Labour bites

Money magically manifested

25,000 Chicago teachers and support staff returned to school triumphant, after an 11 day stop work that became a showdown between their union and the city’s new Mayor.

The mayor and her appointed school board had barely budged in the 10 months of bargaining leading up to the strike, presenting what they claimed was their best offer just days before the strike was due to start. On day three of the strike, the mayor said there was no more money, sending a letter asking Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) to end the strike.

However, on day 10, the mayor managed to find more money as they brought forward a tentative agreement that includes $1.5 billion USD in combined additional spending over the course of the five-year agreement.

Wins include better class size enforcement, more nurses and social workers guaranteed, step raises for veteran teachers, bankable sick days, special education wins including specially trained substitutes, and more. (Source: Labor Notes)

Duterte regime intensifies attacks against union movement

Over 60 union organisers, human rights defenders and activists were arrested in politically motivated raids on the night of 31 October, in the Philippines province of Negros.

The Duterte regime’s renewed crackdown against unions and civil society organisations in the country has included raids against Education International affiliate organisation, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).

Several ACT offices were raided by the police and at least one ACT provincial coordinator was arrested in the latest wave of crackdowns.

The repression operations are ongoing, and ACT fears that more of their members could be targeted.

The union had to close offices to ensure the security of its staff, members and officers.

The anti-union climate has caused unionists, teachers and academics to fear for their rights and safety. (Source: Labour Start)

Domestic workers resisting slavery in Lebanon

Lebanon, a country with a population of six million, currently has more than 250,000 migrant domestic workers. As the Lebanese sponsor is key to the foreign worker being allowed to stay and work in the country, the control the former can exert over the latter is inordinate.

While Lebanese families have grown increasingly reliant on this foreign workforce, overwhelmingly composed of women, the country’s employment legislation has remained purposely unregulated, allowing the exploitative system of sponsorship known as kafala to prevail.

Reports by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have shown that abuse toward this workforce is endemic, with a shocking death rate of two domestic workers per week.

For years local activists and solidarity organisations have been protesting against these conditions with demonstrations, general strikes and street rallies, but have so far failed to guarantee concrete action against the abuse.

This is Lebanon, a small volunteer based organisation based in Canada, came up with a new tactic to achieve justice: naming and shaming abusive employers on social media. At first this tactic was simply ignored by employers. But as This is Lebanon’s Facebook page grew in popularity, it has become more effective.

According to the organisation’s founder Dipendra Uprety, himself a former migrant worker in Lebanon, This is Lebanon would have no reason to exist if migrant workers were able to genuinely access the country’s judicial system.

With This is Lebanon’s increasing publicity, a result of their continuing success, has come criticism from segments of the Lebanese public, accusing them of unjustly defaming employers as well as damaging the reputation of the country. Despite their controversial tactics, they are one of the few groups who have managed to bring tangible change to the lives of migrant domestic workers while raising awareness within Lebanese society of the injustices implied in the kafala system. (Source: New Internationalist)

McStrike comes to 10 Downing Street

On November 12, striking McDonald’s workers in the UK went to 10 Downing Street to disrupt business as usual. Their demands: a living wage, union recognition, and an end to sexual harassment on the job.

Workers from six McDonald’s restaurants gathered across from the UK Prime Minister’s office at 10 Downing Street to demand a £15-an-hour ‘real living wage’, fixed contracts, union recognition, an end to lower wages for workers under 25, and eradication of the pay gap between men and women.

The campaign has been ongoing for the last three years, with the striking workers gaining support from Jeremy Corbyn, and other leaders in Britain’s Labour Party.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnel also stood with the strikers, and is reported as saying “We are not asking for the world, we are simply asking that workers be able to share in the wealth they help to create.” (Source: Jacobin)