World of Labor

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | January 5, 2013

Singapore Strike Highlights Workers’ Problems

After 26 years without a strike, labor unrest over low wages and appalling living conditions have caught up with Singapore, drawing attention to the country’s exploited migrant worker community. Over the past month, several groups of Chinese migrant workers have expanded their protests against the unpaid salaries and the awful food they are served by their employers.

In response to a strike of 171 Chinese bus drivers in November, the Singapore government deported 29 people and imposed $2,000 fines and jail terms for… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | November 3, 2012

With barely a week before the presidential elections, Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast of the United States, causing horrifying damages in New York City and the surrounding region.

Hundreds of thousands of people were left without light, heat and safe drinking water, in some cases for days. Businesses shut down, because subways and buses were not running, and there was no way that workers could get to their jobs. Patients in hospitals, including new-born babies, had to be evacuated because backup generators were not working. The death… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | October 26, 2012

Ford Says 4,000 Will Lose Jobs in Belgium

Car sales across Europe have slumped since the economic crisis began, and Ford expects to lose more than $1 billion in the region this year. Ford said the decision to close the factory could save the company about $500 million.

The U.S. company is not the only carmaker who will need to trim production, Manufacturing across Europe has been contracting continuously for more than a year. This week, the French government has offered Peugeot a $9 billion lifeline to keep… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | October 20, 2012

Hard-Core S. African Strikers Are Not Caving In

After nearly two months of wildcat strikes, mine workers are divided. Some are giving up the struggle, while others are sticking to high wage demands. Workers remain on strike at AngloGold Ashanti’s gold mine and several platinum mines.

"I am here with thousands of workers who have been arrested, and intimidated by employers, and they are not deterred," said Liv Shange, an executive member of the Democratic Socialist Movement. But the opinions of strike leaders differed. An ultimatum was issued… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | October 6, 2012

Unions in Retreat across Europe

Trade unions have lost members and influence over the last 20 years in all European countries, with only five exceptions. The main reasons are high unemployment, an increasingly deregulated labor market and weaker safety nets which make many workers weary of putting their demands forward and becoming union members.

For a long time, Sweden was seen as home to some of the strongest unions in the world. Trade unions didn’t need to put a lot of effort into recruiting; the numbers came regardless.… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | September 15, 2012

The 26,000 Chicago teachers had many grievances to induce them to go on strike — the first time the union had taken that action in 25 years. They felt that reliance on "test scores" was a poor way to evaluate a teacher’s performance; they objected to the class size, which could number more than 40 students; they were frustrated at not receiving ordered educational materials, and they felt they deserved a pay increase.

But what infuriated them most was being treated with disrespect, as though they didn’t know… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | September 2, 2012

South Africa Drops Murder Charges against Striking Miners

Murder charges against hundreds of striking miners will be dropped, pending further investigation, the country’s top prosecutor announced Sept. 2. The murder charge against the current 270 suspects, which was provisional anyway, will be formally withdrawn in court on their next court appearance.

Lawyers for the miners called last week’s decision to charge them with murder "bizarre in the extreme." and the country’s justice minister called it shocking and confusing. She said the law in question was sound, but that… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor August 25, 2012

Foreign Firms Face Labor Shortage

While foreign investments are flowing into to Myanmar, creating more opportunities for locals, businesses are facing shortages of skilled workers. After political changes occurred in the country between 2011 and 2012, the international community has taken more interest in the resource-rich Southeast Asian country.

With more businesses setting up here, the demand for skilled workers has also increased. "Scarcity of human resource is a hurdle to foreign investments. There are not enough skilled engineers, geologists, and architects in the country." said Mr. Evelin Petkov,… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | World of Labor | August 11, 2012

Italy Wrestles with Rewriting Its Stifling Labor Laws

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is tackling the issue of labor law reform head on. A challenge in a country beset by corruption, stifling bureaucracy and a lumbering judicial system, whose rulings often lean to keeping people in their jobs for life. After a caustic battle with Italy’s powerful unions, Monti pushed through measures meant to help the economy by providing business with incentives to hire–in part by making it easier to shrink work forces in times of economic distress.

The… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | August 5, 2012

Italy’s Beaches Are Empty as Umbrella Men Strike

Italian beaches were denied of their usual August crowds on Friday as beach clubs staged a short strike, the latest in an emotive conflict over right of access to the Mediterranean country’s sun-soaked coast. The strike, organized by the beachworkers’ union during the peak season, to protest against the government’s plan that would see the right to operate patches of seafront decided by auction from 2016.

