Labour bites

Google workers unionise

More than 700 Google engineers and other workers have formed a union, the group revealed on Monday, capping years of growing activism at one of the world’s largest companies and presenting a rare beachhead for labour organisers in staunchly anti-union Silicon Valley.

The union’s creation is highly unusual for the tech industry, which has long resisted efforts to organise its largely white-collar work force. It follows increasing demands by employees at Google for policy overhauls on pay, harassment and ethics, and is likely to escalate tensions with top leadership.

The new union, called the Alphabet Workers Union after Google’s parent company, Alphabet, was organised in secret for the better part of a year and elected its leadership last month. The group is affiliated with the Communications Workers of America, a union that represents workers in telecommunications and media in the United States and Canada.

But unlike a traditional union, which demands that an employer come to the bargaining table to agree on a contract, the Alphabet Workers Union is a so-called minority union that represents a fraction of the company’s more than 260,000 full-time employees and contractors. Workers said it was primarily an effort to give structure and longevity to activism at Google, rather than to negotiate for a contract.

The structure gives the union the latitude to include Google contractors, who outnumber full-time workers and who would be excluded from a traditional union.

Although they will not be able to negotiate a contract, the Alphabet Workers Union can use other tactics to pressure Google into changing its policies, labour experts said. Minority unions often turn to public pressure campaigns and lobby legislative or regulatory bodies to influence employers.

Source: New York Times

Jordanian teachers union dissolved, leaders face one year in jail

On 25 July last year, leaders of the Jordanian teachers union were jailed. Education International, uniting teachers from all over the world, launched a global protest including an online campaign on LabourStart. On 23 August, the teachers’ leaders were freed from jail – because Jordanian law allowed them to be held for just 30 days Four months later, things have gotten much worse.

On 31 December, the Amman Magistrate’s Court authorised the dissolution of the teachers union, and the detention of all 13 union board members for a year.

The detained union leaders have been released on bail while the union appeals the judicial decision.

As the campaign states: “Workers should be allowed to enjoy freedom of association and their right to collective bargaining as guaranteed by the national constitution as well as international treaties to which Jordan is a party.”

Take a moment to show your support for the Jordanian teachers - click here.

Source: LabourStart

Ukraine: Workers go unpaid for three years

Employees of the strategic state owned enterprise KVARSYT, which is located in the frontline zone in Donetsk region in Ukraine, have not received wages and have been deprived of social security contributions for more thanthree years.

After the outbreak of war in the east of Ukraine, the enterprise lost a large sales market.

Neither the state concern ‘Ukroboronprom’, to which the enterprise is subordinated, nor the government of Ukraine, nor the President of Ukraine, are making any real attempts to resolve the current situation.

According to Ukraine’s constitution, every worker must be paid for their work.

The decision of the management to not pay these workers is also in breach of ILO Convention 95, entitled ‘Protection of Wages’ (1949), which was ratified in 1961 by the Ukrainian government.

At the moment, the total amount of debt is more than UAH 47 million (€1.4 million) and is increasing every month. People are forced to work for free. Click here to support the campaign.

Source: LabourStart

Compiled by Angus Hoy