Uganda's Horticultural, Industrial, Service Providers and Allied Workers' Union (UHISPAWU) is fighting to protect thousands of workers on flower farms from falling into poverty and hunger as a consequence of the overnight collapse of the export market. Sales of cut flowers, the bulk of which are exported to Europe for auction, have declined by up to 90 percent and there are no government protection programs for workers in agriculture who lose their jobs.
Some 300 international, regional and national organizations including the IUF and international trade union organizations, have called on WTO members to stop all negotiations on new trade deals during the COVID-19 pandemic and focus on saving lives.
The IUF, our sister federation PSI, peasant organizations and civil society groups campaigning for the right to food have called on the hastily-convened April 21 extraordinary meeting of G20 agriculture ministers to put rights on the agenda as they discuss potential disruption of food supplies in the COVID-19 crisis.
The IUF and our Finnish affiliate PAM have signed an agreement with the government's national alcoholic beverages retail monopoly Alko to promote respect for worker rights in the company's international supply chain, including workers' rights to form unions and negotiate their working conditions through collective bargaining.
Under cover of the COVID-19 emergency, Hong Kong authorities on April 18 arrested Lee Cheuk Yan, general secretary of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions along with 14 other prominent activists in the pro-democracy movement. They are charged with organizing and participating in mass protests in August, September and October last year.
During the last 12 months, more than one in five women in the world has been the victim of violence inflicted by their partner. The health, economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is making the situation worse. In just a few weeks, several countries have recorded a significant increase in cases of domestic violence. The response to this phenomenon is as urgent as the policies adopted to stop the pandemic itself. Unions play an essential role.
Two years ago, on April 17, 2018, 14 workers at Cargill's starch plant in Bursa-Orhangazi were dismissed while trying to form a union. The workers are determined to fight for their right to be represented by the IUF-affiliated Tekgıda-İş. The remedy for rights abuses is full reinstatement and a clear sign from Cargill that rights will be respected at the workplace.
The IUF-affiliated Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) has condemned proposals by the Trump administration to lower minimum wages for farmworkers and pledged to fight any lowering of standards. The proposed measures would allow employers to pay migrant workers admitted to the US under the H2A visa program less than the agreed "adverse wage effect rate", based on the minimum wage for the surrounding area.
Tunisia's national trade union center UGTT, together with civil society organizations, activists and members of parliament, has called on the government to take immediate measures to ensure that migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers enjoy full access to medical services, prevention measures and social support in the COVID-19 pandemic.
McDonald's workers in Marseilles Saint-Barthélemy have responded to widespread distress and food shortages in their poor neighborhood by taking over the restaurant and converting it for local food storage and distribution. McDonald's France provides no protective equipment to workers in the dozen outlets it has maintained open in the lockdown, and is pressing for nationwide re-opening.
The government of Maldives has been issuing contradictory regulations in a scramble to keep the resorts operating. Management of the JA Manafaru resort has capitalized on the situation to victimize union officer Ibrahim Ziyaadh, a branch leader of the tourism workers' union TEAM which is fighting to defend the rights, health and safety of tourism workers.
The IUF has called on the G20 to take immediate action to protect tourism workers being laid-off in their millions as a consequence of COVID-19 lockdowns and the collapse of the industry, which directly and indirectly employs more than one in ten workers worldwide.
Some of the largest food companies in Peru are using the COVID-19 crisis to impose 12-hour shifts, despite government regulations which establish an 8 PM to 5 AM curfew, limit the workweek to 48 hours and mandate negotiations on any changes to work practices. The IUF-affiliated Federation of Food Industry Workers (FNT-CGTP-ABA) is fighting back, and demands strict measures to protect worker health and safety.
On March 31, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) jointly called for coordinated international action to keep international food supplies flowing across borders in the COVID-19 crisis - including the unimpeded flow of the migrant workers who sustain global agriculture. The IUF has written these bodies to highlight a supremely irresponsible defect in their appeal for "responsibility": the total absence of advocacy for action to protect the lives, safety and livelihoods of the agricultural workers on whose labour food security depends.
The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) is an international federation of trade unions representing workers employed in agriculture and plantations; the preparation and manufacture of food and beverages; hotels, restaurants and catering services; all stages of tobacco processing. The IUF is composed of 425 affiliated trade unions in 127 countries representing over 10 million workers.
How to contact the IUF: Email: [email protected] Post: Rampe du Pont-Rouge, 8, CH-1213, Petit-Lancy (Switzerland) Phone: + 41 22 793 22 33 Fax: + 41 22 793 22 38