Solidarity Center’s Executive Director Shawna Bader-Blau issued the following statement in response to President Biden and President Lula’s announcement of the U.S.-Brazil Partnership for Workers’ Rights.
“Today’s landmark announcement—and commitment—from the governments of the United States and Brazil affirms respect for freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, and the essential role of democratic trade unions in advancing a just and vibrant global economy. If the U.S-Brazil Partnership for Workers’ Rights is robustly funded and vigorously implemented, worker rights and decent jobs will be at the center of critical conversations and action on the transition to a clean energy economy, the role of emerging technologies, corporate accountability in supply chains, ending gender-based violence and harassment at work and other global priorities.
The last decade has been a stark one for working people across the globe with significantly curtailed rights, shrinking wages and hampered ability to improve their workplaces and hold corporations and governments accountable for their actions. We hope theU.S-Brazil Partnership for Workers’ Rights is just the beginning of government commitments to put worker rights front and center, not just in Brazil and the United States, but around the world.”
DECLARAÇÃO: O anúncio do Presidente Biden e do Presidente Lula é um passo positivo para o avanço dos direitos dos trabalhadores em todo o mundo
A Diretora Executiva do Solidarity Center, Shawna Bader-Blau, fez a declaração abaixo sobre o anúncio do Presidente Biden e do Presidente Lula da Parceria EUA-Brasil pelos Direitos dos Trabalhadores.
“O anúncio histórico – e o compromisso – realizado hoje pelos governos dos Estados Unidos e do Brasil afirmam o respeito pela liberdade de associação, o direito à negociação coletiva, e o papel essencial dos sindicatos democráticos na promoção de uma economia global justa e pujante. Se a Parceria EUA-Brasil pelos Direitos dos Trabalhadores for financiada e implementada com vigor, os direitos dos trabalhadores e os empregos decentes estarão no centro das conversas críticas e medidas sobre a transição para uma economia de energia limpa, o papel das tecnologias emergentes, a responsabilidade corporativa nas cadeias de suprimentos, o combate à violência e assédio baseados em gênero no trabalho e outras prioridades globais.
A última década foi cruel para os trabalhadores de todo o mundo, com direitos significativamente reduzidos, salários reduzidos e capacidade dificultada de melhorar os seus locais de trabalho e responsabilizar as empresas e os governos pelas suas ações. Esperamos que a Parceria EUA-Brasil pelos Direitos dos Trabalhadores seja apenas o começo dos compromissos do governo para colocar os direitos dos trabalhadores em primeiro plano, não apenas no Brasil e nos Estados Unidos, mas em todo o mundo.”
For many job seekers, joining the ranks of delivery drivers or other app-based workers is sold as entrepreneurship–a way to make money as an independent contractor and be their own boss. But the reality is much different, as workers from Africa to Latin America have found out.
“Just in Latin America, we see millions of [app-based] workers who are exploited, who are working injured, who don’t even have a minimum salary guaranteed, who are risking their life every day with no guarantees whatsoever because the company can terminate them if they deem that they’re not meeting certain standards,” says Mery Laura Perdomo, a lawyer for the International Lawyers Assisting Workers Network (ILAW), a Solidarity Center project.
Perdomo and other experts joined Solidarity Center Podcast Host Shawna Bader-Blau on App Workers Seek Level Playing Field, the second episode of “My Boss Is a Robot,” to discuss how delivery drivers and other app-based workers are excluded from basic labor protections because companies have classified them as “independent contractors”–all while enforcing rules and requirements as in a standard workplace.
But even as app companies around the world have waged multimillion dollar campaigns to prevent court decisions or legislation that would classify gig workers as employees, delivery drivers are standing up for their rights on the job.
Explore their battle for fair treatment as they seek to be recognized by companies as the employees they really are.
“My Boss Is a Robot” is a six-part series that seeks to shine a light on the behind-the-scenes practices of app companies who exploit workers in the global gig economy. Download the latest episode, App Workers Seek a Level Playing Field, and watch for the next episode on September 27.
Lynch met with UGTT General Secretary Noureddine Taboubi on Friday prior to taking part in a Saturday rally organized by UGTT in eight cities to protest the stifling “of basic rights, including union rights.” In her speech, Lynch called for the release of Anis Kaabi, general secretary of Tunisia’s highway workers union, who was arrested for organizing a strike of toll booth workers.
Following the protest, authorities posted an article accusing Lynch of breaking the law by threatening the country’s security. Authorities confronted Lynch, giving her 24 hours to leave the country and ordering her to inform them of her activities and anyone she spoke to during that period.
After arriving safely in Brussels, Lynch drew a parallel between her expulsion and the harassment of trade unionists in Tunisia.
“The decision to expel me for taking part in a peaceful protest is typical of the harassment and intimidation faced by trade unionists in Tunisia every day,” she said. “In the past few months, members of the UGTT have been arrested, sacked and spied on simply for carrying out entirely legal trade union work.”
The European Trade Union Confederation issued a statement that decried “the campaign of intimidation and harassment being waged against trade unions,” including arrests, firings, malicious lawsuits, the monitoring and restricting of trade union activity by law enforcement, and the promotion of yellow trade unions. The International Trade Union Confederation noted the “enormous damage to Tunisia’s economy, society and the daily life of working people” resulting from the president’s policies.
