at boosting productivity after admitting data used to support the change was flawed.
The change would have expanded a system of “discretionary labour” where employees are regarded as having worked a certain number of hours and paid a fixed wage regardless of how long they actually work. The flawed data related primarily to this proposal.
Also included in the proposed reforms is a legal cap on overtime of 100 hours per month – an effort to end phenomenon of “karoshi” – or death from overwork. Critics on one side of the debate have said that cap would effectively condone a level of overtime that is harmful to workers’ health. On the other side, some economists say setting the cap reduces management flexibility.
South Africa: Casual workers will be regularised after if employed for more than 3 months
22 February 2018: The Constitutional Court of South Africa has upheld the 10 July 2017 order of the Labour Appeal Court which had ruled that temporary and casual workers be made permanent with same pay and benefits as permanent workers if employed for more than 3 months.
National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) had filed a case demanding equal rights and pay for casual workers and abolishment of the precarious working conditions prevalent in labour broking companies and secured a favourable order at the Labour Appeals Court against which Assign Services, a leading labour broking company had approached the Apex Court.
Germany: Deutsche Post DHL offers wage rise, Union puts it to vote
22 February 2018: Deutsche Post offered its 130,000 employees a wage hike but according to the union, Ver.di, the offer was below their expectations and its members would vote on it.
The offer includes a wage increase of 3 percent from 1 October, followed by 2.1 percent increase a year later. It also includes a one-time payment of 250 euros ($305) in April and the option for employees to take more time off or get more money.
The union had been seeking a 6 percent wage increase or more time off. The offer came after a series of walkouts by the union members across the country.
Argentina: Thousands protest in Buenos Aires against austerity measures
21 February 2018: There was a massive turnout on the streets of Buenos Aires on the day of the national strike called by the trade unions. The strike was called in opposition to the series of austerity measures pushed by President Mauricio Macri allegedly to fight inflation and turn around a flagging economy.
Germany: Metal and automotive sector workers win 28 hour working week
6 February 2018: IG Metall, the union representing the metal and electrical workers in Germany signed a 2 year collective agreement, winning a working week of 28 hours. The collective deal covers around 900,000 metal and engineering workers in the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg and came after 6 rounds of strenuous talks and a series of three 24-hour strikes.
Standards: ISO 45001 Globally Aligns Workplace Safety Efforts
1 February 2018: Supply chain pressures for safer workplaces have driven the adoption of a new global occupational health and safety management systems standard.
The ISO 45001 standard is the first global standard for occupational health and safety management systems. The International Organization for Standardization developed the standard and approved it in January by about 93% of the ISO membership. It is scheduled for publication on 12 March.
The standard will provide a framework for occupational health and safety goals, facilitating the identification of workplace safety risks and solutions and metrics for measuring the success of safety initiatives to reduce the large number of workplace fatalities across the globe.
Canada: Government appoints Ombudsman for Responsible Enterprise
1 February 2018: The Canadian government has created an independent watchdog to enforce responsible conduct of Canadian companies operating abroad.
The role of the Ombudsperson for responsible enterprise will be to work towards resolving conflicts between local communities and Canadian companies operating abroad. The position will focus on several sectors including mining, oil and gas and the garment sector. It will also have the power to independently investigate and make recommendations in cases involving human rights complaints.