Labour bites

Death threats against trade unionists

In the three decades until 2016, Colombian trade unions report that 990 of their members were murdered. Another 3000 were threatened with assassination.

In October, death threats were sent to all 15 members of the Executive Committee of FECODE, the Colombian Federation of Education Workers, as well as to the President of the Trade Union Confederation cut.

The threats took the form of a funeral wreath with the words ‘rest in peace’. Sixteen candles and 16 obituary notices with the name of each targeted union leader were also delivered to the home of Carlos Rivas, FECODE’s Secretary for legal affairs.

FECODE and Education International have launched a major new online campaign on LabourStart demanding that the Colombian authorities act to ensure immediate protection measures for the entire FECODE leadership, and for all union and social leaders and activists.

Source: LabourStart

California has rejected a major gig economy reform

In a victory for companies like Uber and Lyft, California will classify ride hailing drivers as independent contractors.

Proposition 22, created to decide the future of the California gig economy, has passed.

The proposition concerned whether app-based drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft are employees or independent contractors. And its success means those companies will effectively be exempted from a California law that would have pushed such drivers to be classified as employees.

The decision is a major win for gig companies that cements their influence over state policy. And it is a serious loss for gig workers hoping for stronger workplace protections as well as labour advocates in other states hoping California could become a model for gig economy reforms.


Landmark case to lift aged care wages

The Health Services Union has launched a landmark work value case in the Fair Work Commission to lift wages for the aged care workforce by 25 percent.

If the case succeeds, over 200,000 personal carers, activities officers, catering, cleaning, and administration workers would see their pay rise by at least $5 an hour.

The starting rate for a personal carer is currently $21.96 per hour, and the average carer retires with $18,000 in superannuation

If the HSU claim succeeds, a qualified personal carer would see their wages increase from $23.09 to $28.86 an hour.

The HSU claim also seeks to build in career paths and to recognise specialist carers in areas like dementia or palliative care.

“Aged care in this country has relied for too long on the goodwill of an underpaid and insecure workforce of women. It’s time for change,” said Gerard Hayes, HSU President.

Source: Medianet

Serial underpayer slugged $230K in first ‘serious contravention’ case

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has won its first ‘serious contravention’ penalties three years after the provisions were added to the Fair Work Act.

A café and its former general manager were fined a total of $230,000 on their second visit to court for underpaying workers.

Given access to higher penalties and expanded powers following the 2017 passage of the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act, the workplace watchdog was yet to use them before last week’s Federal Circuit Court judgment.

However, with the FWO arguing that the higher penalties should also apply in three other matters currently before the courts, underpaying employers now have reason to heed Judge Christopher Kendall’s warnings about the repercussions for “cavalier” attitudes towards fulfilling their obligations.

Source: Workplace Express

Anti-union attacks in Brazil

At the beginning of the pandemic, local media in São Paulo (Brazil) reported front line workers’ voices exposing irregularities and violations of basic health and safety standards in one of the most important and respected hospitals of the municipal public health network.

Their reports exposed the lack of protective equipment, including masks and aprons, overcrowding and improvised Intensive Care Units in waiting rooms.

In an unprecedented and unfounded reprisal, five nursing professionals were transferred out to workplaces far from their homes under the pretext of the State of Emergency.

The Municipal Workers’ Union of São Paulo – SINDSEP formally presented a letter to the municipal government rebutting all of their allegations against these workers, while demanding their immediate return to their workplaces.

Two months later, the union is still waiting for a response. Source: LabourStart