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The IR Guru NEWS Bulletin

November 25, 2020

Photo Credit: Andriy Blokhin –

MPs get behind union demands to end unfair dismissals at app-based companies

A cross-party group of 60 MPs has backed a union campaign against unfair terminations of key workers at Deliveroo and Uber.

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) says the two companies are dismissing workers using automated processes and without investigating or providing evidence of alleged wrongdoing.

MPs have now signed an Early Day Motion calling for a fair termination process for workers including app-based couriers and private hire drivers.

IWGB is calling for workers to have basic rights to a hearing, trade union representation and appeal. 

Alex Marshall, IWGB President said Uber and Deliveroo had dehumanised key workers during the pandemic. 

 “This process can see workers dismissed at the click of a button with no justification, and with no chance to appeal.”

They deserve a fair, transparent process, he added.


Appeal heard over law in US that bans unions from strike action

The Missouri Supreme Court in the US is deciding whether new restrictions on public unions – including on picketing and strikes – can come into force. 

Unions are fighting a 2018 law that requires public unions to get permission every year to deduct union dues from workers’ pay and imposes a ban on striking and picketing.

Public safety unions, such as police unions, would be exempt. 

The law would also compel public employee labor unions to hold a vote every three years on whether workers want to continue to be represented. The law requires a majority of workers, not just a majority of the workers who voted, to approve unions.

Although unions successfully blocked the law last year, an appeal was heard earlier this month at the Missouri Supreme Court. Unions argue that the new law “does not even give the illusion of collective bargaining”.

The Missouri Education Association, Hazelwood Association of Support Personnel and Service Employees International Union Local are among those unions trying to stop the law being implemented. 


Health union in Ghana recognised for its role in putting workers first

The Health Services Workers’ Union of Ghana (HSWU Ghana) has scooped an award from UNI Global Union for its innovative organising campaigns during the Covid crisis. 

HSWU Ghana developed digital organising methods and was able to grow its membership by more than 1000 members during the pandemic. It also negotiated an 8% wage increase for health workers. 

At the start of the pandemic, HSWU provided personal protective equipment for its members and quickly began campaigning for improved safety provisions and better working conditions.

UNI’s Breaking Through Award recognises these achievements.

“HSWU Ghana is leading the way in Africa and promoting the kind of trade unionism that puts workers first,” said Keith Jacobs, Regional Secretary of UNI Africa. 

Other winners of the award this year include the SDA in Australia, CUPW in Canada and HK Privat in Denmark. 


UK and Norway trade deal needs to put workers first, say unions

As trade talks between Norway and the UK advanced this month, the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO-Norway) and the TUC have jointly warned that any deal must support a recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic “built on decent work, fair wages and the welfare of society”.

The deal must lock in a high standard of rights to avoid a “race to the bottom” on protections and entitlements, they said.

Both organisations have called for full involvement of trade unions in trade negotiations, enforceable protections for workers’ rights (including the rights of migrant workers), protections for all public services, and the use of public procurement and state-owned enterprises to improve working conditions and pursue social and environmental objectives.

LO-Norway President Hans-Christian Gabrielsen said: “We build our societies and work life on modern, just and safe regulations securing equal rights for all. Any trade deal will have to live up to the same standards. It’s time to deliver.”


Day of action to defend union rights in the Philippines

Unions in the Philippines are staging an international day of protest on November 30 against the government’s attack on trade union and human rights.

The Council of Global Unions (CGU), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) affiliates and Nagkaisa, the largest labour coalition of 49 trade unions and labour organisations in the country, are behind the rally to be held at the University of the Philippines. 

Globally, there will also be picket protests at Philippine embassies and consular offices in different countries.

The Philippines is in the top 10 worst countries for worker and trade union rights as rated by the ITUC Global Rights Index. According to the CGU, 46 trade unionists have been victims of extra-judicial killings for their trade union work since the Duterte administration came to power in 2015. 

Trade unions leaders and activists face criminalisation, anti-union discrimination and violence, the ITUC adds.

The mass action at the end of this month will call on the government to respect trade union rights as well as for health security and safety at work for all, and job and income protection in public employment programmes.


Right to picket during lockdown confirmed by UK government

The UK government has conceded that striking workers have a right to picket their workplace during the Covid-19 lockdown.

It was announced ahead of a judicial review due to be heard at the High Court earlier this month. It followed the case of striking workers at a Leeds bus factory, Optare, who were holding a socially distanced picket but threated by North Yorkshire police with fines for breaking lockdown rules.

Unite began a legal case against the chief constable of North Yorkshire and the secretary of state for health and social care, based on the right to picket being a fundamental right protected by the Human Rights Act.

Unite Assistant General Secretary Howard Beckett said the government’s decision was a vital victory for the entire labour movement.

 “The right to picket is fundamental and is one of the few actions that workers are legally entitled to use following a lawful ballot for strike action. “


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