US: Supreme Court deals a big financial blow to Public Workers Union
27 June 2018: The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow to organized workers on 27 June, ruling that non-union members no longer have to pay their “fair share” for union representation in collective bargaining negotiations in the Janus vs AFSCME case. This will impact public sector employees in 22 states. In a 5-4 decision the court overturned a previous decision that had protected the right of public sector unions to collect administrative fees from non-members, ruling it was inconsistent with the first amendment right to free speech. The Supreme Court ruled that such fees are unconstitutional and force people to support ideas they may not believe.
Without this protection, unions may not only lose fees from non-members but also lose members who would want to free ride on the union’s work and not pay for it.
Argentina: Workers paralyse Argentina in third general strike
26 June 2018: A 24-hour general strike has largely paralysed economic activity in Argentina, with unions demanding salary rises and protesting against the government’s $50bn funding deal with the IMF. The strike on 25 June called by the country’s largest trade union confederation CGT, disrupted bus, train and taxi services. Work stoppages by airline employees led to nearly 600 flights being cancelled. The strike also hit food sales, petrol stations, schools, banks and ports.
Switzerland: Construction workers protest against change in the retirement age
23 June 2018: Over 18,000 construction workers held a demonstration in Zurich in a coordinated action against proposals to scrap the current retirement age of 60 for the industry. The protest was called by the trade unions, Unia and Syna, in response to the impending expiry of the current national working contract for the building sector. The Swiss Builders’ Association, representing
employers, had announced in May, that there were not enough funds to finance early retirement and that workers would either have to work until age 62 or accept a 30% drop in pension. But the unions have not accepted this and have suggested that instead the employers and the workers contribute more to the pension fund.
UK: Big companies must publish worker to boss pay gap
10 June 2018: UK-listed companies with more than 250 employees will be legally required to publish the gap between the salary of their chief executive and what they pay their average UK worker, under the proposed new government rules.
The government’s new “Industrial Strategy”, which is subject to parliamentary approval, will come into effect from 1 January 2019, meaning companies will have to start reporting from 2020.
Brazil: Electricity workers protest privatization
11 June 2018: Workers at Brazil’s state-run electric company Eletrobras launched a 72- hour strike starting on 11 June to protest against the proposed privatization. Eletrobrás management insists that the electric utility is bankrupt and that the best solution is to place it in private hands.
Striking Eletrobrás workers were joined at a rally at corporate headquarters by employees from other Eletrobrás divisions; Furnas, Electronuclear, and Cepel. The workers also demand the signing of a new employment contract and the resignation of Eletrobras CEO Wilson Ferreira Júnior.
The company asked federal labour court to declare the strike to be illegal due to its political demands, but the court authorized the action on the condition that at least 75% of the employees continue to work normally during the stoppage. If that condition is not met, the union federation will have to pay a fine of 100,000 reais (US$26,000) per day.