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Report of the Australia ‘Get Wise, Organise’ Queensland Conference At MUA Queensland-Global Solidarity Conference: Injecting Class Politics

Current News - Thu, 11/23/2017 - 18:36

Report of the Australia ‘Get Wise, Organise’ Queensland Conference At MUA Queensland-Global Solidarity Conference: Injecting Class Politics

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/muanational/pages/7749/attachments...

Branch Biennial Conference

Global Solidarity Conference: Injecting Class Politics

– by Janet Burstall – photos by Mike Barber
THE THREAT OF massive job losses from automation on the wharves is a worldwide concern addressed at the Queensland MUA international conference. Professor Raquel Varela from Portugal explained that the decision by owners to introduce robots is both political and economic, and can be contested and beaten. There is not one single fully automated port in the world, robots have not yet achieved the same rate of unloading as worker operated machinery, and they are a very expensive investment that often relies on public subsidies. Her solutions to the threat of loss of jobs to robots include shorter working time hours without reducing salaries, and putting technology under the control of workers, not the dictatorship of the port owner.

to live. If the bosses do not have the same profits all the time, this will not question their life, their dignity. The right to have a profit is not the same as the right to have a salary.” Jason Miners, Deputy Branch Secretary, declared Raquel Varela’s presentation to be “the best injection of class politics into a conference that I have ever heard.”

Queensland MUA delegates learned about the vast differences around the world in freedom to organise, working conditions and threats to livelihoods when they heard in person from International Dockworkers Council branch delegates from Belgium, Spain, Argentina, France, USA, and from the Hong Kong Dockers Union, the Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Alliance of Unions (KASBI) and the International Transport Federation.

Members were gob smacked when a Hong Kong dock worker described 24 hour shifts for Hutchison on cranes with a piss pot on board. In both Hong Kong and Argentina, trade unionists have “disappeared”. Terribly low pay in Indonesia and Hong Kong was shocking. The IDC delegate from Le Havre in France was applauded when he said that workers at his port will not allow full

Raquel Varela speaking at the conference

She challenged casualisation and company power to demand profits, saying “we don’t have kids and houses for 3 months of the year, so why should we only work 3 months of the year? If we have no salary we have no way to live. If the bosses do not have the same profits all the time, this will not question their life, their dignity. The right to have a profit is not the same as the right to have a salary.” Jason Miners, Deputy Branch Secretary, declared Raquel Varela’s presentation to be “the best injection of class politics into a conference that I have ever heard.”

Queensland MUA delegates learned about the vast differences around the world in freedom to organise, working conditions and threats to livelihoods when they heard in person from International Dockworkers Council branch delegates from Belgium, Spain, Argentina, France, USA, and from the Hong Kong Dockers Union, the Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Alliance of Unions (KASBI) and the International Transport Federation.

Members were gob smacked when a Hong Kong dock worker described 24 hour shifts for Hutchison on cranes with a piss pot on board. In both Hong Kong and Argentina, trade unionists have “disappeared”. Terribly low pay in Indonesia and Hong Kong was shocking. The IDC delegate from Le Havre in France was applauded when he said that workers at his port will not allow full automation. The potential for international solidarity was made clear, and commitment to that solidarity visibly grew over the two-day conference.

Danger of serious injury and death at work was another common theme across the world discussed, with reports of recent serious incidents and a national report on what can be achieved through safety committees.

Minister Bailey and Peter Ong MUA Qld Conference 2017

“It’ll be grim under Tim” Nicholls if Labor loses the Queensland election. Peter Ong of the ETU, Ros McLennan of the QCU, David Greene of the MUA and the Qld MUA-backed candidate for the seat of Everton, and Labor Minister Mark Bailey all made the case for a Labor vote. Peter Ong recounted how the ETU had fought both Bligh Labor and Newman LNP governments to stop electricity privatisation, and ended up in hot debate about the value of affiliation to the ALP. ETU members decided to remain affiliates in order to get commitments to ETU policies and pro-union election candidates, as well as continuing public campaigns regardless of Labor election prospects.

Ros McLennan and David Greene addressing the conference

Professor David Peetz from Griffith University provided some figures and research on declining union density that suggested the best antidote to declining membership that unions could use right now is to make sure that delegates are part of democratic union decision-making, and effective activists in every workplace. Christy Cain from Western Australia reported some success in forming a young workers’ group within the MUA, and the NSW Branch is also trying this out.

Ged Kearney brought solidarity greetings from Australian Unions, and spoke about the new ‘Change the Rules’ campaign, asking everyone to complete the online survey for it.

A major component of Change the Rules is to restore legal rights for unions to organise and strike. Dave Noonan from the CFMEU and barrister Peter Morrissey SC also highlighted the problems of criminalizing industrial action and why unions should resist the law and order agenda in electoral politics.

Solidarity collections to support workers locked out for over 132 days at North Oaky by Glencore raised over $2800, to top up donations that had already been made by MUA Branches around Australia. And the MUA Queensland Branch is co-ordinating members to drive up to the North Oaky picket line.

Lots more than this happened at the conference, which is a great step forward for education, agitation, organisation and working-class solidarity. In closing the conference Queensland Branch Secretary, Bob Carnegie quoted American socialist, Eugene Debs:

“The labor movement is the child of slavery—the offspring of oppression—in revolt against the misery and suffering that gave it birth. Its splendid growth is the marvel of our time, the forerunner of freedom, the hope of mankind.

Ten thousand times has the labor movement stumbled and fallen and bruised itself, and risen again; been seized by the throat and choked and clubbed into insensibility; enjoined by courts, assaulted by thugs, charged by the militia, shot down by regulars, traduced by the press, frowned upon by public opinion, deceived by politicians, threatened by priests, repudiated by renegades, preyed upon by grafters, infested by spies, deserted by cowards, betrayed by traitors, bled by leeches, and sold out by leaders, but, notwithstanding all this, and all these, it is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known, and its historic mission of emancipating the workers of the world from the thraldom of the ages is as certain of ultimate realization as the setting of the sun. The most vital thing about this world movement is its educational propaganda-its capacity and power to shed light in the brain of the working class, arouse them from their torpor, develop their faculties for thinking, teach them their economic class interests, effect their solidarity, and imbue them with the spirit of the impending social revolution.”