Lynch’s expulsion is the latest in a series of anti-union and anti-democratic actions including the arrest of Anis Kaabi and the weaponization of the country’s courts against union members for exercising their rights, such as the freedom to strike.
More than a hundred Grab food delivery riders launched the Iloilo Grab Riders Union (IGRU) in Iloilo City, Philippines, on November 24, then staged a unity ride around the city, located on Panay Island. Some 200 drivers joined in the ride, with more riders taking part from the streets, organizers said. The newly formed union’s demand is for just fares, paid sick leave and other social protections, and union recognition.
“The increasing price of gasoline and of commodities and the decrease in base fare delivery fees makes Grab riders work twice their normal hours to get the same wage they earned before the pandemic,”Archie, one of the Grab drivers who helped organize IGRU, said on the local radio show DZRH News. Archie is also a member of the Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party).
Photo Credit: Solidarity Center/Andreanna Garcia
Preceding the launch of IGRU, gig drivers from Grab and other platforms such as Food Panda and Maxim had begun to form unions across the Philippines. On August 15, some 300 delivery riders from General Santos City organized under the union, United Delivery Riders of the Philippines (RIDERS). RIDERS is composed of delivery riders from Food Panda, Maxim and Grab. Unity rides have also been conducted in the cities of General Santos and Cebu. Elsewhere in the country, local chapters of RIDERS also have begun to organize.
Their aim is to formally establish the United Delivery Riders of the Philippines (RIDERS) as the national union for the riders. “During the pandemic, when Grab suspended the GrabCar service, Grab food delivery drivers became the lifeline of the company. Is it wrong to ask them to be fair?” asked John Jay, a multi-app driver and organizer from Metro Manila. He attended the IGRU launch to express support for his fellow Grab drivers.
In addition to the decrease in earnings, delivery drivers in the Philippines have little or no job security or basic benefits as they are part of the gig economy. Under Philippine labor laws, delivery riders are classified as “independent contractors,” which does not provide an employee-employer relationship. As gig economy workers, delivery riders are not entitled to social protections such as health insurance and income security, among other basic protections.
“Our interests will be protected only through the passing of laws,” said Mark, a driver and organizer from Pampanga. Like John Jay, he also traveled to Iloilo to share a message of solidarity for his fellow riders.
Philippine Senator Risa Hontiveros proposed the Protektadong Online Workers, Entrepreneurs, Riders at Raketera (POWERR) Act, which would protect workers in the gig economy. A committee currently is working on the bill.
The IGRU launch was supported by the Solidarity Center, the global union IUF, RIDERS, the Center of United and Progressive Workers (SENTRO), Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party) and the Brotherhood of Two Wheels (Kagulong).
When addressing migration, governments must focus on human rights: “When you prioritize human rights, you naturally shift from criminalization and focus on rights-based approaches,” says Mishka Pillay, a migration and lived experience advocate and campaigner.
“Migration is historical, it’s natural it’s been here for centuries—and it needs to be normalized by countries.”
Approved by United Nations member states in 2018, the Global Compact for Migration reaffirms countries’ commitment to respecting, protecting and fulfilling human rights for all migrants. In May, the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) will assess progress on the compact and the Spotlight Report seeks to ensure that grassroots migrant perspectives on progress and challenges are central to the discussions.
“Morally and ethically it is imperative to listen to people’s lived experiences. Government needs to listen and learn how migration is affecting real people,” says Pillay, an author in the report.
The Global Coalition on Migration, which includes the Solidarity Center, and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung institute, released the report. Today’s launch emphasized the importance of migrants’ agency, including the agency of migrant workers, in the policy and process decisions that affect their lives, including in their workplaces.
Decent Work Key to Addressing Migration
A focus on decent work in origin countries “is necessary to break cycles of exploitation and prevent labor migration pathways from perpetuating global power and wealth imbalances,” writes Neha Misra, Solidarity Center global lead for migration and human trafficking. Misra co-authored the Spotlight Report article, “People Not Profit: Coherent Migration Pathways Centered in Human Rights and Decent Work for All.”
“For too long, failed foreign and trade policies have prioritized the interests of corporations and low-wage, export-oriented growth while actively undermining democracy and accountability, contributing to the push factors driving people to migrate,” the article states.
Shannon Lederer, AFL-CIO director of immigration policy and Yanira Merino, president of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), are co-authors.
Among the report’s recommendations:
Migrant workers, regardless of status, must have rights in line with international labor standards for all workers
Migrants must have rights at international borders
There must be alternatives to detention of migrants
Migrants must have access to public services and social protections, regardless of status
Coherent policies must be developed for those migrating due to climate related factors
Countries must adopt regularization policies and rights-based regular migration channels—that allow migrants the freedom to move, settle, work and fully participate in society—over expanding temporary or circular work programs. Countries should promote regular migration pathways that ensure full worker rights, facilitate social and family cohesion, and provide options for permanent residence and meaningful participation in civic life.
Commenting on the report during the panel discussion, Fernando de la Mora, who is part of IMRF discussions through the Economic, Social, Human Rights and Humanitarian Section of Mexico’s UN mission, reiterated his government’s support for a commitment to decent work in origin and destination countries, and summed up the report’s goals this way:
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