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World of Work:
World Labor
News Roundup

From Jeff Apter In Paris
Special to

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The Miners and Metallurgical Workers Union of Russia (MMWU) convention held in Moscow has attacked the "very difficult times for working people with much poverty and low wages." MMWU president Michail Tarassenko said the average salary in metalworking and the electrical industry was the equivalent of "about $60 a month." The convention approved the MMWU’s return to the Confederation of Russian Trade Unions, which it left in 1992, and affiliation to the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

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The Guatemalan metalworkers’ federation FETRAMUGUA has appealed for international solidarity for its affiliate, the GINSA Workers’ Union, whose members are suffering victimization from the Goodyear Tire Company. GINSA, which produces Goodyear tires in Guatemala, is anti-union and has fired illegally 50 union members including two leaders without compensation. Management refuses negotiations.

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About 540,000 trade unionists in Ireland have accepted a new national deal for a 16 percent pay hike over the next three years — twice the level of the previous agreement. But unions have been divided over the package, the latest in Ireland’s consensus-based politics which also includes tax cuts and benefit increases.

The top-level agreement was reached in talks involving the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), employers and community and voluntary groups. The deal provides for a minimum 25 percent increase in take-home pay over 33 months. Most of the hike comes in guaranteed pay rises totaling 15.75 percent. Part will be funded by the administration through tax reductions. In addition, Ireland’s first minimum wage, which began this April, will not be in the tax net and other low paid workers will benefit from flat-rate increases.

While the high school teachers’, store workers’ and transport unions strongly opposed the agreement, SIPTU, the country’s largest union, and IMPACT, the public services union, backed it. The ICTU made no recommendation to its members whether or not to support the document.

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The Italian administration has adopted legislation to curtail strikes in important public services. The statement followed widespread strikes at airports and on the railroads. The new law states that there must be 10 days warning of strike action. A conciliation procedure takes place during this "cooling-down" period. If strike action finally ensues, a minimum one-third of employees must be compelled to work to ensure 50 percent of normal services. Unions not observing the new system can be fined up to $25,000 per day.

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TUC, Britain’s union federation, has criticized the Labor administration over the introduction of European legislation on part-time workers. The TUC says the way the law on part-time workers has been introduced "lets down" this category of workers and means "only 45,000 out of Britain’s 6.8 million part-time workers — one in every 150 — might benefit."

The TUC said the main problem is that employees with a contract of employment are covered rather than all workers. Other provisions such as protection against dismissal have "simply been left out of the legislation."

General Secretary John Monks said the "draft regulations are perhaps the weakest and most disappointing produced by this administration. Clearly the order has gone out to make them as weak as possible. In practice they make no difference to the vast majority of part timers."

He added: "It clearly shows the administration is not on the side of the low-paid women workers who stand to gain from an effective implementation of the directive."

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UE News - 04/00

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