Authorised by Bob Carnegie, Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Queensland Branch Secretary 73 Southgate Avenue, Cannon Hill QLD 4170

Tags: MUA QueenslandBob CarnegiGlobal SolidarityClass Politics
Categories: Labor News

Report of the Australia ‘Get Wise, Organise’ Queensland Conference At MUA Queensland-Global Solidarity Conference: Injecting Class Politics

Current News - Thu, 11/23/2017 - 18:36

Report of the Australia ‘Get Wise, Organise’ Queensland Conference At MUA Queensland-Global Solidarity Conference: Injecting Class Politics

https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/muanational/pages/7749/attachments...

Branch Biennial Conference

Global Solidarity Conference: Injecting Class Politics

– by Janet Burstall – photos by Mike Barber
THE THREAT OF massive job losses from automation on the wharves is a worldwide concern addressed at the Queensland MUA international conference. Professor Raquel Varela from Portugal explained that the decision by owners to introduce robots is both political and economic, and can be contested and beaten. There is not one single fully automated port in the world, robots have not yet achieved the same rate of unloading as worker operated machinery, and they are a very expensive investment that often relies on public subsidies. Her solutions to the threat of loss of jobs to robots include shorter working time hours without reducing salaries, and putting technology under the control of workers, not the dictatorship of the port owner.

to live. If the bosses do not have the same profits all the time, this will not question their life, their dignity. The right to have a profit is not the same as the right to have a salary.” Jason Miners, Deputy Branch Secretary, declared Raquel Varela’s presentation to be “the best injection of class politics into a conference that I have ever heard.”

Queensland MUA delegates learned about the vast differences around the world in freedom to organise, working conditions and threats to livelihoods when they heard in person from International Dockworkers Council branch delegates from Belgium, Spain, Argentina, France, USA, and from the Hong Kong Dockers Union, the Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Alliance of Unions (KASBI) and the International Transport Federation.

Members were gob smacked when a Hong Kong dock worker described 24 hour shifts for Hutchison on cranes with a piss pot on board. In both Hong Kong and Argentina, trade unionists have “disappeared”. Terribly low pay in Indonesia and Hong Kong was shocking. The IDC delegate from Le Havre in France was applauded when he said that workers at his port will not allow full

Raquel Varela speaking at the conference

She challenged casualisation and company power to demand profits, saying “we don’t have kids and houses for 3 months of the year, so why should we only work 3 months of the year? If we have no salary we have no way to live. If the bosses do not have the same profits all the time, this will not question their life, their dignity. The right to have a profit is not the same as the right to have a salary.” Jason Miners, Deputy Branch Secretary, declared Raquel Varela’s presentation to be “the best injection of class politics into a conference that I have ever heard.”

Queensland MUA delegates learned about the vast differences around the world in freedom to organise, working conditions and threats to livelihoods when they heard in person from International Dockworkers Council branch delegates from Belgium, Spain, Argentina, France, USA, and from the Hong Kong Dockers Union, the Confederation of Congress of Indonesian Alliance of Unions (KASBI) and the International Transport Federation.

Members were gob smacked when a Hong Kong dock worker described 24 hour shifts for Hutchison on cranes with a piss pot on board. In both Hong Kong and Argentina, trade unionists have “disappeared”. Terribly low pay in Indonesia and Hong Kong was shocking. The IDC delegate from Le Havre in France was applauded when he said that workers at his port will not allow full automation. The potential for international solidarity was made clear, and commitment to that solidarity visibly grew over the two-day conference.

Danger of serious injury and death at work was another common theme across the world discussed, with reports of recent serious incidents and a national report on what can be achieved through safety committees.

Minister Bailey and Peter Ong MUA Qld Conference 2017

“It’ll be grim under Tim” Nicholls if Labor loses the Queensland election. Peter Ong of the ETU, Ros McLennan of the QCU, David Greene of the MUA and the Qld MUA-backed candidate for the seat of Everton, and Labor Minister Mark Bailey all made the case for a Labor vote. Peter Ong recounted how the ETU had fought both Bligh Labor and Newman LNP governments to stop electricity privatisation, and ended up in hot debate about the value of affiliation to the ALP. ETU members decided to remain affiliates in order to get commitments to ETU policies and pro-union election candidates, as well as continuing public campaigns regardless of Labor election prospects.

Ros McLennan and David Greene addressing the conference

Professor David Peetz from Griffith University provided some figures and research on declining union density that suggested the best antidote to declining membership that unions could use right now is to make sure that delegates are part of democratic union decision-making, and effective activists in every workplace. Christy Cain from Western Australia reported some success in forming a young workers’ group within the MUA, and the NSW Branch is also trying this out.

Ged Kearney brought solidarity greetings from Australian Unions, and spoke about the new ‘Change the Rules’ campaign, asking everyone to complete the online survey for it.

A major component of Change the Rules is to restore legal rights for unions to organise and strike. Dave Noonan from the CFMEU and barrister Peter Morrissey SC also highlighted the problems of criminalizing industrial action and why unions should resist the law and order agenda in electoral politics.

Solidarity collections to support workers locked out for over 132 days at North Oaky by Glencore raised over $2800, to top up donations that had already been made by MUA Branches around Australia. And the MUA Queensland Branch is co-ordinating members to drive up to the North Oaky picket line.

Lots more than this happened at the conference, which is a great step forward for education, agitation, organisation and working-class solidarity. In closing the conference Queensland Branch Secretary, Bob Carnegie quoted American socialist, Eugene Debs:

“The labor movement is the child of slavery—the offspring of oppression—in revolt against the misery and suffering that gave it birth. Its splendid growth is the marvel of our time, the forerunner of freedom, the hope of mankind.

