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The IR Guru NEWS Bulletin

March 18, 2021

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Food delivery riders in Australia win stronger rights

Riders for food delivery company Hungry Panda have won improved working rights after weeks of protests over a pay cut.

The win includes reinstating two riders who were terminated for protesting pay cuts, restoring pay to previous levels or increasing it in other areas and introducing an injury insurance package for all riders, says the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). 

During the protest more than half of Hungry Panda riders in Australia joined the Transport Workers’ Union, an affiliate of the ITF.

Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary, said this latest victory at Hungry Panda showed “how much power there is in riders coming together to organise.”

Cotton added that the tide is turning in favour of gig workers with recent legal victories in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK. 

Earlier this week, Uber announced all 70,000 of its UK drivers will be guaranteed a minimum wage, holiday pay and pensions after the company lost a legal battle in February over drivers’ employment status.



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UK coffee workers vote overwhelmingly against ‘fire and hire’ plans

Proposals to ‘fire and rehire’ around 300 coffee workers at a Jacobs Douwe Egberts site in Oxfordshire have led to a huge majority vote for an industrial action ballot.

UK union Unite said its members voted by 96% in a consultative ballot after the company issued notice of dismissal and engagement for 291 employees.

There are also plans to end the Dutch-owned company’s final salary pension, replacing it with a defined contribution scheme.

Unite said this is despite recent financial results reporting “a record in-home organic growth of 9.1% in 2020” as a result of the boom in coffee drinking in the UK during the pandemic.

No dates have been set for the industrial ballot as yet.

Unite National Officer for the food and drink industry Joe Clarke it is “excessive corporate greed” driving bosses to adopt a fire and rehire strategy in the midst of a global pandemic.

He warned the decision will “damage members’ incomes and hit the wider Oxfordshire economy.”


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Global union and H&M reaffirm commitment to support garment industry through the Covid crisis

Fashion retailer H&M and IndustriALL Global Union have signed a joint agreement to support suppliers through the pandemic and safeguard workers’ rights.

The joint declaration, signed earlier in March, includes a strengthening of respect for freedom of association and collective bargaining rights along H&M’s supply chain and the promotion of social dialogue to resolve conflicts.

In addition, it reaffirms a commitment to responsible purchasing practices so suppliers get paid on time and can, in turn, pay workers, and requires all H&M’s direct suppliers and subcontractors to implement necessary measures to protect workers against Covid.

IndustriALL General Secretary Valter Sanches said: “Manufacturing suppliers need stability and predictability to preserve the conditions for employment and income; that is the kind of commitment this joint statement brings.”

Yosef El – Natour, Head of Production H&M Group, also said that “meaningful and close collaboration between companies and trade unions has become even more evident during the pandemic”.



G20 governments need to boost efforts in jobs creation amid Covid, union survey shows

More than half of people in 10 countries that make up the G20 group believe their governments should be doing more to create jobs for workers affected by the pandemic.

A survey carried out by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has shown that 54% of people across Australia, Brazil, France, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico and the US think greater effort is needed. That figure rises to 71% for Mexico and 65% for Japan. 

Almost half (49%) people live in a household where someone has either lost their job or had their working hours reduced due to the pandemic, findings also revealed.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC, said workers are demanding a new social contract with jobs, rights, social protection, equality and inclusion.

“G20 leaders must put jobs and social protection with a global social protection fund at the centre of recovery efforts. People need hope, and every government must have a jobs plan,” she added. 


US labour movement welcomes passing of pro-union act

The passage of a bill that gives US workers more power to organise has been welcomed by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act was passed in the House of Representatives on March 9.

If it becomes law (it still has to be approved by the Senate) it will prevent employee interference and influence in union elections and allow unions to collect dues where bargaining agreements represent all employees. Currently, workers in certain states can opt out from paying dues.

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, a federation of national and international unions, said the move was a historic moment in the struggle for working people’s rights on the job.

“Everyone deserves the basic protections and dignities that come with a union card. The day the PRO Act is signed into law, tens of millions more working people will finally be free to carry that power in our pockets.”


The future of working arrangements must be inclusive, urges Wales union body

The Wales TUC is urging that investment in home working be matched with a step up in measures to support those that can’t do their job remotely.

Although research from Wales TUC, carried out by YouGov, shows there is an appetite for working from home  – 42% of workers say they want to continue with this arrangement for at least some of the time – there is a clear class divide. While 61% of middle-class workers were in favour of home working for part of the time, just 33% of people from working class households said similar.

As such, the Welsh Government must ensure that its drive to support remote working does not reinforce existing class inequalities in the labour market, the union body said.

Measures to support those who can’t work remotely could include offering subsidised public transport costs, looking at childcare facilities, or even changing school catchment areas so they consider where people work, not just live.

Wales TUC General Secretary Shavanah Taj said: “The big shift to remote working during the pandemic has disproportionately benefitted middle class people. We need a clear focus on how we can make sure that we’re making labour market interventions that are truly inclusive, and don’t reinforce privilege.”


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