Although it is state property, access to much of the Italian coast has long… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | July 28, 2012

Lebanese civil servants carried out a general strike on July 24 at various ministries and public institutions to denounce the government’s failure to approve the long-awaited new salary scale for the public sector. The strike came in compliance with a call from the Union Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public school employees. Public school teachers have boycotted marking the official examinations of grades 9 and 12. They are demanding a salary scale that would give them and other public school employees the… Continue reading

The World of Labor | July 21, 2012 | By Harry Kelber

Adidas, the giant sportswear company, has won a $156 million deal that makes it the key sponsor of the London 2012 Olympics. But it has produced the tons of athletic sportswear exclusively in a range of low-wage countries, including China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand, where workers receive poverty wages and substandard working conditions.

In the United States, there is widespread outrage that our athletes won’t be wearing clothes that are manufactured in our country. A worldwide alliance of trade unions and civilian… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | July 14, 2012

A British MP, Glenis Willmott, is demanding a clearer commitment from European employers on the issue of blacklisting of workers. She has given a cautious welcome to a confirmation from the European Commission that, as part of the its upcoming review of health and safety legislation, it will ensure that EU law is being followed, and that workers are not being put at a disadvantage by employers.

Willmott, who is Labor’s leader in Europe, has called for a positive statement that the Commission will specifically address the issue… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | July 10, 2012

Both Republicans and Democrats have just about given up on the idea of providing millions of jobs (except talking about it as an election issue).

But Germany has found a solution that puts cash into the pockets of the unemployed, while reducing the jobless rate to 6 percent (at a time when it was 9 percent in the United States.)

How has Germany done it? How has it managed to dramatically drop the unemployment rate in the middle of their biggest economic crisis in 80 years? The answer… Continue reading

Printers Strike Leaves France with No Newspapers on July 5

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | July 6, 2012

Printers Strike Leaves France with No Newspapers on July 5

The French were left with no morning paper to accompany their croissant and coffee on Thursday morning after a nationwide strike by printers protesting layoffs. Many editors had to publish their Thursday issues online, free of charges.

A switch to digit technology has resulted in large numbers of redundancies in newspaper printing. According to news reports, Hersani publishing house has fired 670 people, and one newspaper distributing company… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | June 23, 2012

With 50 Million Members. IndustriALL is Set for Action

A newly-formed global federation of industrial unions will be a force with the muscle to take on giant international corporations on behalf of workers, the president of the United Steelworkers (USW), Leo Gerard, said on June 19. The coalition, known as IndustriALL Global Union, is being formed by a group of 1,200 trade union representatives, meeting this week in Copenhagen, Denmark. It joins together three former global labor groups: the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), the International Federation of Chemical,… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | June 16, 2012

Only One in 10 of the G20 Countries Believes Austerity Will Work

International unions warned of a dangerous credibility gap between G20 leaders’ past statements on jobs and many G20 governments’ actions that are pushing economies back into recession and destroying jobs. The warning came as global unemployment climbed toward 210 million, with 75 million young people without jobs. The OECD and the ILO estimate that 21 million jobs need to be created each year to return to pre-crisis employment rates by 2015.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary,… Continue reading

By Harry Kelber | The World of Labor | June 8, 2012

Annual Survey of Trade Union Rights

The year (2011) was a difficult and often dangerous time for workers throughout the world, with those who dared to stand up for their trade union rights facing dismissal, arrest, imprisonment and even death. That, in essence, is the picture that emerges from the annual survey of trade union violations published by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). This year’s survey examines 143 countries.

Colombia is once again the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. Of the 76 people… Continue reading

World of Labor | July 20, 2010 | By Harry Kelber

"Leave behind what you know of’ "Robert’s Rules of Order" and structured union meetings. A new generation of labor leaders across the country is emerging to bring workers together in pinball machines, music festivals, trivia nights and pub crawls, all with an activist edge." says an article in AFL-CIO NOW.

The brainchild for building a new labor movement based on young organizers with a novel, carefree approach to union-building is Elizabeth (Liz) Shuler, the AFL-CIO’s Secretary-Treasurer, who devoted herself almost exclusively for the past two years (when she was… Continue reading

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