Ten thousand times has the labor movement stumbled and fallen and bruised itself, and risen again; been seized by the throat and choked and clubbed into insensibility; enjoined by courts, assaulted by thugs, charged by the militia, shot down by regulars, traduced by the press, frowned upon by public opinion, deceived by politicians, threatened by priests, repudiated by renegades, preyed upon by grafters, infested by spies, deserted by cowards, betrayed by traitors, bled by leeches, and sold out by leaders, but, notwithstanding all this, and all these, it is today the most vital and potential power this planet has ever known, and its historic mission of emancipating the workers of the world from the thraldom of the ages is as certain of ultimate realization as the setting of the sun. The most vital thing about this world movement is its educational propaganda-its capacity and power to shed light in the brain of the working class, arouse them from their torpor, develop their faculties for thinking, teach them their economic class interests, effect their solidarity, and imbue them with the spirit of the impending social revolution.”

Authorised by Bob Carnegie, Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Queensland Branch Secretary 73 Southgate Avenue, Cannon Hill QLD 4170

Tags: MUA QueenslandBob CarnegiGlobal SolidarityClass Politics
Categories: Labor News

UPS Teamsters Local 2727 aircraft mechanic workers claim holiday disaster looms as they threaten to strike

Current News - Thu, 11/23/2017 - 16:35

UPS aircraft mechanic workers claim holiday disaster looms as they threaten to strike
http://www.businessinsider.com/ups-workers-threaten-to-strike-2017-11

Hayley Peterson

Nov. 21, 2017, 5:14 PM 43,533

UPS aircraft mechanics are threatening to strike amid the busy holiday shipping season.REUTERS/John Sommers II

UPS aircraft mechanics are threatening to strike during the busy holiday shipping season
The workers are launching a national advertising campaign to fight what they are calling "massive reductions" to their health care benefits
UPS says customers "remain in good hands" during the holiday season and notes that workers cannot strike unless they are released from negotiations by the National Mediation Board

UPS workers are threatening to go on strike amid the busy holiday shipping season because of a disagreement over changes to their health care benefits.

UPS aircraft mechanics and related employees who maintain the company's air cargo fleet are taking out ads in USA Today and the Seattle Times that state: "What every American should know before they ship with UPS during the holidays: UPS wants to make deep cuts to its aircraft mechanics’ health care benefits. That’s why the 1,300 aircraft mechanics who keep UPS planes running during the holiday season are ready to strike."

The workers, represented by the Teamsters Local 2727 union, say UPS wants to make massive cuts to their health care benefits.

"The holiday shipping season is UPS’ busiest and most critical time, and before our customers ship with UPS, we want them to know about the instability in our already distressed workforce," Tim Boyle, president of Teamsters Local 2727, said in a statement. "The aircraft maintenance workforce is united and won’t let UPS executives gamble with our families’ health care."

UPS and the union have been in mediated contract negotiations over the changes. The union, which has voted to authorize a strike, recently filed a request with the Federal National Mediation Board asking to be released from the negotiations. The request was denied.

The workers cannot go on strike unless the board releases them from negotiations.

UPS says its customers "remain in good hands during the holidays" and said the aircraft mechanics' union's ads "include more of the same exaggerated rhetoric designed to pressure our ongoing labor contract negotiations."

"The reality is, under US labor law, these negotiations are controlled by the National Mediation Board, not the company or the union; talks continue to progress; and our aircraft mechanics will continue to have outstanding benefits, including great healthcare coverage," UPS said in a statement. "UPS aircraft mechanics enjoy one of the most attractive compensation packages in commercial aviation. When factoring in wages, pension, 401(k) and benefits, the annual value of their total compensation package exceeds $140,000."

UPS said it believes the negotiations will result in a "win-win contract, just as in all of our previous mechanic negotiations."

"UPS remains ready to meet with the union under the authority of the NMB and will work toward a successful agreement," the company said.

Tags: IBT 2727UPS mechanicscontract negotiations
Categories: Labor News

Global: Unions Call for Strong ILO Convention on Gender-Based Violence

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 11/23/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

UK: Join fight against 'titans of technology', UK union chief urges Catholics

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 11/23/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian
Categories: Labor News

Global: World's richest are waging war on the poor, says Columbia University professor

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 11/23/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Independent
Categories: Labor News

Cambodia: Worker rights, human rights defender under attack

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ILRF
Categories: Labor News

Libya: ITUC Joins Call for Action to End Migrant Slave Trade in Libya

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Palestine: Support transport workers in Palestine

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITF Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Korean Funerals held for five missing victims of Sewol ferry disaster

Current News - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 10:07

Korean Funerals held for five missing victims of Sewol ferry disaster
http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/820043.html
Posted on : Nov.21,2017 16:55 KSTModified on : Nov.21,2017 16:55 KST
Printfacebook16twitter

Family members of Yang Seung-jin, Nam Hyeon-cheol, and Park Yeon-in carry their portraits around the Danwon High School one final time during a funeral ceremony on Nov. 20. The three were among five missing victims of the Sewol tragedy whose bodies were never recovered. (by Kim Kyung-ho, staff photographer)
Clothing and various possessions filled the coffins of the deceased
Three years ago, students and teachers at Danwon High School departing on a spring trip with broad smiles on their faces and a father and son moving to Jeju Island with big dreams were taken from their families and lost their lives in the icy wind. On Nov. 20, the five victims of the sinking of the Sewol Ferry whose bodies were never recovered were sent to their eternal rest. Their bereaved families never managed to find a single bone of their bodies as they had desired. 1,314 days have passed since the Sewol tragedy, and 223 days since the hull of the ferry was raised onto dry land.

