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21.11.2008 General News

Onslaught against trade unions alarming - Survey

By GNA
Onslaught against trade unions alarming - Survey

This year's International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Annual Survey of Trade Union Rights Violations reveals an appalling record of union-busting, anti-union laws, intimidation and violence against workers' representatives in 2007, the umbrella union said in a statement on Thursday.

The statement obtained by the GNA said a worldwide total of 91 trade unionists were murdered for defending workers' rights, with Colombia, where 39 lost their lives, by far the worst offender yet again.

It said second-worst was Guinea, where some 30 unionists were killed during “a brutal repression of union-organised public demonstrations against corruption and violations of fundamental rights”.

It said the survey also noted a disturbing upsurge in violence in Guatemala as trade unions were increasingly targeted, with four unionists murdered and a worsening climate of threats and harassment.

The survey, which covers worker-rights violations in 138 countries,”reveals a number of disturbing trends, including collusion between some governments and employers to deprive working women and men of their legitimate rights to union membership and representation.

“Serious and systematic harassment and intimidation was reported in 63 countries.” ITUC said 73 unionists were sent to prison in 2007, including 40 in Iran alone, where systematic oppression of workers organising in transport, education and other sectors continued.

ITUC General Secretary, Guy Ryder said: "Repression of legitimate trade union activities, which are guaranteed under ILO Conventions, continued unabated in every continent.

“Murder, violence and torture, along with harassment, dismissal and imprisonment, were all used to stop working people organising unions and bargaining collectively for decent pay and working conditions.”

He said several governments were only too ready to openly or covertly support unscrupulous employers who denied fundamental rights to their employees.

"Governments have failed to do enough to protect workers' rights, either at home or in their international diplomatic, economic and trade relations," he added.

The statement said in Africa, employers in several countries used defective labour legislation to instigate and encourage splits in trade unions and create employer-controlled groups to displace legitimate worker representation.

“Outright hostility to union organization again featured in Zimbabwe and Swaziland, which also featured on a list of countries where Chinese-owned and funded projects were cited for poor working conditions and exploitation of the workforce. Along with Guinea, the Survey records killings of trade unionists in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe,” it said.

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