At 6 am on Nov. 20, funerals were held for Park Yeon-in and Nam Hyeon-cheol, male students who were 17 years old at the time of the accident, and Yang Seung-jin, a teacher who was 57 at the time, at the Jeil Funeral Home in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province. Since their bodies were never recovered, their coffins were filled with their possessions – backpacks and clothing – that were found during the search of the hull. Because none of Yang’s possessions were found in this search, his coffin was filled with clothing he had worn and items he had used at school during his lifetime and with letters written by his family members. Family members, pupils and peers of the deceased attended the funeral procession to see them off on their final journey.

The wife of Yang Seung-jin cries as she touches his portrait during a funeral ceremony for the missing victims of the Sewol tragedy at Danwon High School on Nov. 20. (by Kim Kyung-ho, staff photographer)

Yu Baek-hyeong, Yang’s widow, wept before getting into the hearse. “I’m sorry we couldn’t find you in the sea,” she said. Park and Nam’s parents also shed tears as they loaded the coffins in the hearses. The three hearses departed the funeral home at 6:30 am and arrived twenty minutes later at the front gate of Danwon High School, where the deceased had studied and taught. Bearing the funeral portraits, the bereaved visited the teachers’ room on the second floor of Danwon High School, where Yang had worked, and then circled the third floor classroom used by the sixth class of the second year of high school, to which Park and Nam had belonged.

The bereaved family members cried inconsolably, each holding a bundle filled with dirt from Danwon High School. “It breaks your mother’s heart for you to go without meeting one last time. Goodbye, Seung-jin!” Yang’s mother said, as she caressed the funeral portrait of her son and wept, causing those around her to break into tears as well.

The family of Nam Hyeon-cheol bows as his casket is loaded onto a hearse at the Jeil Funeral Home in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province on Nov. 20. (by Kim Kyung-ho, staff photographer)

The funeral was attended by the April 16 Family Association, teaching staff from Danwon High School, employees from the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education, and members of civic groups. A memorial was held in front of the Ansan City Hall, with over 100 city officials in attendance, before the group headed to the Suwon Crematorium. After the effects of the deceased were cremated, they were laid to rest at Seoho Memorial Park in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, at 11:30 am.

Kwon Jae-geun (52 years old at the time of the accident) and his son Kwon Hyeok-gyu (6 at the time), whose move to Jeju Island ended so tragically, were also laid to rest on Nov. 20. Kwon and his wife (Han Yun-ji), son, and daughter (Kwon Ji-yeon) all boarded the Sewol ferry at Incheon Port to move to Jeju Island, but only Ji-yeon survived the sinking. At the time of the accident, Hyeok-gyu reportedly helped his little sister escape by putting a life jacket on her. The truck carrying the Kwon’s possessions was discovered in the prow of the ship, in the second floor cargo compartment, on July 11.

The families of missing victims of the Sewol tragedy hold a press conference on Nov. 16 at the Mokpo New Port to announce that they will be leaving the area after three and a half years. (by Park Seung-hwa, Hankyoreh 21 staff reporter)

In contrast with the long wait, the funeral procession barely took 10 minutes. During the procession, which was conducted in great solemnity at the funeral home at Asan Medical Center, located in the Songpa District of Seoul at 6:30 am, a black limousine hearse and a bus departed from the funeral home, bearing the coffins containing the father’s and son’s effects. The funeral photo of Han, Kwon’s wife, went in front, followed by the coffins, as weeping family members called the names of the departed, reluctant to let them go.

Kwon’s coffin also contained the clothing of his wife, whose remains had been previously discovered and already laid to rest. “Since his remains were never recovered, we chose some clothing from their belongings and placed it in the coffin,” said Kwon’s older brother, Kwon O-bok, 63, through his sobs. The father’s and son’s coffins were cremated at Manwoldang, at Incheon Family Park, and laid to rest in the memorial to the Sewol victims who were not students or teachers at Danwon High School. Of the 476 people who boarded the Sewol ferry on Apr. 16, 2014, 304 died in the accident. The funerals of the five whose remains were never found are the final funerals of the Sewol victims. The families of those who were not recovered and other members of the April 16 Family Association are calling for the Special Sewol Investigative Commission to be reinstated to carry out a thorough inquiry of the accident.

“We must not allow a tragedy like the Sewol to be repeated, and we must learn from the tragedy by creating a comprehensives system that can be activated regardless of the accident. The Second Special Sewol Investigative Commission’s mandate should be renewed so that the tragedy can be investigated thoroughly, not leaving behind a shadow of a doubt,” the families of the victims said during a press conference held on Nov. 16 at Mokpo New Port, in South Jeolla Province, the current location of the Sewol.

“We have come this far with the desperate hope of sending at least one bone fragment to a warm place. Though we are sad and having a hard time right now, we have decided to bury our family members in our hearts. We humbly express our gratitude to the people of Jindo Island and to Koreans around the country for their dedicated help and to the workers who risked their lives to lead the search and rescue efforts,” the family members said during a joint memorial service at Mokpo New Port on Nov. 18.

With their waiting finally over after three long years, the family members said goodbye to Mokpo New Port. As the procession of hearses was departing, the tens of thousands of yellow ribbons tied to the fences at Mokpo New Port fluttered in a stiff breeze, as if to wave farewell. “Goodbye now! We’ll never forget you, Yang Seung-jin, Nam Hyeon-cheol, Park Yeong-in, Kwon Jae-geun, Kwon Hyeok-gyu. . .”

By Choi Min-young, staff reporter and Kim Gi-seong, south Gyeonggi correspondent

Tags: ferry workersderegulationSewol Disaster
Categories: Labor News

Korean Funerals held for five missing victims of Sewol ferry disaster

Current News - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 10:07

Korean Funerals held for five missing victims of Sewol ferry disaster
http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/820043.html
Posted on : Nov.21,2017 16:55 KSTModified on : Nov.21,2017 16:55 KST
Printfacebook16twitter

Family members of Yang Seung-jin, Nam Hyeon-cheol, and Park Yeon-in carry their portraits around the Danwon High School one final time during a funeral ceremony on Nov. 20. The three were among five missing victims of the Sewol tragedy whose bodies were never recovered. (by Kim Kyung-ho, staff photographer)
Clothing and various possessions filled the coffins of the deceased
Three years ago, students and teachers at Danwon High School departing on a spring trip with broad smiles on their faces and a father and son moving to Jeju Island with big dreams were taken from their families and lost their lives in the icy wind. On Nov. 20, the five victims of the sinking of the Sewol Ferry whose bodies were never recovered were sent to their eternal rest. Their bereaved families never managed to find a single bone of their bodies as they had desired. 1,314 days have passed since the Sewol tragedy, and 223 days since the hull of the ferry was raised onto dry land.

At 6 am on Nov. 20, funerals were held for Park Yeon-in and Nam Hyeon-cheol, male students who were 17 years old at the time of the accident, and Yang Seung-jin, a teacher who was 57 at the time, at the Jeil Funeral Home in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province. Since their bodies were never recovered, their coffins were filled with their possessions – backpacks and clothing – that were found during the search of the hull. Because none of Yang’s possessions were found in this search, his coffin was filled with clothing he had worn and items he had used at school during his lifetime and with letters written by his family members. Family members, pupils and peers of the deceased attended the funeral procession to see them off on their final journey.

The wife of Yang Seung-jin cries as she touches his portrait during a funeral ceremony for the missing victims of the Sewol tragedy at Danwon High School on Nov. 20. (by Kim Kyung-ho, staff photographer)

Yu Baek-hyeong, Yang’s widow, wept before getting into the hearse. “I’m sorry we couldn’t find you in the sea,” she said. Park and Nam’s parents also shed tears as they loaded the coffins in the hearses. The three hearses departed the funeral home at 6:30 am and arrived twenty minutes later at the front gate of Danwon High School, where the deceased had studied and taught. Bearing the funeral portraits, the bereaved visited the teachers’ room on the second floor of Danwon High School, where Yang had worked, and then circled the third floor classroom used by the sixth class of the second year of high school, to which Park and Nam had belonged.

The bereaved family members cried inconsolably, each holding a bundle filled with dirt from Danwon High School. “It breaks your mother’s heart for you to go without meeting one last time. Goodbye, Seung-jin!” Yang’s mother said, as she caressed the funeral portrait of her son and wept, causing those around her to break into tears as well.

The family of Nam Hyeon-cheol bows as his casket is loaded onto a hearse at the Jeil Funeral Home in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province on Nov. 20. (by Kim Kyung-ho, staff photographer)

The funeral was attended by the April 16 Family Association, teaching staff from Danwon High School, employees from the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education, and members of civic groups. A memorial was held in front of the Ansan City Hall, with over 100 city officials in attendance, before the group headed to the Suwon Crematorium. After the effects of the deceased were cremated, they were laid to rest at Seoho Memorial Park in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, at 11:30 am.

Kwon Jae-geun (52 years old at the time of the accident) and his son Kwon Hyeok-gyu (6 at the time), whose move to Jeju Island ended so tragically, were also laid to rest on Nov. 20. Kwon and his wife (Han Yun-ji), son, and daughter (Kwon Ji-yeon) all boarded the Sewol ferry at Incheon Port to move to Jeju Island, but only Ji-yeon survived the sinking. At the time of the accident, Hyeok-gyu reportedly helped his little sister escape by putting a life jacket on her. The truck carrying the Kwon’s possessions was discovered in the prow of the ship, in the second floor cargo compartment, on July 11.

The families of missing victims of the Sewol tragedy hold a press conference on Nov. 16 at the Mokpo New Port to announce that they will be leaving the area after three and a half years. (by Park Seung-hwa, Hankyoreh 21 staff reporter)

In contrast with the long wait, the funeral procession barely took 10 minutes. During the procession, which was conducted in great solemnity at the funeral home at Asan Medical Center, located in the Songpa District of Seoul at 6:30 am, a black limousine hearse and a bus departed from the funeral home, bearing the coffins containing the father’s and son’s effects. The funeral photo of Han, Kwon’s wife, went in front, followed by the coffins, as weeping family members called the names of the departed, reluctant to let them go.

Kwon’s coffin also contained the clothing of his wife, whose remains had been previously discovered and already laid to rest. “Since his remains were never recovered, we chose some clothing from their belongings and placed it in the coffin,” said Kwon’s older brother, Kwon O-bok, 63, through his sobs. The father’s and son’s coffins were cremated at Manwoldang, at Incheon Family Park, and laid to rest in the memorial to the Sewol victims who were not students or teachers at Danwon High School. Of the 476 people who boarded the Sewol ferry on Apr. 16, 2014, 304 died in the accident. The funerals of the five whose remains were never found are the final funerals of the Sewol victims. The families of those who were not recovered and other members of the April 16 Family Association are calling for the Special Sewol Investigative Commission to be reinstated to carry out a thorough inquiry of the accident.

“We must not allow a tragedy like the Sewol to be repeated, and we must learn from the tragedy by creating a comprehensives system that can be activated regardless of the accident. The Second Special Sewol Investigative Commission’s mandate should be renewed so that the tragedy can be investigated thoroughly, not leaving behind a shadow of a doubt,” the families of the victims said during a press conference held on Nov. 16 at Mokpo New Port, in South Jeolla Province, the current location of the Sewol.

“We have come this far with the desperate hope of sending at least one bone fragment to a warm place. Though we are sad and having a hard time right now, we have decided to bury our family members in our hearts. We humbly express our gratitude to the people of Jindo Island and to Koreans around the country for their dedicated help and to the workers who risked their lives to lead the search and rescue efforts,” the family members said during a joint memorial service at Mokpo New Port on Nov. 18.

With their waiting finally over after three long years, the family members said goodbye to Mokpo New Port. As the procession of hearses was departing, the tens of thousands of yellow ribbons tied to the fences at Mokpo New Port fluttered in a stiff breeze, as if to wave farewell. “Goodbye now! We’ll never forget you, Yang Seung-jin, Nam Hyeon-cheol, Park Yeong-in, Kwon Jae-geun, Kwon Hyeok-gyu. . .”

By Choi Min-young, staff reporter and Kim Gi-seong, south Gyeonggi correspondent

Tags: ferry workersderegulationSewol Disaster
Categories: Labor News

Canada: Unifor National President to visit site of striking Mexican miner murders

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Unifor
Categories: Labor News

North Carolina UPS workers accuse delivery giant of harassment and discrimination

Current News - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:51

North Carolina UPS workers accuse delivery giant of harassment and discrimination
http://abc11.com/business/ups-workers-accuse-delivery-giant-of-harassmen...

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UPS workers accuse delivery giant of harassment and discrimination
By Jon Camp
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 12:08PM
CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Rodney Robinson drove for UPS for nearly three decades at the UPS distribution center in Chapel Hill. He was a union shop steward for eight years, and, as he says, held in good standing by the company. "I was a circle of honor driver, he said. "That's very hard to do." He said that meant he drove for 25 years without an accident. "You're put in a club. The Circle of Honor club."

That started changing, he said, in 2013 when he started complaining about the fact UPS wouldn't change his hours, something he says is clearly allowed in union rules. "When I started filing grievances, in February 2013, that's when all the disciplinary action started to come to me," said Rodney Robinson.

Three years and 40 grievances later, Robinson was fired, in part, for running a stop sign in an apartment complex.

"They look for nitpicky, harassing charges to come after you," he said. "They use observations to terminate people. You didn't blow your horn loud enough. You walked in front of a package care versus walking behind it. You didn't pull your mirrors in. The company calls them method or procedural infractions."

"200,000 UPS drivers go on the roads each day," Robinson continued. "If you were to watch all those drivers, you'll see countless errors and mistakes. We're human beings. They're firing people for filing an info notice improperly. You know the notice you leave on the door for a customer? You make a simple error on an info notice and that is a means to terminate you. They build up enough of these charges, they take you to arbitration and have you terminated."

At the center of the claims made by Robinson and other drivers, the charge that UPS treats black drivers differently and more harshly than white drivers.

In 2016, Robinson filed three separate complaints against UPS with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging discrimination based on age and race, as well as allegations of retaliation from the company.

UPS responded to the allegations with a letter to the EEOC calling them "frivolous" and saying Robinson was fired for violating basic safety rules. UPS also claimed in its response that Robinson had a history of performance problems pre-dating his first federal complaint and noted that his termination was upheld in arbitration.

Robinson challenged the company's response. "As a Circle of Honor driver," he said, "I was a perfect driver, so to speak." Robinson filed a lawsuit against UPS last week.

He's not the first driver in the Triangle to make claims of discrimination against the company. Last year, another former Chapel Hill UPS driver named Glenwood Robinson (no relation) sued the company, claiming discrimination based on race. His court filing makes specific allegations of instances where he says white drivers were treated differently than black drivers.

Again, UPS pushed back, highlighting Robinson's work record. The company's legal response described it as "the worst" among Chapel Hill drivers and said he failed to follow safety protocols and engaged in unprofessional conduct. His termination was also upheld in arbitration.

But another former driver who came forward to the I-Team, Anthony Dunn, says he believes UPS' corporate behavior fits a pattern.

"When you start filing grievances, that's when the flag goes up," said UPS driver Anthony Dunn. "Many white drivers, they do worse things than we do. You're all going to make mistakes because you're all in a rush, rush, rush. You're a human being. Everybody's going to make mistakes. It's up to management if they're going to allow who gets away with it."

Dunn, a black driver, said he was treated differently than a white driver in a very similar situation. "They fired me because I hit a wall and didn't report it in a timely fashion," Dunn said. As it's reported in Dunn's EEOC filing, Dunn told the company about it 45 minutes later. UPS said in its response that it was a fireable offense.

The EEOC didn't rule on Dunn's case but it did say he could file a lawsuit in court if he wanted. His time for that ran out after 90 days.

"Most people don't have 30-40 thousand dollars to go up against a major company like UPS," said Anthony Dunn. "Even though you got proof."

No one at the company would talk to ABC11 on camera but spokesperson Dan McMackin emailed this statement: "UPS does not tolerate any form of discrimination in the workplace and takes all employee concerns seriously. Regarding the allegations of discrimination or harassment you contacted us about, UPS has thoroughly investigated all claims made by the employees in question and believes there to be no merit in any of them."

These aren't the first allegations of discrimination UPS has faced. Last year, workers in Florida protested outside a UPS distribution center alleging harassment and discrimination; earlier this year, it settled a disability discrimination lawsuit in Illinois; and last year in Kentucky, a jury awarded eight black workers more than $5 million after an effigy was hung in a UPS center there.

"Unless you come together collectively," Dunn said, "there's no way you're going to be able to fight to prove the truth that this is going on. We're all living. We continue to have to live our lives. When you get fired, you're on fire to do something to get revenge on this company. That lasts two to three months. But meanwhile, you're real life will kick in. I got a mortgage over here. I need to eat. So you kind of dribble off until you get one foul ball that gets you back up again."

"I'm hoping and praying that we can get this class action together," said Rodney Robinson. Like other drivers we talked to, Robinson sees the courts as one of their last remedies. "We have to," he said. "It's got to change. Not so much for us but for the next group of drivers to come along."

----------------------------------------------------------------------

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Tags: upshealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Global: Trade unions must act to stop violence against women

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
Categories: Labor News

Global: Unions Call for Political Courage to Eliminate Child Labour and Slavery

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Taiwan: Labor groups protest proposed labor law revisions with hunger strike

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Focus Taiwan
Categories: Labor News

New evidence at trial exposes Canadian gov’t frame-up of rail workers

Current News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 18:47

New evidence at trial exposes Canadian gov’t frame-up of rail workers

http://www.themilitant.com/2017/8144/814452.html

Vol. 81/No. 44 November 27, 2017

New evidence at trial exposes Canadian gov’t frame-up of
rail workers

BY JOHN STEELE
As the parade of witnesses for the prosecution continues in the frame-up trial of locomotive engineer Tom Harding and train controller Richard Labrie in the July 2013 derailment and fire that caused 47 deaths in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, more facts, many elicited in cross-examination, are pointing to Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway bosses and the federal government’s Transport Canada as responsible.
Harding and Labrie, members of United Steelworkers Local 1976, face potential life sentences for “criminal negligence causing death,” as does Jean Demaitre, a former low-ranking company operations manager.

Harding is the main target of the frame-up. Boss and government officials claim the cause of the disaster was that the unionist didn’t set enough hand brakes on the 72-car oil train, allowing it to roll into town and explode.

But the hand brakes weren’t the way the train was supposed to be secured. Under company policy, Harding left the lead engine running with its air brakes engaged.

Montreal, Maine and Atlantic bosses had gotten special dispensation from Transport Canada to run their trains with a one-person “crew.” So Harding, who had worked 12 hours, was required to get some sleep before completing his run in the morning.

What happened next was a fire broke out on the engine. The bosses knew the unit had problems. Francois Daigle, one of the three engineers, including Harding, who did the run through Lac-Mégantic, testified at the trial that he told company officials, including Demaitre, that the engine was belching black smoke and should be taken out of service. His concerns were ignored, he said.

Another prosecution witness, André Turcotte, the taxi driver who took Harding to his hotel, testified that the engine was spitting smoke and oil droplets. He said Harding told him the locomotive was being forced to work too hard, but the bosses said to keep going and to park the engine and leave it idling. Turcotte said Harding commented bitterly that the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic never checked their locomotives.

The prosecution called a number of firemen who put out the flames to testify. They reported that they were unaware the train was hauling crude oil. They said the train was not moving after the fire was extinguished, and that the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic official on site told them they could leave, assuring them everything was in hand. Harding, who had received a call about the fire, was told he wasn’t needed when he offered to go help out. The railway boss left, and, without power, the locomotive’s air brakes bled out and the train rolled into Lac-Mégantic and blew up.

Sébastien Pépin, a track maintenance foreman for Canadian Pacific Railway who witnessed the fire, testified he was astonished to see the engine left running with no crew around.

The train was equipped with an automatic brakes system that would turn on the air brakes on all the cars on the train, which would have prevented the train from moving no matter what happened to the engine. But Montreal, Maine and Atlantic bosses forbid workers from using this system. Whenever all the air brakes are set it takes time when restarting the train to wait for the brakes to bleed out. And, to make sure that all of them were released would require the one crew member to walk the entire train and check each brake. This would take time, and cost the bosses money.

As more of these facts come out, they raise questions of who is responsible for the disaster — the engineer who bitterly carried out the bosses’ order or the company that put profits before safety.

This has long been the general sentiment in Lac-Mégantic itself, where many people consider Harding a hero. After the fire broke out, he got out of bed and ran to the site, helping firefighters uncouple oil cars that hadn’t started burning. People there think the wrong party is in the dock.

As of Nov. 10 the prosecution had presented 20 of its 37 scheduled witnesses. Superior Court Judge Gaétan Dumas warned the jury that the trial, taking place in Sherbrooke, Quebec, which was projected to end Dec. 21, might continue into January 2018.

Messages in support of Harding and Labrie can be sent to USW Local 1976 / Section locale 1976, 2360 De Lasalle, Suite 202, Montreal, QC Canada H1V 2L1. Copies should be sent to Thomas Walsh, 165 Rue Wellington N., Suite 310, Sherbrooke, QC Canada J1H 5B9. E-mail: thomaspwalsh@hotmail.com.

Michel Prairie contributed to this article.

Tags: locomotive engineers frame-uptrain wreckUSW Local 1976
Categories: Labor News

New evidence at trial exposes Canadian gov’t frame-up of rail workers

Current News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 18:47

New evidence at trial exposes Canadian gov’t frame-up of rail workers

http://www.themilitant.com/2017/8144/814452.html

Vol. 81/No. 44 November 27, 2017

New evidence at trial exposes Canadian gov’t frame-up of
rail workers

BY JOHN STEELE
As the parade of witnesses for the prosecution continues in the frame-up trial of locomotive engineer Tom Harding and train controller Richard Labrie in the July 2013 derailment and fire that caused 47 deaths in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, more facts, many elicited in cross-examination, are pointing to Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway bosses and the federal government’s Transport Canada as responsible.
Harding and Labrie, members of United Steelworkers Local 1976, face potential life sentences for “criminal negligence causing death,” as does Jean Demaitre, a former low-ranking company operations manager.

Harding is the main target of the frame-up. Boss and government officials claim the cause of the disaster was that the unionist didn’t set enough hand brakes on the 72-car oil train, allowing it to roll into town and explode.

But the hand brakes weren’t the way the train was supposed to be secured. Under company policy, Harding left the lead engine running with its air brakes engaged.

Montreal, Maine and Atlantic bosses had gotten special dispensation from Transport Canada to run their trains with a one-person “crew.” So Harding, who had worked 12 hours, was required to get some sleep before completing his run in the morning.

What happened next was a fire broke out on the engine. The bosses knew the unit had problems. Francois Daigle, one of the three engineers, including Harding, who did the run through Lac-Mégantic, testified at the trial that he told company officials, including Demaitre, that the engine was belching black smoke and should be taken out of service. His concerns were ignored, he said.

Another prosecution witness, André Turcotte, the taxi driver who took Harding to his hotel, testified that the engine was spitting smoke and oil droplets. He said Harding told him the locomotive was being forced to work too hard, but the bosses said to keep going and to park the engine and leave it idling. Turcotte said Harding commented bitterly that the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic never checked their locomotives.

The prosecution called a number of firemen who put out the flames to testify. They reported that they were unaware the train was hauling crude oil. They said the train was not moving after the fire was extinguished, and that the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic official on site told them they could leave, assuring them everything was in hand. Harding, who had received a call about the fire, was told he wasn’t needed when he offered to go help out. The railway boss left, and, without power, the locomotive’s air brakes bled out and the train rolled into Lac-Mégantic and blew up.

Sébastien Pépin, a track maintenance foreman for Canadian Pacific Railway who witnessed the fire, testified he was astonished to see the engine left running with no crew around.

The train was equipped with an automatic brakes system that would turn on the air brakes on all the cars on the train, which would have prevented the train from moving no matter what happened to the engine. But Montreal, Maine and Atlantic bosses forbid workers from using this system. Whenever all the air brakes are set it takes time when restarting the train to wait for the brakes to bleed out. And, to make sure that all of them were released would require the one crew member to walk the entire train and check each brake. This would take time, and cost the bosses money.

As more of these facts come out, they raise questions of who is responsible for the disaster — the engineer who bitterly carried out the bosses’ order or the company that put profits before safety.

This has long been the general sentiment in Lac-Mégantic itself, where many people consider Harding a hero. After the fire broke out, he got out of bed and ran to the site, helping firefighters uncouple oil cars that hadn’t started burning. People there think the wrong party is in the dock.

As of Nov. 10 the prosecution had presented 20 of its 37 scheduled witnesses. Superior Court Judge Gaétan Dumas warned the jury that the trial, taking place in Sherbrooke, Quebec, which was projected to end Dec. 21, might continue into January 2018.

Messages in support of Harding and Labrie can be sent to USW Local 1976 / Section locale 1976, 2360 De Lasalle, Suite 202, Montreal, QC Canada H1V 2L1. Copies should be sent to Thomas Walsh, 165 Rue Wellington N., Suite 310, Sherbrooke, QC Canada J1H 5B9. E-mail: thomaspwalsh@hotmail.com.

Michel Prairie contributed to this article.

Tags: locomotive engineers frame-uptrain wreckUSW Local 1976
Categories: Labor News

Gig Workers Sickout-SF start up Instacart workers plan Sunday-Monday strike

Current News - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 18:11

Gig Workers Sickout-SF start up Instacart workers plan Sunday-Monday strike
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Instacart-workers-plan-Sunda...

By Carolyn SaidNovember 17, 2017 Updated: November 17, 2017 3:34pm
<920x1240.jpg>Photo: Brant Ward, The ChronicleInstacart workers are considering a strike on Sunday.
Some Instacart shoppers and drivers, the people who buy and deliver groceries to the companies’ customers, have beefs about their compensation. Those grievances are bubbling over into a planned strike on Sunday and Monday.

The workers, who are independent contractors, are organizing on social media for what they’re calling a “no-delivery day.”

“We want to get Instacart’s attention,” said Jennell Lévêque, who’s worked for the grocery-delivery service in the Bay Area for 31/2 years. The workers want Instacart to highlight tipping for customers and to increase compensation for large and heavy orders.

While Lévêque and some other workers said the planned action would be national, Instacart said it only expected protests by a handful of workers in Austin, Texas, and St. Louis and did not expect any service interruptions.

Instacart said it already notifies customers prominently of the option to tip. It said workers already can decline orders without retaliation, or can call a help line to have the delivery fee increased or request a second person to assist them. Workers said they could be dinged if they decline too many orders and said it’s hard to reach the support line.

Instacart, a 5-year-old San Francisco startup, is valued at $3.4 billion. It operates in 154 U.S. cities and said it has hundreds of thousands of workers. The protesting workers said their main nexus is a Facebook group with 5,200 members.

“We realistically understand that we won’t shut down the company,” said Matthew Telles, who has worked as an Instacart shopper for two years in Chicago. “The nature of the job is that we are all separate, and not everyone is on Facebook. There will still be a decent number of people shopping” on behalf of Instacart customers.

That disparate work model has hindered other efforts by gig economy workers to organize. As independent contractors, they are barred by federal law from formal unionization. Uber drivers, the largest and most vocal group of gig workers, have held scattered protests.

Veena Dubal, an associate professor at UC Hastings College of the Law who studies Uber drivers and other gig workers, said several factors hinder organizing. “Casual workers have different and sometimes conflicting interests with full-time workers,” often because they need the freedom and flexibility to work part time, she said. Moreover, gig workers move on quickly to other jobs. “Full-time workers who feel exploited are much more likely to engage in collective action,” she said.

Lawsuits have been one major avenue for gig workers to join forces. Those from many companies, including Instacart, have banded together into class-action suits seeking to be reclassified as employees. A suit against Instacart ended with the company agreeing to pay out $4.6 million and clarify its tipping feature to customers. That settlement is pending.

Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, one of Instacart’s biggest grocery-store partners, threw that relationship into question, as Amazon has its own logistics network, including Amazon Flex, which uses independent contractors for Prime Now deliveries. However, Instacart reportedly has four years remaining in its contract with Whole Foods.

Meanwhile, Instacart has said the Amazon-Whole Foods deal triggered a stampede of other grocers seeking to partner with it to combat Amazon’s threat.

Karyn and John Ellis of Woodside have ordered from Instacart for two or three years and make a point to always tip their delivery person. On Friday, when they called about an order gone astray, customer service told them (erroneously) that there was a sick-out happening, Karyn Ellis said.

“The gig economy seemed like a good idea at the time, but now that you have people who are dependent on it for their income, it doesn’t pay, it doesn’t provide security,” she said.

Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: csaid@sfchronicle.comTwitter: @csaid

Tags: Instacartgig workersDrivers
Categories: Labor News

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